FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND: WESTIN OUR LUCAYA RESORT
Sobe & Family
Just got back from a week long stay (April 1-7) at the Westin with my wife and two children. I was a little nervous based on reviews I had read but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. As long as you’re not expecting The Ritz or Four Seasons, I think you’ll be fine. Just realize that you’re going to be paying close to $400/night for your room (with all the add ons…resort fee, taxes, etc.) and the hotel restaurants are expensive too.
Overall, we enjoyed our trip there despite a few complaints. We were looking to relax more than anything else so the fact that there isn’t a whole lot to do on the island didn’t really bother us.
ROOMS (we were in Breakers Cay):
- Our room was spacious but the bathrooms could use some upgrading.
- We have a baby so we requested a separate refrigerator in advance to store milk and were told one would be in our room upon arrival but that was not the case. After calling the front desk to have one delivered, we were told that none were available.
- Our room safe was broken and it could not be fixed so we had to store our valuables and passport in the hotel safe deposit box. This was most annoying because it was less than ideal for my PREGNANT wife to have to walk to the front desk (which is in another building) to retrieve her jewellery/cash/etc.
- RECOMMEND – Don’t be afraid to complain. After complaining to management (Shani?), she was very nice and moved us to another room with a refrigerator and working safe…albeit two days later. Also, I understand that the Lighthouse Point rooms are nicer so request one and hope you get it.
- I didn’t find the staff to be overly rude as I had read. There were definitely some staff members who were indifferent but none that were outright rude. I think this can be attributed to the 15% gratuity that automatically gets added to your bill so there’s no incentive to go that extra mile. But there were also many staff members that were very friendly and accommodating.
- House keeping was not that great. We had to constantly ask for more towels because they never replaced all of our towels. They also didn’t vacuum the room everyday which becomes annoying since you bring in sand from the beaches and with two small children; food inevitably gets spilled on the floor.
- The beach was very nice. Soft sand and plenty of chairs to go around. However, don’t expect to be able to get served any drinks or food on the beach as the wait staff is pretty sparse.
- The pools were nice too. The infinity pool was a bit cold but the others were warmer.
- The Sheraton pool has a waterslide for the kids
- Hotel restaurant/bar food and drink were definitely on the expensive side but that’s to be expected at a resort. However, if I’m going to pay up for it, I expect the quality of the food to be better than what was served.
- China Beach Restaurant….DO NOT GO!!!! Expensive and service was terrible. The restaurant was not even full but it still took 20 minutes after we sat down for the waiter to come over to take our order. Then, it took another HOUR before we got our food!!! Unacceptable. The manager did apologize and didn’t charge us for dessert but my kids were melting down because it took so long to get our food.
- RECOMMEND – We ate across the street at the market place a lot. You’re not going to find anything real fancy but the quality of the food is as good as the hotel and at half the price in most cases. Zorbas is a Greek diner and great for breakfast and burgers. La Dolce Vita (sp?) was pretty good too.
- Dolphins – I recommend the dolphin experience across the street (Unexso). You have to take about a 20 min boat ride to the dolphin sanctuary but it’s worth it. My kids were too young to swim with the dolphins but we were able to get in the water with them and pet them. They loved it.
- Lucayan National Park – I highly RECOMMEND a trip there. It’s about 25 minutes from the hotel but it’s worth the drive. I took the kids to the park and they loved it. The “caves” aren’t that extensive or what you expect. They’re two pits in the ground as a result of a cave-in. An Indian burial ground was found in one so that was interesting. The real gem is the beach. You have to walk about 300 yards to get to it but it is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. It was deserted, pristine, and you could walk about 75 yards out into the ocean and still only be in about 18 inches of water. It was one giant kiddie pool for my kids to run around in and explore.
- Water Sports – You can do most activities at the hotel. I took my oldest son parasailing ($60/person). You can also rent jet-skis, kayaks, hobie cats, go on a snorkeling tour. All activities are not owned by the hotel so you need a credit card or cash.
- Casino – I went to the casino every night after putting the kids to bed. Its very small so don’t expect Las Vegas. They have blackjack, craps, Caribbean Stud poker, and slots machines. They’re understaffed so you may have to wait a bit to get on a blackjack table.
- RECOMMEND – If you gamble a decent amount, get a “players” card so you can get rated. If you gamble enough, the casino will help cover a few things on your bill.
Again, overall, this was a nice trip for the family but you have to be prepared to pay close to 5-star prices for 4-star accommodations and service.
I hope this helps.
GEORGETOWN: GRAND ISLE VILLAS
Matt & Family
We just got back from 10 nights at the Grand Isle Villas – very, very nice. We have an infant daughter and it was VERY convenient to have an entire villa. Villa is very nice, in great repair and has everything you need. 3-person Kohler bathtub was FABU! Don’t go if you like a lot of activities or nightlife there is little, thank goodness. Yes it can be windy too but not bothersome and kept things cool and bug free.
The pool area is great we were almost alone most days so we never felt that we were bothering anyone with our baby. There is enough room that we could “take over” a fairly large area and not bother other guests, something almost impossible elsewhere. Also no scrambling for chaises, etc. Wish they had pool service. They have a bar, servers, but they just don’t come to you, you have to go to them and then they will bring it to you. Very island “efficient”? Beach is very nice as well. Lots of good shells, crystal clear water and perfect sand.
Breakfast is a good deal at the one restaurant, lunch was pretty good burgers, sandwiches and salads, but the dinners were only ok. We had steak and lamb chops one night delivered to our villa, which was a nice feature, but another night the seafood was disappointing. We also saw a large dead mouse right on the steps of the restaurant our first night and the staff saw it but made no move to get rid of it. Heck, it’s an island so you’re going to have critters. It would have been nice if they reacted faster but? Overall the staff was very nice and friendly but could use some better service training as the have at the 4 Seasons. BTW, that’s the only noticeable better thing at that facility. For basically the same $ I would never choose the 4S over GIV. The villa blows them away as does the pool area. No contest.
