The village of Grand Case is an unpaved half mile strip that faces the ocean. The buildings on both sides are colorful carribean colonials in need of paint jobs, and the experience of walking down the street is a little like navigating a red light district. The main strip is a collection of restaurants, t-shirt shops, and island craft boutiques set in Creole cottages that evoke a run-down version of NOLA's Bywater district, while the perpendicular streets jutting out from the main road are like little shanti towns where, driving in past the scowls and destitute poverty, you hope that it doesn't turn into that scene in Gandhi where the natives realize they outnumber their colonial oppressors a thousand fold.
Along the strip is a small pedestrian bridge and the rivulet beneath it is used as the village's semi-regular garbage dump. Charming. Most nights of the week the streets are filled with a hodgepodge of American and European tourists walking past barking, menu-waving maitre'd's. As you browse the restaurant menus you'll see every single place serves their own variation on the exact same meaty quartet - duck confit, chicken breast, flank steak, and roast lamb because, you'll find out, they all use the same single distributor of imported French food. Vegetarians should be prepared for a week of steamed vegetables with butter or brie in philo, though the desserts and booze selection are outstanding. There is a great beach bar in Grand Case and four massive outstanding open-air barbeque joints doing grilled chicken and ribs with decent dry rub.
At the end of this little block you'll find a collection of buildings that calls itself The Grand Case Beach Club. It makes a decent first impression with a massive security gate and a well-maintained, lit tennis court. Once past the gate there's a large parking lot with a collection of three story buildings in front of it. The reception is a tiny room, and the girl at the desk seems annoyed to have to get up to speak to you. You're handed a key and she grunts in the general direction of your room, and it's then you realize there's not that much staff around and you'll be carrying your own massive luggage up those flights of stairs. The room, in our case a Studio with Loft, is clean and charming in a wicker chair, spinning fan, coil stove top sort of way. There is a full kitchen and everything is very clean and very basic, though the linens and towels have seen better days. You can see Anguilla across the bay and the ocean view, cherry-red sunset, and sparkling village at night are all amazing.
Breakfast is at their outdoor cafeteria on a deck -- it's beautifully set on the water but the furniture is cheap and the thick plastic transparent shutters that need to be pulled down when the wind is whipping, coupled with the HoJo's quality bland croissants, coffee, and jam (imported) make you start to regret not listening to the "Average" reviews. The beach is so small it literally comes and goes, and there may be weeks where the tide is so high there is no beach at all, and the pool is unheated. The property is generally pretty tidy and it's clear they spend money on landscaping, but it becomes apparent after a day or two that this place really is on the lower end of three star, and not in an underselling and over-delivering sort of way, but more like an airport Ramada with a nice view.
Where it crosses the line, however, is with the annoying penny-pinching. It's $3 for laundry, $5 to use the beach club. Want to snorkel? That's free but guess who's going to pay for that mouthpiece? Of course beach towels are free, but, ahem, there's a small deposit, and you have to return them daily or we'll charge you. Want to use the gym? Great. That'll cost extra., and sign this waiver. It's as if Master of the House was their template for how to run a hotel ("Charge 'em for the lice, extra for the mice, two percent for looking in the mirror twice.")
Though, I admit, I like the fact that the manager takes the time to write back and scold his reviewers ("What! We do not scold, we simply inform!") while sometimes taking the high road ("We will incorporate your suggestions at once!) but generally standing firm on all of the stupid little annoyances ("If you had carefully read the fine print on page 38 of your welcome manual…") that place this "Beach Club" squarely between my Uncle Morty's retirement home in Boca and a 1950's motel in the Valley. They have a motto. Mottos are cool, whatever it is though, it should be changed to "we'll nickel and dime you today because you're probably leaving tomorrow."
Who it's for: 60 year old euro-smokers with really good tans, Ramada loyalty club members, people named Barb and Doug.
Who it's not for: picky eaters, the cost-conscious, honeymooners.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Intimate and relaxing, small but large enough to have just the right amount of service that brings back our guests year after year. We are constantly improving and have updated and upgraded nearly every aspect of our resort, and will continue to do so. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Case Beach Club Hotel Grand Case
- Grand Case Beach Hotel