All Ages

Atlantis vs. Baha Mar: Which Bahamas Resort Is Best for Your Family?

Baha Mar Pier; Courtesy of Baha Mar Resort
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With the completion of Cable Beach’s renaissance in 2018 in the form of Baha Mar, the reigning resort giant Atlantis is getting nudged a bit in the realm of Nassau-Paradise Island vacationing. Which fantasy kingdom best fits your family’s vacation vision? We compare Baha Mar vs. Atlantis, based on 10 different criteria.

Atlantis vs. Baha Mar: Overall Kid-Friendliness

Atlantis Water Slide; Courtesy of Atlantis Resort

Atlantis

Atlantis could be called the ultimate kid resort for its endless list of water amenities, diverse entertainment options, and wide variety of restaurants and snack stands. Its accommodations options are more extensive than Baha Mar’s, and we found its website more family-informative by far. But a stay at Atlantis is hardly what one would consider on a typical family budget—more like a once-in-a-lifetime splurge for most, and that goes for everything from room rates to restaurant prices and family programs.

Baha Mar Beach Sanctuary; Courtesy of Baha Mar Resort

Baha Mar

The newer resort brings its own full menu of family activities in a smaller, less overwhelming package. It too can add up to a costly vacation, but Baha Mar’s Cable Beach offers off-site attractions and more affordable dining closer to home and more varied than on Paradise Island. Overall, Baha Mar is more genuinely immersive in Bahamian culture, although recent Atlantis initiatives aim to strengthen the local connection.

Atlantis vs. Baha Mar: Accommodations

Atlantis Guestroom; Courtesy of Atlantis

Atlantis 

The Coral (formerly Coral Towers, one of the first wings to open in 1994) is the most family appropriate of Atlantis’ half-dozen accommodation options. Updated in 2018, its new lobby is home to a gelateria and a Kids Concierge desk. Its units (some of them adjoining) are also close to many of the resort’s family restaurants. For roomier options with kitchens and direct access to the water parks, consider the suites (some of them also adjoining) at The Reef, a more luxurious choice.

Baha Mar Guestroom; Courtesy of Baha Mar Resort

Baha Mar     

Three separate luxury resorts make up Baha Mar, Grand Hyatt being the most family-friendly and affordable. Its 1,800 units include two- and three-bedroom suites suitable for families, some of them adjoining. The downside to staying at Grand Hyatt for families is the imposing casino in its lobby and the clubs around it. The upside is easy access to a lot of the restaurants and pools. The SLSand Rosewoodresorts welcome families, but represent higher and highest luxury and price points, respectively.

Atlantis vs. Baha Mar: Restaurants

Atlantis Restaurant; Courtesy of Atlantis

Atlantis

Most of Atlantis’ 21 food outlets offer kids menus, and children 6 years and younger eat for free with the purchase of adult dining plans. Some restaurants (see adult activities below) have restrictions on ages and hours for dining children. For sit-down, the most family-recommended restaurants are Seagrapes, with live cooking stations; Carmine’s for family-style Italian; and Frankie Gone Bananas at Bimini Road, serving casual Bahamian-style seafood.

Baha Mar Restaurant; Courtesy of Baha Mar Resort

Baha Mar

With 22 food outlets, Baha Mar feeds every appetite and budget. At the Regatta Buffet in the Grand Hyatt, kids under age 5 eat free. Four Airstream food trucks make for fun noshing steps off the beach. Hit the Sandy Dog for eight varieties of hot dogs, including a waffle dog and breakfast dog topped with scrambled egg. Scoops serves ice cream; El Jefe, Mexican faves. Most restaurants have kids’ menus. At Drift Bar & Grill poolside, kids’ meals come with a fresh fruit cup. At The Swimming Pig near the casino, the Piglets’ kids meals include ice cream, and the regular menu offers family-friendly noshes such as Piggy Popcorn with bacon butter.

Atlantis vs. Baha Mar: Kids’ Programming

Atlantis Sea Squirts; Courtesy of Atlantis

Atlantis

Atlantis takes care of kids of all ages, starting with the 3-to-6 crowd and the Sea Squirts program, a one-hour activity that has them feeding and interacting with juvenile marine animals. Its main kids club, Atlantis Kids Adventure, allows parents to check in their youngsters, ages 3 to 12, for morning, afternoon, and evening sessions. LEGO construction, wizarding, tea parties, water play, and culinary adventures are all part of the programming. Kids of all ages can play in Gamer’s Reef arcade and at Atlantis Speedway.

Baha Mar Kids Club; Courtesy of Baha Mar Resort 

Baha Mar

The Explorers Club, at home in the Kids Club near the resort pier, supervises kids ages 3 to 12 during morning, afternoon, and evening sessions as they participate in free play, art, games, movies, and marine life encounters.

Atlantis vs. Baha Mar: Activities for ‘weens and Teens

Atlantis Teen Club; Courtesy of Atlantis Resort

Atlantis

Atlantis takes on the “difficult years” with aplomb, beginning with 9- to 13-year-olds at Club Rush, featuring video games and karaoke. The teen version (ages 13 to 17), CRUSH, is so cool, parents will want to stay. And they can during family session times. State-of-the-art gaming, their own mocktail bar, and a live DJ just begin to describe it. A vast variety of theme pools and marine life interactions, plus snorkeling, scuba, and other waters ports, promise happy tweens and teens.

