We were here for a week - January 16-23 and booked through transat holidays. It was exactly what I was looking for a relaxing quiet vacation along with great food and drinks. We are in our early thirties, so we were definitely a minority, most people are over 65 and lots of golfers. The hotel itself it starting to show its age, but this didn’t bother us, it was a gorgeous hotel nonetheless. It was fun exploring the hotel, there’s a pool on the 10th floor and another one of the first floor away from the main pool. There is also the 19th Hole bar, located outside by Antonios and La Terraza. The mini-golf is a joke, it’s just a regular sized practice green with 9 holes in a circle around it. We had room 417, we would have liked to be on a higher floor so we had an unobstructed view of the marina, but after several complaints to the front desk nothing was resolved, neither was the issue of the King bed we had specifically requested, our room had two double sized beds. Be forewarned, because of the climate and terrain the hotel is located in you are bound to find cockroaches and centipedes in your room – luckily my husband wasn’t too squeamish and dealt with them. Take 4 AA batteries with you if you plan to use the safe. With the exception of the front desk staff and the older bell boy (he tries to tell you no luggage is allowed in the lobby, he is rude and unrelenting!)The service we received on this trip was impeccable. The chamber maids came every morning and every evening, filing the ice bucket for us and the fridge was stocked daily. We only ate at the dinner buffet once, which was small but fine for us. Antonio’s was very good. La Terraza was the outdoor Tai Restaurant, my husband very much enjoyed it, I thought it was just okay. If we hadn’t found so many other great dining options in Barra, we would have eaten more at the hotel, but we like to explore and try new things. We usually ate breakfast at the buffet which again was small but okay. Most lunches we ate either by the pool or over in Barra. At the pool, they serve you drinks right to your chair and will bring you a lunch menu by request. Finding a chair while the hotel was near capacity was not an issue. The food on the menu is soo good, especially the turkey wrap and the burger. Any sized tip was always appreciated. This hotel doesn’t have the typical all-inclusive nightly entertainment, which was fine by me. Almost every night there was some sort of music in the lobby bar which we enjoyed. We either sat on the couches there or sat on the terrace overlooking the marina and Barra, very nice view. Vidal was probably our favorite bartender at this hotel; he would see us coming and have our drinks ready for when we sat down! While here there was an international fishing derby going on and the weigh station was on the hotel grounds so we got to see some pretty large trophy catches, very cool, along with all the different types of fishing boats coming from around the world. On Monday night we attended the Mexican themed buffet dinner by the garden – tonnes of great food to be had. Also another note – bring bug spray, they are happy to supply it to you if you forget. As usual we brought our insulated mugs, but didn’t use them once. The cups here are normal ‘red solo cup’ size and we very adequate.
Barra is a must visit, the water taxi is 20 pesos per person return. The town is very save to walk around and nearly impossible to get lost in. There are two OXXO Convenient stores were you could buy bottles/can of beer or coolers and walk around town with… for this I would recommend bringing a kooze as all drinks sweat a lot in this climate. You can buy chips and pop at a much more reasonable prices then the store in the marina. We ate at el Manglito, right off the water taxi dock to the right. Ask for Maurier – speaks perfect English and knows a lot about the area. Melana’s is on the ocean side of Barra, just past the first OXXO on the main street, it’s behind Casa Chips. There are chairs and tables set up on the beach and patio. The owners adopted dog loves to swim and play and will try to engage you. She is very friendly (see my pictures). We ate at Ambra, just next door to el Manglito, its bright yellow and has Lobster House in red on the front of it. ) It’s said to be the most expensive place to eat in Barra, but also the best. The chef is from France; here you will find the best wine selection in Barra. For 1180 pesos ($94 CAN) we had escargot, Caesar salad, two entrees (lasagna & a crepe, crème Brule for dessert, along with 6 spirits.
We ate at Popeye’s, it was okay, but I wouldn’t go back and would hesitate to recommend them, they are very pricy compared to other places in Barra and so many other places offer better food.
We took a cab (50 pesos) to Melaque and ate at Senor Froy’s on the beach, the food and drinks were great. Watched the Pelicans, there were so many we were reluctant to go into the water but they are a sight to see. The water is much nicer at the beach at Barra. We walked along the beach back to Barra, an hour walk with not much between, and the beach is quite slanted. The best beach in the area is at La Manzanilla, north of Barra about 20 minutes by cab or bus.
We took the water taxi from the marina to go over to Colima to eat at Fortino’s one night, just to the right of the hotel. You could walk but it’s much easier to take the water taxi, again its 20 pesos per person round trop. Lidia’s and Mary’s are the two other restaurant here. Extremely good sea food here; we had 3 lobster tails, two shrimp skewers, and avocado stuffed with shrimp and a few drinks all for under 600 pesos.
There is no beach per say at the resort, just an open lagoon beach which we didn’t see anyone swimming in. We did rent a jet ski from the hotel for 30 minutes for 600 pesos, the one guy took us for a quick tour of the area and also showed us the shallow areas to avoid. Definitely worth the money and bring a waterproof camera, lots of great views. We wanted to do the deep sea fishing advertised on the hotel’s activity brochure for $150/per couple, we went to book it, the price was suddenly $400/per couple. In hindsight we would have asked Maurier to hook us up with an English speaking local to take us out. As I mentioned earlier, we traveled with Transat holidays and our rep Jocelyn was not much help, all the Transat tours needed 6-8 people to run and she does little to sell or help gather more people. If you want to do a tour I suggest talking the hotel staff that speak fluent English and asking them to help you hire an English speaking driver for the day.
All in all we had a wonderful vacation and fell in love with Barra, would we go back to the Grand Bay hotel??… not sure, maybe if the price was right, but we will definitely return to this area. For the most part the service we impeccable, also the wifi mostly worked in the lobby and by the pool and some rooms and was free for all-inclusive guests or Wyndham members.