My husband and I stayed at the Grand Bay from March 19 thru March 27. From the moment we arrived we were charmed by the hotel , the staff and the beauty of the location.
Each morning, because our spacious and graciously appointed room overlooked the marina, we could open our curtains, get back into bed, prop up our pillows and await the rising of the sun or sit out and view it on our balcony. The bathrooms are all marble and there was always an abundance of hot water and lots of water pressure in the shower!
My husband enjoys a good cigar and each evening at the Faro Bar in the hotel, Hector who owns the local Cigar Factory store in the little town of Barra was available to make hand rolled cigars following the tradition passed down by his father and grandfather. I am not a smoker but my husband said it was a good smoke. Alphonso at the bar mixes up a good marguerita. This is a piano bar and each night there was either a pianist or a duo [Trish and Gordon] who provided a "smooth" atmosphere to go with the Kahlua.
The Pool Restaurant has wonderful food for Lunch and we quickly picked our favourite which we grew to look forward to. They bring a platter of fresh made tortilla chips, fresh salsa and guacamole when you sit down to get you started, Our favourites were the AZTEC soup, Oasis Quesadillas and the Shrimp Ceviche. IF you want you can order from a short menu pool side for items like burgers and pizza and get delivery to your lounge chair. I wish I remembered everyone's name so I could have acknowledged them here. They were all great and contributed to our enjoyment of the hotel.
At the Terrace, try the Coconut Creme Brulee for desert and the Lemon Grass soup to start. Take a shawl or wear something long sleeved as it gets pretty cool and breezy out there. Enjoy being serenaded by Emerson while dining. He is terrific. He has a friend who comes along some nights who plays the violin. It's like an added bonus.
We found all the food really good, especially the beef...and the shrimp of course! The wait staff at Antonios was outstanding especially Edgar who prepared a sensational dinner for us our last night there and the same can be said for staff at the Terrace and the Grande Cafe who provided attentive but never intrusive service. Breakfast was buffet but most other meals were off the menu a la carte so lots to choose from but we stuck to our favs after the first few days.
For a great off-hotel experience take the water taxi over to Lidia's to the right of the hotel [not in Barra] and have the stuffed clams with some beer. I hate clams but I loved these! or you can get a whole grilled lobster for about $22.00. Good food can also be found across the bay in Barra at a restaurant called Bananas that serves a good breakfast.
Cash is the only payment option at most places [pesos is best] Very few places take debit or credit cards . There is an ATM at the hotel and a few in Barra but no bank.
I had the pleasure of taking a tour of the kitchen - it was spotless and well maintained and huge with a place for everything. Meat and poultry for example was stored and cut in a segregated room with its own freezer and fridges. Chef was extremely accommodating and very proud of his kitchen. I was there just after lunch cleanup and fresh bread and rolls were baking and the prep for the evening meal was underway. Everything was fresh from the salsa to the thin sliced fruits to top specialty deserts. He had arranged for a translator which was very considerate.
Barra across the Bay is lots of Fun to visit and a safe community.
When you get to the hotel, you get a little booklet with a map of the hotel - take time to walk around all the halls and look into all the nooks and crannies. There are a couple of quiet pools to discover, one on floor 1 and another on the 10th across the bridge and evey now then a secluded lounge area appears. It really is more beautiful than the pictures.
The hotel is still transitioning to an all inclusive property. The All inclusive option is limited to clients of Transat Holiday and so there are still guests who park their sailboats and yachts in the marina and guests from other countries who pay as they go. We Transat clients do have the best deal and sometimes it must be a little confusing for the staff to keep us all straight.
Cautionary notes: Everyone has a different idea of the perfect vacation destination. This was perfect for my husband and I and many of the guests we met, but it may not be perfect for you..If you a looking for a beach like Varadero or Punta Cana or Negril, you will not find it here. If you have teenaged kids, they may be pretty bored - pretty quickly. If you are single, you will not likely meet the man or woman of your dreams here - it's mostly couples - older couples. The kid's club is not really well established yet, there is no evening mini disco or club song. There is an activities manager during the day but no one is really looking for any kind of routine or activity unless it is participating in morning yoga, going to the spa for a facial, reflexology or an exfoliation [all are good by the way] or to play golf on the course that adjoins the property. If you are looking for lots to drink 24/7, you may be disappointed that the bar does not open till 11 am each day. Looking for nighttime entertainment? There is no evening show with dancing girls or a Michael Jackson tribute or blindfolded fellow tourists passing balloons between each other's legs for the amusment of the other guests. There is no action after midnight once the bar closes and no one around by then anyways. You can't get a coffee on the terrace until the Grand Cafe opens at 6:30-7am.
This hotel is definitely not for everyone but if are looking for a relaxed time, excellent service yummy things to eat and freedom from care and worry, this is the place for you. It certainly was the place for us!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.