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East meets West – in the Bahamas! Catherine Beattie chills out on an exclusive island and experiences its starry Balinese spa.  We missed John Travolta by a few days – and Sharon Stone. Cindy Crawford was married here and Tiger Woods has played the palm-dotted golf links. The resort...

Ocean Paradise

East meets West – in the Bahamas! Catherine Beattie chills out on an exclusive island and experiences its starry Balinese spa. 

We missed John Travolta by a few days – and Sharon Stone. Cindy Crawford was married here and Tiger Woods has played the palm-dotted golf links. The resort also starred (along with Daniel Craig) in the James Bond movie Casino Royale. So why – in a world of five, six and seven star resorts – is One & Only’s Ocean Club so popular with the rich and famous? 

A great location for a start – tucked away on a tiny island called Paradise, ten minutes from busy Nassau and a mere 40 minutes from the international airport. Then, there’s the perfect setting in acres of tropical gardens alongside a fine sugar sand beach and turquoise lagoon. Or the more intrinsic appeal of the supremely comfortable rooms, fabulous food and butler service – and the extra little treats like champagne and strawberries delivered daily to your room and hand-made chocolates left on your Frette pillowcase each night. And importantly (for celebrities wanting time out of the spotlight) there are no crowds, commercialism, traffic or intrusions from the outside world – Ocean Club is the perfect island hideaway. 

First developed as a luxury retreat in the 1960s, the elegant colonial-styled hotel always attracted a discerning and affluent clientele. South African hotelier Sol Kerzner took over in 2000, splashing out more than $100 million on new luxury accommodation and amenities, bringing it up to One & Only’s impeccable standards of luxury and comfort and adding an 18-hole championship golf course and a fabulous spa. 

No sooner have we been shown to our spacious room overlooking the ocean, than two smiling spa therapists appear, to soothe away our jet lag. Our weary feet and ankles are massaged with a lime and ginger scrub then immersed in a warm footbath. As we relax, scented candles are lit in the bathroom and the huge bath filled with a fragrant mix of warm water and reviving essential oils. After sprinkling flower petals into the water, we are left to enjoy a private soak. Jet lag has never felt so good! 

The Spa 

The following day, we visit Ocean Club’s Mandara Spa, where the treatments are a mix of Bahamian, Asian and global cultures and techniques. The aim is to maximise pleasure and relaxation by stimulating as many of the senses as possible. Elemis products are used in most of the spa treatments, which are carried out in eight private villas built in Bali now set in Bahamian tropical gardens. All massages and packages include extra time to enjoy the villa and its amenities. You can also have a massage by the beach in a seaside ‘cabana,’ or a treatment in your room. There is also a Spa Salon, for hairdressing, nail care, waxing and specialist beauty services. Ocean Club’s spa is for the exclusive use of its guests, who tend to be experienced and discerning spa-goers, demanding the highest standards of expertise and luxury. They also pay a premium price, with facials costing upwards from $160 and massages from $130! 

We opt for a Balinese Ritual of Touch for two – a traditional oriental massage that promises to ‘ease tension, improve circulation and calm the mind.’ We are shown into one of the private spa villas and change into white bathrobes and slippers. Our villa has its own entrance and private garden complete with temple water fountain, statues, outdoor whirlpool bath and an exotic canopied day bed. A path of stepping-stones leads into a private treatment pavilion with changing facilities and a waterfall shower. The pavilion is richly furnished with side-by-side massage tables, cream linen sheets, Thai silk pillows and coconut bowls filled with fresh flowers and floating candles. Even the ceiling and walls are beautiful, decorated with intricate oriental carvings in fine wood. 

All Ritual of Touch massages performed in private spa villas begin with a Floral Foot Wash, a Balinese ritual symbolising the cleansing of life’s stresses in preparation for total relaxation. The Balinese Ritual of Touch that follows, is our first experience of sharing a treatment. Despite the quiet background music, I find it difficult to relax hearing an identical massage being performed on my husband, who dozes off half way through and is gently snoring! 
All too soon, a delicate chime sounds the end of the treatment and we reluctantly pad outside into the garden where herbal tea and refreshments are graciously served. After a dip in the whirlpool bath and a loll on the daybed, we depart our Balinese villa relaxed and floating on air! 

Later in the week, I have two further spa treatments and pamper my feet with a pedicure in the salon. The Elemis Japanese Silk Booster facial is a heavenly treatment that starts with a reflexology foot massage to stimulate the healing process. It blends natural Japanese silk protein with pure plant essences to improve the skin’s texture and tone. The uplifting massage techniques give my face an instantly fresher look. The Caribbean Awakening Coffee Body Scrub is as exotic as it sounds. Made from finely ground Caribbean coffee and volcanic pumice from Bali, it not only has a wonderful aroma, but leaves my skin smooth and my caffeine-fuelled senses buzzing! 

We play a round of golf on the scenic 18-hole course. Designed by Tom Weiskopf, the 7159 yard par 72 course has beaches on three sides and beautiful views from every angle. You can rent clubs, carts and equipment which like the course, are all in pristine condition. Use of a ‘gold’ key to strategically placed ‘facilities’ reveals bathroom suites that we’d like at home, iced water dispensers and a phone point on the 9th hole to request refreshments. Little wonder golf ‘paradise’ doesn’t come cheap! 

The course is challenging with island cross winds yet we misplace few balls on the wide manicured fairways. A notice on the beach alongside the 17th fairway warns ‘beware errant golf balls.’ We had always suspected that the golf ball was to blame for misdirected shots! 

Warm water diving is another pleasant experience and a popular recreation on Paradise Island. We try two separate dive operations in Nassau, though in our option, both are short on briefings with minimal pre-dive checks and scant regard to practising the ‘buddy’ approach. As with any dive, it is vital to know what is being planned. Understanding our fast talking Japanese dive master is difficult, but we eventually grasp we are to dive a ‘rum runner wreck.’ Both operations provide video makers for the underwater experience. We feel the dive staff should be pointing out features and critters on the dive, rather than pointing video cameras at the divers and pushing the commercial side. 

That said, there is plenty to see – soft corals and a variety of small fish. For those who enjoy the thrill of being with sharks, Caribbean reef sharks can be seen in abundance, especially around shark feeding sites and appear docile and friendly! 

One advantage of staying at Ocean Club is that you can easily pop into Nassau (linked by a spectacular bridge) for shopping and sightseeing. Kerzner’s original Atlantis resort is just a short distance from Ocean Club, so one evening we eat dinner there and look around the vast complex and its numerous attractions. Another morning we take a fun powerboat trip down to Exuma Cay, one of the Out Islands, where we eat a freshly prepared lunch, feed iguanas and wild pigs and swam in crystal clear waters with sharks and tropical fish. Later in the week, we sail around Paradise Island on a catamaran and on to Nassau where we get a close-up glimpse of several large cruise ships berthed in the wharf. We also visit Nassau’s Arawak Cay, to soak up the local atmosphere. Coming back to Ocean Club from our explorations always feels good – like coming home. We plan to return to ‘paradise’ as soon as time and our bank balance allows.

Seven nights with luxury long-haul specialists’ starts from £1755 per person. Price is based on room only in a garden view room and includes private transfers, airport taxes and flights with British Airways direct from London to Nassau.

For further information visit or to book call one of our Caribbean specialists on:
020 8774 7299. email: Offer subject to availability. 

Recommended read: The Rough Guide to the Bahamas. RRP £14.99

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