This is our trip report from our trip from November 22 to 29, 2013, to the (formerly) grandiose Grand Lido Negril, Jamaica.
We had previously been to Jamaica maybe a half dozen times, staying at Grand Lido, Hedonism II, Hedonism III and Grand Lido Braco. Our normal trips these days are to St. Maarten/St. Martin, however, and we had not been to JA since around 2000, and had not been to an all inclusive since 2005. As I was writing this, I finally looked up when we were last at Grand Lido, which turned out to be June of 1997. For the heck of it, if you wanted to see our resort review from that trip, it is here. http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/s...age=92#Post1124
Grand Lido Negril is certainly no longer grandiose, as the days of the Yacht Zein, 24 hour room service, and champagne, lamb chops and potato skins delivered to the nude hot tub at 1 AM are long gone. However, I definitely felt we got good value for what we paid, as we only paid $200 a night. Back in the ‘grandiose’ days in 1997, I think we paid $3500 for a week, so everything is relative. In future, even with the price we paid, I would have no desire to stay there unless I could obtain a room on the clothing optional side, first floor. Even with the price we paid, I’m not sure I would go back. We absolutely loved our time on the nude beach, and felt we definitely got good value for what we paid. However, I found too many glaring problems which I frankly do not expect that any cosmetic renovations to the resort will resolve. I seriously question the current management’s ability to deliver quality food any time soon and their choices in many areas regarding food and bar service and other things are just odd.
That’s the short version of the report. If you’re bored or SERIOUSLY interested in Grand Lido Negril, pull up a chair, and get yourself a tall beverage. As usual, my reports are extremely wordy and most people could care less about 80% of what I write. Therefore, feel free to check out the bolded topics and sample what you wish and toss the rest to the side. TRAVEL AGENT
Years ago when we had gone to JA several times, we had always booked through Go Classy Tours. This time, I checked prices for GLN from several sources, and while I didn’t do an exhaustive search, I found the best price at Go Classy. We paid $1400, all in, for the resort for 7 nights, for the cheapest room. The rooms on the cove (the clothing optional section), were running about $80 a night additional, but we hoped to get on the c/o side without paying the up price and had Lance, our agent, request a room on the c/o side, first floor. We were pleasantly surprised to see the reaction, both at JTL Tours, and at the resort, with the fact that we booked through Go Classy. They knew the name of the agency and I felt like we got better service as a result. To me, booking with an agent (as opposed to Travelocity, etc.) seems to be worth it, and while we have absolutely no affiliation with Go Classy Tours, we would highly recommend them for trips to resorts they service. <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/handshake.gif" alt="" /> INSURE MY TRIP
We booked our trip insurance through the link on TTOL for Insure my Trip. What IMT does is to allow you to compare travel insurance policies side by side with all the various components and decide which ones work the best for you. Everyone has different concerns, from medical evac, to pure trip cancellation, etc, and the website allows you to check prices and services side by side. We paid about $140 for trip insurance and were very satisfied with the experience and the value. AIR ARRANGEMENTS
We live about 3 hours from Ft. Lauderdale and 1 ½ hours from Orlando. Originally when we booked, we booked Spirit nonstop from FLL to Montego Bay, as it was approximately $150 cheaper than our other options. Our original flight arrangements were leaving FLL around 1:45 PM, which meant that we didn’t have to get up at o-dark-thirty in order to drive to the airport. Around 60 days out, Spirit changed their flight schedule so that they left FLL around 11 AM, which meant we would have to get up practically in the middle of the night to get there, or spend the night in FLL. We have flown Spirit several times before, always being aware of the issues with flying them, in terms of charging for seats, bags, carry on bags, drinks, etc., etc., and the exceedingly uncomfortably SMALL seats, so we knew what we were getting into when we booked it. However, when they changed the flight schedule on us, we decided to bail and were able to cancel without any penalty and get all our money back and we re-booked with Jet Blue, nonstop from Orlando, which is a lot closer to our home. Initially, changing the flights cost us $150 more (total) than our flights on Spirit. However, less than a week out, I got a notification that Jet Blue had a price reduction of $105, which we were able to get a voucher in our bank, which was great!
The Jet Blue flight left Orlando at around 1:50 PM, so we didn’t have to leave home until around 10:15 AM and were at the airport terminal around 12:00 noon. You can check bags outside with Jet Blue, but the line outside was actually longer than inside, where they have a separate bag drop line, so we went inside. The Jet Blue expedited security screening was only $10 per person for our trip, but as it turned out, the security was really not a long wait at all and we were at the gate by 12:30. All the restaurants were packed because it was lunchtime so we settled for Burger King, although I wanted to do the Mexican restaurant there, but was afraid to risk the wait. Afterwards, we headed to the bar which was immediately beside our departure gate. After a double drink per person, for a total of $24 without tip <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Shocked.gif" alt="" /> we were happy to be boarding the plane to the land of all-inclusives, Jamaica.
