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Travel to AtlantisAtlantis: Paradise Island
Good For: Who doesn’t love an aquatic playground? Atlantis is for families who like to play – and get pampered – together.
*It’s simple: The Bahamas. The resort is ringed by beach and sea, not to mention dozens of private pools, a Mayan-themed water park – and the chance to swim with dolphins.
*Eat like royalty at restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs from Nobu Matsuhisa (Nobu) and Bobby Flay (Mesa Grill) to Jean-Georges Vongerichten (Café Martinique). Plus, don’t be surprised if you find yourself dining alongside Johnny Depp, Nicolas Cage or any of the other celebs who have island homes (or islands as homes) in the Bahamas.
* Atlantis is one of just a handful of resorts that have truly cracked the code of blending an adult getaway with a family vacation. It caters to all ages, from a state-of-the-art kids’ club to the largest casino in the Caribbean.
What to Know: Getting here is a snap: Short nonstop flights depart from many cities along the Eastern Seaboard. Once landing on New Providence Island, the resort arranges shuttles to Paradise Island or, for VIP guests, a short jaunt via Atlantis’ fleet of emerald-green limousines. A tip: We recommend you take in downtown Nassau – a bit of a tourist trap – during this “drive-by” rather than investing time in a day trip while at Atlantis.
Atlantis. The name alone has become synonymous with mystical worlds. Since Plato’s early references, the legend of the lost island has baffled historians and geographers while delighting movie directors, novelists, and other spinners of creative tales. Fact or fiction? We may never know––but the modern-day Atlantis is very real. And very much like paradise.
The brainchild of Sol Kerzner (of One & Only and Mazagan Resorts fame), Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas has come into its own as a spectacular aquatic playground for adults and children.
For the family that includes discriminating members of the five-and-under set, Atlantis is probably as close to the ultimate vacation as you can get. The Bahamas are temptingly close for stateside travelers, with short nonstop flights from many cities along the Eastern Seaboard. The Bahamas are also just a stone’s throw from Miami – indeed, Diane Nyad’s headline-commanding attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida in 2011 followed her world-distance record-setting swim from the Bahamas to Florida (and an even more noteworthy 30-year swimming hiatus). If Ms. Nyad can swim between the States and the Bahamas in shark-infested waters, then surely one can do the same via air with even the most challenging young traveler. Once landing on New Providence Island, the resort arranges shuttles to Paradise Island – a 45-minute ride via minibus or, for VIP guests, a short jaunt via Atlantis’ fleet of emerald-green limousines. We recommend you take in downtown Nassau – a bit of a tourist trap – during this “drive-by” rather than investing time in a day trip while at Atlantis.
Crossing the Paradise Island Bridge from New Providence Island, you’re greeted by Atlantis’ Royal Towers, the structural centerpiece of the sprawling resort. The majestic, peach-toned structure, which is reminiscent of its sister resort 7,000 miles away in Dubai, has an archway bridge connectingthe16th floors of the main buildings. Unless you’re a guest in the ten-room $25,000/night Royal Towers Bridge Suite, however, we recommend you take up residence at the Cove, Atlantis’ newest offering. Constructed in 2007, the Cove features sweeping views, sunken living areas, expansive bathrooms – and for families, the option to create a fabulous two-suite configuration accessed by a common foyer. Additionally, guests at the Cove have access to two private swimming pools – one featuring family-friendly wading and oceanfront refreshments, and the other aptly named Cain at the Cove. With an 18-plus age restriction, private cabanas, live DJ, and outdoor blackjack tables (baccarat available upon request), this adults-only venue reveals the sexier, sultrier side of Atlantis. Just be prepared to explain why some women sunbathe topless when your 5-year-old asks the question while peering out from the balcony.
As one might imagine, there is without question a “scene” in Atlantis. In contrast to the privacy and peacefulness of the One and Only resort on the other side of Paradise Island, Atlantis offers unlimited recreation. Highlights include Battle 4 Atlantis, a pre-season Division 1 basketball tournament featuring the largest purse in college basketball, and an ongoing schedule of Grammy performers in the intimate Atlantis theaters. With the largest casino in the Caribbean, and restaurants by celebrity chefs including Nobu Matsuhisa (Nobu), Bobby Flay (Mesa Grill), and Jean-Georges Vongerichten (Café Martinique), don’t be surprised if you find yourself dining alongside Johnny Depp, Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, or any of the other celebs who have island homes (or islands as homes) in the Bahamas.
At the beginning, middle, and end of the day, however, Atlantis is all about the water. As if fronting the Atlantic Ocean was not enough, the resort features a Mayan-themed water park and 11 swimming pools, ranging from large to enormous. The centerpiece is the 12-story Power Tower, featuring slides with names like the Abyss, the Surge. and the Drop. A favorite is the Leap of Faith, a 60-foot near-vertical drop inside a tube through shark-filled waters (Ms. Nyad would be proud.) For the “under 40 inches” set, an elaborate water playground provides hours of enjoyment – tube slides, rope bridges, water cannons, and the requisite bank of parents with waterproof cameras lounging against rocks in three feet of water, a piña colada in hand. Oh, and you can also swim with the world’s friendliest dolphins in a 14-acre saltwater cay. Many are rescues from Hurricane Katrina, having been swept out to sea from their original home in Gulfport, Mississippi. As host to the world’s largest open-air marine habitat, Atlantis is an aquatic labyrinth, with over 50,000 marine animals, including manta rays, sharks, and brightly colored tropical fish.
Atlantis is one of just a handful of resorts that have truly cracked the code of blending an adult getaway with a family vacation. The state-of-the-art kids’ club (ages 3–12) is superbly managed, as is the in-room babysitting by certified, CPR-trained professionals. The Cove’s Mosaic restaurant, with its cool vibe, gourmet smorgasbord, and attentive staff, is a favorite for grabbing a light bite with the kids. Afterwards, the young ones can go wild at Atlantis Kids Adventures (Candy Carnival! Buccaneer’s Bash! Sleepless Slumber Party!) For parents who find themselves stranded with free time after their children insist on playing with new friends, we recommend retiring to one of the daybeds at Cain with a favorite novel, or booking an appointment at the luxurious Mandara Spa.
Time permitting, some travelers may crave adventure beyond Atlantis Paradise Island. The 7,000 outer islands (of which less than 1% are inhabited) are a boon for naturalists, and Androsis a top choice. Located on the world’s third-longest barrier reef – a 10-minute flight or two-hour ferry from Nassau – Andros is a setting-off point to explore blue holes and has mangroves, estuaries, and tidal flats. Following the discovery of underwater artifacts in the late 1960s, researchers and scholars have included Andros in the short list of global sites that may have been home to the Atlantis of legend and lore. What a fitting tribute that its namesake, Atlantis Paradise Island, should be just a cross-current away.
(Photo Credits: Atlantis Paradise Island, Atlantis Dolpin Cay, Atlantis Mayan Temple, Courtesy of Atlantis Paradise Island)