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What is the Free Stay At Atlantis in the Bahamas with Caesars Diamond Status?
I’ve seen many bloggers write about how you can get a free stay at Atlantis in the Bahamas if you are Caesars Rewards Diamond or above. And while I’ve seen bits and pieces of what to expect on various message boards and blog comments, I’ve yet to see a comprehensive review of the Atlantis experience when using this “comp.” So I flew down for 4 nights to find out….
For the uninitiated, Caesars Rewards is a casino chain loyalty program and Diamond is high tier status within the program, which has Gold, Platinum, Diamond, and 7 Staryou can get a free stay at Atlantis in the Bahamas if you are Caesars Rewards Diamond or above. And while I’ve seen bits and pieces of what to expect on various message boards and blog comments, I’ve yet to see a comprehensive review of the Atlantis experience when using this “comp.” So I flew down for 4 nights to find out…. levels with varying benefits.
Why many MilesTalk readers care about this and have access to this free stay is because of the various status matches that have been able to confer Diamond status – the genesis of the Status Match Merry-Go-Round.
Wyndham Rewards has reciprocal status matching with Caesars meaning that Diamond status with Wyndham gets you Diamond status with Caesars. And recently that has been as easy as matching many mid-tier hotel programs to Wyndham, including Hilton’s Gold level which you can get just by signing up for the Hilton Surpass credit card or the Hilton Business credit card.
But many people ask questions like “How much are the fees on top of the free nights?” and “How much will I spend on meals?” as well as “What are the rooms like?” And, of course, “Will my Marriott Elite benefits apply?”
What Can You Expect with this “Free” Atlantis Bahamas Stay?
The first thing to know is that if you have Diamond via status match, you will have access to only the lowest level of redemption for Diamonds (marked as 15,000 Tier Credits on the Caesars Atlantis page). In fact, even if you are only Caesars Platinum, you have access to this offer, however you’re limited to 3 nights in the Beach Tower.
For Diamond, even matched base level Diamond, you get 4 nights in the Beach tower at peak times, but 4 nights in the Coral off-peak (used to be the Royal). Here’s the complete details from the Caesars website:
I’m going to focus on this tier because it’s what people that matched to Diamond are eligible for.
Booking the Stay
To book, you’ll call 1-800-752-9711. Note that not all days will be available. When I called mid-December, I was told Dec 18th-22nd were available and then not anything until late January. Be prepared to be flexible. State clearly that you are calling to book a Caesars Diamond (or your level) complimentary package.
Peak vs Off Peak Dates at Atlantis
Off Peak months are May, June, September, October, January and February. Additional Peak days may occur during these months.
If at all possible, you want to book off-peak. October or January would be my picks…. February can be chilly.
Why? Because the Coral Tower, is much better, though not nearly as good as the Royal that you used to get off-peak.
The Beach Tower, in which I stayed, turned out to be the forgotten stepchild of Atlantis. While due for a refresh in 2019, let me share what you are in for when you stay at the Beach Tower:
- You are a 10 minute walk (at a reasonable NYC pace) from the action of the Marina or the Casino. Even farther from the waterpark or spa.
- The Beach Tower is old and, I’m not exaggerating, a bit decrepit. The idea is that you’re headed to the beach and you know this is the lowest level accommodation at Atlantis, but so much was falling apart. In fact, in our initial room (we had to move) the balcony door couldn’t be opened and we discovered the lock to the entire room was faulty (no key card needed to enter!).
- The decor reminds you how old the building is. To make things worse, they have literally closed road access to the Beach Tower. So while it’s removed from everything else and contains a check-in area and driveway, the check-in area doesn’t function and the driveway is blocked. It adds an extra “haunted” vibe to the stay -as if you are staying in a closed down hotel.
- There is ONE outlet in the room. It’s not by the bed. I got into the ritual of charging my laptop while I was out so I could put that on my nightstand to charge my phone overnight.
- As you can see, the room by itself just looks “fine” but in context of the things broken in the rooms and building (in our second room, the lights didn’t work until we got maintenance in and the Wi-Fi was incredibly slow, one of three elevators was usually out of service, etc) it made it less tolerable and a bit of an intrusion, if you will, on the relaxation aspect.
And here are some supporting pictures of the Beach Tower:
Now, it’s not all bad. We did have an *incredible* view:
And as we were told, if you are staying IN the Royal Tower, you can’t SEE the Royal Tower from your room. True enough….
No matter which tower you are in, you do have included and unlimited access to the Aquaventure Waterpark. Bear in mind that if you want a locker while at Aquaventure, it runs $17 and up.
Now that I’ve made it clear what you are getting with the Beach Tower as compared to the Coral (old tower but somewhat renovated and with outlets by the bed) or the Royal (newer tower, though not recently renovated), let’s talk about some of the other questions everyone asks.
If you are on the Caesars Diamond Casino rate, what is the “real” cost of the room?
