Kerrie Lake, Manager of the Fred. Olsen Travel shop in Felixstowe, was lucky enough to spend four nights in the Bahamas. Here is what she got up to in this tropical archipelago…
(Hotel names/Ship name): Royal Bahamian, Emerald Bay
Airline: British Airways
Duration: 4 Nights
This was my first experience of a British Airways flight and I would like to say that I enjoyed it, but in comparison to other airlines, I must say that I was not overly impressed.
The airline stewardess that served us was not particularly friendly; she spilt orange juice down the back of one girl on my trip and did not even apologise. The food on board was the worst airline food I have ever had; the rolls were stale and the chicken seemed undercooked so was inedible.
The seat pitch was good, but the entertainment was poor. There was not as much choice of TV channels/movies as other airlines.
We also had internal flights with Bahamas Air. This was a small 48-seat aircraft, which was fine for the 40-minute flight that we experienced, however, it did feel more like a bus than a plane. When we landed in Exuma, we collected our luggage from a trolley sitting on the runway and off we went. This made a welcome change to the tight security of Heathrow and a new experience nonetheless!
On arrival at The Royal Bahamian, we were greeted with cold towels and refreshing drinks, which were extremely welcome after our long journey. We were taken straight to our rooms which were Club Sandals rooms (previously known as Concierge rooms), which were of a very high standard.
All rooms at this hotel are of a large size and good standard, including huge king-sized beds. After all, the resort is for couples in love!
At Emerald Bay, we were again greeted with wet towels and mimosas and taken to our rooms. I must say that the entrance and first view of the resort were more impressive than the Royal Bahamian; the pool areas and surrounds really do look amazing.
Again, the rooms/apartments were of a large size and I was in a Club Sandals category apartment. This hotel used to be a Four Seasons, so many of the one bedroom accommodations are what used to be a two bedroom room. They now use the second room as a large lounge, but this does mean that lots of these categories have two bathrooms.
Both resorts had lots of eateries which provide new experiences and the feel of going out for a special dinner every evening without leaving the resort. There is also the option to eat at the buffet style restaurant if you prefer something a bit more low-key. Both also featured fully-stocked mini bars with bottles of wine vodka, gin, and champagne; all restocked daily!
The Royal Bahamian has its own offshore island which can be reached by a four-minute boat ride. The Island is split into two halves. One-half is for Sandals clients and features a pool, pool bar and spa and the other side of the island, which we didn’t get to see, is for Cruiser Passengers.
The offshore island is a huge selling point in my opinion for this hotel. The pool areas and beach can get quite busy and lively in the main resort, but the offshore island provides peace and tranquillity and feels like you are a million miles away from the hotel. In the Spa area, you can have massages overlooking the crystal blue sea – beautiful!
We spent most of our time sampling both of the resorts’ facilities, but we did have an excursion from Exuma to some of the islands by boat. One of these islands was inhabited by five pigs; swimming pigs in fact!
The pigs have become so used to the tourists bringing them food that they now swim out to meet the boat as soon as they hear it. As the Bahamas is the only place I know that offers an excursion which involves swimming with pigs, I had to give it a go and did get in the water with them. To be honest, it does have the novelty factor but, in reality, the pigs are rather large and rather hungry, so the majority of the time we were worried about them trying to eat our fingers and staying out of the way of their swimming trotters.
The rest of this excursion offers snorkelling and visits to some amazing uninhabited islands. The water is so crystal clear it really does look like the pictures from the brochures. I thoroughly enjoyed this day and even saw a stingray whilst snorkelling. Unfortunately, the boat was having problems with overheating so we had to head back early, but the tour should last for most of the day with the afternoon spent on an island which is home to some endangered iguanas.
The island boat trip was a definite highlight and was absolute paradise. I honestly have memories that will last a lifetime and it’s clear that this trip would be amazing for a couple.
Two dining experiences that are not to be missed are the teppanyaki restaurant at The Royal Bahamian (Japanese cuisine cooked to order in front of you) and the Barefoot by the Sea restaurant at The Emerald Bay where they hosted a Junkanoo Beach BBQ with dancers and a fire eater.
Both resorts feature an English style pub which I would not have thought I would want to do whilst in the Bahamas, but ‘The Drunken Duck’ Pub at The Emerald Bay had the best atmosphere. It was really lively for couples who wanted to socialise in the evenings and after lots of cocktails we ended up participating in karaoke and all on the floor singing along to ‘oops upside your head’. Not everyone’s cup of tea, I’m sure, but it was nice to know that there were some more lively areas if required.
Other areas of the hotel grounds featured fire pits, where lots of couples sat in the evening with a drink, and often the hotel has singers for the more relaxed guests who just want to chill out in the evenings.
It’s worth mentioning that Sandals do offer more than one wedding per day, which I found to be quite interesting, as I know as a bride I would not want to see another bride on my big day. Also, some of the areas that the weddings were held in were not very private. Having uninvited nosey guests in their swimwear attending my wedding would not be my idea of romance, so I would suggest both hotels are more appropriate for honeymoons than weddings. However, the ‘free wedding’ package that Sandals offer can be very cost-effective.
Both hotels offer something different and I have heard from quite a few people that every Sandals property differs in standard and quality. I can only speak from my experience of the two Bahamas properties as these are the only ones that I have experienced, and I must say that having spent time at Sandals resorts I now have a different view on what they offer guests.
If you are a couple looking for an ‘ultra all-inclusive’ romantic getaway with fantastic water-sport facilities, eateries and friendly staff to look after you, then both hotels provide exactly that.
The Royal Bahamian would be better suited to couples who might not want to spend all of their time in the hotel grounds, as there is a bus to Nassau costing just $1.50 which gives you the opportunity to explore.
The Emerald Bay would be suited to couples who enjoy golf and spa facilities. They have a huge golf course and we saw lots of couples; the men off to play golf and the ladies around the pool doing water aerobics and going to the spa.
I loved both properties for different reasons; I would not hesitate to recommend Sandals in the Bahamas or in fact the Bahamas themselves.
For a holiday or honeymoon for a ‘couple in love’ I can see why Sandals is so popular. It has something for everyone and has the guarantee of having no kids or stag and hen groups at the hotel.
I love all of the inclusions that Sandals offer and the fact that lots of water sports are included. The mini bars offer a great range of drinks and if you want to take a bottle of champagne to the fire pit at night and have a cosy drink for two, you can. If you want a pub atmosphere, you can find it.
The dress code is also very low key; people do dress up for dinner but nothing too formal. We did speak to some British guests who had expected 5* restaurants with formal dress codes, and although the restaurants are 5*, they do not require formal dress and it is pretty relaxed. The clientele is mostly American, but everyone I met was friendly and happy. After all, how can you not be when you are in paradise!
Must see? Swimming pigs – seeing is believing!
Must do? 007 Exuma boat trip
Must try? Teppanyaki bar at Royal Bahamian
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