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Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica
Ranked #6 of 14 Hotels in Runaway Bay
Reviewed March 17, 2007

As guests under the all-inclusive Golden package, our arrival in Montego Bay got off to a good start with a small bus that travelled to our hotel only (with a brief restroom stop and a chance to try jerk chicken - recommended if you like spicy food). Our Transat rep gave us our welcome package on the way, and the keys to our room were handed to us upon arrival, eliminating a formal check-in. Although the resort is large, its U-shape makes it seem self-contained. The room was large and attractive with a 4-poster bed and a TV with lots of choices (BBC, Spanish, Jamaican and American channels). Our view was of the ocean and the enormous pool. With our golden status, it was not necessary to produce towel cards. We also had access to unlimited internet and newspapers in the Golden Room. The Transat agents gave a helpful talk on our first day.

FOOD: The Orchid Restaurant served a buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a good variety including lots of made-to-order dishes, roasts, pastas, salads, fruits and desserts. There was something for everyone. The 4 a-la-carte restaurants were all good, with degrees of service ranging from inexperienced to superb. The pleasant personality of the servers more than made up for occasional deficiencies. A tip of the hat must go to the Food and Beverages Manager, Mr. Juan Andre del Rio, who has made tremendous progress in the short time he has wored there, and whose genuine concern and attention were much appreciated by our party of eight. The Piscis lunch buffet available on the beach offers hamburgers, hotdogs and other dishes. Kudos to that bartender who introduced me to the Nutty Jamaican (Rum cream and Amaretto). There is also a small burger place open all night long.

BARS: The bars were indeed everywhere. Even on the beaches, servers were at hand. Generous tipping (in U.S. $) these hard-working employees was well worth it in terms of service and assistance rendered throughout our week. Bring lots of $1 and $5 bills as U.S. change can be difficult to get. We found the house white wine acceptable, but the red wine was not great. There is a great variety of drinks and liquors available. Nightly cocktails on the outdoor patio of the lobby bar were accompanied by musicians.

ACTIVITIES: The resort is very clean and very secure. Minor repairs and improvements were noted daily. The tennis courts are now open. Snorkeling equipment is available for free (with a refundable deposit). The rocky beach is good for this purpose. Water shoes can be purchased in the hotel store for $11.39 U.S. Generally, I found the prices in all their stores for souvenirs and clothes are not out-of-line. The sandy beach is nice but remains shallow a long way out. Golf at the Breezes Resort was a 5-minute $20 round-trip drop-off and pick-up taxi ride (no tee times necessary, reasonably-priced equipment rentals, caddie mandatory).

TOUR: Ocho Rios is about 30 minutes away. Dunn's River Falls requires an hour of hand-holding climbing, not recommended for people with bad backs or bad knees. Bailouts are available at different stages (a blessing for us!). Tipping the guide, buying water, pictures, videos, CD's, and wooden artifacts add quickly to the cost. (Beware - you will be asked if you are carrying wood at customs - they will inspect your purchase for a burrowing bug - my article was okay).

The weather was perfect, the week relaxing and fun. The Gran Bahia Principe is definitely a place we will consider for future vacations.

  • Stayed: March 2007, traveled with friends
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19  Thank jamsm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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10,106 - 10,112 of 11,289 reviews

Reviewed March 15, 2007

I was very nervous about staying at this resort after reading all the negative reviews, but I must say that I had a great time. Yes, the hotel is still being worked on but you really do not notice this. The food was fantantic and the service wonderful! The one thing I was disappointed in was there was not very good snokelling. The small beach had some fish and you had to go out past the buoys to see bigger fish, but most of the time the water was too choppy to go out that far. I would suggest bringing water shoes to the beach which is a bit rocky and if you plan to go on the Dunn's Fall tour (which is a must) you will need a pair for this as well. (it cost $5.00 to rent a pair and don't forget to bring a water camera).

Please go and enjoy yourself you will not be disappointed.

  • Stayed: March 2007, traveled as a couple
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10  Thank snakeybird
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 13, 2007

Was very concerned about our February trip after seeing the reviews and even contacted our travel agent about the problems.
Were convinced to give it a try.
Nice resort, will be fabulous in the future but I'll never see it. Beach bars close at 6pm which I found annoying. Room service was hit or miss, especially when it came to getting milk (no cream) for our coffee in the morning - 5 mornings no milk, 1 morning they sent a full box of milk.
No jerk chicken or pork available at the resort! Very strange.
Book your dinner reservations immediately or you may not get into the nice restaurants.
Nothing to do at night except crowd around the lobby bar with everybody else and the lone bartender.
Went shopping in Ocho Rios - do not attempt it. Nasty experience. In fact you're better off not leaving the resort. The airport has just as many shops with competitive prices.
Found out from a bus driver that a major drug war is going on and 11 police officers have been killed since january 1st.
Was swindled by a charter boat captain who claimed that he had a 36' sportfisher at the excursion desk. When we got to the docks at 7am, it was an 18' center console. After arguing with 4 rastas for 10 minutes, my wife and I decided it was safer to get in the boat. Still trying to get my money back.
Will never go back to Jamaica.

