Until now, this remote Bahamian out island—known for its saltwater fishing, empty white beaches, and shallow bays that turn three shades of turquoise at sundown—barely registered on the chart. That's changing, but thankfully not much, with the opening of the 183-room Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma at Emerald Bay. Sure, there are Frette linens, pool butlers, and a satellite feed to catch your favorite prime-time show. But it's the lure of guiltless indolence (an indigenous spa, an open-air grill featuring spiny-lobster bakes) that's drawing all those private jets to the island's lone runway. For more action, the new 200-acre resort has a concierge who can hook you up with a kayaking expedition or the best bonefishing guide on the island. After all that excitement, you'll need a good long nap in a Bahama-blue beachfront suite, right next to Emerald Bay, which sparkles like a real gem. Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma at Emerald Bay, Queen's Hwy., Great Exuma, the Bahamas; 800/819-5053 or 242/336-6800; www.fourseasons.com; doubles from $495.
Sandals Emerald Bay
Before this luxurious property arrived in the laid-back Exumas in 2004, the only lodging options were modest mom-and-pop operations. And yes, there were some concerns that a sprawling resort with a Greg Norman golf course, a 60-slip marina, a 17-room spa, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a 5,000-square-foot casino, and fine-dining restaurants would change the essential timbre of this necklace of tiny islands and cays. But even curmudgeonly old-schoolers may be swayed by the lovely island-style décor in the 183 rooms and suites (sophisticated antique repros, pineapple-and-palm-print fabrics, tile floors, rattan ceiling fans). And it's hard not to like the super-attentive staffers, who arrange everything from private snorkeling excursions to finding coloring books, bath toys, and baby shampoo for little ones.
Formerly the Four Seasons Great Exuma.