Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
One of the largest, most opulent resorts in the world, with every comfort and amenity imaginable (and it all costs extra)
In truth, there are two Atlantis, Paradise Islands. There's the one that you see in the movies (most recently in Casino Royale and Duplicity) and People magazine, where celebrities make appearances to gamble and kick back in luxury, (fully comped, of course) accommodations like the famous Bridge Suite. And then there's the other 4,000 or so small guest rooms that Atlantis, Paradise Island built for the rest of us: crowded, overpriced, and filled with nonguests whom the resort lures inside with its "Discover Atlantis" tours to gamble and shop. Much like Disney World, plan to wait in line for just about everything -- a serving at the buffet, a ride down the waterslide, or just a seat at any of the restaurants.
Make no mistake, this is a family hotel at heart. Even at the upscale steakhouse, Bahamian Club, you can expect to hear toilet talk between parents and toddlers and watch hapless waiters push dessert carts over thrown toys. And if there happens to be a concert at the hotel -- like, say, a special performace by the Jonas Brothers -- the resort is likely to bring in an even larger contingent of preteens. In the evenings, particularly at the high-end Cove tower (a more expensive "resort-within-a-resort") and at the casino, the atmosphere changes a bit: swanky, stylish, fit young women wearing dangerously high heels. And while, in general, the Cove area of the resort is a bit quieter -- the pools are exclusive to Cove guests only and certain areas of the Cove restrict kids younger than 12 -- there are still plenty of children at the restaurants.
Undoubtedly, Atlantis, Paradise Island has more features than any other hotel in the Caribbean -- or any other resort or even cruise liner in the world, for that matter. But you don't have to be a guest of Atlantis to take advantage of its best features -- its celebrity-chef restaurants and high-profile entertainment often cost extra for guests and nonguests alike (thankfully, the water park is free for guests). Before booking, consider the newly renovated Riu Paradise Island all-inclusive resort, which still has close access to all of the amazing Atlantis, Paradise Island attractions but typically costs much less.
Everything is available, but you have to seek it out (and often pay extra).
Despite layoffs in 2008-2009, Atlantis, Paradise Island remains the second-largest employer in the Bahamas, just after the national government. It doesn't feel understaffed, and despite the resort's large, impersonal nature, nearly every staff member -- from the front desk clerks, waiters, the attendants at the rock-climbing wall, casino dealers, lifeguards, dolphin trainers -- are very warm and friendly.
The resort takes up about a third of Paradise Island, which is 25 minutes from the Nassau airport and 10 minutes from downtown Nassau.
Atlantis, Paradise Island spans 171 acres and almost three miles of beachfront. It takes up a good chunk of Paradise Island, a five-mile long stretch of resorts that lies just across the harbor from the bustling city of Nassau, the Bahamas' capital. The island essentially consists of three roads -- Casino Drive, Paradise Beach Drive (which becomes Harbor Road), and Paradise Island Drive, which goes about three miles to the eastern end of the island. Walking along these generically named, well-manicured roads is like strolling through a golf club. Condos and hotels line the way (the Riu Paradise Island and Comfort Suites are closest to Atlantis, Paradise Island), and a small shopping center -- with a pharmacy, a ScotiaBank, a few convenience stores and some restaurants -- is about a five minute walk from Atlantis, Paradise Island across Casino Drive. All in all, it's very safe, if lacking in local character.
Atlantis, Paradise Island itself is so sprawling that it truly does feel like a city unto itself (though it could hardly be "lost" since the massive pink towers are practically viewable from space). Rooms are spread across five different properties (including the Cove and the Reef, which are sort of separate entities), and all form a crescent around six marine habitat lagoons and the 141-acre water park.
The resort features three beaches. Atlantis Beach is the renamed tail section of Paradise Island's Cabbage Beach, which is the nicest stretch of sand in the Nassau area (the Riu Paradise Island resort also shares Cabbage Beach).
Guest rooms range greatly in quality, from the "budget" Beach Tower to the more opulent "Royal Tower," but all of the rooms are generally overpriced for what you get compared to the rooms at other hotels.
