Change is coming to New Providence Island, the Bahamas’ most populous and most touristed destination, and fast. Here’s a peek at what’s new in this classic Caribbean destination…
New airport terminal:
The unveiling of new facilities at Nassau’s airport, Lynden Pindling International, actually started in 2011 with its new U.S. departures terminal. With the complex security infrastructure to pre-clear passengers through U.S. Customs before they leave the Bahamas, the terminal can also accommodate 50 percent more passengers than the old terminal. The theme of rapid expansion and growth continued right thorough 2013 with the airport’s newest terminal, for international and domestic departures and domestic arrivals. Complete with local art (see above), soothing fountains, strategically placed cooling units that double as tables, and a gate big enough to accommodate the A-380, these new facilities are all in the service of one goal – increasing the number of passengers who head to the Bahamas on their next vacation. The good news on that front? More flights into a destination often means more competitive flight pricing for travelers.
The expansion of Nassau’s airport has been done with one eye toward Cable Beach, on the north side of New Providence Island. That’s where construction is underway for the massive Baha Mar resort, which will add more than 2,000 hotel rooms to the island, and give the Atlantis megaresort a run for its money. With four new hotels in the complex (a Hyatt; a Mondrian – its drool-worthy rooftop bar is already visible amidst the scaffolding; a luxury Rosewood property; and a Baha Mar-branded property), scads of ballroom and casino space, a golf course with its 18th green on a private island, and Vegas-style fountains and light shows, the resort promises to be a sophisticated playground for grownups – in contrast to the more family-focused Atlantis. The property is slated to open in December of 2014. We’re always looking forward to new resorts – and some great room rates as the Baha Mar tries to attract new customers, and the Atlantis tries to hold on to old ones.
New activities at a classic hotel:
It’s easy to fall for Graycliff, an 18th Century pirate’s mansion turned luxury hotel in the heart of downtown Nassau. Stocked to the gills with antiques, rare wines and spirits, and mountains of plaques the property has won for its service and food, the hotel is a plush standby for well-heeled travelers. For a sampling of Graycliff at a more manageable price, however, check out the property’s weekly beer-and-pizza shindig, which takes place in the hotel’s beautiful tree-shaded terrace, christened The Humidor Piazza for this purpose. For $20, get three beers and a pizza – and unbeatable Caribbean ambiance. While you’re there, see if you can catch a glimpse of the hotel’s dreamy green-and-blue-tiled swimming pool.
New boozy diversion:
Along with Graycliff, another new project in downtown Nassau is the gleaming John Watling’s distillery, which is housed in bright-painted stucco digs that was once one of the island’s most elegant addresses. (Its more recent history includes a cameo in the film Casino Royale; a plaque on the property indicates where Daniel Craig bounded over a stone wall in the film’s opening scene.) Guests can tour the historic property, check out the enormous storehouse with its rows and rows of barrels and stainless steel distillers, and have a classic Bahamian cocktail in the tavern. They can also take home a bottle of the award-winning house rum – or just sample some (or a lot) in the gift shop. While international distributors are scrambling to get their hands on the rum, it’s still only available in the Bahamas.
For more photos, check out our slideshow of new expansion in Nassau…