A Night at Baha Mar’s Most Exclusive Hotel: A Review of the Rosewood
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To The Point
The Rosewood is the newest and most expensive resort at Baha Mar — but it delivers. The pros: full access to the entire resort; beautiful, Bahamian spaces; and, ooh, that library! The cons: hefty price tag and minor early-day kinks in service.
The sprawling Baha Mar resort complex fronting Nassau’s Cable Beach has been slowly opening in stages since mid-2017. The third and final hotel, Rosewood Baha Mar, finally opened its doors to public reservations on June 1. Naturally, we made reservations for the following week, which had me staying at the hotel the week after it opened.
Unfortunately, Rosewood hotels don’t participate in any of the major points programs, and they’re generally pricy properties, so when booking these properties, you’ll want to look for a card that gives you the best return on paid stays, which is why we charged the $700 (not including a $45 daily resort fee and $21 daily service charge) total for my one-night stay to a Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, which earns 10x miles per dollar spent on hotel reservations when booked through the special link at hotels.com/venture. You can also stack this return with hotels.com rewards which awards one free night per every 10 paid nights. Since the free night is based on the average price of the 10 nights, that effectively gave us a 20% return on this reservation — one of the very best credit card returns you can get when spending cash on hotels.
The Rosewood is on the Baha Mar resort complex, which sprawls across 1,000 acres along Cable Beach. To get there, I took a three-hour United economy fight and a 15-minute taxi ride from the airport ($22 in cash, more with a credit card). That means a burnt-out New Yorker could easily hop on a nonstop flight from the city in the morning and be in a lounge chair with a tropical drink in hand before dinner.
At the roundabout, travelers pass the driveway to the Grand Hyatt and continue on to the Rosewood, located at the easternmost end of the property.
Having been at the adjacent Grand Hyatt the night before, I simply strolled across the Baha Mar casino floor to get to the Rosewood. Entering this way may have been anticlimactic, but the shift in atmosphere was still abrupt. The casino’s bright red, patterned carpeting gave way to gleaming white and gray marble, the sounds of the slot machines faded away, and the space became almost hushed. (It’s also worth noting that at the time of my arrival the hotel was operating at only 20% capacity, according to a front desk agent.)
The typical check-in at the Rosewood takes travelers into the property via a private drive that leads into a light-filled, neutral-hued space. The Rosewood’s lobby has a dark wood front desk and potted palms that brushed up against the ceilings, which are coffered and crowned with skylights.
The check-in process was generally relaxed and smooth, but a quiet, well-managed confusion over activating my room key was one of the few instances during my one-night stay where you could tell the staff was brand-new. Because I arrived early — at noon — my room wasn’t yet ready, so one of the front-desk agents offered to give me a tour of the public spaces. Walking straight through the lobby, I was shown the Manor Bar and introduced to the bartender. Beneath the center atrium in a small space off the lobby, the agent explained that the large, potted bonsai tree “is meant to bring good luck, so guests should come here before heading to the casino.”
During the tour, I couldn’t help but feel as though I were back in college, quizzing a classmate the night before a big test. Though the tour was a nice gesture, both in terms of service and killing time before my room was ready, it was another moment where I became aware of just how few guests had been checked into the Rosewood.
Then we entered the stunning library space (more on that later), where I was told about an afternoon tea service, as my butler approached to say my room was ready.
There was one slightly sour note with my check-in: It wasn’t until I recalled that my reservation promised a welcome refreshment that I inquired about it at the front desk. I was told that, yes, in fact, I should have been welcomed with a cocktail. But because I had not alerted the front desk of my arrival time, they said, they hadn’t been prepared.
It was a shaky excuse for a hotel that charges $600+ per night, but once I had my drink in hand, I wasn’t too bothered. Plus, the hotel had only opened the week before, and it’s rare for a hotel to get all the kinks out that early.
The Rosewood property is divided into east and west wings, and I was in the former. Every guest at the Rosewood is assigned a personal butler. Mine, Cora, escorted me through the locked wing door a short way down the hall to my Resort View Room — no elevator ride required. We were accompanied by my designated bellman, who had my bags in tow.
Cora gave me a brief tour of my room and told me she would be at my service to shine my shoes, quite literally, if I decided to take her up on the service.
The room’s dark, carved wood doors and doorbells were the first indications that the experience was going to be markedly different from the ones I had at the neighboring Grand Hyatt. At the Rosewood, every detail felt luxurious, thoughtful and — most importantly — distinctly Bahamian. An overstuffed four-poster bed filled the room, which also had a narrow work desk; a curio cabinet housed the premium minibar (Bombay Sapphire, Hornitos Plata); and a spacious balcony in even the most basic room was positioned so your neighbors wouldn’t obscure your view of the resort grounds.
The room also featured one of the most useful sitting areas I’d ever seen in a hotel room, with a cozy L-shaped sectional and a small wood table with a platter of fresh green apples and two bite-size, buttery pastries under a bell jar.
But when it comes to hotel rooms, in my opinion, the real measure of a luxe property is in its en suite bathroom — and this one delivered. A rainfall shower and toilet were hidden behind tasteful frosted glass. The twin vanities housed marble vessel sinks and citrus-scented Heeley bath products. At the center of the marble bathroom was a freestanding soaking tub with elegant taps and bath salts.
