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Still a Wonderland

While news of blizzards around the globe flash on my phone, I simply shut it off and glance out the plane window to find a beautifully sunny day in Eleuthera. After landing at the single building airport I’m greeted by a friendly taxi driver who takes me on the ‘highway’ – which is essentially one extra-large lane for traffic in both directions. With only about 12,000 inhabitants the island is still very raw, allowing me views of the wilderness and palm tree forests before crossing over the Glass Window Bridge with the bright aqua Caribbean on my right and the darker Atlantic Ocean on my left.

Soon I arrive at my destination: The Cove, a tucked away little paradise between the forests and the sea. At the gate I’m handed a luggage tag and offered the option of a Bahama Mama or lemon water. Inside the grounds the winding road cuts through the jungle until reaching the stunning hilltop lobby. Unlike the typical hubbub of a regular hotel lobby, the exclusivity of The Cove means personal service above all else. At the top of the quiet hill I breathe in the salt air from the nearby sea and take in the simple beauty of the property.Next I hop aboard a golf cart that whisks me through the peaceful plantation-like grounds of white cottages and hammocks surrounded by endless green. Further still I arrive at my own private villa right on the sand. The front porch sits mere steps away from the water and while blissfully isolated, the bungalow still has every modern amenity one could ever need.

 

“The Cove, a tucked away little paradise between the forests and the sea.”

The sliding glass doors are wide open, allowing the ocean breeze to ripple the white curtains as I enter the villa. Immediately I can feel the aura of a cozy beachfront home with a plush and modern platform bed, vaulted ceilings, bright white décor and an ultra-sleek bathroom with the option of a walk-in shower, egg-shaped bathtub or private outdoor shower – how will I ever choose?

After changing into a bathing suit I roam the grounds, passing by other guests every now and then but for the most part it feels as though I’m on my own private island. With the intimate 57 room utopia, ranging from cozy suites and romantic cottages, to a three bedroom villa with a private lap pool and butler service, this seaside property provides for the ultimate escape.

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I walk along the secluded beach hugged by cliffs on each side, creating a beautifully calm bay. Overlooking it all sits the Gregory Town Grill and Freedom Restaurant adjacent to a heated infinity pool. There aren’t any rentals here, simply kayaks and paddleboards ready for you to take as you wish. So I simply grab a paddleboard and glide right out into the pristine clear waters of the cove. The water is flat as can be – a perfect day for paddleboarding, and while my feet shake at first I steady myself and soon float across the sea. From out in the bay I take in the sight of the entire property, 40 acres in all, surrounded by forests and a rolling hillside.

Just then a helicopter flies overhead and comes to a rest atop a grassy landing pad on a small cliffside. I later learn that the passengers are a family who flew in from Nassau just to have lunch here. Luckily all I have to do is paddleboard in to try The Cove’s renowned cuisine for myself.

My bare feet hop from sand to the softest grass on my way up the hill before drying off on the porch of the Gregory Town Grill. I take a seat and watch the ripples of the calm waters in the cove wave to me, smell the sea air and listen to the breeze. When things are simpler your body and mind both seem to slow down and absorb the details of your senses. In this peaceful break I’m able to reflect and look inward, and relish in not having a phone or even knowing what time it is. I take a deep breath and enjoy the simple pleasure of being present.

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While some might not associate sushi with the Caribbean – what better place to blend freshly caught local fish with Japanese cuisine? The Cove is known for their sushi so I order a spicy tuna avocado roll with a panko crunch along with a mojito – the best of both worlds. The seafood lives up to the hype as it’s the tastiest roll this side of Japan.

In the afternoon I claim a comfy lounge chair just outside my cottage and read in the sun that hovers over the flat ocean looking almost like a desert mirage. Every now and then a paddleboarder passes in the distance, and aside from the occasional cocktail delivery I’m left entirely alone. Back home and at work I’m surrounded by so many people that it’s rare to be alone and truly take in meditative thoughts. However with the magnificent scenery before me, my senses and mind are able to be truly refreshed.

Eventually I return to my villa and choose the outside shower – an amenity so simple and yet so different. Never before have I been able to enjoy the hot water of a shower while peering out a small window to see the ocean. So much of the property takes advantage of its surrounding nature, seamlessly blending indoors and outdoors without sacrificing any modern comforts.

To be a little more formal I slip on my sandals and head to The Point Bar to soak in the sunset with the General Manager, Chorten Wangyel. Originally from Bhutan, Wangyel explains The Cove’s philosophy of exclusive personal service that he and his staff have cultivated. What they have created here is not merely a place to get away, but an environment to replenish one’s health and soul.

“Everyone is so busy in their everyday lives,” Wangyel says, “they want to just get away from the hustle and bustle of life and relax in the serenity and beauty of this place. The energy here helps you do that and gives you a space to discover yourself.”

Wangyel goes on to say that while they may expand the property in the future, their mission will always remain to provide the utmost personal service. He also explains the philosophy of providing for not only the expected island relaxation but for his guests’ well-being as a whole with yoga retreats, meditation, health-conscious cuisine, calming white décor and blending in with nature.

