Our van takes a nice home in a residential area of Nassau in the Bahamas, where we are warmly welcomed by Beverley and Cornel Mortimer.
It is Christmas, there are so beautiful crowns hung and there is more than a tree decorated with detailed decorations.
The delicious smell of food clears its way out of the kitchen and sets the tone for what would be a wonderful evening of eating, drinking and laughing, as if we would know the Mortimer family all our lives. 19659002] In fact, we are simply random travel journalists who get a taste of the fascinating People-to-People program, which is organized and offered free of charge by the Department of Tourism of the Bahamas to those who visit the Caribbean.
Working for the past 40 years, the program can be found on many of the more populated islands of the country (there are 700!). The starting point is quite simple: it connects tourists who have signed up for the program with one of their voluntary hosts – ambassadors – who offer hospitality in Bahamian style.
Our experience during the wonderfully relaxed evening with the Mortimers – who have owned a candy store in Nassau for 30 years and at the end of an already great meal with chicken, rice and beans, seafood and mac-and-cheese a delicious spreading their sweet creations was a perfect counterpoint to the great beginning of our journey.
Earlier in the day we had checked into the majestic Grand Hyatt with 1,800 rooms, part of the huge new three-resort Baha Mar complex, which also includes the SLR and Rosewood hotels (the latter to be in the spring open this year) on Cable Beach just outside Nassau, home to many gigantic cruise ships.
The hotel complex, with its extensive casino and the nearby Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, is quite spectacular and comes with the high-quality amenities that you would expect on this stature.
A unique aspect of the complex is an art gallery called The Current, with Bahamian art, programs & # 39; s for locals and space for art exhibitions and related Events.
Baha Mar even has one of the largest collections of Bahamian art in the region. Pieces throughout the complex jump in the eye and are not overlooked during a walk through the building.
In keeping with our theme of a research in contrasts, the next part of the visit included hopping on a ferry to take us to Harbor Island. This colonial-style outpost north of Eleuthera has a very relaxed, albeit luxurious, atmosphere with its uber-expensive private homes, first-class restaurants and beautiful boutique houses and hotels.
The small island, established more than 300 years ago, is accessible by ferry or plane and known for its beautiful Pink Sand Beach.
We were fortunate enough to be guests in Bahama House, operating under the luxury brand Eleven Experience, so guests do not have to worry about anything.
Where do I get a bike to explore the island? (Directly outside your room.) Can I eat or drink for free in the minibar? (Yes.) Are there comfortable lounge chairs, beach towels and drinks on the nearby beach? (Yes, and the staff will bring it there, set it up for you and bring you there in a golf cart if you wish.)
These amenities, plus a nice swimming pool, outdoor tiki-bar, rum-tasting room and near for anything you would want on the island, make it a perfect landing spot.
Also plan to swing through iconic Sip Sip (Bahamian jargon for “gossip”) Restaurant for lunch. The relaxed beach restaurant of chef Julie Lightbourne (also now at The Cove in the Atlantis Resort of Nassau) overlooks that beautiful pink sand beach. Make sure you have the lobster quesadilla. It is as great as it sounds.
The Bahamas & # 39; s really have something for everyone. Have fun going after your share of it.
TRAVELS & ACTIVITIES
* Bahamas & # 39; s Tourism: bahamas.com .
Sip Sip: sipsiprestaurant.com .
* Baha Mar: bahamar.com .
* Bahama House: elevenexperience.com/experiences/hideouts/bahama-house/step-inside .