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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sandals Royal Bahamian for the day

We spent the day at Sandals Royal Bahamian - one of the perks of my job so my review is just based on about 7 hours there.

The resort is located kind of off my itself on cable beach. There are some random local places right outside the gate but nothing to make an effort to go to. It was a $20 cab ride each way from Paradise Island.
The breakfast buffet is simple but nice. They had real orange juice! This is not common at all inclusives so it was a nice suprise (usually it's a kool-aid orange juice mix). There was an omlet station and lots of fruit and french toat. They had really good oatmeal with brown sugar and sliced almonds for the top. Yum! Service was decent. Nothing impressive.

The first boat out to their private island fills up. The line was super long and started at like 930. The boat leaves at 10 and if you are not on the first boat over you will not get one of the prime locations. They have limited beach beds and chairs around the pool. If you are willing to camp out and get on the boat first (sit in the back so you can be first off) then there are some really neat beach beds with amazing views.

One thing that I think is kind of lame about their "private" island. It's only kind of private. They have about 60% of the island and the other part is owned by cruise ships so they can do their shore excursions to a "private" island. It was still under construction when I was there so I dont know how many people they are going to bring there or how many screaming kids or what but seems kind of misleading. I wonder how much $ Sandals got for that part.
There is a restaurant on the private island that does like sandwiches and wraps during the day. It was decent. They do curly fries instead of chips. I am just so use to Mexico with the chips and guacamole by the pool that curly fries really throws me off. The waitress was pretty indifferent. She had a blank stare on her face the entire time and would speak the absolute bare minimum to me like te 1 word answers type thing. I thought Sandals was suppose to be the wow factor on their service? Maybe she was just having a bad day.
The back of the island has amazing snorkeling. There's lots of rocks and it's calm enough to snorkel right there but bring your own equipement! They will not let you use the snorkel equipement from the free snorkel trips they offer. Someone even said they saw a lobster back there.
The loud pool as they referred to it was fun during the day. They had an entertainment team that hassled everyone into playing silly games. I was talked into a beer drinking competition and a competition called "Super Wife" which ended with Chris having to give me a lap dance. It was hilarious and we won 1st place. I wish we had it on video. I have my prize snow globe in my room displayed proudly.

Overall, Sandals was a really nice resort. I don't like how they nickel and dime for things like wifi ($14.99 a day??!) and the mini bar if you don't book a high enough room category. Their nice resorts and good food outweigh these annoyances for me though.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Atlantis - Super fun if you don't need to talk to an employee

This hotel is my husband and I's ultimate place. Tons of things to do, good food, water park and pretty scenery. The employees on the other hand kind of shocked me. The could care less if they gave good customer service. This was the case at the check in points, the guys operating the water slides, at the restaurants, at the gift shops ETC! Of course there was also an exception to the rule person and my husband and I would look at each other in shock when someone would smile and be friendly.
I would also like to say that we are usually overly friendly. I despise rude Americans. I am not sure what the Bahamian's problems are.

We tried several different restaurant while we were there. Seafire Steakhouse in the marina (the waitstaff was good, hostess not so much). We had the crab and lobster cake for the appetizer - amazing. We split the caesar salad (it's way big enough). I ordered the pork chop with Bearnaise and crab and Chris ordered the surf and turf. Surf and turf here is short ribs and 6 oz lobster tail for $62 (no sides included. shesh!). We split the sides which was mashed potatoes (I was against this since we live in Oklahoma and I was right - nothing special) and cheesy cauliflower. The cauliflower is amazing! They broil it and then inside is all this fall apart cheesy goodness. Oh wow.

The other fine dinning restaurant we tried was Mesa Grill. This is at The Cove - the most exclusive tower on site at the Atlantis. We pulled up in a cab and I asked the bell hop where Mesa Grill was. His response was "Down there to the left". No smile, nothing. Really? This is people's first impression of The Cove which is usually $1000+ a night? Not impressed. We ordered the Goat Cheese dip which was pretty good and I just kept thinking "I've had better at places like Cheevers (their queso dip is amazing) or at 1492 in Oklahoma City". It wasn't bad but for a famous chef's restaurant I wasn't that impressed. I order the shrimp tamale for my entree even though it was on the appetizer menu. AMAZING! Chris had the mahi mahi. I stole a bite and it was good but I didn't steal another bite. We did the Deep Dish Banana Cream Pie for dessert. This was actually really good but I was so full that I didn't eat much. Maybe just go there for a tamle and pie?

