I'm not sure what I like best about the Abaco Club on Winding Bay on Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas. From the stunning private beach with its brilliant turquoise/blue waters framed by white sand to the lush, seaside, Scottish links style course, there's lots to like about this private, international sporting club and residential community.
If you're interested in serious relaxation, where dressed up means a floral shirt and your best pair of flip-flops, this enclave of tropical luxury is for you.
Spread out on 453 acres with verdant tropical foliage, picture postcard beaches and clear, refreshing waters, the Abaco Club, which bills itself as "Barefoot Luxury", is a wonderland for those looking to de-stress.
I absolutely loved the three days I spent there and I've got the worn out flip flops to prove it.
Good news, too, the Abaco Club is embarking on an impressive multi-million dollar enhancement project that will make it even more appealing to members, new members, potential members and visitors.
Southworth Development, a highly respected international developer and manager of resort communities recently acquired the Abaco Club from Marriott Vacation Worldwide Corporation.
"The Abaco Club has everything money can't buy," David Southworth, president and CEO of Southworth Development, told me one evening as we enjoyed cold libations while viewing beautiful Winding Bay from the terrace of The Cliff House, the property's clubhouse.
He continued, "It's a gorgeous setting that people instantly fall in love with."
Discussing the coming attractions elicits even a wider smile from the amiable Southworth, who I first met 13 years ago at the Westin Rio Mar in Puerto Rico.
In the next two years, Southworth plans to build a new marina and boathouse, new beachside, multi-amenity clubhouse and execute a golf course improvement project that includes on-course enhancements and a state-of-the-art golf practice facility.
"We're going to make paradise even better," Southworth says.
I consider the Abaco Club course along with with the Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo and Corales at Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic as one of the best seaside golf experiences in the Caribbean or anywhere, for that matter.
Course architects Donald Steel and Tom Mackenzie did a masterful job at the Abaco Club of incorporating Scottish links design features on gently rolling, seaside, tropical terrain.
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Stretching to 7,123 yards from the championship tees (6,846 yards from the Blues, ,6434 yards from the White, 6,020 yards from the Yellow and 5,395 yards from the Red), the Abaco Club layout features generous landing areas, exceptional green complexes with bump and run opportunities, pot bunkers and a variety of lies on the undulating fairways.
The panoramic ocean views from the elevated tees on holes #4, #17 and #18 are among the best anywhere in the world.
My favorite hole is the 204-yard number 17 (which I played from the 163-yard blue tees). Waves crash in the background as you putt on an undulating green.
As a private international sports club, the Abaco Club on Winding Bay offers a variety of membership types (see below).
For those who want a test run, so to speak, or want to stay and play, that option is available as well. Guests are welcome to stay on the property when they're guests of, or rent homes from Club members. (There's a three visit limit.)
Membership options are:
Resident Golf--offers full use of all facilities
Local Non-Resident Golf (non-Bahamian citizen)--offers full use of facilities
Bahamian Non-Resident Golf (Bahamian citizen)--offers full use of all facilities
International Non-Resident Golf--offers 20 tee times per year, participation in member events and tournaments (space available) and unlimited access to all other facilities
Resident Sports Membership--offers six tee times per year, participation in member events and tournaments (space available) and unlimited access to all other facilities
Resident Social Membership--offers use of dining and beach facilities
A non-refundable initiation fee is required upon signing. Initiation fees range from $5,000 to $100,000 depending on membership category. Annual dues range from $1,800 to $11,500.
For those interested in purchasing a home or lot, the options are:
Estate Lots--One or two acre lots, all with phenomenal ocean views, which range in price from $3 million to $4 million.
Cottages--Plantation-style, single family homes with golf and/or water views. Available in two-to-four-bedroom configurations, the Cottages are semi-customizable with interior design packages featuring island-inspired colors, furnishings and appointments. Approximately, 2,800 square feet, they range in price from $2 million to $3 million.
Cabanas--One-bedroom, vacation-style buildings priced at $375,000.
