Why I must go back to the most underrated vacation: The Bahamas
Opening up the white ceiling-high curtains with one fluid motion, exposing sharp daylight, summer blue skies and turquoise water was an exquisite delight as I visited the island of Nassau, Bahamas.
I would have to pinch myself each morning, as if in my dreams every night I had packed my suitcase and flew back to LA, expecting to open up my eyes to the familiar master bedroom back home; but instead, I was greeted with a barricaded suitcase living in all corners of the newly developed and modern hotel room of SLS Baha Mar with Garrett next to me in bed, and a group text from the other 15 Newmark Models already up and exploring the island.
The view is incredible.
I open the sliding glass door, breath in the humid tropical air and let it stick to the back of my throat. My hair lifts effortlessly as the warm air surrounds me like a blanket and the morning sun gently kisses my skin. I slip into a bikini, a bright red classic triangle, twist the handmade sarong I bought off of a wonderful local named “Skinny” the color of hot pink barbie lipstick and grab Garrett’s hand to head downstairs.
The air conditioning invites us into the crispy Cleo Mediterranean morning buffet as we find the rest of the NewMark crew just finishing up breakfast. We say a quick hello and they are off to the beach a couple steps ahead of us, but my eyes are skimming the buffet style breakfast layered with a fresh omelet bar, pastry tower with french bread, croissants and stuffed surprises, meat and cheese selections and friendly waiters balancing trays of newly brewed cappuccinos made to order. As much as I want to rush to the sparkling ocean, chocolate croissants, smoked turkey wrapped in cheddar cheese and eggs with a squeeze of lemon and dash of pepper are calling my name right now.
The lingering scent of fresh poured coffee fills my nostrils, and morning light is pouring through the windows, scattering in rectangles and other fun shapes across the floor.
I feel like I am in a modern hotel magazine with everything shiny and new as the SLS Baha Mar grand opening was just 7 months ago. I was in a modern hotel magazine. I savored every bite from the buffet because it tasted just as good as it smelled, and left satisfied, excited and ready for a 3 day adventure in a place I’ve been wanting to visit for over 3 years.
Finally I made my way out into the sunshine, and took my first steps down into the pool, stopping to soak it all in. To my right is a village like set of pastel colored buildings, still vacant from the new opening; I imagine a busy cupcake bakery with vanilla and chocolate smells dripping from its walls, surrounded by a stone white balcony with travelers overlooking the pool and, in the distance, the turquoise water, all nestled into families of palms as the visitors indulge on a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting (my imagination goes as far as what I can dream of. Can you tell?). The walkway takes you down a very attractive set of concrete staircases that expose you to rows of black and white printed cabanas, and more pastel colored lounge chairs, with a very large rectangle pool in the center. In the back, a tiki inspired bar takes the attention from the rest with its sharp angles contrasting the soft and elegant backdrop.
Step by step, I pass the pastel lounge chairs, black and white cabanas and tiki bar to find myself on a wavering concrete pathway. Each side of me has boutique shops and small restaurants specializing in daiquiris, poke or pina coladas, also the colors of a soft sunset. The palm trees guide you further, and suddenly, the edge of the pathway ends into a stunning boardwalk. Like the ones you see in Tulum, Turks and Cacos and other tropical destinations, pulling you into the drawn out pathway overlooking the shallow water. Every once in a while, a sea turtle will waive or a sting ray grazes the surface, but just for a moment.
I am in awe at the beauty it withholds all by itself.
We finally get to the white sand beachfront and I can hardly wait to let the salt water touch my lips. We throw our towels down, lather in Coola suncare (Fact: Most sunscreen contain the chemical oxybenzone and octinoxate which kill our precious coral reefs. Click here for a list of sunscreen that won’t harm our ocean! Coola is one of these amazing brands! I love them!}, and we head into the warm tropical ocean. It’s so insane to me the change of temperature from the cold Pacific ocean in LA to the water here.. I feel like I’m climbing into a warm bath.
Scattered like seashells across the ocean is the NewMark models crew, sunbathing, snorkeling or enjoying one of the boutiques fresh poke dishes by the water. Everyone is having the time of their lives and you can feel the bright energy from strangers surrounding the waters edge. We all feel so blessed to have an opportunity to experience this side of the world.
The day was swallowed quickly with snorkeling, photoshoots, and the excitement of a first day.
We went to bed lost in the vacation fantasy, not even close to waking up yet.
As I cracked open my tired eyes at 9am, sharp pain squeezed at my shoulders and lower back. The repercussions of Miami Swim Week directly before this were taking a toll on my muscles. Long days, longer nights watching (or walking in) bikini runway shows, and launch parties, brunches and events filled my previous week. We slept very little, laughed a lot and spent an entire week on a incredible fashion bender. But unfortunately after settling down and finally relaxing, all of the pains and aches were surfacing and I needed the SLS Espa Spa badly. Like right now.
