Two of the sweetest words in the English language, and I recently discovered a way to make them even sweeter: add an OO.
Summer weekends in Manhattan are sticky, crowded, and flooded with tourists. New Yorkers come to work on Friday with a duffel bag, ready to book it to the jitney after lunchtime and soak up as much sun and sand as possible before Monday rolls around.
But rather than heading to The Hamptons or Fire Island, I wanted a summer Friday this year that was a bit outside the box.
I flew down to The One & Only Ocean Club on Paradise Island for a wellness weekend with Bandier’s Studio B featuring Amanda Kloots, a fitness trainer taking New York City by storm! She’s awesome, and she happens to be my big sister! Her class at Studio B is booked solid every week because her jump rope workout will completely change your body and can be done anywhere and everywhere. It’s the ultimate workout for a full-time traveler.
Paradise Island might seem too far away for a weekend, but you can fly to Nassau, Bahamas direct from JFK in under three hours. That’s shorter than the train to Montauk! And you get cocktails and movies on the way. #winning
I’ve spent most nights of the last three years in a hotel room. Sometimes it’s a six-star resort in Jaipur and sometimes I’m in rural Alabama at a road-side motel. From the Ritz to the Motel 6, I’ve spent a night in just about every notable hotel group in the world. But this was my first stay at a One & Only – and hotels might be ruined forever.
Don’t let the words “wellness weekend” scare you. Every morning of the One & Only Summer Fridays starts with a killer workout on an ocean-front deck led by Amanda, but then the rest of the day is yours!
A bright and early sweat is the perfect start to the day. After our first class, I got the stats of our workout:
1164 calories burned!
I had earned a pina colada!
After your morning workout, the rest of the day you spend how you want. You can take a dip in the infinity pool, take a paddle board lesson, or float out to sea on one of the complimentary beach floats. If you want to pamper yourself: a pedicure and massage are included. Or if happy hour is calling, head to the James Bond 007 Martini Bar for a Vesper Martini! (Casino Royale was filmed here.) The beach-front restaurant, Dune, has a menu created by chef Jean-George. You can dine while watching the sunset, and no one will judge for ordering dessert. (You know we did!)
The One & Only Ocean Club is laid-back luxury. It has all of the frills without any of the pretension. Henry, one of our two dedicated butlers, told us the moment we arrived, “it’s time to get lazy.” And this proved to be true – there was nothing I could do for myself at One & Only Ocean Club. If I got up to rotate my pool chair, Silvano was there to help me. When I got peckish at the beach, someone arrived with fresh cut mango. My suitcase was unpacked and pressed upon arrival!
But it wasn’t just the ocean-front room, dedicated butlers for our every need, or daily complimentary champagne and macaron delivery that sets this place apart. Luxury is easy to achieve, but magic is not. (Take it from a magician’s assistant.) They are dedicated to making your stay magical. From the moment you arrive, you feel like you’ve arrived at your fabulous beach-front mansion rather than to a hotel, and the people around you are family.
The resort staff sets out to provide you with personal experiences that money can’t buy and travel agents can’t arrange. We were caught admiring the striking at on the walls in the lobby, and learned it was the work of a local artist, Jane Waterous. We went from piece to piece woo-ing. Each canvas more fantastic than the last: bright red and hot pink resin lips, neon hearts, carpe diem written out by hundreds of her signature people! Sometimes art just grabs you, sucks you in, and makes you feel alive inside – that’s what happened to us when we walked into the lobby, and the reception staff could tell.
Later than evening, we received an invitation from the GM, inviting us to a dinner party at the artists beach-front house the following night to meet her family and see her studio. In all my nights in hotel rooms around the world, I’ve never been offered such an intimate experience. I had to wonder – can the staff here see into my soul?
An evening of flying kites on the beach, playing charades in sumo suits, and enjoying a three-course meal at a table set with a centerpiece of paint tubes concluded with a tour of Jane’s studio and glimpse into her imaginative mind and beautiful heart. It was just the sort of outside-the-box experience I seek wherever I go; but for once I didn’t have to seek it out: the One & Only took care of that.
There’s few hotels that leave me impressed enough to want to return, and this is one of them. I’d book a roundtrip ticket to Nassau for every Friday of the summer before I’d ever consider a house-share in Southampton. So ditch the Jitney and join me! There’s one more summer wellness weekend left!
AUGUST 11 – 14
– Luxury SUV Transfers
– Poolside Late Lunch @ Ocean
– Blow-out or Shave
– Mani or Pedi
– Paddle Board Session
– 50-Min In-Spa Massage
– Unlimited Access to Resort Gym
– Daily Breakfast @ DUNE
– One Daily Cocktail @ The Martini Bar
– Daily Workout with Celebrity Trainer Amanda Kloots (Friday – Sunday)
– Early Check-in and Late Check-out
They have everything there for you – sandals, beach totes, baseball hats, floats, sunscreen, and Molton Brown bath products, and all the equipment for your workouts. This helps make packing a breeze!
READ a full review on The One & Only Ocean Club on TheTravelWomen.com
READ the ultimate beach weekend packing list on TheTravelWomen.com