Flying over Kamalame Cay we are immediately swept up in the barefoot elegance that defines the private island resort. Upon landing and check-in we arrive to the Great House in search of breakfast and a bloody-caesar or two – three even. Given the early hour, the sun having only just begun its initial ascent, we appear to be the first guests to amble in. Seated, we take in unobstructed views seen through french doors that open outwards, each crevice bringing the outdoors-in. Lost in the romance of the setting and feeling the last of the adrenaline from our helicopter flight we take to the grass, a makeshift dance floor, and in synchrony with the palms dancing in the breeze we sway to the music. Only moments later David and Michael appear, a welcome interruption, the two having taken the resort’s helm, steered for the past 15 years by David’s mother and father. Greeting us as they would old friends, a form of hospitality I see shared with all guests in the days following, the two in unison welcome us to our honeymoon island.
LOCATION – Kamlame’s world lies just 30 miles west of Nassau, New Providence, the capital of the Bahamas and the outpost we call home. For the tourist, domestic or otherwise, it’s a distance that can be covered in far shorter time by sky or by sea, than if visiting any of the other 25 inhabited islands of the Bahamas. During our visit to the island a salty old sea dog boasted that his modest speed boat made the trip in an hour and quarter from Paradise Island. While I greeted a dear friend who crossed the tongue of the ocean from her launch point on the western tip of New Providence in 60 minutes; far shorter time than it would take her to reach Rose Island, a favourite sunday-retreat among locals. Alternatively for the international traveller, a mere fifteen minute charter or commercial flight can land you in Fresh Creek, where a 25-minute taxi ride followed by a three-minute ferry boat ride transports you to a world that feels so far away yet is so close in actuality. More so, there is the option to charter Bahamas Helicopters as we did, gliding you no more than 300 feet over mangroves and surrounding sea, landing you 15 minutes later on a private beach, a short golf cart ride from your own beach-front bungalow.
LANDSCAPE – Situated on an off-shore peninsula, a sand bar in truth, Kamalame Cay is the definition of privacy. Not to mention the life work of Brian and Jennifer Hew, both true visionaries and real island connoisseurs. Accessibly only by boat or the out of water propeller found here or here, this isle of coconut palms – there are said to be 4,000 total – is lined with suites and villas, each more liken to cottages. Similar to the islands namesake, every villa takes its name from a tree and [can only found] at the end of its own private beach path. Every room, every corner of a room, embraces the tropical outdoors with a window or door that opens. More notably are the steps between your villa and your neighbors’ – each separated by a significant distance of lush vegetation and further defined by a private hammock and a private palm covered cabana on the beach.
PRIVACY VS. PARTY – Alternatively, spend a moment, or even the better part of the day at the Great House: the heart of the property, the place where you can choose to eat all your meals and truly feel the pulse of the island, the real ebb and flow of the tides – or in this case the arrival and departure of fellow guests. Then again if you keep to your isolated suite or villa, as we did the first few days – only retreating to the Great House on a rainy afternoon when a heated game of backgammon topped our island itinerary – then evidence of any existence beyond your own can only be seen in footprints left in the sand. Either way the private island, specifically the Beach Suite and villas offer you the option to choose between complete isolation or hosting an evening partying with new island friends, perhaps even a little of both.
DR. YES! HONEYMOON PACKAGE – For honeymooners like us, opt for this James Bond inspired package which encourages newlyweds to relax for four days or more. It’s filled with incentives: a complimentary room upgrade, a bottle of champagne chilled just in time for your arrival, a 90 minute couples massage, a boat drop off to another nearby private island and an all inclusive meal plan. There being no television, spotty internet, no casino or jam packed nightclubs, it’s in little time you completely unwind. The only real decision to make is what suite or villa you will stay in and how long you will call it “home”. I assure you, one, or both of you will regret having to leave.
OVER WATER SPA – Which leads me to the over water spa, the only of it’s kind in The Bahamas. The design element naturally distinguishes the boutique hotel from the rest. At the end of a 200 foot long pier, past billowing curtains and a spiral staircase leading to elevated views, await two massage rooms which mirror each other in style. Inside, a removable partition acts as a connector and collapsable floor-to-ceiling windows command the views be seen on the horizon. The same can also be said for the seascape below the horizon, which once lying face down I can clearly see while looking through a glass window placed in the floor. That’s of course until I fall asleep under the expert hands of the masseuse.
CUISINE – On the menu you can expect farm and sea to table inspired dishes, each plated in tropical style. Naturally, as a guest of the resort you play a role in supporting the local economy, but equally important you also play a role in helping the local ecosystem. Whether it’s by tucking in to the invasive lion-fish served alongside grits for breakfast, Andros crab cakes perched atop micro-greens for lunch, or stone crab for dinner. Then again, such an island existence means you are reliant on the mailboat, also to be considered a floating grocery store. If the mailboat is two or three days behind schedule then do not be discouraged when from one day to the next the portions aren’t the same, it is simply the price you pay for your Robin Crusoe lifestyle.
LUXURY – Beyond such a meal you can expect fresh-baked cookies delivered to your villa every afternoon, and a nostalgic breakfast basket quietly placed on your doorstep each morning. Additionally upon check-in guests are handed a mobile phone stored with numbers connecting you to the front desk, guest activities, the resort’s manager and Samson, the island’s service connoisseur. Often I used ours to request hot water bottles wrapped in cashmere be delivered to our room in the evenings. Often the receiver being met with a chuckle as they are really reserved for the winter months when the island breeze has a bit of a chill to it. Nevertheless the staff were happy to accommodate.
Even if you are visiting the island just for the day, as were two guests we spotted during our stay, this feeling of being lapped in luxury will not be lost on you.
P.S. My stay was discounted, but as always thoughts and opinions are my own.