PARADISE FOUND

The Cove Atlantis is where our gal about globe-jaunting styleseeker Erin Busbee whisks us away to share the island retreat’s insider secrets

LIKE ANOTHER WORLD

Upon arrival at The Cove Atlantis, it feels more like the Far East than the Bahamas. The minimalist design of the open-air lobby, designed by architects Jeffrey Beers and David Rockwell, seamlessly integrates with nature, bringing in the sights and sounds of the tropical island. The ambiance creates that euphoric getaway feeling that we all crave.

You will quickly discover that “The Cove” is a serene, sophisticated alternative to the hustle and bustle of the rest of the resort area on Paradise Island. Appropriately named, The Cove boasts clear blue, calm water; pristine, white-sand beaches; and lush tropical plants and trees throughout the carefully manicured grounds.

The Cove is the larger resort by the multiple award-winning hotel brand Atlantis. Here, architecture melds with nature in the breezeway, a series of interlocking walkways in and around the hotel that allow guests unlimited access to the sounds, scents, and vistas of the surf and sand. The journey begins with regal 35-foot-tall limestone columns, which anchor the temple-like lobby and its 25-foot-long woven copper pendants that set the tone of the resort’s glam factor.

After a quick check-in, I ascended one of two Cove towers, where I would be staying the next three nights. My loft-like, 670 square foot, “Deluxe Ocean Suite” was a rare combination of spaciousness, high-end finishes, and I was immediately struck by the spectacular view. I raced to the French balcony to get a closer look. Miles of crescent-shaped, white sand beaches stretched before my eyes, with water so vibrant, so beautiful, in varying shades of brilliant blue and green, it looked like a postcard. I heard the faint sounds of waves rolling in along the shore that seemed simply magical. The suite’s huge bedroom area with two king beds, a sunken living area with modern furnishings, a luxurious bathroom with two separate vanities, and even a walk-in closet (a wonderful touch… especially for those of us who like clothes) was ideal.

GO AQUAUTIC? ABSOLUTELY

Among the exclusive benefits of staying at The Cove is the access to all of the amenities on the island. Yet guests of other hotels are not allowed at The Cove, ensuring you easily get an unexpectedly private cushioned chair by the pool or beach. Getting a good seat is the type of thing I would normally worry about, but at The Cove, I could secure a prime spot at a peak time like noon with no problem. Helpful staffers just waiting to answer questions, or to bring you a fruity drink, were always nearby. In addition to the beach, The Cove has several pools to choose from, including two family-friendly options for those traveling with little ones.

More South Beach than Bahamas, the “Cain at the Cove” pool is complete with luxurious cabana rentals, daybeds and a live DJ. Perfect for people watching. You can take in the lively scene while the kids are having a blast at the Aquaventure water park.

Just steps from The Cove, the Aquaventure water park is complimentary with your stay. The massive, 141-acre water park has Atlantis-themed towers, high-speed water slides, a mile-long river ride with rapids and wave surges, and 20 swimming areas, including one with a giant playground for the kiddos. It may sound like the type of park geared mostly for youngsters, but we adults thoroughly enjoyed the rapid river, which was so thrilling that we rode it for almost two hours.

Another awesome adventure, The Dolphin Cay, is all about being able to hug and kiss a dolphin during a “Shallow Water Interaction.” This experience allows guests to get nose to nose with these amazing mammals. After putting on your wetsuit, the trainer goes through the proverbial ‘do’s and don’ts’ before leading you into the lagoon (about waist deep) where the shallow section meets the deep water drop-off. During our interaction, we got a much better sense of the massive size and strength of these wonderful creatures. We were able to touch their skin, tail and nose.

We learned more about the dolphins’ distinct personalities. It turns out they are quite similar to us, as evidenced by our dolphin’s impromptu ‘break’ based on her emotions, according to our trainer. I also discovered that many of Atlantis’ captive dolphins were rescued in the wild after Hurricane Katrina. You can take dolphin interaction to another level and try a “deep water swim,” or learn more about their intelligence and talents and shadow a “trainer for a day” to really dive into a dolphin’s fascinating world. In addition to dolphins, you can see an array of other sea creatures. Atlantis has the largest open-air marine habitat in the world, with over 50,000 marine animals, including sharks, eels, turtles, stingrays, and every other fish you can imagine.

AMENITIES GALORE

If you want to try your hand at gambling, head to the creatively designed, world-class casino, which actually has windows. Rare for a casino, I know. Just insert your room key into a slot machine or present it at any table to start earning points towards promotional giveaways. There are 75 gaming tables including poker, craps and blackjack, and hundreds of slot machines to make you spin with excitement. You can even take a complementary gaming lesson.

Want to explore the diversity of dining options? There are 21 different restaurants, including everything from Southwestern to Bahamian, even gourmet Japanese cuisine. For a more gourmet dining experience, make a reservation for renowned chef Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, or eat some of the world’s best sushi at Nobu. Any meal is a sumptuous one at Atlantis.

If you are looking for countless amenities at a peaceful, beautiful, luxurious resort, with fantastic food, amid a unique Disney-esque adventure the whole family can enjoy, The Cove Atlantis is a must! For more information about The Cove Atlantis and Paradise Island, visit AtlantisBahamas.com

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