by Michele Knapp
They call it a familymoon. For me and Dave, this is all nuovo. Of our seven children, one opted backyard wedding and number two has chosen familymoon in lieu of wedding. Ali and Derik are Air Force, married two years ago in England where they were stationed for four years. Now re-assigned stateside, the family finally had the opportunity to celebrate with them.
It was late afternoon when our party of six and a half – Dave, myself, our daughter Ali, her husband Derik, our other daughter Danielle, her husband Jesse, and their Leo – burst through the sliding airport doors and into the balmy Bahamian air.
Whisked away on narrow streets past brightly painted buildings, beaches, markets and over a long expanse of bridge named for Sydney Poitier, we landed at the One and Only Ocean Club. Passing through the marble-columned entry, staff members fell over themselves taking our bags, opening doors and handing us cool drinks. We were greeted by our personal concierge, Clever, who was brilliant!
There is no check in counter; instead, a beautiful Bahamian-styled reception library with a mahogany bar. The walls dripping with fantastic artwork, one is torn between the art and view. A wall of French doors open to the expansive green lawns speckled by palm trees and adorned with hammocks to the infinity pool dotted by pure white umbrellas complementing the clouds formed by the infinite breeze. The recompense is the turquoise and azure of the Caribbean ocean.
I believe it was Dave who mentioned the word “Champagne” and in short order, we had glasses raised toasting to many years of happiness and health for the honeymooners. Ali selected lemonade as she had just announced to the family the arrival of a new baby due to join us for Christmas!
Angel toured the amenities with us before showing us to our rooms which are modern in design mixed with old-world Bahamian wood textures, ten foot mahogany doors, cool marble floors and white soaking tub with gleaming fixtures.
Lest I forget, each room comes complete with your own butler. Jason was fabulous on our first day. Alison arrived the following and was delightful! Clothes pressed, reservations made, shopping of any kind done on your behalf. Champagne and strawberries brought to the room each afternoon were a real treat! We even observed a larger family with their butler in tow managing little ones from pool to ocean.
I should mention here there are indeed babysitting services; Leo approved highly with two thumbs up! Mom and dad came home to their sleeping baby who reportedly was a very good boy, even with his incisors tearing through his gums – poor Leo.
Our last planned family vacation included 16; if your party is of this size, there are four bedroom, ocean front villas. Dave and I, two curious cats, toured one these with Alison. The villas grace the shore line, behind beautiful wooden gates secluded by their own private gardens. The floor plan is wide open to the ocean with four massive suites flanking the center living area. This villa comes with a “private staff” inclusive of a chef. This is a perfect arrangement for the next possible familymoon. Two of these villas could cover our clan. That’s right, two of our sons, Mickey and Jerry, are engaged to be married the summer of 2017!
While riding back from the villa we had our first glimpse of the “Versailles” gardens with yet another secluded pool (couples only) centered amongst the lush tropical flora. Ascending up the ancient stone of the gardens lay the cloisters; a beautiful Moorish style stone relic of the past.
We then discovered smaller villas designed for couples massage and decided to treat ourselves. Behind walled gardens and heavily carved wooden doors, the petite villas feature Balinese-inspired furnishings, teak massage tables, a waterfall shower, a jetted bath in the open garden and a daybed too! Savory herbal teas and fresh fruit are presented in the Balinese Tea Ceremony, a beautiful ritual performed as a reminder of our spirituality. This was by far the best spa treatment we’ve ever had; I highly recommend this unique experience!
Clean, clear and tepid, the waters here are delightful. Not a stone nor thread of seaweed. The sand, resembling baby powder, made for many trips in and many a stroll as far as your legs were willing to carry you.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner is served at Dune which overlooks the ocean. For poolside folks, there is all-day service to your chaise from the New Ocean Grill. It should be of no surprise that you are also cared for ocean-side by beach attendants. Spoiled may be the appropriate word.
No matter the destination, we always enjoy the experience of the local fare. We recommend Frankie Gone Bananas, the local fish fry at the Harbor or The Poop Deck located just over the bridge for great Bahamian tastes.
For those of you who enjoy a bit of casino action, the Nobu Japanese restaurant is part of the Atlantis Resort of Paradise Island. Opening to a boat basin on one side and the casino entrance on the other, our meal was a 10; the roulette not so much!
Day four it’s official, Leo has popped six teeth. However all the hands that helped and the love of family all around lessened his pain. The ability to reunite, sharing childhoods past, relishing present moments and planning for new arrivals and unions of marriage all warming to the soul. Our familymoon was truly a renewal of love of family. This moon is waning and Dave and I are basking in its light!