One&Only Ocean Club
We attended the 31st Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association Marketplace this year at Atlantis Resort in Nassau, Bahamas with over 1,200 buyers/suppliers and 12,400 scheduled meetings. The mood was upbeat with strong sales forecasts and growing interest in catering to meeting and incentive planners.
“For 2014 sales, we are double digit ahead from 2013 and triple digits ahead for 2015,” says Gus Tejeda, vp of group sales for Atlantis. “What we’re seeing is that some companies are still concerned about the economy and the stigma of a luxury offshore destination, but they are starting to book us again. We are very, very encouraged about the future.”
We asked Tejeda why planners are attracted to the resort, above and beyond all the obvious amenities and attractions synonymous with the mythically themed—and sized—Atlantis.
“What really sets us apart from other places in the Bahamas and Caribbean is our meeting and event space,” he says. “We have 200,000 sf of indoor space and 500,000 sf of outdoor space…. It is highlighted by a 50,000-sf pillarless ballroom and a companion 25,000-sf ballroom with 37 breakout rooms. So we can accommodate any group size from 10-2,000 rooms per night.
During Caribbean Marketplace both this year and last, there were many outdoor events in a wide variety of locations ranging from the beach to thickly landscaped pools rimmed by hundreds of coconut palms. Sometimes you didn’t even realize you were in a resort. That provides both a high degree of exclusivity and a wealth of variety.
“We have 21 unique outdoor venues for groups of 60-5,000 people,” Tejeda explains. “We get a lot of custom requests for thematic events and we’ve done pretty much anything you can imagine. We have so much outdoor space, a planner can create a private event away from the rest of the guests. For example, Paradise Harbour is adjacent to the resort and it overlooks the entire city of Nassau. We can accommodate 2,000 people right there. Right next door we can accommodate 5,000 on the lawn.”
During meetings with suppliers, we always like to ask about any misconceptions that planners might have about an especially iconic hotel or destination.
“A lot of meeting planners feel that Atlantis is such a big resort that it only appeals to extra large groups,” says Tejeda, “The fact is that of the 500 groups we welcome every year, 80% are between 10 and 50 rooms on peak. It’s because we have the five towers bringing the scale down. They feel more welcome and at home.”
Okay, all of that infrastructure is great for big groups. But sometimes you want to escape from the tradeshow to recalibrate and go over the day’s events in a quiet, peaceful setting. With Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten tapas, if possible, on a wood terrace over the sea.
Twice during Marketplace, we grabbed the free shuttle from Atlantis for the 7-minute ride next door to the impossibly charming sister resort, One&Only Ocean Club.
You pass though a beautiful British colonial lobby that opens out to a grand lawn sloping down to a small cliff over the beach. On the edge of the precipice, celeb chef Vongerichten operates Dune restaurant. We cannot get enough of this place both for the setting and the food. Whatever you do, try the black truffle and fontina cheese pizza, and peekytoe crab salad. For special events, One&Only offers a few drop dead settings, such as Versailles Garden and Versailles Pool Terrace for 120/110 diners, and the Beach Deck seating 100.