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Eric E

A secluded vacation with a five star restaurant

5.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed May 11, 2017
My wife and I wanted a 'real' getaway. That is, a place with very few other people. We are not into cruises or large resorts, and have a love for finding places off the beaten path. My wife liked the photos of Sandpiper on Google Maps and we decided to give it a try.

We flew into Marsh Harbor and took a cab for the 20 minute ride to South Abaco. We later found out that the hotel has a lower priced shuttle service. We had not asked in advance to set one up. It would have saved about $40. We did take the shuttle back to the airport.

The hotel is only three years old. Its super clean, and looks like a B&B in Charleston, SC. But everything is new and works, unlike our stays in actual Charleston B&Bs. The staff is wonderfully friendly. On our last day there, I had hurt my lower back and needed some painkillers. The staff drive an hour round trip to the pharmacy for me. That's incredible service!

The restaurant is small and cute. For two nights, we were the only guests and could not have dreamed of a more perfect dining experience. Chef Higgins has worked for over 20 years in some of the top restaurants in the Bahamas. To say the meals were incredible does not seem to do them justice. Bahamian Souse was never my favorite dish, but Chef Higgins created a perfect bowl that had the flavors that were meant to be in it.

His dishes are the best of the traditional local fare, or his own variations based on the best of his luxury restaurant past. He has a definite liking for Cajun/creole cooking. I tasted his blackened conch with a salsa for the first time and was hooked! We even talked him into making it for lunch one day. His Cracked Conch is also the best I've ever had. More tender than any conch I have eaten in 30 years of visiting the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Hogfish stew, Hogfish fingers, whole fish, lamb, and so many more dishes provided daily excitement for us.

On the third night we stopped picking from the menu and asked him just to make what he thought we would like. We had unimaginable delights every evening.

We rented a car for a few days to tour Great Abaco. We hit a few restaurants and found ourselves missing Chef Higgins' cooking. So we timed each of the following days to pass by at lunch, if possible, and be back by dinner each night. Even in Green Turtle Cay for the day, we timed coming back so we would be in time for dinner. Schooner Bay has an organic farm near its main gate. They provide much of the vegetables for the meals. The conch comes from Crossing Rock, 2 miles to the south and the Hogfish was from local fishermen. Talk about 'Farm to Table'!

The staff provided bikes, and we rode around the grounds of Schooner Bay village. We walked the beaches for at least two miles to the north. We snorkeled in the south cove. No one was around and the cove was full of fish, lobster and sea urchins. I got lots of video on my GoPro and we didn't need to pay to go anywhere.

The rental car gave us the freedom to go up to Marsh Harbor and down to Sandy Point. We took a ferry to Green Turtle Cay one day and fed the pigs on NoName Cay. The hotel location was a bit farther than staying in Marsh Harbor. But it was quiet and we enjoyed that more than the traffic in Marsh Harbor. It's location also prompted us to venture to the south, which we might not have done if we were staying up in North Abaco. So we got to explore Great Abaco, from Sandy Point to Treasure Cay.

Riding bikes and beach combing in Schooner Bay was very nice. They even have trails through the brush were one might find a parrot. We weren't that lucky. But with roads lined with coconuts, fresh drinks were readily at hand. Who needs to carry water with so many coconuts around.

We had a week of being treated and fed like royalty, in a private paradise, with ready access to the rest of Great Abaco when we felt like being tourists.

I still can hear the sound of Chef Higgins, who is well over six feet tall and very muscular, using his mallet to make the tenderest Cracked Conch we've ever had. Its became my favorite 'dinner bell'.

I would guess Sandpiper will become a more traveled destination as it becomes known. But even with crowds, we'd still go back again, and again.
Date of stay: April 2017
Room Tip: The second or third floor overlooking Schooner Bay offers the best view.
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
5.0 of 5 bubblesValue
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
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, Owner at The Sandpiper Inn, responded to this review
Responded May 14, 2017
Dear Eric, we are so pleased to read your most wonderful and detailed review of The Sandpiper Inn; your opening sentences have captured the essence of what and who we are, because, it is for this reason that we built our own "home away" at Schooner Bay.
Our mission statement is "come, let us show you better than we can tell you". Your glowing review, tells us that we are achieving this. We are far away from the maddening crowds, and, as you say not for everyone's travel appetite. Those who seek what we offer,(peace tranquility and to be away from "it all") have however, been blessed with exactly what you write.
We are so happy that one of our most precious jems Chef Marcellus was able to show you our hospitality and his culinary genius and make you feel that his food was the only thing to eat. This feeling of being at home yet away from home is what we strive for. We truly thank you for staying with us and look forward to your return trips, where we will strive to even better fulfill your travel wishes.

Many thanks
Dr Larry.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
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