A Bahamas Mancation—Well, Sort Of

Female writer embarks on a manly travel excursion

I didn’t cut my cigar, a huge faux pas, particularly since I’m trying out a rugged, adventurous vacation designed for men—a mancation, if you will—at the Graycliff Hotel (www.graycliff.com) in Nassau, Bahamas. At Graycliff’s Humidor Restaurant, I’ve just eaten a Brazilian style, macho, meat-filled feast—followed by a cigar I made myself at the Graycliff Cigar Co. There, my Cuban-born instructor taught me how to roll tobacco leaves into a near-perfect cylinder. But he left out the part about cutting the tip, hence the loud sucking noises that assaulted my tablemates.

On this holiday I intended to experience activities that appeal to the boys—to go wrestle sharks or something (I did once swim with them—and escaped unscathed—with Stuart Cove Divers, also in the Bahamas).

But I digress. Graycliff is a good place to vacation—roughing it or not. On a hill overlooking the cruise ships in Nassau Harbor, the 260-year-old British colonial building that was once home to a pirate today boasts a pretty pink exterior and an interior that is bold Caribbean classic with antique furnishings and eclectic art.

Enrico Gazaroli, Graycliff’s owner and CEO of the cigar company, is a big personality with a taste for fine dining and a cellar stocked with fine wines. Exotic floral arrangements, a gift shop, lush tropical gardens, and the warm, friendly presence of Gazaroli’s wife, Anna Maria, add to the resort’s allure.

A true measure of my endurance was the deep-sea fishing excursion I went on during a tropical depression. Fortified with Dramamine, I steadied my position and focused on the outline of the nearby Atlantis resort as the waves seemed to pitch the property up and down on the horizon.

“Sure you want to go out further?” the captain calls as his mate hooks sardines as bait. Would men balk at seven-foot Atlantic waves for the sake of landing “the big one” (for us thus far, it’s a one-pound yellowtail)? Well, real men eat quiche, and adventurous women hurl.

The next day, I am disappointed that inclement weather cancels our America’s Cup Sailing Experience—an activity that imitates the world-famous yacht race with a sail around Paradise Island.

Still looking for adventure after a huge lunch of mako shark at Café Matisse, I phone my local friend, Leslie Vanderpool, for some tips. As the founder and director of the Bahamas International Film Festival, scheduled Dec. 6-13, she’s attracted celebrity A-listers such as Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery to the island. Busy with the event details, she nonetheless takes a break and escorts me on a tour of where the boys are. Our first stop is the sumptuous, woodsy Ristorante Luciano, a comfortable and expansive venue that serves up hearty Tuscan cuisine with a Bahamian twist and after-dinner liqueurs.

“Want to see where the ex-pats hang?” she asks as we head for the Green Parrot, a bar and grill. Indeed, despite the great harborside views, it’s a bit too boy’s club for me.

Not so at Aura, Atlantis resort’s sparkling new club complete with sunken dance floor and VIP bottle service. On

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