Sick of the cold weather yet?
On a no-plans-in-advance island-hopping trip around the Bahamas everyone we asked for a hotel recommendation in Nassau said “Baha Mar”. The good folks at the Odyssey FBO have a corporate rate with the Hyatt Baha Mar so that’s where we ended up.
The Chinese-built complex is the newest development in Nassau and everything sparkles. Staff members at all of the hotels are friendly and competent.
Budget at least $100 per day per person for food within the complex. Restaurants are good, but everything is about 2X the price of what it would cost in a big U.S. city. Restaurants are crowded at dinner. We had trouble getting a table for two at 7:30 pm on a Thursday.
The epic breakfast buffet is worth it, though Michael Bloomberg would not approve of all of the dessert items available:
A taxi downtown is a fixed $18 for two passengers. There are no independent restaurants within walking distance. There is no Uber in the Bahamas.
There are a fair number of activities within the resort, including a twice-daily flamingo walk, a fountain show every 30 minutes, and a marine animal sanctuary containing sea turtles, sharks, rays, fish, etc.
When the massive hotels are full, the pools are busy and not relaxing. The Rosewood hotel is within the complex, but has its own private pools that are much quieter. If traveling with children, one big issue is that the pools close at 6 pm (maybe later in the summer months?). What are the kids going to do from 6 pm until bedtime? Play the slots?
The beach is reasonably sheltered and the water is calm, though perhaps not as calm as in Provo (Turks and Caicos).
The gym seems to be shared among all of the hotels and it is huge and blessed with water views.
If you need to get work done or just enjoy Skype with friends around the world, the Chinese-financed and Chinese-built Baha Mar offers a Chinese level of WiFi: at least 75 Mbits symmetric everywhere that I tested and usually a bit more.
The Rainbow Flag Religion is weak here:
Competition: we had wanted to stay in Atlantis, but all of the Bahamians warned us against it. “It need to be renovated” and “It is run down” were typical comments. We hopped in a taxi to Paradise Island (formerly “Hog Island”) and were awed by the lobby of the Atlantis. Public WiFi clocked in at 0.82 Mbits (1/100th the speed of Baha Mar) and then failed altogether. There are herds of cruise ship passengers who come here on tours. To keep them from wandering too far, there are security people everywhere challenging people (most of whom seemed like obvious guests, e.g., with nothing but flipflops and a towel) to see proof of hotel guest status. An adjacent marina has some impressive superyachts and signs telling people not to go anywhere near them (ignored by the Chinese tourists). My friend was unimpressed with the Atlantis: “even the chairs in the casino look old.” The lagoon was deserted.
The veneer of luxury and wealth on Paradise Island is thin. Right across the street is a strip mall with a downscale casino, a grocery store with canned goods, and a Dunkin’ Donuts. Farther to the east is the Ocean Club, run by the Four Seasons. This is a small expensive hotel with a single pool, which was fairly crowded. On a day when the Baha Mar beach was nicely sheltered and perfect for swimming, the Ocean Club beach was hanging a “caution” flag and the water was rough. It is a great place for lunch and probably a great place to stay if you want to get away from the crowds (but, if so, why not simply stay on one of the “out islands”?).
Conclusion: the locals seem to be right about the Baha Mar complex being the best place to stay in and around Nassau. However, you have to want to be in a city-sized development (2,200 rooms) that seems to be quite full even slightly off peak. Imagine a huge cruise ship that never leaves the dock. If you want to be in a smaller scale lower-rise hotel and enjoy a perfect beach, consider flying an extra 30 minutes to Turks and Caicos (Provo).
Separately, as here in Massachusetts, the construction of casinos is encouraged. Unlike in Massachusetts, however, it is illegal for a local to gamble:
9 thoughts on “Baha Mar hotels in Nassau”
The out islands are the place to be in the Bahamas. Although Dorian wiped the Abacos off the map. Maybe in a couple of more years I can return there for a nice vacation.
It is interesting they don’t let the Bahamian “green card” holders gamble. I bet most of them are second home owners from the States. As a class they are aggressively taxed and assessed fees. Not a lot of money to be had from their illegal immigrant population that mostly comes from Haiti.
We need robot flamingos. I’ll bet someone at a robotics company in China could build a flamingobot that’s indistinguishable from the real thing. except it won’t poop, need food or other kinds of expensive care. Then they could race them, do synchronized flamingo dances, and use them as roving security. Lounging out by the pool and want a drink? The flamingo takes your order. Need to see a map of the hotel? Ask the flamingo, and an iPad pops out of its back to show you right where you are. The possibilities are endless. Tell the Chinese to get cracking.
Flamingos are also proof that the Supreme Beings have a sense of humor: “Hmm. Let’s make a bird that humans will eventually like to gawk at. We’ll give it a great big, bulbous body perched waaaay atop a pair of spindly little toothpick legs and big webbed feet, so the center of mass is ridiculous. Then we give it a teeny, tiny pea brain housed inside an itty bitty skull all the way out on the end of a sinuous, flexible hose of a neck. A huge honker. Make it bright pinkish-orange, and it’s literally nonsense upon stilts.”
My recollection is that in Singapore, too, the locals are barred from gambling in the local casinos.
You forgot to note that Pink Flamingos honk loud and scratchy and the noise is just rude. So kids love the noise and laugh but adults hate it!!
Phil, I was thinking about taking an impromptu vacation to the Caribbean.
I see you’ve been to quite a few places, is there any you would recommend?
Mid 30’s guy just looking to relax.
Budget 5 grand per week, 2 weeks long.
James: I hope that I said nice things about Puerto Rico in http://philip.greenspun.com/flying/caribbean . I still think PR might be a good choice, unless you are truly satisfied sitting on the beach. There are cities, art museums, highways, etc. in PR. And you don’t have to spend $5,000/week because there is enough infrastructure there to make it possible to offer a lot of stuff at mainland U.S. prices.
If you want to sail, play tennis, and do other resort activities, people are loving the all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic. The Club Med in Punta Cana has some kind of exclusive quieter more luxurious area.
Some of the other islands that people rave about are exclusive because they have no infrastructure, minimal population, etc. The hotels there are like Burning Man camps where everything has to be flown in every day. So they have to charge you $1,000/night for what a Hampton Inn on the mainland can profitably provide at $100/night.
I haven’t checked out Curacao and Aruba, but I suspect those are worth looking into as well. The Dutch turned them into “more than just hotels”.
I wouldn’t call myself a Caribbean expert. I’ve had a few business trips to Puerto Rico. And then a few in the little airplane because of the bragging rights (though of course, I hate to brag and, in fact, nobody hates to brag more than I do) and the fact that it gets ridiculous in both time and money to go much farther in a little plane (landing fees in Peru for a Cirrus are probably higher than a first class round-trip from Boston!). If I were on the airlines I would probably choose to go to Mexico, Peru, Colombia (Cartagena and nearby national parks), Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, etc.
In Monaco it is also illegal for the locals to gamble!
Farther to the east is the Ocean Club…probably a great place to stay if you want to get away from the crowds.
Or if you want to stay where 007 stayed.
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