Back in the day… the private retreat of Swedish industrialist and yachtsman Dr. Axel Wenner-Gren, whose fortunes rose with the invention of the “domestic vacuum cleaner,” was on a pristine, five-mile-long sliver of land known as Hog Island.
The story goes that, after sailing into the Bahamas, Wenner-Gren discovered and fell in love with the isle, which is now called Paradise Island. He subsequently built a grand estate on this stunning piece of beachfront.
After Wenner-Gren, ownership of Paradise Island passed to Huntington Hartford—heir of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company—who invested in the original Ocean Club, a 52-room hotel and an 18-hole golf course. As expected, the elites and glitterati came to play: Dukes, earls and princesses mingled with William Randolph Hearst Jr, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Benny Goodman, Burl Ives and the like.
When Huntington’s fortunes changed, the site underwent a series of “investment flips” that lasted until 2002. It was only then that the iconic Ocean Club resort returned to the limelight under the One&Only banner—with the property recently transitioning to ownership of the Four Seasons group.
Our spring visit coincides nicely with the completion of the resort’s extensive repairs, necessary after the fury of last year’s hurricane. Significant pre-storm upgrades had already created a fabulous new lobby area, a re-imagined spa, veranda additions and a grand sitting salon. Now, as the turquoise waters of the Atlantic crash in front of us onto the shore, it’s the stunning beachside zero-edge pool that’s perhaps the most notable new addition.
It’s blissful here at the Ocean Club, with nothing much on our agenda for a few days. What difficult choices? Lingering over breakfast waffles at Dune, lounging poolside near the ancient Versailles Gardens (adults only, please) or special couples spa time in one of the eight Balinese-inspired treatment villas that are nestled in their own private green spaces. Foot rituals, here we come!
After all, it’s not every day that we can shut our computers and cell phones down and listen to the waves.