The best meal we had was the local steamed grouper at Wahoos. Very favorable. Hope you like grouper because it’s everywhere. The Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons was also good (but don’t go thinking it will be the highlight of your life) it was very good for hotel dining. Also depended on whom you got for a waiter. The osso bucco pasta was very good as were the soups. Must go to Coco Plum for lunch and to spend the afternoon. Great beach bar right out of a Corona ad. Nice owners, good drinks and GREAT shelling. Sand dollars everywhere. It’s not 5 minutes away more like 15 but still very, very worth doing. Be prepared that all food on the island is very expensive $30 and up per entree with most things ala carte. Every meal except breakfast will be $100 and up for two without a lot of drinks. Worth it to shop at the local market. They had good selection of things; even a lot of gourmet items and a lot of baby stuff even swim diapers. Best for breakfast, lunch and snacks. I think buying fish from the restaurant supplier is a great idea. Wish we had thought of that.
Only down side to our experience was our last night they did work on the water lines and we had unusable water overnight, which was hard with a baby. They don’t have overnight maintenance. So just be ready to be in the island spirit and go with the flow and you will enjoy. Don’t expect 5-star service and elegance and you’ll do fine. BTW, you don’t need closed toe shoes, etc at the Four Seasons even though I guess that’s what they prefer. We would return.
NEW PROVIDENCE ISLAND: ATLANTIS CORAL TOWERS
Bincy & Family
We are just got back last Friday (12/05/2008). We (my husband, toddler and me) had a fantastic time. Okay Beach Towers is closed- they say it is for renovations and all the rides in that area is also closed. The staff also said it is due to re-open in Jan 2009.
We were booked at Beach Towers (terrace view), but at check in got an ocean view in Coral Towers. (Room overlooking the resort and the beach with a view on string ray below). We did ask for a king size bed, but then they said we would lose our view, so we kept the ocean view and just pushed the beds together! The room was clean and the view was spectacular.
We got there late afternoon and we got checked in right away. On our way from the airport to the hotel, we stopped by KFC and got some chicken, so we had that, and we were pretty exhausted- so we took a quick walk through the predator lagoon and returned to our room and just relaxed. The next day it rained on and off, but we still managed to check out the pools and of course explored the Dig. My son was fascinated by the scuba divers cleaning the aquariums, and the starfish that you can touch. The next few days the weather improved and we alternated our time between the beach and the pools, but started off the day by going through the Dig and ended the day with it as well. It was not overly crowded but there were a good number of guests there.
I did pack an extra suitcase full of snacks, cereal bars, croissants, cup noodles, water and a water boiler. I ended up paying extra money for exceeding the 50lb limit.- which I thought was worth it, because we managed to only have to eat one main meal out each day. By the way they do have coffee machines in the room.
Just an fyi, you can use the internet for free for fifteen minutes per day at the library located in the Coral Towers.
Pools: I spent most of my time at the Splashers kids’ pool but did try a few others, I personally thought the water there was the warmest, but it could also be that I was in the water and got used to it.
My husband and I did try the rides at the Mayan temple, there were no long lines.
Food- yes it was expensive if you eat at the resort- for example we had lunch at the Lagoon Bar and Grill, and I had a sandwich, my husband had a soup and a salad and we ordered a hard boiled egg for my son. The bill came out to about $60- the hard boiled egg was $8 and it was cold. We only ate one big meal out and with the exception of the Lagoon Bar, we only ate at the Marina village. We did buy hotdogs and drinks while we were at the pool and the beach. Hotdog was about $6.
I personally thought the staff was very nice; I didn’t come across any problems. They were all great with my son. Housekeeping- the first day we got there, my son poured water all over the bed and I called the housekeeping and we got new duvet and sheets within 20mins, and after we tipped her, she asked if we need extra cups, pillows etc. The rest of the week I did leave a tip for housekeeping each day. We always had fresh towels, and the rooms were always clean.
The bill- my husband opened the mini bar and everything fell out and we got charged, but when we explained what happened, they took off the charge. By the way you can check the status of your bill on the TV screen, under My Atlantis.
The daily itinerary is delivered to your door with the newspaper each day. So if you want to see the feedings, you can just look that up under “Seakeepers Santuary”.
Beach was very nice, we were mostly on Atlantis beach and my son had a blast. We did visit the Cove beach and it was empty and we didn’t stay there too long.
My husband did try his luck at the casino a few times, while my son and I explored the Dig in the evenings. The vibe is different in the evening, you see people dressed up and they have music playing etc.
Timeshare: we were approached one or two times, but I think because we had our son with us, they left us alone after we declined.
Vendors on the beach, I was not harassed, they do come and ask and after you say no thank you, they seemed to move on.
We didn’t really get a chance to go to the Dolphins Cay, neither my husband nor I got to try the rides on the Aquaventure- but we still had an awesome time and would love to visit again when my son is older.
NEW PROVIDENCE ISLAND: ATLANTIS PARADISE ISLAND BEACH TOWER
Nicole & Family (babies 9mos & 3 yrs)
I just wanted to say that we had a great time at the Atlantis! (I was a little nervous after reading many negative reviews.)
We are a family of 4 (2 adults, 9 month old, and 3 yr old). We booked a one bedroom suite in the Royal Towers and were “upgraded” to an ocean view. We arrived earlier than the check in time (we arrived at 1pm) and were given our room right away. Service at all levels was great; check-in was quick. The place was gorgeous, clean and just lovely. The pools were fun. We did the modified American dining plan and we are glad we did since the a la carte prices were quite high.
