Nassau’s Baha Mar continues to offer guests diversions that surprise and feed the island soul.
The Rosewood Lagoon Pool at Baha Mar.
There comes a time in every vacationer’s life when taking a plunge becomes not only a necessity, but also part of understanding the mosaic of a place. I consider this notion as I stand on a platform clinging to an inner tube the size of a tiny European car. I’m atop the so-called Cyclone Rush, one of 24 slides at the new 15-acre beachfront luxury water park known as Baha Bay, located at Nassau’s Baha Mar, which features the first-ever gaming pavilion inside a water park. The aptly named Cyclone Rush is akin to sliding down Class IV rapids—that is, if a river were tilted on its side, partially encased in a tube and occasionally defying the laws of gravity.
Café Boulud is located in the Rosewood at Baha Mar.
I needed this. And I’m guessing many others feel the same after two years of following protocols and forgetting what abandon actually entails. The park also includes two uphill water coasters, a FlowCurl surf simulator and a 500,000-gallon wave pool. It’s a theme of unbridled fun, coupled with surprises and countless luxuries, which make the resort—encompassing Rosewood Baha Mar, SLS Baha Mar and Grand Hyatt Baha Mar—a Bahamas favorite for everything from its buzzy casinos and pool parties to the Caribbean’s only flagship ESPA (with 24 private rooms for an impressive lineup of spa treatments) and splendid beaches.
Marcus at Baha Mar Fish + Chop House offers a mix of traditional and contemporary Bahamian fare.
When mapping out a stay here, consider the extremes. Embark on a mind-blowing flume, followed by afternoon tea in the Rosewood’s library, a room so gilded in splendor it feels like a Downton Abbey set; I advise to sink into the gold and blue velvet couches for an hour. From Thursday through Saturday afternoons, the room hosts a Folklore Tea—stories abound regarding the mythical Lusca, Chickcharnie and Anansi—with local bush teas, tea-based cocktails, scones, finger sandwiches and desserts like delicately forged macarons. The tea service is part of the resort’s choreographed aesthetic, which combines tradition and a new way to see the world.
Part of this vision falls into the lap of Nassau native John Cox, a Rhode Island School of Design grad and the creative arts director for the resort. I meet Cox at Baha Mar’s art gallery, known as The Current Gallery and Art Center, a space filled with contemporary work by local artists shattering the notion of what constitutes Bahamian art.
Chef Marcus Samuelsson
“My job is to effect a paradigm shift,” says Cox, whose work has shown at Art Basel. “We have 7 million tourists coming to Nassau each year. We can create a metaphoric highway that intersects with that vast number of people to show them a new vision of what our art really is.” He walks me around The Current and the resort itself, pointing out work from breakthrough artists like Sue Katz, whose mixed-media genius is part of 2,500 pieces of Bahamian art from established and rising creators. It’s an ambitious effort that further establishes the resort’s singularity.
John Cox, the creative arts director at Baha Mar, also oversees The Current.
This progressive tone continues with two signature restaurants (among 45 dining spots and lounges at the resort): Café Boulud and Marcus at Baha Mar Fish + Chop House. Chef Daniel Boulud’s namesake restaurant goes glam with both its indoor and outdoor spaces; the chef’s steady hand is mirrored in the kitchen, with dishes like yellow tuna carpaccio, sablefish, roasted duck (dressed in clementine, parsnip, beets and red wine jus) and bold Berkshire pork chop (lined in bacon crust and braised with endive apple puree).
The Library at the Rosewood at Baha Mar is the perfect spot for high tea.
The decibel level at chef Marcus Samuelsson’s on-property restaurant, with its white decor scheme, is decidedly higher; make no mistake, this is a culinary party, with a menu that shows the chef’s keen interest in exploring traditional island flavors and using the kitchen as a lab to create new ones. The for-the-table cornbread is a revelation; its crispy shell holds a delicate center—be sure to anoint the bread with the accompanying hot-buttered rum for instant bliss. From there, standout entrees include black crab Bolognese with sour-orange gremolata, and grilled pork chop elevated with sizzled pineapple, corn and jerk rub. Samuelsson’s hangout symbolizes Baha Mar’s overall vibe: daring patrons to explore and treasure new facets of an island that continues to evolve. The rest comes easily, as guests take the plunge toward everything good under the Bahamian sun.
Gorgeous beaches grace Baha Mar
Photography by: John Cox photo by Michael McCarthy; all other photos courtesy of Baha Mar