Updated: May 2, 2019
by Mechelle McDonald-Sweeting
I arrived at the Melia resort for an escape filled with engaging Bahamian activities, bold food flavors, and smooth beverages to help me bask in the island’s sub-tropical bliss.
Transportation from the airport is easy, as air-conditioned taxi cab options are available and can provide you with a taste of the Bahamas’ warm and inviting hospitality. The drive is 15 minutes on average and is priced at $27 for two persons, inclusive of luggage ($4 for each additional person).
Walking into the brightly-lit lobby area of the Spanish brand Melia resort, I arrived at the check-in desk and was promptly greeted by Raynard, a friendly and knowledgeable front desk agent who was very helpful in assisting me.
Upon mentioning my all-inclusive day pass booking through Book A Tour Caribbean, I quickly received my colored wristband and relevant paraphernalia which highlighted everything included in my day pass package, a map of the estate and a schedule of restaurants and daily activities.
As a food enthusiast, I was ecstatic to find that food and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are included (except for Starbucks) and was eager to explore a variety of unique dishes.
Notably, the hours of the day pass (9 am – 5 pm) did limit restaurant options to two as the majority of the eateries opened after 5 pm. The restaurants are mostly cashless (although cash is also accepted), which is convenient for the no-fuss traveler on the go who doesn’t want the added hassle of needing cash on hand.
In reviewing the schedule beforehand, I chose to visit on ‘Bahamian Day’ (held on Fridays), where guests are immersed into the local culture through a series of activities and honestly, I couldn’t wait to start!
The straw weaving class was dear to my heart as one of my grandmothers used it to create timeless and priceless pieces such as wallets, purses, and baskets.
It is a long-time tradition found throughout the Bahama islands and is a true way to feel connected to the country’s origins.
Our instructor Wendy taught the history of straw (derived from the Silver Palm tree) and how to make a bookmark through a delicate weaving process that required focus but was easy to follow. Kids and adults alike will enjoy this activity, and be able to use this keepsake when reading their favorite book. Fun Fact: Although we were taught to weave with 7 (4 on the left, 3 on the right) pieces of straw, weaving can involve up to 23 pieces!
You can also check out the Bahamian dialect class, which invites guests to learn and use popular terms such as ‘we gern’ (we are going), ‘biggity’ (bossy), and ‘ferl’ (aluminum foil), in a witty and engaging two-person role-play that often leaves participants rolling in laughter.
I stopped for lunch at The Market Place, a buffet restaurant located on the second floor with a beautiful view of the beach, pools and activity pavilion. The cordial and energetic hostess Jerdavinique guided me to my seat where my friendly server Beverly suggested I have a Bahama Mama to quench my thirst.
It was the perfect balance of fruity and sweet, with the pineapple flavor shining through. It also had the right amount of ice to ensure good temperature without loss of taste.
Foodies will appreciate Melia’s attention to detail, dietary restrictions (paleo, gluten-free, vegan), and variety of food (raw and cooked) options which included sushi, quinoa, salads, pizza, braised meats, peas n’ rice (a local staple) pizza and desserts.
You can create a mini antipasti platter with the selection of olives, oils, fresh cheese, tomatoes, and cured meats, as well as a small fruit and cheese sampler with a side of freshly baked bread. I was pleased with the flavors! I recommend you try the quinoa and vegetables as well as the braised short ribs which were moist and had a tangy-sweet flavor. The Market Place ensures that no guest’s appetite is unmet.
The Grille restaurant had an inviting open setting and soft, comfortable seating where I easily felt as if I was standing on the edge of the shore. My server Norma was pleasant, greeting me within minutes and offering me a beverage to start.
She recommended a mango daiquiri and blended it with my favorite flavor - Miami Vice, to create a combination that I loved.
It was so admired that someone at the table next to me also ordered one! The grilled Mahi-mahi with vegetables was well-seasoned and appropriately-sized for light eating (essential if you want to swim or do water sports). It was also paired well with the seafood ceviche.
The mango cheesecake resembled the texture of a soufflé and had a nice, subtly sweet flavor that was like magic on my tongue.
Kudos to Melia for using biodegradable paper straws at both eateries instead of plastic and also for having a Vero Machine at the Lobby Bar which offered plain or carbonated water to keep guests hydrated!
Beating and feeling the goatskin drum with my fingers brought Junkanoo to life as you feel the thickness of the goatskin and its bass resonating through your ears and chest with each hit.
The drums are a crucial part of the Bahamian Junkanoo line-up and one that participants cheer for in anxious anticipation.
Led by members of the "Roots" Junkanoo group, the Melia offers the opportunity to learn to beat the goatskin drum and design a Junkanoo mask using feathers, rhinestones, and beads. Guests are invited to wear their mask at the Junkanoo Rush-out held at the end of Bahamian Night later in the evening.
The Melia Day Pass experience left me feeling refreshed and revitalized. The Bahamian-centric activities provided a cultural immersion that truly connected guests to the country and allowed them to take pieces of it home through memories and keepsakes.
I highly recommend a Melia Day Pass to those seeking a hearty mix of sights, sounds, food, and laughter in true Bahamian style. It’s definitely a redo on my list!