Our family has gotten into the routine of taking a trip mid-January after all the holidays are over. Usually we take a ski trip, but this year my husband specifically asked to go somewhere warm. Hey, I’m flexible, so many months ago we put the wheels into action to take a family trip to The Bahamas in the middle of winter!
I had no desire to pay the prices that the Atlantis resort usually wants to stay on-property, but I did want to be close to the resort as it looked like somewhere my daughter would absolutely love. So, I did what any good points junkie would do and looked for a place to stay near Atlantis on points. As it turns out, the Comfort Suites Paradise Island is located within about 100 yards from Atlantis, and staying there gets you included access to all the Atlantis facilities, including Aquaventure, swimming pools, private beach, waterscapes, river rides, water slides, health spa, tennis courts, golf, Kids Camp, movie theatre, casino, and more.
I outlined this whole process of using Choice Hotel points at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island and using British Airways Avios to fly to Nassau in this post. However, I will briefly recap some of the ways to get Choice points so that you can stay at the Comfort Suites at the end of this post.
As I have been trying to do on some of our more “interesting” trips, we made a video overview of our trip, including a look at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island. Check it out if you want to see some video of the hotel! Not sure why there is a lot of black screen after the video ends, but stop watching when the black screen comes up or you will be even more bored than normal.
Getting to the Comfort Suites Paradise Island:
We flew using British Airways Avios on American Airlines from Miami to Nassau (4,500 Avios each way) on a very quick and easy 25 minute flight. We had pre-arranged transportation from the airport, to a grocery store, and to our hotel with a woman I found on the TripAdvisor boards. Her name is Sandra and her email is sexy_sanny at hotmail.com. Her email address made us go into it with a sense of humor, but she had good reviews online so we went with it.
She was waiting outside the airport with a sign, and safely took us to the hotel and back in a van with included stops at grocery and liquor stores, if desired. We did take her up on the stop at the grocery store to buy some basics to have in the room. Be prepared for serious sticker shock in the grocery store on many items, but it was cheaper than buying water and snacks at Atlantis. The price was around $80 for the round trip service, and you don’t need pre-arranged transportation in Nassau, but it worked well for us. Keep in mind if you do rent a car you need to drive on the left side. Also remember you need a passport to go to the Bahamas.
Comfort Suites Paradise Island:
I can admit I’m a little spoiled when it comes to hotels, and I enjoy a fancy property at least as much as the next person. However, in the end, clean and safe is good enough for us, but during our previous beach trip to St. John, the hotel we stayed at was not as clean as I would have liked, so I was really hoping to not have a repeat of that scenario. I was just hoping for the best out of the Comfort Suites Paradise Island, and I was really relieved when we arrived at the property as it seemed to be a very solid three star property. Most importantly, it looked clean!
A couple of months back, I had matched my Hyatt Diamond status to the Choice program to get some elite status in that program. I did it mainly so I could book this award stay sooner (Choice only allows pretty close-in award reservations), but it may have also landed our name on the welcome board at the property as well. Honestly, I don’t think elite status here made any real difference, but I was very impressed when we weren’t charged any of the “mandatory” gratuities and energy fees that would have likely been $40+ per night normally. I can only guess that on award stays you may not have to pay those fees.
The room itself was a two bed room that was set up in a sort of similar fashion to a Hyatt Place with a small divider between the sleeping and sitting areas.
There was a small balcony, and the air conditioning worked very well. I think the most pleasant surprise was free WiFi that actually worked pretty well. There was also a small fridge in the room where we were able to store some of the juice and water we bought at the grocery store.
The bathroom was also clean and totally functioning. Housekeeping came every day while we were out at Atlantis, and they were good about refreshing all the (many) towels we seemed to go through. They even made one of those cute animals out of towels that you often see on cruise ships.
Food in the Bahamas is very expensive…like it is on many islands. This property provides a “free hot breakfast’ everyday, so that is a way to save a decent amount of cash each day when traveling with a family. The restaurant is located right next to the pool, and it was also clean, bright, and spacious.
I gotta admit the food was not my favorite, but my family didn’t complain too much. At the very least, you can get a banana and some cereal here to hold you over until lunch.
Also within walking distance of the hotel is a Dunkin’ Donuts if you wanted to change things up a couple of days on your trip. The granola bars and juice we bought at the grocery store were also a decent breakfast option.
We didn’t use the hotel pool while we were there, but it had a swim-up bar and seemed to be very well maintained, so it could be good for a quick afternoon swim if you don’t want to walk back over to Atlantis.
To use the Atlantis facilities each day, you have to pick up wristbands on the bottom floor of the main Atlantis lobby (next to the large aquarium). They are pretty serious about only guests and those with wristbands having access to any of the Atlantis facilities, so make sure you have the paper from the hotel that allows you to get the wristbands when you walk over to Atlantis. The Atlantis property is very close to the Comfort Suites Paradise Island, but Atlantis itself is huge, so once you get there you still likely have a long walk to get where you want to be…though that is true even if you stay on the Atlantis property.
You Can Do it Too:
This was a vacation that was taken pretty much purely on points, and it saved us a ton! You can absolutely replicate this yourself for your own family with a little advance planning. Here are some ways you can get Choice hotel points to stay at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island for 25,000 points per night.
- Wait for another Daily Getaways sale (has happened once a year the past several years) and see if Choice points are again available at a huge discount. This sale typically happens in the late spring/early summer.
- Get the Choice credit card for up to 32,000 points (though I don’t really recommend this).
- Transfer Choice points from Membership Rewards at a 1:1 rate from cards like the American Express(R) Premier Rewards Gold Card or The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN (this can be an okay deal depending on the going rate of the hotel, but you may not get a great value from your MR points this way)
- Top off by buying up to 20,000 Choice points per year at a rate of $11.00 per 1,000 points.
- Pay for the stay at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island if the rate you can get it a fair amount better than at Atlantis. You could also use a card such as the Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® to “pay yourself back” for a portion of the hotel charges to bring your “out of pocket” cost down further.
For the flights, we used 24,000 British Airways Avios per person to fly on American Airlines from Houston – Miami – Nassau. We had transferred those in from the Membership Rewards program during a 50% transfer bonus, so our true cost was 16,000 Membership Reward points per person for the flights. This was a fantastic deal, and the best way to get to the Caribbean from the South, East Coast, and potentially from the middle of the country.
I’m going to do a separate post on the activities we did in the area, including the Atlantis activities, but the short version is that we had a ton of fun and would absolutely return. You certainly can’t argue with how pretty the water is, and even in January it wasn’t too cold to get in and have fun! This was the type of family vacation where fun is just easy.
Have you stayed at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island or visited Atlantis? If so, please share your experience!
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