Boutique, laid-back, retro-cool
Dunmore Town, Harbour Island The Bahamas 970-237-5985 elevenexperience.com
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At a Glance
Just off the coast of Eleuthera, on Harbour Island, Bahama House feels like a private family compound and was once owned by the Cleare family, well-known island shipbuilders. The 11-room property, whose stone exterior matches the island’s Pink Sands Beach, is nestled in the heart of Dunmore town, near the famous strand and the vibrant local culinary and nightlife scene. Interiors nod to the tropics, with custom or vintage rattan furniture and peacock fan chairs, pineapple prints and an iconic tiki bar. It is owned and operated by Colorado-based Eleven, so it’s no surprise that activities here include bonefishing, scuba diving, snorkeling and island hopping via private boat. The original 19th-century house and its several outbuildings surround a freshwater pool. The beach is a quick ride away by golf cart.
The Standout: Sunsets on the upstairs terrace, overlooking the harbor toward Eleuthera, with a cocktail and local lore by bartenders Robert and Renaldo, aka The Doctor and The Surgeon.
Don’t Miss: Bonefishing with a local guide or a day aboard the hotel’s 38-foot Scorpion Rib boat, snorkeling alongside turtles, conch, starfish, rays and sharks in Bottom Harbour.
- The white A-frame cottages that emulate the island’s historic architecture
- The self-serve rum bar with nearly 40 aged, hard-to-find bottles
- The size: with just 22 maximum guests, it feels more like a family friend’s private hideaway
- Junkanoo festival in late December
Bahama House Review
With just 11 rooms and a maximum occupancy of 22 guests, the Bahama House feels more akin to a stylish friend’s beach house than a proper hotel. Service is sincere and intuitive, and every staff member knows your name; there’s no concierge desk, but a smiling ‘experience manager’ wearing board shorts and flip-flops. Located just a block from the harbor, the compound comprises an original 19th-century structure, two two-bedroom cottages and an annex. Within the courtyard between these buildings, there’s a welcoming freshwater swimming pool (that resembles the backdrop of a Slim Aarons photograph), a handcrafted tiki bar and an indoor, self-serve rum bar. The hotel’s architects and designers worked closely with the Bahamas National Trust to mimic the historic architecture of the classic, A-frame white cottages.
The property is the first beach venture for Eleven, a travel company founded by Blackstone exec Chad Pike in 2011 with the aim of serving those he deems ‘adventure capitalists’: high-end travelers with an intrepid attitude and passion for the outdoors. (Fun fact: The brand’s name comes from the film Spinal Tap, which features volume amplifiers increasing to level 11, instead of 10.) Pike opened the company’s inaugural property, Scarp Ridge Lodge, in the Colorado ski town of Crested Butte, where guests enjoy 1,000 acres of back-country terrain. Two other properties in and near Crested Butte have since opened, as well as a chalet in the French Alps, a lodge in a remote pocket of northern Iceland, a canal house in Amsterdam and, most recently, this Bahama House in Harbour Island, which opened in January 2017.
Design inspiration lies at every turn of the property, which feels like a mash-up of 1950’s Palm Beach and French Polynesia. Pike’s wife, Blake, took charge of the interior aesthetics with the help of her design firm, Number 12, and created an invincibly warm, authentic and exotic dwelling with exquisite accommodations and common spaces. Each guest room is unique, all furniture is either bespoke or vintage and artwork is sourced from the owners’ personal collection. Pineapple-printed wallpaper might serve as the backdrop to a rattan-upholstered loveseat, while in the bedroom, a floral fuchsia headboard framed by rose-colored lamps anchors an impossibly comfortable bed.
Technology is seamlessly incorporated into the rooms with tablets to control the lighting and air-conditioning, and AirPlay to play anything from your phone (for those not keen on the Toots & The Maytals music playing softly in the background). Bathrooms are outfitted with hand-stamped Costa Rican concrete tiles, chic brass fixtures and full-sized Malin+Goetz products. Everything from floss and bamboo toothbrushes to Supergoop SPF lip balm is provided.
The Bahama House is distinctly different from its Eleven Experience counterparts due to its low adventure quotient. While other properties focus on adrenaline-thumping adventures such as rock climbing in Colorado’s Gunnison County or heli-skiing in Iceland’s Troll Peninsula, Harbour Island lends itself to more low-key activities. But for those looking to do more than beach reading, Bahama House’s vivacious guides are eager to get guests snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters, exploring the stalagmite-filled underground cave system on nearby Eleuthera and jumping off the 20-foot rock into Blue Hole, a mysterious inland pond fed by the sea.
The bone fishing around Harbour Island is excellent, and the on-site experience team can arrange for expert guides to accompany guests in the property’s own shallow water skiff. In addition, nearly every type of water sport is on offer, including deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, kayaking, paddle-boarding and more. The team is also enthusiastic about sharing the Bahamas’ cultural heritage with its guests and can organize everything from straw weaving demonstrations to raucous Junkanoo parades.
Typically, however, this little gem in the Bahamas has been known as a haven for those looking to escape. At the beach (a quick bicycle or golf cart ride from the property), the staff has created a charming set-up with retro wooden lounge chairs and umbrellas, towels and Yeti coolers stocked with icy Kalik beer and soft drinks. A beach attendant is available to assist with any requests guests may have. Here, facing the bright aquamarine sea, toes in the astonishingly pink sand, it’s nearly impossible not to unwind and embrace that deliciously slow Bahamian pace.
Who Should Go
Design lovers and relaxed families and couples looking for a boutique hotel on a quietly chic island.