Atlantis: Paradise Found for the Family
I clutched onto the handles of the inner tube as I twisted through the dark chute. I gasped as a curtain of water showered me before I burst breathless into a brightly lit tunnel and slowed to a serene float. My son on an inner tube in front of me pointed above our heads and squealed with delight. A giant shark was circling. We were moving through the shark aquarium. I laughed, too, as I could not help but be amazed. We were in Atlantis, the lost city found in the Bahamas, and each day was full of moments of wonder just like this one.
Atlantis is a behemoth resort on Paradise Island that feels as big as a city, and it takes hours to enjoy and explore. It is clear from the first moment you enter the massive front lobby of the Royal Towers with its huge columns and painted ceiling that you are about to embark on an adventure in a mysterious and luxurious world. Where else can you take a leap of faith by plummeting down the giant waterslide of that same name into a frothy pool located just beneath a massive tank of sharks? Where else can you explore an archeological dig to uncover the ruins of lost buildings now inhabited by giant stingrays and tropical fish? Amenities to suit every member of the family abound in these lavish accommodations: private beaches, casinos, sports facilities, Discovery Channel Camp and water activities galore.
Of course, you are quick to also discover that the ancient people of Atlantis built a society driven by commerce. Only true capitalists would charge $85 for a basic T-shirt or $8 for a grilled cheese sandwich. The facilities and marine natives found in Atlantis are sure to delight any visitor, but the luxury resort caters to high-income families, so be sure to bring a heavy wallet. You’ll need one.
While many of the amenities available at Atlantis are open for guests to use at will, many activities come with extra charges attached. Kayaking in the lagoon? Sure, for $25 a half hour. Tennis anyone? No problem, but it will cost you $50 in equipment rental fees and court use charges. Well-appointed spa? Absolutely. Make an appointment and bring your VISA. Shopping? Wonderful if you can afford Gucci.
If you take a trip over the bridge into nearby Nassau, you will find the amount of money everything costs on Paradise Island is not typical of the Bahamas. Neither is the resort of Atlantis. You need never leave this place to have a fabulous time on your vacation. Theater and restaurants and sailboats are all readily had without taking a step away from the resort. This is what your $200+ room rate is buying. The one bad thing that is typical of Atlantis as well as many other Caribbean locations, however, is the service. Things move slowly in Bahamas time, and it does not matter how much you pay for your suite. You will encounter a staff that moves to the slow tempo of the palm trees swaying in the breeze, not a hurricane rush of assistance to cater to your needs.
Atlantis is also not an intimate setting. One morning I decided to go running through the maze of sidewalks that span the resort, and I discovered new buildings and aquariums I had not even realized existed. In a way this added to my adventure; in a different way, these constant discoveries were overwhelming. After all, how many other places have you stayed where you need to get a map with your room key?
Whether or not the size of Atlantis will appeal to you will solely depend upon what you are looking for in your accommodations. If you desire first class facilities with tons of activities, Atlantis is one of the best resorts in the world. If you have children, you will find the sometimes “amusement-park” atmosphere especially appealing. Our seven-year-old son could not get enough of the place! He especially loved digging for buried treasure in Discovery Channel Camp, exploring the aquariums in the underground “Dig,” and building sandcastles on the white sand beaches.
If you want a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of real life, however, visiting Atlantis would be similar to taking a cab to Times Square in New York City. There is nothing quiet about it! Activity of one kind or another is found in the lavish resort at every hour, right up to the Junkanoo (a Bahamian carnival/parade with colorfully dressed revelers similar to those found in Mardi Gras) that dances through the many buildings each evening. But, then, who takes the kids along when the goal of the vacation is to find silence?
The last morning we were in Atlantis, our son hit the water slides for one last time after breakfast. My husband and I sat in lounge chairs at the pool soaking up our last bit of Caribbean sun. I contemplated getting my hair braided in beads at one of the booths on the beach so that I could take more of the tropics home with me. Looking at the pink tips of our noses, feeling the contentment in our bodies born of leisure activity, I felt sorry we were about to leave such a fantastic playground on a plane bound for home. After all, Atlantis had proven to be paradise found for the whole family. —By Barbara Lane
www.atlantis.com or 888-528-7155