Traveling Cleverly Since 2001

on Friday, September 13, 2013 | 1 comments
Prior to having the Wee Nomads, I sought off-the-beaten track locations when we traveled. In fact, the greater the number of dilapidated land rovers and arguably air-worthy flights it took to get there, the better. Now? I much prefer our pilot doesn't explain that "this engine the bad one." I just had these kiddos, I want to live, ya dig? Commercial air travel is my friend.

Mr. Nomad had always wanted to go to Atlantis in the Bahamas, and I'd always resisted, for the following reasons (in no particular order): too expensive, how good could it be, can you say tourist trap, it's pink, it's Nassau.

Well, there's no other way to say this. Mr. Nomad was RIGHT. Score one for the big man.

This was to be our third big trip this year, so the budget would be tight, as in, we had to come in around $2,000 on flight and accommodations. Yes, for four people (well, really five, but we'll get to that later). I thought I was a tad crazy for even attempting to do this on the cheap, but here's how I did it:

Flights: We found a great deal on Delta, direct from Atlanta. Our tickets came out to $597 for the four of us (remember, Wee Nomad #2 is just barely under two, so we could have him in our lap).

Accommodations: Instead of one of the Atlantis hotels, I opted to place us in the Harborside Resort at Atlantis timeshares. These are a Starwood timeshare property. Units can be rented directly through Atlantis or by owner. I used an owner because this avoids all taxes (around $100 more per night). We found a rental for our dates for $1475. It was a one-bedroom premium unit, which sleeps five people in 980 square feet. Well, with all this extra space, why not bring someone along?! Why not indeed, so the invitation was extended to my mother (Mimi), who loves anywhere she can gamble. 

We were in a ground-floor unit, which worked great since we didn't have to tangle with a stroller and stairs/elevators. Toddlers and elevators are not my favorite combination. The floorplan of our unit shows we had a generously-sized bathroom and master bedroom. To accommodate everyone, we ordered an extra twin bed for $5 a day for Wee Nomad #1, and a crib for Wee Nomad #2. My mom slept in the den on the queen sleeper sofa bed. She said it was comfortable. I think she was just relieved to be alone for 8 hours in a row. Here's the view from our deck:

Food: Now, see, this is where they get you. You can opt for a (pricey) meal plan. If your kids eat a lot, or you really just want to go all out, get a meal plan. Since we were on the aforementioned budget, we used one of our free checked bags to bring a ton of dry goods from home: coffee, sugar, mac n cheese (Annie's, of course), snacks, cereal, pasta. I think I spent about $100 on snacks before we left. Then, I used a really awesome service called to order perishables. This is a grocery delivery service with an online ordering mechanism and they were flawless. You choose a one-hour delivery window, and not only do they come ON TIME (I was flabbergasted, being all to familiar with "island time") but they put the groceries away for you. I think we spent about $200 on meats, cheeses, eggs, breads, spaghetti sauces, milks, water and some wine. You cannot forget the wine, even if it's overpriced bargain brand. It does the job.

So, let's tally, I think we're at $2,372.00 for five nights, including most meals. We went out to eat twice with the children, once to Bimini Road in the Marina Marketplace. Service was efficient, food decent, but I am not in a huge hurry to return. We went out a second time to one of the few "local" places left on Paradise Island, the Green Parrot. This is where Atlantis employees go to grab a beer before heading back home over the bridge. Really friendly service and I thought good food. Better than the quick serve places at the resort for sure! 

Our routine was pretty basic, and we settled in quickly. We got up in the mornings, cobbled some breakfast together for the kids and some coffee together for the big kids. Then, we'd load 'em up, take the Harborside shuttle to Royal Towers (a 5 minute drive), and park beside a pool. Any pool. My favorite part about Atlantis is they have quite a few pools that are two feet or less in depth. This allows you to sit in the pool while your little guys toddle around and you don't have to fear they will wander into the deep end. I'm not saying we didn't supervise, but I am saying watching two under four is a lot easier if the pool has a maximum depth of 18 inches. Plus, this place was full of little slides (thrilling for tiny ones), squirting water features, lazy rivers, and... my favorite, LIFE JACKET STANDS! In all sizes! So you didn't have to bring them from home!!!!

Once we'd worn the kids out (usually less than three hours and two snacks later (the "little" guy has a tapeworm or somthing)), we'd return to our condo, eat a sandwich and the Wee Nomads would take a nap. Okay, I would usually take a nap too, but don't judge me. Two adults would then go back out - either to explore, go to the beach or hit the casino. If my mom was choosing, it was the casino, baby. 

Once the kids got up, we either went out exploring the lagoons and sea life around the resort, or we walked around to view the yachts or listened to music in Marina Marketplace. We had one day that was a near wash-out, but thanks to the DVD player in our unit (and the DVDs and microwave popcorn that yours truly had packed), the kids were mightily entertained. 

Once the kids were in bed around 8:30, two of the adults went back out. That's right, date night, sometimes with me and Mr. Nomad, sometimes with me and my mom, other times with Mr. Nomad and my mom. It was romance at its highest.

We did have one splurge date dinner at Mesa Grill for Mr. Nomad and I. I've always wanted to go to the one in Vegas, but we never got around to it. What better time than now? I had the spice rubbed pork tenderloin, and it was incredible if anyone cares. The margaritas are a bit dangerous, so have three.

Look, to sum it up, Atlantis was some of the things I expected it to be: pink, expensive, tourist trap-py. However, it was also a lot of things I didn't expect: friendly, fast service, clean, FUN, beautiful, and so, so easy for families with children. I mean this is a stupid easy way to give yourself a real vacation while your kids are with you. If you are so inclined, the property has children's clubs for kids over three. We will skip these until our youngest is three and our boys can be together, but the parents we spoke to said their kids were having a blast in the children's club. Now, stay out of the darn casino and this can really be a bargain trip!