By Tracy McMaster and Alison Heden I May 26, 2015 FIVE REASONS WHY ALBANY IS A TRULY EXTRAORDINARY FAMILY EXPERIENCE Just a short three-hour flight from Toronto gets us to Albany. We are 3 generations on this adventure (grandparents, 2 sisters & our spouses with 3 children 4 and under). You may raise an eyebrow when you hear that we travel with the entire family. While traveling together is not always perfect, we recognize how special this opportunity has been and we embrace the chaos while creating some pretty killer memories along the way. As we lounged by the private pool facing our spectacular villa on our final evening of this 6 week getaway, the men were gathered around the grill perfecting the Mahi Mahi they had caught that day and the ladies were sipping our G&T’s watching the kids play around the pool. We reminisced about all of the qualities that make this haven unique and so perfectly designed for families. 1. The Accommodations Albany offers a diverse range of accommodations from Marina Residences to Villas of all shapes and sizes. Our experience has been in the Villas, which we adore. Inspired by Bahamian architecture, these villas feature courtyard-style entrances with private pools and gardens. With all the comforts of home, you feel as though you have truly moved in. The kitchens are stocked with everything you need to cook a gourmet meal if that’s your flair. If you love cooking as we do, you’ll be thrilled to discover Goodfellows Farm, an organic farm just outside the gates of Albany. The villa has proven itself very tricky to leave. It’s the peace and serenity of this seclusion that allows you to unwind from the chaos of life. " " " 2. The Water When you are ready to venture out, the options are endless. You can stroll anywhere in the community or zip around quickly by hopping in your own little golf cart (another highlight for the children). Whether you are inclined to splash the days away in the ocean or swimming pool, Albany offers both. We find shifting locations throughout the day keeps the entire family engaged. The beachfront is incredibly private and serene but also offers plenty of water toys for all ages at your fingertips. The interactive water playground “Treasure Island” was obviously a family highlight but our system of trading off the responsibility of lifeguard to give our grown ups some down time was particularly spectacular. The adult-only Azul Pool, complete with the ultimate oceanside view, private cabanas and all the pampering you could ask for is tucked conveniently around the corner from the mayhem of waterslides. " " " 3. The Fitness & Sports The truth is, it’s the fitness aspect of this island gem that has brought us all back here time and time again. If health, wellness and sports are your thing, this is your paradise. The fitness complex is state of the art and offers you an array of options from machines, an outdoor CrossFit gym, full size boxing ring and every class under the sun (literally). The Olympic size pool holds Masters swim classes every morning and the instructor is there to provide private lessons for you or your children at your convenience. He will always hold a special place in our hearts as the one who taught our 4 year old how to swim confidently. Albany also offers Tennis, Paddle Tennis and of course the 18-hole championship golf course designed by Ernie Els. " " " 4. The Amenities The Spa and Salon provide yet another escape with their full menu of treatments and beautiful surroundings. We camped out there a few times to be pampered and it was luxurious. The beautifully curated boutique on site offers swimwear, active wear, gorgeous kaftans and a fabulous kids corner with apparel, toys and accessories. There are 5 restaurants on the property that give you diversity of both family-friendly and nightlife options. One of our favs is the James Bond inspired Vesper Bar&Lounge which appeared in the hit film Casino Royale. Sushi, cocktails and sometimes DJ’s and dancing on a Friday night with the waves crashing beneath you is the perfect way to top off a day in the islands. From 5-star dining to casual fare, there’s something for all of us. Honestly, the layout here is so brilliant that if you are with children in tow there is everything your heart desires, yet if you don’t want to see munchkins anywhere in sight you can easily escape them. The Equestrian program is another gem for the whole family. There is something magical about visiting horses and learning to ride them on the sand alongside the sea. There are 700 Islands that make up the Bahamas and Albany’s staff is more than happy to arrange a variety of excursions for you. One of the off site highlights was our trip to the Exumas. A special shout out to our friend “Conch Daddy” and his gorgeous wife for sending us to play with the sharks, swim with the pigs and of course have a leisurely lunch at the beautiful and very private Staniel Cay Marina. " " " 5. The Kid Focus You can saunter over to the Conch House, a 5400 square foot fully loaded children’s clubhouse, at any time of day to use the facilities alongside your children or you can choose to leave them with the child care experts. We have met some lovely caregivers and teachers at the centre that our kids have bonded with over the years. They will even come and babysit for you in the evening so you can scoot out to one of those “adult-only” dining options. Every Wednesday night is family night at Footprints restaurant. If you want to venture out from cooking in your villa and enjoy a meal with some excellent kid friendly activities for the little ones (arts&crafts, song&dance, trivia and everything in between all guided by experts), this evening is for you. Each week they feature a different cuisine and each week it is equally delicious. Needless to say this style of luxury comes with a price tag to match. If you are looking for the ultimate family vacation escape or an incredible home to invest in with all of the amenities you could ask for, Albany is your place. " " "
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