This is going to be a tough review. There is no way I can cover all of the fantastic features and offerings one can enjoy at the all-inclusive Bahamas resort, Sandals Emerald Bay on the island Great Exuma. I will focus on my personal experiences and the key features of the resort, which were absolutely fantastic.
Great Exuma Island Bahamas
Sandals Emerald Bay Location
As the saying goes, “location, location, location!” Sandals Emerald Bay is an all-inclusive resort on Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas. Great Exuma Island is a very short 40 minute flight from Miami or southern Florida. The island is southeast of the southern tip of Florida and northeast of Cuba. See the attached imaged to the right.
Because of its proximity, the weather on Great Exuma Island is always warm. The lowest temperatures in the winter average at a lovely 77 degrees and the highest temperatures in the summer average at 89.
The waters of Great Exuma and its surrounding islands are a brilliant coral blue color and crystal clear. The water temperature is nice and warm. Combined with the crystal clear water, the swimming, snorkeling, and diving in the area is as good as it gets.
Sandals Emerald Bay Resort Overview
As one might deduce from the name, the resort is located in a circular bay of water bordering the east coast of the island. The bay wraps around several miles of shoreline. Within the bay all sorts of great water-based activities are available from snorkeling to swimming to sailing.
The resort occupies 500 acres of sandy, palmtree laden paradise with most of its 249 suites and villas facing the ocean. There are so many different accommodation levels ranging from suites to stand alone villas, that it could take an entire article to cover all of them. All suites feature floor to ceiling windows, mahogany furnishings, stone floors, and fresh ocean breezes.
There are three pools, the main which is the largest pool on the island. See the aerial photo below, which I captured with my smaller aerial photo/video multi-rotor helicopter.
Sandals Emerald Bay From Above
The resort offers seven restaurants, providing a wide variance of food options, most of which are included in the resort fee. From French to Italian to grub from an English Pub, there is culinary joy for everyone.
Six bars located throughout the resort insure that one can always have a fabulous tropical drink in hand, if so desired.
Naturally a big reason I’m reviewing this property is the golf travel angle. Sandals Emerald Bay is the home of the very challenging and beautiful Greg Norman designed Emerald Reef Golf Club. I had the pleasure of playing the course a few times, as well as discussing the course design with Greg Norman himself.
Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Course Aerial View – click to view more
Sandals Emerald Reef is a tale of two different nine-hole golf courses. The outward nine winds through the tropical jungle, providing challenging tee shots which reward accuracy. The inward nine travels along a sliver of land on the edge of the bay. Most of the back nine holes featuring fantastic seaside views.
Check out the video below which I captured with my small aerial copter. The lighting isn’t great as the weather was sketchy, but you still get an idea of some of the great holes on the back nine.
My full review of Emerald Reef Golf Club is in the works. Stay tuned.
Naturally one of the biggest features of the resort is the beach. There is a one mile stretch of brilliant sand overlooking Emerald Bay. On that stretch the lovely wife and I enjoyed relaxing and a myriad of water activities.
Looking back at the beach and Sandals Emerald Bay from over the water
Water sports which are included in this all-inclusive Bahamas resort include snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, and swimming with the pigs (see below).
The sand is perfect on this wonderful beach and the waves are light. I could spend a lifetime in the sand and in that warm blue water. The experience is fantastic.
Swimming with the Pigs
The HOG World Tour has done and seen some amazing and unique things, but this one may be the most bizarre. Each day a tour is provided for guests of the resort to “swim with the pigs.” Resort guests are shuttled to the resort’s own marina, which features 150 deep-water slips. A short and enjoyable boat ride through the pristine blue waters ends up in an area full of tiny islands with very shallow water. Guests get in the shallow water and are greeted by very friendly and anxious pigs who walk off a small island right into the water.
Many years ago a pig farmer moved his pigs to the island because of complaints from locals about the odor. The island pigs eventually became a tourist attraction and are fed by passers by.
Enjoy my swimming with the pigs video below.
My accommodations at Emerald Bay were great. The bed was comfortable and the rest of the suite was roomy and relaxing.
Sandals Emerald Bay Suite – click for more
The lovely wife and I enjoyed the spaciousness of the suite, especially the balcony. We enjoyed room service breakfast on the balcony on the occasional morning, and wine with cigars in the evening.
A Day In The Life
Here’s a typical day for us at the resort:
In the early morning we would walk down to Cafe de Paris, a “Parisian-style patisserie with pastries, crêpe, coffee and tea.” We would order a latte and enjoy some French pastries.
