Groups know the Bahamas for its sandy beaches and beautiful scenery - and now, vast new meeting venues - but as visitors are looking for cultural, experiential offerings from the places they visit, this destination is delivering in a major way. From culinary delights to locally inspired amenities to experiences that create deep connection between the destination and attendees, the Bahamas has groups covered.
The vast meetings megaresort of Baha Mar, on the island of Nassau, fully opens this month, as its third and final property, Rosewood, Baha Mar, premieres - a residential-style addition to the destination that offers 237 guest rooms, suites, and multi-bedroom beachfront villas with private pools and butler service. It joins the chic 300-room SLS and 1,800-room classically luxurious Grand Hyatt Baha Mar (home to the all-butler-service The Reserve on floors 21-28), both of which opened last year.
Each of the three properties boasts its own style and amenities. But together they offer groups an astonishing array of attractions available to those staying at any or all of the resorts: The 200,000-square-foot Baha Mar Convention, Arts & Entertainment Center with flexible indoor and outdoor event and meeting space; a 100,000-square-foot casino with 1,100 slots and 119 live tables (making it the largest casino in the Caribbean); an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, Royal Blue; a 30,000-square-foot destination spa (the Caribbean's only ESPA); plus tennis courts, and plenty more.
The diverse dining options range from poolside sandwiches and salads at The Palms to Caribbean-infused seafood sumptuousness at 3 Tides at Grand Hyatt to tapas-style modern Mediterranean at Cleo Mediterráneo at SLS Baha Mar. Numerous bars and lounges are also available for visitors throughout the resort.
Art is an important component of Baha Mar. It counts more than 2,500 pieces throughout the resort - all of it Bahamian. Beyond just enjoying the local art, visitors can see it being created or purchase some for themselves at The Current Art Gallery, which hosts workshops, tours, and is home to artists in residence happy to speak with guests about their work and process. It's all overseen by John Cox, a mixed-media artist and former chief curator of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas.
This focus on culture and local art can be found throughout the islands. The Antonius Roberts Studio & Gallery showcases the works and story of the local sculptor, renowned for his use of natural materials such as stones and logs in creating his often site-specific works. For a more interactive cultural experience, schedule a visit to Educulture on Nassau, where your group can learn all about the history of the country's tradition of Junkanoo - a costumed parade and celebration with elements of Carnival - donning costumes and doing some singing themselves.
While Baha Mar is the new megaresort on the block, Atlantis Paradise Island continues to offer hard-to-beat attractions for visiting groups, with 200,000 square feet of indoor function space (including the 50,000-square-foot Imperial Ballroom and 25,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom) across its five distinct resorts. It is also taking steps to ensure visiting groups don't just enjoy the natural surroundings, but experience the culture, offering a Junkanoo Fest that begins in the lobby of The Royal resort as well as weekly Art Walks through the adjacent Marina Village, lined with stores selling local art, gifts, and food.
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This article appears in the June 2018 issue of Successful Meetings.