The hotel is very family friendly–a real crib with a bumper (not a pack n play like we get at some hotels when we request a crib) was provided along with samples of Johnson baby products including wash wipes, baby wash, lotion, and balm for dry skin. The “baby kit” also included a night light and a lullaby cd. I thought the kit was a very nice touch. The only drawback is that the place is not as stroller friendly as we would like–there ARE elevators to get around the property without hiking the stroller up steps, it just took us a day to get it down.
We will definitely return when the kids are older and the new water park facilities are complete (sometime next year). But we all had a great time and wanted to ease any other families who are about to head out there and may be worried like we were!
NEW PROVIDENCE ISLAND: ATLANTIS PARADISE ISLAND RESORT & CASINO
John & Family (baby 7mos.)
I had the opportunity to take my family to Atlantis, at Paradise Island, in the Bahamas. I was there for the circus week of Anna Nicole Smith’s funeral, which had no impact on our trip, and the opening of the new waterpark, AquaVenture, which had a big impact on our trip.
I have a 4 1/2 year old, and a 7 month old son. We were traveling with my parents, and my sister and brother-in-law and 3 1/2 year old son. We thought this was the perfect place for the family. In many aspects, it was.
However, we opted to stay at the Beach Tower, because the pool had a walk-in area (good for the baby to sit in a bit of water) and the adjacent Lazy River, which was a highlight in a past trip. But… they closed the pool for the week for resurfacing of the pool deck – which not coincidentally happened the very day the new section opened – and there was no notice and no one at the hotel seemed to know what was going on. This made my (handicapped) mother walk tremendous distances to get to desirable pools each day, which was a disappointment.
The Beach Tower is fading, badly, and needs renovation. The last time (1998) I stayed at Atlantis, we could check right in at the Beach Tower. No longer. That is the home of the vacation club (read: timeshare – that they molest you about incessantly). Now, you have to go to the Coral Tower to check in, which created long lines. The staff were quite helpful and nice and friendly – overly so in many cases with our baby – but nonetheless, the check-in in the other tower is an extreme incovenience. If you depend on the Bell Captain to get your luggage – forget swimming your first day – it could take several hours to get luggage. Our room had a leak in the ceiling with dripping plaster onto the floor that ruined, to some extent, the ambience of the incredible view of the property/ocean. For an expensive place, it had its warts.
The restaurants are comically expensive. Dinner for 5 in a Chinese restaurant? $210. Ridiculous. The food, although overpriced, was excellent, and around the pool areas, there were more than enough options not far away.
Enough complaining, though – I make the trip sound like a nightmare. The new area is fantastic. There is a mile-long (mile!) Lazy River with a current and rapids, that is quite simply, fantastic. There are three tube slides and another non-tube water slide called the Abyss – these top the excellent Mayan temple/slide into a shark tank slides built 9 years ago. There is a water playground for kids – although our little ones found the water dumping too rough for their taste. The remainder of the grounds are spotlessly clean, there is (helpful in most cases) staff everywhere, and the place is beautiful.
Atlantis is a no-brainer destination, but avoid the aging Beach Tower. I would recommend the Royal Towers if you can afford the higher price, and settle for the also-aging (but in better condition) Coral Tower if you need to be more affordable.
NEW PROVIDENCE ISLAND: ATLANTIS PARADISE ISLAND RESORT & CASINO
Katie & Family (baby 18mos.)
I have been reading trip reports for the past 2 months or so, and they have been very interesting and helpful to me as I planned my own trip to Atlantis. I was there June 1-8 with my husband, 18-month old daughter, my parents and my 25-yr. old sister, and my in-laws. This was my 3rd trip to Atlantis, but the first for my husband and daughter. I hadn’t been to Atlantis in 4 years, so I knew a lot had changed with the addition of Cove, Aquaventure, Marina Village, new restaurants, etc. This is kind of long, but I hope it helps…
We had a 2- bedroom suite in the Royal Towers with my parents in the main bedroom, sister in the middle room/living area on a pull-out bed, and my husband, daughter and I had the adjoining bedroom with 2 queen beds and a crib. Having separate beds for my husband and I was actually nice for the week as I am 4 months pregnant, and getting comfortable to sleep is not as easy these days. 🙂 Plus, my daughter often ended up in bed with me at some point in the night. Anyhow, our rooms were great, very clean and pretty. Excellent views from the balconies (we were on 15th floor) of ocean, Cove pools and current/river, Cove beach, Mayan temple, Splashers pool, etc. Housekeeping was very good. They did a nice job, and offered us extra towels on more than one occasion – always pleasant and friendly when we saw them in the hallway.
Our weather wasn’t great, but we’re still tan from the few days of sun. Tropical Storm Barry arrived on June 1 when we got there, and it rained for 2 days. By the second day, my husband, daughter, and I were getting tired of being inside, so we joined many other guests with the same idea who were out at the pools enjoying the slides, pools, etc. Hey, you’re getting wet anyway, and it was certainly warm enough outside. The 3rd day was very nice, sunny and warm- just perfect. Rained again most of the 4th day, but we got outside by 3pm to enjoy the afternoon at the pools. 5th day was perfect, hot and sunny all day. The next 2 days were basically overcast, but still plenty warm and we still got some “sun” even so. June is rainy season, so this kind of weather is to be expected. We had fun anyway.
Someone mentioned the high cost of food for lunch by pools. Here’s a tip – if you want to save a few dollars. If you have a family or group of 4, order the family combo meal. 4 burgers, 4 drinks, and 4 fries for something like $24. If you don’t have that situation and you want to order individually, order the kids combo. You get a (big) hot dog (or chicken nuggets, or big burger), fries, and drink for $9. Plenty of food. May even be able to split kids meal between 2 people, depending on how hungry you are. We also brought small bottled waters, apple juice, snacks (goldfish, fruit snacks, pretzels, etc.) with us for my daughter. Another tip is to get bottled water from the casino at night. If you’re sitting at a table, towards the end of your time at the casino, order a bottle or two of water, tip the cocktail waitress a dollar or 2 and take the water to your room for the next day or whatever. Better than paying $6 for the water at the pool the next day. By the way, if you do buy water at the pools, get the big bottle of water for $8, ask for cups of ice, and split it with your family, etc. Better deal than the small 12 oz. bottle which is $6.
