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 bar
* 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?
Never return to the Gran Bahia Jamaica
- 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