Mar112012

One&Only Undesirable Guest at Ocean Club Paradise Island

This post is not a bitch piece about the One&Only Ocean Club Resort, Paradise Island, Bahamas. I was kicked out of the resort for snapping photos as a non-guest visitor from Atlantis. That comes with the territory of being a punk blogger. I like to ‘feel’ a hotel unescorted, but sometimes I am escorted out of a hotel prematurely. I have noticed a correlation between higher room rates and less toleration for camera wielding tourists.

The history of the Ocean Club fascinated me after my brief visit to a world famous resort on Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas. This resort is not just another new build island retreat offering sands and tans. Ocean Club has been a luxury retreat for the past half-century and the grounds gave me the feeling of being on a Caribbean European style colonial estate – for the 15 minutes before I was told to leave.

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Leaving One&Only Ocean Club was one of the best parts of my trip to the Bahamas. I was directed to leave the resort via the Versailles Gardens which led me to the Cloister. This strip of land cutting across Paradise Island north to south is some of the most beautiful imagery to see if your journeys take you to Nassau.

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And as long as you don’t wander too close to the One&Only swimming pool, the Versailles Gardens is open to the public and there is no impediment to visiting the Cloisters on the south side of Paradise Island Road to the golf course.

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The terraced gardens have statues and pools and green lawns touched with floral color landscape.

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt statue in distance.

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“Dr. Livingstone I presume”

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No woman, no cry. – Bob Marley. Not really the name of the sculpturethough.

The view of the gardens across the island is magnificent.

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The Cloister is on the south side of Paradise Island Road.

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The narrow garden continues between two timeshare/villa properties.  The cloister is a 13th century Augustine cloister from France that passed through the hands of Randolph William Hearst to Huntington Hartford.  The Cloister was reassembled piece by piece by hand and supposedly with no directions.

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“This cloister was built in the XII-XIII centuries, Montrejau, France by the Augustinian Order. It was rebuilt in 1968 by J.J. Castremanne for H. Hartford. Architect J.L. Volk”

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A gazebo is near the garden’s edge.

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View of Cloister from Gazebo.

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Versailles Gardens and the Cloister

KarensGardenTips.com also has a piece on Versailles Gardens and Cloister.

A Canadian floral blogger posted a piece February 24, 2012 with photos of the gardens and cloister with nice photos for more detailed look of Versailles Gardens and the Cloister.

My Day Trip On the Beach

Paradise Island has a long beach on the north side where the hotel resorts are located. Atlantis to One&Only Ocean Club is a walk along the beach of about 500 yards. Alternatively, a shuttle transports visitors from Atlantis resorts to the front door of the Ocean Club.

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Checkout at Atlantis is 11am and I stored my luggage with a plan to see many of the sights of Paradise Island I’d not yet visited in three days of meetings and parties at the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group 2012 Global Business Conference. This meant dressing in shorts and tennis shoes and carrying a small pack with some water bottles, swim suit, spare shirt, suntan lotion and sandals for a day at hotels, the beach and swimming pools. The Atlantis pools are only open 9am-5pm – Las Vegas Strip hours – and I had not yet made it into a pool for a swim after three days.

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Outside the Royal Towers of Atlantis I waited for the complimentary shuttle to the Ocean Club.

I had eaten at the Royal Towers Marketplace breakfast buffet immediately before checkout at Atlantis, so when I arrived around noon at the One&Only Ocean Club, a Leading Hotels of the World member, I thought I’d wander around the grounds and see what a $1,000 per night resort offers guests.  Then I figured I would sit back at Dune, the Ocean Club’s restaurant/bar overlooking the beach, and have a drink or two.

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Stepping outside onto the serenity of the green grass lawn and ocean overlook deck revealed a quiet, low-key resort for true relaxation without the crowds and ever present noise of DJ rhythms blaring from pool loudspeakers during the daytime hours at Atlantis.

