This über-resort is that sprawling, fun-in-the-sun hotel you’ve seen in commercials, a set of salmon pink stair-stepped skyscrapers linked by a skyway bridge over a lagoon. Receding into the distance along a trio of undulating white-sand beaches are yet more hotel tower blocks. Smash cut to scenes from the massive Aquaventure water park where you can rocket down the sides of a faux-Mayan temple and zoom along a water slide tube right through the middle of a shark tank.
If those commercials didn’t appeal, this is not the resort for you.
The Atlantis is resort-to-the-max, practically a theme park built on the theme of “island vacation.” Atlantis is the size of a small town, sprawling over the western end of Paradise Island and constantly being expanded by the island’s owner, Sol Kerzner. It is a world unto itself, a vast complex of six hotels.
Of the original, central tower blocks of colorful, contemporary lodgings, the Beach Tower has smaller, value rooms; the Coral Tower has mid-sized moderate rooms and suites; and the Royal Tower has the larger deluxe rooms and suites.
The newer hotels built beyond the water park during the $1 billion expansion in 2007 include The Cove (600 luxury suites) and The Reef (497 condo-style hotel studios and suites).
Finally, across the yacht harbor are the moderately priced one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas of Harborside Resort.
Then there are the 18 restaurants (including a Nobu and Cafe Martinique, among the best in the Greater Nassau area), the 141-acre water park, the casino, the rock climbing wall, the movie theater, the video game arcade, the spa, and the shopping plazas made to look like faux Bahamanian market villages (ironic, since there is an actual, gritter, real Bahamanian market under the pylons of the bridge leading here from Nassau).
If it weren’t a hotel it could probably also classify as an aquarium, with more than 50,000 marine animals from 200 species swimming in 11 exhibit lagoons and tanks, including the The Dig, where you walk through a series of Plexiglas tunnels surrounded by sea life; the Ruins Lagoon, where you can snorkel amid fish, rays, and the ersatz “ruins” of “Atlantis”; and Dolphin Cay, where you can interact with the resident dolphins.
Atlantis is not the spot for a quiet getaway. The programmatic fun can be relentless, and there is piped-in music playing absolutely everywhere—not just inside, but in the breezeways and doorways, and throughout the grounds from speakers hidden in the decorative shrubbery.
The Atlantis is also a place where, between restaurant, room, and resort fees ($22 a day for Wi-Fi!), guests often find themselves blowing through their budgets more quickly than expected, so fair warning.
In summer 2014, Marriott announced that the Atlantis would be joining the Marriott Autograph Collection, so Marriott Rewards points will come in handy here starting in the fall of 2014.
A note on the seemingly wide ranges of prices. Many hotels give discounts for longer stays, but the price differential at Atlantis really qualifies more as a (significant) premium for single-night stays. The lowest rates listed above are per night as applied to bookings of two or more nights—fair enough, since few people come here for a single night anyway. However, know that the cheapest price on a stay of only one night is often double—in winter more than triple—the lowest rates listed above.