Use Points to Save Big When Going to Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas

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This week I was able to book a trip that I have had in the works for at least 18 months…a trip to take my family to Atlantis in the Bahamas.  Call me a sucker for the delightfully family friendly commercials on TV, but it’s always been on my list of places to visit.  However, when I initially looked at prices I balked and pondered if it was really worth that amount for pretty modest looking accommodations.  There were some pretty nice accommodations also available, but those prices were truly out of the question at close to $500 per night.  I was in no rush, so I just waited for the right deal to present itself.  Then, in 2012, the Daily Getaways offered the answer in the form of Choice Hotel points.  What do Choice Hotel points have to do with the Atlantis Resort you may ask?  In a word, everything!

Atlantis Mommy Points

It is a fairly well kept secret that you can stay at the neighboring all-suites Comfort Suites Paradise Island (that is in the Choice Privileges points program) and have full access included to Atlantis and of all their facilities, including swimming pools, private beach, waterscapes, Lazy River Ride, water slides, health spa, tennis, and Kids Camp.  Guests at the Comfort Suites also have full signing privileges at Atlantis’ restaurants and lounges.  This is all in addition to the free hot breakfast provided at the Comfort Suites (though I’m sure the breakfast is nothing to write home about).

Comfort Suites Nassau Mommy Points

Comfort Suites Paradise Island

Rates for this hotel per night are often in the $250+ per night range (plus some pretty strange taxes and fees), or you can do what I did and spend 25,000 Choice points per night (and still pay the strange mandatory fees).  I bought these points via the Daily Getaways for less than $300 for the 75,000 points I needed for three nights, so I am paying less than $100 per night (plus fees) or my family of three to have full access to Atlantis in the Bahamas.  Of course, if you didn’t have to buy your Choice points because you earned them via actual hotel stays then you could be paying even less!

I am certain that this Comfort Suites will have quite modest accommodations compared to the Park Hyatt style hotels we have stayed in from time to time, but I don’t care.  I like luxury, but I also have no issue with modest (clean) hotels that put me where I want to be.  I’m certainly not going to the Bahamas to stay in the hotel room!  One thing to be aware of is that the Choice program only allows international point redemptions within 60 days of arrival (30 days domestically), but with their Platinum elite status you will be able to book 75 days in advance.  It isn’t a huge difference, but it was enough for me to match my Hyatt Diamond status to Choice in order to get Platinum status for the purposes of booking this trip.

For flights we used British Airways Avios to fly on American Airlines operated flights from Houston – Miami – Nassau for 24,000 Avios round trip per person.  This is a much better deal than most traditional frequent flyer programs in the US can offer since they use a distance based award chart, and it isn’t all that far from Houston to the Bahamas.  Since I transferred those Avios from the American Express Membership Rewards program during a previous 50% transfer bonus, my actual cost in Membership Reward points was something like 16,000 Membership Reward points per person to fly from Houston to the Bahamas.  There is currently a 20% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to the British Airways Avios program.

If you are doing the math at home, that means that for a family of three we spent 48,000 Membership Reward points for the flights + 75,000 Choice Privileges points for the hotel that gives us access to Atlantis.  We now get to go on a vacation that other families spend thousands of dollars on for very little cash outlay.  Our trip won’t happen for a few more months, so I can’t yet speak to how it all will go in practice, but I can say that I am pretty excited about how everything lined up for miles and points to make this family trip possible.

If you want to do this yourself, but don’t yet have the miles and points to make it happen, you have a few options.

Options for Staying at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island:

  • Wait for another Daily Getaways sale and see if Choice points are again available at a discount.  This sale typically happens in the late spring/early summer.
  • Get the Choice credit card for up to 32,000 points (though I don’t really recommend this).
  • Transfer Choice points from Membership Rewards at a 1:1 rate (this can be an okay deal depending on the going rate of the hotel, but you may not get a great value from your MR points this way)
  • Top off by buying up to 20,000 Choice points per year at a rate of $11.00 per 1,000 points.
  • Pay for the stay at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island if the rate you can get it a fair amount better than at Atlantis

I’m looking forward to all the family friendly offerings at Atlantis, but do be aware if you want to hit the big water slides with your kid(s) there is a 48″ height requirement for those attractions.

