Bahamas bliss

With its focus on grown-up pleasures, the new Cove Atlantis is just the place to unwind after a long day of shooting

The booming luxury market -- which has sent production of high-end goods into overdrive in this country -- has washed up in the Bahamas as well: Atlantis, the 900-pound gorilla of the Bahamas' tourism industry, last month unveiled a new resort within a resort, the Cove Atlantis, a chic, all-suite hotel overlooking the ocean.

In its dozen years of operation, Atlantis' giant sandcastle-like silhouette has cast a long shadow on Paradise Island as a full-service family destination, with restaurants and activities for children of all ages with a wide range of income.

With the addition of the Cove, parent company Kerzner International Resorts is going after other segments of the peripatetic population as well -- hip, young adults and others who want to vacation as far away from kiddie pools as they can get and well-traveled sophisticates who've seen it all and are looking for something new and fabulous.

The Cove brings Atlantis into the 21st century with the kind of smart design typical of the recent wave of boutique hotels but blown up to Atlantean proportions. The property has 600 units -- six times as many as its more traditional sister hotel nearby, One & Only Ocean Club -- and enough amenities to serve a small city. The development is part of a $1 billion expansion that also includes Dolphin Cay, a new 10-million-gallon habitat for 17 wildlife refugees from Hurricane Katrina and their infant offspring; the Residences at Atlantis, a 22-story condominium-hotel tower scheduled to open in December; the expansion of the 30,000-square-foot Mandara Spa; and Aquaventure, billed as the world's largest waterpark.

"What (the Cove) does now is that it cleverly puts us in a place where we touch the higher price point," says Michele Wiltshire, vp special events and entertainment for Kerzner. "We get close to it at Atlantis, but it isn't in a strategic way the way it is in the Cove, where it's all about the luxury, the amenities, the service."

The Cove is counting on star power to help draw its target audience. Food Network celebrity chef Bobby Flay has opened a Mesa Grill there, his first outside the U.S. To create an edgy but earthy environment, the New York-based company brought in interior architects David Rockwell -- whose portfolio includes the W New York and the Los Angeles' Kodak Theatre -- and Jeffrey Beers, known for his work on the Daniel Boulud Brasserie and the Casino at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Beers' design for the Cove's airy lobby includes 25-foot-long, woven-cylinder lights made of copper that dangle from 35-foot timber ceilings. Square pods for seating enclose pools of water, and bamboo walls meet mosaic tile floors. Romantic lighting changes from blue in the morning to magenta at night.

"We've created an environment where it really is about the space and the use of water and the Wenge woods," says Lauren Snyder, senior vp corporate public relations for Kerzner. "It's the embodiment of tropical sophistication."

And since armies of kids screaming in the pool don't exactly qualify as sophistication, the Cove has carved out an adults-only outdoor play area called Cain, where grown-ups can relax around terraced pools and enjoy a poolside bar with a six-table gaming pavilion and a DJ.

With Cain and the similarly age-restricted Club Lounge -- which serves meals to those 12 and older -- Atlantis catches up with such Las Vegas competitors as Caesars Palace, one of the first hotels there to offer oases for adults and backpedal on Sin City's metamorphosis into a family-friendly destination.

The Cove also houses Escape by Vivre, a boutique for luxury goods commissioned by retailer Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti from designers and artisans around the world. Lifestyle branding extends to room atomizers filled with Ocean, a signature fragrance created by Red Flower, and an original score played at the resort composed by London's Yasa Angelus Sereno.

The rooms, designed in earth tones and light wood, range from 672-square-foot suites that start at less than $500 to the 4,070-square foot penthouse suite, which commands a king's ransom of $15,000 a night. The two-floor suite features such distinctive design touches as a Murano glass chandelier, a foyer with a domed ceiling and an infinity bathtub.

A butler's office adjoins the full chef's kitchen, and the two master bedrooms are furnished with "Atlantean-size" beds.
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