Family-Friendly Atlantis

This journal describes our one week timeshare exchange stay at the Harborside Villas (Atlantis). We went with two small children and loved the water amenities, the aquatic life, and the beautiful grounds. We mostly ate off-site to save money and had great success finding delicious food for less money.


Harborside at Atlantis

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Suzannecat on May 19, 2004

Harborside has all the advantages of a timeshare villa with all the amenities of Atlantis. We were very happy with our stay there. Before arrival, I was concerned about the distance between Harborside and Atlantis but not only was it walkable, but the shuttle advertised as running every 20 minutes actually ran more like every five to 10 minutes because Atlantis and Harborside EACH run their own shuttles between the two and you can use either one. We never had more than a few minutes wait. Harborside is also right across from the ferry to Nassau and within easy walking distance to several non-Atlantis shopping/restaurant areas.

Our villa was the smaller one-bedroom floor plan and was a bit cramped for a family of four but not terrible. Our six-year-old slept on the foldout queen-size sofabed and we rented a crib ($10 for the week) for our two-year-old. Actually, the crib was one of the nicest surprises in the villa- it wasn't a travelcrib, but a real metal one with Pottery Barn linens and our daughter who HATES portacribs happily slept in it (I expected she'd be bunking with me all week so the crib was a godsend). We had a kitchenette area with a table for four, a highchair (I requested this ahead, but there was no charge), a microwave (great for morning cocoa and reheating leftovers), a stove for making the mac and cheese we brought from home plus morning egg sandwiches (we walked over to the grocery store in one shopping center off the main road), a dishwasher, a washer and dryer (for wet bathing suits and blankies that were dragged all over the resort each day), and a CD player/VCR combo for daily Barney fixes. The villa was neat and well stocked (dishwasher soap was provided, laundry powder was not). As Starwood timeshare owners, a complimentary mid-week cleaning was provided, but if you're not owners, I think daily maid service can be arranged for a fee.

Harborside has it's own pool with a children's area plus a poolside restaurant. Once a week they have a Bacardi-sponsored pool party with rum punch, Bahamian appetizers and silly games and dancing. Best of all though, Harborside guests have use of all the Atlantis water facilities and slides. Since Atlantis is open daily to many tour groups and visitors, it's nice that their pools and beach chairs are reserved only for resort and Harborside guests, identified by daily color coded plastic bracelets and resort "cards". Service was friendly, but there seemed to be some lack of communication with the main atlantis facilities. Still the Harborside concierge did her best to resolve issues (we had several items disappear into the Atlantis lost and found, but they were small things like a pool toys). We will definitely be returning here and highly recommend Harborside. I think you get much nicer rooms, more space, and much more amenities than at all but the nicest Atlantis rooms.

Harborside at Atlantis
Paradise Island Bahamas
Paradise Island, Bahamas

Market Place Buffet

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Suzannecat on May 19, 2004

We splurged on the Marketplace breakfast buffet the first morning of our vacation to Atlantis and had a wonderful meal. The food was very varied, bountiful and fresh. All the breakfast usual fare plus a few Bahamian fish specialties, corned beef hash, made to order omelets, breakfast pastries, fresh fruit, etc. We went with our children, ages 2 and 6, and it was completely child friendly. They appreciated the waffles with berries and whipped cream and the chocolate milk. There was a short line to get in (about 5-10 minutes), but no reservations were needed. We were seated promptly, with a highchair, and upon hearing our 6-year-old exclaim he needed the potty, one hostess actually walked him there and waited and walked him back to our table! Overall, it was a great meal - much nicer than a standard breakfast spread, but breakfast for 2 adults and 1 child (the 2-year-old ate free) cost $56! A nice splurge once, but we certainly couldn't do it every morning. I believe the dinner buffet was about $45 per adult and features international foods, but we didn't try it.
Marketplace at Atlantis Paradise Island
Casino Drive
Paradise Island, Bahamas
(242) 363-3000

