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FAM Trip Bahamas 2022
"Planning - Pain - Paradise"

Could it be? Is it possible? No way - it can’t be! This was me August 2nd as I watched and listened to the weatherman destroy weeks of planning, researching, phoning, and emailing. A two-year travel hiatus could seem like an eternity for a travel agent, therefore this year’s FAM Trip had to be a “safe” bet.  Outside of the Hurricane belt, Aruba was a destination where I was certain my travel plans could be executed without a hitch. Well as you can guess, this low-risk destination was hit with a severe tropical storm the day I was traveling and my perfectly planned FAM Trip was cancelled.  Rebooking was turning out to be a nightmare, so it was time to pick another Caribbean Island.

I decided to finally find out if “It's Better In The Bahamas”. I began planning at record pace, and my FAM Trip was locked and loaded within two weeks. First stop would be Paradise Island for a stay at the Comfort Suites (2-nights) and then off to Nassau, where I would be site-inspecting the Margaritaville Resort (5-nights).   I also tried to fit a few excursions in the mix as well (more on that later). Travel Agent rates are offered at both hotels and are based on occupancy levels. Either call or email the properties with dates check availability.

Comfot Suites Paradise Island

  Full disclosure: I tried to book Atlantis, but it was completely sold out, therefore I went with The Comfort Suites Paradise Island as an alternative. Best of all, this is an affordable all-suite hotel comes with full access to Atlantis Bahamas! Although the Travel Agent Rate was sold out, I booked a Junior Suite with 2 double beds, a separate sitting area with sofa bed, chair, mini- fridge and flat screen TV. The partial divider separates the beds from the sitting area which really gives a nice touch.  Unless you're spending most of your day in the room, it’s spacious enough.  My kids had no problem using their devices as there are plenty of outlets with USB connections and yes there is free wi-fi.
Comfor Suites Double Bed
 
Now let’s get to the best part, guests enjoy the same facilities as any Atlantis guest. YES, that includes complimentary admission to Atlantis’ 141-acre Aquaventure water park and other amenities which include a casino, huge fitness center, 11 awesome swimming pools, white sand beaches, snorkeling (bring your own or rent for a small fee) and so much more.  Just walking around is an adventure with 15 exhibit lagoons boasting the world's largest open-air marine habitat.  All this is walking distance from the Comfort Suites, but it is a good 10-minute (or more) walk that includes walking through Atlantis’ gift shops and casino to get to the water park and beach area.  Atlantis itself is humongous and to get anywhere on the property takes some effort - so bring your sandals because the walking areas get HOT!
Atlantis Bahamas
Ok, let’s get back to the Comfort suites Paradise Island. There is a nice size pool which features a swim-up bar and plenty enough lounge chairs, tables with umbrellas.  Even at full capacity, the pool area was large enough so that it never felt crowded. The pool bar and some seating areas are covered, and the staff and bartenders are amazing. Dining options can get quite expensive in the Bahamas especially in Atlantis. Thankfully the hotel provides FREE daily breakfast which includes a full assortment of your favorites – pancakes, waffles, sausage, bacon & eggs and so much more. One quick note, the food must be eaten at the restaurant - no takeout. We also dined at the onsite family friendly restaurant Crusoe’s.  The conch chowder and conch fritters were excellent and a true taste of the Bahamas. Although not as expensive as the restaurants in Atlantis, it is pricey, but the assortment of food includes an array of “fresh tropical flavors and tantalizing comfort foods” which are sure to please the palate.

To be honest, we needed one more night, you really don’t run out of things to do between these two amazing properties. But it was off to Nassau, where I’d be visiting the newly opened Margaritaville Beach Resort. Although I’m not a Jimmy Buffet fan, I was extremely excited to site-inspect the property. I mean just look at the photo, it screams tropical paradise.  Not sure what Jimmy meant by “Wasting away Again in Margaritaville”, but I didn’t think my family would do that during our stay
Margaritaville Beach Resort Nassau
LOCATION – LOCATION- LOCATION - I love the fact that this resort feels like you’re on a secluded tropical island, but it’s right smack in the middle of Nassau. This means that you are close to historic Bay Street which features to restaurants, shopping, entertainment, famous Straw Market, museums artesian galleries, the local Fish Fry and more. The Margaritaville Beach Resort Nassau has two towers, we stayed in an Oceanfront 2-Queen residence at One Particular Harbor. This tower consists of 129 premium condo-style residences that are spacious and complete with custom, all-white linens, and premium bedding. I must say we used every amenity offered from the full kitchen to the washer and dryer. After a long day at the beach, we enjoyed relaxing and watching the cruise ships dock on the 8-ft wide fully furnished private balcony. No need for an early morning scramble down to the pool area to reserve a premium lounge chair, guests at One Particular Harbor enjoy access an exclusive private pool and beach area. Even at full occupancy, prime spots were available throughout the day.

