We stayed at the Gran Bahia Principe from 17 to 31st October. We travelled with First Choice and was greeted by our rep Godfrey, who on arrival at the hotel ushered us to the Don Pablo lounge. I would definitely recommend the upgrade to Don Pablo the service was superb, they make the extra effort to ensure that your holiday is perfect. The introduction by our rep Godfrey was one of the best we have sat through, he advised us on all the excursions but we didn't feel that we were pressured into going on any excursion. The staff at GBP are a credit to the hotel and all most give a service with a smile and are so friendly, but as Godfrey said in his intro, Jamaica are 6 hours behind the UK and they don't intend to catch, so remember to relax sometimes the staff are busy and are on Jamaican time.
I would advise to take Jamaican dollars, we got a good rate with Asda money but check online at travelmoney.com, some had taken US dollars but if you changed these at reception you will be given Jamaican dollars in exchange and the rate will not be as good.
We e-mailed the hotel with our requirements which I advised you to do if you want a particular room or location, we received an e-mail back saying that they would try to accommodate our requirements but could not guarantee it. We were given exactly what we requested in block 24, 5th floor in a quiet part of the hotel in the far corner. (Room 24510) Block 24 has 7 floors and run from 24--1 to 10, all have a sea view but because they are on the side have a garden sea view instead of a pool/sea view. Block 23 has 18 rooms across in front of the pool which is on the left hand side of the hotel looking from the beach, in my opinion block 24 is newer and are just a little bit better.
Being in the Don Pablo entitles you to the exclusive area's by the pool and a roped off area on the beach. These area's have waitress service and again the staff were fantastic, Tina by the pool always had a smile and nothing was too much trouble and Tamara in the beach bar remembered our drinks and every time we had a beach day she came over to our loungers with the drinks we requested the previous day. This was without being tipped, even though we did tip the service was the same to those who didn't seem to.
We tried all the restaurants with the exception on the first Friday night which is lobster night in the buffet restaurant. We didn't have a bad meal in any of the restaurants but I could recommend the chateaubriand in the Don Pablo, the surf and turf in the Garden Grill and the show cooking in the Mikado. The service was a little slow in the Dolce Vita, but once again you are in Jamaica, no rush make an evening of it and enjoy. In the evening we tended to drink in the Don Pablo bar it is air conditioned has free Wi-Fi and also generous premium drinks. We even asked for a bottle of champagne for our room which was given without charge. The service again was excellent in here unfortunately I can't remember the bartenders name but we had some real nice chats with her and found out she had a son called Kyle. Thank you for looking after us, we tried to find you on our last night but couldn't see you at the other bar.
We only went on one excursion we wanted a relaxing holiday but we did go to Dunns River Falls which if you are steady on your feet I would highly recommend. Don't forget you towel, swim shorts, waterproof camera and a little money for tips, be aware that afterward you are ushered through stalls that sell souvenirs that can be subject to pressure selling.
The snorkelling to the left hand side of the wedding gazebo by the rocks is the best place with hundreds of fish, I took a hard boiled eggs which followed me when the realised I had food and even ate it out of my hand.
The only negative was that in our second the Palmyra restaurant which is open for breakfast exclusively for Don Pablo guests was closed for refurbishment. We had to eat in the main buffet restaurant and although they had reserved a section of the restaurant for us it was allot noisier and not as relaxing as the Palmyra which we had paid for.
In summary don't listen to negative reviews, if you stay at GBP go for the upgrade if you can and you will not be disappointed.
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