When we first arrived at The Cove, our jaws hit the floor at how beautiful the place was. Over the course of the next few days, we had a number of other jaw-dropping experiences, but not quite of the same variety. Indeed, the Cove at Atlantis, and Atlantis itself, is a real enigma, and it's difficult to know quite how to rate it. There is a lot to like here and in some respects it is unquestionably a world class-resort -- the grounds are beautiful and meticulously kept, the rooms are very nice, top-notch dining, it has a great beach, and it "feels" very luxurious.
Unfortunately, that is just a feeling. For me, luxury includes top notch service, or at least passable service, and The Cove delivers neither. Service at the adult pool was just staggeringly bad. I do get that there is a gratuity added on to every bill automatically, but 15% of a $500 bill is more than 15% of a $100 bill, so you'd think there would still be an incentive for the servers to do something other than lean against a wall, but you'd be wrong. Not a joke, at one point, our server did not budge from a spot where she was standing for 45 minutes. Not serving me, not serving anyone, not doing some work-related task or even talking to a co-worker, just staring off into space. Absolutely brainbending. We were eager to really kick it up, but it was just impossible at the pool. Service at the bar itself was much better, for what it's worth.
It unfortunately wasn't just the pool, though. We spent an hour and a half getting a single drink at Seaglass upstairs one evening, for example. The service (or lack thereof) became the theme that overshadowed the trip after a couple of days, not just with us, but also with the large group with whom we were traveling. Clearly, ours was not an isolated experience.
At this price point -- as others have mentioned, you can blow through hundreds of dollars without even really trying -- this lack of service is really inexcusable. It's one thing to spend this kind of money to be pampered -- it's quite another to spend this kind of money to be ignored or asked to jump through a bunch of hoops to do something simple like paying a bill. The whole place is just a study in inefficiency.
In fairness, one feather in the Cove's cap is that it feels fairly exclusive as you need to be staying at the Cove to be over there at all. In contrast, Atlantis proper is constantly swarming with people. The resort itself is huge, so there's obviously a lot of people that are there anyway, but there is also a steady stream of tour groups slogging through, plus I believe they make several of the attractions available to cruise groups as an excursion. It makes it feel even bigger than it is because there's just a mass of humanity, and makes it hard to feel like you're on a "special" trip.
On the positive side with respect to the broader Atlantis property, the waterpark is amazing, as are the numerous marine habitats and aquariums that they have around the property. We saw some things there that were truly remarkable, and the slides, etc. are top notch. Moreover, we swam with dolphins over at Dolphin Cay, which is something I'll always remember. The spa is very nice, and there are also some world-class restaurants on the premises which are ironically pretty reasonably priced for what they are. They are expensive, yes, but while the buffets, etc. are really overpriced as compared to something similar at home, the high end restaurants are closer to what you might expect to pay at a similar place not at a resort.
It's frankly a real bummer to have to give this place such low marks, particularly given the fact that it has so many unique and amazing attributes. It does underscore, however, the importance of service. Get a new crew in here (or possibly do something to provide an incentive to provide better service) and this place could easily be one of the best resorts in the world. As it stands, though, I'd have a hard time justifying paying the premium you have to pay to stay at the Cove.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.