Associate editor Amy Spiezio was on hand for the grand opening
of the Royal Towers addition to Atlantis on Paradise Island,
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas -- Atlantis brought movie stars and
superstars -- including Michael Jackson -- to the grand opening of
its Royal Towers, the popular resort's expansion project that
agents have been hearing about for years.
The $480 million Royal Towers more than doubled the Atlantis
resort's room count, to 2,300, making it the Carib-bean's largest
property. Royal Towers contains 1,202 rooms. The three-day opening
extravaganza, held Dec. 11 to 13, drew celebrities like Julia
Roberts and Denzel Washington, and featured a performance by
Jackson. A blazing fireworks display capped off the
James Hepple, deputy director general of tourism for the
Bahamas, said the expanded Atlantis will have a "very positive
effect" on the Bahamas. "It's clearly going to be a very
interesting resort. It creates a great deal of excitement and buzz
about the island," he said.
The Atlantis expansion has been widely seen as an important
factor in the renaissance of the Bahamas. The resort's growth,
along with expansions at Sandals Royal Bahamian, a new Holiday Inn
and upgrades to the British Colonial hotel and to Club Med, is
expected to provide about a 20% hike in arrivals to Nassau and
Paradise Island, tourism officials said.
Increased room capacity also has helped spur more air lift to
the Bahamas, with a 26% increase over the 1998 level of lift
expected for the coming year, Hepple said. Adding or expanding
service are TWA, American Eagle, Delta and Comair.
Accommodations in Royal Towers include 439 queen rooms, 597 king
rooms and 166 suites in junior, executive, grand, presidential,
royal and bridge categories. Per night rates range from $340 for a
queen room to $1,000 for a grand suite. The top-of-the-line bridge
suite, priced at $25,000 a night, has two bedrooms, an
800-square-foot balcony and an entertainment area.
In keeping with the Atlantis theme, 8 million gallons of water
are deployed in various Royal Towers attractions, including six
swimming pools, five waterslides, waterfalls, fountains and a
snorkeling lagoon. Its 100,000-square-foot casino, open around the
clock, has more than 1,000 slot machines and 80 gaming tables.
Underneath the Royal Towers, guests can wander through a series
of caves that depict a fantasized archaeological excavation of
Atlantis. Called the Dig, it houses glassed-enclosed chambers that
form huge aquariums for sharks, jellyfish, moray eel and other
creatures. Outdoors, a Mayan temple, modeled on Yucatan ruins, is
where guests will find the water slides.
The main dining room at Royal Towers is the Marketplace,
featuring an international menu for breakfast and dinner. Other
food venues include the Atlas Bar & Grill, which overlooks the
new yacht marina; Five Twins, featuring Pacific Rim cuisine and a
cigar lounge; Voyagers, a snack and coffee bar, and Fathoms, which
offers seafood. Food also is available from pool and beachside
Royal Towers has 10 bars and lounges, and a health club.