My husband and I stayed at the GBP from Dec 22 – Dec 29, 2012. We are in our late 40’s and needed a real break from work, winter and responsibilities – we got exactly that with GBP and Air Canada Vacations (ACV) - it actually exceeded our expectations! We are completely happy with our trip and value for our money. The review is detailed since I found that helpful from other reviewers when I was researching the hotel.
ARRIVING: We flew ACV and found everything well taken care of - arrived in Montego Bay around 5:30pm, customs was quick, and an ACV rep was there to direct us to the bus. We waited about 20 min for everyone to board, but meanwhile the rep did the check in and we had our keys and a map of the resort in hand before we arrived at the GBP. We knew to expect an hour drive to the resort since that was clearly stated on the resort website.
ROOM: Thrilled with our room in block 23 on the 5th floor, looking over the quiet end of the pool and the ocean (I understood that ACV has many of their rooms in block 23). Breath-taking view, everything clean and comfortable and exactly as the pictures on the website looked. I attached a picture of our view. Everything but the safe was working upon entry, and when we mentioned this to our ACV rep that was in the main lobby, someone was up to fix it within 30 min. The safe was larger than I anticipated from what some of the reviews suggested, and my ipad would certainly have fit.
We left our balcony door open when were in the room - day and night, but the air conditioner worked fine the few times it was on. Stairways were clean with rails on both sides and we used them exclusively.
There was wonderful quiet music in the early evening from the pool bar by our room - steel guitars, classical guitars - really pretty and non-intrusive. We did not hear any of the late nightlife sounds in our rooms, except for our last night there. However, we just closed the balcony door and that fixed it!
We tipped $5 a day for the housekeeper and she left everything well stocked and clean, with animal art on our bed (which we used to supplement our bath towels a few times). Our tub was clean, the water was hot and the jets worked well. We left a request for our housekeeper to leave more of a specific soft drink we liked, and she continued to do so during our stay.
SERVICE: We lost a room key one day and stopped at the front desk to get a new one and we quickly received a replacement room card and they were both reset so the lost one would no longer work. We wanted to break a large bill for tips and were able to do so quickly at the front desk. The staff members trying to sell time-shares were always present in one area of the lobby, but we just smiled and said “no thanks” and that was it. No hassles. No problems getting help with anything we needed, everyone very friendly and things efficiently taken care.
GROUNDS/BEACH: The grounds were clean and well cared, the staff very friendly, when I approached with questions regarding the trees and one knowledgeable gentleman working on the grounds cracked a young coconut for us to taste the water. The washrooms were cleaned regularly and we saw people all over sweeping, gardening, cleaning/fixing lights and painting to keep it fresh. We chose to tip many of them for the good job they were doing, and they were genuinely appreciative.
We spent our days on the quiet end of the beach, down by the nude beach (yes there is a tree/fence line to provide privacy for those bathers!). I read in reviews about the long walk – but we did not find it so at all! A ten minute walk - and we were coming from the opposite end of the resort. Beautiful scenery, walking along in the soft sand of the beach in the sun, with the brilliant colours… not a problem! Always able to find lounge chairs. I have included a picture of the view from my beach lounger.
We brought our own snorkeling equipment with us, which I would recommend for the freedom and certainty that you always have it when you wanted. This area of the beach was great for snorkeling. There was a nice breeze, and shaded areas if you like (which we did) along with a bar and a bathroom at that end as well. The toilet worked fine - all but one day. I just used the guy’s washroom – neither of them was busy.
The pool area surrounding the resort was very active and lots of laughter – but not what we wanted for this holiday. With the exception of one day, we were able to exchange our blue beach towels down by the pool (out of towels at 4pm) so we just placed our wet towels on our balcony chairs and they were dry for the next day.
FOOD: The ACV had pre-booked our four “a la carte” reservations (one at each of the gourmet restaurants) but we were told we could make changes we wished, provided the restaurants could accommodate our request. My husband was able to make the one sitting time change we wanted, which took only about 20 min to do. The special Christmas Eve Buffet was also a pre-booked meal and we received the location and time we were wanting for that as well. We enjoyed the Japanese, and the Garden Grill décor was nice with great service and food, but our favourite meal was the Dolce Vita where we had a romantic table overlooking the ocean (though it was dark so you couldn’t see a lot, we could hear the waves) with perfect service and excellent meal.
A few mornings, we had breakfast in the smaller buffet restaurant – it did have less selection but everything we wanted was there. The draw of the larger buffet for me, was the outside seating (except the smokers were there too!), and for my husband it was the greater variety of food. We never found the buffet selection boring or too repetitive – always something new to try. I didn’t bother with a few things due to the line-ups, but enjoyed most of what I tried. My husband was more adventurous than I was – and he sampled lots of different types of foods and had no stomach issues with anything. Drink cups were small, but they would give you as many as you liked. Different bars served different drinks, so we found our favorites. I think the house wine must have varied in the restaurants, as it was fine usually but twice it was not very good, so I got something else.
RUNNING/SWIMMING: We got up early and went running off the resort five mornings, each time we were required to sign out and back in for security. The GBP is just on the outskirts of Runaway Bay, and we ran left (into town) twice but preferred going right for the gorgeous scenery. We saw a few other runners as well. Had ice water and hot coffee in the main lobby area overlooking the pool and ocean afterwards - wonderful way to recover! There was also a small selection of pastries most mornings. Two mornings I did a swim workout in the pool when it opened at 8:00 am. I started at the quiet end and went under one of the bridges to the second bridge (there was a dividing wall there, so could go no further). Had a 50 min swim with no one else in the water. Amazing. Did not ever see anyone else doing laps in the pool.
We will be back some day!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.