My wife, myself and 2 kids (ages 3.5 and 9 mths) stayed at The Reef Atlantis for 6 days at the end of March 09. My review is geared more towards parents planning to take very young children with them.
We booked it through Westjet, which had the best deal at the time for flight & resort. Beware that if you choose the meal plans on Westjet's site, the prices seemed to be a lot higher. I tried calling Atlantis directly to buy the meal plan, but they only allow you to buy it directly from whomever you booked your package with. Also w/ Westjet, you can reserve your seats for free 24 hrs in advance of your flight by online checkin, which is critical for us to get 3 seats in a row with a small child and an infant.
Taxis at the airport are abundant. Do the pre-negotiated price thing when you first get into the cab and you won't be ripped off. Taxis range from a regular car, up to a huge van, and prices do not seem to vary based on vehicle type. We asked our driver to take us to a grocery & liquor store before reaching Atlantis. He charged us $65 in total (4 adults, one child, 2 big suitcases, stroller, a bunch of hand carry on bags). Our driver was very nice and took the time to point out a few sites along the way.
We went to the City Market, a very big grocery store that pretty much has all you need. My wife is a stickler when it comes to food for the baby, so we were surprised to find such items like organic milk (2L $6.59), organic eggs (dozen $2.75). Good fruis and veggies are really lacking as everything seems to be imported. We were pleasantly surprised by them having butter imported from Ireland and France, so much better than the stuff we get in North America. The rest of the grocery bill I'll try to upload. On the ride from the airport to Atlantis, you'll see the Fish Fry area & Straw Market area, so that you'll have an idea how far away they are from the resort.
The Reef is very new and modern building, we managed to get a studio room that was right at the corner (#901), which had a slightly better wrap-around view of the Royal Towers/Dolphin Cay and bridge (see my uploaded photo). Off to the other side of the balcony you could see some of the beach side as well as the sunsets.
The room is very clean and service prompt (we asked for crib, extra towels, etc and had no problems). The fridge is small (see attached photo), so budget how much cold items you plan to bring/buy to store in your room. One thing with cooking in the room is the fumes, since there's no exhaust fan at all. Once you open the balcony door, the A/C fan seems to stop working. The only smells that seemed to linger was the bacon, otherwise most fumes were gone within a few hours.
The room also includes full TV with a lot of stations, even including CBC for us home sick Canadians. There's also a small bedside radio which you can plug your ipod into to use as speakers. Each weekday morning we got a free USA today hanging outside our front door handle, which came in handy if you wanted to check your home town sports team scores, or weather back home.
For internet access, they do offer wireless service at specified locations. Another reviewer said they were able to get free wireless access from their room and lobby, but I didn't test mine out at the time. Each room has a wire from the phone that you can hook up your laptop to if you wanted to pay the $15/day internet usage. There's also a keyboard in each room to use internet on the TV. Otherwise, for free internet go to the library in Coral Towers and sign up before 6pm to use one of their 4 computers (can print out your boarding passes too for free). Waiting time was about 15-20mins.
While the front desk does give you a daily list of activities, most of them are not free. We did enjoy the free movie theatre and the $3 popcorn seemed reasonable.
The Reef's own beach was very nice and clean, lots of chairs but not all had padding or shade cover which is annoying. Since we woke up late and ended up hitting the beach/pools by around 11am-noon, most of the good beach chairs were already taken.
The heated pools were great for the kids, there's one right at the Reef called Cascades pool. There's 3 sections, with the shallow pool closest to where they serve the food. Unfortunately it closes at 5pm, so if you wanted a heated pool til 7pm you'd have to venture elsewhere in the resort. Definitely bring your own water toys, as they charge you $12 for a small bag of toys (small buck, shovel, etc) and $26 for a larger bag. I didn't notice much/any chlorine smells in the water, which is nice.
My son also loved the Splasher's park, as there were tons of kiddies there as well. Beware of the tube rides, as there's 2 separate ones. The Lazy River ride is located way off the other side of Coral Towers, and is very simple loop style of ride. The rougher ride located closer to the Reef has segments simulating white water rapid going through underground caves. While they do allow you to bring kids there (they also provide sturdy life vests), my son probably would've been pretty scared going through it (and it's hard to back out once you've got to the rapids section). The ride itself starts by the Power Tower.
The crazy high food prices have been mentioned a lot in other reviews, so I won't touch on that much. We went to Carmines, had lots of left overs. Pizza was ok at Pizzeria. The Marina Village area is quite lively at night, with some kids activities towards Carmines (steel drum band playing, with small drums and hats for kids to play with), as well as a live band outside of Bimini Road restaurant. We only ate at Mosaic's breakfast buffet once, at least it was free for our 3 yr old son. Some food prices already include the 15% gratuity (i.e. hot dogs, popcorn, etc).
Outside the resort, we took a $15 cab ride to Fish Fry around noon on a sunday and ate at Twin Brothers. Area was pretty quiet at the time (no live music), but felt very safe. Had some fried Conch which was very soggy, and broiled Grouper which was just ok. Probably not worth the long drive out unless you get bored of the resort like we did by day 4. We walked from there to the Straw Market, about 20 mins walk w/ stroller under occasional shade from the trees. Unless you want knock off designer brand bags or over priced souvenirs, the Straw Market was a disappointment. I'm usually a good bargainer, but here the only time you'll get a discount is if you buy multiple items from a vendor (and that's from a "slow day" according to one vendor). They probably get so many customers from the cruise ships that they don't need to lower their prices much. Another restaurant that we didn't get to try was Anthony's Grill. The closest way to get there is to shuttle to Coral Towers lobby and walk from there. I also noticed a Scotiabank & RBC nearby. Probably our best meal was at the airport the day we were departing. I asked the westjet lady when we checked in where was the decent food. They had just opened a Wendys which had reasonable prices (full meal deals $5-6), but across the parking lot there were vendors who did fresh lunches. We had a fried Tilapia burger (freshly made for you), and jerk ribs (best BBQ sauce I've had in a long time) $13 all together, both of which were fabulous.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.