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A much needed ‘staycation’

Play, taste and explore the Atlantis

Like many Bahamians, I have not left the country in more than a year. My last trip was actually January 2020 and I was scheduled for a quick weekend getaway in March, which was canceled at the ninth hour as The Bahamas joined the world in unceremoniously shutting down due to the pandemic. I settled in for the long haul preferring to remain safe and not sorry, coming to terms with the fact that I would not be traveling anywhere anytime soon, but that does not mean that I did not develop a yearning to go … somewhere.

While health officials are still advocating remaining safe at home even with the easing of restrictions as we learn to live with COVID-19, I’m still not comfortable with the thought of travel – but I still needed a break. My compromise – a “staycation!”

The idea of checking into the luxurious The Cove at the Atlantis resort was enticing. And my goals were pretty simple – relax, recharge, and reconnect, after the unprecedented year that was 2020, which is still ongoing. I packed my bags and headed off island, albeit it was a quick car ride across the Sidney Poitier Bridge to Paradise Island where I checked into the luxurious all-suite hotel, for a much-needed three-night weekend away.

To be honest, getting to the point of spending time away from the safety of the four walls of my home, other than for essential activities, took some doing. But in the past few weeks, I’ve been building up my nerves. First, I “dipped my toes” into the dining out pool arena, which was a great lead-in to me being able to wade out past the shallow and into deeper waters to actually check into The Cove.

As COVID protocols are super important to me and always first and foremost in my mind, after perusing Atlantis’ Clean & Safe Promise, I was convinced. As an aside, visitors are taking advantage of my paradise – why shouldn’t I? “Snowbirds” flock to the sunshine of The Bahamas in a bid to escape brutal winter weather and, of course, it’s that time of year when students on school break are seeking fun and good times in paradise.

Beautifully appointed king one-bedroom suite at The Cove. ATLANTIS

In reopening, Atlantis under Cleveland Clinic’s guidance, implemented their Atlantis Clean & Safe Promise, which they say meets local and international standards for health and safety protocols. It’s a comprehensive approach to protecting guests and team members’ health safety and well-being, and it’s implemented property-wide. I had to present a negative test before I was even allowed on property.

“Our Atlantis Clean & Safe Promise, which meets both local and international standards for health and safety protocols, in addition to our wide-open spaces and reimagined experiences reassures guests visiting our resort,” said Carlton Russell, Atlantis executive vice president of hotel operations. “Atlantis now offers two onsite locations for PCR-RT swab and Rapid Antigen testing with the same-day results among many of our new guest services. Along with these important health measures, our guests will receive the same heartfelt service, and will be immersed in our authentic Bahamian culture and enjoy Atlantis’ attractions available throughout our lush resort grounds.”


Bag packed!

Once I arrived on property, my agenda for relaxation, recharging, and reconnecting sort of went out the window as I stepped into my beautifully appointed king bed one-bedroom suite and made a beeline for the balcony to take in the amazing vista that is the resort’s one-of-a-kind, 141-acre water park, Aquaventure and the incomparable ocean view.

It was the ultimate luxury!

I gazed longingly at the water slides, mile-long river ride with high intensity rapids and wave surges, and the pools called out to me to don my swimsuit and come out and play. In accordance with COVID protocols, the resort has instituted reduced seating of 50 percent capacity and physical distancing on all pool decks.

Playing at Aquaventure is a must. SHAVAUGHN MOSS

I opted to relax for a bit before heading out. Mistake of epic proportions! That bed just envelops you in the warmest, softest hug, so-much-so that it feels like you’re floating on cloud nine. It lulled me into a nap. But I refused to allow that bed to hold me down. I had so much to take in.

I had signed up for Dip ‘N Discover at Dolphin Cay, a 14-acre sanctuary with an 11-acre lagoon, seven connected pools, which houses a family of bottlenose dolphins for my very first encounter with these marine mammals. My experience took place with Tazia Rutherford, Dolphin Cay’s director, who introduced me to Nechama, 10-years-old, who has an amazing story behind her name, that you must visit to learn about.

