By Jody Reed
If you’re seeking an intimate up-close and personal experience with the culture, an adventure sustainable in every regard and a combination of fun, luxury and compassionate giving back, look no further.
Many of the Caribbean islands sponsor the People-to-People program where you can leisurely familiarize yourself with the residents, history, culture and lifestyle. This enhances your vacation and you make long-lasting friends in the community involvement venture.
While this Travel Columnist has experienced the sizzling hospitality and sincere smiles of The Bahamas on many occasions, this trip is also to visit schools, museums, the Government House and have my own Bahamian Ambassador for the week.
Breezes Resort and Spa in The Bahamas includes this authentic itinerary in its remarkable Repeaters’ Week; an annual tribute to guests who return often, viewing the resort nearly as a second home. There are extra perks and incentives for those who are part of the “Breezes Family”. Breezes Resort and Spa is a destination with heart and compassion dedicated to loyalty for its guests and the community. They offer a rainbow parfait of super-inclusive amenities, impeccable service, divine cuisine in your choice of five gourmet restaurants and an authentic Bahamian ambiance you’ll long treasure.
Located on the white sands of Cable Beach, the resorts’ idyllic location oozes with pampering suited for royalty. Rooms and suites all share Caribbean luxurious accents and Bahamian hospitality galore. This slice of paradise has an abundant choice of activities from tennis to sea kayaking, sailing or yoga. I cherished their spa with holistic world-class treatments. When it comes to gastronomy, Breezes has it all! Five distinctive restaurants showcase the finest ingredients and dishes you’ll love. Munasan is Asian-fusion. Eden (yes, like the Garden of Eden) offers a lush outdoor dining option. For Italian fare, Martino’s has the best pasta I’ve had in years. For all kinds of jerk, and conch fritters, don’t miss the Reggae Café. And when I decided on the buffet and checked out the Banana Boat Restaurant, what a glittering surprise it was! Don’t miss the ceviche or flan. But my favorite is Eden, with old world Bahamian ambiance. If you can’t fall in love here, you can’t fall in love! Executive Chef Nigel Clarke is a culinary wizard.
But the focus on this special week is some pampering, some touring and some giving back to fully embrace the Bahamian culture. I also look forward to “digitally detoxing” and practicing more mindfulness on the pristine beaches.
Following is part of my Heartful travel diary:
Day 1: CENTREVILLE PRIMARY SCHOOL VISIT
I am greeted with broad Bahamian smiles. The repeat guests and Breezes have “adopted” a local primary school and created youth football and basketball clubs for less fortunate kids of the Nassau area. I’m laden down with coloring books, crayons, pens and pencils as donations for the youngsters. There are also community youth sports teams … Breezes Eagles (soccer) and Breezes High Flyers (basketball), so I’m carrying donated jerseys to help out.
Day 2: HIGH TEA AT GOVERNMENT HOUSE
Steeped in heritage and history, Government House is a “must see” for anyone visiting Nassau. But this day also includes the People-to-People program at the tea party, which means live music, a fashion show with Bahamian designs, storytellers, a lovely British tea (scones, cucumber sandwiches and all of that), and locally-sourced delicacies.
Day 3: ARDASTRA ZOO AND GARDENS TOUR
More than four acres of lush tropical gardens greet you! My favorite is the pinkish-orange Caribbean flamingo, the national bird of The Bahamas. This open-air classroom features interactive demonstrations and is a utopia of peace, beauty and tranquility. It is an exotic oasis offering conservation education and close encounters with a collection of 135 animals, rare gems – not to be missed!
Day 4: CLIFTON HERITAGE PARK
This deja-vu step-back-in-time provides fascinating remnants of the cultural legacy of significant groups that had an impact on the country … the Lucayans, Loyalists and Africans. Transported through time, I see re-creations of various historical periods with expert guides, naturalists and historians.
Day 5: BONEFISH FISHING
This is an angler’s paradise with fish galore! But for many fishermen, bonefish are the ultimate catch. If you’re having “reel” dreams, the concierge can hook you up with a super Bahamas tour company guaranteed to give you a Hemingway-esque type of adventure you’ll long treasure on one of the Out Islands.
Day 6: TOURS BY LAND AND SEA
No trip to The Bahamas is complete without a city tour to the charming straw market with local handicrafts and legendary landmarks such as the Queen’s Staircase. Other historical stops should culminate in a trip to Junkanoo Beach, an iconic pristine slice of heaven. You’ll want to refresh and balance it all with some incredible sailing and snorkeling in the azure crystal seas. There is nothing in sight but mangrove-lined white beaches afar. Neptune’s bounty of sparkling colors awaits you just below the water, so bring along your special camera gear.
This lush week in a tropical paradise offers a synthesis of cultural awareness, compassionate interaction with locals, cutting-edge adventure and pampering all at your fingertips.
** Super opportunities to embrace Bahamian culture
** Scintillating landscapes and lush verdant scenery
** More than 700 islands scattered over 100,000 square miles of ocean
*** Exotic flora and fauna with sizzling cuisine
*** People-to-People program for up-close travel
*** Old-fashioned Bahamian service with all the amenities suitable for
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Jody Reed is formerly a writer at the White House and TV Consumer Reporter. A 17-year veteran travel writer, she is published regionally and nationally and is a member of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association.