We had a 4 day/5 night package booked through Air Miles. (Side note: I thought it was funny the resort had never heard of Air Miles when they interviewed us for their 'contest' (marketing giveaway left in our room to get our email/feedback) but the majority of guests were European.)
The forecast showed rain each day with 10-60% chance so we got worried as we were traveling but as guests and the hotel staff assured us there is rain each day but mostly just a quick shower in the afternoon. For how hot the weather was we welcomed the sprinkles...
Montego Bay airport customs was a nightmare...2 hours in non-AC room with hundreds of other travelers. Maybe book to arrive NOT on a Saturday? Once we got outside we had a refreshing Red Stripe @ Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville bar and only waited 10 minutes for our transfer. We had a private van with quite the driver...Coke! He stopped for us along the way (1 hr drive?) to get beer and took a cut from the bartender for himself. I guess that's the way...
Check-in was OK...thick accents and quick, rambling speeches by staff who are bored repeating so we only caught half of what Patrick said. Don't be shy to ask questions. We could have upgraded to Don Pablo section for $500 ($25/day/person) but as the room quality/amenities were no different and it was just services (private pool/lounging areas, butler etc) we declined. Might have been worth it to a couple, not a family.
Our room was great from the start...ocean view as promised, 2 doubles and clean. Chambermaid was prompt every day and did a great job only missing washcloths 1 day. I think tipping and kind words go a long way with this staff. The safe is $6/day but worth it and the fridge is just a glorified cooler so pop/water/beer are only kind of cold. Could never get more than a couple beer/day but that's OK b/c you can get as much as you want everywhere else.
Grounds are massive so be prepared to walk. They are well maintained by landscaping. The only functional issues we encountered were backed up pool toilets (near towel hut) from overuse and some off-season repairs being done of chiseled marble tile. Annoying sound but it's got to be done sometime...and the hotel was very good about safety.
The Orchid buffet was the only open for breakfast as the hotel's volume was down b/c it's offseason. It was clean and well stocked and the staff seating you and servicing you no matter what area were great. No we did not get our napkins laid on our laps like the Don Pablo/Gold/Platinum club wristband folks did but who wants that anyhow for breakfast!? Ralston was my favourite server...he seemed to be a Supervisor and always greeted us with a smile each morning! The native food offerings as well as typical Western breakfast foods were great and there is a vegetarian section and a kids section to the buffet. I loved my daily Mimosa and there was a smoothie bar too. The only bummer was the long line @ the omelette station but that can be avoided if you go early.
Lunches we had either on the patio outside Orchid or at the Snack Bar near the beach (once we found it!) for Jerk chicken and BBQ. Great steel band played one day and despite the roaming crows and kitties looking for scraps it served well for lunch. Great view of the beach for lunchtime!
We had a buffet dinner the 1st night (we tried curried goat, jerk chicken, salt fish and yummy callilou), then tried Dolce Vita (Italian), Mikado (Japanese with teppanyaki table service) and finally Garden Grille (steak). All service at the dinners were very good. Praise to Garden Grille for a relaxing atmosphere. Praise to Dolce Vita for great antipasto buffet and welcome drinks. Praise to Mikado for humourous staff. Garfield our chef needs some work with this performance so don't expect flames or flying food as in other teppanyaki places but his server Gavin was fabulous as was the fried ice cream.
The 3 interconnecting pools were reasonably clean for how many bodies used them slathered in sunscreen. (Unfortunately I only found 1 outdoor shower that worked all week or else I would have rinsed prior to swimming...) The towel hut opened promptly @ 8AM and don't forget to ask for a card or a replacement towel as their system was one of the things @ check-in that was explained too quickly. There is a kiddie pool nearest the lobby/spa which then turns into the adult party pool with bar nearest Garden Grille/towel hut and then at the far end is another quieter section with jet spas inset and even further the 'private' Don Pablo pool. We swam in there all week without incident.
The sports beach that is most central and closest to the gazebo and piers is shells so do take sandals or water socks. We didn't do paddle boats, kayaking, jetting this time...
The nicer, larger beach beyond Building 118 and nearest the snack hut is FABULOUS for swimming, lounging, snorkeling, walking. We didn't find it until end of Day 2 and wished we had used it more. There are vendors in the water but you can easily ignore them and the clear water and soft sand provide for hours of fun! Bring your own gear so there is no time limit.
The evening entertainment at the outside lobby bar was great...piano, R&B/reggae, funk bands and we enjoyed that after dinner each night before retiring with our kiddos. We would have liked to see the International Show as the players came around to entice us but it didn't start until 9:45PM. Might they consider a 9PM start so families can enjoy? There was however kids shows earlier at the outdoor stage in the marketplace. We liked that we could get a drink at that bar and shop while sipping. Great idea!
Photographer with tropical birds takes pretty good photos and the cost to get a CD was reasonable to get that memory. We really enjoyed our stay and experience, even without seeing Jamaica off property. Next time...
- 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 (1h per day free of charge) and in rooms (additional charge) Wedding gazebo 2 buffet-style main restaurants and 5 speciality restaurants 8 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 850 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