I sip on the local Kalik beer as we chat and watch the sun sink into the sea. I order a conch salad with a refreshing mix of ceviche conch along with jalapeños for a sweetly kicked blend. Wangyel not only spends time talking with me, but also greets and gets to know all of the other guests as well – a hands on approach that he and all of the staff fully embody. Their effort shines through with the ability to leave guests in privacy yet always be available when needed.

As darkness falls I head inside to the Freedom Restaurant, an elegant beach-style brasserie decorated with sand-sunken candles, sheer white curtains and chic shell chandeliers. After tasting a seaweed-topped crabcake appetizer I shut off my mind and let my senses take over, absorbing the succulent lobster tail entrée with beetroot and spinach risotto in a white creamy sauce with aged parmesan, perfectly complimented with a glass of pinot grigio.

Fully content I stroll along the calm grounds, completely dark underneath the stars and yet still bright by what seems like hundreds of palm trees lit up all around me. The stone and grass pathway guides me back to my villa and the comfy bed where I easily drift asleep.

In the morning I wake to whirling wind, rough seas and a gray cloud-covered sunrise. The storm is a different kind of beauty from yesterday’s calm and I appreciate it all the same. It’s not raining so I make my way to the Freedom Restaurant for breakfast. With the beautiful grey ocean beyond the turquoise infinity pool I sip on my coffee and wake up to a fresh and light salmon avocado omelet, along with New Orleans-style beignets that are far lighter and fluffier than the clouds outside the window.

By the time I finish breakfast the weather has calmed down and I’m informed that my conch-diving sea excursion is still a go. Back in my bathing suit, one of the onsite Escalades picks me up and we travel a few miles north into the town of Current. There I meet with Captain James who welcomes me aboard his boat and takes me on a private tour to the nearby Current Island where he was born from a population of about 20. He is definitely the go-to guide for this area and together we dive into the waters off the coast. Even in the ‘winter’ the water feels fantastic and I float over coral and plenty of colorful fish. I soar atop this underwater world and simply gaze in awe at the wonderful ecosystem. Along the way I spot an eel, a large seaturtle, and even a nurse shark resting soundly just under my feet.

Due to the rougher conditions earlier this morning it’s not as easy for me to find a conch, however Captain James doesn’t let me down and manages to grab one. Back on the boat we anchor at a sandbar overlooking the array of aqua-green colors that spread out around us, each like a different brushstroke on a painting. I dry off in the hot morning sun while right there on the boat he cuts up the conch, along with an array of apples, tomatoes, peppers, and combines them all for the freshest conch ceviche salad I’ve ever had! It’s a refreshing treat to say the least, and dining on the front of the boat with my legs dangling over the side I think to myself it doesn’t get any better than this.

Back at The Cove I pass the hammocks gently blowing in the breeze and return to my villa. With salt still on my skin I grab my Kindle and head out to the cliffs to bask in the sun while waves crash against the rocks below like a water fountain show. While it might be too rough to paddleboard today it’s nonetheless a beautiful change in scenery.

After sitting on top of the world in complete open privacy the weather changes once again and the afternoon rainstorms arrive to cool me off. I take nature’s hint and return to my villa to rinse off in the outdoor shower, mixing the cool rain with hot water as the storm passes above the trees. With my front doors slightly ajar I let the sounds of the rainstorm cradle me into a nap, and by the time I awake it’s clear once again.

In the limbo between lunch and dinner I peruse the in-room menu to find conch fritters and sweet potato fries that are quickly delivered right to my porch-step. I recline on the chaise looking out at the sea and enjoy the show as  I eat. I again take this time to be alone with my thoughts, reflect, and just as Wangyel had described, refresh my mind. There is something to be said about the incalculable effect The Cove has on oneself – not simply being away from it all but also being in an environment as serene as this. You never truly realize just how busy and chaotic life can be until immersing yourself in such tranquility. I think of all the commotion and current events that must be going on back home, but right here there’s only the evening breeze and the glow of the lit up palm trees.

In the morning I awake in time for the sunrise and return to the porch to watch the sun paint pink and orange streaks above the calm sea. With the ultimate view before me I decide to have breakfast delivered as well, and soon a server steps over with a wooden tray housing a pot of coffee and Eleutheran coconut-crusted French toast making for a simple yet divine combination, just as expected from The Cove. As my senses engulf the meal a hummingbird floats down to the wooden porch steps beside me and together we watch another spectacular day unfold.

After feeling completely rested I decide that before having to return to reality I better prepare myself by receiving a massage. The spa, similar to the entire property, is an intimate, warm, bright open space designed to help soothe the soul. My masseuse treats me with a mixture of deep tissue massage as well as stretching therapy that completely restores my body.

In a daze from the intensely relaxing massage I make my way to the Gregory Town Grill for one last shrimp po’boy and the drink of the day: a “falling coconut”. I sit in the sun and watch the glimmering sea reflecting the sun like the scales of a fish, calm once again and topped with a few paddleboarders. As I enjoy one last bite of paradise the breeze carries a hint of winter, but that’s all The Cove will get.

Afterward I say goodbye to the staff whom I’ve gotten to know even after just a short time together. As I travel back Wangyel’s words echo in my mind, we often go on vacations to get away but never really stop to give our minds the break that we all so desperately need. However this time I’m ready to return, refreshed and with a renewed outlook and energy that only the healing powers of The Cove can provide.




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