A Taster's Journey is a newsletter on food, wine and travel. After 15 years of studying, tasting, teaching, and selling wine, I created this newsletter to not only share my passion about wine, but of food and travel as well. Each month I hope to share wines that I am drinking, food that is in season, restaurants that I have enjoyed, and places I have traveled. Enjoy!"

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The Ocean Club on Paradise Island

October 22nd, 2004

The cooler days of October are beautiful, but the chilly mornings signal that the frost of winter is quickly approaching. It is time to plan ahead for a winter getaway that will warm your body and soothe your soul. One of my favorite spots is The Ocean Club on Paradise Island in The Bahamas. The weather is consistently good, the beaches are beautiful, and the resort is luxurious.

Paradise Island is part of Nassau, the capital city of The Bahamas. Fortunately it has not been adversely affected by the hurricanes this fall. Nassau is particularly attractive to those living in the northeastern United States because it can be reached by a short direct flight, less than 3 hours from N.Y.C. Paradise Island is only a half hour drive from the Nassau airport allowing you to reach the resort by lunchtime. The island is only 685 acres, and is known for white sand beaches and emerald green water. The Ocean Club is a spectacular tranquil oasis on Paradise Island.

Rooms with an Ocean View

Rooms with an Ocean View

The second you arrive at The Ocean Club the pampering begins. You are greeted with a glass of champagne and a cold, lavender scented washcloth to help you decompress from your flight. After a few minutes, you are whisked off to your room, advised of all the services available, and introduced to your butler that will help you with any needs. There are 106 rooms at The Ocean Club, but the layout of the grounds makes it feel very private. Most of these rooms enjoy an ocean front view, which is spectacular. They are large, open and airy, 16 of which are suites. The rooms have white walls, sheer fabrics, and a puffy white comforter giving the room a relaxed, elegant Island feel. The bath is a combination of stone and marble with warm pastel wall colors, again achieving an understated elegance. The private balcony is a real highlight. It is simple with white lattice railings, a chaise lounge, and a set of table and chairs. A perfect spot to enjoy your morning coffee. The view, however, is what makes this balcony special. Palm trees sway in the wind, the white beach seems to go for miles, and the Caribbean Sea sparkles.

The beach is a critical component to an island vacation, and this beach is breathtaking. The sand is pearl white and as soft as flour. The water is a radiant turquoise that glistens like a precious gem. It almost displays a playfulness as you see schools of small fish swim by. The rolling waves are gentle, continuous small curls of foam. The light breeze off the water provides a pleasant antidote to the blazing afternoon sun. Ahh, this must be nirvana. The beach runs about ¾ mile in either direction from The Ocean Club. The beach to the right is rather secluded, and ends at a small coral reef, which is ideal for snorkeling. Walking to the left, on the other hand, will provide plenty of entertainment. Along the beach you will first encounter complimentary sailboats and paddleboats. A bit further up the shoreline will be the jet skis and banana boats. These are located right before the Atlantis Hotel, which is owned by the same group as the Ocean Club, although they are very different hotels. The Atlantis is huge, 2,000 rooms, multiple swimming pools, a shark tank and a casino – akin to a carnival by the beach.

Pool and Gardens

Pool and Gardens

In addition to this beautiful beach, there are two lovely pools. The main pool overlooks gorgeous gardens that are impeccably maintained. These lush terraced gardens are filled with vibrant flowers and fabulous sculptures. A small terrace restaurant is located adjacent to the pool for lunch or an afternoon snack. The other pool is for families with smaller children, and it has several shallow wading pools. The Ocean Club’s focus is not on motor sports, but toward relaxation and rejuvenation. Their spa is one of the finest in the Caribbean with eight Balinese – style private treatment villas with open-air gardens. Treatments range from simple facials to all day therapies.

Although the spa is a major focus of the resort, The Ocean Club wants every guest’s needs to be met. A well-equipped fitness center with the latest Cybex and Nautilus equipment is available for those wanting to workout. Hobiecat sailing, snorkeling, aqua bikes, kayaking, and bicycling are all complimentary. The concierge can also arrange more exotic trips such as: bone fishing, scuba diving, or all day boating excursions.

Dune Restaurant and Bar

Dune Restaurant and Bar

The design of the resort is extraordinary. The rooms are laid out for privacy, but also take advantage of the magnificent ocean views. The pools and spa are intertwined with beautiful gardens. And the new Dune Restaurant is centrally located with the Dune Bar perched over the sand dunes. The Dune Bar has unobstructed views of the beach, and is the place to be during sunset.

The new Dune Restaurant and Bar was completed in 2001. The executive chef is Jean George Vongerichten, and the food is French/Asian cuisine with Bahamian influences. Although the food is exquisite, the dining experience is very casual. As you might expect, fresh seafood is the focus. One day for lunch I ate a conch seviche that was so fresh it just melted away. A lobster sandwich with Thai seasonings was another example of fresh seafood perfectly prepared. So sit at the bar and enjoy a Mojito with a platter of sushi, or dine inside the restaurant and have a delicious three-course dinner – the choice is yours, and either way will be great.

I find the food in the Bahamas and the Caribbean to be just ok, so I was pleasantly surprised by the terrific food at The Ocean Club. The beach, the water, the views, the sunsets, the service, and the food made this place very special. I hope to return soon, and I hope you get to experience The Ocean Club too.

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