The staff at Atlantis were very nice, pleasant, and accommodating. Many asked where we were from, if we were enjoying our stay, if there was anything they could do for us, etc. I definitely agree with others that how you treat the staff goes a long way toward how they treat you. We always smiled and said hi, good morning, etc. to the staff. They’re people too, and they deserve to be treated with respect. I was disappointed to see on more than one occasion guests acting very rudely towards staff. We used a stroller a lot throughout the resort for my daughter. Sure, there could be more ramps, but we were fine with carrying her up and down stairs as needed. One time, I was pushing my daughter in her stroller through the shops area by the casino. There is a set of steps leading to the casino, and there is a handicapped elevator that is available for use if needed. I decided to just take her down the steps backwards myself, which I’ve done before without any problem. An Atlantis staff member ran to assist me with carrying the stroller down the steps. After thanking him, I turned to leave, and a woman with a stroller approached him, waved her hand at him and snapped, “I need the elevator now.” I just shook my head and decided to mind my own business. But she was rude and disrespectful, and I felt bad for the Atlantis guy. That wasn’t the only incident I witnessed of rude guests, and I can imagine that many of the Atlantis staff members get tired of people treating them poorly. Not that they should in turn treat other “innocent” guests poorly, but I guess what I am saying is to consider what they deal with on a daily basis.
Food: we ate at the following gourmet restaurants: Fathoms, Seafire Steakhouse, Bahamian. My parents and in-laws also ate at Mesa Grill and Cafe Martinique. We all had reservations for Carmines, but we were surprised and disappointed to find out that Carmines was closed the evening the reservations had been set for. Don’t know if it was an honest mistake on Atlantis’ part, but we weren’t the only ones who showed up to find the restaurant closed. That was disappointing, but oh well, nothing we could do about it. So, we ended up going to Mosaic, the buffet at Cove. That was very good, very nice atmosphere. Excellent desserts! 🙂 We loved our meals at all of the gourmet restaurants. I’d have to say my favorite was Bahamian. Get the Chateaubriand for 2. Absolutely delicious! $120 for that meal, but so worth it. No need for appetizers, as there is plenty of food for both of you! Oh, and the coconut creme brulee is wonderful too! Great steaks at Seafire as well. I got coconut shrimp at Fathoms, which was delicious. My parents enjoyed Mesa Grill, and they love Cafe Martinique. Husband, daughter, and I tried Bimini Road (great food, fun atmosphere) and we had dinner at Murrays one night (more good food, obviously not fancy, but big portions), and we did Marketplace as well (great buffet, definitely not as upscale as Mosaic, but still very good food). We had great service everywhere, so no complaints there.
Waterpark: I didn’t get to enjoy the water slides due to pregnancy, but my husband, sister, parents, and in-laws had a great time on all of the slides, the rapids, etc. I did part of the current that’s just wavy, but jumped off before the rapids started. My daughter absolutely LOVED Splashers pool, which is so great for kids. She was able to do one of the slides (small red ones) and she just had fun climbing the steps, turning water on and off in various spots, getting dumped on from the big bucket (that’s a lot of fun for the kids), and just playing in the shallow areas of the zero entry pool. We spent a lot of time at Splashers for her, and it was great fun to see her enjoying herself so much. Plenty of chairs available around the pool. Bathroom, towel hut, and food stand very close, so that was convenient as well. It’s also so great that Atlantis provides life vests for all sizes (kids through adults), so we had Molly in the littlest vest available which fit her fine. Mayan temple pool is a little more crowded, but fun for kids, and of course it’s right near the temple slides. We also enjoyed the quieter Cove pool, which is steps from Cove Beach, and the Beach Towers pool that’s right near the beach bar. Never had a problem getting pool chairs at any location either.
Did well in the casino overall – blackjack and slots for my parents, sister, and husband, but I didn’t really play. A little too smoky in there for me (I don’t tolerate smoke well anyway), and with being pregnant, I didn’t want to be in a smoky area for long. The Dig is fun, and my daughter loved checking out the fish every day and most evenings. Saw lots of tours going on for cruise ship people, etc., but that didn’t bother us at all. No problems with timeshare people. I think they approached me maybe 2 or 3 times the whole week, and as soon as I said, “No, thank you, I’m not interested,” they said “Ok” and didn’t pursue it further. Didn’t do much shopping, although my mom and sister got some great deals in Columbian Emeralds jewelry stores.
I’m probably forgetting some things, but that’s all for now. We had a wonderful vacation, and we plan to go back in 2 years, when this baby is about Molly’s age, and Molly will be 3 1/2. It’s very fun to go with kids, and without, as I’ve now done it both ways.
You can be as busy and active as you want to, or you can kick back at the pools or beaches and relax. Atlantis has a lot to offer, and your vacation is what you make of it. To those who are going or who are planning future trips, enjoy, and feel free to ask any questions
NEW PROVIDENCE ISLAND: ATLANTIS PARADISE ISLAND RESORT & CASINO
Pam & Family
We visited the resort in March with three kids, 7, 5 & baby. We stayed at the Royal Towers, 2 bedroom suite. Royal Towers is very convenient to all areas.
Rooms: were great, loads of towels and nice linens. The staff at check-in and the housekeeping and room service was outstanding. Very helpful and friendly, even when enduring our screaming baby! They always checked in to see if we needed more towels, offer turn down, etc.
