Okay, so here’s a truth. I went on vacation with my family, had an amazing [unplugged] time with my husband and little ones, but let me tell you…I never stopped blogging. I was blogging in my head the entire time. Taking mental notes, soaking up the details and organizing my thoughts especially for this blog post right here, where I will lay out details for you in a complete guide to vacationing at the Atlantis, Bahamas resort.
The reason I am writing this is mainly to share my experiences with you, but also because there was a lack in info that I may have found useful before visiting the Atlantis, Bahamas. I hope that you find some of the information I share with you on here to be helpful in planning your next trip to the Bahamas!
Atlantis, Bahamas- Royal Towers
Where to Stay:
When researching where to stay at the Atlantis Resort, I read a lot of reviews. Most of the reviews are accurate when they say that in order to be in the center of all the action, you should stay at the Royal towers. The resort is so large, it entails a lot of walking, and with two little ones and the constant pushing of strollers, combined with carrying of all their things, it was out of convenience that I chose to stay at the Royal towers.
However, you should be warned of a couple of things. The Royal tower rooms are pretty dated, the carpets do need to be changed and we had a couple of plumbing issues. The hotel was always attentive and swift to fixing every issue we had, and the staff was very accommodating and helpful, which is a huge plus. I liked the size of the room, and there were two comfortable queen size beds, which I couldn’t find at any of the other towers (we don’t really like to sleep on sofabeds). If I had older children, then I may have chosen to stay at the Reef which provides newer, larger size suites with kitchenettes for a great price. Ultimately, we enjoyed our stay at the Royal towers very much.
Upon check in, the agent kindly upgraded us to a nicer oceanview room (we had booked a terrace view).
Tip: the balcony is just enough for you to stand on, no room to sit on tables or anything, just to dry our clothes and stand outside for a beautiful view.
Budgeting & Cashless Resort
I had no knowledge that the resort is mostly cashless– meaning they do not accept cash except for a handful of locations along the resort. I did pack cash as our main form of payment for this trip, so I had a bit of a dilemma. However, after doing some research, I found a great piece of advice.
Tip: Purchase Atlantis Giftcards at the gift shop in the lobby and use it to reload cash. It is accepted everywhere around the Atlantis Resort. This helped me to stay within my budget because Atlantis is very, very expensive. This is due to everything having VAT and gratuity taxes 12-15% and all items being imported into the island, making it very expensive to eat/drink/shop there.
Getting Around the Atlantis Resort
Yes it’s a lot of walking, no it isn’t impossible. The resort is all interconnected and you can get from one end to the other in about 15-20 minutes. I did all of the walking in flip flops, and I was fine. The resort is huge. It’s kind of overwhelming for first-timers, and it took us about 1-2 days to really get familiar and comfortable with this massive place. There are maps, but we still asked employees directions millions of times, and they were always helpful. I wish they had more signs pointing us to the directions of things.
Tip: Pick up a paper map from any lobby or towel pick up desks and keep it handy for you to navigate your way around. There are elevators and ramps pretty much everywhere, you just need to search/ask for them.
Tip: Explore everything. There was so much at the Atlantis, and everyday we discovered a new part that we hadn’t seen before, and I still think we didn’t see everything there is to see. Grab a “Bucket List” sheet at any lobby and go through all the items on the list for all the special things around the resort.
Dining Plan or No Dining Plan?
This was the big question prior to our vacation. I went back and forth with the idea of purchasing a dining plan, and the crazy thing is the reviews are a split 50/50. I couldn’t get a clear answer just by reviews, but one thing that I did keep reading is that you have more freedom if you don’t purchase a dining plan. So we didn’t.
How it Works: Dining Plans
The Atlantis resort is designed for you to utilize their meal plan. The meal plan is offered in three tiers from casual to fine dining. The lowest plan is priced at $85 per adult per day [and you must purchase the entire vacation, not just part of the trip.] It includes breakfast and dinner daily, kids under 7 eat free. The plan does not include lunch and in-room dining. I figured with kids, we probably would be eating quick lunches sometimes or order room service on occasion. I wanted to see if we could save some $$, so we chose to opt out of a dining plan.
