Slumming It (Hardly) At Ocean Club

The $8,000-A-Night Villa Loophole

The One&Only Ocean Club in the Bahamas is known for its over-the-top beachfront villas. They’re glorious. They’re also $7,950 a night (and up), so they’re off limits to many families. But here’s a secret: the resort has two family-friendly cottages that go for much less (from around $2,000 a night during the regular winter season, and from around $3,000 a night during spring break and Easter travel periods).

Cottage Digs Are Pretty Sweet

The Two-Bedroom Garden Cottages, as they’re called, could use a freshening up, but they offer a terrific layout for a family of four.  Located in the gardens, each cottage is 860 square feet, with a king bed, plus a small bedroom with two twin beds. There are two bathrooms, a mini bar, and a small fridge (but no sink or microwave). A roomy stucco-and-tile courtyard patio is outfitted with a plunge pool, lounge chairs, and room to dine outside. Surrounded by tall walls and palms, the patio has an open-air top and is heavenly at night, when the Caribbean breeze rustles through the palm fronds. (n.b., the plunge pool and resulting wet surfaces can be a bit harrowing if you’re traveling with a toddler.)

Does Jean-Georges like kids?

Not sure, actually. But Vongerichten’s on-property Dune restaurant welcomes children warmly with a kids’ menu (fancy versions of mac n’ cheese, chicken tenders, and the like), a Koi pond, and well-crafted Shirley Temples. On the more casual side of things, the resort is opening a new Ocean Pool Bar & Grill in about two weeks, alongside a brand-new 150-foot Ocean Pool. Expect burgers, salads, and beachy specialties like Soft Shell Crab Tacos.

There’s More To Do Than Build Sand Castles.

For starters, the cottages are located near the tennis courts and a fabulous zero-entry Family Pool. There’s also the KidsOnly club, open daily from 10am to 5pm for kids ages 4-12. The club is free; activities have a local bent (Bahamian story telling and crafting, coconut bowling). The KidSpa is open to children ages 4-12; a 50-minute Mother And Daughter Paradise Massage is $220 with VAT.

And Then There’s Atlantis.

The extravagant water-themed resort is just two hotels down the beach. You can walk there. There’s a shuttle, too, though it isn’t necessarily any faster. Either way, book a Mayan Temple Cabana near the Water Park. It’s worth the $350 day rate to have a safe deposit box, guaranteed shade, and a place to order drinks and meals (during the busy season, you can’t even find a lounge chair to put your things on). If you decide to try Dolphin Key, keep in mind the Shallow Water Experience is really a glorified photo op. To actually play with the dolphins, you have to spring for the Deep Water Swim.