Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Families, groups, and conference attendees flock to the mega-resort hub
When planning an Atlantis vacation, guests should expect to be asked "What section are you in?" by travelers in the know (and, upon arrival, the taxi driver). For many, the Royal Towers is the only place to be, especially first-timers or those who view the trip as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Royal Towers' iconic pink structure has plenty of wow factor, and it makes an impression from the very beginning; guests will get their first glimpse en route from Nassau, and the structure becomes larger-than-life when they cross over the bridge to Paradise Island and up through a palm-lined driveway. In an architectural sense, it lives up to the hype, and it's impossible for guests staying here not to get caught up in the excitement while being led through a massive covered walkway, past the Atlantis Marina with glimpses of yachts, and into a grandiose lobby with soaring ceilings and murals.
Don't expect to check in early, but morning arrivals can change their clothes in public restrooms and use the facilities. Check-in lines for the 1,200 or so rooms becomes long at 3 p.m., and guests should expect plenty of chaotic pedestrian traffic in the lobby (this is the main artery between towers, the Convention Center, casino, restaurants and shops). Once settled, many guests may choose to head toward the two sets of stairs that lead to the lower level for The Dig –- a series of aquariums that make up the largest open-air marine habitat in the world, meant to represent the “Lost City of Atlantis” with wreckage and different species of sharks, manta rays, and several types of jellyfish. Several exits lead outdoors, and the main promenade has a series of stairs (this may be difficult for those with strollers) that take guests toward the Royal Baths pool, Aquaventure, lagoon, and Atlantis Beach.
Royal Towers is the hub of the resort and many choose this pricier section in order to be in the center of action, close to both indoor and outdoor highlights. It’s a bustling area and not suited for those seeking peace and quiet, but for those who want the full Atlantis experience and can stomach the prices, there's nothing quite like it.
The larger-than-life Atlantis hub -- a 30-minute drive from the airport
The Royal Towers is the most recognizable section of the massive Atlantis resort. It can be accessed from the airport by shuttle or taxi service, and it takes about a half-hour depending on time of day (traffic can get bad through downtown Nassau). It's located on Paradise Island, which has earned its name for a reason; guests will understand the name change from Hog Island back in 1961 as soon as they get their first glimpse of the turquoise water and white-sand beach. Atlantis itself is sometimes referred to as "Vegas by the Sea." Some drivers will make passengers pay the $1 cash-only fee to get across the bridge to Paradise Island, so it helps to have a little cash on arrival.
Though staying here allows for easier walking distances to the resort highlights, a free shuttle service between tower entrances (as well as to the One&Only Ocean Club and golf course) is available. The Royal Tower does enjoy close proximity to the casino, Marina Village, Paradise Lagoon (for non-motorized water sports), the Mandara Spa and fitness center, the Royal Baths pool, Aquaventure (for Power Tower and Mayan Temple waterslides), a beautiful stretch of beach, and a number of shops and restaurants.
Spacious standard rooms and suites, though most have narrow French balconies
The Royal Tower's 1,200 or so rooms and suites were renovated in 2013, and have simple contemporary Caribbean decor -- think wood furnishings, neutral colors, and orange accents. Standard rooms are 400 square feet (larger than at the Coral and Beach towers) and have either one king- or two queen-size beds. Sliding glass doors lead to French balconies for standing room only, and views look out over the pools, Aquaventure, and ocean, or the rear towards the harbor and New Providence Island. Rooms have sitting areas, 24-hour room service, and modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs and iPod docks. Since rooms here come with (locked) stocked minibars, guests should expect to spend big bucks for bottled water and beverages. Bathrooms have counter space with one sink, tub/shower combos, and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries.
Deluxe Water View rooms have the best ocean views from higher floors (17 to 24) as well as check-in privileges. Deluxe Harbour View rooms have the same amenities and floor levels as the Water View rooms, but look out over the marina and harbor.
