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By Samantha Chapnick

Atlantis and Las Vegas are so similar they could be
siblings. Both are MEGA resorts with massive hotels, 24-hour gambling, hot
restaurants, outrageous shopping and ample attractions.

But where Vegas is the younger brother, still into
drinking games, non-stop entertainment and the thrill of flirting with trouble, this Bahamas vacation resort is the more mature sister: still seeking thrills
but only accompanied by beaches, upscale restaurants, family-friendly amenities
and lots of opportunities for relaxation.

Especially for families, Atlantis is one of the best
mega-resort winter destinations. It’s an easy place to have a holiday without
any decisions, compromises or thinking. Part Orlando, part Las Vegas, part
Cancun vacation, this is the anti-“I’m bored!” resort.

With over 3,000 rooms and 12,000+ guests spread over
thousands of acres on Paradise Island, just navigating can be anything but simple.

Here’s part 1
of my tips and strategies to get the most out of your Atlantis visit depending
on your travel profile.

Transit lounge: Adding two days to your trip

One of my favorite features of Atlantis, and one I wish
others would emulate is the “transit lounge.” By having a room set aside on
lobby level with showers, changing rooms, bathrooms, and even bathing suit
quick-dry machines, hotel guests who check in way early or stay way late can “add” two
extra days to their trip without extra fees or room nights.

Lights out

Atlantis very deliberately keeps the outside lighting very
low after sundown to prevent people from using the pools in the evening. If you
go in winter, especially with children, make plans for the evening that don’t involve any of the outside

Dining comparison chart

With 30-plus dining choices ranging from Jamba Juice to
Nobu, your options will depend on your price point and food preferences. Check Atlantis’ comparison chart to find the best options for your
family. If you are going to eat at any of the upscale restaurants (e.g. Nobu)
make reservations in advance. (Note: Atlantis has eliminated its dining plans for 2008, so there are no longer any pay-one-price options).

Map it

Atlantis is huge. Before you take our suggestions of
places to stay, check out the activities and see if there are a few things you
plan to do frequently. A favorite pool? A playground? A restaurant? Then if
it’s a choice between two accommodations, stay in the one closest. Check the map

Using the shuttle

There’s a free shuttle connecting all parts of Atlantis.
That’s nice for occasional usage, but don’t count on it several times a day.
When I was there, it took a good 20 minutes for it to arrive, way too long for
my child to wait patiently.

Save on souvenirs

Across the street from Atlantis is a small mall filled
with souvenirs at much better prices than what’s to be found anywhere in the
resort. T-shirts, pens, glasses, all the usual schlock. Walk the few minutes
and save lots of dollars.

Photo opportunity

In the lobby of the Royal Towers, close to the casino and
Nobu restaurant, is the giant gilded throne of Neptune (king of the sea for
those not familiar). Have a kid or partner sit here and look god-like, and
you’ve got the perfect souvenir.

Water height restrictions

Water-related activities excepting the pools have a
height restriction of 48″ and above. This includes interacting with
dolphins and Aquaventure slides. However, kidsof any age (young ones accompanied
by an adult obviously) can use the lazy river.

Aqua socks

Atlantis sits right on a coral reef. Great for diving,
hard on the feet. Even if you just plan on wading a few feet in the water,
bringing water shoes will make it far more comfortable.

Related Orbitz resources:

Samantha Chapnick is a New York writer who scours international destinations looking for what hasn’t been found.

Tagged: Caribbean

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