NEW YORK -- A new chapter begins in the story of Bahamas resort
development this month with the debut of the long-awaited Four
Seasons Resort Great Exuma at Emerald Bay, the first luxury
property in the unspoiled Out Islands.
The $400 million, 183-room resort -- set on 470 private
beachfront acres less than two hours from Miami by air -- looks set
to steal some of the leisure-travel limelight from resorts in
better-known Bahamian destinations such as Grand Bahama and Nassau,
according to industry insiders.
Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, deputy general of the Bahamas
Ministry of Tourism, said he believes the opening of the Four
Seasons on under-visited Grand Exuma "will put that island on the
As a result of the opening, Wallace said, several airlines
already have expressed interest in starting or increasing service
to the 40-mile-long island, which is home to only 3,200 or so
inhabitants -- although it's the largest of the 365 islands in the
"That just shows the power of branding," he said. "The Bahamas
is ... not a single destination; we are a big geographic area, and
we are interested in product development throughout [that]
Ramesh Sadhwani, general manager at the Four Seasons Exuma, said he
envisions the property, now in a soft opening, becoming a leisure
travel magnet for U.S. travelers of all kinds, from honeymooners
and families with children to small incentive groups and corporate
meetings -- largely thanks to proximity and uniqueness.
"We're unique not only because we're the largest resort
development in the Out Islands but also the first luxury one," he
Sadhwani expects Americans to account for as much as 85% of
clientele at any given time.
But before paying clients check in, Sadhwani and his staff will
be busy hosting dozens of travel agent and operator guests on fam
trips and site inspections through the second week of December.
"The site inspections not only give us the opportunity to
showcase the resort but also to practice on our colleagues before
guests come in," he said.
Forty travel agents are scheduled to visit until the hard
opening, and Four Seasons is "actively working on getting as many
more agents in here as we can," Sadhwani said.
Although officially open as of Dec. 17, the resort is sold out
for the holiday period through Jan. 3; hence, reservations
availability as of press time was only for stays beginning Jan. 4
"because there's nothing left to sell, which is a nice problem to
have," Sadhwani said.
That said, travel agents with clients eager to stay at the
property should check with Four Seasons reservations, as the word
is some rooms may open up for late December stays.
A resort for all seasons
When considering a stay at the Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma
for clients, agents should consider the following:
• Despite its Out Island locale, the resort is accessible via
daily commercial and private flights into nearby Great Exuma
Airport from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Nassau.
• According to Sadhwani, Great Exuma gets great weather. "Even
in the rainy season, it never rains for very long, lasting 45
minutes or so before the sun comes out," he said.
• Guest accommodations -- 140 oversize (512-square-foot) rooms
and 43 suites -- are located in a crescent-shaped cluster of
three-story buildings with Bahamian Colonial design; each features
a terrace or a balcony with an ocean view.
Thirty-six executive suites and six one-bedroom, beachfront
suites boast separate living rooms and two full bathrooms; the
three-bedroom Royal Villas have a private pool and patio
In-room amenities include oversize towels; bathroom telephones;
CD and DVD players; down pillows and duvet comforters;
hypoallergenic soaps; irons and ironing boards; and twice-daily
• Crescent-shaped Emerald Bay offers white-sand beaches and
shallow waters for swimming and snorkeling.
Sailing enthusiasts will enjoy the 17-acre deep-water marina
adjacent to the resort. It can moor yachts of up to 200 feet in
length; boating, diving and bone- and deep-sea fishing expeditions
can be arranged.
The marina also offers catamaran charters and day excursions,
such as a two-hour boat ride to the Exuma National Land and Sea
Park, a 176-mile sanctuary for reptiles, birds, fish and flora.
• For landlubbers, the resort features three swimming pools, two
for adults and one for kids.
• Golf legend Greg Norman designed the resort's 18-hole, par-72
golf course. The 6,880-yard course features six oceanside
• The resort's 32,406-square-foot spa and fitness club offers
therapies using local salts, herbs, flowers and oils. A Zen garden
is the setting for the wellness program, which includes yoga and
• Four Seasons resorts always pay mind to the palate. The
property has two gourmet eateries, both with views of Emerald
The main dining room serves Northern Italian cuisine, while the
poolside grill specializes in local seafood delicacies cooked up in
a brick, wood-fired oven. In addition, room service is available 24
hours a day.
• Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma offers a full range of
children's indoor and outdoor activities as part of its free Kids
for All Seasons program.
The property also boasts a kids' recreation room and a shaded
outdoor playground adjacent to the children's pool.
• Corporate and incentive travelers have the run of eight
interior meetings rooms totaling 13,020 square feet; all open onto
Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma pays agents 10% on bookings. To
book, call (800) 819-5053 or visit www.fourseasons.com/greatexuma.
To contact reporter Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].