Adjacent to this tower is Icon’s high-tech entertainment which features bowling, billiards, virtual-reality sports, karaoke, billiards, and a private movie theatre.  The other tower is on the resort and hotel side, which feature all the restaurants, bars, and water park.  There are 155 ocean front rooms including 12 Suites, all with waterfront. One quick note, both towers have fitness centers. The rooms and spaces have Margaritaville’s well-themed casual signatures but with a contemporary modern flair.


2-Queen Residence at Margaritaville
Oceanfront 2-Queen residence at One Particular Harbor
There are tons of amenities and activities to experience at this wonderful resort. The luxurious yet modern property is surrounded by 5 acres of palm trees and turquoise waters. The beach area is a bit small, but guests can enjoy the use of umbrellas, sun loungers and beach water sports. We used the kayaks (single or double) and paddle boards all included in the resort fee. Cabana packages are available as well. Again, we have had no problem securing a spot to relax and soak up the sun, but this side is definitely more crowded.

The most prominent feature of the resort is the “Fins Up Water Park”. Of course, free for guests, however, day passes are available. Tons of “aquatainment” can be had cooling off in the Lazy River which surrounds the pool area, and you can even dare to take a plunge off the 10’ jump platform. There’s a splash park for the little ones and for a bit more excitement there are 4 waterslides, The Z• FlowRider® - boogie board surfing simulation and a Rock-climbing wall.

Fins Up Water Park  Adults can relax in the Infinity pool deck area which encompasses a zero-entry pool, spa, and SOS bar. While relaxing, parents can be assured the kids will have plenty to do while enjoying The Parakeets Kids’ Club. For a daily fee, they can enjoy pool and beach games, arts & crafts, and other daily fun activities with trained staff and counselors.  
RESTAURANTS & BARS at the Margaritaville Beach Resort Nassau

From upscale dining experiences to a quick grab and go sandwich, there is an abundance of dining options.  JWB Prime Steak & Seafood is an oceanside steak and seafood restaurant. Frank & Lola’s features Italian cuisine and of course pizza.  While relaxing poolside, The Feeding Frenzy offers burgers, hotdogs, fresh salads, fish tacos and much more. Signature cocktails and frozen tropical drinks can also be ordered. The Vacation Café offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a relaxed laid-back atmosphere. Joe Merchant’s Coffee & Provisions offers coffee (excellent espresso), breakfast options, sandwiches, salads, snacks, and other options when you’re on the go. The Pointe Market is a gourmet general store with an excellent selection of wine, local and international beers, cheese, dips, charcuterie, and Starbucks freshly brewed coffee.  Unfortunately, the Milk + Cream was not open yet, but this ice cream parlor specializes in premium Bubble tea lattes and Ben & Jerry's ice cream served in a cup, waffle cone, or waffle bowl. There are three unique bars that are tailored made to put you in right “the state of mind”.  12 Volt Bar – located on the pool deck with ocean views, Changes in Latitude Bar is in the main lobby and the S.O.S Bar which overlooks the water park.

My family and I had a chance to take advantage of the newly opened VIP club lounge. For a nominal fee, guests will have access to this exclusive relaxing lounge for the entire day. Best of all, there is FOOD and lots of it. By far, the best part of the day was breakfast. A full hot and cold breakfast buffet is offered along with pastries, muffins, croissants, assorted fruits, juices, coffee and tea stations and so much more.  Snacks are available throughout the day which include ice cream, cookies, and chips. Dinner consisted of a lovely salad bar, one entree, rice or pasta and assorted wraps. Lastly, there is a good selection of top shelf alcoholic drinks, sodas, juices, and bottled water available throughout the day.  A great option for the cost-conscious traveler.
Margaritaville VIP Club Lounge
VIP Lounge Margaritaville Beach Resort Nassau

A notable mention there are plenty of dining options outside of the resort. We snuck a McDonalds breakfast in one day and a Dairy Queen Sundae after walking around the Straw Market. The famous “Fish Fry” is within walking distance and features delicious local cuisine. There are dozens of restaurants and bars, so you can not only bar hop, but you can food hop. We ate at Goldie’s where we finally tried the famous Conch Salad and “Cracked (fried)” Conch.