Another thing we tried while we were there was Snorkel the Ruins. This is where you take a guided snorkel in Atlantis's aquarium. For me I thought it was a big fat waste of $109 per person. The reason it is guided it because you can't dive down and you can't touch anything. You can see all the ruins from the windows of the aquarium. It was short and the water is cold and I say SKIP THIS!
The people at the check are crazy rude. We went about 20 minutes before it was suppose to start and they are like "You cant check in until your start time" (I found this super weird because I could have sworn they told me to check in 30 minutes early to get the wet suit on to be ready). When they would finally let us check in they were like "Go stand by that mail box and someone will come for you." It was just cold and unfriendly. A lot of people that come and do this snorkel might be coming off a cruise ship. This is their first introduction to Atlantis and this could make or break whether they would come back. What's the deal?

We loved the marina area. Lots of restaurants of all levels from a Quiznos to fancy schmancy steakhouses. The huge yachts were there to gawk at and lots of performers or little jazz bands. The shops stayed open too. There's a Ben and Jerry's that was super popular.

The water park is awesome. We were there the first part of April and it was crowded but not over the top. The lazy river was our favorite. Its a mile long and then at one point it's a fork where you can pick the rapids or to do this big slide. It was neat. I could have stayed in there all day. There were all different levels of slides. The lockers were $9 to rent for the day for the cheapest one. At the end of the day when the cruise ships left, it cleared out (and I'm sure people were getting ready for dinner) but we could go down the slides over and over without waiting. The wait wasn't that bad during the middle part of the day.
The Cove beach is the best beach. The Atlantis beach slopes down really bad and it's super choppy. They charge cruise ship people $69 per person to come sit on their beach (not worth it!) or $129 for the water park.

All in all, it's a fun hotel. They told me they are 2nd to Disney as far as family destination resort. I say they need to visit Disney and see how their customer service and friendliness is far superior.

Riu Palace Paradise Island - Better food than Mexico but needs to be updated

How's that for a long title to a post?
I was kind of pessimistic about this resort. I have been to Riu's in Mexico and did not like their food at all. It was a pleasant surprise that the Bahamas had good food! Everything else was slightly lacking though:

We checked in and took our bags to the room (they don't have a bell hop that offers to do this for you) and the rooms are old! They had redone little parts like the sink in the bathroom and the bedding but the carpet had holes and the furniture looks 15 years old. All the rooms are ocean view which is nice but you also have a view of Atlantis's oldest tower and some big rusty thing.
The mini bar was decent. No juice but pretty decent. I like that it's regular Diet Coke and not Coca-Cola Light like in Europe or Mexico.

The resort is very Spring Break. It has 1 pool with 1 swim up bar and just tons of chairs. The beach is a public beach with lots of jet ski operators waiting to sell you a ride. The water is very choppy. Not the Paradise Island water I was picturing. If I was 10 years younger and a hard core party person I would be all over it. The Riu's do have a minimum check in age during March and April though so it wasn't high school students.

Although the food is good, having to make dinner reservations is not so good. They let you make 2 reservations at a time but they only take reservations from 8 - 9am each morning. I don't know anyone who likes to get up at 8am to stand in a line. Ridiculous. (So I sent my husband. Ha!)

They have several different styles of food to pick from and the buffet each night has a different theme. I didn't realize until I went to the Bahamas that it's all import island (Duh!) so this is why everything tastes very American.

They had some fun stuff at the resort - similar to all other Riu Palaces. They had a theatre/club room and had dancing or karaoke or a band each night. There was also a sports bar with several tvs and video games. They also had snacks in a refrigerator you could re-heat 24 hours a day. They had plastic containers of fresh fruit which worked out perfect when we had to leave before breakfast opened one day.

This resort is right next to Atlantis Beach Tower. Like you walk out of the lobby and around the hedge and you are in the Beach Tower lobby. Super convenient. You can walk through the Beach Tower and Coral Tower lobbies and be right at the marina which was awesome at night. Musicians and multi million dollar yachts to entertain everyone.

There aren't many all inclusives in the Bahamas. The service was mediocre and the hotel needs updating but since there is only 1 on Paradise Island I guess they don't care!

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