Friday, February 17, 2012

Resort Spotlight - Sandals Emerald Bay

If you've ever driven up to Lake Superior from the Twin Cities, you'll remember that moment when you leave the farmland and pine trees behind, turn the corner, and suddenly the vast waters of the lake appear before you. That moment was always a small thrill for me growing up. Now fast forward many years and multiply that feeling by millions...this is what I experienced a few months ago when I first saw the breathtaking Bahamian waters of Great Exuma.

Honestly I have never seen water that color, and I have no adjectives that do it justice. I just know that during the short 10 minute transfer from the most adorable little airport you've ever seen (think Little House on the Prairie schoolhouse) to Sandals Emerald Bay, there is a moment that you will never forget. You turn the corner and this water appears before you that shocks your eyes. It disappears behind trees and brush and you cannot wait to get another glimpse. When Emerald Bay emerges again it slowly starts to sink in - you are in for one incredible vacation...

Sandals Emerald Bay is a new resort that has already earned top honors in the travel world. In 2011 it was voted Best Honeymoon Caribbean Resort by Bride's Magazine. It is the recipient of Travel Weekly's 2010 Magellan Gold Award for Golf Course Design. The World Travel Awards voted it the Bahamas' Leading Spa Resort, and the Red Lane Spa has earned the Six Star Diamond Award.

But more about Sandals in a minute...first I want to tell you about the location. When most people think of the Bahamas, Nassau immediately comes to mind and that's great. But if you're willing to spend an extra hour on a plane, there is so much more in the Out Islands of the Bahamas. The Exumas are a 120-mile chain of islands south of Nassau. Many are private islands home to stars such as Johhny Depp, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill (you know how we love our stars here at MTS). The largest is Great Exuma, and that is where you'll find Sandals Emerald Bay.

It is actually pretty easy to get to! Many airlines offer just one connection from Minneapolis/St Paul, including American and Delta, and once you land, the customs and transfer process is a breeze since they can only handle one plane at a time. The weather here is almost a sure thing, as they enjoy an average of 340 sunny days per year! The temps range from 70 - 90 degrees, and really only fall about six degrees at night, which makes for a light suitcase and low baggage fees - we like that!

And now for the is one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. Perfect for a honeymoon or time away from the daily grind. It features three fresh water pools, including the Caribbean's largest zero-entry pool with a fire pit in the center! I loved the fact that the pool areas have so many conversation areas. Many resorts just throw hundreds of lounge chairs out around the pool, as if you're going to sleep by the pool all day long. Not Sandals! They have couches, chairs, poolside cabanas with misters, and tables in the pool that make it comfortable to hang out and enjoy your day any way you prefer.

While it is a more quiet resort, there is still plenty of action. At Sandals, all-inclusive really means just that! Complimentary to all the guests are dance lessons, introductory golf and tennis lessons, live music, jazz performances and piano sing-alongs. If watersports is your thing (and who wouldn't want to test out that 72 degree water?) you can kayak, windsurf, hobie cat sail, snorkel, scuba dive, or take out a paddle boat all at no extra cost! They also offer social events, like White Nights, Beach Parties and Chocolate Late Night Buffets.

After all that activity you will definitely have to spend some time at the incredible Red Lane Spa, a 16,000 square foot, award-winning facility, with 16 treatment rooms, and hydrotherapy areas that you are free to use any time.

One of my favorite experiences here at Sandals Emerald Bay was touring the golf course. Greg Norman designed this 7001 yard, par 72 Championship course, which features 6 Signature Oceanside holes. To me, that means nothing because I'm not a golfer, but trust me when I tell you that this course MUST be experienced. The beauty of the contrast between the green fairways and the turquoise waters, the peacefulness of the waves crashing against the rocky shore...pure heaven. I could have stayed there for hours, until someone nailed me on the head with a golf ball. Just kidding, but that would've been funny.

Sandals Emerald Bay is truly a luxury property in every sense of the word. Each room comes with personal Concierge service, and if you stay in a One Bedroom or more, you will get your own professionally-trained Butler, who will take note of all of your preferences and make sure you are always refreshed with a drink and stocked with everything you need to enjoy your vacation to the fullest.

There are so many wonderful luxury resorts to choose from, but do yourself a favor and visit this one. Unlike many, it is truly an oceanfront resort in your own private mile-long bay. I promise that the memory of that indescribable color of Emerald Bay will carry you through the next cold Midwest winter.

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