It always surprises me what a difference a few miles can make. West End, on Grand Bahama Island, a mere 50 miles from Palm Beach, Florida, feels worlds away. The lights of south Florida are still visible on the horizon, but your heartbeat slows the moment the boat pulls into the inlet on West End.
Nandana, a newly constructed private villa in this sleepy little community, takes that worlds-away feeling to new heights. Nandana means "paradise" in Sanskrit, and that description pretty much hits the mark. When you first lay eyes on the compound, it immediately stands out by not standing out, if that makes sense. While many of the local homes prefer a coat of bright green, vibrant blue or pastel purple, Nandana's main building and bungalows are tucked back from the road, surrounded by heaving palm trees. The builders left the natural wood untarnished, and the deep, earthy tones flow into the landscape rather than pop out like the colors of the nearby homes. When you walk up the drive, you feel as if you could be looking at an Asian beach house somewhere on the shores of Burma.
The owners went to great lengths in constructing the main house and guest homes, which all feature high rooflines, exquisite teak work and a view of the open ocean from nearly every room. All of the walls and ceilings are covered in teak planking - not veneer, the real deal. The teak came straight from India to the Bahamas in whole-log shipments. Then, the builders in the Bahamas set up a mill where they handcrafted each plank.
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The main house features a luxurious kitchen (with two professional chefs), a main dining area, a sitting area and an incredible view of the ocean over the infinity pool. I felt like the richest man in the world as I put back a few Kaliks after a long day on the water and watched the sun dip into the ocean. The rooms are all self-contained units with great views, private baths and outdoor showers. I, however, chose to stay in the tent on the canal side of the property, but calling this structure a tent is sort of like calling St. Peter's Basilica a church. This tent is not something you'd pitch in the woods. It's more of an upscale safari model with 20-foot ceilings, a king-size bed, a living room, an office, a full shower and air conditioning. I slept with the window flaps open, however, listening to the ocean and the birds. The ocean breeze kept the room at a perfect temperature.