August 24, 2017 | Categories: Travel
(This article first appeared in Vacation Agent’s Caribbean 2017 issue. See the full PDF here.)
The French Leave Resort is situated on the skinny Caribbean island of Eleuthera, one of the outer islands of The Bahamas. Eleuthera offers a tranquil escape from a daily hustle and bustle, is lush with trees and vegetation while the long oval-shaped island is flanked by pink-sand beaches.
The French Leave resort is situated on Governor’s Harbour, and was previously a Club Med in its early inception, before undergoing a major renovation, opening as a Marriott Autograph Collection resort with 12 seafront cottages for guests. The 270-acre site had been unavailable for private ownership for more than seven decades. It’s a great destination if you want to escape the crowds you might find on Nassau and Paradise Island, and are seeking a romantic vacation with your significant other, want a quiet girls’ weekend, or seek a relaxing getaway with friends.
Each of the villas has spacious living areas and covered porches, unobstructed views of the Cupid’s Cay marina, a golf cart, WiFi, daily housekeeping, local in-room snacks and beverages, LCD TV screens, and an in-room iPad to request everything from room service to pre-ordered lunches. Types of accommodations:
2 Oceanfront two-bedroom villas – 736 sq. ft.
2 Oceanfront one-bedroom villas – 736 sq. ft.
8 Oceanview one-bedroom suites (studios) – 720 sq. ft.
The oceanfront two-bedroom villas and oceanfront one-bedroom villas also include fully equipped kitchens, an in-room washer and dryer, and a Bose stereo system.
The property charges a $50 resort fee per night, which includes golf cart use (each villa has its own personal one to get around the resort and make the half-mile trek across the road to the private beach), kayaks, paddleboards, and beach chair and umbrella rentals.
Coinciding with the Autograph conversion, French Leave Resort will start offering several new amenities and programs, including local artist exhibits, cooking classes, and morning yoga, as well as local “treats” throughout the day for guests, including house-made popsicles and the Bahamian lemonade, “Switcha.”
What’s for Dinner?
1648 An Island Restaurant features island cuisine inspired by freshly caught Bahamian seafood and locally grown produce. The dishes have a modern take on Caribbean flavors. The restaurant’s hours and room service are from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Who Books this Resort?
The typical and target clientele are discerning travelers who have likely visited the Caribbean before but are looking for something off the beaten path and exclusive. They have the disposable income to travel and crave escapes, seek experiences, and enjoy a luxury feel in a relaxed environment. Some of the guests we spoke to on the trip found the resort by searching through their Marriott rewards points. One couple from Miami liked that it was a 45-minute flight from home where their three small children were being watched by grandparents. Another couple from New Jersey who had previously visited Nassau said they loved the wild beauty of the island and that if felt quieter and less touristy than other Bahamian islands.
Insider Booking Tip:
The oceanfront two-bedroom villas and oceanfront one-bedroom villas are waterfront and are slightly more spacious than the oceanview one-bedroom villas. Depending on the season and availability, general manager, Jahmed Mills, says he’ll book guests in the oceanview one-bedroom rooms and then upgrade them to an oceanfront one-bedroom if it’s available upon arrival. With enough advance notice, the staff can accommodate most food and beverage requests and have them ready in your room when you arrive for the price of the goods. They can also recommend a local masseuse to come to your room for a private massage, as well as excursions outside the resort, like boat tours, sunset sails, and shopping.
Key Selling Points:
The resort reflects the true essence of a serene, peaceful escape. Guests can sit on their porches in their luxurious, fluffy robes and watch majestic sunsets while sipping on drinks available for purchase in their rooms. You can use the in-room iPad to order food and drinks from the restaurant that you can pick up, stash in your golf cart’s cooler, and then drive to the pink sand beach where a staff member will help you get comfortable.
The outer islands of the Bahamas are great for travelers with an adventurous spirit (think renting a car that might not be high end and driving on roads without many signs) who wants to “get off the grid” but still have access to the luxury amenities they crave. Since the resort has a limited capacity, it never feels crowded. Instead, it feels like you’re part of a small community for your stay, where guests sitting on their porches at the oceanview villas will wave and say hello as you walk by and you’ll see familiar faces at the pool, but won’t feel like you’re on top of one another. When you’re on the beach, there is plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the sounds of the sea from your lounge chair, umbrella, and table, but you’ll know that the other guests on the beach at French Leave guests as well.
The villas have a one-of-a-kind look with a sophisticated, upscale feel but still capture the essence of the island with a colonial look. Simple touches like board games, books about “island life,” a straw hat to borrow, washers/dryers in some rooms, and the iPad to use will make you feel like you’re staying in an upscale home.
The staff at the resort is a top-notch crew and some have just undergone intensive training at the Marriott Autograph Playa Largo Resort & Spa in Key Largo. Whether you sit by the pool, or lounge by the beach, they ask if they can bring you anything but also let you relax and just be.
Just the Facts Sidebar
Resort Name: French Leave Resort
Size: 12 villas, 14 rooms total / 270 acres
Year Opened: The resort opened in December 2014 and finished adding 8 new villas in December 2016. By the end of this year the resort will have 22 villas and a spa.
Facilities: The property has a freshwater pool, hot tub, gym with new cardio machines and weights, water sports amenities like kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and snorkel gear, a special events lawn (1,470 sq. ft.) and events pavilion (756 sq. ft.), the French Leave beach is across the road from the property.
Prices: In its high season from January through April, nightly rates range from $479 to $699 for a one bedroom oceanview villa, $529 to $749 for a one bedroom oceanfront villa, and $729 to $999 for a two-bedroom oceanfront villa.
In its low season from May through December, nightly rates range from $379 to $479 for a one bedroom oceanview villa, $429 to $529 for a one bedroom oceanfront villa, and $629 to $999 for a two-bedroom oceanfront villa.
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