Sunday, February 17, 2013

Out & About in the Out Islands: Melanie Reffes

Harbour Island, The Bahamas

As the song goes, Nassau may be funky but the Out Islands are the real gems in The Bahamas. Strung like a necklace archipelago, the tiny specks of serenity are wooing the romance market and targeting your clients who may prefer a quieter wedding vibe nowhere near  busy cruise ship ports, glitzy casinos or high-rise mega-resorts. 

(credit: Mark Da Cunha)

Bright blooms  ( credit: Abaca Tourism ) 
 Appealing to true connoisseurs of Caribbean island life, the Out Islands are for magical weddings, happy honeymoons or discreet trysts under the starry skies. 

(credit: M. Reffes )  
“We highly value the destination wedding market in all our Out Islands, “said Raymond Francis, executive director, Bahamas Out Island Promotion Board as he suggests dessert and coffee at the oh-so-trendy Blu Bungalow restaurant at the corner of King and Murray Streets in Harbour Island, “romance is a natural on all our islands and encouraging that market from the US is a win-win for us all.”

Blu Bungalow ( credit: Trip Adviser) 

Blu Bungalow ( credit: 

(credit: M. Reffes ) 

Quite the Pair

Two of the most exquisite, Harbour Island and Eleuthera are sold as one destination by agents and marketed as one by the Out Islands Promotion Board. A 45-minute flight from Fort Lauderdale and  25 minutes in the air from Nassau , Harbour Island , off the northern tip of Eleuthera, is quaint and cute with 2,000 residents, 1500 golf carts, umpteen chickens crossing the road and delectable delicacies like conch fritters and hummingbird cake .  

Dubbed “Briland” by the locals, the island is coveted for its pink sandy beaches, friendly locals and charming hotels reminiscent of New England architecture.

Pink Beach perfection Harbour Island ( credit : M. Reffes ) 
With a name like Valentine's Resort , you know this is one resort ripe for romance.  Seaside in Harbour Island, romance is big business at the 41-suite resort with stellar service, fabulous food and an enthusiastic staff who loves to organize weddings.  On the edge of Dunmore Town  with its array of little stores and delightful restaurants , the resort is pretty with thirty-eight suites in four low-rise buildings each named for one of the Out Islands.  En suite dining with specialties delivered from the Boathouse restaurant or cooking in the mini-kitchen is the big draw for couples. “ The best part of my job is working with folks looking forward to their wedding,” said Alexis Ross, front desk manager, “After talking with them and knowing what they may want, I then set them up with a golf game, big bottle of champagne, transportation to the resort from the airport or just letting them enjoy the privacy of the resort. “    

Valentine's Resort ( credit: M. Reffes ) 

Tempting couples who like to explore, the resort also has its own marina and offers a slew of activities on the water.   “We encourage couples to try their hand at deep-sea fishing, “adds Alexi Ross, “and if they’re lucky enough to land a tuna, our Chef will prepare it in the privacy of their own suite or at the Bathhouse restaurant. “

Fishing for tuna at Valentine's ( credit: M. Reffes ) 
Loving Lutra

From the Greek word for freedom, Eleuthera or Lutra in the local slang   caters to those who prefer frolicking in the sea to putting down another bet at a poker table in Nassau.  Fifty miles east of Nassau and a quick water taxi from Harbour Island, the island is without a single traffic light, high-rise building or casino. 

Serenity Rules ( credit: M. Reffes ) 
 With just eight thousand full-time residents,  Eleuthera is all about lobsters, pineapples, taking a dip in the crystalline waters so shallow you can wade in more than a hundred yards without getting your shoulders wet , taking five on a sun lounger and for legions of travelers from around the world, it’s about  saying I Do on the beach .

(credit: M. Reffes ) 

(credit: M. Reffes ) 
  For the adventurous in the crowd or those looking for unbridled tropical privacy, Surfer’s Beach, about two miles from Gregory Town, is a hot wave-riding beach and one of the island’s best kept secrets.  “This is a very happy island, “smiles Jackie Gibson, senior manager, Eleuthera Tourist Office,” the reason we’re so popular for weddings is because we’re always in a good mood and that rubs off on our guests.”

Leading the pack of wedding-friendly resorts, Sky Beach Club is the only hotel facing the sea and very popular with couples from all over the world who come for a no-frills barefoot ceremony on the beach.    “ We've had wedding parties book the entire property from our four bedroom villas to our one bedroom bungalows with the trendy glass-enclosed rain shower , “  said  Stephen Kappler, general manager ,” weddings are our biggest niche market and we make sure each and  every one of them is unique and memorable . “   Picture-perfect, the beach is carpeted in pink sand, the Bistro grills the tastiest Hog Fish Snapper this side of anywhere and on-site concierges cater to every whim from stocking the villas with fine wine to arranging an island tour to the legendary Glass Window Bridge.

Sky Beach Club  wedding ( credit all photos : Sky Beach Club ) 

Make a Date
For the $300.00 airline credit to Nassau/Paradise Island and the Out Islands
Promo Code   BAH300WSAUS for travel through to March 6
Promo Code   BAH300WSBUS for travel through June 19