Bimini Bay Resort & Marina is not your typical luxury hotel-and- dockage set up. Located on the Bahamas' North Bimini Island, just 48 nautical miles from southern Florida, the property understands boaters' needs and puts them on equal footing with its non-boating guests, delivering a truly luxurious experience. With two years now under its belt, the resort has had time to perfect its approach, and this commitment to excellence shows.
There are two marinas here, one devoted to megayachts, and as you pull up to either of them you'll quickly notice how this place goes about doing things differently. Both marinas are equipped with concrete floating docks- yes, you read that correctly: floating docks, in the Bahamas-that can accommodate vessels up to 230 feet. The megayacht marina has even been given a prime location within the resort, adjacent to one of the two pools and steps away from the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant (an upscale pizzeria and a poolside bistro round out the on-site dining venues). "We understand the importance of the marina and the marina guests, and our goal when building was to create an environment where the marina and the resort blended together," says Ash Tembe, sales and marketing director for Bimini Bay.
It is immediately obvious upon arrival that the property takes customer service very seriously. As you approach your slip, Hylan, one of the amiable, first-rate dock masters, and his crew will help you tie up. Everything else proceeds smoothly from there. Staff can make restaurant reser vations for you and even help you rent a golf cart, which you'll definitely want to do for the duration of your stayâ€”the resort's facilities cover several acres, and beyond the complex's borders is the rest of the island, which is worth exploring.
Marina amenities include a weigh-in and cleaning station for when you come in with your freshly caught yellow tail (the surrounding waters are renowned for excellent sport fishing), WiFi, and a satellite customs-and-immigration office (available on-site most weekends in season) and the wider resort itself has a well-stocked grocer y store, concierge desk, spa, beach, and organized kids-only activities. The newest addition to the resort will be a casino slated to open in April 2010 and located only steps from the mega yacht marina. A full-time events coordinator helps plan and execute boater-specific outings and gatherings. If for some reason you prefer to stay on land, you won't be disappointed by your options. From two-bedroom suites to three-bedroom tree houses, all the hotel- type offerings have beachy-chic interiors and sweeping views of the ocean and bay.
When you finally find a moment to wander into town, you'll discover a low-key, laid-back Bimini much like the once avid fisherman Ernest Hemingway fell in love with in the 1930s. Sadly, Hemingway's favorite watering hole, the Compleat Angler, burned down a few years ago, but the away-from-it-all vive lives on at places like Big John's, where the Kalik beers are ser ved ice cold and reggae or rock-and-roll bands take the stage several nights a week. Don't miss stopping at one of the roadside conch stands you'll pass on the way between Bimini Bay and the main town. The shells are cracked and meat retrieved a few mere feet from the stalls, often by the same guys who plucked the conch from the water that morning. The scrumptious, beautifully simple conch salad is made to order, naturally. Eating a bowl of it, sitting in this slice of paradise beneath the rustling palm trees, it's difficult to believe that you're only a hop, skip, and a jump from the roar of Miami.