Pretty Little Secret: A Chic Bahamas Retreat
Best enjoyed with a fruity cocktail in hand. All photos courtesy of The Dunmore.
When contributing editor Christina Ohly discovers the Dunmore, she realizes that Harbour Island in the Bahamas is the destination that keeps on giving.
HARBOUR ISLAND, Bahamas – Harbour Island is the three-mile long haven of powder-fine pink sand and crystal clear turquoise waters that's remained relatively unchanged over the years. The Landing (which I wrote about on Fathom) serves as the epicenter for delicious meals and local gossip. The Rock House is the stylish spot for feasting poolside on locally caught lobster. Service around here is reliably slow, and that's actually part of the charm. And because the only way to get to the island is through a series of planes, cars, boats, and golf carts, only truly committed travelers end up here. Everyone else stays away. In short, the island is a little slice of heaven where you can truly escape the pace of modern life.
One thing has changed since my last visit in 2010: the revamping of The Dunmore, a beach club-cum-boutique hotel. Founded as a members-only club in 1963, it opened to the public in the 1980s and was renovated and reopened under new management in 2010. The stylish oasis is comprised of a laid-back communal sitting area, sixteen cheerful guest cottages designed by Nassau-based Amanda Lindroth, lovely dining and bar areas, and a glamorous pool deck that just screams, "Slim Aarons in Palm Beach."
As I walked around, captivated by the bougainvillea and night jasmine lining the lush walkways, I couldn't figure out why I had never heard of this special place. (All I do when I travel is look for cool things.)
It's because no one who visits wants to talk about it. They want to save it for themselves.
Being at Dunmore feels like being at someone's elegant island house party. The scene is a sea of white and aqua cabanas, billowing curtains, vintage rattan, and gently swirling ceiling fans. It's all best enjoyed with a fruity cocktail in hand.
The holiday crowd is a colorful mix of gay, straight, and Southern types drawn to the genteel pace. Children are tolerated at lunch, but this is most definitely a spot for discerning couples looking for peace and quiet.
I followed a friend's recommendation to have drinks at the Dunmore and was thereafter hooked for almost every meal. The patio dining area can be accessed from the beautiful beach below, and I walked over every day from my perch at the Pink Sands Resort (also covered on Fathom — clearly, we have a thing for Harbour Island) for a small escape into another era. Lunches are served in an airy outdoor setting. The menu is filled with exactly the kind of food I love to eat after a strenuous morning spent doing nothing at all: enormous salads with grilled grouper, local ceviches with citrus and ginger, delicate conch fritters, breadfruit fish tacos, and mountains of crispy French fries. (Why do fries taste better at the beach?)
Dinners are no less fantastic, set in an intimate dining room with vintage sailing photographs, decorative shells, and simple hanging lanterns. The food is slightly more refined in the evening but no less delicious. Sautéed red snapper with sweet plantain-bonito mash, roasted West Indian Cornish hen with Jamaican rice ‘n' peas, and other Caribbean-inflected dishes are all incredibly fresh and creative, as were house-made chocolate doughnuts and sorbets that capped the meals.
It's the details — the John Robshaw textiles, the Celerie Kemble wicker settees, the bright pink conch shells and sea fans that add touches of color — that make Dunmore so unique. If you're looking for an understated yet elegant beach escape with a bit of history and the kindest staff both thrown in for good measure, this retreat on Harbour Island's eastern shore is just about as good as it gets.
Next time around, I'm checking in.
Dunmore Town, Harbour Island
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