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Stephanie-Johnson,-Harbor-I

The tranquil paradise of Harbour Island offers so much to experience, I couldn’t confine my trip to just one post.  For tips on my favorite Harbour Island resorts and restaurants, check out Destination Harbour Island, Part One.  Then read on below for Part Two of my Bahamian adventure!

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The preferred mode of transport here is the golf cart.  There are several rental options on the island and we got ours from Dunmore Rentals.  We woke early each morning and hopped in our dew covered cart to have breakfast and explore the island.  Morning excursions included the ‘Haunted House,’ visits to Goldie the talking parrot at Romora Bay, and feeding fresh water to Gina Valentina the manatee at Valentine’s.  Afternoons were ideal for ice cream runs to The Sweet Spot where we loved fresh mango and coconut sorbets, ginger lime and espresso ice cream.

Lil’ Shans is a tiny shack in the parking lot at Valentine’s.  This is where we found Luther, our captain for an afternoon of fun on the water.  He took us to neighboring island Eleuthera, where we saw giant sea stars dotting the clear ocean floor and baby turtles speeding along.  We snorkeled around a rock formation and fed the bright tropical fish and saw a giant sting ray camouflaged under the pink sand. We stopped in shallow water, where we discovered hundreds of sun bleached sand dollars underfoot. Our trip with Luther was the highlight for me and I can’t wait to return to those clear blue waters.

Bring a racquet and play tennis but you will have to bring a partner too.  Run on the beach where you are likely to see a tanned and toned India Hicks running with her Black Lab.  Soak up the sun and float in the ocean all day long.

Stephanie-Johnson,-H

SHOP

A visit to India Hicks’ shop The Sugar Mill will be where to find her own island batik bedcovers and sheets and bright nylon ntandy belts by friend Napper.   I loved my visit with Amy at The Blue Rooster, a well-curated island shop with island flavor and a high chic factor.  I found gorgeous gold jewelry, elegant beach cover ups and Stephanie Johnson bags!  Princess Gallery is where to find island entertaining essentials and local art.  I loved the Bahama Hand Print robes and napkins.  The gift shop at the Pink Sands Resort had an excellent selection of straw hats (that’s where I picked up mine), canvas espadrilles and colorful pareos trimmed in pompoms (I picked up one of these as well)!

Erela and I visited with Alice at A & A Hidden Treasures several times on our trip.  Alice hand weaves hats and totes and clutches and sells them in an open air space along the road.  Erela chose a cross body bag with a blue raffia butterfly and the word Bahamas embroidered on the back.  Alice personalized it with Erela’s name and E hasn’t taken it off since.

The best thing about this tiny island (it’s only 3.5 miles long and a half mile wide) was the people we met. Everywhere we went we ran into the same folks, mostly visitors like us, and unlike us this was not their first visit.  Harbour Island had been their special paradise for many years and we were happy to share in their secret.

Stephanie-Johnson,-Harb

Stephanie-Johnson,-Harbor-I

When I needed to escape another East Coast snow storm I looked to book the Caribbean but everything was sold out or impossible to get to.  I booked Harbour Island because it was available and I wasn’t terribly excited about it.  I worried the Bahamas wouldn’t be warm enough, I’d be bored to tears with no kids camp, tennis clinics or sunrise yoga on the beach, blah, blah, blah.  How wrong I was.

STAY

We stayed at the Coral Sands Hotel, situated right on the pink sand beach for which this island is famous.  Our room was large with a separate dressing area and a balcony with sea views.  We slept with the doors open and the sound of the ocean lulling us to sleep.  The pool is the absolute best on the island despite its lack of poolside services.  You will have to hike it a bit to the beach to collect towels or find an attendant to help you open your umbrella, and you will have to bring your own Goombay Smash up from the bar.  There is limited lunch service on the beach and no lack of boogie boards and sand toys for the little ones.  The staff was warm and welcoming:  Romanda helped us book our dinners and Terrence even bleached a conch shell for Erela.

