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“Gran Bahia Not So Grand After All”

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Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica
Ranked #6 of 14 Hotels in Runaway Bay
Bay Area
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Gran Bahia Not So Grand After All”
Reviewed June 18, 2008

The hotel is architecturally stunning and the grounds feel like paradise, but the buck stops there. We experienced service that was downright flippant, patronizing, and just plain rude. When we spoke to other travelers, they were having the same experience. We learned from others experience that Negril has much smaller resorts, which aren't nearly as ostentatious, offering personalized service and the ability to connect more with the Jamaican culture.

We are two twenty-something friends seeking a getaway in a tropical location, and chose the Gran Bahia because of it's size, beauty, price, and amenities. It never occurred to me that service should have been on the list of qualifiers.

My friend booked our stay through Costco, which offers this trip at $550 per person for 5 days and 4 nights. This was supposed to include all tips and gratuities, the 'Gold Club', 4 ala carte dinners, a kayaking adventure, and fruit basket/bottle of Jamaican rum upon arrival.

When I arrived, I felt nothing but pure bliss. It was only 7 am, but the sun was shinning bright, the resort was immaculate, well manicured, and magnificent. I should have known something was up when I saw a guy yelling at a manager offering to pay him $20,000 US dollars if he fired some girl that he claimed was exceedingly nasty to him. While he appeared to be the idiot in the way he was handling the situation... I understood his frustration later.

Our room wasn't ready until 2 pm, which was fine, but no fruit basket anywhere to be found. Ok, that's fine as well. We went down to the pool and were told we needed towel cards for a towel, which were in the room. Back to the room, no towel cards. We came back down, and the girl tossed towels our way and told us to bring back the towel each day for a new one. No towel, no replacement.

Next stop, the pool bar. The drinks come in 4 ounce dixie cups and unless you tip the bartender repeatedly, you're not going to get more than 1 shot of alcohol. They don't have blenders, just slurpee machines with strawberry or pina colada mix. No fresh fruit either. A lot of people that seemed to know how this all inclusive thing works, bought a thermos or a larger plastic cup (think 7-eleven) and had the bartender fill it. I watched this happen once. The bartender only put one shot in a 30 oz cup until the guy gave her a sizable tip. Oh, and no beer unless Red Stripe on tap tickles your taste buds. If you want anything other than rum in your drink, you'll have to pay for it.

Internet was $12.00 per day, and that's only because I was in the 'Gold' Club. Otherwise, it would have been approximately $19.00 per day. You need your room number to get that hooked up, and they will attach it to your checkout bill.

After the getting the towels, hitting the pool, and getting the Internet activated, we decided to figure out our dinner reservations, which was a fiasco. We dialed reception on our hotel phone and asked about reservations, and they told us to hang up and call the Gold Club. The Gold Club told us we had reservations and were given them when we checked in (no one explained anything to us, they just handed us a stack of papers). We only had reservations for 3 of the nights and we were told we could decide where we wanted to eat when we arrived. So, we went to the Gold Club to inquire. Boy was that a mistake. I politely asked about the dinners and asked why we didn't have reservations for our night of arrival. The lady replied that we only get 3 dinners with our package. I told her I was confused, and had read in the ad that I had with me (from Costco) that I'd get 4 dinners with the special. She kept saying that was per week, and I told her I wanted to get the ad out. She then said, “Miss, how many days are in a week?” I told her there was no reason for her to be patronizing and promptly left.

The buffet was ok. I say ok because there were plenty of options, but the health standards were dicey at best. I had indigestion for several days of my stay. The good news is, the water tastes good and the word is that it's fine to drink. After the 3rd or 4th day, the buffet may wear on you (it's the only option really unless you're eating at a dinner at a reserved restaurant). The Japanese place was definitely the best from our experience.

One night, we were ravenous and eagerly awaiting room service. There are no more than 5 items on the menu, and that's all you can order. On the menu? Salad, Ham Sandwich, Cheese Pizza, and Corn Dog with Fries. Oh, and a dessert plate. The two cheese pizzas we ordered took 2 hours to arrive. We talked to another couple that had waited 3 hours the night before.

