Great holiday A review of The Reef Atlantis
My extended family stayed at The Reef over the Christmas holiday and had a great time.
Hotel: Beautifully decorated, modern, clean. Love the trendy music they pump through outdoor speakers so you have a soundtrack to walk around to. There's a Starbucks (also serves drinks and has salads/sandwiches for sale) and a Convenience Store (milk, bread, treats) in the lobby. The resort shuttle comes about every 10 minutes, but the grounds are easily walkable and give you the chance to explore. The Mesa Grill restaurant is right next door and floods the air with delicious smells all day!
Also, the resort grounds are very stroller-friendly, with smooth walkways and lots of elevators.
Rooms: Both the one-bedroom suties and studios were spacious, clean, and had all the amenities you need, including kitchen supplies/appliances. Everyone gets a terrace with a nice view of the beach or across to the big island. Pull-out couches are available in both rooms and were comfortable. The hotel will also bring you an Aero Bed at your request. The mini bar is equipped with motion sensors so if you even touch something, you automatically get charged!
Service: Approachable, gracious and super-polite. You can always locate someone in and around the lobby to help (whether they have the answer you're looking for can go wither way). Service throughout the resort can be slow: it took a few hours for the Aero Bed to appear, the woman who was cleaning our room when we arrived home for lunch said she would "return soon" but didn't come back until we called the main desk after dinner. It's the island attitude, mon.
Beaches/pools: The Reef pool is beautiful and not nearly as crowded as the main pools by Royal Tower. Your Reef wristband (you need to get a new one each day from the nearby poolhouse) gets you everywhere you need to go. The beach chairs always went fast, but getting down there by 9/9:30 should secure you a few. Ocean water was cool in late-December, but there were still many swimmers. You may want to bring water shoes or sandals because the shallow waters have rocks/reefs on the ocean floor (hence the name of the hotel, I suppose).
Water attractions: Great! Of course, lines got long in the afternoon, but waiting is half the fun when you're on a tube or filled with nervous energy above a shark-infested pool. DOn't forget suncreen. Before you know it, you've spent half the day on the lazy river and have a nice burn to show for it.
Restaurants: We had a good sampling of the restaurants and the service was always polite. Food took a while to appear in most sit-down places, so plan ahead or try to eat during off-peak hours, especially if you ahve a large group. Reservations can be made after you arrive, or even the day of, but you need to be flexible. The quality of food was higher than I expected, but it was expensive (not a shock, really). We enjoyed "bargain-hunting" for the cheapest poolside burger (all the way at the Beach Tower end,$7. $10 at the food shack closest to The Reef).
Tap water is fine to drink as are ice cubes, although the resort will tell you tap water is a "precious commodity"...code for "buy our $7 bottled water."
Groceries: A 10-minute cab ride will get you across the bridge to the nicely-stocked Winn-Dixie grocery store. Amazingly, milk and bread were cheap! Cheetos, not so much. If you have room in your suitcase, bring some cereal, snacks, etc. and pick up drinks and perishables at the grocery store. The Reef rooms have all silverware, fridges, plates, glasses, pots/pans, dishwashers, etc.
Overall, the vacation was FANTASTIC. I would recommend The Reef for all types of travellers: families, couples, groups, young, old. Everyone knows what it'll cost you to vacation on Paradise Island, so don't let it discourage you: a positive attitude will definitely get you your money's worth.