Jet Blue is now one of our favorite airlines. Most places we have flown, as on this trip, they fly the aircraft with only two seats on each side, which is great for a couple flying together. And the space between seats is much better than other airlines, even in regular seats, without spending the extra $30 or so per person each way for the ‘even more space’ seats. Snacks are free and sodas, as well as TV consoles, which provide access to TV shows and movies of your choice. We didn’t have the earphones on the way down, as they charged $2 for them, but on the way back, they handed them out for free.
It was a pleasant experience, versus our normal trips to St. Maarten, to have an under two hour flight. We arrived basically on time at 3:50 PM. We were in row 6, and the lines were not long, so we thought we would be out of immigration in no time. The Jet Blue flight crew distributed our immigration forms and said we only needed one form per family with the same last name. The trouble began when we got to the end of the immigration line and the lady asked for MY immigration form, which I did not have. I have no idea whether this is a recent change or not, as we had not been to JA since 2000, but as of November 22, 2013, ALL persons need their OWN JA immigration form
. I do not know why Jet Blue flight crew did not know that, but it was aggravating. Grumbling and stepping to the side, I grabbed a form and started filling it out, and eventually got back in line before getting it all filled out but had it completely filled in before reaching the desk.
After the short stop at the immigration desk, we grabbed our suitcases, which were waiting on us, through customs, and headed toward the JTL tour desk for our transfers. GROUND TRANSFERS
We had booked our ground transfers through Go Classy, at a very reasonable price of $25 per person, ROUND TRIP. <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Thumbsup.gif" alt="" /> Other people paid much more, so I guess this is a special deal that Go Classy has with JTL. By the time we cleared immigration, got our bags, lined up at the line for transfers, etc and got out to the bus, it was 5 P.M. We were almost the last one onboard a full LARGE tour bus, which left probably 5 minutes after we boarded the bus. I suspect some of the other folks had been sitting on the bus for a while waiting to leave. Traffic was horrendous coming out of Montego Bay and it was soon dark. We stopped at both sides of the Grand Palladian, and at Riu and finally arrived at Grand Lido well after dark at 7:05 PM. AT GRAND LIDO NEGRIL
Checking in at 7:05 PM, we were the only ones checking in at that time, of course. We filled out the check in form. The form asked for passport information, home address and phone number, email address, and that was about it. I am not sure why people object to that form, as it wasn’t a big deal. We received our complementary drink and a nice fellow showed us to our room. CLOTHING OPTIONAL BEACH
Grand Lido Negril has a clothing optional beach and a regular side beach. The ‘regular’ beach is very long, and much nicer than the c/o beach, in that there are no rocks, etc., in the water, but there is not nearly as much shade there. Many resorts have a nude beach requirement, which REQUIRES anyone on that side to be nude. GLN, like our favorite beach in the world, Orient Beach, is a clothing optional beach. You can wear a suit or not, it’s up to you. I personally much prefer that and the people who DEMAND nudity to me are more hung up over it than people who wear clothes. Forgive me in advance if I type ‘nude beach’ from time to time instead of c/o beach. I really don’t give a ratsa$$ what other people wear on the beach, just let people wear what they are comfortable with. I had called the hotel the day before we arrived to reinforce our request for first floor c/o side (which on most travel websites is called the COVE side) and was told at that time they could not guarantee it, but would try.
When we checked in, we were told we would be placed on the c/o side second floor for one night and to come to the desk at 1 PM the next day and we would get a first floor room. Since we were so late arriving, this really was not a big deal, and we basically just didn’t unpack. Anyone that has stayed at GLN on either side knows that the balconies on the second floor rooms are pitifully small, and it is SO much nicer, especially on the c/o side, to be able to just walk out to the beach without clothes on, so this was a big deal, to be on the first floor.
The next day, I went to the desk at 1 PM promptly and the new room was ready, which was somewhat surprising, but a good surprise, that it was ready. The old room was 2065, the new room 1069, so it was within the same building, which was nice. They asked if we had unpacked and I said no, so they did not send anyone to help us move our things, which was fine.
As we pretty much figured would be the case, we spent basically almost all our waking hours on the nude beach, except when we went over to the other side to eat. Spending our days on the nude beach in a first floor room made the vacation for us. We had a lovely view from our patio
and we were just far enough away from the pool and hot tub and bar that we didn’t get any noise from them, but still close enough that we could get drinks and/or food from the bar and carry them back to the room without any problems at all.
We felt our room location was just about as good as you could get. Our first floor room had one chaise lounge and two small chairs and a small table on the patio. I only got a picture of one of the patio chairs, but they were not real comfortable.