A range of suites types include Regal Suites with a large master bedroom and two walk-in closets. Each of the Grand Suites has a separate master bedroom and living room, as well as a private whirlpool tub, extra half-bathroom, and grand parlor area with a six-seat dining table. Presidential Suites have parlor areas and his and hers master bathrooms, while the extra-large Royal Suites have kitchens and up to three separate bedrooms for families.
Easy access to major highlights, including Aquaventure water park, Mandara Spa, and The Dig
In addition to having complete access to a world-class beach on Paradise Island, a priority for many of those staying at the Royal Towers is the close proximity to some of the resort's main features. Atlantis would not have its hype (or prices) without its extensive marine habitat -- the world's largest outdoor aquarium, which starts in the Royal Towers lobby -- and Aquaventure, a 141-acre, 200-million gallon water park that combines a series of slides (Mayan Temple and Power Tower), a lazy river, and the Current, a mile-long water ride with waves and tidal changes. These two major features are free for guests, as is admission to the casino, theatre, 2,000-volume library, nightclubs, and pools for both adults and kids, but that's pretty much where the free ends. Also close to the lobby is a 14-acre Dolphin Cay, where guests can swim with dolphins, play with sea lions, and snorkel with manta rays.
Guests arriving to the Atlantis will receive cards upon arrival, which are not just used for room access -- they're also used to charge payments to the room for amenities, restaurants and bars around the resort. Guests pay this balance upon check-out, and the resort puts a hefty hold on guest credit cards during the stay. Some Atlantis spots do accept cash for payment, but many are considered "cashless", so it's best just to pay with plastic. Guests who are using a regular credit card may have to show ID.
The Atlantis has a dizzying array of food and beverage options (21 restaurants and 19 bars) that range from casual to high-end. Breakfast is offered on-site at Marketplace buffet and at casual outposts near the lobby such as Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. For lunch, most eat at one of the many pool bars and grills located around the resort, which sell American-style fare such as sandwiches. Value meals are available for a single price, and a cup of soda can be refilled several times at the soda fountains to help keep costs down. For dinner, nearly all restaurants are indoors, since the pools and pool bars close around sunset. There are lower-priced options such as pizza and subs (though prices do add up), mid-range options such as the bountiful buffets in three lobbies, and high-end options such as Nobu, located off the casino. For those on a budget, there are three dining plans offered to guests for breakfast and dinner, but they have to booked online three days in advance, and are not available for purchase in-person.
Other gourmet options include Dune at sister property One&Only Ocean Club, and Mesa Grill at the Cove. A shuttle service is available to get to entrances for all the other sections, as well as to One&Only Ocean Club.
The luxury Mandara Spa has warm and cold plunge pools, as well as steam rooms and saunas, while the 10,000-square foot gym (for a daily fee) offers yoga, spinning, and Pilates classes -- both are easy to get to from Royal Towers. Also within walking distance are six tennis courts with racquet rentals and tennis lessons. Golfers can use the free shuttle to get to the Atlantis-owned championship golf course called Ocean Club, located at the end of the island and offering outstanding views.
Wi-Fi for the entire property comes with a daily fee, which includes unlimited devices.
When most people think of Atlantis, they immediately envision Royal Towers -– the massive, pink, now-iconic structure that opened in 1998 and houses over 1,000 spacious rooms. It sits along a near-perfect (if it weren't for the vendors) stretch of beach in Paradise Island. Atlantis has six separate sections, and Royal Towers is the mega-resort nerve center; guests staying here will find themselves within easy walking distance of the best pools, a luxury spa and fitness center, the 141-acre Aquaventure for incredible waterslides and river rides, and activities at Dolphin Cay. Other notable features of the complex include the largest outdoor marine habitat in the world, a hopping casino, and a total of 19 bars and 21 restaurants -- all with a hefty price tag. Contemporary rooms are larger (and pricier) than rooms at the Beach and Coral Towers, but most have French balconies with standing room only.