Check out a map of the Bahamas islands, and you won't find one called “Briland.” That's because the official name of this three-mile-long speck near the larger island of Eleuthera is Harbour Island. But the 1,800 local folks tend to mumble the two words pronouncing only the b, r, i and land. Hence, the local tag of Briland. (The locals on Eleuthera call their island “Citagoo,” but that's another story.)
As you might expect, Harbor Island is a pretty laid back spot. But don't let that fool you. The accent here is on barefoot elegance.
Mosey around the only town on the island's narrow lanes, brigadoonish homes and funky eateries and you might find yourself rubbing elbows with the likes of Mick Jagger, Jennifer Aniston, Robert De Niro, Jimmy Buffett, Diane von Furstenberg and Peyton Manning.
What's the big draw to this dot in the blue-green waters? First, the blue-green waters (packed with gamefish said to “bite on just about anything with a hook on it”). Then there's Harbour Island's famous pink sand beach (tagged “the most gorgeous beach in the world” by Forbes Magazine). And all topped by some of the friendliest people on the planet (including descendants of freed slaves, pirates, English aristocrats, expat North Americans and rum-runners of the 30s). As a local saying goes, “Everyone is welcome here except the paparazzi.
You might also expect to find some classy places to stay on the island. There are, about 10 of them, mostly boutique inns. Some date back to the 1940s, when Americans began to discover the colonial charm of the Bahamas. Three Bees at Harbor Island, a resort opened only a few months ago, typifies today's spotlight on barefoot elegance along the pink sands.
Up to 26 people can bunk down at Three Bees at a time in a combination of three villas. One, the posh Villa Bee, is a five-bedroom house with an eye-popping view of the Caribbean. Another is a two-bedroom cottage called the Beach House – fittingly because it sits right on the pink sand beach. The third is described as “a luxury safari-like tent” covering three bedrooms on its own private beach.
A special attraction of the resort is its “super all-inclusive plan,” offering services and luxury treats that would normally come with added charges at most all-inclusive getaways. Says a spokeswoman: “At Three Bees, you'll not have to worry...from Perignon to unlimited deep-sea fishing to massage treatments...everything, and we mean EVERYTHING you would want, or can imagine, is included.”
She ticks off freebies at Three Bees such as use of the resort's golf carts, off-road quad bikes, motorized kayaks, Yamaha wave-runners and Ski Nautique power boats, and island-hopping on a 37-foot Midnight Express cruiser. Gourmet-class meals and all kinds of booze are also included, as are movies in the resort's own theater (sporting plush oversize day-bed seating).
The list of comps goes on and on, she says. “When you're staying here, your wallet stays in your room.”
For rates and availability call the global Sanctuare group of “quintessential hideaways” at (800) 225-4255.
Getting there: Jet hops from U.S. gateways such as Miami and Ft. Lauderdale make the run to the airport on North Eluthera in a little over an hour. From there it's a five-minute boat ride to Harbour Island.