This Couple of HGTV Designers Gave an Abandoned Bahamas Resort a New Lease on Life
Sarah and Bryan Baeumler were vacationing with their four kids in the Bahamas in August 2017 when they took a day trip on a whim to South Andros—a sparsely developed district in the Bahamas where narrow, two-lane roads are the norm and traffic lights can be a rare sight. They’re the husband-and-wife duo, who carved out a reputation over the years building homes on HGTV Canada, stumbled upon a dilapidated resort from the 1960s, vacant for over 10 years. Its doors and windows were boarded up, steps overrun with weeds, and electric generators caked with rust.
But something about the abandoned resort appealed to Sarah and Bryan—the buildings’ airy framework, the nearby white powdered beaches and crystalline turquoise waters—and so they purchased the site, restored and redesigned all 10 acres, and reintroduced it in early December as Caerula Mar Club.
The high-end luxury resort is accessible by a 20-minute flight from Nassau and a one-hour flight from Fort Lauderdale’s Executive Airport. With 18 oceanfront suites and six villas, prices for a room at Caerula Mar Club start at $485 an evening for a 310-square-foot “Clubhouse Classic,” with a partial ocean view, private deck and terrace, and top off at roughly $1,425 per night for an 800-square-foot villa a guest room, living room area and oceanfront views.
“We want Caerula Mar to feel like a home away from home where our guests are just as comfortable lounging by the pool as they are dining in one of our restaurants or asking for our guidance in regards to best ways to explore the island,” explains Sarah, who envisioned an updated resort design that marries an authentic Bahamian feel with more modern touches and a light, airy color palette of white, faded pastels, and shades of beige.
But rebuilding the resort on a small, far-flung island presented somewhat unique challenges. For one: relying on a mix of locally-sourced and imported materials. When tiles arrived for part of the resort that weren’t what Sarah and Bryan ordered—they were all “mismatched”— instead of shipping them back, the couple decided to make do with what they had.
“A big part of this learning process for me has been knowing when to learn to just make things work and when to stop and say, ‘Ok, wait, this needs to be changed or done over in order to be right,’” Sarah acknowledges.
Guests likely won’t notice but will instead be swept up by the acres of sand, ocean and well-designed living spaces themselves—a mix of traditional architecture and mid-century modern style, with Belgian linens, aged marble stone, and soft white oak floors. The resort’s grounds are also dotted with meditation paths and swaying hammocks alongside areas for relaxation, including reflection ponds with sea turtles and yoga mats that can be placed under the shade of palm trees. Guests can also explore the resort’s spa, fitness center or South Andros’ coral reefs through diving, snorkeling, boating, and fishing.
With food, Sarah and Bryan broke up the culinary experience into three distinct dining themes: Switcha, named after a local citrus and sugar-water beverage, lets guests start their day with coffee, smoothies, and breakfast bites; Driffs acts as the resort’s social hub, meant for guests to unwind with a cocktail at the end of the day or nibble on shareable plates with friends or family.
Meanwhile, at Lusca, the island’s first fine dining restaurant, executive Chef Sebastian Perez’s culinary creations focus on sea-to-table dishes with locally caught Mahi-Mahi, Tuna, and other fish and entrees, including pistachio encrusted grouper, brown butter lobster ravioli, and homemade gelato.
Although Sarah and Bryan contend the two years spent building Caerula Mar Club—a process that employed over 100 South Andros residents—was worth it, they concede it was their most grueling and ambitious project date: one that surpassed the dozens of luxury homes they’ve built, restored, or renovated over the last 15 years.
“Bryan and I are always up for a challenge, though I’ll admit we had no idea what we were in for those first few weeks,” Sarah explains. “We had never done a hotel project until now, but we were ready to take on something bigger and break out of our comfort zones. How can we grow if we don’t push ourselves? That’s also an example we try to set for our children.”
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