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Paradise Island in the Bahamas where James Bond was filmed will leave you shaken…

by Ace Damon
As always: the white sands of Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island in the Bahamas

The Duke of Windsor was not taken much by the Bahamas. "I tried to make the best of a bad situation," he said gruffly.

Perhaps he was insulted that on the other side of where he was housed in New Providence was a piece of undeveloped land known as 'Hog Island', in reference to his pig population.

Probably he was suffering from his appointment as governor-general, the post he received in 1940, four years after his abdication as king.

As always: the white sands of Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island in the Bahamas

Remember, I would think his wife, the Duchess, could have enjoyed the five years they had been there, mingling with rich and cheeky Americans, walking on white beaches and having the weird excitement in tax-free casinos, far away. of photographers.

Much has changed since they left in 1945. In addition, the undeveloped land spit, which is now known as Paradise Island and was first linked to the capital, Nassau, by two bridges in 1966, and later became the home to the giant Atlantis Paradise Island resort with its coral skyscrapers providing over 4,000 rooms.

Fortunately, Hurricane Dorian, which caused such devastation in August, followed a course about 130 kilometers north of Paradise Island, and locals will say they haven't even lost a coconut.

It was an American supermarket heir, Huntington Hartford, who gave Paradise Island its less-than-subtle nickname.

But it was entirely his gift, as he bought the island in 1959 and began building the Ocean Club, complete with cloisters brought from a 14th monastery in France. It is now a swanky, 102-room Four Seasons hotel, possibly one of the most swanky in the entire fleet.

A cursory look at the framed photos on the grand piano in the lobby sets the tone. There's Sidney Poitier, Liz Taylor (of course), Marilyn Monroe, Sean Connery, Paul McCartney, Cindy Crawford (who was married there), and a more recent visitor, Daniel Craig, who famously emerged from the surf here on those tight trunks while filming Casino. Royale

Sean Connery and Claudine Auger filming the James Bond Thunderball movie in the Bahamas in 1965

Sean Connery and Claudine Auger filming the James Bond Thunderball movie in the Bahamas in 1965

Atlantis and Ocean Club are sitting on Cabbage Beach (another misnomer – or perhaps an attempt at irony), a glorious stretch of sand that is relatively inaccessible unless you stay in it.

Even if the wind appears, the sapphire sea behaves impeccably. I don't know if I've ever seen a prettier beach. And I can't think of a sharper contrast than that between Atlantis and Ocean Club.

Both are worth inspection. We had a delicious dinner at the Fish Restaurant on Coves Block in Atlantis, which gave us an excuse to wander over 140 acres and regret that we never tended to bring our kids here when they were young. They would have loved it.

This is a theme park full of attractions with 18 slides, a one-mile river ride, private cabanas, dozens of restaurants and kiosks, dolphin shows and something called the Leap of Faith, an almost vertical fall that takes thrill-seekers – or lunatics – through a clear tunnel submerged in a pool inhabited by big-toothed sharks.

The Ocean Club, pictured now, is a 102-room Four Seasons hotel, possibly one of the most chic in the entire fleet.

The Ocean Club, pictured now, is a 102-room Four Seasons hotel, possibly one of the most chic in the entire fleet.

The Ocean Club, on the other hand, is a whole low-rise colonial building, a spa and restaurant, and four tennis courts, one of which we booked at 5 pm every day as an antidote to lazy lunches and, well, lazy afternoons.

The Bahamas still has the Queen as Head of State, but the vibe on Paradise Island is the American country club (Miami is just a 40-minute flight away and there are 17 of them a day), with its golf courses, marinas and condos. .

Nassau himself developed at random and not entirely sympathetically (apart from one or two dilapidated buildings and especially the Christ Church Cathedral on George Street, built in 1723) around his natural harbor, a favorite of ships. Cruise

We bravely asked if we could park in the Government House parking lot – and were allowed to do so just because the young man at the gate supported the same football team as me. A former pirate refuge, Nassau would have a bank for every 500 residents, thanks to the Bahamas' laid-back attitude to the source of funds held in accounts, most of which tend to be anonymous.

But there is nothing relaxed in the prices. Thank goodness we stocked up at Duty Free when we left as staple groceries, and even more, eating out is expensive. Yes, everything is imported, but even so, £ 5 for a green avocado seems steep.

Atlantis Hotel, pictured, is also located on Paradise Island in the Bahamas

Atlantis Hotel, pictured, is also located on Paradise Island in the Bahamas

Not everyone is in the Caribbean.

Those of us who choose to come here regularly for a winter sun infusion know that the weather is not always 100% reliable.

One day it rained fiercely, but that is the heat, the humidity, and the intensified aroma of the shrubs and trees that everyone calls the 'liquid sun'.

A different kind of liquid sun is on offer at Fish Fry on weekends in Nassau, where residents set up bars and restaurants in various rundown states and sell rum cocktails in plastic cups. We settled in for a session at Frankie Goes Bananas, eating dumplings for 3 pounds and drinking gin and tonics for 4 pounds.

Hurricane Dorian may not have hit this part of the Bahamas, but it has come close enough to prevent regular visitors and they are sorely needed to return.

The chorus is now simple on all these glorious and glamorous islands – as always.

TRAVEL FACTS

Inspiring Travel Company (inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk) offers seven nights of bed and breakfast at Ocean Club, The Four Seasons Resort, Bahamas, starting at £ 3,245pp. Price is based on two adults sharing a garden view room, including flights and transfers. More information at fourseasons.com/oceanclub.

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