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Travel Diary: Atlantis Resort

Max Kim-Bee

Photo: Max Kim-Bee

As for me, I spent my days lying on the beach, eating conch salad, having daily massages on a hill overlooking the ocean, and reading the latest legal thriller. My kind of vacation! But I had to be an attentive aunt, too, so I played baby-sitter at the Ocean Club, whose beach is open only to guests and their guests. All I can say is thank goodness for the staff. I co-opted my favorite butlers, Anthony and Anton, to help, and by day's end we were all completely covered in sand. It took me 20 minutes to rinse off the baby—who knew they had so many crevices? Lest you think I was given special treatment, the Ocean Club offers personal butlers to all its guests, and the beach service rivals that of the fanciest resorts on the Riviera—cool towels and a spritz of Emily Rose spray when it gets hot, the best chicken club I've ever eaten, brought right to my lounge, and fruit sorbet every afternoon.

Of course, there are any number of ways to cool down around here, one of the most popular being Atlantis's 60-foot Mayan Temple slide. You walk up about a million stairs to get on this massive water slide that shoots you out of what looks like a monument to the gods and into a big pool. I have yet to take the plunge, but my nephews did it 10 times in one week! And if you've ever wondered what it's like to swim with sharks, you have to experience the Dig. This giant aquarium, located under the Royal Tower, the centerpiece of the resort, is supposed to remind you of ancient Atlantis. It's home to every sea creature imaginable, including six kinds of shark: as you walk through the clever Plexiglas viewing tunnel, you get the sense that you're right in there with them.

We had great family lunches at the Atlas Grill, overlooking the marina. It's perfect for kids, but be prepared to wait. On New Year's Eve, I joined friends at the Ocean Club's new restaurant, Dune. If the food reminds you of the best New York has to offer, that's because it is: Carib-Asian fusion cuisine courtesy of über-chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.(Dune also provides the beach food—remember to try that chicken sandwich I was telling you about.) Meanwhile, my parents had a romantic meal, and my sister's family went to Atlantis's traditional Courtyard Terrace, which may actually be my favorite restaurant. Order the steak Diane from Captain John; it'll make you want to "smack your mama"! (Just kidding, Mom.) Afterward we all gathered at the Ocean Club for fireworks. But Terrell didn't like the noise, so my sister's evening was cut short (there's a reason I'm single and child-free). I, of course, stayed and got my party on.

Terrell recently asked whether we were going back to Atlantis this Christmas. "But don't you want Santa Claus to come to your house?" I asked. He just looked at me and said, "He can find me on the beach."

Atlantis, 800/285-2684; www.atlantis.com; doubles from $310; kids under 11 stay free; 11—17, $45 additional. Ocean Club, 800/321-3000; www.oceanclub.com; doubles from $400.

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