The Bahamas evokes images of bright blue water, miles of beaches and mega resorts. Three months ago, I would have described it as a cruise ship destination and a country constructed around tourism (the industry makes up more than 60 percent of the country’s GDP and employs about half of the population). But it turns out The Bahamas cuts it as a destination for the meetings and events, too. Here are five reasons why:
1. It’s Logistically Easy
The Bahamas offers all the trappings of an exotic destination without the difficulties that come along with travel to such locations.
> Most U.S. gateways have direct flights to Nassau. The flight from Atlanta, for example, is less than two hours. The only downside is that you might not be able to finish your in-flight movie.
> The Bahamas is in the Eastern time zone, minimizing jet lag and ensuring you can still reach business associates at a reasonable hour if needed.
> Because English is the national language, details won’t get lost in translation when coordinating travel or planning events.
> There’s no need to deal with the hassle of currency exchange because U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere.
2. Close to Home, but Worlds Away
Don’t let the two-hour flights fool you. The Bahamas provides visitors an adventure that is worlds away, with many opportunities to taste and experience the island’s culture. If your group is not in town during the Junkanoo Festival, take them to the Educulture Junkanoo Museum, dedicated to the rich history of this all-night street carnival participants spend all year preparing. The museum includes displays of award-winning Junkanoo costumes, and guests are also given an opportunity to contribute to the making of a costume, try on headpieces and create and dance along to Bahamian music.
When you’re ready for lunch, do like the locals and visit a fish fry. Drifters at Da Fish Fry serves made-to-order local favorites like conch fritters and cracked conch, a plentiful shellfish in The Bahamas. Finish with dinner at the Graycliff Restaurant, the oldest 5-star restaurant in the Caribbean with one of the largest privately owned wine cellars in the world.
While you’re at the Graycliff, don’t be surprised if your dinner runs over three hours. As an American used to the endless rush of living in a metropolitan area, it was a relief to sit back in true Bahamian style and really savor every meal and conversation. This is the modus operandi here, used to cultivate business relationships and close deals.
3. Exciting Activities and Day Trips
Most resorts offer a plethora of exciting activities on-site, including snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding and deep-sea fishing. If that’s not enough, hop on a 20-minute flight to Eleuthera and take a water taxi to Harbour Island, known for its pristine beaches, bohemian vibes and vibrant clapboard houses. Around 2,000 people inhabit this island. As our group explored on golf carts, the main mode of transportation here, the locals frequently called out greetings to us and addressed our tour guide by name. This familial touch extends to every service offered on the island. You’ll discover an array of locally owned dining establishments and not a single chain restaurant. Make sure to visit the famous pink sand beaches of Harbour Island. Visitors can also go horseback riding or try their hand at conch fishing.