If sparkling turquoise waters and a powder-white sand beach on the beguiling shores of Nassau, Bahamas — not to mention a complete renovation and conversion to “adults only” hotel — aren’t enough to entice you to book a winter getaway to the Riu Palace Paradise Island, then perhaps some highlights from my recent four-day getaway just might.
Walking into the newly revamped lobby, I am immersed in a world of contemporary design and colonial accents enhanced by splashes of vibrant blue and purple hues, a theme that is carried into the resort’s 379 rooms and suites, which include two-bedroom and two-bathroom options, all with full or partial ocean views.
At one end of the lobby is a sign that says ‘Capuchino’ and I walk over to order myself a specialty coffee that the barista suggests I enjoy with a piece of red velvet cake. I savour the moment, happily noting my holiday is off to a sweet start.
The five-star property is located on Cabbage Beach, home to some of the island’s most renowned mega-resorts, and boasts two pools, five restaurants, three bars and the Renova Spa. The latter is my first stop. I’m intent on mastering the art of relaxation — something I discover comes rather naturally under the skilled hands of a resident masseuse.
By day, I laze on a pristine beach overlooked by the hotel’s infinity pool bar — my spot of choice to sip on a switcha, a local drink made from fresh lemons and limes. (Though admittedly, I have also become a fan of their strawberry mojitos. After all, isn’t sipping the perfect cocktail what island dreams are made of?)
For lunch I alternate between poolside grilled Jamaican jerk chicken and pork, and the buffet, which also serves a hearty breakfast amplified with ocean views and alfresco dining. At night I take a culinary trip around the globe, accompanied by copious glasses of wine (the hotel offers a special wine list at an additional charge). There are spicy delicacies at Chutney Indian restaurant, where I savour dishes like Tandoori chicken, samosas and curry lamb as my knowledgeable waiter explains how the hotel chefs underwent extensive training in the preparation of authentic Indian cuisine. Other dining options include the Japanese Tengoku, the steakhouse Bahamas, the fusion cuisine of Krystal and the international buffet at Atlantic.
For drinks and snacks, the 24-hour Calypso bar is the place to be. Four times a week, the room transforms into a 250-seat entertainment venue with performances and shows. This is a new design concept for the Spanish RIU chain, who brought in a team of dancers from Cuba and Jamaica. Later, when drinks and dancing induce the craving for a late night snack, I gain a newfound appreciation for the hotel’s 24-hour room service.
My room, with an enviable ocean view, is equipped with perks that include a USB port, a liquor dispenser, a fully stocked mini-bar, a coffee maker (a must for me), a walk-in shower with dual shower-heads and plush bathrobes. The property also has a state-of-the-art fitness centre, complimentary poolside yoga classes and free WiFi throughout.
Being in Nassau for the first time, my thoughts turn to James Bond and his world of speedboats, beautiful beaches, fine dining and casino nights, all of which set the scene for what I experience when I stroll next door to Atlantis — home to the world’s largest open-air marine habitat and the biggest casino in the Caribbean. It also houses a list of restaurants that reads like a who’s who of the culinary world. So it may come as no surprise that sometime between sipping a cognac and smoking a Cuban cigar, I find myself trying on a pair of Gucci slides at the high-end boutique. Ultimately, I decide on a pair of Tory Burch sandals next door. The shopping is world-class, in a Rodeo-drive kind of way, and all within steps of the RIU.
The Riu Palace Paradise Island is also located minutes from the fascinating colonial architecture, historic sites and attractions of Nassau. Have I convinced you? You can book your winter getaway to Riu Palace Paradise Island with Sunwing, which offers the most direct flights to the south of any leisure carrier. This is just another reason to hurry up and visit: get there before everyone else does.