It's hard to imagine how it could happen, but a beach resort in the southern Atlantic once renowned for its picture-perfect white and pink sands somehow dropped off the traveler's map. In 1959, when Juan Trippe, founder of Pan American Airways, opened his exclusive Cotton Bay Club on Eleuthera, the 110-mile-long by 2-mile-wide Bahamian island quickly became a playground for wealthy Americans. Then hurricane damage and the demise of Pan Am sent the elite elsewhere, and investors set their sights on nearby Harbour Island and the Exumas. Slowly but surely, however, Eleuthera is rebounding. Last year, Continental added new flights to the island from Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The venerable Cove resort has recently been transformed into a stylish retreat, and a hotel at the center of a real estate development called Pineapple Fields is now accepting guests. And by the end of the year, Eleuthera will see the debut of several small luxury hotels, plus Starwood's 1,500-acre Cotton Bay Villas. This upscale, ecologically sensitive resort, owned by Bahamian locals, will leave the landscape of kamalame trees and pigeon plums largely untouched, and its beach will be the domain of only the lucky few. The Cove 800/ 552-5960; www.thecoveeleuthera.com; doubles from $195. Pineapple Fields 877/ 677-9539; www.pineapplefields.com; one-bedroom rentals from $195.
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