Loc: Toronto, Ontario
As this was our first trip to Grand Lido Braco, this report is written from a newbie's perspective. GLB veterans will probably nod knowingly, others will probably be saying "I could have told them that". Everyone has to start somewhere, so here goes .
We had made our initial reservations with Conquest Tours back in late August. Within a couple of days we got confirmation that we were booked on Canada3000 . That was fine until we got a call saying that Canada3000 had gone belly-up . and that we would be "protected" on another airline. So now not only did we not know exactly where we were going (we had booked Lido Lottery ) we did not know how we were going to get there . A couple of weeks prior to departure we got a call telling us that we were confirmed on Air Canada. 3 days before departure we were told we were going to Braco . The Airbus 330 flight from Toronto to Montego Bay was very comfortable with lots of leg room and tasty pseudo-Jamaican flavoured food to boot.
Not knowing what to expect at the MoBay airport, we were pleasantly surprised at the Super Clubs desk, where the helpful staff got us underway to Braco within minutes. The closer we got to Braco, the more places Jeannette recognized, having been to Charlestown (near Ocho Rios) in 1999 on a Habitat for Humanity build. Once inside the Braco compound, and after the registration process was completed, we were given an orientation tour. Our first impressions were that the place was somewhat smaller than we had imagined, but very nicely laid out.
We were initially given room 924 at reception. With a "what have I got to lose attitude", I asked if we could be upgraded to the A/N side (this after I had been warned by fellow TTOLers that I was in for a disappointment). With an equally serious face, the lady said "Certainly, sir, for an extra $100 per day". Plan "B" came into play: "Could you then possibly move us to a room closer to the A/N side?" After some executive level discussions, we were given room 1012, all of 50 feet closer to where I wanted to be. But at least the walk would be 50 feet less . The room was quite adequate considering that we would not be in it for much of the day. However two things bothered us. The room had only 1 chair and no coffee table, a very anti-social environment. The real problem was that being on the ground floor (I should have remembered from my mis-spent youth in the US - that's the first floor!!!), every tap-tap of the lady's heels upstairs and the man's combat boots came through loud and clear (at 3:00 in the morning). The robes were a particularly nice touch, that came in handy for a late night stroll down to the A/N hot tub.
As those of you who have gone to GLB already know, the pool on the A/N side is quite large, and very attractively laid out. Especially comforting to me (whose specialty is the anchor stroke!) was the fact that at the deepest point the water is only about 5 feet deep. Particulary neat was the beach-like entrance at the far side. That's where I practiced getting on the floaties, knowing full well that if I fell off I would drown in only 6 inches of water. The beach was quite nice, though probably not as long as the beach in front of Club O in SXM (my reference point!). Never did go into the textile pool, nor did we spend any time on the textile beach, other than to witness a wedding that took place when we were there. In the light of the fact that we spent most of the day on the A/N side with the available facilities, we did not mind staying on the textile side (who am I kidding!? )
We sampled the food fare at all the restaurants. Breakfast was always at Victoria Market, where we found the chairs all just a bit too low for the height of the tables. Breakfast highlight of the week for Jeannette had to be "Ackee and Saltfish" on the Sunday we left. Lunch if memory serves me right was always at the Clubhouse at the end of the A/N pool. Nothing outstanding, but at least the dress code was very casual. Thursday (I believe) there was a buffet lunch beside the swim-up bar. That's when I discovered that the linen napkin would not stay on my lap for lack of anything to tuck it into --- and please, no comments from the peanut gallery!. Dinners were all very tasty and elegant. We dined at the French restaurant Piacere twice, and the food was absolutely top notch. The only surprise was the Creme Brulee. While it was very tasty, it looked like no other Creme Brulee I have had (the "brulee" crust was missing, a first). The Italian restaurant was nothing to write home about, but the pizza (my weakness) was quite tasty. The Japanese place Munahana was a very interesting place, and the food was just as tasty as the chef was entertaining. The street party on Friday evening was a sight to behold. For those who have never been there, the 4 "streets' radiating from the town square were lined with tables with black tablecloths and black linen serviettes. Food was laid out buffet style around the central court. For us, the highlight was the Goat Curry and the Rasta Vegetables (and a whole bunch of other stuff!). At Nanny's Jerk Pit, the Jerk Pork was slightly better tasting than the Jerk Chicken, but the Goat Curry was the best (and the spiciest ). We both thoroughly enjoyed our meals at Braco!
This 'n That:
The Fitness Centre came in real handy to work off those unwanted kilos (worse than pounds!) that somehow leap off the dinner plates (not to mention the beer glasses) and find a home close to your body. The treadmill and the stationary bike were used daily.
Fitness was not restricted to the Centre. In the pool, we endured Mighty Mike's "Aquacize". We even joined him and 4 other intrepid folks on an 8:00 am "Powerwalk". Only problem was that 30 seconds into the walk it started to drizzle, and then turned into heavy rain. That 30 minute walk left us totally soaked. It took the clothes about 2 days to dry in the very humid weather.
Speaking of weather, we had mostly cloudy days for 6 days. The Sunday we left was bright and sunny, naturally . We were told that the previous 3 weeks had been unusually rainy (as Steve & Cathy G discovered ).
The bars claimed to serve International Premium brands. That may be so, but when I asked one of the bar-tenders what kinds of beer he had, he said "We have 3 kinds, Red Stripe, and then we have Red Stripe, and we also have Red Stripe" On the other hand, all the bar tenders made a wicked Hummingbird
We left Braco reluctantly. We enjoyed the resort, even though we had to stay with the textiles . Next time we come we will ask for a room on the upper floor. Just as we were boarding our flight, Jeannette had a panic attack. "I've left my necklace in the room" A frantic search of our carryon yielded nothing. Since our flight was not a charter, we could not even drown our sadness in free drinks. Oh well, c'est la vie! The trip ended on high though --- we found the missing necklace, it had got entangled in the sandals.
All's well that ends well