The Dunmore next door on the same sweet beach has just had a complete overhaul and its 13 rooms are perfection in dark wood and raffia with island colors and all the modern conveniences.  The Landing reminded me of my days in Key West.  It’s one of the oldest buildings on the island; a cozy guest house on the harbour side with rooms designed by resident India Hicks and a bar where you could imagine Hemingway holding court.

EAT

In addition to being your cozy home on island, The Landing boasts the best breakfast on Harbour Island and some of the best dining altogether.  We ate there most mornings as Erela befriended the proprietor’s daughter, so it was ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter and French toast with whipped cream in caramel sauce along with a harbor view from your porch-side seat (and an additional five pounds to your waistline).

Stephanie

Dunmore Deli was another favorite for breakfast with fresh mango and papaya.  Arthur’s Bakery was a good spot to pick up a fresh baked breads and donuts.

As Sip Sip was closed for vacation before the season rush, we lunched beachside at The Dunmore daily.  The conch ceviche, lobster tacos and Norma’s Terrace salad were on high rotation.  Note that The Dunmore staff was friendly and happy to accommodate my five year old’s requests for pen and paper, but alas no children are allowed at dinner time.  The Rock House has a similar dinner time policy, allowing children to only dine early and by the pool rather than in the main dining room overlooking sunset views of the harbour.  The food, however, was exceptional with fresh mahi mahi in a coconut Thai curry nearly blowing my mind.

Other island options include sunset drinks at Romora Bay, where if you time it right you can see the nurse sharks circle as the fisherman bring in their catch.  Acqua Pazza was an excellent dinner choice with a child.  As I watched the sunset over the bay and sipped a Bahama Mama, Erela ran around the lawn outside the adjacent ‘haunted house’, climbed trees and hung out in the hammock.  An arugula salad from their own garden and local lobster ravioli were delicious.

There are several options on the bay side and Queen Conch reigns supreme.  A ‘shack’ near the water’s edge where the local conch man pulls conch from their shell and discards the shells in a pile on the beach and smiling women in head scarves prepare the ‘exotic’ salad with fruits and veggies, this is the perfect casual-dinner over-sunset-with-the-kids -place.  Liquor is BYOB so pop over to the bar next door for a Goombay Smash in a plastic cup to sip with your excellent conch fritters or spicy shrimp.

Want more Harbour Island?  Stay tuned for next week’s post, highlighting the island’s charming boutiques and my favorite things to do in this Bahamian paradise!

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Kimara-Ahnert,-Makeup,-New-

Chic Traveler:  Kimara Ahnert

Occupation:  Makeup Artist

Hometown:  NYC

Kimara Ahnert and her talented team of artists have been helping women gain confidence through beauty by offering customized makeup services for almost 2 decades. Her luxurious makeup and skincare studio on Madison Avenue caters to New York’s A-list and celebrity clientele, offering special event and wedding makeup applications, makeup lessons incorporating her extensive line of makeup, as well as a full range of professional skincare treatments. On weekends Kimara can be found anywhere from Banff to Barbados doing makeup for destination weddings, and is known in the industry for her experience traveling to wherever a bride might need her expert beauty services – whether it is down the street to the Pierre Hotel or around the globe to the South of France.

Dream destination?

India

What’s always inside your carry on?

Bose headphones, Magaschoni cashmere shawl, chargers for phone and iPad.

What’s on your plane play list?

Cast albums of favorite Broadway shows like Les Miserables and Wicked.

Your guilty pleasure while traveling?

Ice cream

The Stephanie Johnson bag / bags that always make the trip?

Train Case for my makeup and briefcase for my toiletries . . . oldies but goodies.

Any tips or must-pack items for making your hotel feel more like home?

I always pack my own shampoos (Shu Uemura) and bath oil (Jo Malone).  The smells I am used to remind me of home.

What’s the most stylish city/locale you’ve visited?  Anywhere in particular where the fashion/beauty/women’s personal style really blew you away?

The Four Seasons Bosphorus Hotel in Istanbul.  It was fascinating to see women from every part of the world in one place dressed so beautifully from head to toe.  The bag, the dress, the shoes, the jewelry, the hair was so perfect without trying to be…beautiful women on holiday.

