Sunday, March 08, 2015

Yes, we do love big, cheesy vacations - Vacationing at Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island.

Atlantis Resort really should be commended for its marketing campaign.  What other destination can I think of whose incessant commercials work their subliminal magic into my brain so well?  When we decided to mark Jordan's 10 year birthday with a big trip, it was my first choice.  How is that possible?

The kids also really wanted to go.  That's my story.

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The good news is that the resort lived up to the hype.  This is the view from our balcony in the Coral Beach Towers.  In the back is the Royal Towers, which houses a casino, shops, an underground aquatic museum, multiple restaurants, and the kids Aqua camp.  That corridor like structure that joins the two wings of the Royal Towers is informally known as the Michael Jackson suite.  It can be had for the price of $25,000 a night - with a four night minimum.  Alas, I read that it's fully booked for the next five years.

Tip - if staying at the Coral Beach Towers, make sure you ask for a higher floor on the even side.  The odd side rooms had a pretty dismal view.  We booked two rooms, side by side and the view from both was lovely.  Theo and I spent lots of time outside watching the breeze blow through the palm trees.

Atlantis itself is not a cheap destination no matter what your budget, but there are fun things to do for everyone.  It also helps that Marriott recently bought into the resort and is offering Marriott rewards members usage of their points for rooms.  We took advantage of that and it saved us some money as well as providing free Internet.  It doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's nice not to pay $21 a day to check your emails.  We were also greeted with a bottle of wine, a lovely cheese plate and four delicious cookies.  Yay Marriott!

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It seems strange that island dwellers like us would choose to go to another island during a school break, but it's here that I will point out that the Bahamas are not the same as Bermuda.  In February, it is cold in Bermuda.  It's warmer in the Bahamas, which are Caribbean islands located further south.

And I hate cold weather.

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Oh.. hello.

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Hands down, the highlight of this trip was vacationing with our friends, the Perkins.  They have been brave enough to join us on multiple family vacations over the years.  Their daughter, was also celebrating her tenth birthday as well. 

None of our kids knew we would meet up in Atlantis.  It was a fabulous surprise!

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The crew. 

You just have to love friends that are with you through every stage of your parenting moments.  Through good times and bad, they have put up with our kids' laughter and tears, tantrums and joys.  We had one major one during the trip coming from my oldest child, which was incredibly upsetting.  But suffice it to say, our friends handled it with grace as did the rest of the kids. 

Thanks Perkins!

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Atlantis is known for its water slides, and there are lots of options to choose from.  My older two started slow - with the lazy river and eventually worked their way up to the winding slides in the Mayan Temple.  This one pictured is called "The Leap of Faith."  I made it as far as witnessing a grown man hyperventilating as he sat at the top, muttering.. "No.. no.. I don't think I can."  I was on the slide called "The Challenger," which is across from the entrance, so I made a mental note to myself ... particularly when I heard one of the attendants say, "Oh just give him a push."

I can't tell you much more about the slide, other than it is a 60 foot drop that pitches you through a tunnel.  The tunnel is situated in one of the shark tanks, so you get to see the beasties if you manage to keep your eyes open long enough.

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Guess who decided he was brave enough to try it?  What you don't see here is Jeff and I on the bridge opposite the slide, clutching our hearts and praying as we watched our first born son head up the stairs by himself, out of sight, and plunge down the slide solo.

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His loyal fans greet him upon his safe return.  Nice gymnastics salute dude.

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I'm saving this one for their wedding. 

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The surprise hit for me was how chill Theo was during the whole escapade.  I had no idea what to expect, really.  Nor did I think there was much I could do as far as planning.  He was just so awesome.  We all headed out in the morning together to the pools or slides.  Theo hung back with one of us till after lunch, then he and I would head back to the hotel room for a nap.  (yay!)  He slept like a champ and was so easy going - happy to be held by anyone interested. 

No, he didn't go on any slides.  The hotel provided a crib and bedding, which they set up for us upon arrival.

Some details for you planning types:

1.  We opted not to purchase the meal plan, as we didn't think we could consume enough food to justify it.  It worked well for us, as we noticed that the meal plan limits your restaurant options, and often several restaurants are shut down for low occupancy.  We also just don't eat that much, despite our best efforts.  Breakfasts were usually quick affairs of grab and go food from the Dunkin Donuts nearby or the Starbucks, which is on the resort.  Lunch was usually poolside at one of the small outdoor cafes, and dinner would be a sit down at one of the restaurants on site.

My favorite was "Olives," with is a Todd English chain, and it was sublime.  The food was exceptional and perfectly prepared  Yes, it is pricey. 

2.  On the subject of price, I must point out a few things, as an "island girl" myself.  When you live on an island EVERYTHING is expensive.  It is expensive because everything is brought to the island via container ships or freighted in by plane.  Everything is subject to duties.  This is a daily fact of life for us in Bermuda, so I was prepared for what things cost in the Bahamas.

There are also added gratuities (TIPS) to just about everything meal related.  Again  another fact of life I am used to.  Maybe it's just that I am used to being hosed, but I wasn't as sticker shocked as the average tourist coming to Atlantis. 

All I can say, is just prepare yourself.  Accept that you are going to pay a lot of money and try and save where you can - there is a local strip mall within walking distance that you can purchase alcohol and breakfasts.  You can also ask  your cab driver to stop at a grocery store en route to the hotel and stock up on provisions.  We did - I got water and formula for the baby.

3.  We booked a car to drive us from the airport in Nassau to Paradise Island.  It worked out really well, and the system is incredibly organized.  Although we booked a car, one wasn't available when we arrived, so the company put us in a stretch limo!!!  Jeff and I looked at each other and just grinned.  Our kids were delirious at the whole thing, and I had to laugh.  How spoiled are these kids??  The last time I rode in a limo was at my wedding.  I'm fairly certain the next time will probably be at my funeral.

4.  Service - I'm really glad I wasn't put off by the negative reviews I kept reading on Trip Advisor.  Without exception, I didn't encounter any surly staff.  Everyone was lovely and helpful.  Even when Theo and I were walking around in the stroller, and lost, staff helped direct us to handicap accessible ramps.  Be prepared for this as there are a lot of steps - but there are ramps, sometimes you just have to ask as they aren't always immediately visible.

That's the long and the short of it.  Without a doubt, I would love to come back here, particularly when Theo is old enough to try some of the activities.  The kids loved it, and we did too. 

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Nice to see that the commercials weren't a big, fat lie after all.

Tipglo is how you can reach me for specific questions, and I will be happy to give you more details!  Cheers!

Sadaf
https://tipglo.com/@sadaf-trimarchi






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