Back to Orchid (the buffet) the next morning... my friend draped her blue pool towel on a dining room chair while serving herself on the buffet line. When we got back to the table, the towel was gone. No biggie, we'd just ask for another one. No dice. The towel girl told my friend she couldn't have a towel as she'd lost it. I then returned and explained the situation of how the towel had been lost, and she just keep babbling about her boss and policy, etc. We were told that we couldn't have a towel unless we paid $25 for another one. Next, I asked to speak to a manager. Nothing came of that. she wouldn't call one. She told me to go to the 'Golden Club' if I wanted to complain.

If the towel fiasco happens to you, just grab one of the many laying on chairs that people have forgotten about and exchange it for a new one.

So, what was good?

* The grounds
* Pool
* Pool bar
* Facilities
* Reservations restaurants
* The room

Going to Ochos Rios

If you're adventurous, I'd recommend walking up to the road to grab a taxi. The resort quoted us $80 US to get from the resort to Ochos Rios. When we got up to the road, there was a guy whose car had broken down. He was kind enough to tell me that a cab from where we were standing to Ochos Rios would cost him $50-100 Jamaican dollars. That's approximately 80 cents to a dollar and a half US. Registered, legal taxi's have red license plates that start with PP.

What I learned?

Tip well
Be safe
Ask questions
Never return to the Gran Bahia Jamaica

  • Liked — The grounds
  • Disliked — The service
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank chelc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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hertfordshire england
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed June 18, 2008

Absolutely loved jamaica and the hotel is amazing looking and very grand but it was a right shame that it was let down by the unhelpful lazy staff who were very un organised and everything was no problem even though it obviously was, like the first night me and my boyfriend got there, our door wouldnt lock and it took three hours for the maintence man to get to us and sort it out, he couldnt fix the problem so we had to move rooms at 2 o'clock in the morning to a dissabled room with no jacuzzi bath, the next day we got moved again so in the end we had moved to three rooms, then due to confussion our passports and tickets went missing we told our rep he didnt care, he just said that we would have to go to drive to the british embassy some day and to drink some rum, no one new what to do and they didnt really see the urgency and said No problem. It took 4 days for the passports and tickets to turn up, what a great start, to our holiday there wasnt even any apology. If your looking for a stress free holiday go to jamaica but dont stay at the Gran Bahia. The hotel looks the part but really isnt up to a 5 star level on customer service and care.

It is also over run with spanish who have priority over the restaurants rule the pool and there is nothing but eurotrash BOOMING out of the speakers and some annoying spanish guy talking on his megaphone, so we spent most of our time at the beach which had some great steel drums playing and had a more laid back jamaica feel.

  • Liked — the view, and beach and free booze
  • Disliked — the service, on all levels from the lifeguards to the people on front desk, tipping for everything in a 5 star resort
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank wratty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
london
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed June 18, 2008

Well would like to start by saying yes very nice clean hotel rooms lovely and most of the staff fantastic.

But I did not travel for 9 hours to feel as if i was in spain the hotel is spanish owned and everything is written in english and spanish, there is very little jamican food or jamaican feel to the hotel, the entertainment is almost none existent.

I was hoping for beach parties and reggae and calypso music around the pool but there was none, most of the entertainment staff for adults and children were spanish with english being there 2nd language and they did little to get people involved (unless you were spanish)

I took my little boy to the childrens club only to find it empty with a women there who could barely understand what I was saying, I was under the impression Jamaica was an english speaking country, I would expect this is if I had gone to Spain.....

They have one Jamaica night in the buffet and no Jamaica restuarant.

Book your dinner reservations as soon as you arrive and practise your spanish incase you get the lady who speaks little english.

I found all of the maids and bar staff very friendly and helpful and I am not a big tipper I did not find it necessary a smile goes a long way.

  • Liked — quality of rooms
  • Disliked — no real feeling of Jamaica
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank youngmiss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed June 18, 2008

This resort has the most apathetic reservations and sales department, and the poorest customer service that I have ever dealt with.

I have had an URGENT situation, due to a flight delay, that I have been trying to clear up with them for 48 hours, with approximately $500 in penalties at stake. I was trying to move the start date (not cancel) my honeymoon, back by 3 days.

Despite the fact tahat:
(1)they had availability those 3 days (i.e. would not have sold the rooms those nights anyway,
(2)We did not shorten our stay from 5 nights
hey INSISTED upon charging my wife and I for an extra 2 days in "CANCELLATION PENALTY", even after both the booking website and I personally pleaded our case.