  • Stayed: March 2007, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank 1slandguy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2007

This place is beautiful!

I went with my mom & my sister during the 3rd week of February and we just loved it!

When we arrived at the airport in Montego Bay we immediatly felt the humidity & could smell the ocean! We then got on a bus and travelled on VERY bumpy roads for about 1 1/2 hours... I'm sure the trip will be shorter when they finish the construction on the roads! We passed by about 4 resorts that you could see from the road and we werent impressed at all..... we were hoping our hotel would look a lot better than what we had been passing by..... THEN we pulled into our hotel entrance!!!!! We arrived at about midnight due to a delayed flight and WOW! When we saw our resort we just could not believe how beautiful it looked .... It looked like a castle! Big , beautiful and white! With the most gorgeous entrance! .... People on our bus were wishing they could get off too!.... We got off our bus.. and walked in...... we all just stopped and looked at eachother and went "wow!!!!" we knew that we were going to have a great time! ....

Check in was very easy ... Staff are sooo nice. Our room was beautiful!!! Only thing that was strange about our room was that the pillows are really really really really hard. ( I had read this before in a review before I left, but I thought...."how hard can they really be?" ! Trust me . They are rock hard! lol.... but it didnt really matter to me..... but I guess if you had back problems or something you may want to take that into consideration. ... Other than that the room was increadable!!!! Large, clean, nice sitting area inside, large patio with chairs and table..... bathrooms are large too! Also it was nice to have american power outlets, which also looked like they could be Euro outlets too by the way they were designed. Rooms were cleaned promptly which was really nice....

Resort was beautiful..... just beautiful!

Food was the best i have had so far at an all inclusive resort. It was over the top. I had lobster almost every night.
Drinks were great! *Bring your own insulated mug* lots of people did this and we really wished we did, your drinks melt sooo fast!
Swim up bar is great...

I was really hesitant to choose this resort because at the time of us booking it actually had bad reviews..... about construction and noise and all kinds of things, but I am soooooo glad that we chose this resort!!! we had a fabulous time! If your hesitating a little bit, DONT its great! You will have a great time!

We did go to the Dunn River Falls and it was fabulous! It is only 15-20 min away from the Gran Bahia.... It is really fun to hike up the falls..... I will tell you this though..... If you go on the hike up the falls they will presure you to leave your camera with family or in a safe place and say that you shouldnt bring it with you ..... "it will get wet" they will say. BUT DONT LISTEN. take your camera with you. If you do, the guide will put it around his neck and it wont get wet. They say this so that they can sell you pictures. Its a money maker for them, also dont buy the videos they trick you and take your money. They pretend to video tape you and then sell you a bunk dvd. we knew people that this happend too. DONT BUY THE DVD!!!! If you let the guide carry your camera on his neck you will end up with some beautiful photo's.... or if your worried just get a waterproof camera. Trust me... if you do the falls you will want pictures... its soooo beautiful!!!!! I want to take my husband back there because couples looked like they were having soooo much fun! Its very romantic! lots of couples were getting some really cute pictures kissing under the falls! sooo cute!

YOU WILL HAVE A GREAT TIME!! I will for sure be visiting the Gran Bahia Principe again...... I loved it!


  • Stayed: March 2007, traveled with family
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28  Thank AlbertaSungirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 8, 2007

Overall, before I go into details, we had a good vacation. We heard stories from other people during our trip that were bad, but we had an overall good experience.

The bus ride out from the airport is long, but the bus has air conditioning and the driver was pleasant. We stopped at a rest stop and could buy ice cream, chips and soda. The 20 mile drive takes an hour and a half because of the construction of the roads. Much of the trip was on the side of the road.

We signed up for the gold package which turned out to be an absolute waste of money. We had stayed in other sites where gold members had exclusive rights to a private part of the club. The web site said that we would have access to an exclusive area. We quickly learned that that exclusive area was only the one room where you check in. We were very surprised to realize that was one of the only "perks" to gold. The rest of the folks get everything the gold folks get. Gold members get room service, which we didn't use. Gold folks get slippers (only one pair). Gold folks get towels in their rooms, which we didnt get due to a screwup. Unless you want a guarantee you'll be on the highest floor, don't sign up for gold.

As far as the hotel itself, it's beautiful but not yet finished. They're making progress every day, but as a result, there's lots of construction going on, especially by the beach. To be honest, the construction didn't bother us.

There are two beaches. One is unusable. The other is quite nice. It has a long sandbar and our children, 7 and 4, were comfortable swimming in it. The only problem with that beach was that it's a pretty long walk to get to. There's no towel service on the beach so you have to lug your towels out there and back. Again, we have small children so the walk is a pain in rear. Also, the closest drink service is the snack bar which is a long walk. They do have waitress service on the beach but it takes a long time to get a drink if you use the waitress. Nevertheless, we really liked the beach and spent every day on it.

Regardless of how many pools their web site say they have, they have only one. It's a nice pool and it is the center of the complex. It is four feet deep throughout and has a pool bar. Getting a lounge chair under an umbrella was tough. I had to be out by 8am at the latest to reserve a chair. Most people reserve a chair and go on to the beach or all-day excursions. I should note that getting a chair on the beach was much less difficult, probably because it's such a long walk.

