The first trip we ever won was to Paradise Island in the Bahamas. The trip was a 4-day, 3-night stay at the Atlantis Resort. We won the trip from the Discovery Channel during Shark Week. I remember that sweepstakes well because it was our first ever trip and we were going to get to swim with sharks. I was like, not by the hairs of my chiny, chin, chin, was I getting in water with sharks. In the end we talked them into giving us food vouchers instead of that experience, which suited me perfectly. I’m more of a – let’s eat our way through this trip – than let’s go out and live dangerously. I like adventures but I’m not the outdoorsy, extremist, mountaineer-kind of person. I’m not the high society, shopping all day kind of person either. I’m somewhere in the middle I guess.
When we won this trip our kids were young and this was the first trip Greg and I took alone without the boys. From what I remember we flew on a full-size airplane to the Florida and from there we took one of those small airplanes, you know, the kind with cardboard seats. It was cramped to say the least and a little scary. When we got over the island I can remember how blue, green, and crystal clear the water was. I had never seen such water in my life.
Arriving at the resort we walked into the foyer and it was grand and magnificent with high ceilings and intricate carvings and paintings on the walls. Nowadays that is kind of commonplace but back when we won this trip, 1999, it was something new and fabulous to us.
On the other side of this vast foyer area was a restaurant below that was surrounded by a living fish tank. The fish tank was underground and you could walk through tunnels to see sharks and eels and every manner of fish.
If you continued through the tunnels it would take you outside where you could walk through a tube and the fish would be swimming overhead. Once you were completely outside you could then look down and see the fish swimming below. An ingenious setup that allows the visitors to get a full sense of the water and the creatures that live there and feel immersed in nature without getting to close to it – see paragraph one.
If you stay around long enough you will see divers cleaning the tanks and feeding the fish.
We stayed in one of the towers, I believe it was on the 14th floor. I remember them telling us that the large building that attached one tower to another went for $25,000 a night and had been stayed in by Michael Jackson at the time. I am sure it probably costs a lot more now. I really don’t have anything to say about the room because from what I remember it was just average. You don’t go somewhere like this and worry too much about the room because what you came to see is outside anyhow.
I used to wear overalls a lot back then and my hair was short. Wow, was I really ever that young?
The resort is surrounded by lagoons, hidden hot tubs and waterfalls, lush vegetation and flowers, palm trees, and wildlife. You have your pick or beaches, shallow swimming pools, and water slides. During the day they had native bands that would play by the pools for entertainment.
Since we had food vouchers we got to try out several of their restaurants but our favorite was the main dining hall. It’s been quite awhile since we went on this trip but I still remember their all-you-can eat buffet and fresh Belgium waffles. It was the first time I had waffles like that with strawberries on top and whipped cream. And, the best part, the waiters and waitresses would stop at certain times and start singing, clapping, dancing, and beating drums. I just loved it.
There was a casino in the center of the resort but we were never interested in gambling so we only went in it a couple of time. That would change now if we went back and I would be sitting there playing penny slots. I do remember that most things closed up shop early, like 8 pm. I guess they figure most visitors want to get up early to enjoy the sun, surf, hand gliding, para-sailing, canoeing, and other fun things the resort has to offer.
The beaches are so pure and clean. The water crystal clear and brilliant blue/green. It is so amazing how clean it is. You never want to leave.
Okay, so I was mushy back in those days.
We did spend one day going over to the main land and walking the street of the Bahamas. I remember children getting out of school wearing their uniforms and the market in the center of town that sold everything a tourist would need. On the way back we took a ferry and had a guided tour of the history of the Bahamas.
Greg and I have always been what I would call “middle class” so when we went to Paradise Island it was a real treat for us. We stood in front of this yacht saying some day we were going to own one. Well, that hasn’t happened but it’s okay because I don’t really need a boat anyhow and who needs that kind of money. The more you have the more you have to worry about. And, I love entering to win fabulous trips like this one to the Atlantis Resort because you have the thrill of that winning letter coming to your house and the memories you get to make without having to spend a dime of your own money or worry that you have cut into your household budget.
There’s something about winning a trip, the memories seem just a little bit sweeter.
We would love to go back to the Atlantis Resort and see how it has changed. I have a much better camera now and more experience as a traveler so I know what to look for and do when I am there. When it is your first trip you don’t really know what you are doing other than you landed in a new place. If you ever get to experience the Atlantis Resort make sure you try the Belgium Waffle, yuumm!