When Atlantis Paradise Island opened in the Bahamas in 1998, its sheer enormity demanded the attention of everyone in the travel world. There’s something about offering 3,000-plus rooms, 11 swimming pools, a trio of beaches and a couple of water slides emptying into shark tanks that makes heads turn.
After recently beholding the 1,000-acre, under-construction Baha Mar with our own eyes, we can only imagine the attention this new property will garnish once it officially opens next April or May.
Like some sort of paradise that combines the best that the islands, Las Vegas and Dubai have to offer, the $3.5 billion Baha Mar complex — dubbed “The Bahamian Riviera,” the campus includes Baha Mar Casino & Hotel, Rosewood Baha Mar, Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, SLS Baha Mar, Meliá at Baha Mar, a signature Jack Nicklaus golf course, two spas (ESPA at Baha Mar and Sense Spa at Rosewood) and much more — promises to be one of the most impressive resorts in the Caribbean.
If you think that’s mere hyperbolic chatter from an undertaking that will also consist of a 100,000-square-foot casino (that’s roughly double the size of Atlantis’), you’ve clearly not seen the grand roundabout entrance surrounded by a 40-foot wall that will have water cascading down it. But through the frenzied landscape of dump trucks, hard-hat-donning workers and miles of wiring, we see the framework for other big things to come, too.
When we set foot in Baha Mar Casino & Hotel, for instance, our guide points us toward areas where VIP check-in stations, restaurant stalls (four eateries, including the internationally renowned Katsuya and Brasserie des Arts, have already been announced) and a Bellagio-style show lake will be. After venturing over to neighboring Rosewood at Baha Mar, we can envision the dark wood trestles and colonial air the place will showcase. And when we sit in the studio with John Cox, creative art director of The Current, the group that will curate thousands of pieces around the resort, we appreciate the vibrant aesthetic goals. A stay at Baha Mar will be a snapshot to a side of the Bahamas that you’ve never seen before.
Once we get up to Baha Mar Casino & Hotel’s rooms, though, there’s no need for much imagination or any 3-D renderings; the model unit is ready to be drooled over. The room dazzles with rich blues and stark whites. Marble splashed about the bathroom says opulence without being over the top. Once those deluxe touches are combined with stellar views onto the hotels-connecting pool area, you’re simply blown away.
The moment has to be similar to one back in 1998, when guests first set foot on Atlantis. Baha Mar assures a feeling close to that, only tuned up a few more luxurious notches.