Wednesday, March 22, 2017

HOW TO HAVE YOUR OWN 'HOLIDAY IN THE SUN' AT ATLANTIS


{ The drive to Atlantis from the airport is scenic as hell. }

Back in November my cousin (who lives in Boston) asked me if I'd be interested in going to The Bahamas with her in February. Through some fancy rewards program she had been offered a free four-night stay at the storied location of Dualstar Productions' most important film, Holiday in the Sun.

Now, I don't know about you, but anytime someone offers me the opportunity to do something The Olsen Twins have done, I say yes and then spend at least five minutes wishing I had a twin. But in this scenario, a blonde cousin fit the bill just fine. I was ready for a family vacation with a side of youthful independence and a high probability of fleeting romance.

Months went by, and I bided my time by watching Holiday in the Sun YouTube clips like this, this and this to prepare myself. Spoiler alert: I did not see Megan Fox nor did I get caught up in an antique smuggling racket, but I did work diligently on this playlist and then listen to it non-stop over our four-day getaway.

// CLICK THROUGH FOR ALL MY BAHAMAS HIGHLIGHTS //


{ Sunday Somewhere glasses, Elizabeth and James dress (old, similar & on sale), Old Navy sandals }

The first thing to know is that the Atlantis Resort is huge. You may have thought it was just those coral-pink buildings adorned with gold towers and giant seahorse statues but you'd be wrong. What feels like about a mile away, there is a cluster of additional towers that are, well, not as fancy. That's where our room(s) were. I won't even bother to show you the view from our first room, which looked out upon what must be the only industrial view in all the 700 islands of The Bahamas. After a quick, easy chat with our concierge, we were able to move into a room on the top floor with an ocean view for our last two nights, and as you can see here, it really suited me much better. Don't I look pleased with myself?

DAY 1: ARRIVING, HOME BARTENDING & SWIMMING

I arrived upset after my flight because no one would let me look out the window and take in the splendor of the Caribbean Sea as seen from above. I wish more than anything that I could share with you all the strange and wonderful Snapchat videos I took during this trip, but especially our first day. Once I found my cousin and we hopped in our taxi (use Cheryl and no one else, guys) my mood was instantly lifted. The road to Paradise (Island) winds along the beach, and I had our very friendly driver pull over at a random beach so I could take a photo (the one that introduces this post, above). At this time he also cracked open a local Sands Light beer for me, procured from the cooler in his trunk, and I took it with me on our first stop: the liquor and grocery stores.


{ On the right I'm wearing my new favorite Boden one-piece, which my cousin noted to be "very swim team." I love it. Also, these Le Specs sunnies. }

My cousin is a v v savvy world traveler, and I highly recommend taking a few hot tips from her (or me, by proxy) if you find yourself booking a trip to The Bahamas. We stocked up on rum and mixers as well as snacks, breakfast food, bananas, crackers and deli meat to keep in our tiny fridge. While I obviously bought a $11 piña colada on the beach one afternoon (above), we mostly mixed our own drinks in our room, and took them everywhere with us in plastic travel cups my cousin packed in her very efficient carry-on. This saved us a ton of money on drinks and made the many hundreds of screaming children all the more tolerable throughout the weekend.

After unpacking and armed with rum / pineapple juice / soda drinks to-go, we took ourselves on a self-guided tour through the casino, around the various water parks, pools and tunnels under shark tanks and finally to the beach for a sunset swim. We concluded our evening with mediocre sushi at Nobu (yes just like in the Drake/Future song) as part of our free stay, and then retired early to prepare for the next day.

DAY 2: GOLFIN', DOLPHINS & THE FISH FRY


{ We got to hit a few balls here, at the Ocean Club Golf Course }

Another fun addition to our free stay was the opportunity to take a golf lesson (for one person) and hang out with dolphins (also for one person). Since I am poor and we are #family, my cousin generously subsidized these activities for both of us. If you like to golf, I would highly recommend this course. If you don't really like golf, I would recommend wearing a swimsuit under your Bermuda shorts and polo so you can fling yourself from the golf cart, rip your clothes off and dive into the crystal clear ocean that skirts the edge of the green before anyone can tell you to stop being so inappropriate.


{ The homes in the neighborhood around the golf course were... Nice. }


From the above photo, several things should be clear. The first is that my cousin and I did our best to execute Olsen twin-level matching outfits for this outing. The second is that to me, a baseball bat and a golf club might as well be the same thing for all the good they've done me. And finally, that water!