Water rides: it goes without saying – the recreation and beaches are fabulous. This was our first time to visit Aquaventure and it was a lot of fun, even for the adults. I agree other reviews I had read that the lazy river ride to the top of Tower Power is very, very long. Once is enough, and then walk up. Pools and beaches were clean, good condition, beaches are not crowded, almost forgotten, very enjoyable. The water safety staff was great with the kids. Towels were plentiful.
Nanny service: we had a great Nanny and the kids liked her, reasonable price.
Restaurants: Nobu: wonderful. Market place: awful. Lots of food, none was very good. We basically spent 135.00 for two kids and two adults to have some dessert and a slice of pizza for the kids. Splashers grill by kiddie pool: disaster. Staff was totally confused, I gave up my lunch after 45 minutes of standing at the counter waiting on a tuna melt. Order food and drinks from the wait staff that walks around and avoid the hassle. The hot dogs are great, as is the Tandoori chicken salad. Fruit bags are really good.
Room service: Excellent staff, average food. Burgers and mac-n-cheese are good for kids, with veggie snack plate. Only have whole and skim milk. Resort ran out of regular coffee pods for the in-room machines. Only decaf was available.
Tips: We brought cereal, cereal bars, peanut butter crackers, etc. Breakfast was cereal in the room, with some fresh fruit from the stand on the lower level. We brought powdered lemonade, ordered pitchers of ice water with our room service, and supplied the kids for daytime drinks. Soft-side cooler kept kids drinks cool at poolside.
Movie theater: great idea, popcorn, kids loved it, and nice nap for parents after a day in the sun.
Tip: This a big resort, just like any other, (except with amazing water rides and endless exploration opportunities) and a little preparation makes it easier and more affordable.
We had a great trip and look forward to returning.
NEW PROVIDENCE ISLAND: COMFORT SUITES PARADISE ISLAND
Tom & Family (baby 18mos.)
I just returned from Paradise Island with my wife and 18 month old baby. Hopefully this (long) review will help those staying at the Comfort Suites with a baby…
The first thing to know is that in the Bahamas there is NO car seat law for babies in the taxi, so we didn’t bring one. However, you DEFINITELY want to bring a stroller that has a good amount of holding space for bags. This will come in handy for holding your day bag with a change of clothes, drinks, and snacks. The bad news is that it seems as though there is also NO law in the Bahamas for accommodating the handicapped so be prepared to carry your stroller up and down stairs at a lot of places. By the end of the 5 day stay, we did find a lot of the ramps, but they are really out of the way.
We enjoyed the Comfort Suites a lot. The staff was friendly and accommodated my request for a room in the new wing (thanks to previous reviews I had read). There was no odor in any of the halls, and our room smelled fresh. The breakfast is adequate with bagels, muffins, cereal, and donuts, BUT you will definitely want to supplement it by packing a few ESSENTIAL things since there was no protein in the variety. We brought a jar of peanut butter (for the English muffins/bagels with jelly) and I saw someone else bring a bunch of oatmeal packets (damn, why didn’t I think of that???). Other foods/drinks that you should pack are 4 bottles of water, lots of snacks for the kid(s), and juice boxes. We brought a cooler pack and filled a Ziploc with ice every morning to put in it. Buy large bottles of water at Hurricane Hole and keep filling your 4 bottles of water (the fridge at CS holds about 5 or 6 bottles).
The restaurants: First of all, don’t expect ANY of the restaurants to deliver anything more than average cuisine (if you’re lucky)!!! The food was generally bad and the prices were a bit high (though we weren’t shell shocked being from NY). Across the street from the CS, we went to Anthony’s Caribbean Grill and the Blue Marlin, and the fresh fish at both places reminded me of my elementary school cafeteria fish (yes, it was BAD!). I finally learned my lesson and stopped ordering the fish! We found that if you wanted a good dish, it had to be something fried…it really was hard to try to eat healthy at all! We also went to the Arawak Cay one evening and went to Twin Brothers. The food was average there also, but the Conch Salad appetizer was great. This area was full of locals, and some started getting rowdy near the end of the night, so this might not be the best place to go too late in the evening. If you feel like you want to go to a Florida-type place, then head across the street from the CS to the Green Parrot, where the burger was truly good. At all places, you can at least rely on a nice cold Kalik (local Bahamian beer).
The Atlantis: WOW! This place is HUGE! When I read other reviews whining that they had to walk a lot, I just thought they were large people and out of shape (lol), but really, this place IS HUGE!!! There are about 10 of pools to choose from, but for the babies, there are 2 great choices. There is one with an umbrella type fountain next to the Lazy River (a circular tube ride) where we spent most of out time, and another one on the other side of the property by the Mayan Temple (this one has a slide for babies). Both are perfect for little kids and the water was MUCH warmer in them than the other pools. For the adults, I went on the Leap Of Faith slide, and it was awesome (though your butt WILL hurt from it!). The aquariums are nothing short of spectacular, and our kid particularly liked the touch pool in The Dig. DEFINITELY check out The Dig! For food at the Atlantis, I would recommend any of the express-type stands at The Cave, Shark Bite Express, or a small fish fry stand on the beach path. The restaurants in Atlantis are geared for high rollers so they are all a ripoff. Once again, the Kalik’s are icy cold 😉 I could swear that the casino is fixed, cause it seemed like every dealer in Blackjack was pulling 21’s out of their butts, but I won’t get into that :p Most evenings with the family were capped off with an ice cream at the Atlantis pier…there really is not much more to do for little kids. Fortunately we went during a slow week, so we didn’t have any problems finding chairs by the pools, but on our last day (Friday), it was MUCH more crowded and chairs filled up fast. The towel huts open at 9am (some at 10am), so try to get there at 9am to get towels, your Atlantis access bracelet, and chairs (just throw some stuff and towels on them).
