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UP AND AWAY
Traveling off the beaten path requires some expert assistance to make everything seamless. In the case of Congo Town, there are daily flights on Makers Air out of the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, but if you want to fly on your own schedule (and in luxury ), Ascend via Makers Air is the better choice. The Ascend charter team handles every detail while you relax at a posh lounge before departure on your private aircraft, so vacation starts before you leave the ground. (charter flightsflorida.com ) -D.N
After landing on the dusty airstrip at Congo Town and driving through a part of the Baha mas that time forgot, pulling into Caerula Mar Club feels like entering an oasis. Whitewashed cottages with wide porches sprout from the sand. Organic shapes and driftwood tones impart an immediate sense of serenity. Hammocks slung across palm trees sway in lazy breezes. And every path leads to the sea.
It wasn’t always like this. The Emerald Palms hotel, originally built in the 1960s, had been abandoned for some years and fallen victim to the whims of weather. While vacationing on South Andros Island in 2017, Sarah and Bryan Baeumler saw the derelict property and its 10 acres of waterfront and bought it on the spot. Their plan : to transform the place into Andros’ first true luxury resort. It didn’t hurt that they were an HGTV Canada power couple – he a contractor, she a design wiz – with several renovations under their belts.
The Baeumlers’ journey, which they turned into a “huge family adventure” by moving to the island with their four young children, was chronicled on the HGTV show Renovation Is land. For three seasons, viewers were riveted as the couple found solutions for issues rang ing from bad plumbing to a major hurricane. Sarah’s plan was to create a tropical idyll with all the island feels and none of the pre tense. The Signature Collection private villas, available in one or two -bedroom configurations, blend traditional Bahamian architecture with mid -century modern style for a sophisticated take on island living. Bleached oak floors and materials like aged marble, natural woods, and rush have an organic sensibility. Light -suffused rooms are decorated simply a white bisque vase here , a stylized branch there – in a sand-toned palette that lends itself to a relaxed atmosphere. French doors open to wood planked porches for lounging, entertaining, or contemplative moments in nature. Step down and find yourself on the sand , mere paces from the Bahamas’ famous turquoise surf.
Every detail is an immersion in island living, down to the smallest accessory. “We love supporting Androsian entrepreneurs ,” Sarah says. “From homemade coconut soaps by Sharon to woven grass baskets by Flossy, we have tried to incorporate local materials and artisan goods as much as possible.”
Design’s purpose is to set a tone for living, and here the tone is conducive to languid beach days under the shade of palms, strolls along the shoreline, and biking The Queen’s Highway, South Andros ‘ only road. It ignites the desire to swim in blue holes, which are plentiful around the island, or take a boat to a deserted beach for coral-reef snorkeling (we saw nurse sharks, stingrays, and a sea turtle), with a chef’s picnic to round out the day. Or the ambition to hook a bonefish, which will make you earn your stripes as an angler. Whatever your passion, Caerula Mar is both the backdrop and the inspiration for an authentic Bahamian holiday. (caerulamar.com) -Daphne Nikolopoulos <<