I have emailed...I have called..I have talked to reservations..I have talked to sales...I have called their corporate headquarters...I have had my travel website do all of the same...only to get told in the end that they are going to charge me $500 extra in penalties due to moving my start date of my HONEYMOON back by 3 days due to flight delays. (Air Jamaica doesn't fly Tuesday or Wednesdays from Chicago)

I guess you are left to assume that ANY FLIGHT DELAY CAUSING YOU TO MISS NIGHTS WILL CAUSE YOU TO BE CHARGED FOR THOSE NIGHTS...IRREGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCE!!!

DOES THAT SOUND LIKE 5 STAR SERVICE????????

This is who Gran Bahia Principe is worse than; my Crappy Customer Disservice Hall of Fame

(1) The DMV-Crappy customer service I have gotten from the DMV,
(2) The garbled attempts at telephone customer service from India
(3) Sprint when they overcharge your account by $100's of dollars, etc.due to their shady policies and pretend like it is your fault.
GRAN BAHIA PRINCIPE IS THE WORST, RUDEST, LAZIEST of all of these examples of CUSTOMER DISSERVICE!!!!

Stayed June 2008
Helpful?
2 Thank wmann
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed June 18, 2008

My mom decided it was time for us to take a trip to Jamaica together and blow money on an ostentatious resort, jam-packed with uncultured tourists, bacon and eggs for breakfast, lame shows and shrieky cabaret singers.

Well, that's pretty much what we got - okay, so the resort was beautiful, the weather was warm and this one lifeguard was FOXY. But the fact of the matter is, being of Jamaican decent, I really didn't appreciate the fact that nothing on that bloody resort was Jamaican! Albeit, they did play One Love and the Banana Boat Song (Come Mr Tally Man...).

Another thing - the tourists! I absolutely ABHORRED how they would a) braid their hair - your hair is TOO THIN to be put in cornrows - b) Put on some dumb fake Jamaican accent - I had to listen to this tool say "Ya mon" on my tour bus for 3 whole hours - and c) patronize the staff (cause they're black, you see?)
Yes, all of the aforementioned is not necessarily unique to the Gran Bahia Principe, but still!

In addition to that - the food. The food wasn't bad, but seeing as I am vegan I didn't really get as much variety as everyone else - which was to be expected. Anyway...One thing I did notice, however, there was barely any Jamaican food, and if there was, no one was taking it. FOR SHAME.

Oh man, and the show -- the cabaret singer was killing me. KILLING ME. I have never heard "My Heart Will Go On" sung so poorly. I just thank God everyday that I did not have to hear her sing "Loving You" by Minnie Ripperton!

All in all, it was decent. It would have been way better if it wasn't so Americanized. And if the tourists weren't so ignorant. Oh, and if that creepy dude cleaning the rooms hadn't cornered me into an elevator, shamelessly hitting on me. He cleaned my room, too! UGH.

Oh and the spa was good - the massage was very relaxing...but the lady who waxed my eyebrows made them too thin...yeah.
The best thing about the resort, was the lifeguard (omg) and the fact that I told the bar tender I was 17 and he gave me extra rum in my Pina colada. Alright!
Overall, it was a decent stay. I had fun. I guess.

  • Liked — The lifeguard
  • Disliked — The lack of culture
  • Stayed March 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank KissxMexDeadly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed June 16, 2008

My Husband and I stayed at this resort during May 3-May 10, 2008. Upon arrival we thought the resort was absolutely breath taking no doubt about it. Check in was quick as it was late at night.

Our room was very nice, and very clean. We were on the third floor. We made sure we tipped the Maid everyday and she definetly took care of during our stay.

On the second night of our trip we were made aware of 6 robberies that took place on the resort. 6 Different families were robbed in the middle of the night while they were sleeping, most of them stayed on the first floor. A lot of rooms the dead bolts did not work on the door. The lock on our Sliding Patio did not work either. We were putting furniture behind our doors at night before going to bed as means of security.

We were paranoid throughout our trip always double checking our room to ensure everything was locked nothing was left out. We found it strange that house keeping took so long to clean the rooms in fact some days they were cleaning until the evening and the worst part was the doors were left wide open. This definetly must be an inside job. One of the guests that was on our bus was robbed. Once she had discovered she was robbed she had immediately gone to reception to notify them and requested to see check-in & Check out times, and noticed that times listed were times she was out of her room. There were no break-in's, Card were used to open the doors.