We would usually get up in the mornings and fix ourselves a pot of coffee in the room and hang around on the patio for a while. They do bring coffee, some OJ and a few pastries over each morning and set them in front of the nude bar, but we usually just did coffee in the room. We would usually head over to the buffet for breakfast, come back and sit on the beach for a few hours, head to the nude beach bar for lunch and drinks, which we often took back to the patio of our room to eat, then back out to the beach for a few hours before dinner. It’s a rough life. BARS
For the good news--The folks on the c/o beach bar
could do no wrong. (Other than the fact that they closed at 6 PM. We heard that possibly they are opening back up the other bar on the nude side at some point –the Timber House???—but that didn’t help us.) The folks at the c/o bar were fast, they were nice, they would mix you whatever you wanted, they would even fill your big drink cups, they delivered to the chairs on the nude beach and pool area—in short, they were outstanding. They had no premium liquors but if you went to another bar, you could get a water bottle or whatever filled with your premium liquor and take it to the nude bar and have them make you a drink. We mostly drank rum and coke for me and gin and tonic for Eric and red wine for both of us, although a frozen Bob Marley was a nice change, refreshing and not too sweet, like a lot of frozen drinks. Cherise in particular was just a joy. The other lady bartender, I am ashamed that I can’t remember her name, but she was really nice also, as well as the gal that delivered drinks on the beach, and Gary, who got me some aloe for my sunburn.
We never got a drink from the beach bar on the main beach, or did anything on the main beach, although it was lovely.
so don't ask me about the main beach or the beach bar there, as I have no idea about that bar. The impressions I am left with regarding bar service is that they SERIOUSLY needed another bar open in the evening. After 6 PM the only bars open when we went were the Main Bar, the Piano Bar, and the Disco (which opened at something like 10 PM). To be totally fair, the main Jamaican restaurant was totally closed when we were there. If it were open, that presumably would have been someplace to go to at least get a drink in the evening. The only other place open in the evening was the Jamaican restaurant which was ALL the way at the opposite END of the clothed beach. That really wasn’t an option for us, as all they have they is tables. No way we would go all the way there just for a drink, considering we were staying on the cove side.
The Main Bar
was (other than the disco, I suppose, which I didn’t go anywhere near, as I can’t stand that crazy music, so don’t know what they served), was the only place that you could get premium liquor and all types of drinks.
However, it was only open until midnight. If there was a buffet, there were NO chairs at this bar. If there was NOT a buffet, there were maybe 10 chairs altogether, surrounding a huge bar. This bar was intended to be used as a service bar only, not a bar that one could sit at.
The Piano Bar/Martini Bar
, whatever the heck it was, was a prime example of what was wrong with food and beverage service at the resort.
We arrived the first night about 7 PM, went to the room and dropped our bags and headed over to the buffet for dinner. We hunted around and couldn’t see ANY tables available to eat at, so I was just looking for some kind of a bar to sit at and get a drink and wait out the line. I went up to the lady at the 24 hour coffee bar and asked “is there somewhere I can sit and just get a drink?” The response was that I could go to the martini bar but that all they served there was martinis and beer. As it turns out, that information was incorrect, but it was kind of a sign of what was to be for the week---the staff at GLN tries REALLY hard, but they generally have incorrect information. This is management’s fault. Your staff needs to know what is available at your resort. Teach them this. They will be happy to be able to serve their guests better. The truth is that the “martini” bar, or whatever it is, does serve martinis. I had one, but I am not a martini person, so I have no idea whether they have good martinis or not. However, they also serve wine and champagne, and well drinks like rum and coke, in addition to martinis. They DON’T have any top shelf liquors or standard stuff like Grand Marnier. And after 9:30 or so, most nights they had Kareoke there. Thus there was essentially no place in the whole resort to go and have a quiet drink after 9:30 P.M. FOOD AND RESTAURANTS
Wow, this is where this gets really hard. I readily admit that I am a really picky person with regard to food and service. As I said at the beginning of this opus, our normal vacations these days are to ST. Maarten/ST. Martin, one of the culinary Meccas of the Caribbean. And while I am no gourmet, I am a fair cook on my own. I honestly don’t know whether the food and service was that bad at most of the restaurants, or whether I just personally cannot deal with an a/i any more. Although I am not entirely certain, I think the food and service really WAS that bad. What was the most distressing to me was not really so much the FOOD, per se, as just the amazing lack of foresight and organizational knowledge and the absolute lack of training of the staff. WHAT WAS GOOD
The nude beach bar
