How I got my family access to Atlantis Paradise Island at a steep discount

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I have been traveling the globe for more than five decades, first as a military brat during my childhood, then as a travel and aviation journalist. I grew up in Europe, where my parents were keen on taking me and my sister on trips across the continent for both fun and education.

When I had my now-16-year-old child, I decided early on that I wanted them to have the same travel experiences that my sister and I had, but I needed to stick to a modest budget. So, I quickly found myself seeking ways to trim trip expenses without making major vacation sacrifices.

While I’ve had luck saving more on some kinds of vacations than others, one particular trip really stands out: my family’s 2016 visit to the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island.

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How I booked our Atlantis visit

Back in 2016, Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas was being heavily advertised on TV channels in Baltimore, where we were based. My child, who was 11 at the time, was mesmerized by the pools and waterslides — especially the Mayan Temple — and started lobbying me and their dad to go.

After doing a quick check of room rates in April 2016 (during the peak spring break season), I knew staying at Atlantis wasn’t in our budget. Although the resort is part of Marriott‘s Autograph Collection, meaning I could earn Marriott Bonvoy points while staying there, the cash price was still out of reach for me and I didn’t have enough Bonvoy points in my account to cover the trip.

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If I was I to try booking a four-night stay in a family-friendly Coral room now for the same time next year, I would need to shell out $2,380 (or $595 per night, as the above screenshot shows) — an exorbitant amount for a family on a budget.

Knowing there had to be a cheaper way to check out Atlantis Paradise Island, I started researching other options to see what cost-effective alternatives might be available.

Related: How to book Atlantis in the Bahamas with points and miles

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I did another Google search to see if Atlantis Paradise Island sells day passes. As luck would have it, the property does, but this option was still a tad pricey. For two adults and a child, we were looking at spending a whopping $1,900 (or $475 per day) for our four-night visit — and that didn’t even guarantee us beach chairs.

I knew I could do better.

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So, once I booked our Southwest Airlines flights with points, I Googled “hotels with access to Atlantis” to see what would come up. That’s when I found the Comfort Suites Paradise Island.

Offering 223 junior suites, a free hot breakfast buffet and an outdoor pool with a swim-up bar, this Choice Hotels-affiliated property offered nearly the same level of convenience as staying at Atlantis Paradise Island, as it’s directly across the street from the resort, but without the hefty price tag. A double suite that fit us all comfortably cost just $236 a night — or $944 total for four nights.

(Screenshot from Comfort Suites Paradise Island)

But the best part was the off-site perk that the room rates covered. Each of us received a wristband that gave us access to many of Atlantis Paradise Island’s amenities, including the following features at the resort’s 141-acre Aquaventure water park:

Waterslides like the Leap of Faith in the famous Mayan Temple and The Abyss (a 200-foot-long body slide), plus three water coasters. 
The mile-long Rapids River, where waves push riders on inner tubes through a lush landscape.
More than 20 swimming areas, including two kids’ pools, eight family-friendly pools and an adults-only pool. 
Four white sand beaches, such as the kid-friendly Lagoon Beach, where visitors can go snorkeling and explore via paddleboats, among other water sports activities.

How I kept our expenses in check

Solely sticking to Atlantis Paradise Island’s offerings can quickly add up, especially if you dine at any of the resort’s 29 restaurants or opt to enjoy other activities like Dip ‘N’ Discover dolphin encounters and snorkeling adventures in the Ruins Lagoon, which cost extra and must be booked in advance. So, we chose to do a mix of on- and off-site activities in order to get the full experience at the resort without breaking the bank.

My child enjoying a beverage at Atlantis Paradise Island’s Grotto Pool. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)

On day one of our visit, we arrived early to snag some lounge chairs together since we knew they’d fill up quickly. However, our chosen spot wasn’t ideal, so we decided to splurge on preferred seating at the Grotto Pool (an amenity that sadly was removed during the COVID-19 pandemic and is not expected to return, according to a resort spokesperson) for the remainder of our stay, which set us back $125 per day — or $375 for three days.

Our new setup was exactly what we were looking for — a quiet oasis close to all the action — and we loved having a dedicated server for food and beverage orders, plus a USB charging port for electronics and a storage locker. Not to mention, the child really enjoyed sitting under that pool’s two cascading waterfalls when they were not spending some quality time with their dad on the water park’s slides and at The Rapids River.

Despite the added expense of reserving pool chairs and eating a few poolside meals, we still saved a considerable amount by staying at the Comfort Suites and skipping pricier Atlantis Paradise Island activities. As a result, we were able to use some of our savings to partake in Tru Bahamian Food Tours‘ Bites of Nassau Food Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour, which cost us $199 ($75 for two adults and $49 for one child between the ages of 4 and 12). We loved the three-hour tour, as it focused on visiting locally owned places with the help of a local guide who knew all kinds of interesting facts about the area’s history.

Bottom line

Overall, our spring break trip to Atlantis Paradise Island was a win-win for our family. Our kid got to enjoy an impressive water park that they saw on TV without their parents spending a fortune on the experience.

By being strategic about our visit — from using points to pay for airfare to staying at a budget-friendly property that provided all the key perks we wanted — my family was able to spend several days in paradise for just $1,443. Given how much we were able to enjoy without feeling like we were settling for less, it’s safe to say that our trip to the Bahamas remains a family favorite.

So the next time you start researching ideas for a vacation, don’t forget to consider all available options to see if there are ways to cut costs. You never know when you may find more affordable alternatives — even in popular destinations like the Bahamas.

Featured photo courtesy of Atlantis Paradise Island.

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