Think of the Bahamas and you might call to mind the super-resorts of Atlantis and, the most recently-opened, all-singing-and-dancing Baha Mar, which stretches across a massive 1,000 acres, and brings a Las Vegas vibe to the Bahamian islands. But, those after something a little more discreet for their time in the sun, should head instead to Albany, a private resort-community with starry connections, tucked away on the south-western tip of New Providence island.
Opened in 2010 and owned by British billionaire Joe Lewis and his private investment organisation Tavistock Group, along with golfing giants Tiger Woods and Ernie Els and actor and musician Justin Timberlake, Albany is making waves with those who are ‘in-the-know’, and attracting an A-list, jet-setting crowd eager to be part of the laid-back luxury that it offers.
With its urban-style apartments and beach mansions, available to buy or rent, this is no ordinary resort – as you might expect, given the names heading it up. First of all, are the impressive line-up of architects behind some of the contemporary buildings which are dotted around the 600 acres.
The Honeycomb, for instance, has been designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) — the award-winning Danish design firm responsible for noted projects, including the London’s 2016 Serpentine Pavilionand the Two World Trade Centre in New York. It’s more akin to something you’d see in cities like Tokyo or Toronto, rather than on an island in the Bahamas, with an avant-garde hexagon design, complete with transparent infinity pools set into terraces, giving off a turquoise gleam. Inside, the glamour is ramped up further with a range of chi chi apartments, all individually designed – with coastal-chic or ‘downtown boho’ schemes.
Meanwhile, The Orchid – which is clad in pretty sheets of metal lattice-work cut in the shape of flowers – has been conceived by Morris Adjmi Architects, the New York-based company behind Manhattan’s Samsung Building and Brookyln’s Wythe Hotel. Here, you’ll find nine sprawling apartments giving the wow-factor in spades – think: circular living rooms, marble floors and bespoke Italian furnishings.
While the resort is already well-established, with a whole range of accommodation and extensive facilities on offer, demand from investors means that it is also continuing its development, with four more major projects already planned to open over the next few years.
Launching in 2020 is the Tetris building, designed by OOAK Architects, a female-led Swedish architecture firm. Offering ‘houses in the sky’, due to their far-reaching ocean views and spacious floor plans, the build will have a modular block concept (based on the famous computer game). Despite the price tags ranging from $5-$25m, all 25 luxury apartments have already been sold, and there’s already a waiting list for future builds yet to break ground.
Those without a few million dollars to spare, however, can have a little slice of the Albany ‘pie’ for a lot less, simply by renting a property via Albany’s Hotel Programme. Whether you opt for an-all white villa or super-slick condo, it means you can tap into all the benefits available to residents – including a round-the-clock concierge and porter service.
As well as a championship golf course – designed by owner Ernie Els, of course – there’s The Sanctuary, a recording studio, spearheaded by Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys and attracting international musicians. While, at the heart of the resort, is Albany House, a pink Bahamian lodge, which has its own degree of fame. Bond fans may recognise it as the backdrop to Daniel Craig’s infamous beach walk from the water in Casino Royal.
This historic property is the hub of the resort and where you’ll find a cluster of restaurants – from Vesper Bar’s cocktails and sushi to the casual Footprints, a sunshine-yellow-hued restaurant with a sand floor and family-friendly menus. There’s Aviva, which offers gourmet cuisine with a healthy Caribbean twist and Wave, a culinary pop-up concept that sees international chefs invited to host seasonal events. At the two swimming pools, also based here, there are casual bites and essential rum punches available to order from chic red-and-white-striped cabanas.
While it’s tempting to stay put on the sun-lounger, there’s a definite nod towards the health-conscious – from the wheatgrass shots on offer at juice bar Liquid Nutrition to the super-salads available on every menu. The fitness centre is state-of-the-art – with a team of internationally-experienced experts on tap, an outside Crossfit arena and floodlit tennis courts. Be warned: you will probably work out next to a professional athlete or football star (it’s that kind of place).
Next up is the revamped spa, which aims to be the first all-encompassing wellness facility in the Caribbean. As well as holistic retreats and a fat menu of therapies, it will offer non-surgical procedure, acupuncture, cryotherapy and the latest approaches to wellness from leading experts from around the world.
Best of all, though, this is the Bahamas. – with its impossibly azure waters and chain of 700 islands. From Albany’s marina, you can hop on a yacht and discover it all. There are picnics to be had on the idyllic Rose Island or swimming with turtles off Bird Cay. A highlight is a day spent sailing around the pristine waters of the Exumas, where you can have a dip with the pigs at Major’s Spot Cay or walk along the famously unspoilt Tropic of Cancer beach (so called due to its geographic coordinates). Stop off at one of the beach shacks for a local Kallik Gold beer and tuck into a plate pumpkin fritters. It’s totally tropical.
*This article was also published in the Jewish Chronicle on 2 November 2018 and can also be read here