There was one other obvious way in which the Rosewood was at least a few steps above the Grand Hyatt next door: the complimentary in-room water. In my standard room at the Grand Hyatt, I received two plastic bottles of Nautilus. At the Rosewood, I was upgraded to two glass bottles of Evian.
Food and Beverage
Guests at the Rosewood Baha Mar are welcome to dine and drink at any one of the complex’s restaurants or bars. But the property has three (soon to be four) on-site bars, restaurants and lounges that — though accessible to guests at other properties — were not mentioned on any of Baha Mar’s signage or maps. One such restaurant is The Commonwealth, which features an eclectic menu inspired by the UK and former territories of the British Empire (think: Indian aloo gobi and British bubble and squeak).
Though the concept of The Commonwealth was compelling, there’s something almost disconcerting about the thought of snacking on poutine with duck confit before diving into a creamy Goan curry. Or, stranger still, nibbling on an Australian beef pie before a plate of tandoori chicken with mango chutney. I did, however, enjoy my Bahamian conch chowder.
What was a success? My signature gin cocktail. Tired of taking dinners alone at tables for two in the corner, I asked to be seated at the bar, and the bartender, Jesse, handled the unexpected dinner date wonderfully. We chatted throughout the evening, discussing everything from the Rosewood’s first week to last year’s destructive hurricane season.
Another highlight was the spiced fruit I snacked on during a sunny afternoon at the pool. When the property is running at capacity, guests will pay for access to the cabanas, but because the hotel was fairly empty during my visit, I was granted a free place to lay down in the shade. A pool attendant made up my chaise, delivered an ice bucket with bottles of water and brought a moist hand towel before my food arrived. (When a silver-haired couple settled into chaise lounges nearby, I saw them receive the same parade of amenities.)
The Rosewood’s lobby bar, The Manor, is a dark, sophisticated space with velvet sofas and cut crystal tumblers. My only drink here, sadly, was my welcome refreshment, a strong Bahama Mama mixed on the spot — no premade punches at this 20th century-style salon.
But by far my favorite space — not just at the Rosewood but arguably at the entire resort complex — was the hotel’s library.
Beneath the soaring, coffered ceiling, travelers converge at this immaculate space throughout the day. With its Ikat-print throw pillows, velvet jewel-toned sofas and a gleaming white-and-blue marble mantle, it’s the stuff of HGTV fever dreams. In the late afternoon of my stay, I settled into a comfy armchair and enjoyed a pot of the signature Rosewood Baha Mar Gentili-tea (the glass pot showcased the blend’s delightful rosy hue, a nod to the brand name) and worked on writing my reviews of the various Baha Mar properties. I was joined, not much later, by another guest, his laptop also in tow.
Travelers also come to the library in the early-morning for coffee and printouts of popular newspapers.
Of course, the library was also filled with books — an interesting, albeit somewhat pretentious and inaccessible collection. I can reasonably see travelers flipping through some of the lovely Taschen coffee-table selections, but I was skeptical as to whether a guest would dive into one of the volumes of “The Complete Tales of Henry James” between dips in the pool.
The Rosewood’s website also touts Costa, a coastal Mexican restaurant, but it wasn’t yet open during my visit.
Though I received conflicting information during my stay, it seemed to me that Rosewood guests were the only ones at Baha Mar with access to every other property’s facilities. In addition to the resort’s fitness center, ESPA spa, over 30 bars and restaurants and eight pools over the whole complex, the Rosewood had its own set of spaces exclusively for its hotel guests, including Sense, a Rosewood Spa and another fitness center.
One thing worth mentioning: Though the hotel told me the fitness center was open 24 hours a day, the website said it opened at 6:00am and closed at 8:00pm. There were a number of inconsistencies like this between what the various properties’ websites claimed and what I saw or heard on the ground in Baha Mar, and it’s hopefully something the management will straighten out quickly.
Chief among the Rosewood amenities were the serene, three-tiered, fan-shaped infinity pool; the oversized hot tub; and the serpentine lagoon pool that snaked its way around lush gardens and private chaises.
Walking around the grounds, I stumbled upon quiet sitting areas and the Rosewood’s serene stretch of beach, prepared with chaise loungers and shaded beach chairs.
Though I was impressed by how smooth the service was during my stay, given the Rosewood’s recent ribbon cutting, it wasn’t flawless, like with that belated welcome refreshment.
With a price tag nearly double what you would spend at the neighboring SLS (and even more compared to the Grand Hyatt), the perks of the Rosewood don’t come cheap. But in a lot of ways, that comparison doesn’t make sense. Despite the fact that the Rosewood brand is owned and operated by Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, the primary investor and owner of the entire Baha Mar complex, it’s kind of silly that the Rosewood is attached to this over-the-top, Las Vegas-style property. That’s because the Rosewood’s greatest strengths lie in how separate it feels from, well, everything else. The primary Rosewood building physically curves away from the rest of the complex, making it blissfully quiet and decidedly separate. Sure, you can take a dip in one of the Grand Hyatt’s pools or belly up to the SLS’s sleek lobby bar. But if you’re paying that much money to be detached from all of that, would you really want to?
After just one night at the Rosewood, sleeping in the most inexpensive room available, I can honestly say that if you have the money to spend, you will notice the difference in the level of service. And the Rosewood further sets itself apart with its collection of suites and villas (the villas are expected to open in late 2018). Even in base-level suites, guests have a kitchenette, making it a surprisingly comfortable stay for families and guests who can afford to bed down here for more than one night.
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