I stayed in one of the resort's Cabanas, which are stand alone buildings 650 square feet in size. My one-bedroom unit was surrounded by tropical foliage with a view of the first hole fairway. Upon arrival, guests receive a personal golf cart for the length of their stay. It's great for cruising around the property and traveling easily to and from various amenities.
Cabana Amenities, included:
--Large flat screen wall television
--Luxury furnishings and appointments
--Small kitchen area with refrigerator, sink and coffee maker
--Bathroom with luxury tile flooring and a roomy shower with dual shower heads (above and sidewall)
--Designer toiletries in bathroom
--Superb high-speed Internet service
Resort Amenities, include:
--Heated Resort-style infinity pool
--Fully equipped fitness center
--All-weather tennis courts
10 Little Things I Liked
1. The private 2-mile sand beach. The best walking beach I've ever experienced.
2. The coconut rum drinks served at Buster's Beach Bar.
3. The quaint, small and friendly pro shop at the golf course.
4. The excellent Internet service in my Cabana.
5. The phenomenal breakfast wraps and coffee I had at Buster's Bar in the mornings.
6. The smiling, friendly members I met during my stay.
7. The awesome, inspiring ocean views from the elevated tee box on the 18th hole.
8. Sitting at Buster's Bar with a Kalick beer watching the sun set.
9. The homemade chocolate chip cookies and tropical punch at the welcome center.
10. Cruising the property on my golf cart with the air blowing through my hair.
Buster's Beach Bar--Sitting about 20 paces from the water's edge, Buster's has a circular bar with most of the seats strategically arranged so you can fully enjoy the great sunsets. The menu is loaded with numerous tropical specialties. My favorites: The conch fritters with a Caribbean hot sauce and the Bahama Mama tropical drink (dark rum, light rum, coconut rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and grenadine).
The Cliff House Restaurant--An octagonal shaped, open-air dining venue situated on a cliff overlooking the Winding Bay Beach. Breakfast and gourmet dinners are served.
THINGS TO DO
On-site Beach Activities--You can take full advantage of the club's phenomenal beach. Activities offered include swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, wind surfing, Hobie Cats, paddle boards and beach volleyball.
Deep Sea and Bone Fishing Charters--The fishing in the waters surrounding Great Abaco Island is world class. Dolphin, wahoo, tuna and swordfish are abundant just a few miles off shore in the deep waters beyond the reefs. There's also fantastic bonefishing at the flats of Green Turtle Cay or in the marls of Cherokee.
Diving and Snorkeling--You can easily arrange a charter to explore areas around the smaller islands and cays and explore sunken shipwrecks.
Excursions to Hope Town-This quaint village on the island of Elbow Cay, known for its candy striped lighthouse, is a great day trip where you can enjoy a sailing charter or dine al fresco overlooking the colorful marina. Don't miss the Firefly Bar & Grill where the lobster fritters and coconut/Panko crusted fish filet are just a couple of the many great items on the menu.
Ferry to nearby attractions--Ferry service (Albury's Ferry Service) is available from Marsh Harbour to Hope Town, Man-O-War and Guana Cay.
Pete's Pub & Gallery--Situated about a 10-minute drive from the club, Pete's is a don't miss part of the Abaco experience. With it's sandy floors and t-shirts hanging from the rafters (signed and donated by customers), Pete's is the quintessential island bar. Have a Blaster, their signature drink, and you'll quickly forget about all your worries. The fresh seafood is amazing with delicacies like mango grilled shrimp, coconut cracked conch and lemon pepper wahoo.
The Abaco Club on Winding Bay is situated about a 25-minute drive from the Marsh Harbour International Airport. There are regularly scheduled commercial flights to and from Nassau, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Seasonal flights also operate from Orlando and St. Augustine. Flights from Tampa will be available soon.
GET THE SCOOP
For more information, click to The Abaco Club on Winding Bay. Email is info@TheAbacoClub.com Phone: 1-242-366-3820.