Any travel misadventures you’d like to share?

I was flying to Maine to do make up for a wedding and my checked makeup kit never made it.  Party planner drove me to the local mall in Portland, where I had to buy makeup and brushes.  That evening when I flew back to NY, my makeup kit had just arrived in Maine.

If you were introducing a world traveling friend to SJ for the first time, what’s the first piece you’d recommend they buy?

The Grace Brush Case.  It is deceiving in how much makeup and tools it can hold.  It is easy to pack and flips open perfectly for doing makeup.  I love how there is a separate compartment for makeup brushes.  It keeps your brushes secure and in perfect shape.

Next on your Stephanie Johnson wish list?

Miami Side Handle Tube in pink and yellow.  I love these neon clear bags.  I want the yellow for my suntan lotions and the pink for my makeup on the go…bronzer, lip gloss, BB Cream, super wear gel eyeliners.

Kimara-Ahnert,-Boat,-Charle

What’s your favorite SJ piece to give as a gift?

Mini Pouch with my 3 best lip gloss shades (Uptown Girl, Date Night, Soirée).

Is there a favorite possession you’ve acquired during your travels?  What is it?

Jewelry.  I don’t frequently buy it, so vacation makes me feel ok to indulge myself.  I love these pieces, will have them forever, and they always remind me of a special place in the world.

Favorite travel ritual or souvenir: (Do you always visit a local book shop? Hunt down the best cappuccino? Pick up a tree ornament depicting your destination?)

Antique shops.  I love porcelain and cut glass. . . Moser, Lobmeyer, Sevres, Meissen.

Your personal travel style: (Do you like a luxury resort? A private hideaway? Do you prefer to lay on the beach? Explore the countryside?)

I love luxury hotels.  Often the hotels will dictate my destination.  I have been to several Aman hotel properties.  At my last Aman hotel I visited, they had a t-shirt for me at turn down that said Aman Junkie!  On my hit list are Oberois in India and Villa Feltrinelli in Lake Garda.

The one thing that you cannot leave home without?

Photos of my six year old son, Jonathan.

Your happy place / Favorite travel destination?

Capri, Italy.  I have been going there every year for last 12 years with my family.  Now when I arrive, it feels like I am home away from home.

Do you have a favorite menu item you indulge in when you’re on the road?  Perhaps a dish or a type of cuisine you can’t get back home?

I am a foodie so I like to indulge in cuisine local to the destination, which usually involves giving into eating more carbs.  I just returned from doing wedding makeup in Harbour Island, Bahamas, a place I have gone to for many years with my family.   I couldn’t wait to have conch salad from Queen Conch, Cracked Conch from the Blu Bar, white Bahamian bread from Dunmore deli and frozen Key Lime Pie from Arthur’s Bakery.

How do you pack for a trip? (Are you a list maker? Do you pack in outfits? Throw caution to the wind and shop when you arrive?) 

I am an organized packer.  I pack for the different segments of my day.  For example, I start with nights and pack every outfit, shoe, accessory, and shawl for my evenings away.  Then I move to day, pool, workout, sleep.  I make a list for the last minute items that need to go in the end, phone chargers, jewelry to carry on, passport, travel itinerary, Bose headphones.

Go-to luggage brand?

T. Anthony when traveling by car, Tumi when traveling by plane.  Louis Vuitton Keepall duffle for both.

Checked bag or carry-on?

I am a checker of everything but my purse.

Favorite Airport?  Why?

Leonardo da Vinci in Rome. . . best shopping.

Favorite in-flight pastime?

Reading and sleeping.

Window or aisle?

Window and I like the shades up.  My family teases me that I have to look out the window because I think I am flying the plane.

How often do you fly?

10-12 times a year.

Go-to flying ‘uniform?’

Lululemon workout clothes.

Business or economy?

Business on flights 5 hours or more.

Do you work in-flight or use the time to unwind?

I work in the beginning of flight, usually until we reach cruising altitude and then chill.

Kimara-Ahnert,-Boat,-Charle

 

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