Elevated Island Time
A resort-within-a-resort, Rosewood Baha Mar delivers all the amenities of a mega resort with an aura of exclusivity.
Written by Bridget Williams
Somewhere in the not-too-far distance, screams of delight are funneling down a colorful tube in a waterpark; cries of jubilation ring out in the casino; people are nodding their head to a pulsing beat at a pool. But here, during teatime in the Library Lounge at Rosewood Baha Mar, I am world's away and perfectly at ease while I savor a perfectly brewed cup of tea whose color mimics my sun-kissed skin, still warm from the sun.
Opened in 2017 with 2,200 rooms spread across three hotels on 1,000 acres in New Providence in The Bahamas, Baha Mar is by definition a mega-resort. This designation that can elicit a not-so-favorable response based on one's prior experience, this writer included. However, after a recent visit, I was forced to rethink my innate aversion to large-scale developments. There are three distinct brands on property: Grand Hyatt, SLS, and Rosewood, with the latter, at just 12 stories and 230 rooms and suites, perches above Cable Beach and the pecking order on the property.
The Rosewood Baha Mar's contemporized take on British Colonial-style begins as soon as you enter the foyer-like lobby, enveloped in a floor-to-ceiling hand-painted mural reminiscent of de Gournay wallpaper. In keeping with Rosewood's Hotels "A Sense of Place" philosophy, John Cox, Rosewood Baha Mar's Creative Art Director, collaborated with artists at SilverHill Atelier to create Bahamian scenes evocative of another celebrated island artist, John Hussey. Intimate seating areas, plenty of coffee-table books, and creative accessorizing add to the upscale residential feel.
My favorite public space inside Rosewood Baha Mar is the Library Lounge, defined by muted colors, handsome furnishings, and tall ceilings accentuated by a pair of bookcases separated by another bespoke artwork resulting from SilverHill and Cox working in concert. We found ourselves here multiple times a day, selecting from an extensive selection of loose leaf teas, including unique Bahamian blends, while we relished the beauty of the surroundings.
Guest accommodations carry forth the casual elegance established in the lobby. Closets flanked the entry to the spa-like bathroom, sheathed in marble. Colors evocative of the island—coral and Caribbean blues—pop against a soothing sun washed backdrop. From our balcony, we noted that the pool areas' landscaping is so lush that you see enticing slivers of blue among an expanse of green. The elevated vantage point allows you to appreciate the sprawling nature of the property. Still, it doesn't feel that way as you wind your way through the lush setting at ground level, where the landscape's design reveals intimate seating areas, shops, and restaurants around every corner.
Baha Mar takes its food scene seriously, and it has recruited a galaxy of star power to lend credence to its 40 unique dining venues celebrating a variety of global cuisines. Sadly, there are way more dining options than we had days available to try them all.
At the pinnacle of the culinary program is Café Boulud The Bahamas. Located in the lower level of the Rosewood in a beautifully outfitted dining room bursting with Bahamian art, traditional French technique meets island hospitality (minus the island time). A production in the best way, our dinner was a true feast for the senses, and after we savored the last bite of our Tarte Au Citron and rose to leave, our server warmly embraced us like we were old friends. There's nothing that compares with genuine and kind human interaction, and the staff at Baha Mar seem to possess this innate ability to connect in spades.
Award-winning chef Danny Elmaleh conceptualized the menus at Cleo Mediterraneo, adjacent to the SLS Baha Mar's lobby. The focal point of the restaurant's relaxed interior is an organic sandstone wall with succulent plants and moss spilling from the crevices. We enjoyed a Mediterranean-inspired feast over a series of small plates.
Seeking shelter from a popup rain shower allowed us to discover Da' Poke Bowl Shack for lunch. Located in one of a series of cute beach "shacks" with other dining establishments in a pathway that links the Grand Hyatt to the beach, the umami-packed punch of flavor was just what we needed to forget the rainy day blues. Another lunch standout was Costa, a Mexican restaurant with unique dining cabanas overlooking Rosewood's lush gardens. El Jefe is another delicious Mexican option serving tacos from a beachfront Airstream trailer. If you time it right, you can nosh while watching the daily parade of flamingos and the hordes of guests accompanying them.
Enjoying fresh seafood close to the source is on the menu at Marcus at Baha Mar Fish + Chop House. Six-time James Beard Award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson spent four years learning everything he could about Bahamian cuisine and island food culture to develop his spin on Caribbean comfort food.
While eating to your heart's content is undoubtedly an option, I'd highly recommend partaking in a host of onsite recreation amenities in between meals. Of course, water is the obvious star of the show when it comes to activities. There are more pools than I could count, including many adult-only options. In addition, guests of the Rosewood are privy to a private beach and exclusive full-service pools. The kid in me loved the newly opened and crowd-free waterpark; my adult side appreciated its distance from the heart of the resort so that you didn't have to walk through it while traveling from one side of the resort to the other throughout the day.
Those who prefer greens over blue will appreciate the Royal Blue Golf Club, an 18-hole par-72 course designed by Jack Nicklaus. As my golf skills are subpar, but I'm still competitive, I thoroughly enjoyed a round at Mini Blue, a professional putting-inspired 18-hold miniature golf course near the Racquet Club.
While you can treat yourself after a round at Rosewood Baha Mar's onsite spa, I'd highly recommend the short stroll to ESPA, which serves the entirety of the property with a 30k square-foot glitter fest of tranquility. An affirmation walk etched into the floor leading to the lounge reminds guests to "let it go." The complex also boasts a sprawling fitness facility.
Linking all three hotels is the Caribbean's largest casino, with 18 different types of table games and more than 1,000 slot machines. We didn't partake of the games, but we did enjoy the nightly live entertainment at Bar Noir, which offers a prime view of the action on the casino floor, lots of interesting cocktail options, and signature Petrossian caviar.
Of the many things unique to the property is the attention given to elevating Bahamian artists: ninety percent of the art displayed is Bahamian in origin. John Cox, a painter, sculptor, and former chief curator at the National Art Gallery in the Bahamas, oversees the 2,500 pieces in Baha Mar's collection and The Current (thecurrent.bahamar.com), an onsite art gallery, working studio, and retail shop.
The Rhode Island School of Design alum cuts a striking figure that exudes the confidence of someone with the "it factor," but without any hit of pretentiousness. What is most captivating about Cox is his palpable passion for his craft and elevating the work of his contemporaries and predecessors. A powerful storyteller, Cox has a gift for switching up messaging on a dime so that whether he's speaking to an aficionado or a child, there's a meaningful context in his message. "Our goal is to see if we can inform what the Bahamian experience is through art so that it causes people to see and experience and shock them in a good way," Cox explained.
A significant portion of the collection is on display in the pre-function space in the onsite convention center as part of the Fairwind Exhibition, a showcase of Bahamian art from the early 1800s to the present. We'd arranged for a one-hour tour with Cox, and two hours later (and late for his next meeting), we continued to be enrapt by his enthusiasm and the immensity of the thought that has gone into the themed groupings, that encompass everything from coral reefs to colonialism. This subtle encouragement of more thoughtful tourism is just one example that Baha Mar is seeking to redefine the notion of a mega-resort.
Rates at Rosewood Baha Mar from $695/night. For more information and reservations, visit bahamar.com