had probably the best food of any we had on the resort. (Although of course I do grant you that the required dress code – or lack thereof -- probably had a little to do with our appreciation of the food there. <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Wink.gif" alt="" />. Derrick’s jerk lamb chops are of course, almost world famous. They told us when we checked in that the resort was totally full. I’m not sure that was exactly true, but the resort did seem pretty fully the first few days, and the nude beach was VERY full. As a consequence, if you wanted the lamb chops, you had to get in line by no later than 1 PM or they would be gone. Thus we sometimes planned our day around being ready to eat lunch by 1 PM, so that we could assure ourselves of lamb chops for lunch. The lamb chops, with the Greek salad on the side, with French fries, was probably the single best thing we had to eat at the resort. They were hot, they were fresh, they had a nice jerk kick to them, they were the BOMB. People from the clothed beach came over to stand in line to get the lamb chops, which is odd to me, that they weren’t available on the clothed beach. Although we didn’t have it, the jerk chicken there looked marvelous also. We had burgers one day, which weren’t bad, although they did taste of lamb. Chips and cheese sauce were a nice addition to the offerings, as well as the Jamaican patties, which we availed ourselves of on a few occasions. After about Monday, there was no popcorn available, which I took as a sign again of just bad organizational skills. Popcorn is cheap as cr*p and so easy to provide. JAPANESE
The Japanese restaurant was the only one that required a reservation. We did not eat there, didn’t try to, as we weren’t with a big group and didn’t want to be placed with people we didn’t know. ROOM SERVICE
We didn’t have room service, since we were not in a suite. I don’t know what was available, as I didn’t see a menu. Our next door neighbors said they ordered one time and it took over an hour to come. Other people reported similar wait times. THE BUFFET
I will tell you that in general, I loathe buffets. I don’t go to them at home and don’t care to go to them on vacation. I don’t care for food that has been sitting on a warming tray for a long time, and is either cold or dried up, which the buffets at GLN provided more that it’s fair share of. However, for a buffet, I guess this one was good. They did seem to have a pretty fair number of items and you could get some cooked to order items. At breakfast, they had an omelet and fried egg station, which is where we got our breakfast most days, and the omelets were good. I got a waffle one morning and it wasn’t really done, so didn’t go back to that station. Even though it was generally always packed at the buffet, except for the first night, we were able to find a table eventually. If the table wasn’t clean, or hadn’t been re-set, the servers were always very prompt with bringing new place settings, etc., and usually pretty prompt with coffee, water, and wine in the evenings. I have to say though, I know it’s a humid climate, but it is apparently too much to ask to be able to get any salt or pepper out of the shakers on the tables, as they were all clumped together because of the humidity. Most of our lunches we took on the nude beach, but we did go over for the buffet for lunch a time or two. We didn’t sample them, but they had a pasta cooking station and a station where they made wraps which they would press for you (a wrap in a Panini press??? Kinda weird but whatever), and we probably should have tried one of those. Normally they have the buffet for dinner on Friday night, and Monday night is the buffet on the beach. Because of Thanksgiving falling on our last night, that night was also a buffet, so we unfortunately had three buffets for dinner. We didn’t really sample most of it, but on Thanksgiving, they did have traditional US favorites, like stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. For the most part at the buffets, we ate carved meats, salads, cheeses, fruit and desserts and these were passable. JAMAICAN RESTAURANT
As I said above, the main Jamaican restaurant was not open. They did not appear to be doing any work on it, like the main Italian restaurant. It was just CLOSED. Other than the beach bar, which closed at 6, the only place to get Jamaican food was at the Jamaican restaurant ALL the way at the FAR end of the regular beach, which is a decent hike from our room. We ATTEMPTED to eat at the Jamaican restaurant the night of Thanksgiving. There was only one guy working there other than the cook. There was only one other table eating when we arrived. We sat down and ordered and waited forever for our drinks. I had ordered the soup of the day as an appetizer. It arrived absolutely STONE cold. I asked the waiter if it was supposed to be cold, just to make sure it wasn’t supposed to be cold. After finally delivering our soup and salad, the waiter said that they didn’t have any red wine and asked if Eric wanted something else. Shouldn’t he have come back before 20 minutes and asked if he wanted something else? Eric wanted the conch entre, but the waiter said that conch was out of season… Huhm. I didn’t think there was a ‘season’ for conch in Jamaica and if so, should it have even been on the menu? We both ended up ordering the jerk pork, but it was so dried up as to be just about inedible. We picked at a bit of the food and headed back to the buffet. Not a good outing, although I certainly hope that wasn’t a representative sample of what they serve there. THE MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT
First of all, I just have a really hard time getting my head around the concept of a Mediterranean restaurant at an all inclusive, when the only other choices are the Jamaican restaurant and the Italian restaurant. (When the buffet was open, none of the other restaurants except the Jamaican restaurant was open. There was nothing anywhere that said that, you were just supposed to figure that out for yourself. ) I guess they are trying to be different with offering the Mediterranean restaurant, but different is not necessarily always better. I love French or Continental cuisine and to have a Mediterranean restaurant in place of either one did not sit well. The restaurant is in the location of the former French restaurant and no décor modifications have been done.