The total cost per night will be $66. That is the resort fee of 55.94 + a $10 gratuity. The resort fee includes wifi for four computers, 2 waters per day, towels, local phone calls, etc. Is it egregious at $65 per day? Yes. So just think of it like a $66 per day room.
I’m Marriott Bonvoy Platinum / Titanium / Ambassador: Will I get upgraded? Will I get points? Will I get on-property benefits?
Great question and, as Titanium I can tell you – somewhat! You will get a Welcome Amenity of a beverage (wine split, etc) and a snack (cheese and crackers is what we took). I believe 1,000 points was an option instead of the snacks. You won’t be upgraded as far as I could make out (and we weren’t) but they did check us in early and implied that was a favor based on my status. As for late check out, that is subject to availability. I think you are supposed to ask the night before or the morning of, but after we had several service failures, we were granted a late checkout in advance.
Free breakfast is not an included benefit. Marriott grants the Atlantis an exemption from the on-property breakfast benefit. Suffice it to say, there is no executive lounge.
Will I earn Marriott Bonvoy points from the stay?
I made sure they had my Marriott number again at checkout. The points did not post automatically as I suspected they might not, but I submitted a missing stay request online 2 weeks later and I was credited a few days later.
Update Oct 30, 2019: Marriott has changed their T&Cs. The Reef and Beach rooms are no longer considered participating properties. This means that only “Off Peak” stays at the Coral will count now; not the standard Beach rooms (unless you get lucky).
How much will food cost me at Atlantis Bahamas?
The answer is ALL OF YOUR MONEY.
Seriously, it’s really expensive. A breakfast sandwich at Starbucks was about $10. A slice of pizza at the slice joint at the Marina was $7 (even a cheese slice). The buffet in the Royal Tower was around $45 at lunch and $70 at dinner. Then there are name brand restaurants you’l recognize from the States. Carmines, Virgils BBQ, Nobu, and Todd English’s Olives – to name a few. We ate at the latter 3 of those and only Nobu was up to snuff quality-wise.
All food is base cost + 12% VAT + 15% auto gratuity. The $7 pizza slice is $8.89 all-in.
Think about what you’d be paying in a high end NYC restaurant (but for average food) or, perhaps more appropriately, what you’d pay at an island at an exclusive resort in the Maldives. Beers around $10 and drinks around $12-$20. Entrees were all over the map. You could manage a burger or a flatbread for a hair under $20. From there it was + + +.
We were going to have dinner at Virgil’s but switched to lunch after I got a gander at the dinner menu prices (not shown online). You’ll see below why lunch is the move there…
Pro Tip About Food Just Outside the Atlantis Resort
Just outside the resort, off the Marina, is a Dunkin’ Donuts (with normal prices) and a restaurant with normal prices – standard fare like chicken and ribs and burgers. We didn’t eat there, but would have if we discovered it sooner.
You can also take a ferry for $16 round trip to “town” though I’ve been there before and it’s basically “any cruise port tourist area.” If you really want to be adventurous, you could use TripAdvisor to find a truly local restaurant in Nassau where prices will be cheap, but the cab fare will make up for much of that.
Service at the Atlantis Resort
You might be a bit shocked at how bad the service is at the restaurants…. The tip of 15% is automatically added to all bills (including that $7 pizza slice) and across the board, we generally felt the servers were interested in anything but our meals.
In general, expect “standard island” service. This is not the Four Seasons…
The Casino Experience Pass
[NOTE: As of January 2019, the Casino Experience Pass is no longer offered.]
You will still get $75 – $100 (peak / off-peak) in slot dollars and access to Aquaventure, but the rest that I’ve crossed out below is no longer part of the package.
This will get you $100 in free slot play (no need to do anything for it – just spend it). Though, no, you can’t just cash it out. You’ll have to play something. You can keep your winnings. You also get: 1 Round of golf (worth around $250 – you’ll need to bring your own clubs or rent for ~$70 – Hat Tip to Ryan in the comments for that info) 1 Shallow Dolphin Experience (worth around $150) One sushi / sake sampler for 2 at Nobu (~40) Two cocktails at Olives ($30-40) Two cocktails at Seafire Steakhouse ($30-40) For the golf and dolphin experience, simply bear in mind only one per room. No other catch. Note that for the dolphin experience, if you have a companion, they cannot get to the beach to watch you unless they pay a fee. They’d have to wait in a waiting area a bit far from the action to take pictures. Our Dolphin Cay check-in agent was kind enough to waive that fee for me. And those pictures, even n your cell phone, save a boatload compared to the official photo packages. And the free cocktails (and sushi at Nobu) are really complimentary. They cover tax and tip and if you order more, they will give you two checks to keep the accounting straight. If you preferred wine to a cocktail, that was no issue as long as you kept to a glass under around $20. They’ll advise you. Be sure to save those receipts and check your final bill though – two of the three cocktail freebies wound up on the final bill, though they were quickly removed.
Electricity in the Bahamas
The outlets in Atlantis are US 110 Volt ones, so no adapters are needed.
