When old money comes to Nassau's Paradise Island, the One&Only Ocean Club is where it prefers to stay. That's the way things have been since 1962, when the serenely posh resort opened along a dazzling stretch of sand known as Cabbage Beach. The 105-room resort has been modernized, of course, with Wi-Fi, spa-sized marble bathrooms, and a restaurant run by star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. But it's the feeling of a privileged, unhurried yesterday that continues to draw in an appreciative upper-crust crowd. Guests enjoy perfect touches such as the enormous wooden shutters that are never peeling, the expansive lawn that appears to be not so much mowed as manicured, the gardens clearly inspired by Versailles, with an authentic 12th-century Augustinian cloister. These details, plus knowing that the personal butler and afternoon champagne and strawberries are included in the price, keep guests returning year after year.
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Most of what One & Only guests might want to do off property—from gambling to fine dining to every manner of aquatic activity—is just down the beach at Atlantis. It’s almost close enough to walk, but the concierge can arrange free transportation. At Atlantis, compare and contrast at chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s other Paradise Island restaurant (he has just three in the entire Caribbean), Café Martinique. If the entire family is along, or even if they are not, devote a day to the Atlantis waterpark, whose slides, rides, and pools will help you recall why it was fun to be a kid. Also adjacent to One & Only is the 18-hole par-72 Tom Weiskopf–designed Ocean Club Golf Course. Expect to be distracted by the views, and challenged by the crosswinds. For an evening off the island, and into colonial-era Nassau, dine at Graycliff, which has an elegant atmosphere and incredible wine cellar.
Need to Know
Rooms: 86 rooms, 14 suites, two cottages, and three villas. From $545 low season, $795 high season, and villas from $9,725. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The Mediterranean-inspired Courtyard Terrace, open for dinner, has candlelit garden elegance; but Dune, overlooking the beach, has a French Asian menu, with touches of Bahamian flavor, created by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. For lunch, eat light at the Pool Terrace Café in order to save room for afternoon tea in the Library Bar. Spa and gym details:The spa has eight Balinese-style treatment villas, each with a private garden. Each treatment ends with a Japanese tea ceremony. The fitness center, near the main pool, is open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and a complimentary yoga class is held every morning. For less structured exercise, make use of the free bicycles, six tennis courts, and 18-hole golf course.
Who’s it for: Travelers desiring a serene, refined, old-money kind of ambience, but with the comfort of knowing that the Atlantis Casino is a few doors down. Our favorite rooms:Beachfront, second floor, in the newer Crescent Wing. At 1,500 square feet, the suites are twice the size of the rooms, and the bathtub is big enough to allow for relaxed companionship. Good to know:In June 2014, the One & Only Ocean Club was sold to Access Industries, a company with a worldwide portfolio of luxury hotels that includes the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat, on the Cote d’Azur, and the Philippe Starck-designed Faena Hotel + Universe, in Buenos Aires. The change should have little effect on guests, as current plans are to keep the same management company, Kerzner International (which also manages the Atlantis), and the same general manager, John Conway.