We just returned from a week at Harborside (1/27 to 2/3). I relied heavily on previous reviews, which were very helpful and probably saved me $500-$800 in food costs. Overall, our trip was fantastic. The only drawbacks were the shameless price gouging for food, the immense difficulty in making a phone call, and the relentless attempts to sell us a timeshare at Atlantis (we are already Starwood owners at another resort).
First impressions: we were shocked at how quiet Atlantis was. It was not crowded at all. The weather was ok at first (low 70's) but warmed up and was in mid-80's by the end of the week.) But the pools were wide open, chairs were easy to find, and the restaurants (which we mostly only walked by) were pretty empty.
Based on previous reviews, I requested building #7 and we got it. We stayed in a 1 bedroom premium, and it was in immaculate condition. We did have bugs and we had the room sprayed twice, but otherwise, everything looked brand new.
Everywhere we went, the staff was extremely helpful and nice. I think we only encountered two people who were not enthused about their jobs and were a bit surly. But 99% of the time, the people were great.
We have 3 small children, so we walked everywhere with a stroller. After finding a few shortcuts, we had no problems at all with the stroller, contrary to previous reviews. (Helpful hint: to go from the Marina to the hotel, stay to the right at the Marina Pizzeria (it looks like you are walking in to a cave) and enter the hotel by the Atlantis Kids Club, make a right, and walk down to the elevators)
The resort itself is just incredible. The pools are great, the lazy river is relaxing and fun with the kids, and the aquariums are fantastic. The resort is kept in great condition and is very clean. The beaches and the ocean are beautiful. We really loved it.
The drawbacks, as mentioned before, are the repeated attempts to get you in to a preview to try to sell you a timeshare. We must have been asked 25 times throughout the week, by staff all over the resort. It's terribly annoying, especially since we are already Starwood owners. We already drank the Kool-Aid, and I think it's a great program. So I don't want to be harassed anymore. I wish they would give us a bracelet or something to identify us as owners so they wouldn't continue asking.
The other main drawback is the well-known price gouging. It's one thing to pay a markup for items on a Caribbean island, but Atlantis goes way past that. Some examples:
$9 for a large bottle of water at the beach
$33 for a large pizza at the Marina Pizzeria
$4 for a QUART of milk at the Sundries store
$10 for 1 day of internet access
As much as you brace yourself for it, it still gets under your skin after a while and really takes away from what is otherwise a picture-perfect vacation.
We prepared for this by bringing 3 suitcases full of water, soda, snacks, and other items, so we made out fine. We ate breakfast in our rooms, packed sandwiches and drinks for lunch, and cooked dinner about half the time, and ate out 3 nights. The Point is pretty reasonable, and we ate at Johnny Rockets one night, which cost us $50 for 2 burgers and 2 kids meals (all of which was very good). But talking to other guests who weren't prepared make us realize how bad the constant gouging really is.
The other gouging is evident in how difficult it is to make a phone call. Atlantis won't let you use outside calling cards at any of their pay phones, so you have to go off the property. Just for kicks, I tried the operator to see how much a credit card call would be, and it starts at $20 for the first minute.
Some other tips:
If you take the grocery shuttle and buy milk, stick with the skim or low fat ($6 at the store). The regular milk tastes like egg nog. They definitely leave a lot more cream in it than they do in the U.S.
Checkout was a nightmare. Don't wait until 10:00 to do it if you have a plane to catch. It's very crowded, you can't get a bellman to help, and a long line forms for the taxi.
The Dolphin Encounters trip is pretty good, but the first thing they do with the dolphin is have him splash everyone (unexpectedly), which scared my kids and kind of ruined the experience for them. It's funny for adults, but scary for little kids, so we were pissed about that.
If you have kids, try to pack beach toys. They gouge you for those as well.
The pool that is connected to the lazy river is warmer than all of the others.
Overall, it's a great place to visit if you're prepared. We loved it and look forward to going back.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Inspired by the natural wonders of warm Caribbean breezes, blue crystalline waters and sparkling white-sand beaches, Harborside Resort offers Atlantis guests a vacation filled with beauty, relaxation and excitement. Situated just across the marina from Atlantis, you have access to a wealth of private amenities combined with the home-away-from-home extras that only a spacious, private villa can offer. The Harborside Resort is just steps from a harbor front restaurant and pool area, a children's pool with fountains, a fitness facility and more. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Atlantis - Harborside Hotel Paradise Island
- Harborside Resort Paradise Island
- Harborside Hotel Paradise Island
- Harborside Resort Atlantis
- Harborside Resort At Atlantis
- Atlantis - Harborside Resort Bahamas/Paradise Island