Just got back from perhaps the biggest New Year’s Eve gig I’ve ever done, at Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, and it was quite a fascinating trip actually. I might not make a lot of money as a musician, but one of the best perks is visiting and staying at awesome places and the one thing my career has afforded me is my own room wherever we stay. I haven’t shared a room on tour in more than 15 years as a matter of fact, and this high-end gig was supposed to be no exception! I could’ve worked for just $200 less 15 miles from my house at the Woodland Hills Country Club, stress free, no parking fees, or $20 dollar sandwiches at the airport, but 3 nights at one of the most amazing resorts in the world made it worth it.
Unfortunately, the night before we left, I received an email from the boss: sorry, the hotel fucked up, you have to share rooms! Just like that, no offer for compensation, nothing. The obligatory “I’m doing everything to get you rooms”, which turned out to be worthless. I’m still not sure who’s fault it actually was, but I would assume that if it really was the hotel, they would’ve offered us some kind of perk: resort credit, or something! That didn’t happen, but we’ll have to see if the check I get next week has a little extra, because let me tell you: this place is PRICEY!
More about the money later, first the experience of what’s called Paradise Island. I’d seen it from a cruise ship a couple of times and of course on the web, and it does seem like Paradise, basically an entire Island, right off the coast of Nassau, owned entirely by the resort, with multiple towers in various price ranges, all kinds of beaches, a big water park, Vegas style casino, private Marina etc. One of the band members just got married, and because the hotel would give him a discount on the room, he decided to add 2 days to make it a honeymoon. The $450 per night rate, turned into $600 after all the added fees, so expectations were somewhat high. On check-in we got a sobering reminder that we were still at the lowest end of this resort’s totem-pole: the girls at the desk were cold, rude and slow as molasses! My roomie Alex and I finally got our keys and we went up to the room. Each of us got two keys, none worked! Not even a red light as we swiped, just nothing. Damn, I’m tired, too tired for this, but I guess it happens. We go down to the lobby, half a mile walk away, because there are NO house phones and are told the battery in the door is dead, to go back up and wait for security to let us in.
About 10 minutes later a dude shows up, verifies our identity and lets us in the room with a physical master key, but doesn’t fix the door! He says someone will come at some point to put a new battery in. What? I know about ‘island time’ but come on! I’m starting to get a sinking feeling when I see the room: basically on par with a Best Western, old TV, polyester sheets, foamy pillows, decent bed though, somewhat worn out stained carpet everywhere, but of course with a view of the ocean! Wow, if I had paid $500 a night for this, I’d be quite surprised and disappointed. I’ve stayed at worse places of course and I’m always willing to overlook just about anything in the name of having a good time. We had decided to hook up with a couple of the other guys to get a night cap, and when they show up they tell us they don’t have a phone in their room, and the hotel told them they wouldn’t get one until the next day! Mind you, we’re in a different country, most of our cellphones don’t work, internet is $22 a day and we have no idea what the schedule is for the next day. This is getting worse by the hour….
We go down to have a drink ($28 for a vodka cranberry and a beer BTW!), walk around for a second only to find out all pools are closed already and swimming in the ocean is not allowed anymore so it’s probably time to go and get some sleep. Alex and I get to the room: not one of the keys works, red light on all of them! You’ve got to be kidding me! On the way to getting new ones we run into the band leader and are informed of an 11PM meeting is his room. When we hit ours after, we can’t get in…..red light for all 4 new keys……. trust me, incredibly this happened 3 more times in as many days! The grumpy employees keep blaming it on proximity to cell phones, getting wet….even when we have kept them away from everything, bone dry…… this is incredible. At some point one guy behind the counter is actually smiling……but of course, his badge says he’s “in training”, I kid you not…….
The actual gig goes fine, and on this day they’re providing food and water throughout. Between sound check at the show I decide to walk around the resort and scope it out by myself, since the rest of the band pretty much lives on Facebook 24/7, glued to their iPhones. The place is packed beyond belief, not only with resort guests but also passengers from cruise ships docked nearby, who pay to hang out there for the day. There are some cool enormous fish tanks, which can be viewed from below and the water park looks decent, if not stuffed with screaming kids. There’s Dolphin Cay where you can ‘interact’ with the animals, at enormous cost of course: you’re not allowed to take your own pix, but for $120 you can get a CD-ROM with photos they take of you. That’s in addition to the fees for the activity itself! The casino is more expensive than the high-end ones in Vegas with mostly $100 minimum bets. Impressive! Time to go back and work, hopefully some fun tomorrow……
After a decent night’s sleep on polyester, four of us go to explore Aquaventure. We do the Mayan slide which sends you on an inner tube through a tube that goes through the middle of a shark tank, and another similar one that just ends in the ‘lazy river’ which snakes through the park. It’s kinda cloudy, but still reasonably warm, so it’s quite relaxing. These rides are actually free! There are pools with giant turtles, and crazy rays…. a sort of cave system with various fish tanks, containing everything from jellyfish to piranhas. Pretty cool, but honestly not that amazing. Of course I’ve been quite spoiled in my life and I can imagine that for some this is spectacular. The best part of the trip comes that night, when six of us take a cab into town to go to dinner at “Fish Fry”, a truly local restaurant with excellent food. My, my, I’m so glad I didn’t pay to stay in Paradise!
Now I fully realize we stayed with the plebs in the Beach Towers, and “The Cove”, where Beyonce stays when she’s there might be a different experience, but I cannot believe how mediocre this place is. My advice: don’t ever stay there! You can visit for a fee, but get a local hotel and enjoy the bizarre craziness that is the Bahamas! Our cabbie on the way back to ‘Paradise’ popped a bottle of beer with one hand, while driving with the other, poured most into a soda cup with ice, drank what didn’t fit from the bottle, and sipped the rest through a straw, going 80 miles an hour to get us to the liquor store before it closed! And like he said in relation to their English manner of driving: “The left side is the right side, the right side is suicide!”