Things are a little busier on Paradise Island these days. It wasn’t that long ago that this popular destination in the Bahamas became home to the resort equivalent of the Gimbels vs Macy’s rivalry, but the recent addition of another big-name property has given travelers even more choices when it comes to this quick, convenient vacation spot.
Competition means different things to different people, though. Legendary GE CEO and Chairman Jack Welch’s strategy was to “buy or bury the competition,” which we’ll call the extreme end of the spectrum. Henry Ford saw it the other way: “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all but goes on making his own business better all the time.” If that’s the opposite end of the spectrum, that’s where you’ll likely discover the philosophy of Atlantis Paradise Island.
At a time when resorts across the world have been tasked with making permanent changes to their daily operations, as well as spending hundreds of millions on renovations, Atlantis Paradise Island didn’t just incorporate new health and safety protocols and unveil stylish new designs. This property focused on itself and notably the little things that guests have loved for years and asked, “How can we make everything better?”
Having recently walked through those massive front doors for the first time in two years, I was blown away by the changes. Some household name resorts never feel the need to reinvent or even reinvest in themselves—”Our name is all the advertisement we need” is a common refrain in this industry. But this giant playground for families chose to do both (and then some), and the result is nothing short of magnificent.
The People’s Resort
Whenever I visit a Caribbean island and inevitably meet new people and make new friends, one of my favorite topics of discussion is vacations. Not mine—that would be boring. Instead, I’m always fascinated by the idea of where people who live in paradise choose to visit. The popular answers are New York City and Orlando, and it isn’t very shocking that they also like island hopping as much as we do.
But the most common destination that I hear, particularly from people who work in tourism and hospitality, is Atlantis Paradise Island. And the primary reason for this choice is simple: there’s just so much to do. One island’s tourism official told me she loves the variety of entertainment for children of all ages. A resort’s executive chef, who is also an avid traveler, said it’s his favorite place because of the simplicity. “Everything is right there, and I don’t have to overthink anything,” he explained.
In travel, we’re easily distracted by the “next big thing” and the grass-is-always-greener mentality, so we sometimes take for granted the places that not only offer a little bit of everything, but consistently meet or exceed expectations. There’s no denying the allure of new dining options and amenities, or the thrill of playing trendsetter for a weekend and showing off selfies from a flashy dream resort. That comes with the risk of being let down or, far worse… bored.
At Atlantis, the only risks are the chips you put on the craps table and ordering the calamari for a table of two at Carmine’s. Few resorts, if any, do well at providing settings for “all of the above”: family fun, adults-only romance, and solo rest and relaxation. That’s not the most impressive aspect of Atlantis, though. Instead, it’s how the resort does all of the above for a variety of budgets, offering the full spectrum from affordable to luxurious.
When push comes to shove and unavoidable circumstances force businesses to completely overhaul their operations, Atlantis not only checked all the boxes for making the experience safer for guests, but it also made some permanent changes that all guests will absolutely love.
A Royal Welcome
Regular guests of Atlantis Paradise Island know exactly what to expect from staying in each tower. Adults and couples who want a quieter, stylish experience will book at The Cove, while families who want to be right in the center of it all will stay at the Royal Towers. Parents who need a little more space might prefer The Reef, and guests who simply don’t want to walk that far to their favorite restaurants in the Marina will choose the Coral Towers.
Ranking the accommodations is a fool’s errand, because each style offers something a little different, but ongoing renovations to the Royal’s rooms will make them a clear favorite for returning guests. Of the 1,201 total combined rooms and suites of the East and West towers, 469 have received their makeovers thus far—following expected delays—and the result is marvelous. Simple-yet-creative design choices deliver a jaw-dropping sense of rejuvenation, so much that it’s like walking into a brand-new tower.
At a time when visitors need to feel safe and protected, these rooms and suites will be a breath of fresh air (somewhat literally) and add an enhanced layer of comfort, which, combined with smaller aspects like private check-in, glass partitions in the lobby and casino, and hand sanitizer stations as common as garbage cans throughout the property, will instill confidence and satisfaction in any guest.
As for the Entertainment
One of the biggest questions right now is how a massive resort like Atlantis Paradise Island can still be fun with new rules and protocols in place, and the short version of such a complicated answer is: don’t worry, it’s still a blast. What’s important for every traveler to understand is that we all play a crucial role in making any vacation experience better for each other by simply doing our parts. Atlantis requires guests to wear masks in all public places while respecting personal distance. What I witnessed firsthand was a staff that will bend over backwards to make people feel at home.
Employees are always cordial here—it’s one of the resort’s biggest selling points—but it’s still so surprising to see people maintaining such professionalism when faced with the unexpected. And to the credit of the many guests who also passed through those giant doors, everyone seemed to be working together with a common understanding of what’s at stake. That’s not an easy task when you consider how much ground you can cover at Atlantis.
When you’re a regular visitor, you develop routines, and my family’s daily checklist always begins with setting up shop at the Reef’s Cascades Pool, because my son loves to swim from one side to the other and those covered chairs are the best for a margarita and a nap. What was different this time was the spacing of the chairs, almost as if Thanos had snapped half of the loungers from existence. As a new perk, we merely needed to select a space for our chairs, and they’d promptly be set up for us, approximately six feet from our closest neighbors.
It was the same as we watched Luka on a big screen by that pool during movie night, with guests spread out enough that they were hardly distracted by any of the kids frolicking in the water. Even Dolphin Cay made necessary changes, distancing groups so each family could meet and interact with its own dolphin, which remains one of the best vacation activities imaginable.
Spacing was also key to the experience in every restaurant we visited—Nobu, Olives, Seafire, and Fish all made guests feel as if they were VIP, as we’d have to throw a roll to get the next table to notice us. It’s common for resorts to limit operations right now, choosing to cycle restaurant nights and reduce staff, but Atlantis is doing a spectacular job in maximizing frills and keeping expectations high for those of us with especially loyal appetites.
Some Things Never Change
If competition breeds excellence, then guests should always expect the best in Paradise. Atlantis has survived and excelled by offering variety, and things are no different today than they were 10 years ago, other than the names of a few restaurants and maybe the size of the sharks in the Mayan Temple Lagoon (have they always been so big?). At its core, this is a do-it-all vacation destination that never discriminates against any type of traveler.
Few resorts anywhere boast amenities, entertainment, and adventure like Atlantis Paradise Island, and while there’s always seemingly greener grass right down the road, this property never lost its focus on meeting guest expectations. People travel from all over the world to kick back in and around the majestic pink towers, and that, like Atlantis Paradise Island’s devotion to the people who call it a home away from home, will absolutely never change.