Currency in the Bahamas
There is a Bahamian Dollar that is pegged 1 to 1 to the US dollar. Everyone and everywhere at Atlantic accepts and gives change in US dollars. I did note on checkout though that the bill is charged in Bahamian Dollars, so be sure to use a card with no foreign transaction fees like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The only time you ever *might* get back a Bahamian dollar as change is if you went somewhere really local off the beaten path.
Weather in the Bahamas
Generally around 70-80 degrees F year round, but in mid-winter it can occasionally be upper 60s, low 70s. I find that the shoulder seasons are generally be fine, but early February, for example, may not be as warm as expected.
Taxis to and from Atlantis
From the airport in Nassau (NAS), it’s about a 30-40 minute ride. If you are staying at the Beach Tower you will be dropped off at the Coral Tower to check-in. And then, yes, it’s a hike to your room.
The taxi charge is complex and most drivers seem to try to rip you off. The fee should be $41 from NAS to Atlantis for two passengers with one normal bag and one personal item sized bag each. That is $38 for the base fare + $1 for the toll on the bridge to Atlantis + a $2 airport fee. Before entering a taxi, get the info sheet from the attendant that goes over this so you have it for reference. Additional people or bags will add to the fare.
We had two small suitcases and one personal bag and when we arrived he tried to charge $4 extra for the bags. Now, a 15% tip for cabbies is customary, so I was going to give him $48 anyway and he could consider it fees or tip – I didn’t care. But I do know from others that it’s common for the taxi drivers to pull this so be aware. On the trip back, it should be just $38 as there is no bridge toll on the way back nor airport fee. Additional bags or passengers over 2 will still be extra.
I ran into JT Genter from TPG at Atlantis and he had a similar taxi experience.
Tipping at Atlantis
When you drink or dine on property, 15% is included on all bills. This is the expected amount. Yes, there is a line for additional tips, however nobody seemed to expect it and given the level of service, I doubt you’ll feel inclined to add more, but of course that is at your discretion. Island-wide, 15% tips are the expectation. Of course, if someone helps with your bag or with beach chairs, etc, a few bucks is always welcome.
You’d tip in US dollars. No need whatsoever to ever get any Bahamian dollars.
Customs in the Bahamas
Bear in mind the Bahamas is not part of the US! It’s an independent country and you will pass through customs on entry. On the way back to the US, you will pre-clear customs in Nassau.
Priority Pass Lounge at Nassau Airport on Departure
Not remotely worth arriving early for. Not super comfortable and rather than having food and drinks out, you get a $20 credit per person (including VAT and 10% tip) to use on food and drink. They were done with food for the day by 5pm, though, so it was drinks and cookies for us.
Cell Service and Wi-Fi at Atlantis
If you have T-Mobile like me with their unlimited international roaming, you’ll get signal on their BTC network. I initially was having issues, but I manually selected the network and then it stuck. Note that it was 3G speed and very slow, so I connected to the hotel Wi-fi whenever possible. The Wi-Fi, while free, varied greatly in speed from perfect to a crawl. And they don’t have it setup to flawlessly transfer you from connection point to connection point, so you often have to reconnect if you’ve moved around.
Don’t forget to explore Atlantis!
As of January 2019, those booking this offer are being told:
“If you redeem this complimentary offer you are expected to play to the same level of casino play or greater. If you do not play or show reduced casino play you may be charged for some or all of your upfront complimentaries including rooms, food & beverage, limos, etc. If you need additional clarification, please contact Casino VIP Services or your Player Development Executive.
Customers receiving room reservations at a special casino rate must record 4 hours of rated play over the duration of their stay. If 4 hours of play is not generated, the special casino rate will be changed to the Casino promotional rate. The nightly promotional rates are: The Beach/The Coral $200, The Royal $300 and The Cove/The Reef $450. Additional room taxes and fees apply.”
My understanding is that this is because they have received an unintended number of people from Caesars who aren’t gambling and that isn’t their intent of the offer. I would expect the above to be truly stated and you should be prepared to put in 4 hours at the casino.
If you have been in 2019 and beyond and can speak from personal experience, please share in the comments.
Despite what seems like a lot of dissatisfaction in my post, we had a great time. Yes, the building being run down and far from the action took away from it, as did the food prices and service. All in all, for 4 nights we spent about $1,000 on-property (for two people).
We didn’t go out of our way to save every dollar, but we did actively try to keep costs reasonable. That includes the $65 a night resort fee, food, and two massages at the Mandara spa ($100 + tax each for 50 minutes was surprisingly reasonable there). We didn’t do any other activities.
All in all, though, Atlantis really is a great place to get away from winter weather and this deal did save us $880 off of what the rate would have been for the same room online ($220 / night avg rate).
You have the beach, lots of pools, the waterpark, the casino, and the relaxation of an island. Atlantis is beautiful.
And at $65 a night, with the right expectations going in, you’ll have a fantastic time.
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