A distributed leaflet proclaims that the dress code for ALL restaurants, including the buffet AND the Mediterranean restaurant, is ‘resort casual’, whatever that means. The only way to know that the Mediterranean restaurant requires long pants (and supposedly closed toe shoes, no tennis shoes, and a collared shirt for men), is to walk up to the door and have them turn you away, which we saw them do to several people—including some of those who had waited in line for 20 minutes to get in when they first opened, which is what we did on our second to last night. They really need to consider doing reservations there. I would have made reservations without any problem, but I was not about to wait 45 minutes for a table, as we would have had to do on the other occasions we went by and tried to get a table. As a result, we only ate there once. Dinner in the Mediterranean restaurant took us almost two hours to consume, with only an appetizer, salad, entre’ and dessert. Others we talked to reported similar dining times. That is just too long, for food that is not even cooked to order. The food there was definitely better than the Italian restaurant though.
I did not get a picture of the menu at the MR because they didn’t leave the menu out by the front door, for whatever reason, and I didn’t take my camera to dinner. There was a hummus dish, meatballs, a tzatziki, and one other appetizer that I can’t remember. There were two salads, and I think a soup, but I don’t remember what the soup was. There were 5 entres’--a pork chop, a bronzini, moussaka, some kind of a chicken dish, and a vegetarian dish. To me, I thought that was an extremely small offering of entre’ choices. Dessert was baklava, crème brule’ and a chocolate mousse.
The portion size, particularly of the appetizers and salads, was so small as to be laughable. We had heard good things about the calamari appetizer. Eric went to order it and they were out. They offered in it’s place, 5 mini cocktail shrimp. My appetizer of meatballs consisted of three very small meatballs. Eric ordered the Greek salad. It was served in a type of a lettuce bowl which was approximately 3 inches across. I ordered a bitter greens salad with poached pear and blue cheese. I got one leaf of endive and 5 very small pieces of pear. I had the pork chop and Eric had the bronzini and both of those were a fair size and were good. I noted crème brulee’ on the dessert list and decided I was bound to be disappointed with that, and so did not risk it. I had the baklava, which was just outstanding. After the jerk lamb chops at the nude grill, it was probably the best thing I had all week. Eric had the mini serving of chocolate mousse and said it was good. ITALIAN
The Italian restaurant is currently in a ballroom. The former Italian restaurant is empty, with some scaffolding sitting inside, but no visible renovations being done there.
We ate three nights at the Italian restaurant, primarily because it was basically the only choice if you didn’t want to wait 45 minutes to eat at the Mediterranean restaurant. In short, my recommendation is to order pasta there and you may be OK. Anything else, expect to be highly disappointed.
Here is the menu
Our first night at the Italian restaurant set the tone. When was the last time you went to an Italian restaurant that didn’t have a Caesar salad, or garlic bread or fried mozzarella on the menu? This one didn’t. They offered a decent bread basket, with a nice assortment of breads, but offered absolutely NO olive oil or butter for the bread. There was no fresh grated parmesan offered, only some stuff in one of those shakers, that probably wasn’t even 100% cheese. They did offer a baked goat cheese appetizer in a puff pastry, which we ordered twice during our stay. The first night, it arrived absolutely stone cold. It did have a nice taste, however. I was somewhat stunned that the portion size consisted of ONE piece of puff pastry, about an inch and a half square. Eric had a caprese salad, which was small, but certainly adequate. I ordered pasta e fagioli and the waitress did not know what that was. I pointed it out on the menu and she said “oh, bean soup”. It was certainly edible, but needed pepper badly. I asked the waitress for pepper, and she brought me some crushed red pepper, unaware I guess that there was no black pepper on our table (or any of the ones around us that particular night). That same night, I made the mistake of ordering the beef tenderloin. I ordered it medium rare and it was properly cooked, EXCEPT for the fact that it had been cooked right after some lamb and it tasted of lamb. Awful. That same night, Eric order the tuna. He forgot to tell the waitress how he wanted it cooked. (She did not ask, of course.) He called her back and ordered it rare. When it came, it was cooked WELL DONE. Eric ordered the chocolate lava cake, which had a nice flavor. However, I’m guessing the cook must have put it back in the oven to cook longer, as they didn’t know it was SUPPOSED to be runny in the middle, as this one certainly wasn’t. The piece de resistance was the tiramisu. I literally laughed out loud when they brought a single teaspoon full of custard, with two ladyfingers on the side.
