Hide and Chic

VACATIONS, BY DEFINITION, free us from the shackles of adulthood. We vacate not just our home, but also our schedules, responsibilities, and occasionally, our adult hang-ups for them. In short, they give us an excuse to behave like children.

And we’re happy to, until we land at one of those resorts catering to grownups who behave like kids, and remember just how tacky and quality-free the places can be. On the other hand, it’s no fun to spend playtime in the opposite — an uptight spot with superlative service, but where no one seems to be having a good time.

Will the twain ever meet? Yes: at the Cove in the Bahamas, a five-hour flight from Boston. The latest addition to Atlantis (yes, land of the fabled slides that plunge underwater past live sharks), the complex is a halcyon enclave in the resort’s otherwise throbbing chaos. Inside, 600 plush, tastefully ultramodern suites (courtesy of designers Jeffrey Beers and David Rockwell) — all of which sport marble bathrooms big enough to pass as individual spas — are perched over a powder-sand beach open only to Cove guests.

Wander 300(ish) steps outside that tranquility, and suddenly you’re facing the roar of the Abyss, a slide with a nigh-vertical 50-foot drop that literally takes your breath away. Sure, you could recover from the adrenaline rush it induces with a perfunctory hot dog from the snack bar. Or you could stroll a mere minute back to the Cove and sit down at Mesa Grill, the sophisticated tropical outpost of celeb chef Bobby Flay’s steakhouse chain. It’s a swish scene designed within an inch of its life, and the star of the menu is a spice-jacked, chipotle-glazed rib-eye with red and green chili sauce.

Afterward, the slides are always waiting. But the best option might be to simply wander through the Cove; its cluster of meandering, open-air buildings laced with streams and koi ponds has a minimalist Balinese vibe (think sleek bamboo and low lighting) and a low-key hipness that’s nearly meditative.

Should your path lead to the late-night casinos, recoup in the morning at the 9,000-square-foot “ultrapool,” flanked by 20 rentable private cabanas (complete with flat-screen TVs and VIP butler service). The swanky but serene area is one of the property’s few spots designated as adults-only. Adults, that is, in theory.

Suites, $590–$16,000 per night; the Cove Atlantis, One Casino Drive, Paradise Island, The Bahamas, 242-363-3000, atlantis.com.