By Tali Jaffe
Photography by Seth Browarnik
“I came to Eleuthera 18 years ago, and I just fell in love with it, ” says Sidney D. Torres IV. “But I never thought I would want to open a business here—let alone a hotel business.” In fact, when he purchased The Cove, he intended for it to be his private home. “But the more time I spent here, the more I realized it’s too special to keep to myself. I had to share it with other people.”
As The Cove approaches its one-year anniversary as the island’s prized jewel, it’s clear there is a growing audience for the property’s understated approach to luxury, where the emphasis is on the natural environment above all else. Particularly at a time when other developments in the Bahamas take on mammoth scale—the Baha Mar being the most obvious example—The Cove is carefully eking out a place in a niche market of barefoot luxury, akin to The Moorings or Little Palm Island in the Keys.
“It’s such a contrast when you come through the neighborhoods surrounding the hotel,” Torres explains. “You wouldn’t expect to come upon a five-star resort here, and that’s part of what I like about it. It’s totally unassuming.”
Unassuming it may be, there’s still a serious wow factor upon entering the resort. Through The Cove’s entrance gate and up the hill—and this is a hilly island, more like St. Barth than any Bahamian island—an expanse of plush grass is punctuated by so many palm and gum elemi trees, many with hammocks slung between their curved trunks. “We must have planted more than 600 palm trees here,” Torres takes pride in pointing out.
On either side of the grove is a collection of hotel rooms—villas, bungalows and a two-story building, aptly named The Sanctuary. The main building houses the check-in, shop, bar, two restaurants and a sushi bar, helmed by chef Johnny, who slices up hamachi and tuna along with Bahamian specialties, like baked conch.
Nods to local Bahamian flavors and ingredients echo Torres’ efforts to put the emphasis on the landscape. “Life in Eleuthera is simple,” he says, “and then when you come to The Cove you have simplicity—but with all of the amenities of course. Unlike Barbados or St. Thomas, with their massive hotels, you get to really feel the island here. It’s not touristy; It’s real.”
When Torres, a 38-year-old entrepreneur with roots in New Orleans, purchased The Cove, it had fallen into disrepair over the years before finally coming up for sale in 2012: “There were only six villas here when I bought it. I was going to tear those down and just keep the main structure for my house, but I ended up building a three-bedroom villa on the far side of the property.” After getting a “feel for the property” with that first villa in place, Torres renovated the others in the same fashion as the first. “I wanted to keep the design very clean and simple so the focus is on the landscape: the grass, the water and the beach,” he adds.
Torres reopened the property last March, in just eight months, with a few recent additions made, like the Spa Serene, which opened in December. Now in the midst of his first real season, he’s feeling excited. “We were booked solid for the holidays,” he says, almost surprised. “I just want to see it do well and have the right people find it and continue to come back.”
Originally appeared in the Premiere 2014 issue.