Murray's Delicatessen

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Suzannecat on May 19, 2004

I've listed Murray's as a budget restaurant, because by Atlantis standards it is. This is a great place for Jewish deli food (and I'm from NY and pretty picky about that), sandwiches, and takeout appetizing. We ate here once for dinner and had corned beef and pastrami sandwiches for about the same price ($14) as you'd pay in NYC. They were quite good, but not as large as some restaurant reviews I read made them out to be- they really weren't big enough to share for a meal. Just as in NYC, the waiters quickly brought out a complimentary bowl of kosher style pickles, which they gladly refilled when my kids ate them up immediately. I thought side dish prices were high- a $6 knish! - but the matzoh ball soup (also $6) was big enough for two. The environment is casual, diner style and very family friendly. We returned to Murray's once for takeout lunch - my son wanted tuna salad (hard to find at the fast food lunch places at Atlantis) and a hard-boiled egg, which we took outside to eat. They sell salads and deli meat by weight at the takeout counter and it's one of the best deals around. We passed on returning for breakfast - the prices, though less than Atlantis buffets, seemed high for standard breakfast fare (most dishes like pancakes or an omelet were about $12).
Murray's Delicatessen
Atlantis Resort
Paradise Island, Bahamas
+1 242 363 3000

Anthony's Caribbean Bar & Grill

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Suzannecat on May 19, 2004

Anthony's is a great alternative to the pricey restaurants at Atlantis and it's only a few minutes walk away. You can't miss it, really, in the shopping center right across the street from Atlantis on the main road.

We had several delicious dinners here and stopped by for "takeout" Key lime pie one evening after dinner. Anthony's features several Bahamian seafood specialties including crusted red snapper and the best crack (fried) conch we had on our vacation. I liked the seafood platter that came with crack conch, fried grouper fingers, and fried shrimp. They also have pasta, pizza, and burgers, all for reasonable prices. Most entrees were around $15; the seafood platter was $22 and well worth it. All of us enjoyed the fresh blue crab and lime salad appetizer -- it's amazing how many places in the Caribbean use the fake crab in recipes, but this was the real thing and a nice big portion.

Anthony's is a casual, child friendly environment (we came with a double stroller in tow and they cheerfully stowed it for us). They have a kids’ menu that comes with crayons and games printed on it (my son colored in his "Animals of the Bahamas" game and put it in his scrapbook). We never had any wait to be seated and found the service to be efficient and friendly.

For the grown-ups, the bar drinks were delicious. If you look carefully in some of the local guidebooks and maps you can even find a coupon for a free 46 oz colossal rum punch sparkler drink for two that's a bit stronger than it looks (free with purchase of two entrees). The first time we went, we paid full price for the drink -- when we returned a few nights later we had the coupon and saved $12.

Anthony's Caribbean Grill
Casino Drive (Paradise Village Shopping Center)
Paradise Island, Bahamas
242 363 3152

Zio Gigios

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Suzannecat on May 19, 2004

Zio Gigios is a great little Italian cafe in one of the two shopping centers right near Atlantis (the one closer to the bridge).

They have interesting pizza that showcases local ingredients as well as the good old pizza toppings. We opted to try Italian entrees with a Bahamian twist -- fried calamari (okay, not too original, but a yummy light batter), conch risotto, and a mixed grill that included scallops, Bahamian lobster, shrimp, grouper, and vegetables plus grilled polenta. The prices were reasonable for the island; compared to the Atlantis Italian specialty restaurant, Zio Gigos is a steal! If you opt for pizza, it's even more reasonable.

Everything was delicious and the service was fast and friendly. We ate outside -- the atmosphere out there was a bit, well, "parking lot", but we had two little kids and a double stroller and we didn't have to worry about them causing any commotion outside.

Zio Gigios
Shopping Center near the Paradise Island Bridge
Paradise Island, Bahamas

Cafe Skans

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Suzannecat on May 19, 2004

We got up early one morning and took the Paradise Island ferry over to Nassau for breakfast and a day of shopping. We'd read a review of Cafe Skans and gave it a try.

