Beauty & Grandeur in Baha Mar

I just got back on Sunday from a destination wedding at Baha Mar located on the island of Nassau, Bahamas.  Baha Mar is a one-of-a-kind experience from beginning to end. It is made up of three excellent hotels: Grand Hyatt, SLS and Rosewood. Each hotel offers their own unique style, experience & luxury.

We stayed at SLS and it was by far one of the most stylish resorts I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. At SLS and throughout Baha Mar, there is no detail left out. Everywhere we went, we had a new conversation about something interesting that we noticed.SLS Baha Mar - Bahamas

Our room was bright and airy with clean whites and splashes of other neutral colors. The focal point of the room was the main wall that featured a vinyl depiction of windows leading out to a pier. Upon arrival I had thought this was wallpaper, but after going up and physically touching it, it was a vinyl tapestry.

SLS Baha Mar - BahamasA white bar cart sat below our television. The cart was full of all kinds of goodies separated into two boxes labeled ‘Sinners’ (candies, alcohol, etc.) and ‘Saints’ (sunscreen, natural trail mix, etc.). An espresso machine also sat atop the cart, a fun change from your typical coffee maker. I enjoyed an espresso or two during our stay! The television had imagery and a warm greeting of “Welcome, Mr. Stazen!”, which was an unexpected detail.

SLS Baha Mar - BahamasThe lobby was extraordinary and oh so stylish. It was a huge open area that opened to a balcony above The Bungalow pool. Within the lobby was Monkey Bar, Cleo, a Mediterranean restaurant and direct access to the casino. The ceiling is wainscot with white beams and warm lighting. Soft seating throughout the lobby is unique to each other with a variety of lighting fixtures from pendants to chandeliers. The lobby was not just a place to check-in, it was a gathering spot for great cocktails and conversation. In the evening there was a DJ and it was transformed into a lounge atmosphere.

SLS Baha Mar - BahamasWe spent most of our time at the pool by day. Bugalow Pool Bar & Grill is so picturesque. Walking down the stairs from the main lobby you see a long rectangular pool anchored on the opposite end by a white and black pool bar. The lounge chairs are in an array of pastel colors and are perfectly aligned. With the resorts being interconnected, we had access to the other pools as well. Offering options from day club to family friendly. One pool has a cave that we swam into, inside there were glass windows into their conservancy area which allowed us to watch turtles, sharks and fish swim right before our eyes. There was also an area with flamingos!SLS Baha Mar - Bahamas

Baha Mar is a cashless resort, meaning, you only purchase items as a hotel charge to your room and you can do this at any of the three hotels, any of the restaurants or lounges and any of the shops. This was a nice feature as we did not have to carry our important personal cards or identification in our beach bags.

Our trip was a quick one, but while we were there we dined at Cleo, a Mediterranean Restaurant, at SLS. IT WAS DELICIOUS. They have a variety of shareable plates along with small plates and entrees. We shared house made hummus topped with crunchy artichoke hearts, my husband devoured lamb with saffron rice (served in a beautiful Moroccan dish!) and I had the shrimp skewers. Everything was perfect.SLS Baha Mar - Bahamas

We also visited Blue Note Jazz Lounge where we sipped martinis and listened to talented musicians singing everything from Stevie Wonder to Etta James. For the cigar smokers of the world, there is an excellent open air, outdoor cigar lounge called T2 (Tiger Woods & Justin Timberlake’s concept!). On the rooftop, is Skybar, a lounge with dynamic views of the crystal blue ocean.SLS Baha Mar - Bahamas

Saturday morning we visited Café Madeline, a French Café & Bakery, within the Grand Hyatt. We shared a fruit filled, flaky, soft croissant and a Greek yogurt parfait with local honey and house made granola. My other love besides my husband and my dog is a good croissant. This croissant was one of the best I have ever had….sigh… you think they can ship me a few?

Even if we had stayed a week, we still would not have been able to experience all the restaurants and activities Baha Mar had to offer. Sean mentioned (more times that once), “We have to come back here!” and I hope we do just that.

The service, cleanliness, attention to detail, food… everything was top notch and very impressive.


