Over the years, there’s been some serious chatter about Atlantis, Bahamas. There’s no ignoring their slick commercials and enticing family offers. From swimming with dolphins and petting manta rays to fine dining and extreme water slides, the Atlantis resort promises adventure, entertainment and smiles.
LOCATION: The Atlantis (The Reef tower), Bahamas
DURATION: 5.5 days
DATE: April 8 – April 14, 2016
WHO: Rick, Angie, Grandma, 25 month old, two-month old
I’ve been to the Atlantis Resort a few times (in my child-free days) and I had an incredible experience each time. I’ve always stayed in the main tower or The Cove (adult area), which is right in the thick of everything. When we went down this year (2016) we stayed in the newest development — The Reef.
I’m not going to spend much time posting the gorgeous photos of all of the incredible amenities because if you’re looking for that, just visit their website or tripadvisor.
Instead, we’d love to offer a few FYIs and tips.
(1) The standard room is just that — standard — and offers a mini kitchen, small table and chairs as well as the bed area . We booked this room (thinking it would be larger) for all five of us. Tight squeeze, but doable.
(2) Get creative.
If you’re traveling with your kids or infants and you want some privacy, don’t be afraid to use your resources. We are huge proponents of making things work. We pack safety pins and always ask for extra sheets. See below for our makeshift nursery area.
(3) Budget accordingly or opt for All-Inclusive
The food and dining can get up there in terms of pricing. Each restaurant offers delicious food and bevies, but for a $$$ cost. We didn’t go all-inclusive and spent nearly $80 USD on lunches alone. Dinners were just under $300 USD. This can add up. I’d recommend looking into the all-inclusive option if you’re heading down with a big family.
(4) Make reservations in advance of your stay
The Atlantis offers a ton of great family experiences but if you’re planning to wait until you’re down there to check them out before booking, this might not be the best idea. We couldn’t get a seat at any on-property restaurants while we were there because all reservation slots were booked up. So, unless you’re prepared to generously grease a few palms, we recommend lining up all meals and activities before hand. It’s easier to cancel them when you’re there if things change than try to book them.
(5) Don’t bother with rental companies
We’re huge proponents of renting things when you’re heading off on vacation. Nearly ever city we visit we book toy packages, strollers and so on. But, at The Atlantis, the toys we rented were sub-par (seriously not worth it at all) so we ended up buying other ones instead. We also pre-arranged groceries to be delivered to the hotel for our arrival — again, not worth it at all. They were SO over priced it was jaw-dropping. It’s easier to make a visit to the grocery store upon arrival than to give up our third born in exchange for food (kidding).
(6) Bring a stroller
The resort is VERY spread out so if you’re traveling with young children or infants, we recommend bringing your stroller. It’s difficult to run back to your room so once you’re out, you typically stay out for most of the day.
(7) Small kids should NOT go on the “Lazy River” tube ride
I wouldn’t call the Atlantis “Lazy River” lazy at all. This is the most intense tube ride I’ve seen at a resort. Rick, my mom and I all loved it and took turns watching the kids so we could enjoy it. The posted signs say “high intensity” ride. The picture above…well, we never saw the river look like that. The waves are incredible and you get whipped along and tossed into the walls.
We heard many families debating whether or not they should let their kids partake…and of course the children were begging to go on it. But, after witnessing a few too many rescues (of children) for my liking, I would strongly advise against it. It’s not so much the falling out of the tube or smashing into the concrete walls that got to me. It’s more about the difficulty people experienced trying to get back on the tube while being slammed from all directions by the waves. We chatted with one lifeguard (after he rescued a mother and her 8-year-old daughter, while the father looked on protectively holding his young son), who said they often have to jump in steadily to rescue people — as soon as he gets back to his post, he’s back in the water helping someone.
It’s an incredible ride and not everyone falls in (we never did because we used our feet to brace ourselves against the walls) but seriously think about it (soberly) before riding with your kids.
(8) Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!
You’ll need a lot of it so make sure you prepare and pack it up. The sun is hot and the rays are intense. We all got a burn (except the kids) in some form – whether it was a small spot missed on our back or an all over redness. Even when it’s overcast the sun down there is intense.
(9) To save money, book in late Spring.
Between April and June we saw repeated deals to save nearly 50% off rooms as well as extra dining credits. We just missed these offers, but when we go again, we’ll hold off to take advantage (granted you likely have to book during the hottest months)
(10) If you want a good spot by your favorite pool, reserve them early!
If you find a spot that works for you and your family, make sure you get it first thing in the morning. People run out before breakfast to reserve their chairs and if you wait until mid-morning you’ll be left with the back rows or areas without shade etc.
(11) Use the local grocery store
A short walk/jog or cab ride from the main resort is a fully stocked grocery store. Rick visited it twice to stock up on booze and snacks.
(12) Visit the aquarium path/tunnel first thing in the morning.
Every day we started off with a stroll through the aquarium under the main building. It’s quiet at that time and it feels like you have the place to yourself. It slowly gets busier and busier.