Baha Mar Drift Pool; Courtesy of Baha Mar Resort

Baha Mar

The resort hosts a special teens-only event every Friday evening: a dive-in teen movie at the Drift Pool. Kids ages 13 to 18 also can choose from teen-exclusive services at ESPA Baha Mar, such as Fab Facial or Mocktinis and Manicures. Complimentary use of water sports equipment strikes a chord with the older kids.

Atlantis vs. Baha Mar: Activities/Amenities for Parents

Atlantis Golf; Courtesy of Atlantis Resort

Atlantis

With the kids safely checked into a kids’ program, parents can enjoy adult-time in the casino and spa. Atlantis guests also have privileges at Ocean Club Golf Course on Paradise Island. In The Cove accommodations wing, the pool, its outdoor gaming tables and cabanas, and its new poolside Sip Sip restaurant and bar is restricted to ages 21 and older. Aura nightclub is a very adult, very chic nightlife option. For child-free dining, three restaurants restrict children under age 6, including the newly reimagined Café Martinique. Nobu and Casa D’Angelo contain the wee ones to early dining hours.

Baha Mar Golf; Courtesy of Baha Mar Resort

Baha Mar

In addition to its spa and 100,000-square-foot casino, parents can do adult-time away from kids at SLS’ Privilege Pool, where craft cocktails and DJ music keep the pool party going all day. After dark, BOND lounge creates a sexy, lively atmosphere for cocktailing and dancing. Skybar, on SLS’ roofop, is another favorite for late-nighters. In all, the resort serves adult beverages at 17 venues from pool bars to sophisticated lounges. By day, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Royal Blue Golf Club presents two different courses in one and offers an elite program of club rentals.

Atlantis vs. Baha Mar: Family Activities  

Atlantis Beach; Courtesy of Atlantis Resort

Atlantis

Plenty of water venues and wildlife interactions encourage family time together. The Atlantis Theatre shows blockbusters, and admission is included in room rates. As for the beach, often overshadowed by the water park: Families with tots and toddlers may find this trumps all of Atlantis’ manmade features.

Baha Mar Sanctuary; Courtesy of Baha Mar Resort

Baha Mar

One of the coolest bonding experiences at Baha Mar brings families together with the wonder of Bahamian marine life—sea turtles, rays, nurse sharks, and tropical fish. Stop by The Sanctuary to watch a feeding or book an interactive encounter. In connection with its artist-in-residence program and gallery of local artists, Baha Mar offers children’s art workshops and adult classes. At Flamingo Cay, families can take part in special programs with the resort’s own flock of flamingoes.

Atlantis vs. Baha Mar: Water Activities

Atlantis Dolphin Cay; Courtesy of Atlantis

Atlantis

Aquaventure Water Park is the hub of Atlantis’ vast wet and wild world. Dolphin Cay and interactions with sting rays and sea lions are the resort’s true strength, along with its amazing aquariums such as The Dig and various habitat lagoons. Its dolphin experiences and trainer-for-a-day programs raise the bar.

Baha Mar Blue Hole Pool; Courtesy of Baha Mar Resort

Baha Mar

Of its 11 pools and water features, Dean’s Hole tops the list, named for and modeled after a natural out-island blue hole. Waterfalls, rock walls, and a private grotto that gives window to the creatures of The Sanctuary set this apart from the other chichi pools. Cable Beach has long held a reputation as Nassau’s best sandy playground, and Baha Mar recaptures its heyday that faded with the opening of Atlantis. The beach feels more a part of the resort than it does at Atlantis, and there’s the added bonus of complimentary water rentals—from snorkel gear to stand-up paddleboards.

Atlantis vs. Baha Mar: Water Activities: Other Sports & Amenities

Atlantis Shopping; Courtesy of Atlantis Resort

Atlantis

If shopping is a family priority, Atlantis excels. In addition to all the high-end duty-free stores, its Marina Village makes for a colorful foray with candy and ice cream shops among fun stores. Six tennis courts, a fitness center, and yacht and fishing charters complete the sporting amenities.

Baha Mar Tennis; Courtesy of Baha Mar Resort

Baha Mar

Use of the outdoor basketball court and bocce ball are complimentary. The complex also encompasses a racquet club with nine tennis courts, including the only grass court in the Caribbean. Kid rentals and junior clinics are available.

Atlantis vs. Baha Mar: Cost

Below, we price out a few vacation expenses for sake of comparison.

Atlantis Exterior; Courtesy of Atlantis

Atlantis

Room rates in The Coral range from $170 to $290; $259 to $459 at The Reef (plus tax and resort fee). Take into consideration that included access to Aquaventure water park represents a $157 to $168 value (the walk-up cost of a day wristband for non-guests low to high season). Atlantis Kids Adventure half-day programs cost $48.38 each, $64.50 for the evening session. The basic 30-minute Swim in Wonder dolphin program for ages 6 to 9 costs $231. At Frankie Gone Bananas Bimini Road, the All American burger costs $17, and kids meals range $7 to $9.

Baha Mar Resort Exterior; Courtesy of Baha Mar Resort

Baha Mar

Rates at the Hyatt Regency run $215 for rooms to $1,175 for suites, plus tax and resort fees. Unlike Atlantis, non-motorized water sports equipment use is included. The cost is $55 per child per Explorers Club morning, afternoon, or evening session. The one-hour interactive encounters in The Sanctuary run $65 per person. At Drift restaurant, a burger costs $18; kids’ meals are $6.

Strongly considering Atlantis? Check out our Guide to Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.

 

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