Atlantis Paradise Island Resort Bahamas

Photograph of Atlantis Resort, Paradise IslandI first stayed at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort and Casino. some ten years ago. It was beyond description even then. Today, after the owners have spent more than $600 million, I find myself at a loss to do it justice. In truth, it probably deserves a chapter all to itself, far more space than I have available here. Its sheer size makes it unique. And size, while it does offer many advantages, can also create problems. Personally, I like Atlantis, because of its size. My wife and daughter, though, find it overpowering. Every attraction is just a little too far away. There are always lines at the waterslides and amusements, so the waits can be long. The service, because of the vast numbers of guests and visitors, is a little slow. But all that, in my opinion, is to be expected, and the pros far outweigh the cons.

The guestrooms, new and old, are luxurious by any standards. The restaurants, all 20 of them, are, with the exception of slower service, excellent. The best of them is the Bahamian Club. Their cuisine is French, the food absolutely beyond reproach, and even the service is efficient. The prices, of course, reflect this.

There are some 15 bars and clubs at Atlantis, all of them almost always crowded. The beach, while exclusive to guests of the resort, is also often packed, especially close to the towers. The amusements, like everything else at Atlantis, are larger than life.

Atlantis is a vast water world. Its theme is the Lost Continent. No expense has been spared to bring the illusion to life. Nothing does this better than The Dig, a believable representation of an undersea archeological site. It’s like something straight out of a Jules Verne novel, complete with Atlantian diving suits, underground passages, artifacts and ruins, all done on a grand scale. The Dig is surrounded by huge plate glass windows that turn the ocean itself into a vast aquarium and provide fantastic underwater views of still more ruins and ocean life, including a giant manta ray and innumerable sharks. The Dig is open to guests at no charge, and to visitors – admission is included in the visitor fee of $25. The Dig is a must.

The amusements include a floating pool (no, it doesn’t float; you do). You take to the gently moving waters in an inner-tube and for 20 minutes or so meander along a concrete-lined river that makes its way around a number of ornamental gardens, through palm-covered glades, past closely manicured lawns. It’s great for kids, and for grown-ups who like to take things slowly; in fact, it’s about the only amusement at Atlantis that does go slowly. Water slides come in various levels of scary: there’s one for the smaller kids that’s quite tame, one that even I could probably handle, but that still provides a thrill; and then there’s one with an almost vertical drop that takes you down, by way of a clear acrylic tunnel, through the waters of a shark-infested lake to drop you with a huge splash in a shallow wading pool. You might have to wait in line for 20 minutes or more to enjoy a thrill that’s over in a matter of seconds. Still, you’ve got to give it a go.

The gardens of Atlantis are worth a visit too. Acre upon acre of fantastic and exotic landscapes and plant life, dotted here and there with ornamental pools and vast lakes, some of which are stocked with predators of the ocean: sharks of every size and description, rays, even barracudas patrol the larger lakes. There are also hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks, swordfish, and more.

The Atlantis casino is done in a grand style. Again, the theme is that of the ocean and the ancient god of the ocean, Neptune. The décor is sumptuous, the furnishings luxurious, and the play international. The entertainment, nightclubs, shows, lounges and bars, are also international in scope; there’s even a superb cigar shop (don’t forget, you can’t take Cuban cigars into the United States). Above all, though, is the opulence. You don’t have to gamble to enjoy this casino. Just walk around; you’ll see what I mean.

If you’re in Nassau, don’t miss Atlantis. If you can afford the rates, and they are expensive, try to spend at least a few days on the property. Rates start, at the time of this writing, at $295 per night for a double room, and rise to $25,000 – that’s right, thousand – per night for the Bridge Suite. If you can handle that, I’m told you’ll be in good company: Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson, to mention just a couple of names, have stayed here.  800-ATLANTIS;


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Getting There:

For visitors arriving by air, the Bahamas are served through Nassau by most US airlines and by international airlines from Canada and Europe, and to a slightly more limited degree through Freeport.

The Out Islands are served mainly by Bahamas Air via connections in Nassau and Freeport.

The Bahamas is also a major destination for the cruise ship industry

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