Extracurricular: I went on the shark dive at Stuart Cove (on the other side of the island), and it was AWESOME!!! I would highly recommend it for you thrill seekers (it truly made my trip)!
As for the prices, here’s a quick summary:
- Taxi to/from airport: $27 each way + $3 each additional person
- Taxi to/from Arawak Cay: $12 each way
- Hotel additional charges & taxes: $35 each night (or more)
- Room safe access $2/day
- Wireless internet access at the CS (AWESOME!) – $10/day
- Shark Dive $135 plus equipment rental charges
- A great vacation with the family – PRICELESS! 🙂
Have a great time…I’m looking forward to returning next year!
NEW PROVIDENCE ISLAND: HARBORSIDE RESORT AT ATLANTIS
Maria & Family (baby 15mos)
I was concerned about how our trip would go based on this being our first vacation with baby and because of the mixed reviews I had read about Atlantis. We are well traveled and have been to several countries and I have to say overall we had a wonderful trip to Harborside and Atlantis. It actually was better than I anticipated it would be. Keep in mind we were traveling with my 15-month-old son and my mother in law for this trip.
Arrival/check in/room: Very efficient. Room was ready for check in at 2pm upon our arrival. We stayed in building 1 in unit 3721. It offered a 1 BR with a view of the marina, The Cove and the rest of the hotel. Building 1 is for Sunday check ins. The condo was neat – the floors a little dirty (I only noticed this because my son was walking all over and his socks would get dirty). The kitchen was small – 2 burner stove, microwave, no oven and an apartment size refrigerator. They had the basics – dishes, cups, pans, dishwasher soap, dish soap, toaster, etc…It met our needs though and was fine. The condo provided a crib and high chair which were very nice to have. The fold out bed in the living room was fine – my mother in law said it was comfortable and she had no trouble sleeping on it. The king size bed for us in the BR was fine too. Only two pillows though….I usually like more. I guess you could request extras if you want. We had a small bug problem in the bathroom but someone came up within an hour and sprayed and we had no further problems. We also had a hairdryer problem, but someone responded within 10 minutes. The service was very good – quicker than what I have experienced in most US hotels.
Food: Once you realize that the resort restaurants are very expensive and you get over it – it was fine. We choose to bring a soft/collapsible cooler with us for food at the pool/beach all day since we were traveling with baby. We ate most breakfasts in our room each morning too – it was just easier with a little one. We took advantage of the shuttle to the grocery store that Harborside provides and stocked up on groceries. We spent about $105 for – bananas, milk, 2 dozen eggs, assorted cheeses, 1 lb sliced turkey, 2 loaves of bread, cream cheese, OJ, 4 six packs of pop, (3) 1 gallon jugs of water, 4 small bottled waters, mayo, butter, dishwasher soap. I brought the following with me in an extra piece of luggage we checked in: zip lock bags, laundry soap, dozen bagels, snack foods, fruit cups, plastic silverware, fruit bars, cookies, pretzels, Pringles, mustard, salt, pepper. We mostly packed sandwiches/snacks in our cooler for the day and that worked great since my little one likes to eat every few hours – this allowed me to bring fruit, snacks and lunch for him along with water/milk. We just refilled our small water bottles each day and then put them in the freezer so we could use them as our ice packs in the cooler..as they thawed – we drank them. A case of small bottled waters was over $20 at the grocery store! As far as eating out – Johnny Rockets ($55 for 2 burgers, 1 hot dog, 1 lg fry, 1 kid’s meal and 3 beverages), Anthony’s ($50 breakfast – 1 omelette, 1 eggs Benedict, 1 combo breakfast, coffee, milk, juice), Marketplace ($49/person – baby free), Mosaic (buffet at The Cove $60/person), Cafe Hall of Waters ($180 for 2 Caesar salads, ahi tuna entree, petite filet entree, Cornish hen entree, 2 glasses of wine, 3 desserts, 1 milk), Seafire Grill ($225 for 3 appetizers, 3 entree’s, 2 glasses of wine), Murray’s Deli (lunch $55 for – 1 sandwich, 2 bowls of soup, 2 desserts, beverages), The Point ($55 for chicken tenders/fries, salad with grilled chicken, salad with tuna, milk, sodas), Carmine’s ($100 for 2 glasses of wine, 1 milk, 1 salad, 1 pasta entree – with leftovers!), Jamba Juice – breakfast sandwiches were $6 each. Overall we enjoyed the meals – though we found them overpriced. Seafire, Cafe at the Hall of Waters and Mosaic were our favourites.
Activities: we enjoyed the water slides – my husband and I had a blast. My mother in law loved the lazy river too! My little one loved the beach and the zero entry pools. We spent some time in the casino at night and that was fun too. Minimum bets on tables were $10. Kids have to be 48 inches to ride most of the slides – FYI. The pool chairs were all taken…no problem though. Talk to a pool boy – they removed towels on chairs for us if there were no personal belongings there and set us up on the chairs. They were very helpful asking where we would like to be…shaded, by the pool, etc…..
Tips: If traveling with baby/car seat/stroller – recline your stroller and put your carseat in your stroller as you travel through the airport – we did that with our Peg Perego P3 stroller and Britax Marathon car seat very easily. Wear back packs for your carry on bags – it keeps hands free for baby while moving through airport. We used 1 backpack as our beach bag and wore it as we walked around the resort. We hung our cooler off the stroller so we did not have to carry that around the resort. Bring a stroller with a canopy…my son took naps at the pool every day – he got drowsy and I just walked him around the pool area a few minutes and he fell asleep. He slept in the stroller while we had lunch, read and had some quiet time at the pool. Bring a large plastic bag with you so you can place it in the stroller with a towel over it when you need to put your little one in the stroller and he has a wet bathing suit. Taxi from airport to Harborside was $36 for 3 adults and 1 baby. We had no problem installing our car seat in the taxi – most are vans with seatbelts. Shuttle to the towers/cove – easy to use – we brought our stroller a lot with no problem. Most times the shuttle was there in a few minutes – the longest we waited was 15 minutes returning from the Cove after dinner and late night one evening from the casino. We enjoyed the walk to the resort each day and did that most of the time instead of taking the shuttle. It took about 15 minutes to walk.