Kids Pool Atlantis Mommy Points

Kid Play Area in Atlantis

If you have been to Atlantis or stayed at this Comfort Suites, I’d love to hear your tips!

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  1. I have this same trip in the works! I got the Choice Privleges credit card and have enough points now, but that short booking window is killing me! I’ve heard food costs at Atlantis are out of this world so plan accordingly.

  2. My daughter and I stayed at the somewhat nearby British Colonial Hilton last summer, but took a walk through Atlantis. Even if you’ve booked, I’d think twice about going. We both thought it was wildly over hyped, over marketed, and over priced. Busy, not terribly clean, beach was nothing special, and a pain to get to from the airport. There are so many better places to go. Just one opinion, and there are always a variety of opinions out there, but for the same money go to the Cayman Islands…particularly The Ritz.

  3. We did this when the Bahamas was one of the stops on a recent cruise they wanted over $400 for our family of 4 to go to Atlantis for the day. Choice points to the rescue! They must have people on cruise ships do it frequently as well because they never even gave us a room key!

  4. Hopefully will be helpful in a few years. I assume that some days in Dec-Feb could potentially be considered a bit “cold” for those of use who grew up below the arctic circle.

  5. I have been wanting to do the same trip, however I was recently dissapointed when I found out that there are fees per person for energy surcharge, housekeeping fees and 3rd and 4th person fees. I believe I will pass and use my points else or at least read your trip report.

  6. Atlantis might be the most overpriced, overrated “resort” in the world.
    Even using myriad points, discounts, tricks etc… I fail to see the allure.
    These mysterious fees and add-ons make it the nickel and dime nigthmare.
    I’ll suffer through Disney and then go to Vegas to experience a cleaner, less costly and much more transparent trip.

  7. I went a few years ago for a wedding. Atlantis is huge and includes several buildings of different vintage. The Comfort Suites is on the east side, which is the older hotel buildings and the older portion of the water park is. This is the kids portion of the park, with a short river, small pools, and generally a quieter and less crowded area.

    As for the Atlantis itself, there are tons of hidden fees tacked onto the room (maid service, towel service, etc), and in the main section of the water park you must get up early if you want to secure a chair or be able to ride the big rides without 15-30 minute waits. The assorted aquariums/shark tanks/ fake atlantis museum is cool – there is an awesome aquarium in the lobby with this giant manta ray that I still think about.

    I think the comfort suite options is a good choice if you are traveling on a budget with kids. without points, Atlantis cannot be visited cheaply.

  8. I was in the Bahamas this spring on an overnight stay in transit to an not-to-be-named island to the south. I got a decent rate at the British Colonial Hilton on Priceline and found that at least some of my Hilton Gold benefits were honored (like breakfast).
    The energy surcharge is a common feature of all accommodation in the Bahamas and cannot be avoided.
    I did not visit Atlantis (which is physically separate from the rest of Nassau) but the part of the island I did see was kind of dumpy.

  9. Lynn, awesome! I’m sure food is really high. Fill up on the free breakfast. 😉
    Nathan, we are going to give it a try, but I have no doubt it is a busy place that shows some wear.
    Dana, nice!
    ABC, Jan average high 77, average low 66.
    Maury, yeah sounds like some fees like that are pretty normal for the area. Not a deal killer in my view, but something to know about in advance for sure!
    Geoff, I’m sure it is no Kauai, but We’re excited to give it a shot. I like real nature, and I like the Vegas-ized version of fun. We’ll see how it goes!
    Andrew, thanks for sharing!
    Larry, thanks for sharing and glad you got some of your Gold perks! 😉

  10. MP, my family and I stayed at the CS 2 years ago. The deal is a no brainer. Great hotel opposite Atlantis, while you get full access (as stated), breakfast is included, kids eat free at a number of restaurants, including Anthony’s (in between the 2 properties). We chose to have dinner 2 nights in Atlantis as well.