Following the latte we would make our way to the buffet at the Bahama Bay restaurant. Bahama Bay serves buffet style breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are different themes there on a daily basis. Some mornings we opted for a room service breakfast which we would enjoy on the deck of our suite (image below).
Breakfast on the deck at Sandals Emerald Bay
Following breakfast the wife and I would head back up to the suite, dawn our bathing suits, and head for the beach. We would enjoy a few hours of beach time, then make our way to Bahama Bay for lunch or perhaps one of the other restaurants, depending on what mood we were in. We enjoyed eating right in the sand near the water at the Barefoot by the Sea restaurant.
Tropical drinks! Often I had no idea what they were, but they tasted fabulous!
More relaxing beach time after lunch, plus we would get in some snorkeling in the beautiful waters. Through the day we would visit one of the many bars at the resort and enjoy some fantastic tropical drinks and local beer. On occasion we would visit the quiet pool and hot tub, as the big pool was often quite raucous.
On different days we would enjoy various activities. I would hit the golf course and the wife would enjoy the beach. On another day we hit the spa (more below) in the afternoon after a day of snorkeling.
In the late afternoon and early evening we would drag ourselves away from the beach and get ready for the night’s activities which would be dinner in one of the restaurants and live entertainment on site.
To cap off the day, we would relax on the deck of our suite with a nightcap and a cigar. Cuban cigars are available in the gift shop by the way.
Red Lane Spa – Sorry, no photos of the bride and myself getting our “treatment”
Red Lane Spa
Red Lane Spa at Sandals Emerald Bay offers “European-style massages, facials, body wraps, scrubs and more – all with Sandals’ tropical signature twists.”
The lovely bride and I enjoyed a very nice couples massage.
In every review I write I try to point out areas of critique, in hopes that the company featured can make adjustments and improve its product. The experience at Sandals Emerald Bay is top notch, but resolving these few issues would make it even better:
Following the couples massage at Red Lane Spa the wife and I were escorted to a room together to have a sip of water, relax, and recover. The room was freezing and that compromised the experience. The poor shivering wife could not relax.
The concept of time in the Bahamas is not quite what one might be used to in the big city. One example was the room service. Even when specifying that we needed the order to arrive at 8 a.m. so we could make our other morning activities, it arrived at 9 a.m. On another occasion room service took so long we decided to cancel and get on with our day. I do understand that people on vacation at the resort are relaxing and “laid back,” so there’s an element of “no problem” there.
The two above critiques are minor but the following was my biggest issue at the resort. The wife and I love peace and quiet, and greatly enjoyed the relaxing sound of the ocean waves and the breeze on the deck of our suite. On one evening however, a stage directly below our room’s balcony was the site of a band playing. As a musician I could appreciate the skill and quality of the band members, though I was not a fan of the song selection. The music was so loud that the wife and I could not hear each other talking on the deck. “I love you honey,” I’d yell. “What?!?!?” she would yell back. Not exactly romantic. In order to hear each other talking we had to shut the windows and close off the sliding door to the deck until the band stopped. Thankfully the band did not play too late.
My favorite part of the resort was the beach. I’m landlocked at home. Beach time is a special thing for me and the lovely bride. Nothing better than looking out over the coral blue water, walking in the sand, and swimming in the warm waters of the Bahamas.
Second is the great golf course. Though not known primarily as a golf destination, the resort’s Emerald Reef Golf Club is a very challenging test, and the back nine scenery is stunning.
Late in the evening we would find a comfy chair near an open fire pit in one of the pool areas and stare up at the stars.
Pool area at night…
This is the first true all-inclusive experience I’ve had. It is quite nice to order a latte in the morning with French pastries, then have a breakfast buffet, enjoy all sorts of drinks (alcoholic and non), enjoy lunch and dinner, without ever whipping out my credit card or signing a tab for the room. That even includes the water sports activities.
The weather and conditions at Sandals Emerald Bay are fantastic year-round. The water is warm and blue, and the temperature is perfect. All that combined with the activities and amenities this 500 acre resort has to offer adds up to an experience of a lifetime. I hope to get back there very soon.
If there’s one country that should know how to deal with the cold, it is Scotland. You could trust that an apparel company established in Scotland would have unparalleled expertise in warmth, especially a company which has been around since about 20 years before St. Andrews’ New Course (1895) and the Jubilee Course (1897). Lyle & Scott would be that company.
Today’s featured item from Lyle & Scott is their Crew Neck Pullover “Jumper.” Here in the USA we could call the same thing a sweater.