Spread across its six buildings -- the Beach Tower, Coral Tower, Reef, Cove, and Harborside Resort (condos) -- there are over 20 different room types. But the standard rooms -- modestly called "Guest Rooms" -- in the Beach and Coral Towers are comparatively small and most rooms have less-than-thrilling views of the convention building or nearby resorts. (The Beach and Coral Towers were constructed over 40 years ago, whereas the rest of the resort was built in the late '90s or afterward.) Comparatively, you can get a much nicer and larger room with a better view at less expensive resorts like the Riu Paradise Island (next door to Atlantis, Paradise Island) or the Sheraton Nassau Beach.
You name it, they have it.
This is the area in which Atlantis, Paradise Island outshines just about any other resort on the planet (save, perhaps, the newer Atlantis resort in Dubai). Top-notch facilities include a rock-climbing wall, a golf course overlooking the ocean, a tennis facility, a 3,800-square-foot gym, a pilates studio, a state-of-the-art spa, a massive water park featuring a slide with a 50-foot drop, the biggest casino in the Caribbean, three beaches, a movie theater, a comedy club, three discos, a faux-archaeological dig, an aquarium, a model-car building studio, a dolphin habitat, luxury shopping boutiques, and a pottery studio... just to name a few of the highlights. It would be difficult to go to Atlantis, Paradise Island for a relaxing vacation; it's downright exhausting just looking at the property map.
Atlantis was an underwater kingdom, after all -- 12 pools, spread throughout the property.
Not surprisingly, water activities are a huge focus at Atlantis, Paradise Island. Universally, the pools are large, stylish, and fairly crowded (like everything else at the resort). But no other resort, anywhere in the Caribbean, has anything that can compare to the pools at Atlantis, Paradise Island.
Free shuttle to the 18-hole, par-72 One&Only Ocean Club golf course, 10 minutes down the road
The Tom Weiskopf-designed One&Only Ocean Club Golf Course fills up the eastern chunk of Paradise Island, but is ringed by colorful new mansions (one of which is said to belong to Oprah). The course has played host to the annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational in the past.
James Bond's Casino Royale was filmed here.
The crown jewel of Atlantis, Paradise Island is its casino, which seems to be buzzing all day and night.
Enormous spa with every treatment imaginable -- even specialized treatments for teens
Mandara Spa opened in 2006, and at 11,500 square feet the soaring complex feels a bit more like a tranquility factory than a soothing respite from the chaos outside its doors. Expect lines at check-in, plasma TVs in treatment rooms, and high-quality -- but expensive -- servicies.
It's impossible to get bored.
Kid-friendly wonderland brimming with activities for kids and teens
Impressively clean, considering the size of the property
For a resort as huge as Atlantis, Paradise Island, it's easy to marvel at how clean the grounds are kept, particularly as landscaping crews seem to be invisible.
Unfortunately, the guest room buildings -- particularly the older, Beach and Coral Towers -- are not as well kept. A discarded room service tray sat in the hall for over a day. Although rooms never felt dirty, the fixtures were slightly worn, and slip-ups can occur.
With up to 20 restaurants open at any given time, Atlantis, Paradise Island is a foodie's delight (even if everything costs about twice what it should).
Food selection at Atlantis, Paradise Island is nothing short of mind-boggling. It's just about all overpriced, and ranges from Starbucks to famous celebrity chef spots like Nobu and Mesa Grill. But even the buffets are far better than any other in the Caribbean. Take, for example, the breakfast buffet offerings at Marketplace: waffles, hot off the griddle; fresh-baked muffins; eggs Benedict; fresh-squeezed guava juice. The buffets are on par (or even better) than some of the best buffets in Vegas.
But prices are incredibly high. Even if you opt for a meal plan you can expect to pay a small fortune in dining. Even the "gourmet" meal plan doesn't cover lunch, drinks (they'll charge you extra for just a Coke), or gratuities.
Also, restaurant reservations should be made as early as possible. On a Saturday evening, just about every restaurant on the property could be booked solid until 9 p.m. And you might have to spend a lot of time waiting in line to eat.
Fashionable nightclub and 11 other places to get an expensive cocktail
Stunning architecture, an exceptional water park, a famous casino, three beaches, 12 otherworldly pools, and 21 superb restaurants make the 3,400-room Atlantis, Paradise Island a study in conspicuous consumption. No other resort, anywhere in the Caribbean, can compete with its dining or attractions. But we warned: this is not a tranquil place.
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