    What I was amazed by was that, guests of the CS wait on line inside Atlantis in the a/c, while guest of Atlantis have to wait on line outside in the heat…. Even cruise ship passengers doing a day trip to Atlantis, can be see queuing up outside….

    FYI….we met some families staying in Atlantis who said “the only happy people walking around Atlantis are the ones staying off the property” $$$$$$$ !

    1) Atlantis is beautiful (just hated walking through the smoke filled casino with the kids to get inside)

    2) we managed to meet Mariano Rivera (NY Yankees) there and took a family pic

    3) there is a lovely carnival that is done outside the property at night

    4) I packed a case of water in my luggage (tip I read from many times, as the prices are through the roof for “simple things”)

  11. Also, forgot to say that when I was there the daily high was in the low 60s. The island is north enough that it does get the occasional cold front blowing through so check the forecast and pack accordingly!

  12. Don’t neglect the option of topping off with UR if you need to- Chase Amtrak card holders can transfer into Choice at a 1:3 ratio, so 1 UR: 3 Choice privileges points. It’s one of the few reasons I keep that card around!

  13. We stayed at the Comfort Suites last year and it was fine for a few days – a great bargain to avoid the Atlantis rates. While we (with kids) had a great time, the Atlantis is just so big and crowded that I doubt we would return. Not our kind of resort, but I am sure you will have a good time.

  14. Awesome! We “stayed” at the Comfort Suites when we took a Disney cruise with a stop in Nassau. It was so much cheaper and we never even went to the room. I would pack a jar of peanut butter. The food prices are absolutely ridiculuous! Three days will be plenty of time there. I agree with the comments that it is over-hyped.

  15. Atlantis is my favorite resort of all time! My 7 year old son writes about it often as his favorite place. Have a great trip!

  16. MP, I see those commercials on TV all the time and we want to go. I’m looking forward to your trip report. If you can, please detail the small fees you are hit with on your trip. You’ll have a great time!

  17. I am a rookie here. Can you please explain how to find out about daily getaway sale for choice points? Is there a link to a website??? Thanks!

  18. I just wanted to add to this because I happen to love the Atlantis, and so does my family. We’ve stayed there twice, and have had many cruise stops there. Staying at the Comfort Inn is a good option since you have the points, but I’ve found that depending on the season and how long you are staying, there are often good deals to be had. Yes, the food can be pricey, but I think there are reasonable options around the pool. Don’t forget you can always go to one of the Fish Fry places for an inexpensive dinner option. There are some wonderful restaurants at the Atlantis too. I was there just last month on a day when there were 5 ships in port. I was worried it would be crowded, but it wasn’t at all. I’m not a fan of swim with dolphin attractions, but the waterpark, particularly the lazy river is a lot of fun and very well kept. Enjoy!

  19. Hi Mommy Points-

    Thank you for this great information! We (family of 4) are doing a one-day excursion in Nassau with our cruise (this November). We are looking to book one night at the Comfort Inn Suites just to get the wrist bands for Atlantis.

    Question regarding the late spring Choice points Daily Getaways sale:

    It seems like you can simply buy the points without having to use a Choice credit card. Is that right? So can I buy them using my current Chase Visa? If so, how are these points “collected” and how do I redeem them when I’m ready to book a stay for our Atlantis trip?

    How many points do you suggest I buy for the four of us to stay one night at the Comfort Suites Inn?

    Sorry for so many questions, I’m a newbie at this!

    Thank you for your help.

  20. Hi mommy points,

    Well how did your trip go? I am booking one for this June and am now biting my nails. We are staying in cable beach for a week and were going to end it with 2 days at comfort suites at the Atlantis. Was it a good experience or a let down. Also is there any affordable place to eat dinner- we are a family of 4 with teenage boys!

    Thanks a mil!

  21. I am thinking of going there this spring. How are the beaches in the Atlantis area compared with other Caribbean islands and Florida? Are the sand white or cream? Turquoise blue water or muddy?

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