As I stepped off the plane, my hair went into an automatic tizzy. The humid air of the Grand Bahama Island city of Freeport turned my usually straight tresses into a mess of frizz. More worrisome than my hair were the hurricane-like conditions in which I found myself. Drops of rain pelted my face and huge gusts of wind knocked me over as I waited for a taxi.
Thankfully, I was too enamored by the fact that my mom and I were in the Bahamas to worry over my hair or the weather. Even if it rained the whole weekend, I promised myself I was going to relax and have a good time.
As my cab pulled up to the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach Resort, I knew I could make good on this vow. The tropical storm breezes blew through the open-air lobby as friendly, multilingual employees found our reservation, checked us in and showed us our room. Even in the crummy weather, the all-inclusive resort was a mecca of leisure and comfort.
An all-inclusive, as it turns out, is just like camp, but for adults or families. I learned from this getaway that the all-inclusive plan is the way to vacation. Knowing that you won't have to worry about your food, drinks, entertainment and activities all but induces instant relaxation.
At the resort, the all-inclusive plan covers an all-you-can-eat buffet, limitless drinks, snack stations and two on-site, a la carte restaurants. Bamboo is an upscale Asian eatery and La Trattoria features an Italian-themed menu. Going hungry isn't an option here. Even after the bar shuts down and the restaurants close, the all-night pizza buffet is open until 5 a.m. You know, just in case.
Being bored was also not on the itinerary. Live entertainment, including talent shows, musicals and a casino night, are scheduled nightly. Throughout the day, various contests, dancing lessons and sporting classes are offered at scheduled time intervals.
The wide range of available activities at the resort are perfect for busy-body vacationers, who can't lounge for long without getting bored. The resort offers a bevy of land and water activities, from archery and yoga lessons to kayaking to windsurfing. Bear in mind that non-motorized sports are free, while activities like banana boat rides, jet skiing and snorkeling are available at additional costs.
After the tropical storm from day one had passed, the weather for the rest of the trip shaped up swimmingly. Temperatures stayed in the high 80s, the skies opened to let the sun shine through and a cool, ocean breeze swept away the humidity. My hair, much like the rest of me, finally relaxed.
The white sand of Freeport and the Grand Bahamas beckoned to be laid upon, and the breathtakingly blue water practically screamed "Come in." Initially, I tried lying out on the beach. But I quickly turned flaming red, realized I was completely sunburnt, and decided to spend my remaining few days doing things other than fry in the sun.
After trying my hand at archery, dipping into water polo, taking a few yoga lessons by the pool and making one shameful attempt at windsurfing - I didn't even make it from the on-sand lesson into the water - I opted to pay a little extra and try out a snorkeling excursion.
Swimming above a coral reef, surrounded by schools of silvery and rainbow-colored fish, I knew this 90-minute adventure was well worth the extra funds. In fact, it was the highlight of the vacation. Whether you're skimming the surface or diving deeper for a closer look, the trip provides a unique view of the island. Tucked into the warmth of the tropical water, where it is just you and the ocean, it's hard to have anything but true appreciation for the marvel of Mother Nature.
For a good view of the island above water, I left the resort to take a horseback riding tour with Pine Tree Stables. The two-hour journey is an ideal way to take in the entire landscape and terrain of the island. Riders travel through dry lands, under a lush canopy of forests and, finally, along the beach.
The horseback tour wasn't quite the galloping-on-the-sand-atop-a-white-stallion experience I had in mind, but the slow trot and array of sights were informative and fun nonetheless.
With a flight from Atlanta to Freeport clocking in at less than two hours, the location is ideal for souls seeking a quick getaway packed with relaxation and sunny days - barring the occasional tropical storm. (But then, I've always wanted to be in hurricane.)
Granted, Fortuna Beach was lovely, but it wasn't the equivalent of Atlantis, the high-end all-inclusive resort in Nassau, Bahamas. Rooms featured moderate amenities to make the stay comfortable, but not luxurious. The food is satisfying but not elaborate. The drinks are frozen and fruity, but served in small, ho-hum plastic cups.
While the details may be lacking at this all-inclusive resort, the reasonable price and abundance of convenience more than make up for that.
As my plane ascended and we made the easy trek back to Atlanta, I realized that I was completely relaxed and, for once, didn't need a vacation from my vacation.
I did, however, need some aloe, but I figured a simple sunburn was a small price to pay to the vacation gods.
•For more information on Freeport, visit www.thebahamasguide.com/islands/grandbahama.
•For more information on Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach resort, visit www.wyndham.com.
•For more information on Pine Tree Stables, visit www.pinetree-stables.com.