Friday, 18 January 2013

Atlantis, Bahamas


       When traveling with 5 it is almost impossible to travel cheap. The only thing you can do is try and reduce your spending with some intense research. As a family we have done the Disney World vacations, we did have amazing times there and often think about going back.  But as a traveler I want to go new places, not only for me but for my kids.

  I thought about them seeing the ocean for the first time on a beach with the sun shining and the sea breeze in their hair. We wanted it to be perfect but we knew it would take money to get there and money to stay. We wanted to stay at the The Reef at Atlantis so we booked it for 4 nights. We spent solid money on the Flight but got a great deal through All-Ways Travel in my home town.

    Our attraction to the Atlantis resort and to the Reef (one of the newest hotels at the resort) would be the water park and aquariums being included in the hotel price. Its also possible to never leave the resort with all amenities on available on site. Also at The Reef they offer kitchenette in their guest rooms.

 The advantages of a kitchenette are many.  You can get up and relax, everyone has cereal, toast and/or fruit. It allowed us to save money when we went to the grocery store(on the way to the hotel). 2 things kids need are drinks and snacks. We loaded up our snacks when we went to the beach for a few hours and we usually weren't hungry for lunch but if we were we got something we could share.

We stopped at the grocery store on the way to the resort from the airport(ask your driver), there I bought snacks, breakfast items and drinks mainly. It cost a bit over $100 but it lasted the entire 4 days with
drinks to spare.

There are lots of restaurants to chose from on site while at Atlantis, 21 of them to be more exact (Note: get reservations months ahead!) and 19 bars to boot. And it is not cheap anywhere.  But  the plan was not to be cheap (the flight and hotel were not cheap). It was just be cheaper than the Atlantis 1200 dollar meal plan that included breakfast and supper for 2 adults and 3 kids age 7,5 and 4 for 4 nights. So I researched a lot about the restaurants.

We booked 3 sit down meals, so we still felt like we were on vacation. We selected  Carmines, Virgil's BBQ and The Mesa Grill .

     Carmine's was very nice but fairly expensive and has a high end Italian Bar atmosphere.  They bring out a fresh assorted bread platter and garlic oil dip which my family loved. We had the Caesar salad it was a bit watery but not bad. The main dish was Spaghetti Bolognese which was good. For desert we tried the very expensive but fresh Chocolate Cannoli's. Meal Cost $ 100 (Note: we found that taking the leftovers from Carmine's which serves family sized portions of Italian favorites, was a great way to save money on lunch the next day. Ever tried fried spaghetti its FANTASTIC).

At Virgils BBQ it has a fun cowboy atmosphere which also serves family sized portions of your favorite southern dish. The meal was good! The portion sizes matched the price. We had the pulled pork (a bit spicy, but good). The staff was one of a kind. Our highlight while there was an anniversary being celebrated, the host started singing in a beautiful gospel voice, a happy anniversary song if you will. Those brought strong cheers from the patrons at the restaurant. Another note the Kids Burger is HUGE. Meal cost $85.

     The Mesa Grill was an amazing dining experience with a very nice dining room and bar (with a very cool flame theme). The staff was very attentive and helpful when picking our food and starving myself was worth it. I tried Conch for the first time.(Crispy Conch served with Hot & Sweet Yellow Pepper Sauce & Mango Relish). The Chipotle Glazed Ribeye was pretty good, my wife had the 16 spice chicken which she loved, and the kids had the kids sized Steak, Cheese Quesadilla and Mac n cheese. At the end of our meal we had the dessert platter , which is about 7 of their deserts on a platter which was worthy of dying for. Meal cost $300.

Before I move on, you probably just read $300 and said "Hey, i thought he was trying to eat cheap?" Well when we go on vacations its for experiences and memories. The Mesa Grill is one of Iron Chef Bobby Flay's restaurants, making this a bit of both. My family enjoys time spent in our home kitchen, which leads to watching the Food Network a few nights a week. A little advice here would be to know when to go big (within reason).

We ate at the Marina Pizza place which is nice to grab a seat outside along the marina ($50) The Marina at Atlantis is a real Gem. We also ate at Johnny Rockets ($75), here they perform a song and dance twice an hour its fun to watch.
We also had Starbucks which the prices resembled prices at home.
All bills come with 15% gratuity added.

      Another place id like to  mention is Seaglass. I purchased several banana daquiris ($9) from there and they went above and beyond in the service department. They were able to get me a Starbucks hot chocolate. One night after Starbucks had closed they saving me from an extra trip and an unhappy wife. Thanks Guys!

We saved about 500 dollars in total and could've saved more. How much can you save?

Have a holiday saving tip for me? hit me up on Twitter @realmantravel 

About the Author

Chris Williams is the founder and creator of Real Man Travels. Connect with Chris on Twitter.

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