One&Only Ocean Club

Island time.

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There is a reason they call this place Paradise Island.

It is immediately obvious, looking out at the turquoise Atlantic Ocean stretching on forever, staring up at the waving palm trees: it will not be hard to stay here a while. Located just over the bridge from Nassau in The Bahamas, Paradise Island is home to the gigantic Atlantis resort, a 171-acre property with a water park, a dolphin cay, and dozens of restaurants and bars. But a 15-minute walk down the white-sand beach sits the real crown jewel of the island: the One&Only Ocean Club.

The secluded, sophisticated resort is entered through a long, winding road surrounded by lush greenery (recognized for its role in James Bond’s Casino Royale). Sitting on 35 acres—not including the expansive and prestigious golf course—of beachfront bliss, the Ocean Club, once the private estate of The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company heir Huntington Hartford II, is a staple of the One&Only brand, itself known for impeccable service and refined luxury.

Most recently opened is the property’s Hartford Wing, a 52-room section designed by Jeffrey Beers and located right off the lobby (in which fresh-squeezed lemonade sits for the pouring at afternoon leisure). The courtyard, with its tall palms, cross-shaped pond, and modern furniture, is reason alone to let out a sweet sigh. Each room comes with 24-hour butler service; he will know your name and bring you complimentary champagne and strawberries each day. Amenities created especially for the Ocean Club by Lady Primrose, under the brand name Azure, are on hand in the large washroom with waterfall shower and standalone bathtub. For those looking for more space, the resort also boasts 860-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom cottages, as well as three- and four-bedroom private villas.

Back through the lobby—home to a library lounge—and across manicured lawns, the ocean spreads out ahead. There is a cocktail bar right on the edge, perfect for sipping a mojito and watching the sun go down. And of course there is Dune, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant offering fresh and made-in-house fare, including local snapper and grouper, as well as a savoury filet mignon. Keep an eye out for chef de cuisine Lester Dean, a friendly and quintessentially Bahamian character with a big smile and slow laugh.

Near Dune sits a five-foot-deep infinity pool, perched right over the one-mile Cabbage Beach. Have a fresh arugula salad or shrimp tacos delivered right to the pool (along with a personal tray with water and sunscreen), or sit at a neighbouring table at the Ocean Pool Grill. Down at the beach, Ocean Club-reserved lounge chairs are on hand, along with food service, foot massages, and complimentary magazines. But there is more water still, back up at the Club: a more secluded offering, the Versailles Pool that overlooks expertly manicured Versailles Gardens. There is a kids’ club nearby, with organized activities (including chaperoned trips to the alluring Aquaventure waterpark at Atlantis), as well as a fitness centre, and a tennis court. Those looking for lessons will come across Leo Rolle, a jolly old soul who has been with the property for more than 50 years and will be quick to offer up stories about how things have evolved.

And while the ocean breeze and lapping waves are soothing in their own right, there is also a spa on property, fit with private massage cabanas—each with an outdoor day bed and an outdoor bath, plus washroom and two beds, in case a couple’s treatment is on the agenda.

The entire staff is warm, and clearly happy to be under the leadership of general manager John Conway, who came from The Cove, the Atlantis’s luxury arm. “I followed him from The Cove,” the Ocean Club’s executive administrative assistant Garrill Johnson says of Conway. “A lot of us did—he’s just that good.” She walks around the property with an obvious sense of pride—something echoed across the pools, up the palms, across the blue skies. “Remember,” Johnson says with a smile, before disappearing into the sunlight. “Warm winters!”

UPDATE, December 2017: The property has changed hands and is now The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort.


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August 8, 2016