PARADISE ISLAND, The Bahamas — The $480-million Royal Atlantis Hotel, equal parts state-of-the- art fish tank and grand scale luxury hotel, is designed around the myth of the lost city of Atlantis.
The weekend’s extravagant christening, which was attended by a diverse crowd of Bahamian politicos, high rollers and Hollywood heavy hitters, embraced the Atlantean mythic fantasy to such effect that it will surely become a legend of its own.
The three-day event, designed by Colin Cowie Lifestyle, began Friday night with a cocktail party in the hotel’s 70-foot high marble and gold-encrusted lobby. Guests, including U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas Sidney Poiter, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jackson, Chris North and Ileana Douglas were entertained by Quincy Jones, Patti Austin and James Ingram while sipping champagne and dining on a towering seafood buffet.
Larry Flynt held court in the casino, while “Felicity” star Keri Russell graciously obliged guests by posing for photographs.
A VIP after-party in the hotel’s 5 Twins restaurant had Alfre Woodard and Carmen Electra dancing to Tito Puente and Little Louie Vega. On Saturday afternoon, hotel vice president Jerry Inzerillo gave Leonardo Di Caprio a private tour of the 11 million-gallon aquarium, while Ivana Trump, Yasmine Bleeth and Richard Grieco braved the water slides.
Saturday night started with poolside cocktails as hip-hop group Ntyce and salsa-samplers Ozomatli set the stage for Grace Jones who, dressed as a dominatrix butterfly, descended from the roof of the hotel to rule the evening as the Goddess of Atlantis.
Entertainment executives Kevin Wendle and Lance Orchid joined Sean “Puffy” Combs, Donald Trump and restaurateur Michael McCarty for dinner as Bebe Winans, Stephanie Mills and Natalie Cole performed.
The Gloved One, accompanied by Stevie Wonder and hotel owner Sol Kerzner, also sang. The highlight of the night was a fireworks display that turned the hotel into a cascade of flames followed by a traditional Bahamian junkanoo parade. Guests attending Saturday’s VIP after-party included Denzel Washington, Marisa Tomei and Jimmy Buffett. Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt made an appearance.
Sunday brought a classical concert and brunch to the hotel’s marina. Julianne Moore and Marlee Matlin opted for the more casual breakfast buffet before departing.