As far as the staff is concerned, they were very nice, with the one exception of the pool bar. The staff there seemed more interested in serving the 20 and 30 year olds and left us 40 and 50 year olds to wait. I brought money to tip but found that tipping didn't really help. I should also say that for the entire week, the blender at the pool was broken, so they could only make pina coladas and strawberry daqouris. But, like I said, the rest of the staff was very nice. They went out of their way to serve us, and really seemed to enjoy working there. We've been to other islands where this wasn't the case.

We thought the food was very good. In fact, we thought the buffet was excellent. We attended the other restaurants and weren't as impressed. The Japanese restaurant wasn't as good as the one's we frequent in New York (we live in a New York suburb). The other two restaurants we ate at were good, but they had nothing on the menu for the children. We asked the waiter to bring pasta from the buffet for the children. They were very happy to do this. But, like I said, we really enjoyed the buffet. It was good for all meals. We did eat at the snack bar by the beach for lunch which was ok. Earlier in the week, the snack bar was buggy but it improved later in the week.

I can't speak too much about the nightlife as we have two young children. The two shows we attended were fun, although the kids got scared at the fire show. One show was very funny as women were asked to collect men's clothing from the audience. Many men were stripped down to their underwear. It was a lot of fun.

Our kids did not want to attend the kids club earlier in the week but attended it a few times in the last few days of our trip. My kids said the counselors were nice, but didn't really play with them. The kids club is still being completed and I think when it's done, it will be very nice.

I think I can say that about the entire hotel. When it is finished it will be outstanding. Nevertheless, we had a really good time and would recommend it to others. No place is perfect, and this hotel is no exception.

  • Stayed: March 2007, traveled with family
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32  Thank Bigfoot11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 6, 2007

We booked a week here for February 17th to 24th with the understanding that the Seafood Restaurant and the Spa were not ready yet. No problem, I thought, I can live with that. I then read the reviews on this site and they were "right on" regarding all the issues/problems. I then tried to cancel my trip and book another hotel but was not allowed by Air Transat Vacations. This hotel is no where near being a 5 Star Resort, it is barely a 3 Star!
There is construction noise all day long at both beaches and pool area. Relaxing? NOT. Had to resort to listening to earphones to block it out, not always successful. I paid for nice, relaxing holiday and wanted the sounds of the ocean, etc., didn't get it.

Resort is not equipped to handle the amount of guests they have now and the Resort is not fully opened yet! The bars and restaurants could not deal with the amount of people. What will they do when all rooms are occupied! The bars even ran out of high request/commonly used items and could not cope with more than a couple of orders at a time.

Junior Suite Room in Building 14 was nicely appointed but maid service was hit and miss and not well done. We are very neat people so there was not much to do so that was no excuse. Rooms have large amounts of mosquitoes (spelling?) and "no see them" biting bugs, had to sleep with blankets over your head. The mosquitoes were literally fighting each other to get to me. Dead bugs we killed on walls or anywhere were not cleaned up or floor swept/washed under any furniture. When I mentioned to staff about the large number of bugs I was told to let them know when I would be out of the room and they would chemically bomb the room -- no thanks! Great for your lungs, not.

Beach areas well below average, need a lot of work as well as the "swimming areas" too.

Wait staff competency is well below standard too, still needs a lot of work. Well below 5 Star or 3 Star.

Grill Restaurant was terrible for dinner -- stone cold food, sent back twice and attitude was no one could care less. Ending up with no dinner that night. Japanese Restaurant is good, cooking staff needs work on what should be an entertaining experience. All he could come up with was "Jamaica, No Problem" several times and asking everyone is it your first time in Jamaica and no matter what the answer his reply was "Jamaica, No Problem". Then using his fingers on the grill helping himself to the food cooking, putting it in his mouth and did not wash his hands. Gourmet Restaurant was by far the best for food selection, quality and presentation -- most of the main staff did a wonderful job, I was impressed here.

The front desk staff need a real shake up with Customer Service lessons and what Customer Service means. There could be up to 10 staff at the desk but you are hard pressed to get help until they decide they will now serve or help you -- whose holiday is this? Keep in mind I am not demanding, mostly just needed information and it was the same experience day or night.

Rooms also need to have a book with services available, hours of restaurants, etc., in them. This would also lessen visits to the front desk.

Many, many other annoyances but I just kept in mind that I was on holiday and needed to let a lot go. Not to be a broken record but at a real 5 Star Resort I wouldn't even have had to think this way.

Bottom line -- be prepared for many, many issues if you go. If they keep working on it and find ways for betterment or seek out comments from guests after their vacation it will be very good in a couple of years -- at least.

  • Stayed: March 2007, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank KimDavid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 4, 2007

Just returned from the GBP in Jamaica on March 3rd. Had a fantastic time. Food was excellent, resort is beautiful and service was good.
All in all a great time with wonderful people. Highly recommend this to anyone!

  • Stayed: March 2007, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank MissBahia
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

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: $155 - $405 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica 3.5*
Number of rooms: 850
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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