I have a confession to make: I’m a terrible traveler. On the surface, I am a pro: I check in online, I have an itinerary of activities planned weeks in advance, reservations for dinner each night secured, sightseeing highlights thoroughly mapped out.
But that’s because my neurotic type-A tendencies demand such behavior, and I’ve never been good at simply expecting the unexpected. So when I was invited to visit the megaresort Atlantis, on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, and preview a newly revitalized branch of their sprawling complex, The Coral, I panicked. I was asked to bring my 10-year-old twin sons with me. Meanwhile, my husband would stay home with our six-month-old daughter.
Traveling alone with two boys who are occasionally, um, a tad rambunctious? Without months of planning and research ahead of time? I quickly assumed the trip would be more exhausting than exhilarating.
I could not have been more wrong. Home to the largest open-air marine habitat in the world (there are over 50,000 marine animals in lagoons and displays, including The Dig, a maze of underwater corridors and passageways providing a journey through “ancient Atlantis’) well as a water park featuring 18 slides, Atlantis was the perfect place to plan nothing, because absolutely anything is possible.
We were literally tripping over activities and adventures (truly: one of my kids stumbled into a resort pool and we stayed there for an hour.) In addition to a massive casino (off-limits to my crew but dazzling to peek at nonetheless), there are 19 restaurants, programs for babies, kids, tweens and teens, a five-star spa, and the Dolphin Cay sanctuary. It’s basically Disney meets Vegas meets Fantasy Island.
There are multiple options for accommodations, but families will be particularly drawn to the multi-million dollar renovation of the former Coral Towers, now known as The Coral. My boys and I toured the new rooms—and I managed to keep them from jumping up and down on the beds—and were sufficiently dazzled by the chic décor, with pops of aquamarine and, you guessed it, coral dominating the color scheme.
The lobby boasts a gelato shop offering authentic Bahamian flavors (the guanabana was a hit with both of my guys) and the newly designed pool area also features local and natively-sourced treats, such as gourmet ice-pops infused with island-grown fruits.
Not that we spent much time lounging around: in just four days, we whizzed down water-slides (pro tip: if you hit the slides at four pm or later, there are practically no lines), kayaked with dolphins, played in a steel-drum band, ate our body weight in conch fritters, and gawked at more sharks, eels, and assorted amazing tropical fish than the entire opening credits of Finding Nemo.
I even got one evening all to myself as the boys hit the tween club, Crush (bonus: dragging them away from the multi-screen videogame tower provided a bit of a workout.) Our last night featured a Junkanoo celebration, complete with costumes and live music, that highlighted the resort’s efforts focus more on local talent, traditions and experiences.
Truly, I thought I was going to Atlantis for my boys. What I learned instead was that Atlantis may be family-friendly, but it’s also the perfect destination for an overstressed, overly-neurotic mom who learned you can have the best time just by letting go.