A quick phonecall away I booked a mid afternoon 90 minute aromatherapy massage at the SLS Baha Mar ocean view spa, Espa Spa. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my morning getting my mind right before heading back to the LA madness. The walk to the spa itself was an experience, with more vacant spaces at the top of the hotel overlooking the ocean. A garden like area greeted me with signs pointing in the direction of the spa, and I took my time observing and absorbing the unique feeling inside of me.
A small canopy like structure was the pre-pre spa relaxation. The four grey legs held a statuesque overlook point with a dipping triangle to draw out its beauty.
I took a moment here. Breathing in, breathing out. Thanking this moment for drawing all of my raw emotions to the surface. Where I stand in my life, where I am standing currently right now, the opportunities I’ve had in just the past week, the changes I need to make for my future. I feel so grateful in this moment.
Once I was greeted inside the Espa Spa by a local Bahamian, my breath guided me into the locker room where I undressed into the comfiest white robe and slippers, showered in a hot steamy room, drank lemon infused h2o, saunaed, and made my way to the lounge where I closed my eyes and let my mind rest for the first time in weeks.
I was greeted by another Bahamian local who had the voice of a soothing mother. We made our way into the large room with the massage table, and she placed two customized scents on the backs of my hands. I chose the scent on my right hand. It was relaxing, but with a citrus kick that I needed. She told me I chose the “energizing” scent which improves circulation and is great for the start of a day. I lied down, and I was sent to the Gods as she worked out my every knot, ache and pain for 90 minutes. She was amazing with her hands and knew exactly where to stop, push harder or work over once again.
Leaving the spa was hard to do, but the positive energy it left me with stayed. I went back to my hotel room, took a moment and did the same routine as the previous day, but this time wearing a red crop top and blue shorts with a black Fashion Nova bikini underneath.
Down at the beach, everyone was tanning again, so Garrett and I took the moment to go hop on a couple jet skis. We raced them through the choppy water out to the private islands, dreaming of going there next.
Garrett somehow disappeared on his own, so I let the jet ski turn off and quietly glanced below at the water reflecting my image back at me. I rocked from side to side like a cradle, peering underneath to the mysterious ocean. As I turned the motor on, I looked up and storm clouds were circling above me almost as a warning. I hit the gas and quickly jumped off of a boats’ wakes back to shore.
That night, Jules Newmark set up a group dinner at Katsuya to celebrate one of our friends, Celina's birthday. We were served plate after plate of endless sushi, sashimi, edamame, and drinks that poured over the rim. There were so many laughs and jokes cracking I think the entire restaurant was peering at the group of models enjoying their time in the Bahamas, laughing with us. The restaurant was booming and it was just getting started. We celebrated her birthday with a cheers, and sang to her as plates of molten cake, green tea ice cream and other desserts (that obviously I don’t remember because my eyes were on one thing: chocolate) were settled in front of us. I’ve never seen so many girls indulge shamelessly!
Suddenly, we receive in the group text that we have a boat at 9am to visit a… wait for it… you’re going to die….
A PRIVATE ISLAND!
My heart lit up with excitement. What?!?! My first time even seeing a private island and I get a chance to go on one with a group of incredible girls??? My insides were singing. I can’t explain. I was just SO. DAMN. EXCITED. As much as I wanted to celebrate more, the Miami Swim Week consequences were kicking in and I was now getting a sore throat, cough and congestion. My best bet to enjoy the rest of the vaca was to rest up.
I could hardly sleep and practically leaped from my bed when the alarm went off. We’re visiting a private island that nobody is on, besides us! I packed as many jean shorts/bikinis and things into my bag and headed to indulge once again on the buffet. I was less interested in food this time though since my mind was on one thing, and one thing only.
A new experience.
We skipped down to the boat where everyone was waiting and I was informed by Morgan and John (NewMark Models content creators and amazing assistant) that we would be shooting a little preview for ONE protein bars. Nothing beats a day at work on a private island in the middle of the Bahamas. Was I dreaming yet?
We arrived and my eyes were absorbing every green, white, blue, &yellow inch of the island.
Stepping from the small speed boat, we were guided to land on a concrete dock with one other metal boat hanging out on the opposite side. The manager of the island led us humbly through the stone pathway burrowed between wild tropical plants. Each stone, the size of a small car wheel, was imprinted with tiny seashells and outlines of baby crab. We roamed our way through, and there was a small separation in the trees to find a single bright blue crochet hammock overlooking the aquamarine ocean. As my eyes glided back to the path, almost instantaneously a small worn-in island hut pressed into the plants smiled at us, welcoming us with open arms. We placed our things inside of it, climbing rickety wooden stairs to a dreamy oceanfront balcony room with a queen bed in the center of the circle. The girls chatted in anticipation of all the photo opps and scurried back down to tour the rest.
