TripAdvisor survey: 45 percent of Americans will travel during holidaysDec 11, 2013
TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site has announced the results of its annual December holiday travel survey of more than 14,000 U.S. respondents. Forty-five percent will travel this holiday season, nearly equal to last year but more will hit the road in 2013
THE BAHAMAS (Day 1 of 4) — Swimming pigs!
Really, there are a dozen of them at the tiny island of Big Major Cay. They swim right up to our boat — in the hopes that we will feed them.
We’ve just flown in a five-seater plane from Nassau to Staniel Cay (population 80) in the chain of the Exumas in the Bahamas. Our pilot, Solomon Robinson, points out some of the 300 cays as we fly the 76 air miles—about 35 minutes—from Nassau.
David Copperfield has a private island enclave here. So does Johnny Depp and Tyler Perry. One island is the headquarters of the national marine park; another, Compass Cay, is home to sharks who swim around you. “They are all special,” Robinson says, adding that when he was growing up, electricity was limited to small generators. That has changed. “But what makes the outer islands special is they haven’t been built up like Nassau. That’s why people love them.”
We are on or way to Fowl Cay Resort a tiny enclave of six distinct villas on a private island. This place is the antithesis of Sandals yet it is owned by Sandals.
We take a seven-minute boat ride from Staniel Cay—with a stop to see the swimming pigs—and then settle into our villa named Starlight. It really is three octagonal houses—a room and bath for us, for my son Matt and his girlfriend Emmie, and then the middle one has the kitchen and living room.
As I write this, I’m looking out on the clear blue water. There is a deck with rocking chairs. The ceiling is thatched. The only similarity to Sandals is that Fowl Cay is all inclusive.
That means when we arrive, the fridge and pantry are stocked (wine, liquor and beer too) and, lunch is waiting in our villa—steak salads, a cheese platter and drinks of our choice. Dinner is served at the Hill House.
The best part: We get a motor boat with our villa so we can tool around the cays, whether we want to snorkel (Thunderball Grotto is famous for its snorkeling), go fishing, or just find a deserted beach and have a picnic, obligingly packed by the chef.
There’s tennis, bocce, bikes and a pool as well as two beaches—one with water toys.
I love this place! Where else can you feed swimming pigs and snorkel amid schools of brightly colored fish. We can putter around our kitchen but don’t have to shop for groceries or clean up.. There are plenty of books and movies in the library as well as a pool table. Did I mention the outdoor shower with views of the water? Nice!
We join the other guests—the maximum is 30 on the island with a staff of 20—for dinner where we’re served a three course meal.
This is a great place to spend time with your kids, said Valerie Hughes, here with her 12 year-old son Cyrus from suburban New York Cyrus, incidentally, doesn’t care at all that there aren’t other kids here this week—not when the staff makes it their mission to keep him entertained. “I get all the attention,” he said with a grin. And let’s not forget the chance to play with the resort’s resident Yellow Lab.
The hardest decision is what to do tomorrow.