At one particular spanking new beach resort in the Caribbean blue flags symbolically flutter in the sea breeze.
You see it immediately. A cluster of poolside guests horizontally lie on cool white lounges topped by a blue flag they recently raised to herald a regular resort request: It’s time for the bar service.
At the new Grand Hyatt Baha Mar it only gets better. Crane your head to the hotel’s rooftop to see ginormous whimsical flags permanently raised. “The bar is always open there,” laughs a local.
And why not?
The 1,800-room ‘grand’ hotel is part of the luxe Baha Mar complex, a playground for the leisure and meetings crowd. Located on Cable Beach in Nassau, Bahamas the multi-million dollar development showcases the Caribbean’s largest casino, golf course, kids club, racquet club, spa and fitness center, art gallery, luxury shops, restaurants and bars, and accommodations on every luxe level where families can even take their kids to see exotic animals at various onsite BEACH sanctuaries (BEACH meaning Baha Mar Ecological Aquatic Conservation Habitat). Guests have a chance to participate daily in animal feedings, marine interactions from snorkeling at an eco-reef right off the coast to kayaking in a nature preserve.
A stay at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar gives sun-seekers in need of relaxation, pampering and their choice of slot machines or black jack tables a rebooting retreat.
Grand Hyatt Baha Mar Hotel Highlights
The 5-star hotel offers accommodations in two high-rise towers: the East Tower and the West Tower. The former is designed to complement the luxe casino and features bright nautical blue walls against white plaster wall trim plus easy proximity to the casino floor. Guests staying at the West Tower exit closer to the convention center and the style is more subdued in décor and colors.
On the seventh floor of each tower guests can exit outside to the pools, beach and spa thereby avoiding the casino scene on the main floor.
There are waltzing waters similar to the Bellagio in Las Vegas here. Regularly scheduled orchestrated fountains dance to tunes like Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. At night the mood shifts to an array of colors illuminating the fountain fiesta with more musical recordings.
You won’t want to miss the daily 4 pm “Walk with the Baby Flamingos” sightseeing tour. This experience had me in stitches as I tried to keep up with the four birdies born on property. The scene is a sight to behold watching them dart past the boardwalk along the beach and by the food truck stations and pool guests.
The Suite Pluses: The pet-friendly hotel has the West Tower and East Tower. There are ample room categories here with either ocean or island views.
I stayed at the Fountain View Balcony King Suite in the West Tower overlooking a lake so had a good opportunity to see the fountains blast daily. A spacious 470 square foot room, the nice features were the balcony overlooking the Show Lake with large floor to ceiling windows, the comfortable king-sized bed, and the amenities like the June Jacobs bathroom products and plush robes and slippers including an iron and ironing board. Two complimentary water bottles are replenished daily.
Suite Misses: Remember you are staying at a casino resort. Like Vegas and many other major chains, you will be pinged opening the mini bar to using the Keurig coffee and tea maker. One workaround especially if you are anticipating a long stay is to order a fridge, microwave or kettle. For the technically challenged be prepared for a hi-tech lighting system you’ll need to get used to immediately. Once by accident I switched on every light in my room giving the appearance of Madison Square Gardens when what I really wanted was a good night’s sleep.
Hotel Perks: The spa called ESPA Baha Mar is under separate management but still the size and ambiance will make you want to stay and de-stress. A visit to the dry sauna and steam room is a good way to complete your work-out at this state-of-the-art fitness center which are all complimentary for hotel guests.
Dining: A rich selection of 20 restaurants and bars you will not be limited by the dining style or specialties. There is a wide array of casual and fine dining restaurants.
By day, the beach food trucks are popular serving fast-food entrees like Flame to Smoke known for house made smoky briskets and pulled pork sandwiches and El Jefe for chips and salsa. For more privacy, cozy up in a private cabana by one of the six pools.
By night, there are fine dining restaurants with star chefs like Miami’s celebrated James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Schwartz who opened Fi’lia, a 202-seat brasserie-inspired eatery or master sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi’s Katsuya, a unique sushi resto designed by interior design maverick Philippe Starck as two incredible examples.
For casual pub fare, the Swimming Pig pub, named in homage to The Exumas’ famous swimming pigs, is open around the clock and serves up a mean jerk chicken sandwich and fries platter. The resort’s buffet restaurant, Regatta Food Hall open for breakfast and dinner while pricey offers a wide selection of menu items because it’s a buffet so the sticker price shock is worth the value.
Between the fresh seafood station like oysters, seaweed salad, and jumbo shrimps at the Smoke and Roast Kitchen, there’s a chef grilling up steaks and lamb chops at the Grill Kitchen and other food stations in this ever changing menu. Be sure to sample the lauded Bahamian dishes like conch chowder and Bahamian Mac and Cheese, which will be serious for any foodie to accomplish in one sitting. The kiddie food station is stacked with children favorites. Save room for dessert too. Beautifully handmade patisserie from crème brule to chocolate mousses and slices of Bahamian rum cake to vats of ice cream and fresh frozen fruit popsicles for the kids are all made on the premises.
Diversions – Yes, the Baha Mar Casino. In this 100,000 square feet gaming hub, you will experience uber decadence with crystal chandeliers draping over gaming tables enhanced by ocean views. Art is a big bonus here. Local Bahamian art flanks the walls everywhere. Head to The Current Gallery and inquire about the artist residence program to view working artists create original pieces.
The beach-facing resort means strolling the white powder beach is a must.
For golfers, Royal Blue at Baha Mar is a Jack Nicklaus designed par 72, 18-hole golf course so expect hazards over the dramatic ocean vistas and forested panoramas.
At the fitness center fitness fans can inquire on the daily exercise programs from yoga classes to Pilates and other activities.
Did we say pools? There are so many here (try six) you’ll have to spend a week to enjoy each one. My favorite was the Fortune Pool for its tumbling water falls and loopy-lipped pool good for propping up a pair of lounge chairs tucked away from the other loungers. The other favorite was Dean’s Blue Hole inspired by the underwater critters along Long Island in The Bahamas. So loved hanging out by the secluded grotto to see the green turtles, sting rays and nurse sharks poking their noses by the window.
Before cocktail hour indulge in a bit of France at Cafe Madeleine where artisanal desserts, French macarons and cappuccinos intersect in this charming European ambiance.
Overall impression: With major airlines serving regular non-stop daily routes to Nassau, Bahamas this new convention casino beach resort will make a good alternative to those other nearby hubs with similar offerings.
You can make your reservations at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar website or try Travelocity or Expedia. Standard room rates are from $250 and for a Fountain View Balcony King (double occupancy) the nightly room rate is from $310.
Original photography by Ilona Kauremszky