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Loyal visitors swear by it. First-time travelers promise to return, and locals hope their “secret” island won’t be discovered by too many more vacationers. The Bahamian island of Eleuthera — long in the shadows of its trendy neighbors, New Providence and Paradise Island, and a mere stopping point for the celebrity-driven Harbour Island — is finally coming into the sun, thanks to the uber-posh The Cove resort.
As a first-time visitor to Eleuthera and The Cove, I took it as a chance to bask in the under-the-radar island and discover what all the fuss was about. The name “Eleuthera” is derived from the Greek word "eleutheros" meaning “freedom” — and what sense of independence it displays.
The churning Atlantic Ocean washes up on the island’s north side while the calmer Caribbean Sea is on its south. And unlike the more popular Nassau in New Providence, cities in Eleuthera are largely undeveloped. The out island boasts rocky cliffs and hills that soar up high above the sea level, making for challenging but rewarding hikes.
The Cove is easily the crown jewel on the 110-foot-long and 1-mile-wide Eleuthera, which is dotted with a handful of seaside towns and bisected by a one-lane road called Queen’s Highway. The resort is tucked on the Caribbean side of the island, where the turquoise blue waters are the main attraction. After passing through the entrance gates and meandering through a winding path, guests are welcomed by the staff at the top of a lush hill.
I was shown to my room by way of a kind valet on a golf cart. A floor-to-ceiling glass sliding door allowed for an unimpeded window to the property’s northern beach — one of two beaches at The Cove. A departure from the pastel colors that blanket the Bahamas’ typical edifices, guestrooms and buildings at The Cove are washed in bright-white paint and a minimalist style, perhaps as a signal of more contemporary times.
Built by an American businessman in 2013, the 40-acre property is meant to be the antithesis of the big-name hotel chain. It serves a cultivated crowd who is more engaged in the bespoke than the mainstream. There’s an air of authenticity at The Cove, a feeling that wraps around all 57 luxury rooms (including two villas complete with butler service and private pools), three restaurants, lush lawns and towering palm trees, often accented by swaying hammocks.
Today, the property is owned by the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Enchantment Group, which is eyeing the possibility of upgrades in the near future, says general manager David Flack.
“When Enchantment Group acquired The Cove, it already had a high-end, luxurious aesthetic,” Flack said. “But the new owners want to put the guest experience at an all-time high level, which includes exciting enhancements to the rooms and buildings.”
Excursions are booked by individual request and can be fully tailored to each guest. There isn’t a daily schedule of activities; instead, guests get to decide how the day unfolds, and the staff is at the ready to make it happen.
For example, on my boating excursion, the first thing the captain asked me was, “Where do you want to go today?”
After getting his and his first mate’s recommendations based on the current, we decided there’s no better way to enjoy the Bahamas than by snorkeling at nearby reefs and conch diving in the seagrass beds. (Full disclosure: Conch diving is a workout.)
Beside boating excursions, The Cove offers other off-property experiences, such as island tours, deep-sea fishing excursions and horseback-riding trips. On-property amenities include an infinity-edge heated outdoor pool that overlooks the two beaches; a spa that offers customizable massages; and a movie and game room.
Food selections also cater to a cultured palate, as seen at the on-property Freedom Restaurant & Sushi Bar, perhaps the island’s only restaurant offering authentic sushi and sashimi. While the land options were tempting at dinnertime, I couldn’t deny the urge to request the local sea selections, caught fresh daily by the skilled hands of the local fishermen.
The Cove also offers cocktails with a unique view at The Point Bar, a sleek open-air bar that’s carved right into a cliff and overlooks the ebbing and flowing tide on the south beach. To add a little magic to a client’s trip, recommend to catch a drink there as the sun sets, when it feels as if heaven is kissing earth.
With all the majestic touches at The Cove, perhaps its biggest amenity is its serenity. While many island resorts can tout themselves as “a place to get away,” the message is real at The Cove. I found that I most enjoyed sitting on my guestroom’s porch and listening to the sound of the undulating tide rolling onto the beach.
Now that’s paradise island.