I submitted it and know it will take a few days to post so here it is for anyone who wants a preview!
Nothing but the highest of marks...and a couple suggestions to make it even better...
The pros by far outweighed the cons. Therefore the resort receives an overall 5 from me!
1. Facility - is beautiful, by far it is the most elegant resort we have visited, from the artwork and decor to the structure and facade of the buildings, all of the marble and intricate details in the floors, outdoor pathways, etc. RATING = 5
2. Butler service - "What do you need in your room?" and "Where's the challenge?" are the two questions asked over and over again by our butler VICTOR. VICTOR is one of this resort's biggest assets. He loves making the guests happy. Our 5 year anniversary was acknowledged by a special treat in our room that night. One mention of my preference for white wines and my minibar contained more bottles than I could drink during our stay. I cannot say enough good things about Victor. I really need to think of a challenge for Victor before our next visit. ;)
3. Amenities - too numerous to count. Rooms are gorgeous, beds very comfortable, pillow menu is very nice. RATING = 5
4. Restaurants - fabulous food, fabulous staff!!! RATING = 5
Bellavista Breakfast - so much variety, loved being able to order from menu or choosing from the huge buffet. Lobster-blinis and egg white omelets off the menu both excellent.
LaBrisas Lunch - again very nice to be able to order off of the menu or buffet,sometimes both. Fish of the day always great. Full wine list available. Beautiful view of the ocean from your table.
SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT - Nolberto, Alex, and Manuel are a great team of waiters, always with a smile, always remembering our preferences. Thanks for the phenomenal service you provided! Alex, keep those extra large glasses of OJ coming!
Dinners - never a bad meal, never even a "just ok" meal. We were blown away by the food AND service at each and every meal.
Italian - our waiter Rene was truly superb, making recommendations, joking, laughing - it was apparent he loves his job and strives to make your meal excellent. Food was excellent - per Rene's suggestion, we ordered a grilled shrimp and veggie appetizer, each got seafood lasagna, and shared lobster risotto followed by Tiramisu. Perfect!
Gourmet - we ate with friends from Chicago we met on this trip. All four of us loved our meals! Lobster Thermidor is fabulous and husband stated the fillets are just like he eats at home. Steaks were perfectly done. Juan Carlos provided excellent service and took good care of us!
Toni's Surf and Turf - you absolutely cannot go wrong here. We dined here twice and requested Ulysis. He was right on top of everything and always smiling. The food was fabulous, steaks again cooked to perfection, lobster tails excellent as well. The seafood appetizer and the chocolate cake were excellent as well. On our last night, Ulysis brought us a plate when her served dessert with "Have a Nice Trip" written in icing and accompanied by fruit garnish. A+++ goes to Ulysis and Toni's!
Japanese - our least favorite of the 4 restaurants but still great service. Lobster was cooked the same length of time as the chicken and steak so it was a bit overdone. Chef Jessica came out to greet us and ask about our food and about our trip in general.
International Buffet - I am not a buffet person but this is not your typical buffet. We had lobster, fillet, and lobster risotto being prepared as you waited. The chef was preparing the risotto and the attention to detail was incredible as he created the dish and garnished the plates as he was preparing for an extravagant sit down meal. We enjoyed this meal as well.
Cajun at the Lindo (Jambalaya) - excellent meal starting with Calamari and coconut shrimp from the buffet, then the a la carte selections. My husband had the blackened grouper with fruit salsa and I had the fettucine with shrimp and scallops in a creamy mushroom sauce. We loved our meal and service. No wine list here of course but the white wine they had was drinkable.
5. Beach - gorgeous long stretch of white sand and turquoise waters. Big rocks in front of building 71 (very pretty) and none in front of our building, 70. Big waves -when we were there flag was usually red and changed to yellow for two of the days. RATING = 5
6. Pools - in a word, lovely. The main pool is salt water which I like. The tranquility pool is gorgeous and there is also shade over there between the covered beds and palm trees. The indoor spa pool is really neat with many different types of jets. It's fun to go try them all out! RATING = 5
7. Variety - we loved having the option to check out the other resorts. We went to the commercial center, checked out the wave pool and lazy river pool, had drinks at the snake bar as well as the fishbowl bar. We went to PDC via the resort shuttle and took a cab back. We took golf clubs but didn't golf due to recent aeration that was done. We did hear from another golfer that the course condition had already improved between the first time he played and the second time 3 days later. I feel as though we just skimmed the surface with all there is to do. RATING = 5
8. Rooms - good size, two closets so plenty of room, nice desk with two chairs, chaise lounge for reading and relaxing. Beautiful decor with marble floors and pretty artwork. The dual vanity sinks in bathroom were a nice touch. RATING = 5
1. Large corporate groups - two separate groups were there'd during our stay. This definitely impacted the service and I believe the morale of the staff members in a negative way. I realize the resort relies on business from independent guests as well as groups and cannot control behavior of people in the groups but they need to make sure they staff appropriately.
2. Drink Service around the pool - if I rated this on our first day, I would have to give it a "0" out of "5". Days 1-3 were really bad and drink service was pretty non-existent due to the large groups and understaffing. By day 4, it improved greatly and I would rate it a "4". We just didn't encounter the drink service of other resorts even the last couple of days, so we just ran to the pool bar ourselves, no problem.
3. The famous "towel game" - this was in full effect. Literally if you did not wake up while still dark out, you would not get anything in the shade. If you were not out at the pool by 8 am the first couple of days of our stay, you did not get a chair at all. On the third day of our visit the resort added literally dozens of brand new chairs and cushions to the pool area. This did solve the problem of some people having no chairs at all but there was still not enough shade. If they could possibly provide umbrellas around the pool, this might help the shade issue considerably when the resort is at high occupancy.
We did speak with Shirley, the PR Manager, once mid-week during our stay. She has been working at the Grand for 6 years and seemed genuinely interested in the opinions of the guests. She was very professional, kind, and receptive to our comments. She also made a point of coming out to say goodbye to us when she saw us sitting in the lobby waiting for our ride to the airport. It is people like Shirley (and Victor mentioned earlier) who make guests want to return over and over again.
Overall, in spite of a couple of cons (which I really think one would only encounter during very high occupancy), the Grand is a very special place and has many amenities to offer that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else!