It was pretty good, standard breakfast fare plus some Bahamian specialties. We had tried an egg sandwiches, a Greek omelet, and my son had pancakes while the baby entertained the waitresses. My husband found out he liked grits!

Located only a few minutes away from where the ferry docks, Cafe Skans is a very convenient, inexpensive, nice little local diner-style restaurant.

Café Skans
Bay Street, near Market Street
Nassau, Bahamas
(242) 322-2486

Choosy Foods

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by Suzannecat on May 19, 2004

In our quest for a family friendly, cheap, decent American-style breakfast, we decided to try Choosy Foods, one of the little cafes lined up in the shopping center just off the main road near Atlantis and the Nassau ferry dock.

I guess I'd give this place a mixed review. Prices were reasonable, our food was decent, but the service was dreadfully slow and somewhat indifferent. Several tables near us left before their waitress ever showed up because they overheard other tables complaining.

A table near us also complained their food was cold, but ours was moderately warm. The real saving grace to Choosy Foods is their fresh squeezed orange juice. We were surprised how little fresh fruit there is on the island and all other orange juice we tasted was either from concentrate and came watery out of a drink machine or was Tropicana cartons at outrageous prices (over $8 for a half gallon at the grocery store). At Choosy Foods, it was the real thing and very sweet. The owner apparently squeezes it herself and they often run out so they don't advertise it too highly, but if you're in need of an orange juice fix, this is the place (I think it was $2.50 a glass).

Choosy Foods
Shopping Center near the Paradise Island Bridge
Paradise Island, Bahamas

Bahamian Kitchen

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Suzannecat on May 19, 2004

Bahamian Kitchen is a very friendly, family-run cafe, great for an inexpensive taste of local cuisine. While walking along Bay Street, I was handed a flyer for the restaurant and I was surprised because it was already on my schedule to find it to have lunch there. So off we went and the food was tasty.

The atmosphere is very down-to-earth. It seems to be in the business district part of Nassau and I bet they do a lot of local lunch business, but it was fairly empty when we were there. It's only a few minutes walk from the ferry and the straw market, but you have to be looking for the restaurant to find it.

We had a great strawberry colada (non-alcoholic, so I could share it with the kids), conch fritters, and crack (fried) conch. The mac and cheese that was a side dish option turned out to be too spicy for the kids, but they liked the fritters, so we were ok.

Bahamian Kitchen
Trinity Place
Paradise Island, Bahamas
(242) 325-0702

Water's Edge Seafood Buffet

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Suzannecat on May 19, 2004

We decided while we were at Atlantis to splurge one evening on one of the buffet restaurants and since we love seafood, we decided to try Water's Edge. We did call for a reservation, but had no problem getting one for dinner the same day we called. The buffet itself is in a lovely setting, indoors, but alongside the edge of several lagoon areas visible through large windows all around.

The real highlight here is the seafood/antipasto part of the buffet. The night we were there, it featured shrimp, several kinds of smoked fish, conch salad, crab salad (unfortunately not real crab, but the fake pollock stuff), mussels, quite a few vegetable salads, delicious grilled vegetables, and stone crab claws, mounds of them, fresh, sweet, and all-you-can-eat. That alone almost made the buffet worth the $48 per person. The entree stations were more disappointing. The steak was flavorless and mushy. The curried chicken and potatoes was nothing special. The same went for the snapper and grouper dishes. I just kept going back for stone crab and shrimp. You get a ticket when you arrive for one 6oz lobster tail per person. Additional ones cost $12 apiece. If you have a child that paid the child buffet price (I think it was about $25; children under five are free), they are entitled to a kid-sized lobster tail. It was tasty, but not worth paying money for a second. Desserts were ample and very good, especially the Key lime pie, which cost $7 a slice at the non-buffet restaurants all over Atlantis. There's ice cream for the kids, but it was a bit melted.

