Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bahamas 2012, #6: More Stuff We Did

Activity #3: Visiting Paradise Island

The huge, mega-resort in the Bahamas is called Atlantis. It dominates an island just off Nassau called Paradise Island. For a variety of reasons we avoided vacationing there, not the least of which was the fact that Atlantis allows grubby little kids, whereas Sandals doesn't. What did we have against other peoples’ snot-nosed brats, these irrational and whiney reminders of our fading youth and imminent descent into obsolescence and irrelevance? Kim, Diane, and Karen are all teachers of one sort or another, and this was their winter break. ’Nuff said?

But, since Atlantis was only about 5 miles away from us, we wanted to spend a few hours taking in this spectacle with our own eyes.

After arriving at Paradise Island, we decided to do a little shopping just outside Atlantis. We were able to negotiate with the local vendors, something that is rare in the United States, and we picked up some nice items. As we strolled (and rolled) from the market to the entrance of Atlantis, we were struck by the opulence of the private yachts lined up at the dock. The picture below is just one example.

Once inside Atlantis, Kim and I looked forward to simply wandering around and seeing everything. We were reminded of the mammoth casino/hotels that we love exploring in Las Vegas. Disappointment struck early, however, when we were not allowed to peruse the beach or other outdoor venues without first buying a ridiculously expensive day pass. So we sat down at the video poker machines and blackjack tables to make Atlantis pay the price for their inhospitable ways. We lost $180.

My brother Tom had never played blackjack, so Andy and I coached him on all the right moves to make at the table. Tom blew through his gambling budget in about 30 minutes. A few years ago I also advised him to sell all of his Apple stock. “That company is on its last legs," I assured him.

The three hours we spent on Paradise Island were enjoyable, but served to validate our decision to have stayed at Sandals instead of this very busy, very crowded, mega-resort.

Accommodations or adjustments for me:

So how did I get from Sandals to Atlantis in my wheelchair? I checked with the same transportation company that had brought us to our resort from the airport. I asked how much it would cost me to be transported from Sandals to Atlantis and then back again 4 hours later. They said the price would be $100 per hour. Ouch. A round-trip taxi ride, 5 miles each way, for $400? No thank you.

I jumped on the internet (yes we had internet access in our room) and did some research. I found a company that quoted me a price of $72 each way. This was still outrageous, but everything is relative, and we split the $144 cost among the three couples. Having suffered through unreliable wheelchair taxi service in the Caribbean a couple of years earlier, I was nervous about this unknown company. But, as it turned out, I didn't need to be. They showed up on time. The van was in good shape, and the driver was a delight.

Activity #4: Entertainment at Sandals

The nightlife at Sandals would have disappointed most twenty-something party animals, but it worked well for us. There was a piano bar, and we visited there most nights. When a particularly talented player was tickling the ivory, and a large group of fun patrons were singing along, it was a blast. When the pianist/singer was not as dynamic, and the back-up singing crowd was sparse, it was a little more like karaoke night (the fewer the voices the more you can hear the bad ones).

There was a deck near the beach with fire pits and a bar. On most evenings a solo musician played live music for a couple of hours, outside. It was very relaxing and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. One night there was even a chocolate lover’s buffet. I'm proud of the restraint I showed. I devoured mass quantities of luscious chocolate, but stopped short of actually making myself physically ill. I consider that a significant accomplishment, given the temptation (and my past history in similar situations).

There was also a theater that staged a couple of song and dance productions during the week. These shows were not as grand as those on our 4500-passenger cruise ship two years earlier, yet they were charming and well done, and we’re glad we attended.

Another bar that we spent a lot of time at was called Cricketers Pub. It was centrally located, and became our default meeting place during the week. It was a fun, upbeat, Irish pub, which stayed open until 7 am. Below is a shot of Kim and I on their patio.

Accommodations or adjustments for me:

I could access all the bars and restaurants, but sometimes I had to use ramps that were situated in obscure locations. Sandals Royal Bahamian is an older resort (but well maintained and updated), and you can tell that none of the ramps were part of the original design, but were added later. The access to the piano bar was a particularly roundabout one. We had to go all the way to the entrance of the resort, follow a balcony around to the piano bar, move a construction barrier, and slide in the back door. We became adept at that maneuver.

Because I'm in a power wheelchair, steep ramps are not a problem for me. I'm sure many of these ramps did not meet ADA guidelines, however, and would have been difficult for a manual wheelchair user to ascend.

The public bathrooms around the resort were inconsistent. But I soon learned which ones were accessible and which ones were not. That's also how I work it at home. Many of the old buildings in Portland, Maine, which house the most appealing bars and restaurants, don't have accessible bathrooms. But, I always know where the nearest one is.

Don't worry; my goal is not to make a career out of writing about this vacation. I'll be wrapping it up in the next couple of posts, and then I'll return to my usual blend of mind-numbing, self-pitying, self-aggrandizing blather that you so adore.

Click for next post: Bahamas 2012, #7: Taking the iBot to the Bahamas

Click for previous post: Bahamas 2012, #5: Stuff We Did


  1. Don't apologize -- I'm loving the trip, and I look forward to each installment.

  2. But, Mitch, we do adore the blather or we wouldn't be here reading and waiting for your next post. Ginny

    P.S. Looks as though your forehead is fried in that picture at the Irish pub.