Saturday was an eventful day. My daughter on her birthday fed baby sharks and sting rays, swam and kissed and cuddled a dolphin, ate her way through an ice-cream mountain and then when fast asleep around 10pm dreaming of I would hope dolphins but probably ice-cream, she was awoken by a huge unannounced firework display a touch down the beach on Paradise Island from where we were staying.
Sleepy eyed she smiled and shuddered in turn at every splash of colour and large bang. It was a day to remember.
Two hours later just as we were about to call it a night after purposely watching again James Bond’s Casino Royale, because the hotel we were staying in plays a starring role, the sound of an alarm thundered around our room. This was followed by a recorded message that there was an incident that was being investigated but there was no need for alarm and to wait for further instructions.
Our daughter was awake again but was soon back to sleep. I opened the door of the hotel and peered into the night. Nothing going on.
Half hour later the alarm burst into life again with the same instructions. This time I was more weary and went to investigate. I opened the door to a worried looking staff member scurrying past me. I looked up and two doors down the roof was ablaze.
I rushed back into the room to get the other half and little ‘un out. This part of the hotel was just two stories, a beautiful colonial building. The wind was blowing in the other direction and I knew I had time to pick up some valuable belongings which I did before being escorted out of the room and to the lobby.
Here we met other families like us in their night clothes startled alongside couples that had obviously been out for dinner and, shall we say, were a little less aware of their faculties!
A wonderfully kind housekeeper called Keva whisked us off to an empty room far from the fire and told us we could sleep there. I went back to watch the strong winds take hold of the flames as other guests not as lucky as us waited to see if they could get allocated rooms whilst the Bahamas Fire Brigade got themselves a little slowly into action.
Firemen took about an hour to contain the fire but they were dousing a lot of water onto the building and as I walked back to join the family around 1.30am I knew that water and smoke would be the biggest threat to our stuff which included all our clothes and items such as cameras and our daughter’s birthday presents.
The morning came and we were lucky. There was a lot of water on the room floor, but our belongings that were left on the floor had been moved higher by caring firemen and a good wash will get rid of the smoky smell of our clothes. The rooms next to ours were pretty damaged by fire and water.
It was clear to me that the fireworks had been the cause of the fire, although the manager was keeping his counsel when I asked him. At the time I thought that the boat from where the fireworks were discharged was far too close to the beach and the wind was very strong. I saw a number of embers land on the grass in front of the hotel rooms and numerous flying cinders sent those watching skipping away from them as they watched the sky.
We had an assorted experience at the One&Only Ocean Club. The property is beautiful, although the original buildings are showing a little sign of age, but aren’t we all. The hotel sits on Paradise Island’s beachfront a couple of miles down from the hectic Atlantis and the 35 lush acres include gardens inspired by Versailles.
Despite being upgraded to two massive suites, which was far more space than we needed, I wasn’t enamoured with the service the first couple of days, but then the hotel management reacted exceptionally well during and after the fire, and a couple of members of staff went well beyond the call of duty. However when we checked out we were overcharged massively for our room with no account of what we had already paid as a deposit being taken nor the comping by them of our room the night of the fire.
Instead of this just ‘being taken care off’, I was met by jobsworthy indifference when I took the front desk to task on the bill, which has left a sour taste and means that this ‘dispute’ still has to be resolved, which is never painless.
Importantly of course we are all fine, although my daughter was upset about staying at the hotel after the fire and I hope that that will not be her overriding memory of what was a fantastic day and a very enjoyable if eventful mini holiday.