If you read French then you may have seen my (French) wife’s fairly furious tirade about this hotel in February. Time has given us perspective. It was WHOLLY unfortunate that the telecom giant, ‘Three (3)’, should have chosen to have their entire Italian staff there during the majority of our stay. Nothing against this 800-strong Italian crowd- my mother’s Italian as it happens- they were mostly charming and kind and fine ambassadors for country and company alike. The odd obnoxious pig but which society doesn’t suffer this? No, the issue was that they were there to party. And, it turned out, precisely during the hours that we mostly wished to sleep. Oh, and our son was 5 months old and we all know that waking a sleeping baby is a sin…………..I have to say that the only thing the hotel were truly guilty of was not thinking to warn us of the invasion and not segregating the ‘non-3’ guests from the others. The complex is big enough to have done so. So, they didn’t do either and there we were at 11 pm, jet lagged from the UK, with disco fever inside our otherwise fine room- great views from the 5th floor across the beach, a small terrace and even a landscape window in our bathroom. Once it was clear that I was distinctly unhappy, the lady at the other end of the phone (Alison) moved us for the night to a far-end quiet spot. The next day we moved back to our 5th floor beauty and it happened all over. Same outcome, courtesy again of the fast moving and excellent Alison. By the time it happened the third night- despite uncertain re-assurances- I got through to Mr Davis, the head honcho with a commanding gravelly voice that reminded me of the magnificent West Indian cricketer, Michael Holding . He (Mr Davis not Michael Holding) organised a move to a ground floor suite. This satisfied my ego as well as averting my occasional tendency for vertigo on the 5th floor. We moved back next day to floor 5. Same thing. We thus again moved to the ground floor suite and I twisted Mr Davis’ arm that we should keep it for the remaining 4 days. He agreed- putting me (rightly as it happens) firmly but politely in my place after a capricious outburst from me – well we’re all allowed one right? Now get this: we had rain that evening. Really quite heavy rain and not especially predicted or predictable. The result was that the disco had to move under cover and right outside our new ground floor suite. In exasperation I lifted the phone to Mr Davis: he started to talk and then, well, the laughter. He couldn’t help but comment on the irony and I couldn’t help but laugh too- even my wife at this stage had recovered her humour and our big-brown eyed son had adapted his internal clock to the upside-down world of Bahamian time and culture from England. We stayed the remainder of the nights in peace as 3 Italia went home and we had a sizeable chunk knocked off the bill. And we’re probably soon going back to this very resort……………. So why?
I’ve visited the Bahamas quite a lot and love the islands. Their attraction is also their Achilles heel. They are culturally mid USA and Caribbean- unsurprisingly. Taking the best of both makes them a phenomenal force. Taking the worst of both makes them- well- undesirable. I spoke to a shop owner at one of the stores opposite the complex and she told me that, generally, tourist trade was significantly down and that the British especially were absent. The danger, I told her, is that Bahamas could be accused of delivering laid-back Caribbean service whilst expecting American revenue and tips. She sort-of understood. The truth is that Bahamian people are wonderful: re-calibrating the Islands’ outward face in a competitive and open world of tourism could put them back to their best.
So, what of the Grand Lucayan? its big but doesn’t fail to feel personal- thanks to Bahamian hospitality. It is slap bang on the superb beach and if this matters to you- as it does to my family- then this is huge. Also greatly appreciated is the tourist-focussed complex 30 seconds across the road. Sure by Bahamian standards its not cheap- but by USA standards its normal and by European standards it is cheap. Endless small shops and restaurants and, yes, some are lousy but some step up and are thoroughly enjoyable. The hotel bar’s prices are disappointingly silly- close to 20 dollars from memory for two ‘whiskey and gingerades’ (Whisky Mac) poolside- so stepping out is advisable.
So taken together, the great attraction of this hotel is that this is a one-stop-shop phenomenon: sun, beach, endless cosy (but variable quality!) independent restaurants and bars opposite, a terrific (but expensive- think Michelin starred in both respects) restaurant in the hotel, good room service- which is actually not too expensive-, and all within 20 minutes of the airport. And the people are superlatively human: not here to serve but here to be excellent staff and, more importantly, ‘real persons’, when they deal with reasonable and respectful guests. And, lets face it, not that expensive overall. My family loves to arrive in such places and just chill for a week or two. My great friend from Canada, Stevey K, can’t bear that. Him and his grown up kids need activity: they stayed here, hired mopeds from somewhere and had an absolute blast- mopedding (does that have one or two of the letter d?), diving/snorkelling, sight-seeing and, unusually, scrutinising the underlying strategies of the Island’s industries.
So………..thank you Alison and Mr Davis: I am hoping that we learned as much from each other and that our resolves are equally as sharpened as a result. To the guests- the, like us, ‘particular but non-millionaire’ guests out there…………..do it! The hotel’s silly pool bar prices have prevented a perfect score but the rest is difficult to criticise and easy to enjoy. Just check that there’s no gigantic corporate parties when you go J Enjoy.
- 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