Caribbean Travel Beyond the Beach

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On a holiday where every need is queried before arrival, the staff greets me atop the driveway with limeade and welcoming smiles. Aware of my food, drink and personal preferences, for the rest of my stay, my needs would be anticipated and preferences learned, once asked for something specifically, the staff assumes you will want it that way until they’re otherwise informed. While much of the food served is flown in from the U.S. the imminent opening of an organic farm on the island will change some of that practice.

nandana-pdfThe owners of the villa were on vacation in Thailand, when they were inspired to create Nandana while visiting The Jim Thompson house. I would learn the smooth feel of wood under bare feet play on the way senses enter the body. This probably had something to do with it, the feeling of peace when you walk around a place like this is a major element in the home’s creation, a process which took about 5 years to build completely.The villa became available for rent in 2009.
I don’t know where to begin; the gym, the spa tent, the ATVs,jet skis, bicycles, the fully stocked bar with wine cooler and cellar, or a day on the 50 foot deep sea fishing yacht. Perhaps a couple hours worth of snorkeling via a trip to one of the nearby islands whose reefs are so close to shore you must be transported by tender, the water is so shallow.

In my 2,100 sq. ~ pavilion suite there is ample room to accommodate the table for Al Pacino, one of the villa’s on-call massage therapists, and yes that 1s his real name. Once he introduced himself, we reenacted the conversation he’s had for decades.

“Is that your real name?”
“Yes, my mother was a real Al Pacino fan.” “Ahh, Scarface?”
“No , I’m older than that, ha, ha, ha…”
“So Dog Day Afternoon and Serpico then?”

So between the king-sized bed and the outdoor Jacuzzi,a few steps from the120-foot long infinity pool, for the next 90 minutes, the other Al Pacino does his thing, twisting, kneading, lifting, releasing, and improving a mood that needed no improvement. to the soothing refrains of the sea.

My dwelling is one of 5 freestanding bedroom suites designed to accommodate a maximum 12 guests, located around the central dining, central living and meeting area whose peaked 40 foot ceiling seems cathedral, strikes a perfect blend of privacy and proximity.Throughout the property high tech meets old school craftsmanship,flat screen, high definition satellite TV, touch screen A/C thermostats, Wi-Fi and VOIP telephones are ready access points to my other world

food1The villa’s owners purchased the land for Nandana while here on a fishing trip. There is a marble relief by the private dock of the logging process. that not only inspired but also fills this abode; teak from Thailand, cut and furnished for the home by an Indian lumber company, of trained elephants and their handlers, harvesting and transporting logs 1n manner that seems unchanged for centuries. Once the actual lumber arrived on Grand Bahama, the international treatment continued, as it worked by Mexican artisans who travel the world working with teak, but generally installing it on yachts;the ensuing benefits of such attention to detail are that the villa is typically booked 24 weeks a year.

Under a cloudless, New Moon Sky, candlelight dinner begins with Patrick, the villa’s chef, introducing the first course of mixed green salad with cucumber- gazpacho Vinaigrette dressing. This being my initial indicator of his style, blending local, Mexican, Peruvian and Spanish culinary sensibilities. His guests’ meals are the culmination of his 20 years cooking. Chef informs he entered a 10th grade hotel and catering course at the Bahamas Hotel Training College in Nassau. Although the 2-year general course prepares students to manage any area of the hotel industry, and he did love the front of the house, his preference for the kitchen won in fairly short order. His mantra,”Good food takes time, there’s no rush on good food and consistency is the key to being a great chef.” fresh pasta, homemade fettuccini with a chicken Alfredo sauce, that followed salad. On some occasions his creations are unique to him and on others he says,”Sometimes I see stuff and  I just improve on it, I put my spin on it.”

nandana-pdf2Although the next morning brought blue sky and puffy white clouds, remember my quandary about which activity to begin the day with? Well that remained Eventually I decided on ATVs, but before I hop on and head out. I get a vehicle-handling briefing from Balwin, the villa’s case-by-case handyman, who runs through the power lever, gear shifting , standard and emergency braking peculiar to this vehicle. I am growing familiar with Balwin because he also brought me a ladder so I could get a unique vantage point to photograph a sunset. he also helped me with an

Internet question, I began to think he was something of a Jack of all trades, until I heard him playing piano at a sunset dinner by the beach, then I was certain he was a Renaissance man.

The ending always seems to come too soon I say goodbye to the local Bahamian staff of 5 and the villa’s canine guest star, Rudy. I realize as I am careful not to shake The Renaissance Man, Balwin’s hand too hard, I have not only undergone a personal renaissance, I’ve made the acquaintance of a modern day Renaissance Man, who will need those hands for his next beachside dinner piano accompaniment.