Breezes Bahamas Rebounds after Hurricane Matthew
As Hurricane Matthew approached the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, my partner in crime (otherwise known as my mother) and I kept our eyes glued to the weather channel. As the Category 4 hurricane zeroed in, we rescheduled our trip to Nassau (the capital of the Bahamas) at the last second. Not only was Nassau airport closed, but cars were underwater, trees were falling down, buildings and homes were having their roofs and walls ripped off. After watching the damage unfold on YouTube, we contemplated whether or not we should go at all. A few days later, we decided to take the risk and head to SuperClubs Breezes Resort and Spa anyway, and we are so glad we did.
To be honest, our three-hour plane ride from Toronto was a little scary. The storm was still pounding the south-east coast of the United States, and though we stayed clear of its path, Matthew’s tailwinds were rocking our plane pretty hard. About 30 minutes in, we hit some pretty serious turbulence and the flight attendants raced the drink cart to the back of the plane and sat with their seatbelts secured for the rest of the trip. No one was allowed to get out of their seats. When our wheels touched down safely in Nassau we all applauded. Upon our arrival on Saturday evening, the telltale signs of post-hurricane-life were still visible on New Providence Island. We stopped at a grocery store (I always stock up on Cliff bars, pita and hummus before going anywhere, because as a vegan traveller, you never know when you might get stuck with nothing to eat). Many items were out of stock and the credit card machines were down in the store. Gas pump lineups circled around the block, and two gas stations were completely destroyed. But to our surprise, the local people seemed to be going about their daily business as usual.
Situated steps from the beach, Breezes Resort had one of the safest places to watch the hurricane, even ABC news set up shop to report in their open-air lobby. Even still, the resort had lost power and operated with a generator. Around the front desk and entertainment area, the art was taken off the walls, every ceiling fan disassembled and safely stored away, every beach lounge stacked far from the path of high winds. Our elevator ride to our room was in the pitch black. Throughout the week, things were getting back to normal, but power was on and off, we’d overhear locals talking about not having running water in their homes, and the palms of many trees seemed to be permanently blown to the right like a bad early-90s perm. Still, the island was spared the worst of the storm. Hurricane Matthew left New Providence as a Category 3 hurricane and hit nearby Grand Bahamas and Haiti as a Category 4, severely devastating local infrastructure, knocking down power lines, and even killing almost 1000 people.
After days cleaning up downed trees and with plenty of community spirit, Nassau had most of the Hurricane Matthew aftermath under control. We asked some of the Breezes guests about their experience braving the hurricane and heard that all guests were instructed to bring their blankets and pillows to the conference rooms (they had the option to choose between smoking or non-smoking), full buffets were spread out and movies entertained guests as the hurricane-winds whipped around outside. The resort offered their staff and their families to stay as guests during and after the storm free of charge, which attests to their unbelievable sense of hospitality. We were so impressed by the positive attitudes of the Bahamians, their generosity and their resilience, even after a serious disaster had just wreaked havoc on their homes.
We took the 10-minute bus ride to Straw Market, a vibrant cruise ship port. The town is very well-developed with beautifully painted buildings in pastel pink, green and blue. We ventured into town on Tuesday (about one week after the storm) and you wouldn’t have known a hurricane had passed through. Tip: If you go to the market, be sure to bring lots of cash: prices are fair but there are hundreds of vendors more than ready to sell purses, cigars, carved figurines and other pretty souvenirs. We then walked for five-minutes to take a quick dip at Junkanoo, a public beach with white sand and crystal clear waters, surrounded by funky snack shacks and Tiki Bars.
Returning to the resort, we enjoyed superb Swedish massages on the beach followed by dinner at the resort’s Garden of Eden, where the fabulous chef Donna prepared the most unique meal I’ve eaten in a while. Her vegan version of spaghetti and meatballs was out of this world. The “meatballs” were a mix of sweet plantain and pumpkin mash paired with homemade guacamole (my fave!) and spicy tomato sauce on a bed of julienned cucumber, carrots, and other mixed veggies. The creative plantain-pumpkin mix was so soft it basically melted in my mouth, and I scarfed it down so fast I never even shared a bite with my mother (oops). This meal was just one of many specialty items available upon request on Breezes’ new vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free menu.
At all-inclusive resorts, it is always important to let the staff know in advance about alternative dietary needs, because you never know what secret meals the chef might have cooking unless you ask. Breezes definitely understands the value of fantastic customer service, and the kitchen staff works hard to accommodate their guests. My delicious meal at the Garden of Eden was the perfect ending to our adventure in the Bahamas, our only regret is that we couldn’t stay longer.
Breezes Resort & Spa Bahamas is a 391-room, all-inclusive beach resort offering vacation packages for singles, groups, couples or families (14 yrs old and over). The resort is located on one of the best beaches, Cable Beach, a convenient 15-minute drive from Nassau airport. There are four restaurants available, plus a buffet. Breezes Bahamas also offers a new vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free menu. Visit their website for more information about the resort, including the 40% off special.
Bahamas: Learn more about the Bahamas by visiting the Official Ministry of Tourism website.
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