Dolphin Cay is one of the largest and most sophisticated marine-mammal habitats in the world. Its first residents were 17 stranded dolphins and 10 sea lions whose home in Gulfport, Mississippi was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

I was also able to get up close and personal during a behind-the-scenes tour with sea lions, and met sea lions, Sunshine, 20-years-old, a Californian female who deigned to take a picture with me; Balto, 13-years-old, a South American male sea lion who at last weigh-in tipped the scale at 655 pounds – who was playing a game of fetch with his person when I visited and greeted me with a mighty roar; and Sebastian, 21-years-old, a Californian male who at last weigh in weighed 595 pounds. The tour was an extraordinary behind-the-scenes tour of the animal hospital, pharmacy, lab and surgical suite where they care for rescued animals.

Shavaughn Moss, Nassau Guardian lifestyles editor, during her very first encounter with marine mammals, feeds Nechama, a 10-year-old dolphin. ATLANTIS

And there’s so much more to the Dolphin Cay experience – the junior ultimate trainer for the day, kayak with dolphins, paddleboard with dolphins, playtime with sealions, sea turtle excursion and swim in wonder with dolphins.

Marine adventures (programs offered by family/private pods) include Blue Adventure Experiences (snorkel, scuba, sea trek, snuba, non-motorized water sports); Pieces of 8 Paradise Island Harbour Tour (open to Atlantis guests only), snorkel the ruins at Atlantis and the stingray experience.

You can also take in marine habitats and lagoons – Mayan Temple Shark Habitat, Paradise Lagoon, Reef Lagoon, Rope Bride, Royal Stingray and Shark Lagoon, Ruins Lagoon, and The Dig.

No matter how many times I’ve strolled through The Dig, I never tire of this maze of underwater corridors and passageways that provide a journey through ancient Atlantis.

On my third day, I definitely needed to get in some relaxation so I booked an Elemis frangipani monoi salt glow scrub, 50-minute Mandara customized massage, and 50-minute Mandara signature facial – after all, I needed to get some rest, my weekend getaway was sadly going to come to a close. But I couldn’t let it end without taking in the featured movie they were showing under the stars by the pool, which was the perfect way to end my weekend.

And who can forget the dining experiences. While all of their dining outposts aren’t reopened yet, the restaurants that are, offer variety – Seafire Steakhouse, Nobu and Olives for dinner; Sip Sip at The Cove, Ocean Clubhouse, The Point (Harborside), Plato’s (Royal lobby), and Shark Bites (Mayan Temple) for lunch; and Fish, Starbucks (The Reef), Plato’s (Royal lobby) and room service for breakfast.

Shavaughn Moss, Nassau Guardian lifestyles editor and husband, David Moss during dinner at Nobu.

And there’s tons to do to ensure children are entertained.

To my surprise, I was not the lone local taking advantage of the Atlantis “staycation” opportunity to play, taste and explore with rates starting at $175-plus taxes, per night inclusive of a $25 resort credit and free parking. To take advantage, a minimum to two-night stay is required. I ran into a number of resident families enjoying a “staycation” at the resort, along with the “snowbirds” and students on break. For reservations, telephone 363-6483; a negative rapid antigen test is required (atlantisbahamas.com/local offer.)

What I figured was going to be a restful weekend, turned out to be anything but, as Atlantis is able to offer quite a few activities while still following COVID safety protocols. But I loved the fact that for the first time in a year I was able to get away from my house.

Par for the course, I usually need a vacation after the vacation because I’ve done so many things, who knew I would feel that way after a few nights stay at The Cove; there was just so much to do.

Atlantis is offering a number of attractive offers, including one tailored specifically for locals, that another weekend getaway should be in the cards soon, to experience the activities that I didn’t get to do during my recent stay.

Dinner at Seafire Steakhouse.

And according to Russell, the resort this week will once again offer daily passes to residents to enjoy the slides and pools of Aquaventure as well as their other amenities such as shopping, casino and fine dining. A negative COVID test result, valid within five days, must be presented upon arrival. At this time, he said Atlantis will sell 100 passes per day.

“The health, safety and well-being of our team members, guests, animals and community will always be Atlantis’ number one priority,” said Russell. “For those reasons, we have reimagined the experiences and offerings to ensure that our Atlantis Clean & Safe [Promise] protocols and procedures are incorporated. For example, at Dolphin Cay, group interactions are organized by traveling party or family versus group interactions in previous years. Menus can be downloaded by QR code on smart phones, and contactless check-in is also available. These are a few examples of how Atlantis is working to ensure guests a memorable and safe experience.”

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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