We stayed at The Cove - Atlantis with our three children, ages 2, 5 and 9 for six days.
We're aware that The Reef was more geared for families, as each suite comes with a small kitchen. But, since our goal was to relax we didn't want to bother with cooking our own meals. The only other advantage The Reef had was that it had its own Starbucks on the ground floor.
As such, we chose The Cove, because we wanted to stay at a more exclusive resort. To put it simply, it blew away our already high expectations. The Cove is a study in design and luxury finishes. Each and every facet of the resort just oozes with elegance. There is nothing chintzy or second-rate at The Cove.
We were picked up at the Nassau airport by Fergie's Taxis. Even though our plane was around an hour late, Sandra was there waiting for us. Before we got to the resort, we stopped off at the local market to buy some milk for our children. Great service at a reasonable price, which I highly recommend. When she dropped us off, I made arrangements for pick up on the date we were checking out.
Check in was easy. We paid for an upgraded luxury oceanfront, so I was unhappy when we were initially given a third floor suite. I voiced my displeasure to the desk staff, and was immediately moved to the 16th floor.
Walking to our bank of elevators, we had to travel through the breeze way. This corridor was designed to enhance the ocean breeze, so it always felt refreshing to stroll there. The decor in the lobby areas and breeezeway were simply stunning too.
When we first entered our suite, my wife, children and I couldn't contain our shared excitement. The room was absolutely beautiful with a breathtaking view of the ocean. It felt very modern and luxurious, yet comfortable at the same time.
The Atlantis complex is absolutely amazing for families and children. There is a wealth of attractions to keep the children engaged and happy - the waterpark; children's water playground; lazy river; aquarium; and lagoon. It really is a vibrant and sensory filling complex.
One word of caution, if you have young children, I wouldn't completely trust their well being to the lifeguards. Quite often, I would see the lifeguards socializing amongst themselves instead of vigilantly watching the swimmers. In fact, on the lazy river ride, I've seen a couple of lifeguards napping at their posts. I know this is the Caribbean, but hey, you're talking about the health and safety of guests. Wake up!
What I liked best about The Cove was that we had our own private beach and pool. The beach area is shared with guests from The Reef, and it is truly spectacular. The sand is powdery soft, weed free, and crystal clear. As there is a nearby coral reef, the beach is just teaming with aquatic life. We crumbled a small bag of cereal and fed the tropical fish by hand.
With respect to meals, we took the Casual Meal Plan. I would have liked to have gone on the Gourmet Plan, but my kids were too young to be admitted to Mesa Grill or Mosaic. Nonetheless, we were very happy with the offerings in the Casual Plan. The food quality was very good - at or very near to North American standards. Our favourite restaurant was Bimini Road.
The meal plan included breakfast and dinner only - so we usually had a late breakfast and early dinner. If we were hungry in between, we would just order a meal at the food counters pool side. I think burger, fries and a drink were a reasonable $7 or $8.
We took a day trip into town one day, and of course visited the Straw Market. Nothing really special there, but it was nice to go outside of the resort and see other sites and the vibrant architecture. The one thing we like about the Bahamas is that it doesn't have the third world feel of other sun destinations. The standard of living is definitely higher, so we never felt uncomfortable with the locals.
Finally, I can't get over that people write a negative review based on the fact that The Cove is expensive. Well, what did they expect!? We fully knew that Atlantis, and especially The Cove would be expensive. So why get all stressed about it?
We will definitely go back to The Cove. It ranks near the top of our all time favourite vacations.