When I learned my team was taking off the week of July 4, I immediately started brainstorming possible mini-vacation options. Fortunately, the Bahamas was a cheap flight – and an easy hotel points redemption for the Atlantis. I’ll admit, the ‘resort’ vacation is something new to me – especially an inclusive resort where nearly everything is self-contained and there is such limited interaction with locals.
The resort itself is beautiful, with many pools, activities and private beaches. It also has many restaurants, bars, and two ‘lazy river’ style water parks. In addition, it’s intended to act as an aquarium of sorts for local wildlife / fish – which truly was the coolest part to me. This blog post will mostly be a review of the Atlantis, as we primarily stayed on site. I will say, this is not something I’d like to repeat or something I’d recommend – in fact, if I ever return to the Bahamas, I’d prefer to find a more ‘local’ way of seeing the country. However, I’ll work with the experience we had.
Our first day, it rained relatively hard – we stayed inside the resort, visiting many of the aqua-life exhibits and going to the casino (my first time gambling outside of a college dorm room poker game; I tried roulette and promptly enjoyed losing $30 before calling it quits). For dinner, we tried the ‘Fish’ restaurant, and enjoyed conch salad and a variety of perfectly cooked local fish.
Over the next two days, we enjoyed the water parks – my first time on both a ‘lazy’ and ‘rapid’ river! I enjoyed it – almost as much as I enjoyed just sitting by the pool enjoying a ridiculous chick-lit novel. The beach was also beautiful – the Caribbean really can’t deliver a bad view.
We tried the steakhouse for dinner, having the Caribbean lobster as well and a delicious Caribbean bread pudding. We also tried a delicious Caribbean stew – it almost tasted like a Caribbean gumbo!
Our final day, we wanted to try the local conch shack – but found that instead of the ‘off-site’ conch stand, we ended up at the fancier one (we ended up driving by the ‘local’ version as we drove back to the airport from the resort). I would have loved to explore downtown Nassau – our short travels from the airport to the resort and back piqued my interest, but we simply didn’t allocate our time well enough to do both an ‘on-resort’ and ‘off-resort’ vacation, as much as I itched to explore more.
Overall, I have a couple recommendations for folks looking to enjoy the Atlantis, Bahamas, since its such a cultural icon and clearly a prominent resort:
- The hotel is a series of ‘towers’, each of which has their own ‘access’ to various items at the hotel. Any tower will give you access to the general waterpark / pool / aquarium areas, as well as the gym and restaurants. However, you will have to walk or take a shuttle between the different towers (spread quite far apart) to enjoy those amenities.
- If you’re interested in better ‘beach / pool’ food, make sure that you are staying at the Cove – we didn’t want to redeem the ~30k extra points / day with the Marriott rewards program, since we thought all amenities were included with our cheap Coral reservation. However, we didn’t have access to the premium pools or the over-21 dining areas (e.g., where you can hang with other adults / grab in-pool drinks) which was a bit disappointing as we usually enjoy the child-free amenities.
- The food outside of the main restaurants is a joke for the cost – we spent nearly $45 (a typical upscale brunch cost in NYC, for reference) on crappy salads / drinks at one of the outdoor cafes on our first day; for slightly more, we enjoyed a meal at Fish, one of the upscale restaurants.
- Try to sign up for daily activities early – there were a couple fun-sounding activities (e.g., painting to Abba, etc.) which were ‘full’ by the time we considered them. Free activities, like kid’s karaoke hour, were cute to watch in the lobby of the Coral tower before dinner each evening.
- Go off the resort for souvenirs – one of our few ventures into the ‘actual’ Bahamas led us to a warehouse with women selling beautiful wares; we purchased a few small souvenirs but ended up buying most of them in the airport (unfortunately).
- The Bahamas also just instituted a VAT for all gifts / purchases, which we were told could be redeemed on Global Blue for a refund as with other countries – however, as of now, we can’t submit without a stamp from the Bahamas tax authority – hopefully it will become more obvious once it has been in place longer!