TravelMole’s Graham McKenzie is in laid back luxury and loving it...
"A short but spectacular plane ride from Nassau is the fabulous island of Exuma. A very relaxed laid back island with lots of small bays, beaches, forest and the new jewel in the crown of the Sandals resorts empire, Emerald bay.
I use the word jewel ( geddit .emerald ..jewel? ) as it is completely different from any other Sandals I have been to. The atmosphere, the clientele, the rooms and the sense of place are all much more subdued and sophisticated.
Yes the Sandals logos are everywhere, a copy of Butch Stewarts autobiography is in each room (BTW he has a new one out! watch out John Grisham) and they still seem to see the need to induce everybody to have a jolly and perhaps more annoyingly loud time around the central pool but there is without doubt something different.
It may be because Sandals bought the property from Four seasons or it's just that little bit too remote for many party type holidaymakers but whilst I was there the hotel was running at 80% capacity yet appeared to be empty. Most people just womble around the joint totally chilled and relaxed.
As is standard with Sandals they have about a zillion different room types all ending in the word suite, hot and cold running butlers plus a variety of restaurants and cuisine to satisfy most palates. From a McKenzie master chef point of view I think it could benefit from an Asian restaurant.
In addition the access to the beach and clear blue water is very easy although most seemed to prefer the variety of pools on offer, spa facilities and of course the British pub. To me the whole offering was ideally suited to a baby boom generation traveller who wants an all-inclusive package with a touch of luxury.
Now however I come to the Koh-i-Noor in the coronet of Emerald bay...the golf facility. A Greg Norman designed layout with a real championship feel to it. The test maybe too much for most holiday golfers, no matter what tee you choose to play from. If however you are an eighteen or below handicapper you will really enjoy it.
Most of the holes are set next to the sea with yards of manicured emerald (!) green set next to rocky out crops and the ever present turquoise sea. Sea breezes and narrow fairways make virtually all the holes a challenge and you definitely get the notion you're experiencing something special.
I would make a public request here for Sandals not to dumb down the course. It's far too good for that and if they continue to maintain it at the levels I enjoyed it, golfers from around the planet will wish to wear the crown of Emerald bay."
Graham stayed at :-
Tuesday, January 31, 2012