I (33 years old, male) come to Grand Bahama Island three to four times a year. This review summarizes my 2011/2012 trips to the Radisson Grand Lucayan resort.
Overview: 10 years ago, the Our Lucaya Resort complex was probably a rock star. What is now called the Reef Village opened in 1998 and was a low-rise complex (operated by Sheraton for most of its prime) that catered to families. Next door, in 2000, Breakers Cay opened (the high-rise tower in the pictures; operated by Westin for most of its prime) as did Lighthouse Point (a low-rise development on the opposite side of the facility from Reef Village). All total the complex had 1,300+ rooms, 12 restaurants and bars, and access to a dozen or so more given a prime location across from the Port Lucaya marketplace. This in addition to what are still great pools (the one in front of Breakers Cay has a swim up bar and an infinity edge; there’s another infinity edge in front of Lighthouse Point as well as a lap pool; the one in front of Reef Village has a slide) and a gorgeous beach with water to match. Unfortunately, a lot has changed in 12-14 years – a few major hurricanes, a switch from Starwood to Radisson, and mothballing of all rooms except Breakers Cay has really slowed this place down.
Rooms: While probably indicative of a 4 or 5 star property in 2000, the Breakers Cay rooms haven’t seen significant upgrades since construction. I’d say currently they are equivalent to a 3 star hotel by U.S. standards. The carpet and bedding still look fairly fresh, however the bathrooms are starting to show some wear and tear and the rooms in general lack some of the modern amenities that you would expect in a 4 or 5 star resort such as flat screen televisions. That said, the wired and wireless internet (both free) work fine, the television gets lots of channels (including a litany of U.S. and other international channels), and the in room safe is always appreciated. All rooms have a nice patio with chairs and a table. If you pay for a beach/pool view room, make sure you ask for something high up. I was on the 4th floor on one visit and my water view was mainly the tops of some palm trees.
Food: Options at the hotel can be limited and pricey (think $90-$110, dinner for 2 at China Beach with a couple of drinks). All of the Lighthouse Point and Reef Village restaurants are closed. When I visited in April of ’11, Iries (pizza plus some sandwiches), Churchill's (steakhouse), China Beach (Asian), and the Prop Club (sandwiches/sports bar) were all serving dinner. For most of ’12, Iries (most nights) and China Beach (certain nights – best on the property) have been the only dinner options. When I last visited in August of ‘12, Iries was lunch only, China Beach was open most nights, and they had finally reopened Churchill’s for some nights. Fortunately, there are a lot of additional options across the street at Port Lucaya Marketplace. I frankly love Agave. They describe themselves as a Latin restaurant and I would say in general they merge flavors of the Caribbean with Mexico and other parts of Latin America. They aren’t afraid to use some spices and the dishes I’ve had were excellent (especially like the jerk chicken burrito). For breakfast, I typically cough up the $9.99 for what amounts to a continental breakfast (plus a few hot items such as made-to-order omelets) at Willy Broadleaf's. Considering that includes juice and coffee, I find this to be a decent deal. There’s also a small coffee bar across from the elevator bank in Breakers Cay that serves Starbucks coffee as well as some pastries.
Facilities: The beach and water are the signature features of this hotel if you ask me. The beach is absolutely gorgeous (not to mention powder soft) and the water is spectacular. The waves are usually wonderfully gentle and I’d put the temperature during my most recent visit (August ’12) in the high 80s (thus explaining why hurricanes love this part of the world). The pools look nice from afar but I always find them to dirty when you get up close (floating sunscreen gunk and other debris). There is typically a decent crowd in the main pools (one “serpent” pool and one with an infinity edge & swim up bar) in front of Breakers Cay. The pool with the slide in front of Reef Village has been closed during all of my visits. The pools in front of Lighthouse Point appeared to be open during my most recent visit but I never see anyone in there. Supposedly this area is open for the cruise ship traffic. Other facilities on property worth noting: a casino. I have ventured in 2-3 times. Expect small but fun crowds and low minimums (usually $5, $10 sometimes). The wait staff does a good job keeping the free drinks flowing.
Service: Housekeeping in the rooms always seem pretty good to me. They are quick to replenish the toiletries and the linens always seem very clean. Wake up calls are made by an actual human and they are typically on time (within 3-4 minutes usually). Valet service is always quick and reliable. The front desk unfortunately leaves a little to be desired. First, check-in takes way too long (why do I always have to fill out my contact information, surely this is part of my reservation?). Second, during my September 2011 visit, I had a very bad experience due to a power outage on certain floors of Breakers Cay. After patiently waiting 2+ hours after being told it would be fixed in “seconds,” I went to inquire about status and the front desk personnel were generally indifferent and basically told me that they had no idea which rooms did and did not have power and would not (nor were they interested) re-accommodate me to a different room in the event power was not restored to my room.
Safety: The property on occasion can feel creepy and deserted. The reality is that significant portions (i.e. 835 of 1371 rooms) of this resort are not being utilized and thus there are a lot substantially vacant areas. The security and access restrictions have been improved greatly over the last year but I’m not sure I’d want my wife out exploring on her own after dark. As evidenced by the various closures, they are honestly struggling to attract visitors to Grand Bahama and this resort. I’ve never had any safety incidents while visiting the resort however I have traveled enough to have some sense for good and bad areas and sometimes this place feels a little bit more like the latter. I’m sure if they had more people this would be a non-issue.
Annoyances: Between taxes and fees, add $50 to whatever nightly room rate you negotiate. Additionally, at bars and restaurants, gratuities of 15% are automatically included at every check. This does not promote good service. Getting a drink at Hammerhead’s (pool bar) is beyond frustrating, not to mention expensive (i.e. $4.50 for can of beer plus tax and gratuity; well over $5 all in). I don’t think I have ever managed to purchase a drink at Hammerhead’s in less than 15-20 minutes. The required room charges (no cash or credit) for all resort bars and restaurants is inefficient as currently designed (i.e. they bring you a check, you print your name and room number, then they have to go back and check against the system).
Overall: For travels on Grand Bahama, I think this hotel is the best option on the island and I will continue to return. The rooms are nice enough and as a resort (albeit one a little down on its luck), it has plenty of charms that you won’t find at a Hampton Inn in Moline, IL. On the other hand, I’m not sure I’d want to make this place a hub of a romantic honeymoon or a guys/girls weekend. It’s never been the life of the party during any of my visits and as noted above, it could use some capital maintenance in certain areas (i.e. rotting wood near roof on Lanai Suites). However, I certainly can’t blame the current owners given that it’s hard to attract the volume of tourists need to support this place without better air service to/from Grand Bahama from the U.S.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Grand Lucayan Bahamas is an elegant resort set on 7.5 tropical acres of sandy coastline and spectacular oceanfront. This 542-room hotel delivers the ambiance of the islands with all of the style and amenities you expect in a resort destination. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Lucayan, Bahamas Hotel Freeport
- Sheraton Grand Bahama Island Our Lucaya Resort
- Radisson Freeport
- Lucaya Sheraton
- Sheraton Our Lucaya
- Sheraton Bahamas
- Grand Lucayan, Bahamas Freeport, Grand Bahama Island