Best Hotels in the Bahamas
But a fantastic hotel can make your choice suddenly clear: comfy sea-themed villas will bring you to the pink sands of Harbour Island; a 1,500-acre hotel with its own golf course means you'll be unpacking those clubs on Treasure Cay.
Read on for all the top hotels in the Bahamas—and their special amenities—based on readers' votes in our annual World's Best Awards survey.
No. 1 One&Only Ocean Club, Paradise Island, Bahamas
As exclusive and rarefied as its cousin Atlantis is flamboyant (the properties lie adjacent on the north coast of Paradise Island, and are both part of developer Sol Kerzner’s empire), the Ocean Club is the resort of choice for visiting divas like Salma Hayek and Sharon Stone. The 105 guest rooms and suites here epitomize understated opulence, with gleaming hardwood floors, king-size carved beds made up with Frette linens, traditional wood shutters shading enormous windows, and spacious marble baths (most with chin-deep, circular soaking tubs). All have private balconies or decks that overlook the resort’s even more compelling assets: an immaculate, pristine sweep of beach; the 18-hole, Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course; or the sumptuous, manicured gardens. The grounds, maintained by a staff of 30, are a major point of pride here—and culminate in the 35-acre formal French garden known as Versailles. Originally designed by A&P heir Huntington Hartford II (who once owned the property as a private estate), Versailles includes terraced beds of luxuriant hibiscus and bougainvillea, bronze and marble statuary, and—most dramatically—a 14th-century French Augustinian cloister, whose graceful arches frame a view of the sea.
No. 2 Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamas
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.
No. 3 Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island (Nassau), Bahamas
Situated on 13 verdant acres dotted with tropical gardens (a Zen garden among them) and seven pools, Sandals' exclusive, couples-only escape on New Providence Island is renowned for its secluded setting and expansive, oceanfront suites. The resort, stomping grounds of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in the 1940's, continues to maintain its royal pedigree, with Rolls Royce car service for select suites, personal butlers, and a private, off-shore island. Inside, European sensibility blends—with surprising ease—with Caribbean cool: travertine tiled floors, Roman tubs, and Carrera marble countertops add contrast to frescoed ceilings and mahogany accents. The luxe factor continues in The Red Lane® Spa, where the West Indian Massage incorporates rainforest scents, warm river stones, and white-sand exfoliation.
No. 4 Pink Sands Resort, Harbour Island, Bahamas
The oldest and most vaunted resort on Harbour Island (it was first opened by entrepreneur/hotelier J. Allen Malcolm in 1951), the aptly named Pink Sands occupies an enviable spot on Briland’s gorgeous eastern beach. Though it's changed hands several times over the years, it's still considered a major destination, with 25 comfy sea-themed villas set among winding, palm-shaded gardens. The amenities include three tennis courts; a pink-edged, free-form swimming pool; kayaks, snorkeling gear, and sun umbrellas for the powder-pink beach; and a gorgeous, Barbara Hulanicki–designed main lodge where the cocktail bar, billiards room, and lounge feature Balinese carved wood furnishings, tinkling seashell chandeliers, and fabrics in (natch) various shades of pink. New owners PS Ltd. (which purchased the resort from Island Records mogul Chris Blackwell last year) plan to more than double the property's occupancy over the next few years, by adding a slew of new villas, cottages, and condo-style guest units. These new lodgings will be privately owned—good news for those who want their own access to those famous pink sands.
No. 5 Atlantis and The Cove Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas
The hulking, coral-pink fantasy castle of the Bahamas’ only megaresort is visible from miles away (by land or sea); the towers don’t just dominate the Bahamian skyline, they are the skyline. In terms of size, glitz, and hype, billionaire developer Sol Kerzner’s property dwarfs every other in the commonwealth: the main resort has some 2,300 guest rooms, a massive casino, a 63-slip marina filled with luxury yachts, 40-odd restaurants and bars, and too many activities and entertainment options to count (did we mention the 63-acre waterpark?). It’s Disney on the Caribbean, and there are plenty of folks—especially families with kids, and even visiting high rollers like Michael Jordan and Britney Spears—who are just fine with that. Those wanting access to the snazziness without being in the middle of it will prefer The Cove Atlantis, a separate resort within the resort that opened in March 2007. The glamour here is lower-key, with 600 elegant, clean-lined suites (as opposed to the tropical whimsy that prevails at the main resort). The cavernous Mandara Spa, and the fact that no kids under 12 are permitted in certain areas, make this the one part of Atlantis where you’ll feel relaxed rather than dazzled.
No. 6 Grand Lucayan Resort, Lucaya, Bahamas
The Grand Lucayan, one of the Bahamas' largest resorts, presents over 1,000 guest rooms and suites with signature Heavenly Beds and Heavenly Baths. The resort sprawls along seven miles of sandy Lucayan beach and offers two world-class Dick Wilson and Robert Trent Jones golf courses. The $400 million property is a complex of buildings designed to allow options for all: children's programs and camp, Senses Spa and fitness center, four tennis courts that remain lit for night play, and watersports equipment and rentals. The nine restaurants and 10 bars include both casual options with local and American fare and fine dining with international cuisines.