Our second night at the Italian restaurant, we weren’t particularly hungry. We shared a bruschetta appetizer which wasn’t bad, although it cried out for some spices, like everything else they served there. We decided to just share a pizza. We had one glass of red wine and when we asked for refills, they were out of red wine (at 8 P.M.) The pizza crust was thick and doughy and inedible, and there was very little sauce on the pizza. We didn’t finish it and didn’t take the rest to go, although we did see someone that did that (despite the signs by the buffet that say no food is to be taken out of the dining area.) The next day in the hot tub, we compared notes with others, who pronounced the pizza to be akin to what your mom used to make you when you were growing up, an English muffin, with tomato sauce and a slice of American cheese on top. Yummy!!
Our third night, we somewhat wised up and decided we should try some pasta. Eric ordered the fettucine Bolognese and they were out of fettucine. I would bet any amount of money it was boxed pasta. How could you be out of a boxed pasta? It was served with a spaghetti instead. Although it was in serious need of some garlic, some basil, etc., that was by far the best entre’ that we had there. I had the chicken alfredo—again with spaghetti. It SERIOUSLY cried out for crème. After the first night, we were never offered a menu for any upsell wine, even in the Mediterranean restaurant and we were never offered coffee with dessert, anywhere. 24 HOUR FOOD OFFERINGS
The only 24 hour place currently serving food is the COFFEE BAR, which has a small selection of pastries, rum balls, etc., and nothing else. I didn't crop this picture--this was literally ALL that was available on a 24 hour basis in the coffee bar, other than some ice cream.
Let’s see, I’m hungry at midnight. I think I’d like a rum ball and a cup of COFFEE. There were no alcohol drinks available there and I didn’t see any other drinks either, like soda or even water. Said ‘coffee bar’ also serves only regular and decaf coffee, no cappuccino, no espresso, etc. On nights when there was no buffet for the evening meal (which I guess as of now, is only two nights when they have a buffet), they close the lunch buffet at 3:30 PM and there is literally NOWHERE on the resort to walk up and just pick up as much as a piece of fruit from 3:30 PM until the buffet opens the following morning at 7:30. A much more logical 24 hour option would be to take a small section of the buffet and set up a spread which includes some cold cuts, some cheese, some fruit, etc. Not real hard. Even though there are signs up in the buffet area to not take food out of that area, we usually brought back a plate of cheese and fruit and kept it in our fridge, for evening snacks. (By the way, if you do have food in the room, make sure you keep it in the fridge, as otherwise, you will get ants in the room. Just sayin’) RENOVATIONS AND NEW MANAGEMENT
Reviews on the internet with regard to GLN whine interminably about the dated décor of the rooms. To me, it was a non issue, in terms of affecting our enjoyment of the resort. We looked at the remodeled room, which is room number 1025 (I think). We went by there one evening around 8:00 PM, and it was open, so I guess it’s open most of the time. To me, it looked like all they did was to paint all the furniture in the main part of the room, replace the light fixtures and they did re-do the bathroom. The modifications to the room didn’t seem that big a deal to me, although the new room did look better.
As far as ongoing renovations when we were there, we saw absolutely NONE. The old Italian restaurant was totally closed and there was NOTHING going on there, other than some scaffolding sitting in the middle of the room. The main Jamaican restaurant was CLOSED and again there appeared to be nothing going on there in terms of renovations.
To ME, personally, I really question whether the ‘new management’ is going to make the place any better at all, except for cosmetic changes to the rooms, because they can’t seem to get out of their own way to make intelligent decisions. Their decisions about routine matters make me wonder whether management has any previous experience with running a resort, as decisions they make just are unintelligible. A short list of deficiencies, just as examples:
No map of the resort distributed when we checked in or available in the room, basically NO resort information in the room at all.
No printed information available in the room about ANY services, including tours, spa services, snorkeling equipment, excursions, etc. I know that you could go up to the desk for tours and at the spa and request information, but a printed list of tours and of services in the room just reinforces marketing. It also allows those that don’t want to be hassled to decide for themselves whether they want to partake in activities.
Most resorts have a resort information channel on the TV, not available at GLN. Also, no channel guide on the TV itself, and no printed channel listing in the room either.
No post card, no silly stationery, no ink pen. Come on, folks, do you know anything about marketing???
No signage for where the disco is.
The infamous ‘resort vouchers’ are just an insult to a person of even average intelligence.
Primarily the deficiencies are in the food and beverage service, which, based on my personal experience, I believe the food and beverage manager who was there when we were there needs desperately to be fired.
A short list of deficiencies in the restaurant department (along with the myriad others already mentioned here).
There is no outside signage or menu for either the Mediterranean or the Japanese restaurant.
There is no way to know which restaurants will be open a particular evening, unless one goes to the front desk, and most likely they will tell you the wrong information.
Someone does a horrible job of ordering provisions, or at the least, providing them to the various restaurants when needed, as outlined above several times.