Later in the day, we experienced something truly wonderful and worth every penny, which was the Shallow Water Dolphin Experience. Touching, hugging and kissing a dolphin was a life-changing experience, even if we did it with seven other strangers. These creatures are magical and happy and there are no photos of my joy and elation to show you because if you want to commemorate this momentous occasion, you must pay approximately $29.95 per digital photo.

Later, we hopped in a cab and went into Nassau to have an authentic local dinner at The Fish Fry. This a cluster of colorful restaurants and bars where Bahamians actually eat, and we indulged in conch fritters and a drink I would not recommend past the first one, called naturally, a Bahama Mama. It's not the best food you've ever eaten, but the atmosphere is lively and busy and fun—it makes a nice break from the on-property restaurants if you're staying at a resort. 

DAY 3: A LONG WALK ON THE BEACH & LUXURIOUS SPA TIME


{ In the top right corner you can see the coral towers of Atlantis! }

If you can believe it, on the same day that I spent at least 2.5 hours in the spa I also hit more than 17k steps on the fitness tracker in my iPhone. That's because my cousin decided she was hooked on golf and went back to the Ocean Club for another lesson that morning, leaving me to my own devices. (It brought the memories of #soloatsandals flooding back!)

I took this opportunity to lather on the SPF, cue up my vacation playlist and walk about 30 minutes down the beach from Atlantis, to a quiet, calm cove that I would have snorkeled in had I known I would make it all the way there and also brought a snorkel.



{ Yes, I waded out into the water with my phone in order to share this splendor with you. }

Jokes aside, it's important that you know just how gorgeous this water was, and that when I walked out into it to take a swim, a school of bright yellow-and-blue striped fish (not unlike Flounder in The Little Mermaid) circled around me, and I felt more peaceful than I have in months and months. There were only a few other people around, and I stayed for about an hour, just trying to absorb the moment and remember how lucky I was to be in this tropical locale at all. (On my way back to the hotel I went back into the water, the fish came back and I snapped this photo.)

Strolling homewards toward Atlantis, I listened exclusively to The Beach Boys classic, "Kokomo" over and over again. It wasn't annoying at all except when I couldn't stop singing it the rest of the weekend and my cousin was close to tossing me off our balcony to the pool of schooling manta and sting rays below.


{ You can find many of the comforts of home amongst the pools of Atlantis, like more than one Ben & Jerry's and a Starbucks. }

To conclude the day's agenda, my cousin treated us to some seriously luxurious spa time. I was rubbed down, wrapped in foil, massaged and generally subdued into a state of total relaxation. We lingered in the Mandara Spa taking in the hot pool, cold face towels and alternating between the sauna and steam room, as well as the "aromatherapy room" where you read magazines and sip pineapple water in a room that smells like eucalyptus while wearing a fluffy white robe. (I want one!) 


{ Next time I want to stay here, the colorful Compass Point Resort. }

One of the best things we did for ourselves on this long weekend adventure was to get off the Atlantis property to do a little exploring. When my cousin asked me to look up a place we could go have dinner that had both excellent seafood and a view of the sunset (tricky depending on which part of the island you're on), I managed to deliver 100 percent with a bet on Compass Point, a resort in Nassau not too far from the airport. We were seated on the edge of their oceanfront patio—overlooking the turquoise waters, the serene pool and cute, colorful cabanas that make up this unique little spot. 


{ They serve them everywhere, but the conch fritters at Compass Point were especially good! }


{ How fun are these rainbow steps leading down to the pool at Compass Point? Also, I love these little Old Navy slides so much I didn't wear any of the other sandals I brought! }

DAY 4: WATER SLIDES, THE DIG & MORE WALKING AROUND


{ No warm weather trip is complete without a great straw hat—this one is from Urban Outfitters a few years ago. For a similar look/price, try this one from Madewell}

Now, it may not seem like it from the elaborate story I have woven so far, but I did not do nearly as much relaxing on this trip as I had planned. We walked so much. Then there was the golf. I swam quite a bit in the ocean. Oh and there was the rum festival. (Did I mention that before? No? Because we went and it was very local and very crazy.)

So, on our last day at Atlantis, I was determined to spend as much time as possible in a horizontal position, slightly sedated by rum cocktails and the sound of ocean waves—and have the photographic proof, of course. That didn't really happen.



Side note: As you can tell, I am not above taking risky photos for the sole purpose of inciting jealously both from my friends and my back-from-vacation self days later. Sucking down this piña colada while idling around in those cool, gentle waves was one of those times. Worth it, no? I can still taste the slushy coconut mixing with the spicy rum and feel the squishy soft sand in my toes. Indeed, I have upset myself, just as I had planned.

