My recent visit to The Abaco Club on Winding Bay was a true delight. After a short flight from Miami to Marsh Harbour Airport, I was whisked off to the resort located about 20 minutes away. It was clear upon arrival that the club truly lives up to its tagline “barefoot luxury in The Bahamas.”
I must admit that I’m not a golf aficionado, but some of my travel writer colleagues definitely were. The main attraction of the resort is its 18 hole golf course, designed by Donald Steel and Tom Mackenzie, that ranks as the number one course in The Bahamas. However, one definitely does not need to play golf to enjoy the 453 acre private club and residential community.
In addition to golf, a two-mile stretch of pristine white sand beach leading to turquoise waters provides the perfect setting for relaxation, swimming, snorkeling and other aquatic and sporting activities.
I checked in at the welcome center and was provided with my own golf cart to zip around the grounds. For most of my stay, however, I walked or hitched rides, as I was a little intimidated about driving the cart, British style on the left. I managed, however, to get to my private cabana and back on my departure day, all in one piece.
The four night stay was heavenly with some the most beautiful sunsets I have ever witnessed, outstanding service, wonderful hosts and the squawks of the famous Abaco parrots. I stayed in my own private, spacious one room cabana that featured high ceilings, beautiful décor, luxurious amenities by L’Occitane, daily maid service, appliances, WiFi and the latest, flat screen televisions to help keep up with news from the mainland.
Dining at The Cliff House Restaurant, the resort’s private clubhouse, was delightful with wonderful local seafood, including succulent grilled Bahamian lobster tail or fresh catch of the day, or delicious Delmonico ribeye, prepared by a world class culinary team. For breakfast and lunch, Flippers Beach Bar served up wonderful breakfast dishes, such as Eggs Florentine and Coconut French Toast, paired with a creamy latte or pineapple mango smoothie. Try the house-made conch fritters, an island staple.
A visit or two to the European style spa is not to be missed. The talented beauty professionals provide a variety of massage, body and skincare treatments – all outstanding and recommended. The resort also features a fully equipped fitness center, tennis courts, as well as a gorgeous infinity pool and whirlpool that overlook the ocean.
During my trip, professionally-led golf and fly fishing lessons were also on the agenda, as was a daylong boat trip that included a chance to snorkel in the area’s famous coral reefs. A highlight was the Junkanoo, a parade celebrating the vibrant culture of the islands, which takes place during special themed nights at the resort.
The best news is that you can even own a home in this slice of heaven, with one room cabanas, two and four bedroom cottages and elaborate custom homes, all available to purchase. Residential options include ‘Estate Lots’ located in the east and west sections of the golf course, featuring spectacular ocean views and semi-customizable plantation-style, single-family homes on one to two acres; semi-customizable plantation-style, two to four bedroom, single-family ‘Cottages’ with golf or water views; and one bedroom stand-alone ‘Cabanas’ overlooking the links.
Previously managed by The Ritz-Carlton, the property was acquired by Southworth Development along with a consortium of members and homeowners in December 2014. Additional enhancements to the resort are in the works, along with new amenities, including a state-of-the-art golf practice facility, a marina and a boathouse.
The resort offers a variety of membership options for residents, non-resident and international guests. An added perk is that members can enjoy reciprocal privileges at all other Southworth properties, located in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Virginia and Scotland.
If The Abaco Club on Winding Bay has set the standard, I truly hope to visit some of Southworth’s other resorts one day soon. ■