Until Next Time,



SLS Baha Mar - Bahamas

SLS Baha Mar - Bahamas

Guest Blog: CUBA – A Bucket List Must

I couldn’t help but wrap the year with a sneak peak on a bucket list item for many Americans.  I too have long awaited my chance to see the beautiful island of Cuba.  Unfortunately, with a bun in the oven, any Zika territory is off my radar.  But as you might expect, I come from a family of travelers and if my mom and dad weren’t some of the first to jump on the Cuba bandwagon, I don’t know who else would be.  To round out the year and for a quick read during the holidays, read on for some inspiration into your next trip – could it be Cuba?

It’s Linda again, back for my second guest blog!  I know it’s a busy holiday season for many of you, and as retail business owners, it certainly is for us too.  We always try to squeeze in a trip before the holiday rush hits and this year was no exception. Luckily, our plans landed us on one of our very own bucket list trips – Cuba!

Although we crossed Cuba off our bucket list, many things were left for a future trip. The necessary educational criteria that we used for this trip to Havana included a three night cultural weekend with a personal guide and bus with a professional driver. Our stay at the NH Capri La Habana, a government owned modern hotel,  was very comfortable with a rooftop pool and bar and a fine-dining Italian restaurant. The hotel was approved for American tourists and there were many tour groups using this as their base.

Several highlights included visiting Fusterlandia where famous Cuban artist Jose’ Fuster has turned his talents to creating a tourist attraction from a heavily populated impoverished neighborhood into an outdoor virtual museum of his works. His studio and neighborhood  is a colorful burst of ceramic tiles inlaid into the homes and buildings with unique sculptures and artwork tucked in every nook and cranny. Excellent private lunches are arranged with the travel companies and are served family style.

A visit to Cuba must include a stop at El Floridita, the small bar where Ernest Hemingway frequented and where mojitos originated! Go ahead, be a tourist and enjoy one with guests from all over the world. If you’re interested in touring Hemingway’s home in Cuba, you’re somewhat out of luck, so this is the next best thing.  His home on the island can be toured only from the outside because of all the artifacts and the cost to protect them!

One of the coolest things in Cuba are all of the vintage cars! One hour of cruising the streets in a ‘59 hot pink Bel Air was an absolute blast with Cuban music playing on the old radio. The cars are in tip top shape with components replaced when they are needed. The driver made sure to mention the recent celebrities who enjoyed his tours!

The Cuban country, people, culture and food are delightful. They enjoy sharing with visitors and it is a very safe travel destination. Most locals speak English a bit and with a tour guide always ready to intervene, Cuba is a relatively easy place to visit. I’m sure it’s on your bucket list, but if not, it should be!  What a wonderful experience we can’t wait to visit again.

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

Un Bon Voyage

Looking for a different Caribbean Getaway! Check out La Martinique!
Oh, the beaches! @ La Martinique

Friends.  I have fallen Inn Love. You know when you find one of those places that after you visit, you just keep dreaming about it?  You even consider packing up and moving?  My goodness – I have found it.  It was by chance. A delightfully inexpensive (OK, this was a Christmas present from my parents, so it was free, but even so…) trip to the far reaches of the Caribbean could not have been more perfect.  I know many people choose “safe” Caribbean destinations – they speak English, an all inclusive resort with American food, etc. People, I’m telling you. BREAK THAT HABIT. Go beyond English and all-inclusive and you find the true majesty of travel. There is something so fantastic about feeling like a local in a place as beautiful and rich as this.

This island is situated between more well known, St. Lucia and Dominica and is part of the Lesser Antilles. It’s a fantastic place for Americans to travel because as a a region of France, its currency is the Euro and the current exchange rate is ($1=.93 Euro!!), but even better than that are the high standards of French cuisine. You can be at a little run down, beach

side cafe and the food is far better than what you would find in the States…and we all know how important that is to me! So come along with me and discover the French island of Martinique.

Looking for a different Caribbean Getaway! Check out La Martinique!
Oh, the beaches! @ La Martinique

I like giving my readers gifts, so here is one.  Now, don’t go blabbing to all of your friends. This is our little secret. 

We traveled to Martinique on a relatively new low-cost European airline called Norwegian Air. I see your eyebrow furrowing.  THAT’S RIGHT. Norwegian Air. Don’t believe me?  As of writing this, you could leave Friday, January 27 and return February 3 for $250 round trip from Baltimore. THAT IS INSANE!  Don’t worry, this isn’t a paper plane with a monkey for a pilot, the service and comfort of this airline is top notch.  The *only* downside is luggage restrictions. You get one carry on bag that must weigh no more than 10KG (~22 pounds). Don’t worry though, what more do you need than sunscreen, a bathing suit and sandals?  (Sidebar: On this note, please do not be concerned that I only own one dress as you’ll think from photos. This is my bathing suit coverup! And, when every restaurant is on a beach, why wouldn’t you always have a bathing suit on and snorkeling gear ready? That’s what my carry on consisted of! Priorities, people!)