The white wine served is absolutely undrinkable, which is a stretch for me to say, as I’ll drink just about any wine. The red wine wasn’t nearly so horrible. I guess that’s why, on two separate occasions, a restaurant was out of it during the dinner hour—once at the Italian restaurant at 8 PM, and again at the Jamaican restaurant at 8 PM.
As has been reported many times, they ALWAYS run out of lamb chops at the nude grill around 1 to 1:30 EVERY day.
Two different workers at the buffet, as well as the woman in the 24 hour coffee shop, thought that ALL rooms have room service.
And dear god, I know it’s a small, stupid thing, but NO fresh cracked black pepper appeared to exist, anywhere in the resort. Come on, man!! (OK, got that off my chest…) ENTERTAINMENT
We’re pretty boring these days, not really much into needing entertainment of any kind, so we didn’t participate in any of the entertainment, or miss it, for that matter. We mostly retired fairly early, after usually watching a bit of TV. There was often a band playing after dinner at the buffet, but it normally didn’t interest us much. HOWEVER, the steel pan band which was after what was supposed to be the beach party on Monday night (moved into the buffet area because of heavy rain Monday afternoon) was da BOMB. If you don’t watch any entertainment during your week, do watch them. DÉCOR, THE ROOM, HOUSEKEEPING, ETC.
The décor is from the 80s, yes, but it didn’t really bother us.
Our room was always kept very clean, towels replaced, the fridge re-stocked each day without fail.
I really can find nothing much to complain about with regard to the room. It’s a weird set up, yes, with the room on one level, and then you step down one step to the couch, which no one sits on, as the TV is centered over the bed. We spent almost no time inside the room during the day anyway, so it was fine for our needs, ONCE we got on the first floor. There is a clock and a CD player in the couch portion of the room. SUICIDE TUB
I was extremely concerned before we left home about the ‘suicide tub’. I am in general pretty clumsy, and I fell on vacation in St. Maarten a couple of years ago, coming out of a shower onto slick tile and hurt myself pretty badly. Therefore I was very apprehensive about the tubs at GLN. We had the suicide tub in both of our rooms. From other descriptions of the ‘suicide tub’ and from looking at the front of the tub itself, it looks like there was perhaps at TILE step in front of the tub previously. Ours, in BOTH rooms we were in, had a plastic step going up to it, so it wasn’t as bad as I feared. However, I always had Eric help me out of the tub, just to make sure. Thankfully, I guess the ST’s are going away in the remodel, whenever that is. Our first room had ZERO water pressure and we felt like we were ‘dancing among the raindrops’ to take a shower. Thankfully, our second room, actually had EXCELLENT water pressure. SECURITY
Most people on the first floor nude side seemed to do as we did, which is leave our doors to the patio unlocked. (Yeah, yeah, I know the clothing optional side. Whatever…) There is a HUGE combination safe in the room, which was big enough for even my dinosaur sized laptop, my camera, our wallets, jewelry, passports, etc.
We always kept EVERYTHING of any value in the safe. We had heard about some thefts from rooms about a month or so before our stay, so we were pretty diligent about that. Security was EXCELLENT on the nude beach, always watching the beach and the rooms, and the ladies were very nice. One day, the maid locked us out of our room when she cleaned the room. We of course didn’t have any clothes <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Blush.gif" alt="" />, nor our key. However security called the housekeeper supervisor for us and got us into the room. After that, we carried our key with us…. <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Smile.gif" alt="" /> THE TIME SHARE PEOPLE, BEACH TOWELS, THE WORTHLESS RESORT VOUCHERS AND OTHER PETTY ANNOYANCES
We spent NO time on the main beach, and not much time in the lobby/main areas, certainly during the day. I guess when you come in during the day, they have a timeshare sales person that shows you to your room, and since we arrived so late, we escaped that fate. The only time I had any direct contact with them was when I went by the front desk (purely as a bit of research, as I already knew they were worthless), to pick up my resort discount coupons. The front desk people said I had to get them from the t/s people. I told the t/s lady I didn’t want to buy a timeshare, didn’t want to buy anything at all, just wanted my coupons. I was probably quite rude to them, as I do not abide t/s people. They had a hard time finding a booklet and even when they did, it was only a $750 total resort credit, not the $1200 one we should have had. I threw it in the suitcase, after flipping through it. Suffice it to say, the resort vouchers are useless, as for example, the spa one was something like $30 off, PROVIDED you spent over $250.
Most people complain about the folks trying to get you to buy stuff on the beach. If you stay on the nude beach, there are NO people there hassling you trying to sell you stuff on the beach. The guys on the jetskis come by every two minutes, trying to get you to do a jetski or buy some smokes, but those were extremely easy to ignore, especially from your beach chair.