This jumper, ahem, features a cable knit. Cable knit is a pattern woven into the fabric which has a look like many cables or ropes aligned vertically. The jumper is made from 80% lambswool and 20% nylon. The cuffs on the sleeves and the waistband are a ribbed knit.
This jumper is extremely sharp looking. The fit for me, a USA XL, is perfect, unlike many “euro” sized apparel items. Not too tight, but not like wearing a weather balloon.
I dread trying on wool. I can almost feel the itching before I even put on the garment. Not the case with this beauty. The lamb’s wool/nylon combo is not abrasive or itchy at all.
On The Course
We’ve had an indian summer here in northern Utah. Fall has been warm but finally the temperatures have been dropping to the point of needing to wear a sweater…I mean jumper. During the round yesterday the cold late in the day gave me quite a chill but as soon as I put on the Crew Neck Pullover the cold was gone and I felt nice and toasty.
Despite having a nice thick wool insulation layer, I was still able to move freely and the garment did not impede the swing or my comfort level at all.
I have a new favorite jumper and sweater all in one. The Crew Neck Pullover is perfectly comfortable, plush, and fits naturally.
This is not a sweater for the faint of wallet. Pricing on this jumper is around $175 USD. That said, this one is worth the price of admission and will surely pay itself off in the form of many warm and comfortable years of enjoyment.
On the last HOG World Tour stop in the Bahamas at Sandals Resorts on the island of Exuma, I had a small window of time to do some aerial shots of Greg Norman’s golf course there. Emerald Reef is the name of the course and the back nine has some very scenic holes as you will see in the video. Unfortunately the weather was rainy and cloudy and my only window of time was late in the day. As a result the lighting is a bit dark. That said, the shots are still stunning. What a piece of property! Enjoy.
The cigar of the month is the Rocky Patel Connecticut series courtesy of my new best friends at Cigars City. The Connecticut is a medium to low priced cigar around $6-$7 each, which comes in four different sizes listed below. His cigar is primarily Honduran, with a very mild and mellow taste, good for inexperienced cigar smokers or those who don’t want too much of a kick.
Churchill (pictured above) – smoke time 60-90 minutes
Robusto – smoke time 45-60 minutes
Toro – smoke time 45-60 minutes
Torpedo – smoke time 45-60 minutes
Wrapper: Equador Connecticut
While on vacation in the Bahamas last week we enjoyed some Connecticuts of varying sizes while on the beach and on our patio overlooking the caribbean. As you can see in the photo below, the lovely lady is digging this mellow stick.
Wine, music, robe, caribbean, cigar, discussing a day of snorkeling… Can’t get any better than this!
Sure while we were there we could have plunked down some substantial cash for some Cuban cigars, but we were perfectly content with the smooth and mellow sticks we brought with us.
Galvin Green is a Swedish apparel company with some very stylish and high technology offerings.
Case in point is today’s review, the Millard Polo. This piece is the iPhone 6 of golf polos, but you don’t have to wait in line overnight to get one or sign a two year contract to wear it.
The Millard polo uses “body-mapping” technology. The brainiacs at Galvin Green know all the crucial areas on the body which need ventilation and have increased ventilation in those areas to help the player remain comfortable and dry, even in extreme conditions.
The fabrics/fibers used to construct the Millard Polo wick the moisture away from the player’s body and disperse that moisture over a large area, where it evaporates. The fabric is very high strength and will not wash out or wear out. The fabric in the polo provides valuable UV protection to protect the wearer from the sun, and it also features antibacterial properties to keep the shirt, and its wearer fresh and odorless.
The looks and style of this polo are as groundbreaking as its technology. I like the fact that the colored panels promote a fit and sporty look, even with my square torso.
Today’s shirt script…
During rounds of golf the polo flows with the golf swing. No binding, pulling or uncomfortable spots (see critiques below however).
I played a round of golf in 94 degree temperatures a few days ago. The sweat on my upper body was wicked away and I felt quite cool and try compared to the ambient temperature.
I do have issues with the sizing. Many swedes may be skinny and like tight fitting clothes but in the USA we are a little bigger. I happen to dislike tight fitting apparel. I normally wear an extra-large but due to the swedish sizing I had to go with a double-extra-large.
Sizing for the Millard runs from small to double-extra-large. I’d recommend one size above what you normally wear.
There are four colors available: orange, white, gray, blue.
My Millard Polo is a gamer in a closet which has at least 50 competing polos. I love the looks, style, and performance. The maintenance (machine wash) is very convenient.