Calm beaches, year-round warmth — and, yes, the Atlantis mega-resort and its many Disneyland-level features — make New Providence in the Bahamas a tropical slice of heaven for families with small children. Here are the top kid-friendly hotels in New Providence Island, which contains Nassau and Paradise Island (i.e. Planet Atlantis).
The 1,000-plus-room Royal Towers is the mega-resort nerve center of the massive Atlantis complex. Guests here are close to Atlantis' world-class beach, 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 with 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 theatre and pools, 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.
The spacious residential-style units -- studios and one- and two-bedroom suites -- are well-suited to families, with pull-out sofas and fully-equipped kitchens or kitchenettes. The modern, luxurious condo-hotel is one of the priciest Atlantis options, but families will likely appreciate the option of cooking, as Atlantis' 20-some restaurants are notoriously expensive. The property has a nice stretch of beach and a large family pool that is exclusive to Reef and Cove guests, and major Atlantis highlights, like Aquaventure, are within walking distance.
This section of Atlantis appeals to mid-range travelers -- mostly families, as it's cheaper than the Royal Tower but closer to the action (and crowds) than the budget-friendly Beach Tower. The retro-style building shows its age and lacks wow factor, but the 600-plus rooms include flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, mini-fridges, and safes. Coral Towers is on the harbor, between Marina Village and the Paradise Lagoon.
The nearly 500 rooms in the kid-friendly Beach Tower are the most affordable ones in Atlantis: all have balconies, fresh tropical decor, flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, and coffeemakers. Beach Tower guests have free access to major Atlantis features, like the Aquaventure and marine exhibits, as well as on-site amenities like a game room, pottery studio, and build-a-bear shop. The lower rates and lack of nightlife make this section of Atlantis exceptionally family-friendly.
This upscale time-share property across the marina from Royal Towers is distinguished from the five other sections of Atlantis by its series of colonial-style, pastel-colored buildings -- and its lack of direct beach access. The 392 condo-style units (with one, two or three bedrooms) are popular with families thanks to their additional space, kitchens, and laundry facilities. Some of the furnished balconies in the four-story elevator buildings have views of the yachts and Nassau Harbor. This section is a bit quieter than others, though the kid-friendly pool with water fountains and lawn games does get lively. A free shuttle ride runs regularly to other parts of the resort, where guests get complete access to all the main pools, Aquaventure, and the marine habitats.
The 223-room Comfort Suites Paradise Island underwent a 6.3-million-dollar renovation in 2013 and it shows: the rooms are modern and contemporary, the pool is clean and inviting, the restaurant is large with an attractive outdoor seating area, and there is even a chic bar in the lobby. All rooms are Junior Suites and have partially sectioned-off living room areas, mini-fridges, and work desks with office chairs. All guests get free access to Aquaventure, Atlantis’ waterpark, as well as all of the resort's facilities: the swimming pools, beach, health spa, tennis courts, golf, Kids Camp, movie theatre, and casino. Comfort Suites guests also get signing privileges at all of Atlantis’ restaurants and lounges.
Right on a spectacular beach, the Sunrise Beach Club has a laid-back vibe and lower prices compared to its huge resort neighbors (it's located between Atlantis, Riu, and the One&Only Ocean Club). All 26 spacious units -- which range from one- to five-bedroom suites -- come with patios and fully-equipped kitchens. In addition to its private access to one of the best beaches in the world, Sunrise has two uncrowded pools, an on-site bar and grill, laundry facilities, and free parking. Some choose to stay here simply because they want easy access to the amenities and restaurants at Atlantis without actually having to stay there, with the crowds and high prices.
All 44 of the cheerful apartment-style units at this homey property have roomy living areas, full kitchens, two bedrooms, and private balconies or terraces. Within walking distance of lots of dining and entertainment options, Paradise Island Beach Club features two heated outdoor pools and an open-air restaurant, Reef Bar & Grill, which serves breakfast and lunch. The hotel backs onto a wide, pristine stretch of Cabbage Beach, with white sands and few crowds.
Located in Downtown Nassau, between the bustling main road and a private harbor beach, this 288-room hotel offers all of the features (and add-on fees) you’d expect from an upscale establishment. Highlights include the beachfront setting (Nassau’s only private beach), heated freshwater pool, tropical grounds, water sports, and choice of on-site restaurants and bars. Modern rooms are generic, but well-equipped with flat-screen TVs and huge marble bathrooms. Families with children are well catered to with a babysitting service, children’s activities, and a kids’ dining menu.
Sandyport Beach Resort is a three-and-a-half-pearl hotel located in the quiet, pretty community of Sandyport Marina Village. Hotel features are excellent for this price range: direct access to Cable Beach, a private lagoon beach, three pools, and an outstanding restaurant with ocean views. The 72 guest rooms are cozy and inviting; many come with kitchenettes or kitchens as well as hot tubs and separate sitting areas. Many of the guests here are couples, but the hotel's babysitting services, kids’ pool with waterslide, and a secure, gated location make it an excellent fit for families.