Tip: Grab a quick lunch from the numerous pool-side counters and eateries. A sandwich would cost around $6-8, as well as pizza slices. Salads were around $13-16. Snacks from home are a great option to kill your hunger in between meals.
There were days when we would eat a heavy buffet breakfast skip lunch. There were also days the kids were happy to eat their cereal with milk for breakfast. Granted the cup of milk I ordered from room service ended up costing $9. I had read that the buffets offered at Poseidon’s table are insanely expensive, but actually it ended up costing us the same as room service. At least with the buffet we were able to really fill up, and pack some small pastries to eat later.
Atlantis Casual dining plan VS No-plan
Atlantis Casual Plan:
2 adults = $170
6 days = $1020
VAT Tax 12% $122.40
Gratuity 15% $153
Total Cost = $1295.40
What We spent with no plan:
Average amount spent daily on food = $138
Total Cost = $866.21
We saved roughly: $429*
*Note: There was a promotion at the resort and we received $200 resort credit that could be used on food purchases. So our total cost is after the credit of $200 applied towards our in-room dining.
If I had to go back, I would be tempted to give the dining plan a try, if my kids were still under the age of 7. That way we could eat the buffet breakfasts and dinners, skip lunch completely or survive on snacks because I hate to spend a penny more! I think there’s no right way to do it, whatever is comfortable for your family.
Halal Dining at Atlantis
There’s a couple of things you need to know when choosing to dine Halal at the Atlantis, Bahamas. Certified Halal meat is available, upon advance request [imported and stored onsite]. When I read about this on their website I went ahead and called their Chef’s office to discuss it with their admin. I was then directed to fill out a form, including any dinner reservations at their restaurants, with the choice of menu items we would like halal meat for. [Offered chicken, beef or lamb]. I was also told that when dining at any of the casual restaurants [where reservations are not required], I can call ahead of time during my stay, and request halal meat.
I had made just one reservation at a restaurant, knowing that it would be too expensive to do fine dining each night. Upon reaching Atlantis resort, I had a few more conversations with Chefs onsite as well as the chef’s office, and learned that the meat they had available during our stay was only whole chicken and beef rib eye steaks. Therefore, we only had halal dining twice during our stay as they could not make any burgers due to lack of ground meat.
During our stay, I also requested halal meat in the morning for dinner at a restaurant called The Point at Harborside, and they called me back saying they can accommodate our request for halal meals. We were pleasantly surprised with our meals, but more surprised that the chef took her time to visit our table, talk us through and check on how we liked our meals. This is the first time in our lives that we ever spoke to a chef at a restaurant who cooked our meals, and not going to lie it felt very special.
The second time this happened was the night we had made a reservation to eat at the fine restaurant called Chop Stix. The chef greeted us, and even brought out the halal whole chicken stamped with the Halal certification, and explained how he would use a cleaned wok for our meal. We were very satisfied with our halal dining experience at the Atlantis Bahamas and would recommend it to anyone who wanted to try.
Tip: The Point is an outdoor dining restaurant, very quiet and just a 5 minute shuttle bus ride away, make sure to try it. If dining halal, call the same day but in the morning to ensure they can get the meat, and speak to the chef before eating.
Tip: According to the Chef at Chop Stix, all the chicken used in the dishes at Chop Stix restaurant is Halal. But definitely ask to speak with the chef to confirm.
I hope you found some of the things in the post useful to you. Atlantis, Bahamas is a perfect family destination. Despite it being very expensive, it has a lot to offer and I was pleasantly surprised at just how many families with young children were at this resort. It is a haven for children under 10 and I think it was the perfect time to take my kids. They still ask me when we will go back to our hotel and the pools. Here’s some more photos from our lovely trip…
Have you ever been to the Atlantis? Are you planning to visit? Share in the comments!
For a complete guide on what to pack, check out my post here: What to Pack for Kids (Atlantis, Bahamas)