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The wing with the cheapest rooms at Ocean Club is located to the left of the library.

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A couple who exited the Atlantis resort shuttle bus with me walked directly to Dune.

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The telescope on the ocean overlook deck caught my eye and I wanted to watch a couple paragliding several hundred yards off the coast up close.

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The deck provided views down the beach.

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The Cove hotel unit of Atlantis is visible in the distance from One&Only Ocean Club resort.

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The green grass lawn has the feeling of being on a Caribbean colonial estate. This development of the Ocean Club is a remnant of colonial estates. Axel Wenner-Gren (1881-1961), Swedish and one of the world’s wealthiest men in the 1930s (Electrolux vacuum, Disneyland monorail construction), retired during WWII to his estate on then-called Hog Island.

Many of the current features of Paradise Island including the Ocean Club, Versailles Gardens and the Cloister and the golf course were developed by Huntington Hartford (1911-2008), the A&P supermarket heir. He purchased Hog Island from Axel Wenner-Gren, renamed it Paradise Island, and developed the area from 1959-1962 when the Ocean Club opened.  Hartford secured the gambling license for the island and with partner Jim Crosby heading a company Resorts International, the island was developed as a resort destination.

Huntington Hartford was a wealthy man. A&P grocers was like the Walmart of the 20th century from 1915 to 1975. As a kid in the 1960s I learned A&P was the largest grocery store chain in the USA and that baffled me living in California where I never saw an A&P market. A&P started out as a 19th century New York City based specialty shops for tea and coffee. The business developed into the first self-serve markets in the US. A&P went from 1,600 grocery stores in 1915 to 16,000 by 1930 and became the world’s largest retailer.

The gist of this information is Ocean Club Paradise Island has been a resort destination and land holdings of global billionaires for most of the past century.

Donald Trump owned Paradise Island briefly in the late 1980s and then Merv Griffin. The islands gambling development had significant tie-ins with development of Atlantic City casinos. Merv Griffin went bankrupt with Paridse Island and the property was purchased in 1994 by Sol Kerzner, South African hotel-casino magnate.

Kerzner launched One&Only resorts in 2002.

Private Property – No Trespassing

Getting back to the beach on Paradise Island from the road without going through Versailles Gardens turned out to be a little difficult.

I walked past the industrial laundry facility for Paradise Island and the electric power plant and ended up at the Gold Course guard gate. They directed me back to the laundry facility street. The street at lunch time was lined with parked cars, vans and trucks and I realized this was what we call in California Taco Truck diner alleys. There were several cars with the doors and hatchbacks open selling hot food items to local workers out on the street.

At the end of the road I found myself at two sets of condominiums, each with large no trespassing – no beach access signs. I asked a local black guy working on a car in the alley how to get to the beach and he points to the two sets of condos and says walk through either one. Duh? I pass a white guy on the narrow sidewalk in between about a dozen condo units before I reach the beach gate access.

Wooden beach stairs lead to sand and I almost lose a tennis show when I stop to strip barefoot and my shoe drops off the side of the steps and gets caught on the top branches of a beach bush. It would have been gnarly if I had to try and retrieve the shoe from the dense lower branches nestled up against the sand dune beach barrier between the buildings and the sea.

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The beach sand and cool water felt good after walking around for an hour in the 80-degree sun.

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I guess there were plenty of $1,000 per night guests around the One&Only resort, but for my fifteen minutes of fame, I was the only guy using many of the enchanting spaces around Ocean Club Paradise Island on a February Friday afternoon.

Casually walking back to Atlantis Resort in the gently lapping surf of the north shore Paradise Island felt refreshing on a bright sunshiny day.

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Related Links:

Points, Miles & MartinisEarn Triple Miles with One & Only Resort Stays (March 8, 2012) – This blogger has actually experienced Ocean Club as a guest. They would have to comp me the room rate for me to afford a One&Only hotel stay. Even Atlantis is far more than I typically spend for hotel travel and resorts.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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