Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre is cementing its place as one of The Bahamas’ top tourist attractions, snagging a “Hall of Fame” honor from the world’s largest travel website, TripAdvisor.
To qualify for the recognition, businesses must earn a Certificate of Excellence every year for the past five years. This is the second time in a decade Ardastra has achieved such distinction.
“Overall, we’ve had a solid ten years of achievement in the areas of customer service, quality product, education and tourism,” noted Katherine Solomon, Ardastra’s director.
“We’ve been a fixture on the tourism stage since 1937. We must be doing something right. Our team at Ardastra sees itself as we all should, we are all tourism ambassadors.”
Ardastra’s very name encapsulates its goal to deliver a first-rate experience. Taken from the Latin words ‘ardua’ and ‘astra,’ it literally means to “strive for the stars.”
To become a part of Ardastra’s team, staff must to buy into that philosophy.
“When you have people who are really passionate about what they are doing that shines through with our guests. The guests’ experience is enhanced because they see how much our staff loves the animals which gets them excited as well. They leave with not only a great impression but an understanding of what it is that we do,” said Bonnie Young, Ardastra’s animal curator.
Aside from its staff, the lush gardens stand out for the close encounters to be had with its lorry birds, peafowls, parrots and the Caribbean flamingo.
With beauty and grace the national bird of The Bahamas marches three times a day. An encounter not to be missed, it has catapulted the small zoo onto the world stage. Guests arrive to visit with the flamingos and stay for the 220-240 animals, representing 50 species, residing at the four-acre facility.
Ardastra’s high standards in animal care garners glowing reviews from TripAdvisor users impressed with its “lovely animals” and “very friendly staff.”
Sharing their opinions on the go-to resource for travel, members of TripAdvisor post travel and in-destination advice and comments before, during and after a trip. The world’s largest travel platform, says it helps 490 million travelers each month “make every trip their best.”
On TripAdvisor, past visitors to Ardastra have hailed it as “the highlight of our visit,” highly recommending it for its “natural feeling” in addition to its environmentally friendly practices and recycling initiative.
“The zoo and gardens are lovely, with many specimens of plants and an easy to navigate arrangement of walkways integrating the foliage with the animal exhibits which, in addition to flamingos and parrots, also include monkeys, reptiles, cats, turtles, goats…there’s something for everyone to enjoy,” one cruise ship passenger posted in April.
“The zoo and gardens staff was wonderful, happy to answer questions and provide information about the zoo exhibits. It was a lovely visit, one of my highlights of our Nassau stop aboard ship.”
Senior dock advisor Leola Mackey is one of Ardastra’s team members tasked with transporting cruise ship passengers to and from the tour. Her groups could range in size from six to 60 tourists brimming with questions about life in The Bahamas, in general, and specifics about their tour.
“We are one of the first Bahamians they meet once they come off the ship,” she said. “We’re all about making it a great experience for them and making sure they enjoy their time spent here.”