Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Atlantis Paradise Island Trip Report Part 1

This is part 1 of a 2 part series on our honeymoon trip to Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas.  This post will detail our stay at the resort as well as other hotel options on Atlantis.  Part 2 will detail our activity and dining experiences.  
Atlantis Paradise Island is a mega-resort located on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.  The theme of the resort is the legendary and mysterious lost city of Atlantis.  This resort first opened in 1998, and it is constantly being updated and improved upon.  The resort itself is incredible.  There are aquariums and marine habitats everywhere you go and a 141-acre waterpark that includes many slides, pools, and lazy river rides. 

For many people, their idea of a great tropical vacation includes laying out on the beach, watching the waves, and sipping on a mojito.  

Not for us.  

For our honeymoon, we chose to go to the Atlantis resort because we wanted to pack our time full of excitement and activities.  Atlantis definitely did not disappoint.  There is an incredible amount of things to do on the property and surrounding areas.

The resort is made up of 6 different choices of hotel accommodations, each with different types of guest rooms, suites, or penthouses.  Deciding on where to stay can be pretty intimidating.  It took some research to find out the difference between the various hotels.  You will find that there is a place to stay at Atlantis that will accommodate any budget.

The Beach Tower (423 “Value” rooms) offers the most inexpensive rooms.  The rooms have a tropical décor with balconies.  The surrounding areas are full of plants and lagoons, with nurse sharks, stingrays, seat turtles, and fish between all of the walkways.   This tower is the furthest away from the main attractions of the resort.  However, it is very close to the Marina Village shopping and dining area, and has access to the lazy river tube ride.

The Coral Towers (656 “Moderate” rooms) are the most centrally located on the resort.  This hotel offers the best and closest beach access.  It offers the second most inexpensive rooms.

The Royal Towers (1201 “Deluxe” rooms) are at the heart of Atlantis.  We probably spent the most time walking through the Royal Towers.  There are murals, sculptures, and fountains everywhere.  This is where you’ll find most of the action.  Here you will find shops, restaurants, and our favorite aquarium (The Dig).  There are 6 different categories of room accommodations.  This hotel is divided into 2 towers, the East and West Tower.  The East Tower contains the spa and kids club.  The West Tower includes the casino and large aquarium (The Dig).  

The Bridge Suite lies between the two Royal Towers and rents out for $25,000 a night, one of the most expensive hotel rooms in the world!

Harborside Resort (392 “Moderate” villas) offers a “home-like” experience with amenities such as a small kitchen with stove and microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, washer, and dryer.  The units here are also available for purchase as timeshares.  This is where we stayed.

The Cove (600 “Luxury” rooms) offers a more sophisticated and contemporary setting.  The adults-only pool and private beach here can only be accessed by guests at the Cove.

The Reef (495 “Residential Luxury” rooms) is the newest hotel and is located right on the white sands of Paradise Beach.  The rooms here have the amenities of a residential apartment that can be purchased as timeshares.  Guests here have access to their own private pool and beach.

Comfort Suites Paradise Island (229 “budget” suites) is located next door to the Atlantis property.  This all junior suite provides: free wifi internet access, refrigerator, microwave, complimentary buffet breakfast daily, as well as full use and access to Atlantis facilities without any additional charges.  This is the only non-Atlantis property that shares use of the resort. 

All of the hotels have access to the 141-acre Aquaventure Water Park, 11 swimming pools, 3 white sand beaches, access to all the marine exhibits, access to the library, and free movies in the Atlantis Theatre.  All Atlantis hotels have free shuttle service that will take you to any part of Atlantis.  Comfort Suites also provides free shuttle service to Atlantis.

Booking a stay at the Harborside can be done online here.  Booking a timeshare rental at the Harborside is done in 1-week intervals.  You can check redweek for timeshare rental information.  I ended up connecting with a timeshare owner who rented the property to us for a week at an amazing price during peak tourist season.

Your timeshare rental includes only 1 day of housekeeping services on Wednesday.  Extra housekeeping services can be paid for.  The washer and dryer worked very well for cleaning our small loads of laundry.  I've heard that many families choose to buy their groceries from the nearby market, store them in the full size refrigerator and then cook meals in their room.  The food prices at the resort can be 2-3 times the cost of food here in the U.S.

The Harborside is within walking distance to the Paradise Island Ferry Terminal, which can take you to Downtown Nassau.  The Harborside is also right next to the Atlantis Marina Village, where there are several shops and restaurants.

One thing we found lacking about staying at the Harborside was that they did not offer free wifi inside the rooms.  Guest can sign up for 15 minutes of free internet use on the lobby computers.  Sometimes there was a line to use the internet, and the computers are shut down at 7pm every evening.  I guess this was a good thing for us, since it was our honeymoon, and we got a chance to remove all the distractions the internet can provide for a week.

All of portions of Atlantis can be reached by walking.  We only took shuttle service one time during our stay.  This allowed us to squeeze in some “exercise” walking to the different properties.  Walking from the Harborside to the other side of the resort where the Cove was located probably took about 15-20 minutes.  Weather was very nice in January – didn’t feel too hot during the day nor too cold in the evenings.

Overall, we found our stay at Harborside to be excellent.  Most of our time at Atlantis was spent outside of our room.  What we really appreciated was a washer and dryer in the room, so we could have our swimsuits washed in-between uses.

Stay tuned for our Atlantis trip report part 2, where I will detail the activities we did as well as the food we enjoyed. Edit: you can read my Atlantis trip report part 2 here.

Prior to planning our trip and stay, we learned so much reading and asking questions on the trip advisor Paradise Island Travel forum found here

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