Overall, I have to say we had excellent service at the hotel and restaurants. The Bahamian people were so welcoming, kind and especially attentive to our son – even the staff at the pool would pick him up and take time to stop and talk with him. The people were much more warm there than here in the US in my opinion! My mother-in-law unfortunately became ill on our trip and my husband took her to Doctor’s Hospital in Nassau. She received excellent care and she said it was better treatment than she has gotten here in the US. The staff was very attentive and she was treated and released within 4 hours which would not happen where we live. I hope this review is helpful in your planning. We had a great time and are looking forward to a return trip!
NEW PROVIDENCE ISLAND: NASSAU SHERATON CABLE BEACH RESORT
Jeff & Family (baby 5mos)
My wife and I just got back from a week long vacation at the Sheraton with our 5mo baby and I have to say that I was really impressed with the hotel. We travel a lot for work and both say that the Sheraton exceeded our expectations (would give it solid 4 stars). The renovations are done and they really did a great job. Hotel is clean, staff is friendly, grounds very well kept, and rooms are really nice. Here would be my breakdown.
Check in and Staff: The lobby is very nice. Everything is very clean and open. My wife and I walked right up to the counter and checked in. Staff was really very helpful and we were very impressed with their demeanor. Every staff member we passed stopped, said hi, and asked how everything was. We even had a maintenance person walk us half way around the hotel because we couldn’t find an elevator. Overall, everyone we met or talked to was very nice.
Rooms: The rooms are all new and a good size. We had a king size bed, balcony, flat screen tv, small table, and extra room for the crib. Bathroom was very nice and functional. We had a safe in the room which worked out great. Toilet is a little weird but I’ll let you figure out why I say that. We requested a crib and fridge for the baby, which came within 20 minutes of us getting in the room.
Pools and Chairs: There seems to be more chairs than # of people the hotel can accommodate. Chairs were never a problem and we were always able to get a umbrella by the heated pool. The umbrellas are great by the way and turn side to side so as the sun moves, you can stay in the shade. Pools are very clean and the heated pool was fantastic. Beach is nice with water sports available if you choose. We brought our snorkeling gear down but that was a bust. No fish to see per se and I wouldn’t bother.
Food and Beverage: Food is very expensive. The grill by the pools has decent food but expect to pay $15 pp on average (without alcohol). The Italian restaurant in the hotel is average at best. Food was kind of boring and bill was $100 for 2 people. The hotel is connected to the Wyndham via the casino and there are a couple restaurants over there worth checking out. We ventured off grounds and I highly recommend Compass Point. It was the best meal we had and it’s about a 10-minute cab from the hotel. We also ate at the Poop Deck but go to the East one on the marina instead of the west. It has better food. I would also highly recommend requesting a fridge and buying food for breakfast and lunch at the market down the street. The #10 bus passes every couple minutes and its a dollar in each direction per person. I was a little nervous using public transportation but I have to say that we had no problems. There are no set stops and the driver asks you where you are going and drops you off at the front door. When you’re done, cross the street and get back on in the other direction. We took our baby with us and just had her on our lap. The bus only holds 20 or so people so it’s more of a big van than bus. Definitely use it. Its really easy and well worth it. If you plan to do some drinking, I would also buy drinks offsite and store them in the room. Bar at the hotel is $5.50 a beer and $9 mixed drink. You can get beers 4/$4.50 right down by the grocery store. Also, almost every restaurant/bar on or off grounds automatically adds 15% gratuity to your check. Be aware of this.
Traveling with Baby: We brought our car seat for the cab rides but don’t think we’ll bring it next time we go. We only ended up using it for the cab ride to and from the airport. The speed limit is 30mph and its only 1 road back and forth. We held the baby when we went to dinners and it wasn’t a problem at all. Also, moving between the hotels is a little weird with a stroller. There aren’t a lot of elevators so ask where the closest one is and you have to do a little walking. It isn’t that bad once you figure this out.
Overall: Overall I would give this hotel an 8 out of 10. My only gripe was food. If the Sheraton opened a new restaurant or had more options, it would be a home run.
NEW PROVIDENCE ISLAND: NASSAU SHERATON CABLE BEACH RESORT
Jim & Family
Stayed here 5 days 4 nights at in the middle of January 2008. Construction seems complete, heard no noise, just the landscaping crews in the early afternoon. Enjoyed my stay, agree that the service is generally slow. A couple of points;
In Jan the temps range from 75 – 80, which is pretty cold in the non-heated pool. Its tolerable, but that initial shock is brutal. Heated pool is fabulous, had a few “Miami Vices” at the swim up bar.
Room was clean with no strange smells.
No fridge, so we had to keep getting ice to keep drinks and our daughter’s milk cold.
Concierge and staff are not very knowledgeable, friendly but just not helpful.
Lobby has the free wifi, nice for checking emails on the laptop.
Taxis are plentiful, always in que in front of the hotel.
Bus is fine, but not if you have a toddler. It gets very crowded and they fill it all the way (no aisle) because of fold down seats.
Taxi rides for dinner every night ran $20 each way, something to think about.
Dinner at the Italian place was decent.
Dinner at the Buffet was one of the worst culinary experiences in my lifetime. I’ve eaten better in elementary schools. Everything was old, nothing was fresh. No flavor, it was like eating the gruel you see in prison movies. Plus it costs $36.22 pp with gratuity added on. Stay far away.