The food was terrible!!! Everything was cold, blan and flavourless. The worst part was that we noticed a lot of the food was re-used. Whatever was left over from Breakfast was served for lunch, and left overs from lunch was served for dinner. We even noticed cooks were transferring left over foods from restuarant to restaurant.

We were only able to book 3 A La Carte Restaurants: Fishermen's Place...terrible!!!! (Some guests walked right out after receiving their meal) Mikado was not bad, and Don Pablo's was excellent!

One word to summerize the service: S-L-O-W!!! No one wanted to work, yet everyone wanted tips. It seemed as though the waiters were bothered if we requested water. For the swim up Bars you pretty much had to serve yourself or you were waiting 15-20 minutes. A lot of guests brought Thermos to avoid waiting at the bar. Besides the workers being rude, the Play Makers & Entertainers made it enjoyable.

The weather was fantastic!!! Windy but extremely hot, considering it was off season. The weather was Hot, hot, hot!!! Beach sucked! Man made beach, more rocks then sand.

We will never recommend this resort to any family nor friends.

  • Liked — The Hotel
  • Disliked — Not Safe, Rude Staff, Terrible Food!!!
  • Stayed May 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank RedRocketToronto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
bangor co down
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed June 14, 2008

Whoever was saying that this Hotel was rubbish is talking alot of nonense,we stayed at this Hotel from the 26/05/08 until 09/06/08 and i must say this hotel was fanastic the staff were excellent.The entertainment staff are a great bunch of people they go out of there way to help everybody enjoy there stay (pino and amanda were great).The food at this hotel was great, the buffet meals had plenty of great variety and the waiters were very good.We had a great meal at the Garden Grill which we recommend to everybody.The pool bars were excellent(make sure you bring your own insulated cup or mug as the cups they give you are very small).We are differently going back to this hotel next year as we had a great time so please donot listen to the negative reports coming back from this hotel it is nonense.

  • Liked — food was excellent very nice hotel staff
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed May 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
6 Thank bfp13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica

Property: Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica
Address: | Salt Coopers, Runaway Bay, Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint Ann Parish > Runaway Bay
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#4 Romantic Hotel in Runaway Bay
#5 Family Hotel in Runaway Bay
#5 Spa Hotel in Runaway Bay
#6 On the Beach Hotel in Runaway Bay
#6 Top resorts Hotel in Runaway Bay
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica 3.5*
Number of rooms: 848
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Facilities and services 3 lake-style connecting pools with 2 areas for children 3 Jacuzzis Large sun terrace with gardens, sun umbrellas and loungers BAHIA SPA (additional charge) Sports facilities: gym, 2 tennis courts, volleyball court, football pitch Water activity centre Pool and beach towel service WiFi access in the lobby (24h per day free of charge) and in rooms (additional charge) Wedding gazebo 2 buffet-style main restaurants and 5 speciality restaurants 4 Bars Snack bar Entertainment amphitheatre Meeting and convention room The 18 hole Breezes Runaway golf course is just 5 minutes from the hotel. Pueblo Principe: local craft stores, live music, shows, sports bar and disco Rooms 848 rooms including 4 types: Superior Junior Suite, Sea View Junior Suite, Club Golden and Club Hacienda Room facilities: King size bed or two full size beds Pillowtop mattresses Fully-equipped bathroom with separate shower and hydromassage bath tub, wash basin, magnifying mirror and hair dryer Bathroom amenities Air conditioning Ventilador de techo Sitting area with sofa Balcony or terrace Telephone Radio alarm clock Satellite TV Coffee-making facilities Mini-bar Safe (additional charge) Ironing set WiFi (additional charge) Club Golden and Club Hacienda Junior Suites Children Bahia Scouts Children (aged 4 to 12) will have the time of their lives with these facilities: Children's pool Special shows and activities Entertainment team Mini Club (4 - 12 years) Other services 24 hour medical service (additional charge) Pharmacy (additional charge) Specialised service for organising weddings, incentive trips, events and anniversaries Nudist area on the beach Bahia 'au Naturel' (over 18s only) The hotel has a nudist bathing area apart from the other areas ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Bahia Principe Jamaica
Gran Bahia Jamaica
Gran Bahia Principe Jamaica Hotel
Grand Bahia Jamaica
Bahia Jamaica
Gran Bahia Principe Runaway Bay Jamaica
Gran Bahia Principe Jamaica Resort
Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica Runaway Bay

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