Some families don’t use the kids’ programs, choosing to spend time together splashing around Aquaventure, snorkeling, and admiring the sharks, giant rays, and neon reef fish in the imaginative aquariums in and around the Royal Towers. They’re transfixed—understandably—by The Dig, where fish swim amid the “ruins” of Atlantis. No labels identify the fish, but there are labels for the ruins. After all, this resort is fantasy land.
These things are free for guests, but families also pay extra to race NASCAR-worthy mini-cars at the Atlantis Speedway, paint ceramics at Earth and Fire Pottery, design teddy bears at Atlantis Pals, ride water trikes, pet dolphins at Dolphin Cay, and visit Joker’s Wild Comedy Club. With this and more, it’s no wonder kids, who, Novack says, “frequently are the decision makers for this family vacation, actively ask their parents if they can go to Atlantis.”
tips for agents
Naturally, some families will worry about the costs, what with flights, rooms, meals, fees for AKA (e.g. $60 for four hours in the evening), and charges for Atlantis Pals, Atlantis Speedway, etc. Some make it happen by traveling off-season, but savvy travel agents offer other strategies for families on a budget. “I break the news that everything is a la carte; then I tell them why getting a meal plan is better,” says Brian Podvia, owner of JetSetPilot. The plans cost $75-$125 per adult and $29-$75 per child (age 7-11) for breakfast and dinner. Not cheap, but children 6 and younger eat free, and, Podvia explains, “you know up front what your costs are going to be, as opposed to receiving a surprise on your credit card bill.”
Which hotel complex to book? “The Beach and Coral towers are coach class, the Royal Towers are business class, and The Cove and The Reef are first class,” quips Atlantis public relations v.p., Eric Hall. (He calls the nearby One&Only Ocean Club, whose guests may use Atlantis’s amenities, “a private jet.”) Podvia steers clients away from the lower-priced rooms, “because people have seen commercials with the newer towers, and they expect that level of luxury.”
Besides, a family that doesn’t mind preparing some of its meals—some people prefer it—will find that not eating all meals in restaurants almost pays for the difference between a room at the Beach Tower (high season, about $370) and a luxurious Studio Terrace at The Reef ($580), which has kitchen facilities. For the sake of comparison, it’s worth noting that families of four from cruise ships pay $650 for lunch and a mere day pass to amenities like Aquaventure that are free for Atlantis guests.
“The booking engine on the Atlantis site is easy to use,” says agent Hardenberger, but she still feels the resort is so large and offers so many choices that agents should see the place for themselves. Atlantis extends FAM trip invitations to agents who show interest and have booked the resort but have not yet visited it. The resort also offers accredited travel agents discounted agent rates, starting at $139 per room/per night for up to three nights. There is no additional charge for children under 12. “We have always understood and recognized the immense value of travel professionals,” says Franz Buchhalter, v.p. of sales, the Americas. “We continue to actively pursue opportunities to create new relationships.”
escape to atlantis, the resort and the lost city Regal Suite at the Royal Towers.
Atlantis: (800) ATLANTIS; atlantis.com