Checking In With: The Bahamas
Sun, Sea, and Some of the Best Golf Experiences You'll Ever Find
THE BAHAMAS are an idyllic sun and sea destination, with crystal blue waters and pink sand beaches where fun and relaxation are easy to find. Add gaming, eco-tourism, and some of the best golf experiences you could dream of, and you’ve got a winning combination. Nowhere in The Bahamas do the stars align so perfectly as at Ocean Club and Baha Mar. And while travel restrictions have been lifted, all travelers are required to complete a negative COVID-19 test at least five days before traveling to The Bahamas as well as obtain a Bahamas Health Visa.
OCEAN CLUB GOLF COURSE
Masterfully conceived and stunningly beautiful, the Tom Weiskopf-designed Ocean Club Golf Course offers every element for the perfect game. This 18-hole, par-72 course stretches over 7,100 scenic yards on Paradise Island’s peninsula, where crosswinds challenge even the most experienced players.
Turquoise ocean views are prominent from every palm treelined hole, and several holes play so close to the beach you could take a swim between pars if you so desired. In addition to player accolades every time they walk off the 18th green, Ocean Club annually ranks high in major golf and travel publications as among the best golf resorts in the world.
According to Robbie Leming, general manager of golf operations, the Ocean Club Golf Course is currently open for play as part of the Paradise Island Safe Zone, which includes Atlantis Paradise Island as well as Ocean Club Golf Course, The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort, and Comfort Suites. Club members and players are welcome provided that they present a negative COVID 19 test that is valid within seven days of play.
To further protect the health and safety of Paradise Island’s residents, guests, team members, and other visitors, guests of Atlantis Paradise Island are required to “vacation in place” in the Paradise Island Safe Zone. Registered guests of these Safe Zone properties will have reciprocal access to dining options, golf, spa, shopping, casino, and specific amenities. When vacationing in place, a registered guest opts in to stay/vacation within the Paradise Island Safe Zone for the duration of their stay.
“We closed our golf operation along with Atlantis Paradise Island at the end of March,” Leming says. “But we made sure to keep fairways and greens maintained during the closed time, as we wanted to ensure guests the very best conditions when the travel restrictions were lifted. And that’s exactly what they will find now.”
ROYAL BLUE at BAHA MAR
This stellar resort with a stunning Jack Nicklaus Signature course next door — the Royal Blue Golf Club — makes for a true immersion in paradise.
The resort itself overwhelms with enticing options. Set upon 1,000 acres, prime attractions are three hotels totaling 2,300 rooms, a 100,000-square-foot casino — the biggest in the region — 40 restaurants and bars, a 30,000-square-foot ESPA spa with 24 treatment rooms, lots of tennis, and a Kids’ Explorers Club.
From a lodging standpoint, the choices include the stylish Grand Hyatt, the swank SLS hotel, and the sumptuous Rosewood, a richly refined property that emphasizes privacy and tranquility. So much to do … but that Jack Nicklaus design at Royal Blue awaits. The golf recently reopened after several months of a COVID-19-related hiatus.
“Baha Mar guests are welcome to make tee time reservations up to 60 days in advance, while guests staying elsewhere have a 14-day advance booking window,” said Andy Deiro, head golf professional. “We closed our golf operation along with the resort at the end of last March, but kept some of the maintenance team working to mow fairways and greens to ensure optimum playing conditions upon reopening.”
Players will still find a demanding front nine that unfolds over mostly level terrain with rippled mounding, low-rising sand dunes, bold bunkering, and water hazards on eight of the nine holes, many in the form of salt-water ponds. The back nine is a completely different story. Roomier fairways, dramatic elevation changes, jungle-like foliage and holes that zigzag through what Nicklaus calls “moonscaping” —a lunar-like landscape of limestone rock outcroppings — spice up the play.
Green fees for junior golfers at Royal Blue, age 17 and under, are always $35 in morning or complimentary after 12 noon with a paying adult.
All told, Royal Blue is an environmental triumph that incorporates as many as 15 species of native trees and more than 70 species of birds.