It’s that time of year again – February – when the days are cold and dark and I start to daydream about warm destinations visited in the past.
This year is no different, and I find myself thinking back to the warm, crystal clear waters and soft white beaches of the Bahamas, someplace I traveled to with my family last summer while we were in New York.
Although I do like tropical islands, I’m not a huge fan of resorts – and by experiencing the Atlantis, I learned that I am most definitely NOT a fan of mega-resorts.
While my husband and I would probably rather spend a week chained in a medieval dungeon rather than step foot onto the Atlantis property again, our children (kids are weird, aren’t they?) loved the place and would go back in a heartbeat.
Supportive mom that I am, I told them that’s great and that once they start earning their own money, they are welcome to return. I’ll be happy for the postcard.
Oh, goodness. Where to begin? I’ll take a constructive take on criticism and lay it out as the good, the bad, and the ugly.
What can I say? It’s the Bahamas and the locale Atlantis chose to deface with its pink towers probably visible from outer space is simply beautiful, crescents of soft, white sand, crystal clear water, soft, gentle waves.
The weather is perfect – never too hot, with fresh island breezes. Before the crowds descend, the place was truly paradise.
My husband and I went out jogging in the mornings, and it seemed we were the only one among the seemingly gazillion guests the week we were there, so we truly had the beaches to ourselves.
The kids loved all the water slides, which is the real reason for being here, so they had lots of fun. I went on the slide that plunged through the shark tank once, but otherwise waiting in endless Disney-like lines didn’t appeal to me.
I did, however, join them in their enthusiasm for the lazy river, which also had some pretty good currents. It was also nice that the Atlantis showed free movies for kids in the late afternoon – a good break from all the swimming and sunshine.
In the end, I managed to spend my days reading and swimming, which is a pretty perfect way to relax.
Perhaps my husband summed it up perfectly when we stood amidst the crowds going by jostling to stand in line for the restaurants or the casino and he said “I feel like we’re living in a shopping mall.”
I’ve never taken a cruise nor do I ever intend to, but this vacation is the closest I will ever get. Not surprisingly, the cruise ships disembark nearby and let off many of their passengers who get day passes here, so the crowds double in size.
Thank goodness we skipped the whole meal plan thing, because queuing up for hours for breakfast among the throngs would have broken my spirit all together.
And the ‘Caribbean village’ constructed on the edge of the property with additional crowded restaurants and shops reminded me of the artificial nature of Epcot Center. Or maybe the sets on The Truman Show.
You’re forced to pass through the casino (biggest in the Caribbean!, should one care about such things) numerous times per day. One positive aspect, my younger son – who seems to have a special talent for finding money on the ground anywhere we go – did find a $100 chip on the floor so he was (understandably) thrilled with that discovery, and will probably repeat that story well into his 90s.
Once again, I guess cruse ship aficionados won’t mind this, but this constant ‘paying for access and services’ really annoyed me. If people want to pay extra for a cabana to have their drink coolers and their shade and comfy seats – great. More power to them. But since I was the only person out on early morning jogs, I was surprised to notice why all the pool and beach lounges were already ‘reserved’ with towels first thing in the morning when those who saved them never showed up until the afternoon. I would see the staff out there blocking all the seats with towels. I assume guests pay for personal slaves who block seats for them, even if they won’t be showing up until cocktail hour.
The other reason I will never-ever-in-a-million-years return is the customer service. I know it’s a big place. I know you’re looking after football stadium crowds, but there is really no excuse for such poor relations with your clients. We wanted to walk into town one afternoon and the concierge seemed to take it personally that we wouldn’t be getting a taxi. He actually said you ‘couldn’t’ walk into town and could only take a taxi.
When there was an electrical failure with our door, it took an hour and a half to send up a technician. Since we had to wait outside on the floor in the hallway for the technician to come, I went down to reception to ask if they could please speed it up and I was told very rudely there was nothing to do but wait outside. At least I dispatched our kids to the cinema.
When the technician finally showed up after 1 1/2 hours, he was shocked we had been left sitting out in the hall so long, since he had only been informed 10 minutes earlier by reception and would have been free to come and let us in. Hotel Management 101 might be in order.
In summary, I learned my lesson. It will be a cold day in hell before I ever step foot on a mega-resort again.
However, when I squinted my eyes and could ignore the crowds swizzling cocktails in plastic cups while emerged in the sea and could obliterate those hideous pink towers, the beach and sea and gentle island breezes were truly paradise.
Next time, I’ll find a smaller, quieter place from which to enjoy them.