Another upsetting thing? Wandering the vast property of Atlantis with my blonde cousin for four days did not lead to a chance run-in with the love of my young life. I was certain that my long weekend in The Bahamas was destined to include romance, but all that happened was I met an earnest young Canadian man named Greg at the casino. He was from Niagara Falls and sharing a room with his brother and sister-in-law. While I love almost nothing more than Niagara Falls, I did not love Greg.


{ I loved the water slide enough to share this photo of myself, which is really saying something. }

If you've ever seen a television commercial for Atlantis or if you remember some of the best montage scenes from Holiday in the Sun, you'll know that the water slides are the feature for which this resort is most known. As a person that does not enjoy the sensation of falling or roller coasters of any kind, I was surprised to find myself riding "The Serpent" tube slide more than once. I screamed bloody murder and prayed my "swim team" one-piece would do its job, and could only catch my breath once the slide ended in a slow-moving tube that goes through a shark tank. Indeed, Atlantis is a wondrous place.


{ Just one of the many "jewel habitats" in The Dig. }


{ I couldn't stop taking pictures of the sea life that is everywhere at Atlantis. Kissing turtles? Come on! Here in the bottom right you can see that I bonded with this weird fish who wouldn't move from that spot, so naturally, we took a selfie. Also, the eagle ray in the top right looks just like Nemo's teacher in the movie, and he appears to be smiling. I look at that picture at lot when I should be doing work. }

Mature adults that we are, my cousin and I actually could not get over "The Dig." While it is meant to submerge you into the legendary lost city of Atlantis, that part is really almost irrelevant if you ask me. Walking through dark tunnels, you come up upon all these marine habitats of different sizes full of the most amazing sea creatures. Because it's underground, you feel totally surrounded by the exhibits. I don't recommend this activity at all if you are claustrophobic or if you've never wanted a seahorse as a pet, or if you hate fun.


{ I won't act like getting to wear my favorite summer pieces in February wasn't amazing. Here I'm in my fav MLM Label top, Bridge and Burn shorts, a old Forever 21 bag (I like this new version for $13!), those Old Navy sandals and Celine sunglasses. }

In yet another example of not relaxing as much as I wanted, we went for a walk to explore Atlantis' "Marina Village" on our last evening. Once again motivated by free stuff (in this case, two drinks at one of the marina restaurants), we took a sunset stroll through this area of the resort where people dock their large yachts and a guy sings Caribbean-infused covers of Earth, Wind and Fire songs for passing tourists. I took this as one of the rare opportunities over the weekend when I could put together an outfit that didn't involve a swimsuit or a bra. (That's trendy, remember?)

DAY 5: RELAXING FOR 1 HOUR AND THEN LEAVING


The morning before we left, I found that moment of illusive relaxation I had been seeking. While my cousin went for a swim, I parked my caboose on our balcony in my favorite Everlane striped shirt dress (Ideal for traveling, by the way) and read A Gentleman In Moscow—which is an excellent and highly enjoyable book that I'm still not finished with.


Finally it was time to leave. When all was said and done, I realized that I did not go to The Bahamas to spend the whole time staring at the sky from a warm spot in the sand, aka "relaxing." I was okay with hitting more than 10k steps every single day of vacation. Additionally, I departed very happy because I got to sit in the window seat and see that view of the islands from above which was so cruelly denied me when the trip began.

HOT TIPS BEFORE YOUR TRIP
  • Have cash on hand at all times. I'd suggest hitting an ATM before you leave, since the fees once you're abroad can be high. You will need this money to tip everyone from your cab driver to the bell hop, and it's helpful for everything you do off your resort property.
  • Hit the grocery store when you arrive. As I mentioned before, having snacks and drinks in your room will alleviate a lot of small expenses throughout your getaway.
  • Pack travel mugs. My cousin and I found them to be so great for walking around and enjoying drinks on the beach, in taxis, whatever. Something like this is festive, inexpensive, and will look great in your Instagrams.
  • Know what you're signing up for. I am not really a person who typically seeks out this kind of resort—neither is my cousin. The sheer size is overwhelming, and they do everything in their power to make it so you'd never have to set foot off the property if you didn't feel like it. That said, if you have children and you want to relax under a palm tree while they absolutely lose their minds over water slides, shark tunnels and an elaborate—frankly amazing—aquarium, Atlantis is the jam. 

No comments:

Post a Comment