Bahamas Family Adventure: Atlantis, Elbow Cay and One & Only Ocean Club

Posted on Jul 22, 2012

My three week journey in the Bahamas began on Paradise Island. First stop: the mega popular and high energy resort Atlantis. I’ve sent countless clients here over the past several years but had never personally experienced this ultimate Caribbean playground. It did not disappoint!

View from an Oceanview Suite at The Reef Atlantis

View from my Ocean Suite at The Reef Atlantis

Exploring the grounds of Atlantis

Exploring the grounds of Atlantis

Atlantis delivered on all that it promises to its guests. This resort has it all – countless pools, water slides, restaurants of every cuisine imaginable, white sand beaches, vast water activities, an amazing aquarium, world class casino, great shopping, and yes….luxury accommodations.

Master bedroom in Oceanview Suite at The Reef Atlantis

Master bedroom in an Ocean Suite at The Reef Atlantis

The Cove and The Reef are the newest properties at Atlantis, and they provide upscale travelers with the opportunity to have a five star experience. I chose The Reef, an all-suite hotel catering to families, because I liked the idea of having a separate sleeping area for my children and a full kitchen. We thoroughly enjoyed the spacious accommodations and flexibility a kitchen provides.

Living room area in Oceanview Suite at The Reef Atlantis

Living room area at The Reef Atlantis (suite)

Kitchen at The Reef

Kitchen at The Reef Atlantis (suite)

Right next door is The Cove, sister property to The Reef that boasts a frequently photographed, swanky pool area for adults only (complete with the resort’s only outdoor gaming area). This pool is only accessible to guests of The Cove, which is a big perk for those who choose to stay there.

Outdoor lobby at The Cove Atlantis

Outdoor lobby at The Cove Atlantis

The bulk of the Cove’s accommodations are suites as well, but the layout is different from The Reef in that they have an open floor plan and no kitchen. It’s a difficult decision to choose between the two properties, so I work closely with my clients to understand their needs and help them make the right selection.  I will also assist with dining reservations, which are a big deal at Atlantis.  The choices are vast, and it’s important to make your plans in advance.

Suite decor at The Cove Atlantis

Suite decor at The Cove Atlantis

In addition to offering the most luxurious accommodations at Atlantis, The Reef and The Cove have a more secluded location away from the crowds of other Atlantis guests and day visitors from the cruise ships. There’s a private beach area just for guests of The Reef and The Cove, as well as a lovely pool situated between the two properties.

Private beach area for Reef and Cove guests only

Private beach area for Reef and Cove guests only

One of the “not to be missed” activities at Atlantis is a dolphin experience. I’m not sure who was more thrilled by our shallow water interaction. The whole family was literally giddy as we slipped on our wet suits and prepared to meet “Missy,” one of the friendly dolphins who delights guests every day with her amazing grace and tricks.

Shallow water excursion at Dolphin Cay, Atlantis

Shallow water excursion at Dolphin Cay, Atlantis

Unforgettable moment at Dolphin Cay, Atlantis

Unforgettable moment at Dolphin Cay, Atlantis

We left the hustle and bustle of Atlantis and headed to the out-island chain of the Bahamas known as the Abacos. Our destination was Elbow Cay, a charming, historical island chocked full of character and beauty. I chose a traditional Bahamian cottage right in the center of Hope Town so we could walk to the grocery stores, shops and restaurants. We had spectacular views of the harbor from our front yard and the ocean from our back yard.

Hopetown, Elbow Cay

Hopetown, Elbow Cay

Memorable view from my backyard on Elbow Cay

Memorable view from my backyard on Elbow Cay

The Abacos are a boater’s haven, as there are countless small islands to visit (known as cays), each with their own personality and vibe. We rented a boat and made frequent trips to places like Great Guana Cay, Man O’War Cay and Lubbers Quarters. Each island was fantastic, but I particularly enjoyed Great Guana because it’s home to the popular beach restaurant and bar called Nippers. Great food, great people watching, delicious rum punch and a truly breathtaking beach draw boaters here time and time again.

Nippers on Great Guana Cay

Nippers, Great Guana Cay

Paradise on Great Guana Cay

Great Guana Cay

Tahiti Beach on Elbow Cay

Tahiti Beach, Elbow Cay

The final part of the trip brought me back to Paradise Island for a visit to the One & Only Ocean Club. As we drove through the perfectly manicured grounds and were ushered into an elegant lobby by a host of friendly staff members, I knew I was in store for a pampered and relaxing final few days in the Caribbean.

Lobby at One & Only Ocean Club

Lobby at One & Only Ocean Club

Gardens at One & Only Ocean Club

Gardens at One & Only Ocean Club

One & Only Ocean Club defines itself by the high level of luxury and service it provides. In addition to all of the amenities typically offered at a five star property, every One & Only guest receives complimentary butler service. The butlers are friendly and attentive (but not overbearing), and they will assist with anything and everything you might need during your stay. My family quickly became addicted to the complimentary, nightly delivery of champagne and strawberries, and milk and cookies. I think I missed this indulgence more than anything when I returned home!

Nightly delivery at One & Only Ocean Club

Nightly delivery at One & Only Ocean Club

One & Only Ocean Club offers many activities both on property and off for its guests, including world class golf, an excellent tennis program and full-service fitness center. One of the biggest perks is their close proximity to Atlantis, which enables guests to enjoy the activities and restaurants there but then return to the luxurious seclusion of One & Only.

Family pool at One & Only Ocean Club

Family pool at One & Only Ocean Club

There are a variety of accommodations offered on property. I opted for a Garden Cottage because it was closest to the kids club and family pool, but I especially liked the oceanfront suites in the Crescent Wing which are the newest and poshest units on property.

Master bedroom in a Garden Cottage at One & Only Ocean Club

Master bedroom in a Garden Cottage at One & Only Ocean Club

Garden Cottage at One & Only Ocean Club

Garden Cottage at One & Only Ocean Club

Suite in the Crescent Wing at One & Only Ocean Club

Suite in the Crescent Wing at One & Only Ocean Club

The spa has a serene and beautiful setting. It was by far one of the best facilities I’ve seen in this part of the world. I thought the therapists were excellent, and spa goers will particularly appreciate the unique treatment rooms, complete with gorgeous, outdoor Balinese gardens.

Spa at One & Only Ocean Club

Spa at One & Only Ocean Club

The kids club at One & Only Ocean Club is exceptional, and my children awoke every morning asking when we would take them! The staff is amazing, and the daily activities offered are a child’s dream come true on vacation. My son and daughter came home with great memories and even a few crafts they now proudly display in their rooms.  Even better, their time spent in the kids club enabled my husband and me to enjoy a few quiet afternoons by the adults only pool and some leisurely lunches at Dune, One & Only’s beachfront restaurant.

Child bliss at One & Only Ocean Club

Bliss at One & Only Ocean Club

Table with a view at Dune, One & Only Ocean Club

Table with a view at Dune, One & Only Ocean Club

The end of another picture perfect day at One & Only Ocean Club

The end of another picture perfect day at One & Only Ocean Club

The Reef, The Cove and One & Only Ocean Club are all Virtuoso partners, so my clients receive a variety of complimentary amenities. Additionally, I have strong working relationships with the sales and management teams, so I will ensure your stay is a memorable one. These properties are all world class and await your arrival!