The Bahamas & Plenty of Excursion Options

The Bahamas consists of 16 major islands but there are literally thousands of cays and islets scattered across the archipelago. Dozens of tour companies offer surfing, snuba, snorkeling, diving, charters, deep-sea fishing, swimming with pigs (yes, it’s true) to name a few. My plan was to take at least two excursions and one of them had to include snorkeling.  I narrowed it down to these two tour companies for the snorkeling.
 
Pearl Island Bahamas was my first choice because it offered a private getaway with snorkeling, kayaking, and much more. Just a quick ferry ride from Nassau’s waterfront, Pearl Island is filled with incredible experiences and activities. From basking on powdery beaches, to thrill-seeking adventures like snorkeling, kayaking, and much more – you’ll find it all here.
Travel agents receive a 20% discount. Request the discount via email and they will send you the discount code.

info@pearlislandbahamas.com
+1.242.422.2211

If your main focus has anything to do with water,
Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas is the tour company for you.  Operating for over 40 years, this family-owned business specializes in Diving and Snorkeling.  Highlights: Scuba certification courses in Nassau Bahamas, Shark diving, Private Charters in Nassau Bahamas, dive, and snorkel in our crystal-clear waters. Explore our beautiful reefs, dramatic walls, and intriguing wrecks. 

Travel Agent Discount: 20% off discount to agents for any standard activity. ** Agent Discounts apply to 2-Tank dives - Snorkel Adventure - SNUBA Adventure - Shark Adventure dives.
Please note that this discount only applies on payment made On-Island at the time of the activity which is $10.00 higher than the online rates. Call or email to book

+ 1-242-362-4171
diveshop@stuartcove.com 

I literally searched tons of tours that specialize in the Exuma Islands. The best bang for your buck was Comfort Venture Tours.  The Exumas are famous for their sapphire blue waters that are even visible in space! This chain of islands boasts secluded footprint-free beaches, deserted cayes, immaculate private islands and ultra-exclusive resorts.

They offer an array of private and public full day and half day tours:
Tours are complete with playful and interactive wildlife, perfect water with gentle currents for snorkeling, and some of the most unforgettable scenery in the world. Take photos with The Swimming Pig, sunbathe on the beautiful beaches, feed the iguanas, spot wild stingrays, and dive deep for an amazing marine life experience! This tour provides a great introduction to Exuma, allowing you to see the highlights, spend plenty of time off the ship, and still have time to spend part of the day by the pool or beach at your hotel or villa. It is ideal for business getaways and large family vacations. We are sure that this trip will be something worth
Travel agent Discounts are offered based on availability. Please email to request a booking.

+1 242-357-0611
info@comfortventuretours.com

Ironically, I didn’t have the opportunity to experience any of the above. My advice, book your excursions early and at the beginning of your vacation. I planned the Exuma trip for my last full day in the Bahamas. But as with all tours, it was subject to weather and if there are enough seats sold - It was cancelled.   As far as snorkeling, I went with something a little unexpected. I’m a big history fan, so after doing some digging, I found a perfect excursion.  Clifton Heritage National Park combines the historical and cultural legacy of three important groups that had an impact on the country: the Lucayans, the Loyalists and Africans. Local fauna includes songbirds, wading birds, seabirds, and other wildlife. You can enjoy swimming, fishing, hiking, camping, snorkeling, birdwatching, and picnicking in the park and the panoramic views from the cliffs provide perfect photo opportunities.  We opted for the “Land and Sea” tour which combines historical sightseeing tour with extremely knowledge guides and includes snorkeling off Nirvana Beach (equipment is included).  Quick notes: You must over 12 years old and a good swimmer for the snorkeling as you must swim out about 50 ft. to get to the reef.  

They do not offer a Travel Agent Discount.
You can call directly to reserve your tour; they will pick you up at your hotel.  Phone: 1 242-362-9312

Honorable mentions (within walking distance from Margaritaville Resort Nassau):


The Chocolatier Graycliff factory.   “The Art of Chocolate and Factory Tour” is a great educational experience for the entire family.  You will learn the art of chocolate-making with plenty of tasting too!

Pirates of Nassau Museum. What would a visit to Nassau be without Pirates. After all, this place was stronghold for “Republic of Pirates”.  It’s an interactive Pirate experience that explains the history pirating and the eventual eradication of the practice in the Caribbean.
No Travel Agent Discount Offered for these two suppliers.

THE TAKEAWAY

In all, The Bahamas is expensive! There are value added taxes (VAT), a tourism levy, service charges, gratuity 15% added to food, restaurants, drinks (even for takeout), and a resort fee for some hotels. This can easily add up to 20% (or more) to your final bill.  Should that stop you from getting to see this wonderful destination?  Absolutely not!  I just think you should know that going in. But these islands have so much to offer and are so unique, it should be on anyone’s bucket list.