Downstairs locals poured us drinks of choice while everyone immediately scattered like baby spiders in opposite directions. I hop scotched to my right where another small island hut lied patiently. Just beyond it was an opening with sharp jagged rocks, a private pool/lagoon and a wooden handmade bench to relax next to the water. To my left was a series of man made wooden pathways, tiny crab dodging our steps as we made our way to the opposite side of the island. A set of 10 cobblestone stairs ended the walkway and opened up into a large circle private beach. We rushed to the shallow water as if it was our first time, embracing every moment knowing that it would end.
The island tour was over, and now it was time to work! We put on yoga outfits and two other models, Brittney and Lexi, joined me as we hung out as friends and took photos enjoying the moment. From hammock shots, to walking linked arm in arm, to doing yoga on a private island, you can imagine the shots we got.
How lucky we were!
The morning went on as I ran back as quickly as possible to get some content of my own. I could have spent the entire weekend here alone, but this island isn’t suitable to host guests quite yet. So after a couple hours, the crew packed up and headed back to the main island only a short 15 minute boat ride away. As we left the dock, I watched the little island hut get smaller and smaller and my heart was being stretched from my body.
What a moment. What an experience. (And what a woman Jules Newmark is for pulling that off!!! Talk about girl boss)
Back at the SLS, we enjoyed the sun the rest of the day. Snorkeling was so beautiful here, but I did notice the impact we are having on these gentle seas. I watched a couple kids see a turtle and wanted to “catch” it. I was out of earshot or I would have stopped them immediately. They are endangered, but that isn’t the main reason. Our ocean is dying from the lack of education and respect from us humans. PLEASE, please respect wildlife, keeping space between you and them for their safety, comfort and happiness. We can observe these incredible animals, but we will continue to harm them if we aren’t using precautionary techniques to keep them safe. Snorkeling with sea turtles is a beautiful experience, but keep at least 6 feet and move along to a new sea friend if they escape to a cave or other security.
Snorkeling also exposed me to the impact we are having on the ocean in other ways. Trash, plastic straws, and other deadly human things are lost in the water. Lets continue to visit and explore, but be aware! Wear correct sunscreen, pick up after yourself, if you see something is off, pick it up or alert a local. We want to share these experiences with our kids, and it will only be in books or Netflix documentaries if we continue to be uneducated..
The entire NewMARK crew crowded into a cabana at 2pm to vibe with insane music by Sam Blacky, drink bottle service poolside and dance under the Bahamian sun. We indulged in amazing poolside food and danced our way through the last day with Sam’s beats in the background, smiling bigger than we ever have before.
From there, Garrett and I slipped our shoes off and took a walk along the beach. Capturing a couple last photos, building drip castles and making friends with puppies. We napped for an hour and headed to chow on Cleo for dinner, followed by Bond Nightclub to party our last night away.
While everyone had tequila, I was sipping on hot chamomile tea, honey and lemon at dinner to sooth my hoarse throat.
Yes, I realize I get sick almost every trip! Still trying to figure that out but thats another story…
Sober as can be, we shuffled our way through the hotel lobby, Vegas like casino, restaurants and down a set of escalators to a side of the resort I hadn’t seen yet. The bouncer gave us full treatment, escorting us inside while the DJ boomed on the overhead “Welcome NewMARK Models from Los Angeles!” as we settled behind the DJ booth with bottles, lights and a huge neon sign with NewMARKs name. Everyone was at an ultimate high, and the iconic Bahamas trip was coming to an end with each passing hour. I watched jealously as the girls did shots, and we had a blast before heading back to the comfort of bed, ending the trip with a bang.
After this trip, I knew it was meant to be. I was meant to go to my first Miami Swim Week to experience a whole other side of the industry that I hadn’t seen yet, and to follow it with a group of women that inspire, motivate and support me in the vacation of a lifetime. The trip was a blur and I didn’t want it to end! I am so grateful for NewMARK bringing me along on so many “firsts” and visiting the 7 month old baby of SLS Baha Mar in the Bahamas. I know this was the first, but certainly not the last.
I will be dreaming of the connections I built, lessons I learned, feelings I felt and the gratitude of what my lifestyle had led to. I remember years ago dreaming of traveling, experiencing new things, making new friends and capturing it all, and here I am, doing exactly that with the help of an unstoppable team.
As I fly home, I’m reflecting on the privilege I have and how I wish to use it for the better. I want to personally grow and share these experiences to influence, inspire and motivate others to go out on a limb. I want to live more dreamlike adventures, and I want to do it with more influential, inspiring and incredible people who push me to be my absolute best. I love what I have been exposed to, and I only want the best, to be the best, and wish for the best. NewMark crew, you are my soul sisters! Thank you for showing me the way YOU roll, and leaving such strong impression on my heart. You are incredible people, and I hope to be as wonderful as you one day!