The Grand Dame of Nassau Returns: British Colonial Set To Make Winter Debut
Bahamas landmark hotel set to unveil a top-to-bottom transformation with refined, island-inspired flair and luxury touches
NASSAU, THE BAHAMAS (Nov. 2023) – British Colonial, an iconic Nassau hotel steeped in more than 100 years of local history, will reopen this winter, showcasing a highly anticipated redesign inclusive of its guest rooms, public spaces, amenities, and onsite programs.
A Rich History
The 288-key property has roots dating back to the late 19th century when Henry Flagler, a wealthy oil magnate, hotel developer and pioneer of Florida's east coast railway, negotiated a contract with Bahamian Governor William Haynes Smith to build a hotel on the site of the old Fort Nassau, overlooking the harbor. The original wood-constructed Hotel Colonial opened its doors in 1900, joining Flagler's growing collection of luxurious resort properties, including the famous Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach. With 400 opulent suites, the property was a fitting addition to Flagler’s portfolio, designed for affluent tourists who could afford to spend winters in the Caribbean. As a result of the absence of reliable transportation to The Bahamas and wartime restrictions, the hotel never flourished. It was destroyed by fire on March 31, 1922.
The Bahamas Government purchased the property from Flagler and contracted Munson Steamship Line to build ‘The New Colonial Hotel’ reopening the property in 1923 with instant success. In the 1930’s it was sold to Sir Harry Oakes, a wealthy Canadian businessman and developer who built the first airport and golf course in Nassau. Over the course of the more than four decades to follow, the hotel operated under several different major hospitality brands including Sheraton, Best Western, and most recently, Hilton Hotels. In 2014, it was purchased by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation, which has invested more than $50 million in its modernization. After a 22-month closure, the property will reopen as an independently operated boutique hotel. Aimbridge Hospitality, a leading, global hospitality management company and the world’s largest third-party operator, will oversee the hotel’s reopening. The reinvented British Colonial will showcase a charming and sophisticated revival deeply rooted in Caribbean culture where travelers can experience Nassau authentically and in style.
Location & Accessibility
A relaxed, yet upscale enclave interwoven with captivating cultural elements, British Colonial is reinvigorating downtown Nassau, putting its guests right at the center of the action with an unparalleled level of service and hospitality. The hotel’s premier oceanfront location is marked by lush grounds and tropical gardens dotted with swaying palms. Situated on Bay Street, downtown Nassau’s most central and lively shopping and dining district, it’s a prime spot for people-watching and experiencing traditional events such as The Bahamas’ annual Junkanoo parade. The property’s proximity to major island landmarks and attractions such as the Nassau Cruise Port, famed straw market, and beaches makes it an idyllic home base for business and leisure travelers alike.
Design & Decor
Transporting travelers to a bygone era, vibrant examples of Colonial Revival architecture and decor can be spotted throughout the hotel; towering chandeliers, original crown moldings, and colorful murals depicting scenes from Bahamian history complement its rich jewel-tone color palette, intricate tile work, and palatial touches. Airy, whitewashed public spaces with vaulted ceilings designed to envelop guests in ocean breezes are complemented by elaborate woodwork, bold geometric patterns, and vivid botanical prints that bring a sense of richness. Tall potted plants and lush landscaping highlight the surrounding nature while rattan accents juxtaposed with dark mahogany furnishings pay tribute to The Bahamas past and present for a truly elegant and timeless aesthetic.
Rooms & Suites
288 newly redesigned rooms include 25 signature suites occupying seven floors of the building featuring luxurious marble bathrooms, 50” flat-screen televisions, and desks designed for corporate and business travelers looking to work remotely with ease. Highlights include the spacious Prime Minister Suite and One-Bedroom Suites with adjoining parlors. Additional options include City View, Garden View, Oceanview, and Premium Oceanview rooms - though with 21 different layouts due to the building’s unique design, there are very few rooms alike. Detailed wallpaper designs rotate between tropical palms, opaque gardenscapes, and historical renderings. Dark wood cabinetry and bold, geometric tiling that offer a nod to the roaring twenties are softly juxtaposed by tropical prints and deep garden green, ocean blue, and coral hues emblematic of The Bahamas’ nature.
Food & Beverage
British Colonial will feature seven food & beverage outlets that include The Mahogany Club, the hotel’s flagship fine dining restaurant, which is a nod to the regal supper clubs of the early 20th century; Woodes Rogers Tavern, a signature martini bar featuring live music and entertainment; Sakana Noodle & Sushi Bar, featuring fresh local seafood with Pan-Asian influences; The Red Pearle Grille poolside bar & grill; Burn Cigar Bar with outdoor patio seating; British Colonial Trading Company, a cafe that serves fresh coffee and lighter fare; and the Tamarind Marketplace, which offers a full buffet breakfast.
Amenities & Services
The property’s tranquil beachfront location lends itself to laidback poolside afternoons; two beach-facing freshwater outdoor swimming pools mirror each other and overlook a 300-foot private white-sand beach, offering a shallow area with floating loungers and private cabanas in addition to a deeper plunge pool. Guests can also browse the Heritage Shoppe, which features locally curated sundries and souvenirs, and relax with perks like valet parking and concierge service.
Meetings & Events
The hotel will feature more than 18,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, accommodating groups of up to 800 guests for corporate and social events. Three outside areas surrounded by lush greenery with sweeping ocean views are complemented by 13 indoor meeting rooms named after prominent figures in Bahamian history. Exceptional pre-function and breakout spaces include airy breezeways with floor-to-ceiling glass windows that invite the local nature inside, the uniquely designed Governor’s Club, which offers an idyllic spot for more intimate private events, and the Churchill Boardroom, which is adorned with painted murals that depict scenes from Nassau’s Colonial era. Second-level event spaces such as the Windsor Ballroom and Queen Elizabeth Ballroom offer a regal aesthetic and have been designed for destination weddings and larger upscale events.
About British Colonial Nassau
The long-awaited rebirth of The Bahamas’ most storied and iconic hotel, British Colonial marks the renaissance of downtown Nassau and a highly anticipated revival of the local area. Steeped in 100+ years of rich history, the boutique property will be immaculately restored to feature 288 guest rooms and suites with original artwork and early 20th century design touches, seven food & beverage outlets including a sultry supper club that throws it back to a bygone era, two freshwater oceanfront pools that overlook a 300-foot private beach, lush tropical gardens, and spa. Not to mention, a prime location on Bay Street that’s just steps from Nassau’s colorful cruise port, famed straw market, beaches, and more. The property expertly blends an upscale and sophisticated ambiance infused with key aspects of Bahamian culture, catering to both leisure and business travelers with a uniquely varied room product and approachable price point while paying tribute to its local surroundings and The Bahamas’ past and present.