Having traveled the Caribbean for many years, I've encountered just about everything; from unkempt holes to luxury resorts. In all these years, I don't think I've ever come across any place that was as well managed or as focused on the well being of its guests.
Stella Maris is a small, sprawling resort located on the Long Island, which is about 160 miles southeast of Nassau. I booked a ten day stay for myself, my wife, and a few friends. Our interests range from scuba diving, to snorkeling, to tennis. Since this resort seemed to offer what we wanted, and also had an all-inclusive meal plan, we decided to try it.
Flying in from Boston, we were greeted at Nassau's Executive Flight Support building by two of Stella Maris pilot/managers and two small planes. The flight over was about an hour. After landing at the Stella Maris Airport, our baggage was picked up and we were driven the short distance to the resort. Karin, another manager, greeted us with rum punches and showed us to our rooms. Each room had a welcome basket of fruit and/or drinks. The rooms were not overly large, consisting of a bedroom, a foyer, and a bathroom which had a tub and shower. The king sized bed was very comfortable. Each room had an overhead fan, an air conditioner, a fridge, and a balcony. The rooms did not have phones, TV's, or keys to the door lock. Valuables can be stored at the main desk. Storage was limited, with single drawers one of two night tables, and a writing desk. There is a storage area in the foyer with cubby holes and hangers. A dresser with drawers would have been nice, but all of us figured out how to get all our "stuff" stowed. The rooms all appeared to have been recently renovated and were spotlessly clean. When I first arrived, my air conditioner was dead. I mentioned this and within an hour a new unit had been installed. I was impressed.
The resort has several beaches, but those within walking distance are rocky and the surf is daunting. If one wanted to swim in the ocean, a quick ride over to calm locales was easily arranged by Karin. Since there are three swimming pools and a salt water natural pool, this really didn't turn out to be an issue at all.
Stella Maris has a beach bar and a full bar in the main building. Service at the beach bar was slow, although the drinks were great. Service at the regular bar was fast and the drinks were excellent as well. A dish of nuts or chips was routinely provided at no charge with drinks. Under the meal plan, we each had three drinks per day included, plus wine at dinner. Dinner is typically served in the spacious dining room. This is not a buffet style all-inclusive, but a sit down meal with a menu and wait service. The menu is extensive; so much so that I at first couldn't believe that I could order anything I wanted. I could ... and did. Soups, appetizers, entrées, and desserts are offered at every dinner. Breakfast and lunch were also provided from an impressive menu. With dinner, our group was given two large carafes of red or white wine ... more than enough for us. The quality of the food here is truly incredible; comparable to fine dining at better restaurants. Everyone was truly in awe of the exceptional food we were provided. We never met the chef but, whoever he is, our compliments to the chef! What a treat!
The tennis courts are privately owned and a distance from Stella Maris. Whenever we wanted to play, we simply let the front desk know and we were shuttled back and forth to the courts. These are well maintained courts with a sand covered artificial turf surface. They play well.
For scuba diving, we were driven down to the marina where we were able to rinse and store our gear. Our divemaster was a gracious gentleman named Robert, and he was friendly and very safety conscious. The dive sites were mostly patch reef, with prolific reef fish. Lionfish, an invasive predatory species, were seen on most dives. These fish are a threat to native species of fish, and Robert always had a small spear with him to try to kill any he encountered. When the sea was calm, and the sites shallow, our snorkelers were welcome on the boat. We all also visited Dean's Blue Hole, a rather famous 660' deep sinkhole. The snorkelers cruised the rim of the hole while the divers dropped to about 85'. When out on the boat, the resort provided us with box lunches, a very nice touch.
When I first arrived, I immediately got bitten up by the notorious sand fleas. You can't see them and you can't feel them bite, but their bites really do itch. After one night of agony, I asked Karin what to do. She suggested keeping the windows in the room closed and using the air conditioner; this so the little buggers couldn't get through the screens. She also told me to wash the bites with alcohol and vinegar to relieve the itch. Another recommendation was to use baby oil instead of bug spray. There was no baby oil in the gift shop, so Karin brought me some from her home. I am happy to report that Karin's suggestions worked and I had almost no other bites for the rest of my stay.
The staff at Stella Maris was uniformly friendly, courteous, and helpful. Robert, our divemaster, also doubled as a tour guide and took us around the island to visit the many small shops. One of the treats during our stay was the cave party. There's a large cave a few minutes walk from the resort, and it's often used for parties. One night we had a cave barbecue, complete with a local Bahamian rake and scrape band. Not surprisingly at this point, Robert was also part of the band. (I think the only thing Robert didn't do was fly our plane, but I'm sure he's working on it.) The food was great, the drinks flowing, and the band kept our feet moving the whole night. It was an experience!
Stella Maris is exceptional. It offers friendship, fine food, and an impressive attention to detail. It's easy to get to and, if you don't need gambling and high powered entertainment, is an ideal place to just chill out. There's a phone at the main desk, a TV in the lounge, and wi-fi access. That was enough "civilization" for my friends and I. Saying hello to everyone and waving to any passing vehicle made this feel like a small town stay; except with a decidedly Caribbean flair. Stella Maris is on my personal short list of places I would want to visit again. It's an easy recommendation.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Stella Maris Resort Club,is off the beaten path. On a tranquil island, where nature abounds, where the ocean and beaches are at their best, with an unhurried pace of life and with islanders, much known for their old-fashioned hospitality and friendliness.We are an intimate out island style resort, offering a wide range of tropical accommodations, from panoramic ocean view rooms to appealing four bedroom water front villas. Food is great, as is casual evening fun. Many activities are free of charge. We can even fly you here from your international Bahamas airport hub. It's a place for anyone who seeks to get away from every-day's stress, who loves nature, who loves being at and in the water. From singles to couples, from families to small groups. And there is no better place for a romantic island wedding, barefoot or elegant, or for celebrating your anniversary! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Stella Maris Resort Club Hotel Long Island
- Stella Maris Hotel
- Stella Maris Resort Club Long Island, Bahamas