Contributing editor Felicity Long recently visited Atlantis,
Paradise Island, Bahamas, with her 8-year-old daughter, Chloe. Her
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas -- Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, L.L.
Cool J and Bo Jackson.
These were a few of the celebrities rumored to be at Atlantis,
Paradise Island, when Chloe and I visited recently.
While we never actually saw any of them, we both felt as though
we were on a movie set as we explored the surreal architecture,
colorful aquariums and theme-park-worthy rides.
Those who are swayed by first impressions will be bowled over by
The resort so dominates its surroundings that it is an easily
recognizable landmark from afar, including from the window of an
airplane and the deck of a cruise ship.
Its looming shape -- complete with a huge arch and gigantic
statues of fish on the roof -- makes it clear this is no average
The property consists of three towers: Royal, Coral and
Each has a separate lobby, guest services desk and reception
area connected via long corridors lined with upscale boutiques like
Versace, Bulgari and Lalique.
Clearly, while families are an important market, they are not
the resort's only market.
Further explorations, which turned up the Atlantis Casino, Dragons
nightclub and Five Twins Rum & Cigar Bar, confirmed this.
Chloe loved the casino's bright red hand-blown glass fireball
and the colorful fish visible from many vantage points.
From a mother's point of view, the grounds are worth the price
of admission alone.
Acrylic tubes enclosed us as we passed through aquariums where
gigantic sharks, sting rays and piranha slid around and, in some
cases, over us.
We especially loved the Dig, a fantasy discovery site depicting
what the remains of the fabled continent of Atlantis might look
like if unearthed by archaeologists.
Eerie green eels, jellyfish and lobsters swim behind the glass
walls near the Dig site.
During feeding time at the eel tank, these usually immobile
creatures slithered around, vying for lunch.
The 11 exhibit lagoons house more than 50,000 sea animals and
200 species. Many exhibits are visible both from inside the
aquariums and outside from walkways and bridges.
Guests can swim, kayak or paddle oversized water tricycles at
the protected Paradise Lagoon.
The Aquacycle rents for $25 for a half hour, while a single
kayak goes for $20 and a double kayak for $30.
Each of the 11 swimming areas has its own ambience.
Our favorites were Ripples Kid's Pool and Slides at the Royal
Tower and Poseidon's Kid's Pool and Play Area at the Beach
Chloe and I studied the water slide that plunges into a shark
tank -- one of two at the resort's re-created Mayan Temple -- for
almost an hour before we could commit.
As we whizzed through the fish tank, safely contained inside the
acrylic tube, we were aware that we'd become part of the exhibit as
passers by watched us through a viewing wall.
Although it looks daunting, the ride is fun and suitable for
children -- and for adults who don't mind getting wet.
The other ride, known as the Leap of Faith, attracts more
intrepid guests, who plummet 60 feet into a pool of water in mere
We didn't try this one, but Chloe conducted impromptu exit
interviews of those who did, all of whom gave it a somewhat stunned
Kids must be 48 inches tall to take the Mayan Temple rides.
All guests who use the rides are required to wear wristbands
that identify them to the water-sports staff as guests.
For the younger set -- or for those who need less of an
adrenaline rush -- other rides include the Lazy River, a relaxing
quarter-mile loop through the landscape, and the Goombay Water
Atlantis has 10 tennis courts, basketball, volleyball, an
18-hole golf course and off-site excursions.
An excursion to Stingray City Island -- where guests can feed
stingrays -- is priced at $45 for adults and $30 for children ages
3 to 12.
The rates are $85 and $40, respectively, when combined with a
dolphin encounter at Blue Lagoon.
Atlantis has 38 restaurants, with cuisines ranging from Asian to
Bahamian, American and Italian.
Families should note that meals are generally pricey, with
dinners from $20 to $75 a person, excluding beverages.
More to our liking were the casual fare and fresh fruit at
poolside eateries, such as Shark Bites and Dive In, and the
sandwiches at Murray's Delicatessen.
Our favorite afternoon activity was ice cream at Jimmies,
overlooking the marina.
We also tried the generous breakfast buffets at Water's Edge,
Seagrapes and Marketplace, priced at $19.95 for adults, with
half-off for children.
Room service has a good range of offerings with prompt delivery.
However, we paid about $30 for Chloe's pizza and salad.
A better option might be a dining plan, priced at $42 per day
for adults, $22 for children for Beach and Coral Towers guests; $59
and $30 for Royal Towers guests.
The plan includes breakfast and dinner at select restaurants or
a credit toward dinner at other Atlantis restaurants.