My sweetheart and I stayed at the Grand Bahia Principe the week of November 1-8. After reading some of the reviews on this site I wasn’t sure what we’d find, so we adjusted our expectations accordingly. I was pleasantly surprised and overall we had a good experience.
First of all, I promised a big shout-out to Lance with Jamaica Tours Ltd., who met us shortly after we got off the plane and made sure we found our way to our bus transport. Also the JTL folks at the hotel, Valgene and Charmaine, were super in helping us book our excursions. Thank you all!
Once we boarded the bus which would take us to our hotel, we immediately realized we were on “island time.” This was no big deal to us because we were on vacation, and it is more productive for the bus drivers to transport a bus with more people versus less. We only waited for maybe 30 minutes before we were on the way to the hotel.
Check-in at the hotel went smoothly. The front desk folks were pleasant and efficient, and we were shown to our room right away. Our experiences with the staff were all very positive. I got the feeling they were trying to be unobtrusive (not aloof or uncaring). I made a point of making eye contact, saying hello and using their names when I encountered anyone, and when I did this everyone was very nice and made sure we were happy. Perhaps it’s the Texan in me, but “please” and “thank you” seem to go a long way. Even though this is an all-inclusive resort, we chose to tip on occasion because the average Jamaican worker only earns about $200 a week (USD).
Our room was ready when we arrived, and we found it clean and in very good condition. Our room was cleaned daily and the “towel art” was a nice touch. We did get clean towels daily, although sometimes not first thing in the morning which was fine with us. We didn’t go to Jamaica to sit in the room until the towel person arrived! (We also had no problems getting towels from the towel shack by the pool, by the way.) What I’d read in the reviews about no washcloths proved to be true – I got the impression this is not an article the Jamaicans use the say way as Americans. Again, no big deal as in preparation for our trip I’d packed our own bundle of cheap washcloths I’d picked up at the discount store before we’d left home.
Perhaps in response to others’ reviews, the timeshare people are confined to a relatively small corner past the front desk. They did speak to us when we would walk by, but a simple “No, thank you” did the trick. No one was pushy or obnoxious. At no time in the hotel, by the pool or on the beach did anyone approach us trying to sell stuff either.
We ate at the buffet daily. The food was very good, a different theme each day, great selection. I overheard a couple people complain it was not hot enough for them – but I also heard others say it was too hot, proving once again you can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time. For us it was just right, neither cold nor scalding.
We also enjoyed the jerk chicken at the Beach Hut, which is quite a walk away from the main part of the hotel but definitely worth it. Also I’d encourage anyone to try the local Red Stripe beer, the Jamaican rum piña coladas … and of course the Jamaican coffee, which was heavenly!
The only other restaurant we enjoyed while on property was the Garden Grille. The food and service were excellent. There does however seem to be a bit of a disconnect between the folks in the lobby who make the dinner reservations and the folks at the actual restaurants themselves. We were told at check-in to book our reservations immediately because they try to schedule around weddings and other events, and sometimes the restaurants are full. When we went to make our reservations however we were initially told everything was already all booked up. We finally did manage to secure two reservations at the Grille. When we showed up the first time, at our reservation time of 6:00, the hostess said they didn’t open until 6:30 except for the bridal party they were hosting, which we could see took up maybe ¼ of the restaurant. Again because of the walk to get there, we sat outside and waited until 6:30 and then enjoyed our dinner. The second time we’d secured a reservation for 9:00 – which was late for us, but we were told it was the only time available. Our energy was flagging by the time we returned from that day’s excursions so we wandered over there early and, even though we could see the place was virtually empty, we were asked to wait until 9:00 (which we did, and the food was great). Both times the hostess seemed a little frustrated but we realized she was just doing as she’d been told so we did not make a big deal of it. But again, there seems to be some sort of disconnect between the reservation-makers in the hotel and what’s actually going on in the restaurant.
We visited both the pool and the beach and found both to be sparkling clean and well kept.
The other reviews are accurate in saying there is a LOT of walking at this hotel, and lots of stairs as well. It is also not particularly handicapped-accessible (but again, expectations: the ADA is an American regulation). For that reason we would not stay here again, as my sweetie is a disabled veteran who fortunately is able to walk and climb stairs, however to do so causes him much pain. And it seemed like everywhere we needed to go was quite a hike!
Just an aside here as well, as both my sweetie and I have traveled extensively: the Grand Bahia Principe is a 4- or 5-star resort – in a developing country. We were not expecting Paris or Las Vegas, and I think having realistic expectations is part of what made our stay enjoyable. Overall we were very pleased with the resort and its people.
- 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