Dunmore Hotel Bahamas

Posted On: 2nd Jun 2016

I’ve opened two restaurants and penned two books in the last 18 months, and spare time has been well, scarce. So when I do squeeze in a trip, I want it to be pretty epic. As in opening-sequence- of-a- Bond-thriller epic, and a recent excursion to the Dunmore hotel in the Bahamas certainly lived up to that.

Three flights, numerous taxi cabs and an exhilarating high-speed ferryboat (which just about fit my oversized luggage and eight other passengers) ride bounced me across the water to the Harbour Island. This exclusive isle is free of day-boaters and cruise ships – both of which can be hard to avoid in the Caribbean – couple that with my hair-raising journey, and I knew good things were in store.

One final taxi ride (which I later discovered was all of a 12-minute walk) and Mr Smith and I were chauffeured down a short driveway, past manicured tennis courts and bright pink hibiscus plants, that led to the dashing Dunmore.

Bags dropped off and taken care of, we followed an intimate garden path lined with 13 bungalows, each trimmed with greenery, straight to the bar. There we were greeted by Henry, the charming Bahamian bar man, who immediately offered us a drink.

Henry turned out to be one of the best cocktail makers I have ever encountered in my travels, and a master when it came to a sophisticated dirty martini, which was particularly welcome after our long journey.

The Dunmore was once a members-only beach club, and it still has a slightly British Colonial feel to it. Walking out to the pool house was like stepping into an iconic 1960s-era Slim Aarons’ photo. The hotel was freshly updated five years ago in incredibly good taste with whitewashed wood, pale blues, bold turquoises and real coral and shell accents. It epitomises refined interior design.

The rooms are all suites and have been carefully thought through. The oversized ensuite was stocked with large Molton Brown products and the huge bed was soft
and luxurious.

Beautiful books to ponder over were stacked up on the shelves and the coffee table, and the day bed in the living room was the perfect place to curl up with a good read and escape the midday heat. Straw hats and beach bags were also on hand for island excursions.

We had our own veranda with sunbeds and a table; it felt incredibly private. The only other ‘guests’ we saw were a mother hen and her six fluffy baby chicks. They would potter past each morning when we had our coffee in the room, signalling that it was time for breakfast.

When we’d made the reservation, I had no idea that the Dunmore’s restaurant, run by chef Cindy Hutson, was one of the best on the island. The only downside of this is that you really do need to book a table in advance, even as a guest.

We very happily dined there every night, feasting on fantastic classic dishes with a Caribbean accent. Think: breadfruit tacos stuffed with lightly spiced local lobster, pulled pork on yucca cake with their secret wahoo chilli sauce and red Thai and kaffir lime lobster bouillabaisse – all beautifully done.

Breakfast was equally impressive. Fresh coffee, muffins, fruit and tea was laid out at 6am for early birds, and you could order fresh bagels with applewood-smoked bacon, tomatoes, fried eggs and fresh fruit shakes right to your room. Should you feel the need to wander, there are a few restaurants within walking distance too. Sip Sip on the beach is ideal for a breezy lunch and Queen Conch is the spot for real-deal conch salad and fritters.

Authenticity was a thread woven through every aspect of the hotel – including the genuinely friendly staff. I am sure we could have asked for anything and the ace
team there would have made it happen (with a smile).

Our new friends Henry (yes, our martini man) and Charmaine took very good care of us in the bar. They’d share island news and tipped us off to a stunning red moon that rose just after sunset one evening and cast a dramatic reflection on the water, sending waves of colour over the ocean.

Now, just when you think I couldn’t gush more, I’ve saved the best for last. The Dunmore is right next to the beach – not just any stretch of emery board-hued sand
either – but a pale, powder-fine pink swath that led to crystal-clear water with splashes of bright turquoise. This was one of the most breath-stealing beaches I’ve
ever seen.

The hotel had their own private section with sun beds and very attentive service, so you can sit back, relax and have amazing food and drinks delivered right to you. For those inclined to move, there were kayaks and bikes to rent, but I was thoroughly enjoying doing nothing apart from soaking up the atmosphere. Something I don’t often have the chance to do.

In the Dunmore I had discovered something truly rare: a place that I felt genuinely sad about leaving. As holidays go, it doesn’t get more epic than that.

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