Sandals Emerald Bay
by Shawn Cooper
A mere 40 minutes by plane from South Florida, the 365 tiny islets and cays that comprise The Exumas are the Jewels of the Bahamian archipelago. Sandals is a short drive from Great Exuma International Airport. I visited this resort in February, 2017 and was greeted with a warm “welcome home” which set the tone for my week-long stay. I was taken to a luxurious room and was provided cold towels to sooth the skin after a long journey; recycled airline air sucks moisture like a “Sham Wow on spilt milk”. Champagne and specialty cocktails called “3 Decades of Love” (commemorating the 3 decades of service) were also served as I waited for my butler to show me to my room.
I decided to experience butler service where the staff wait on you hand and foot. Our team of butlers, Scott, Garth and Henry, were all trained by the “Guild of Professional English Butlers,” owned and run by Robert Watson, who continually trains all of the butlers from all of the 14 Sandals’ locations. Your butlers will wait on you hand and foot, unpacking your baggage, serving you food throughout the day or night, and insure everything is precisely as you want it. (I didn’t ask, but they would have cut my steak for me at dinner without question.) I was given a personal cell phone to use throughout my trip enabling me to contact my butlers with any request from any location. A Sandals Suite, complete with the luxury of a butler, is the ultimate indulgence that I highly recommend..
After settling into my room and meeting my butler, I went for a tour of the property. My first stop was one of the three impressive pools spanning over a half-acre. The zero-entry pool had dramatic fire pits in and around it and a swim-up bar with tables and seating surrounded by fountains and hot tubs the size swimming pools. I spent most of my days under a cabana lounging by the pool taking in the sights and soothing sounds of the ocean just feet away. The soft white sand beach gave me an escape from the pool and offered countless water sports, including sailing, kayaking, scuba diving and snorkeling, to mention a few.
The next stop on the tour was the championship Greg Norman-designed golf course, voted one of the Caribbean’s Best by Travel & Leisure®. I had the honor of meeting Kevin Mumford, an inspiring golf pro who manages the course. We sat in the “Shark Shack”, the golfers lounge named after Gregg Norman who has the nick name, “The Great White Shark.”.
The room is a golfer’s paradise with cold drinks, golf memorabilia and new Taylor Made golf clubs for rent. Kevin proved to be one of the most influential golf instructors I have ever met.
Kevin talked to me about his background and training with his golf legend mentors; Ben Kern, Murray “Moe” Norman and Harvey Kenick. He gave me the best and most effective golf instruction while sharing some of the key lessons he had learned during his own training.
My experience thus far was dwarfed when I got to the 18 hole, 7100 yard, par 72 championship golf course with 6 signature oceanside holes. This course is unlike anything I have ever seen and among the most challenging.
After a long day of golf, I was able to relax in the magnificent Red Lane® Dermalogica concept spa encompassing 16,000 square feet, with 16 treatment rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and a tranquility garden with five pools. Karen, the General Manager of the Spa, gave me a tour describing the amenities found exclusively at Sandals. Caribbean elements are used as a theme throughout the spa and are reflected in each treatment. I spent time in the steam room as I loosened my muscles and hydrated on fruit-infused water.
After a shower, I was taken to my picture-perfect treatment room which defined simplistic elegance. My masseuse eased all the tension in my muscles with her delicate, yet deep touch, use of aroma therapy, hot stones and sand exfoliation. This legendary European Spa and distinctive Caribbean treatments made my experience one I will not soon forget.
With seven restaurants and 24 hour room service, it was an honor and a pleasure to award Sandals Emerald Bay the Nightlife Magazine® Fine Dining Award for Culinary Excellence. Food Connoisseurs come hungry. At any given time you can find food to fulfill any craving.
My experience at the Barefoot by the Sea restaurant was among the most fun, thanks to the amazing staff. The best food was the French cuisine found at La Parisienne. The Bahama Bay Restaurant has an extensive breakfast and lunch buffet, as well as a dinner buffet that changes daily based on the daily theme.
This restaurant gives you a huge variety of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. While you’re there, stop by the bar and say “hi” to Sonia, an inspiring woman who says, “I will stay at Sandals as long as Sandals keeps bringing me great guests. She loves the clients, the sociability, and the smiles she gets when she serves her famous breakfast smoothies.
Returning guests are recognized on every visit to Sandals and get special services. When you book your stay at any of the 14 Sandals Resorts, a profile is made. This profile contains all of your special requests, dietary needs and preferential butlers, to name a few. When you come back, the resort is prepared for your arrival with all of your favorites and preferences waiting for you. In addition, there are activities throughout the stay designed specifically for returning guests including the Gala Dinner where guests are recognized as part of “The Family.” The Dinner includes cocktails on the ocean-view golf course, a parade to the Ball Room with a marching band, followed by a white glove dinner fit for a King.
My experience at Sandals Emerald Bay was memorable and full of excitement. I am looking forward to traveling to other Sandals resorts, experiencing the world-class service and famous “Luxury Inclusive” standards that I have come to love.