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As we expected, last week the 141 acre Atlantis resort and water park in the Bahamas came under the Marriott flag, which is great news for miles and points loving families. The official “live” date was October 16th, and stays booked on or after that date by calling 1-877-829-2429 or on www.marriott.com/atlantis are eligible for Marriott elite benefits, point earnings and redemptions, etc. If you booked a stay before October 16th it is ineligible for earning points and other Marriott benefits. Those details are all outlined on this FAQ.
There are several different towers that make up the Atlantis Resort, and those towers can best be thought of as individual hotels in many ways as each tower varies in quality. For example, the entry-level Beach Tower may be selling for about $130 per night when The Cove Atlantis is selling for close to $500 per night. So, it makes sense that the towers have their own award categories even though all are part of the Marriott Autograph Collection.
Beach Tower: Category 7, 35,000 points per night
Coral Towers: Category 7, 35,000 points per night
Royal Towers: Category 8, 40,000 points per night
The Reef Atlantis: Not eligible for point redemptions
So far you have to call up Marriott to book an award stay at 1-855-696-4732. I think it is great that you can now earn and use Marriott points to stay at the Atlantis Resort, and if you are especially Marriott points rich then staying in the “nicer” Royal Towers or The Cove Atlantis would give you a more comfortable hotel room then just scraping together enough cash for the Beach or Coral Towers.
However, let’s be real. That is a lot of Marriott points for a hotel that can sometimes be had for close to $100 per night during the off-season for the entry level rooms (at the Beach Towers). There also seem to be mandatory taxes/fees/gratuities each night even on award stays, so your stay will still have some cost in dollars in addition to the points. You also will not earn points for the money spent at the resort (outside of the price of the room) which will likely be substantial as Atlantis food and beverages are pretty costly.
I can see using points during peak weekends when the cash rates are higher than normal, and when you can redeem points for four nights and get the fifth night for no additional points Otherwise I would stick to my old strategy of using Choice Hotel points to stay at the Comfort Suites next door. The room at the Comfort Suites certainly doesn’t look any worse than the images I have seen of the Beach Towers, the points cost is lower, a (modest) breakfast is included, there were no taxes/ fees on my own award stay there, and you still get access to all the Atlantis goodies.
Alternatively, the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar is open for reservations beginning June 1 for 15,000 Hyatt points per night. It is not anywhere near Atlantis, so that would be a very different Bahamas vacation, but it is another new points option in the area.
I think Atlantis and the Bahamas can make for a very fun family vacation, but I am a little disappointed to see the points price start at 35,000 points per night and go up to a top tier Category 9 of 45,000 points per night. The resort is in need of some updating, so I hope that this partnership with Marriott will enable that to happen. In the meantime, the ocean there is still beautiful, the water park is still lots of fun, and being able to earn and use points makes things even a bit better. Being able to use just 4,500 British Airways Avios to fly on American Airlines from Miami or even use the Southwest Companion Pass to get to the Bahamas makes this destination even more interesting for points families.
Who plans to use some Marriott points to head to the Bahamas?