The Sapphire Suite at The Cove Atlantis is likely so named for the endless sea of blue as seen from every room of this 1,200-square-foot, wrap-around corner unit. But the best vantage point has to be from the soaking tub perched directly in front of a floor-to-ceiling window, perfectly framing the peninsula and the azure Caribbean far below. Calgon, take me away! This is one reward that incentive travelers will surely never forget.
Amenities like this are all part of the sophisticated, 600-room Cove, the most luxurious of the five properties at the 3,400-room Atlantis. The Cove’s oversized units are impressive indeed, ranging in size from 650 square feet to more than 4,000 square feet and boasting features like panoramic ocean views, Bose entertainment systems, marble bathrooms and glass-brick rain showers.
Outside the suites, the exclusive Cove experience prevails at places such as celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, where I am visiting with Ted Adderley, vice president of sales and marketing at Atlantis. We’re enjoying some delicious signature dishes, including shrimp and roasted garlic corn tamales, crispy conch with pepper sauce and mango relish, and grouper with crab succotash sauce.
Adderley, who grew up in Nassau, is regaling me with stories about the island and the resort, starting with the original Cafe Martinique, an uber-elegant restaurant that was the setting for a famous scene from the 1965 James Bond movie Thunderball. Atlantis has set the stage for other notable movies—Into the Blue, After the Sunset and Casino Royale, to name a few—not to mention major performers such as Michael Jackson, Natalie Cole, Maroon 5 and Alicia Keys.
Atlantis, the name a nod to the legend of the Lost City of Atlantis supposedly located off the Bahamian islands of Bimini and “evidenced” by a mysterious stairway off the property, is a product of developer Sol Kerzner, who bought the property in the early ’90s, then named Merv Griffith’s Paradise Island Hotel and Casino. Kerzner renovated the existing Coral and Beach towers. Over the next several years, he reinvented the resort to include three additional properties: Royal Towers, The Reef and The Cove, along with a conference center; 100,000 square feet of casino space; dozens of restaurants and nightclubs; a vibrant marina; and the sprawling, 140-acre Aquaventure. The waterscape has 20 swimming areas, 22 pools, a snorkeling lagoon, 18 waterslides and numerous river rides, many of which meander through the largest open-air marine habitat in the world, with 50,000 marine animals. There’s also Dolphin Cay, an animal rescue and rehabilitation facility started to help save dolphins displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The 14-acre lagoon is now home to 40-plus Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, and groups can participate in dolphin interaction programs.
“The beauty and uniqueness of the resort is that you don’t have to leave; there’s so much diversity,” Adderley says, adding that many attendees bring their families. “The other great aspect for groups is that we’re one property with five different towers and five different price points.”
The property’s main group market is incentives, while it is also strong in corporate and association groups, according to Adderley.
Meeting and event venues include 200,000 square feet of indoor function space—the 50,000-square-foot Imperial Ballroom overlooking an aquarium being a standout option—and 300,000 square feet of gorgeous outdoor event space.
The group experience also extends to the celebrity chef establishments at Atlantis. Aside from Mesa Grill, during my stay I also indulged in the fantastic fare of Nobu, home to the circular Sake Room, a spectacular private dining space. Additionally, Atlantis features Todd English’s Olives, also offering a private dining venue, Jean Georges’ Cafe Martinique and an array of other great culinary experiences.
“We’re unique for groups in that we can arrange very high-end, on-property dine-arounds, and we do chef presentations and cooking demonstrations,” says John Washko, vice president of group marketing and sales for Atlantis.
Washko says other top-drawer group experiences, especially for Millennials, are private, amenity-rich cabanas at pool areas around Atlantis, including Cain, an adults-only, ultra-cool spot at The Cove.
Meanwhile, the special events scene at Atlantis, from golf and basketball tournaments to concerts, many of which can be customized for groups, are another way the property is diversifying and catering more to Millennials.
“We’re often pigeonholed as just an incentive or sales and reward destination,” Washko says. “When planners come and see multiple stages with a ton of things going on, it helps them grasp how easy it would be to do their tradeshow here.”
Beyond the special events action, recreation-wise, the property also suits Millennials as well as any attendee keen on being active.
With that in mind, I decide to summon my inner kid and take Washko’s advice to check out Aquaventure on my last afternoon at Atlantis. It’s another over-the-top experience as I take the Leap of Faith, a steep slide descending 60 feet, whisking me through an acrylic tunnel within a lagoon teeming with—sharks. Not for the faint of heart, but the stuff of unforgettable memories nonetheless!
Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas