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Interview By Norm Goldman from SketchandTravel.com
Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of Sketchandtravel.com and Bookpleasures.com is pleased to welcome Jennifer McMorran author of Ulysses Travel Guide Islands Of The Bahamas and expert on The Bahamas.
Thanks Jennifer for accepting our invitation to be interviewed.
Where is the Bahamas and could you give our readers a brief description the island?
The Islands of the Bahamas is a string of islands located about 50 miles off the coast of Florida. There are actually more than 700 islands in the chain, 20 of which offer facilities and services for visitors. The two main destinations in the Bahamas, and the ones most people have heard of, are Nassau/Paradise Island and Freeport (Grand Bahama), but there are also the Out Islands (the Abacos, Eleuthera and Harbour Island, the Exumas, Bimini, Cat Island, Long Island, Andros, to name a few).
Could you tell our readers something about your expertise pertaining
to the Bahamas?
I am the author of the Ulysses Travel Guide to The Islands, now in its third edition. I have travelled many times throughout the islands, not the least of which was for my honeymoon!
Why would you consider the Bahamas a good choice for a romantic getaway
or wedding and honeymoon destination?
It offers stunning beaches and beautiful scenery as well as all the amenities that Western tourists expect in a romantic destination (top-notch accommodations, fine dining, spa services, for example). It isn't just a great destination for rest and relaxation; however, a trip to the Out Islands offers a real escape from the hustle and bustle and a chance to experience The Bahamas on a different level.
When is the best time to visit the Bahamas from the point of view of weather,
costs, and crowds?
The weather is very pleasant year-round, however, from about mid-February to May you are pretty sure to get the warm weather you are hoping for, and also avoid the deadening heat of summer. Hotels generally have high season and low-season rates, so if you want to save some money you might want to consider summer. This holds true also for the crowds, things are definitely quieter during the summer months. Furthermore, hotels tend to charge more and have less availability during holiday weekends in the U.S.
If you had to choose 5 unequalled venues in the Bahamas for
a romantic getaway, honeymoon or wedding destination, what would they be and why?
How far in advance should a couple prepare themselves for a
honeymoon or romantic getaway in the Bahamas?
Depending on the size and popularity of the hotel they are looking at anywhere from six month to a year when you are planning a wedding. If you just want a quick getaway, check your local papers and with travel agents as most hotels in The Bahamas offer package deals, with great last-minute prices.
What tips would you have for destination brides who plan to bring along
a wedding party to the Bahamas? It is a growing trend for destination weddings
to now have a fairly sizeable wedding party sometimes about 50 so it
would be great to get their tips on group airline discounts, hotel blocks.
Weddings represent a considerable share of business for many Bahamian hotels so most of them, even the small local ones can make special arrangements for large groups. You can get in touch with the ministry of tourism for wedding planning help or the hotel should have a wedding planner on staff.
How does one go about checking on the reliability of a hotel or resort
in the Bahamas when it pertains to service, food, etc.
Of course I would recommend a good and objective travel guide. I also find the internet is a valuable tool, user reviews on websites such as tripadvisor.com can give you a good idea of how satisfied travelers are with a particular hotel right now as opposed to when your guidebook was published or when the hotel last updated its website!
What should people know about planning a wedding in the Bahamas as
far as legal requirements are concerned?
It is fairly easy to obtain a marriage license in The Bahamas. It can be obtained in just 24 hours from your arrival in the country, it costs $100. For more information, check out the weddings section on the Ministry of Tourism's website, or call their weddings and honeymoon unit at 1-242-322-1640
Is there anything else you would wish to add as it pertains to romantic
and wedding destinations in the Bahamas?
Just that I would encourage visitors to look into visiting one of the Out Islands. You will experience the real Bahamas here, the pace is slower and quieter, and if you are looking for an escape, a desert-island getaway this is the place!
- The first would be on Harbour Island, just off the island of Eleuthera. The legendary pink sand beach provides a stunning backdrop, while the picturesque town of Harbour Island is a treat to explore and a quiet place to escape to and start married life in. My favourite hotels here include a few small boutique-style establishments such as The Landing and Bahama House Inn along with the larger Pink Sands Hotel.
- The cloisters and Versailles Gardens in Paradise Island. This is a real 14th century French cloisters and adjoining garden full of romantic statuary provide a stunning backdrop for a memorable wedding. Both are available to guests at Atlantis and the One & Only Ocean Club on Paradise Island. The Ocean Club offers the utmost in luxury, while Atlantis is a destination in itself, complete with water theme park, luxury shopping and a multitude of restaurant possibilities.
- For a more desert island feel, check out the island of Andros. Friendly people, superb scuba diving, great fishing and some memorable hotels such as Small Hope Bay Lodge (fairly rustic, but idyllic and friendly) or Tiamo (eco-friendly and pretty) or Kamalame Cove (exquisite décor, great food, exclusive escape).
- The Great Lawn, Our Lucaya, Freeport. If you are planning a large wedding, the new Westin and Sheraton at Our Lucaya boast a beautiful front lawn overlooking the sea, along with beautiful reception rooms. Freeport is very easy to get to, and offers lots of options if you are concerned about keeping a large group of wedding guests happy.
- Finally, the couples and honeymoon specialists at Sandals Royal Bahamian on Cable Beach (Nassau). This is their flagship hotel, and gets top rating for romance and amenities.