A smiling face greets me, as I exit through sliding glass doors that open up to reveal a near perfect Caribbean view. “The beach is just here,” he continues, and points me in the direction of the cool blue ocean. The water is calm, azure and crystal at the same time, and I’m among the few early risers and locals that are taking their morning stroll along a stretch of pale sand.
I’m in the Bahamas, at the newly minted Goldwynn Resort & Residences on Cable Beach in Nassau, to be exact, and if there wasn’t the sound of the a.m. traffic wafting over the edge of Goodman Bay, you’d be hard pressed to believe the capital city and busy port was just, well, over there.
I walk, with purpose, digging my toes into the near powder beneath my feet, sinking my heels where possible and wading into the surf to cool off every few steps. Everyone I pass has a greeting or a smile; tough not to be happy on this beautiful sunny day on this beautiful horseshoe-shaped stretch of sand that hugs the bay just so.
The natural curve of things seems to be the order of the day: The Goldwynn’s design sits boomerang-like elevated above the beach; its build mirrors the shape of Goodman Bay like a warm embrace. It’s like it’s saying, “welcome, let me hold you.” It certainly has taken a hold of me, and I don’t want to leave the beach. But breakfast beckons, and the resort’s restaurant, Oia, features chef-driven cuisine that marries classic training with Japanese technique – with a side of Mediterranean gusto for good measure.
But it’s after dark that the star behind the stoves really shines. Executive chef Bakhodir Sharipov, aka Chef Bak, has coined his culinary vision MediterAsian, mixing tempura with tzatziki, pasta with conch, tuna tartare with citrusy yuzu and crispy rice, and so much more. He gracefully twists the “Goldwynn” maki, his brilliant take on surf (garlic lobster) and turf (A-5 Striploin), a complete taste sensation in one bite. Many diners don’t even bother with chopsticks when the many types of sushi maki arrive at table; this is finger food artfully elevated.
Art, in many of its forms, takes centre stage at Goldwynn. The owners, who have Canadian roots, insisted that as many of the public spaces and most of the guest rooms feature the works of local Bahamian artists. A local gallery owner was enlisted to curate works, from paintings and sculptures to photography and mixed media, and commission pieces from established and up-and-coming artists.
In the atrium, aptly named Atria, a public gathering space of sorts where you can order coffee or cocktails, one soaring wall acts as the backdrop for what is said to be the world’s tallest indoor relief sculpture. The towering five storey (that’s 60 feet!) installation by the Bahamian artist Kishan Munroe, takes the eye upward as four giant sculpted pink flamingos dance, careen and take flight over a molten bas relief map of the Bahamas. The atrium interior design allows for guests to look out over Atria below – most guest rooms doors face the open space – and get up and close and personal with the birds, from each floor. The guest suites are lovely, complete with kitchenettes and balconies, and if you’re not blessed with an ocean-side view, no matter. The vibrant greens and fairways of the golf course across the street at Baha Mar provide a natural, serene eye candy all its own.
Sea anemone, spiky sea urchins, and all manner of ceramic pieces of all shapes and sizes entitled “Coral Reef” by the Bahamian artist Imogene Walkine cling ethereally to the opposite wall, covering about 24 feet. The ceramicist is in the house tonight, and it’s the first time Walkine has seen the installation. She’s chuffed, and it’s a rare gift to admire an artist’s work for the first time, while standing next to them.
Supporting the local community, from visual artists to culinary artists, is important here. The powers that be at Goldwynn encourage exploration, such as the resort’s partnership with Elaine and Gandhi Pinder’s Sapodilla Restaurant. We jump in the waiting shuttle van in front of the resort and are chauffeured to the historic family home-turned dining establishment. With four striking dining spaces decorated with heirlooms and period furniture, including a piano bar – where we’re caught singing at the top of our lungs to pianist Travante Taylor’s take on the white baby grand of everything from Frank Sinatra to Michael Buble – to where we experience Belle Epoque “Gueridon” service from tuxedo-clad servers, preparing bold-face named dishes like Caesar Salad, Steak Diane and flaming Bananas Foster tableside.
Back at the resort, the heat is on, but in a good way. The Bay is glowing, the tunes at the infinity pool that appears to be spilling gently into the Caribbean blue are pumping, a few happy people are emerging refreshed from spa treatments that, like OIA restaurant, marry east and west – and the gentle, salty surf enables swimmers and snorkellers to take the waters at a leisurely float. “Turtle!” we hear one delighted shout. “Here, too!” cries another. A few sunbathers are taking a snooze on the anchored raft a dozen metres or so from shore, undisturbed.
In the distance, the daily traffic of Nassau hums, barely audible above the sound of the waves lapping the shore and the poolside house music. I’m defying gravity on the water’s surface, looking up at the sky, contemplating absolutely nothing. Perhaps it is better in the Bahamas after all.