All in all, nice enough place. Pool and beach are clean and fun with plenty of room for everyone. You will have a great time as long as you don’t expect 1st or even 2nd class service.
NEW PROVIDENCE ISLAND: SHERATON NASSAU BEACH RESORT
Justin & Family
Spent four nights at Sheraton Cable Beach from Feb 14-18 with my wife, infant daughter, and my parents. The facilities and rooms were nicely renovated and tastefully decorated. The rooms were clean and so were the common areas. The renovations are nearly complete and construction was not bothersome in any way. The wireless internet in the lobby worked well and there were nightly music performances in the lobby bar during our visit. I found the front desk staff to be courteous upon our check in and check out. I also found the housekeepers did a good job although it was totally unpredictable what time our room would be cleaned…I know that housekeeping in the late afternoon bothers some people. I found that some of the bartenders and servers were friendly while others were somewhat unfriendly and unenthusiastic about their jobs. I always tipped extra on top of the 15% gratuity that is included in all purchases at the resort, but I did not notice any impact on service. Some of the staff really acted like they obviously did not want to be there, but it did not spoil my vacation.
Since most of our luggage was lost en route we had to the opportunity to speak with the bell captain on numerous occasions. He was not overly friendly or helpful but the staff were quick to bring our suitcases when they did finally arrive. The beach was beautiful but the water was colder than I was expecting. The pools were also well cared for although they were mostly not used (except for the heated one) because it was a bit chilly during our visit.
The Italian restaurant on site “Amici” was average and comparable to the “a la carte” restaurants at all-inclusive resorts I have stayed at in the Caribbean. An entree was probably US$20-35 although I think the thin crust pizza was only $13…a bargain if you enjoy pizza. The place was crowded around 7pm and I saw them turning people away at the door (or asking them to leave their name and come back later). We ate at the Poop Deck which everyone raved about in the online forums. It was $15 each way by taxi from the Sheraton. The seafood was good, but it did not blow me away and it wasn’t cheap.
Some other reviewers commented about ants and food left in the hall for days. This is true. There were ants in both of our rooms but I did not let it bother me too much. There were just a few each day and we figured it may have been because we were on the ground floor. We did not complain to the hotel because we were afraid they would spray and we didn’t want pesticide around our baby. We ordered room service our first night and left the cart outside. It was gone in the morning, but we noticed dishes left outside other rooms for more than a day on our long walk to the lobby each day.
The one thing that bothered my family was that someone tried to break into one of our rooms while we were out. My parents came back to their room (next to mine) to find the door hard to open and after it opened it would not close. Someone had used a prybar of some sort in an attempt to open the door. The door was badly damaged and maintenance and security came to the room within a few minutes of our placing a service call. The maintenance and security staff were very friendly and fixed the door within an hour or so. At first they tried to tell us that the door might have been damaged by the wind when the cleaning lady left it ajar, but we had already been back to the room since the cleaning lady left and one could plainly see that someone had used a tool to pry open the door. The maintenance staff eventually conceded that someone had probably tried to break in and that it was fairly easy for locals to get into the rooms if they wanted to but they said there was not problem with theft on site. Our rooms were near the exit and that might have been one of the reasons why our room was targeted.
Another reviewer’s suggestion to purchase alcohol at the duty free liquor store in the Wyndham proved useful. I liked the wraps/sandwiches at the poolside grill or on the cafe by the lobby ($10-15). I ordered one meal through room service and it was not bad…the salads were large and the service was quick (about $150 for 4 people / no drinks).
The bus that runs downtown and to Sandyport for $1 per person was also convenient although it stops running at 6:30pm. There were a few shops nearby and a supermarket that can be reached by bus or on foot. The Casino was fun for a while, but there seemed to be a lot of “hard core” gamblers there (no locals). It is a “no cash” casino so you get a ticket to exchange for money when you want to cash out. The extra fees for bellman gratuity and resort fees were a bit annoying. I knew about them from reading other reviews, but it still left a bit of a bad taste in mouth when I checked out. There were quite a few vendors on the beach and at the entrance to the Casino but they were not pushy. There is a dj that plays loud music by the pool and organizes games and events. He does not play every day and it is not bothersome if you sit on the beach.
In summary, we liked the facilities (the Sheraton was much much nicer than the adjacent Wyndham) and they will only improve when the renovations are complete. The staff was mediocre — I would say substandard compared to other resorts (in Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, Mexico, Hawaii and Curacao) I have visited but this was my first time to the Bahamas so I cannot compare to others in the area. The food on site was average, but would certainly not make you ill like in some other countries. Overall, I would recommend this hotel and we had a good time there, but if you are seeking superior service and cuisine or a “high-end” experience in any way, I would steer clear.
NEW PROVIDENCE ISLAND: SUNRISE BEACH CLUB & VILLAS
D.J. & Family
We just returned from a vacation at the Sunrise Beach Club. We rented one of their 4 bed/4bath villas and it is just an awesome resort. The 2 level condo was beautifully decorated (right out of House & Garden), balconies on both levels, kitchen was stocked with every appliance, gadget, dishes, washer/dryer, etc. All we had to buy were a few groceries, which came in handy since we had a toddler with us.
2 beautiful pools (one has a kiddy pool which is in the shade) and the grounds are lush. Viola’s restaurant is right there as you enter the property and served wonderful food (and even better drinks!). Very casual – felt like home. Beach is very convenient, down a stairway right off one of the pools and there’s a bar right at the bottom of the stairs.
It’s about a 5-7 minute walk to Atlantis where we went at night for dinner/dancing/gambling.
Best of all were the people at Sunrise, friendly, warm and very helpful. I really can’t say enough good things about this resort. We’ll be back!