Water's Edge
Atlantis Resort, Coral Towers
Paradise Island, Bahamas
+1 242 363 3000 x 2

Julie's Ristorante Italiano

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Suzannecat on May 20, 2004

The Sheraton Grand Resort is right across the Street from the Atlantis Beach Tower -- if you're staying elsewhere at Atlantis or Harborside, you can take a shuttle and get off at the beach tower. We came here to try their restaurants and we chose Julie's for dinner. Compared to Atlantis, the prices were considerably better. Julie's food was very good and the service was friendly.

We had an appetizer of zucchini and calamari fritters (chopped up together then fried), and meat lasagna and stuffed chicken entrees. For dessert, I tried the Italian cheesecake, which had the texture of a New York cheesecake but the flavor of a ricotta cheesecake.

We brought along our two-year-old who happily ate the fritters and lasagna. I wouldn't call Julie's a family restaurant, but they were certainly child-friendly. They did have a highchair.

The restaurant was almost empty while we were there -- I guess the Atlantis restaurants are really much more of a draw for guests, but we were pleased with our meal and any dinner for two (actually three with the baby) on Paradise Island for under $80 is a deal.

Julie's at the Sheraton
Sheraton Grand Resort
Paradise Island, Bahamas
+1 242 363 3500

Conch Fritters

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by Suzannecat on May 20, 2004

Conch Fritters is a popular, well-advertised restaurant only a few blocks from the Ferry dock and Straw Market.

However, we were disappointed here with just about everything we tried. The namesake conch fritters were fine, but we've had better, with more meat in them several other places, and for $7 per order, they were no bargain. For entrees we ordered grilled conch, Fish in Bag, and a side of mac and cheese for our two-year-old. Both the conch and the fish in bag (snapper) came wrapped in foil -- we expected that for the fish, not for grilled conch. Both were in a similarly spicy mixture of onions and peppers. The fish was still intact and full of bones (they politely removed the head for me when I asked, but the bones were everywhere). The vegetables it supposedly had in the bag were really just the aforementioned onions and peppers. I picked my way through the bones, but the snapper still tasted too fishy for me. The "grilled" conch was chewy in the foil and not nearly as good as the conch we had at Anthony's on Paradise Island. We did enjoy a good virgin strawberry margarita. It looks as if they do a good bar business, but we found the food, especially the touted "best conch around" overrated. The best thing we had was the half a sweet potato that came with my fish -- my daughter gobbled it up. We would have ordered another, but the sides were $3.50 each and half of a small baked sweet potato isn't worth that.

Otherwise, the prices were moderate for the area. Dinner with the conch fritters, two entrees, one extra side dish, and one drink came to about $75.

Conch Fritters Bar & Grill
Marlborough Street Across from British Colonial Hilton
Nassau, Bahamas
(242) 323-8778

Discovery Channel Camp

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Suzannecat on May 19, 2004

Discovery Channel Camp made me wish I was a kid again! For $150, we enrolled our 6-year-old in the all-access program (though the name is a misnomer- it actually entitles you to three 9-hour program sessions, including dinner if you choose the afternoon/evening session, but lunch is $12 extra if you choose the morning/afternoon session). Centrally located in the Coral Towers and sponsored by the Discovery Channel, the camp is for children ages 4 and up. Counselors guide the kids through themed arts and crafts programs, water activities, a planetarium, and all sorts of other cool activities (my son wouldn't divulge all the details). They visit and learn about the marine life all over Atlantis, of course, and get special access to some areas like a fish hospital. The 1pm-10pm evening sessions are particularly nice if parents want to go out for dinner alone (!), but in our case we still had our 2-year-old with us since she was too young for camp (in-room babysitting is available at Atlantis for $15/hr, with a 3-hour minimum). The staff seemed very friendly and capable, and my son had a great time keeping busy and making friends. Shorter sessions are available- from 1 hour to half day to extended day morning through evening. Each day of the week has its own theme- Bugs and Slugs, Funky Fish, Jaws and Claws, etc. - there is a schedule with daily hours and themes posted at the signup desk downstairs in Coral Towers.
Discovery Channel Camp
Atlantis- Coral Towers
Paradise Island, Bahamas

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