There’s vacation, and then there’s VACATION. Full stop. All caps. Superlative in every conceivable way. This summer, the Sea Ray Owner’s Club hosted a getaway that was, by all counts, the capitalized kind: BahamaFest 2012.
This four-day, three-night extravaganza was held in June at the world-famous Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island, Bahamas. As each colorful photo and exuberant testimonial would affirm, the locale delivered on its promise. Paradise Island is an unparalleled tropical backdrop, and the Atlantis is a true vacation-lover’s playground—a place where you can swim with dolphins in the morning, rocket down giant water slides in the afternoon, sneak in a pre-dinner nap in a palm tree-strung hammock, and dance the night away in posh club surroundings. The resort specializes in 100 percent boredom-free relaxation. Sea Ray upped the ante even further by hosting multiple VIP events throughout the trip, complete with rollicking steel drums, savory Caribbean hors d’oeuvres and free-flowing beverages.
And consider this: BahamaFest took shape largely at the guidance of Sea Ray owners themselves.
Incorporating feedback from the 200,000-member-strong Owners Club, Sea Ray partnered with Atlantis and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism to make this a truly world-class event, start to finish. “We actually developed a large focus group of our owners that helped us select the location and venue, pick a date and work through the menus,” explains Chandler Greene, executive director of the Owners Club. “We expect this inaugural trip to grow into one of the largest annual events held in the Bahamas.”
The excursion also featured Sea Ray’s own private island (for the day, anyway). Nassau’s Rose Island was transformed for an exclusive Sea Ray party, replete with snorkeling, kayaking, beach games, a barbeque lunch spread and premium open bar. Acres of pristine white beach encouraged kids of all ages to let loose and romp free. The only requisite bring-along items? Towels, swimsuits and sunscreen, naturally. Entertainment came courtesy of two fire-wielding Bahamian dancers. (“Incredible to watch!” described one guest.)
Perhaps the only thing better than attending BahamaFest, then, would be winning the trip for free. Thomas and Candice Sorensen of Centerfield, Utah, did just that. “We’d been working with Sea Ray on a part for our 240 Sundeck when they entered us in the Facebook contest,” Thomas recounts. “It was one of those things where you think, there’s not a chance in the world I’m going to win—and, lo and behold, we did! Next thing you know we’re making travel plans.”
The timing was perfect, too—Thomas and Candice’s twentieth wedding anniversary happened to fall within days of the trip. They flew from Salt Lake City to the Bahamas and proceeded to savor every second. “We couldn’t have been treated any better by the Sea Ray staff,” Thomas says. “They took perfect care of us.”
Atlantis’s many thrills were enough to make the Sorensons’ kids green with good-natured envy. Back at home with school obligations, the siblings were regaled with stories from their suddenly-wild parents. “We’re definitely going to have to bring them next time,” Thomas says. “Who would’ve thought, this crazy water park out in the middle of the ocean? Unbelievable. We sent the kids pictures from our phone of mom and dad flying off the waterfall into the shark tank. It really was pretty cool.”
A large contingent of MarineMax customers cruised down from Florida for the gathering, as MarineMax had organized a concurrent Rendezvous to encourage attendance among the can’t-bear-to-part-with-my-Sea-Ray set. Seeing the fleet show up at Atlantis was its own sight to behold. “Some of those yachts coming down from the Miami area—holy cow!” Thomas says. “What a way to travel.”
And though the Sorensons, for their part, are content with the many local lakes and reservoirs near their home, they’ve officially been bitten by the SROC bug. “I would love to go to another Sea Ray event,” Thomas says. “They’re a fantastic group of people, and they really know how to play host.”