At a Glance
Almost as much of a rite of passage for kids as a trip to Disney World, the Atlantis aqua theme park and casino complex draws young ones, teens and adults all looking for wild entertaining FUN. The Cove is the most high-end of its hotel options.
From a marketing perspective, Atlantis, the mega-resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, has pulled off a brilliant campaign; in existence since 1994, it has become as mandatory a childhood rite of passage as a pilgrimage to Disney World. Its mile-long river of a pool that you ride in inflated inner tubes, choosing wild rapids along the way if you like, and 60-foot-high, see-through waterslides that shoot you through a tank of sharks, are the stuff of playground legend. When the company unveiled Aquaventure, a 63-acre water space, it made the resort the largest water-theme park in the world. An entire Mary-Kate and Ashley movie was even filmed there. And college kids from around the country flock here every spring to celebrate Spring Break where drinking is legal at 18.
The company opened the Cove, on the grounds, to appeal to high-end families, so that parents could get Ocean Club service and stylish comfort but with the proximity to pools and facilities that the kids crave. Cove guests are promised a private beach and pool areas (the adults-only one is affiliated with the Cain nightclub brand); gourmet dining options, including a Mesa Grill outpost from Bobby Flay; super service; and even an exclusive boutique for luxury fashions. A recently added draw is Sip Sip, the famed Harbour Island restaurant where the lobster quesadilla is the stuff of legends.
While these may be the best rooms on the Atlantis property and are perfectly comfortable, they could use a refresh. Another caveat is that the service is three-star at best. However, in terms of the Cove's views and proximity to the action, this property cannot be beat.
- If you go, bear in mind that although the Cove is a step up from the Royal Towers, it’s no secluded island retreat. You’re there for the kids or for the gambling. Many college students go to party, so over spring break you may be repeatedly awakened in the middle of the night by rowdy teens.
- Request VIP meet-and-greet service; it’s not guaranteed, nor can it be purchased, but if you are treated to it, you can avoid the long check-in lines.
- Pack a waterproof bag of some sort to carry your camera, room key and phone in, because there are no lockers by the pool where you can leave things when you are on the water rides—and you will get drenched.
- Stake out a chaise early in the day. The ones by the Mayan pool are “toweled” quickest, because it’s most central to the areas of attraction.
- Prepare your kids for the possibility of getting separated. Agree on a meeting point. Make sure they know their room number and your cell-phone number. Unless you ride a raft together, you can lose sight of each other in the pools, so have a plan.
- If you want to meet the dolphins, reserve early, since slots go quickly. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
- Make restaurant reservations before you arrive if you want to eat in the better ones, like Nobu or Mesa Grill.
- The best rainy-day activities are movies in the Atlantis Theatre, the Dig aquarium (but go early) and the game room, called Gamer’s Reef, and Club Rush at the Beach Tower.
- Be aware that gourmet fare is really only offered at dinner time. Lunch by the pool is the same at the Cove as at the Atlantis: pre-made wraps, burgers, hot dogs and French fries. (And gourmet dining comes at a high price.)
- If you are a large family traveling with small kids—ones too young to be left in a room alone overnight—you may want to consider the suites in the Royal Tower, for more space and layout flexibility.
- Don’t expect to get a late checkout time. Even though the hotel wasn’t full when I was there, this service was not available. I asked if we could stay until noon but was told that each hour past 11:00 would cost $150. The resort does, however, have a transit lounge with lockers and showers.
Written by Melissa Biggs Bradley