We arrived at our HomeAway property – a 3 bedroom villa overlooking Les Anses-d’Arlet complete with a kitchen and private pool. In traditional Runion (that’s my maiden name) fashion, we had just enough time to have a fabulous dinner. We arrived at L’Escale, a beautiful restaurant tucked down off of a hillside, surrounded my nature.  It was at this restaurant where I was reminded that the French love their cheese. I, of course, ordered my first of, probably 10, Salade au Chevre Chaud (Warm Goat Cheese Salad!).

Looking for a different Caribbean Getaway! Check out La Martinique!
La Martinique

In our family, my dad and I are the explorers. Luckily, TJ was up for a stroll, so the three of us set off the first morning to find the boulangerie (bakery!) – essentially the most important thing any French island has to offer. Also lucky for the fitness fanatic in me, our villa was on top of a very steep hill and the boulangerie … at the bottom (in the photo, you’ll see me on the road and the boulangerie is by the water).  Each morning, we hiked this hill in search of croissants and a baguette to start the day off right. On that first morning, we were up early enough to see the local fisherman pull up to the town center with the daily catch. We bought this one night to grill at home and it was delicious and fresh and only 16 euros!

We spent the next day discovering our new neighborhood.  Martinique has quite a history.  One of our favorite stops was in Le Diamant which had an over look

Looking for a different Caribbean Getaway! Check out La Martinique!
Le Diamant, Martinique

of Le Diamant Roche (Diamond Rock). Can you imagine, this rugged rock sticking up from the water was a fort which housed a hospital and more???

We arrived in the village of Le Diamant and found lunch at La Voille Blanche where for the first time I tried Marlin…raw, and it was phenomenal. In addition to my obsession with goat cheese, I now wanted to eat anything raw on the menu as did my sister. Our trip basically consisted of rotating Salade au Chevre Chaud and Beef, Marlin or Tuna Tartar. Every dish was served with so much color!

Looking for a different Caribbean Getaway! Check out La Martinique!
The food in Martinique is OUT OF THIS WORLD @ La Voile Blanche

Mid week we discovered the most perfect beach, Anse Noire (black sand beach!).  Nestled in between two cliffs, this nearly private beach isn’t so easy to access. If you don’t have a boat, the only

Looking for a different Caribbean Getaway! Check out La Martinique!
A slice of paradise – Anse Noire, Martinique

option is down a flight of about 100 stairs. We arrived early with snorkeling equipment as we were told this was one of the best snorkeling beaches on the island.  Unfortunately, I don’t have an underwater camera, so it’s left to my memory.  The only thing I brought back from that excursion was very burnt shoulders from hours of slow swimming!

Other than sunbathing and eating, my mom really wanted to do a boat excursion.  We found Louis at La ronde Pecheur who took us on a 4 hour boating, snorkeling and snacking trip.  We had a beautifully sunny day on the water and got to do some great snorkeling in areas only accessible by boat. If visiting the area I would highly recommend him!

The final day in Martinique was heaven.  We finally learned what the locals knew – you must get to Chez Fab et Claude early for a beach side table.  We saw Claude a couple of days prior, literally running to and from, singing in French, taking orders. He was marvelous. His energy level was 10x mine (can you imagine!?) and he was happy as a clam.  There is a reason he has regulars. The food here is top-notch and you cannot beat the setting.  I had the Poulet Boucane  – a creole BBQ chicken with frites (fries!).  His is the best. Served with a shot of local Rhum (rum!) and a berry cobbler. I adored Claude, I hope to be like him one day.

Looking for a different Caribbean Getaway! Check out La Martinique!
The food in Martinique is OUT OF THIS WORLD @ Chez Fab et Claude

Our trip finally came to a close. I write this entry just a week after our return and gosh do I miss it already.  Part of me hopes I have convinced some of you to add this to your bucket list, but the other part of me hopes it remains my little treasure to return to.  But if you go, brush up on your French, order things you don’t understand and take plenty of sunscreen. I promise, you won’t regret it.

Looking for a different Caribbean Getaway! Check out La Martinique!

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck