The twin pink Royal Towers, connected by a high-level bridge suite, have always been the most recognizable element of Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas. This year, those landmarks, which boast 1,200 rooms and suites, are marking their 25th anniversary with a year-long celebration that includes new dining concepts, signature food and beverage options, a luxe sojourn with a hefty price tag, and more.
The world was a different place a quarter of a decade ago when the Royal Towers were constructed. The internet was just a baby and there were no smartphones to fight for our attention. Now, in 2023, Atlantis is actually the perfect place for a digital detox, especially to explore everything that’s recently changed.
For one thing, all guest rooms in the Royal Towers have been fully renovated and reimagined in a palette inspired by aquamarine waters, white sand beaches, and coral reefs. Many have Juliet balconies that are useful for popping out to peek at the water or breathe in the salt air, though some have more spacious balconies with tables and chairs.
More luxe than the Towers is the Cove, a 600-room enclave built in 2007 that feels exclusive yet welcoming, with an open-air lobby filled with water features, rocks, and foliage. Spending an afternoon at the guests-only pool is de rigueur, with loungers and daybeds inside and outside the water, and a buzzy vibe, especially when the resident DJ is spinning.
But with all the diversions on the property, especially the 152-acre water park Aquaventure, you probably won’t spend much time in your room, no matter where you stay. Why would you, when you can meander on a tube around the (not so) lazy river and bravely tackle a series of nearly vertical slides—including one that shoots riders down a Mayan temple and then through a transparent tube installed in a lagoon filled with sharks.
Gamblers will take note that the casino is currently undergoing a refresh to give it a more modern design, including celestial fixtures and flowing lines meant to evoke the sea’s refractions. High rollers will feel at home in the new high-limit slots lounge and in Bar Sol, where they can enjoy a cocktail before or after dinner while listening to live music.
And since the sun and surf always seem to make you hungry, you’ll want to hit up some of the 21 restaurants at Atlantis, including three new ones that opened in 2023 to coincide with the anniversary. Paranza, helmed by Chef Michael White, is positioned as a “love letter to Italy” with Italian regional cuisine and a focus on seafood. Silan, which means “date syrup” in Persian, is a Mediterranean-inspired resto by James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Alon Shaya that opened this fall, right on the casino floor.
Perhaps the most welcome resort addition, surprisingly, is Shake Shack, which opened its first outpost in the Bahamas here, poolside near the Towers. In addition to the burgers, crinkle fries, and handspun shakes that fans have come to expect, there are two menu items exclusive to Atlantis. The Paradise Crunch Salad has red cabbage, yellow tomatoes, corn, pickled red onions, watermelon radish, and plantain chips on a bed of arugula and romaine, topped with chicken bites and avocado green goddess dressing; and the Sunset Shake mixes mango passion fruit custard with guava strawberry puree, topped with mango, hibiscus, and dragon fruit powder. Since the pool decks, waterpark and casual food stands close early this time of year because of the earlier sunsets, Shake Shack is also a great spot to grab a little nosh if you’re feeling peckish before dinner.
But this location’s real claim to fame is that it’s the first Shake Shack to have a full bar. Cocktails are beach- and pool-inspired but well-executed. The Tropical Rosé is a fancier wine cooler with sparkling rosé mixed with Aperol and passionfruit juice. Their riff on Sky Juice, an iconic Bahamian libation that’s basically a Piña Colada for gin fans, hits all the botanical and creamy notes, with Bombay Sapphire Gin, Flor de Cana Rum, coconut water, sweet cream, and nutmeg.
Speaking of drinks, the best ones you’ll find at Atlantis are at a bar that’s not technically owned by the resort. The Dilly Club, in the Marina section of the resort, is owned by Kyle Jones and William Young, the team behind bar Bon Vivants, also in Nassau. The space is unabashedly South Floridian, with potted palms, foliage-filled wallpaper, bamboo furniture, and thatched shades for pendant lights.
Drinks are next level, with astute attention to technique, fun house made syrups, tinctures, and bitters, and a focus on rum libations. The Little Island Daiquiri is a clever take on the classic, with Coconut Cartel Rum (which gets its flavor from added coconut water), Chinola Passion Fruit Liqueur, orgeat, and lime; and the Jungle Bird is a true homage to the Tiki tipple, with Plantation Xamayca Rum, Campari, simple syrup, lime, and pineapple. The Dilly Club doesn’t take reservations and you can’t charge drinks here to your room, but it’s worth a visit (or two) during your stay for a few rounds of the most well-made cocktails.
A lot of toasts were made (and bottles popped) during the resort’s recent 25th anniversary weekend. The festivities kicked off on a Friday night, with celebrities including Adrien Brody, Katie Couric, Marcia Gay Harden, and Cynthia Rowley convening at Paranza for pre-dinner cocktails followed by dinner with Chef White and some of his signature dishes.
On Saturday the party continued, with a blue carpet arrival, remarks from Tony Daza, and dinner at Nobu. Afterward, guests moved to the new Bar Sol next to the casino, and the night ended with a performance by CeeLo Green. Those left standing hit the afterparty in the Bridge Suite—the structure that connects the two Royal Towers that goes for a cool $25,000 per night.
Another exclusive experience that costs $25,000 (at the minimum) is one that’s also most exclusive on #TheRoyal25 itinerary. The over-the-top sojourn includes a five-night stay in a suite, an eight-course dinner at Michelin-starred Chef José Andrés’ restaurant FISH, and a full-day seaplane adventure in Kamalame Cay, including a sea-to-table beachside lunch under a palapa. And the indulgences don’t stop there, as these VIP guests will also experience an overnight marine life camping adventure, a day at Mandara spa, an omakase and sake experience at Nobu’s sake room, and much more.
If that’s a bit out of the budget but you still have FOMO about missing out on this celebrity-filled weekend or the over-the-top stay, fear not. Atlantis Paradise Islands’ 25th anniversary of the Royal Towers continues all year. During your vacation, you can sample a celebratory dish created for the anniversary, like lobster new style by chef Nobu Matsuhisa or seafood flatbread with shrimp, octopus, and cobia, with parmesan cream, lemon, and basil from Lagoon Bar & Grill; or sip the signature cocktail, a concoction of vodka, rosemary- and coconut-infused syrup, pineapple syrup, lime, Curaçao, and Angostura Bitters, topped with Prosecco.
And then raise your glass to 25 years of fun in the sun in the Bahamas.