Resorts—especially nude resorts—that insist on one beach towel per person, are an annoyance to me. They give you two cards when you check in, which you exchange for towels and have to turn back in when you leave, if you don’t want to be charged for them. They are really anal about it on the main side, as I tried to sidle up and grab another towel and the towel Nazi guy caught me. On the nude side, they are much less anal about it. Although we (and several of our neighbors) were surprised that a housekeeping supervisor came by the rooms one evening around 6:30 and said she was taking inventory and asked how many towels we had, and what color they were. Tacky. THE RESORT STAFF
I have to say that ALMOST everyone that we met or had any dealings with at the resort were totally a pleasure to deal with. From the folks who worked the buffet, to the folks who worked at the nude beach bar, to the housekeeping staff, to the guys who refilled the room fridge, to the pool guys, to the groundskeepers, to just the average employee that we had the pleasure to interact with. Everyone always had a smile, they were always polite, they were always willing to try to help, even when they didn’t know the answer to my question. Even when they didn’t have the answer that I wanted to my question, or when they were out of something I wanted at a restaurant, etc., they were unfailingly polite.
I really cannot have anything bad to say about anyone in terms of their attitude and willingness to help. EXCEPT THE FRONT DESK PEOPLE
. From when we checked in, to the 4 or 5 other times I had interaction with the front desk staff, they were less than cordial, they had no relevant knowledge regarding my inquiries, they acted as though I was bothering them to ask them a question, they acted bored and uninterested. If all the staff were like those at the front desk, I would never have any interest in this resort again. Most of the staff had bad information about various aspects of the resort, which I do not blame them for. I blame management for that. But as for attitude and willingness to help and be of assistance and to make our vacation the best it could be?? Everyone OTHER THAN the front desk staff was outstanding…. INTERNET
Unfortunately, even when we are on vacation, we cannot leave the internet behind. We have three businesses which we run, one of which is a total internet business. Thus being able to connect by internet even while on vacation is essential. We had booked a Friday to Friday trip, arriving late evening on Friday. The internet service was good on Friday and Saturday, although sporadic inside the room. I learned later that they basically anticipate that you will NOT be able to connect from inside the room at all, only from the balcony or terrace. Unfortunately the service on the nude side went down totally sometime late Saturday and was down all day Sunday and most of Monday. There are about 4 different routers on the property, so we could pick up the laptop and haul it over to the reception area, which we did on several occasions. Here is Eric at work..
That was somewhat of a big deal, with having to put on clothes, haul the laptop, etc. After those two days, the service was generally SLOOOOW but ok on the nude side, but always much better from the reception area. I did talk briefly with the internet guy the last day or so that we were there, as he was carrying around his laptop, searching for signal. I appreciated that initiative on his part. He said that they planned or making internet available in the rooms as a regular feature soon. In this internet age, I think that should be a given. FREE CALLS TO THE US
I was surprised to learn, a few weeks before we headed down, that GLN provided FREE telephone calls to the US and Canada. I was slightly skeptical that it would work. However, we made several calls, including several on Thanksgiving Day, and were able to connect on each instance without any problems. I’m not sure what service they were using, but the service was good, the calls clear and with no issues at all. Good job! BOOK EXCHANGE
Before we left home, I posted a note asking whether there was a book exchange at the resort. No one seemed to know. I stopped by the front desk one day and asked them. There were THREE ladies standing there. All three of them looked at me as if I was speaking Russian or something, as they seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. (That’s an inside joke, as there were an absolute TON
of Russians there when we were there, along with a lot of Canadians. Not that it mattered at all, but Americans seemed to be in the minority, at least when we were there.) In any event, there actually IS a book exchange at the resort, under the stairs, by the pool table and ping pong table. Unfortunately there are not many books there and many of them were not in English (Italian???? I didn’t know) I did try to do my part, leaving two novels there for future use by other guests. I saw a TON of people reading books when we were there. Come on, guys, leave your books behind for your fellow guests to read!!! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Clapping.gif" alt="" /> [/b] EXCURSIONS, THE SPA, THE GYM, AND OTHER STUFF WE DIDN’T USE AT ALL
Don’t ask me any questions about the excursions, as we didn’t do any. We literally did not leave the resort. We normally are not that kind, as we normally get out and about but we had planned before we left home to do absolutely NOTHING for a week and we succeeded admirably. I read a few books and we generally lazed on the beach, talked, snoozed, sat in the hot tub, yakked to other people on the nude beach, ate, drank, slept, got up and did it all over again. We certainly weren’t afraid to leave the resort, but we had been to Rick’s before, and didn’t care to go again, had been to Dunn’s River several times. We probably should have gone out to eat at some point, but it was just kind of too exhausting to think about deciding where to go, to get a cab, etc., etc. In general, we were just too d*mn lazy to leave our beach chairs most days. We might have gone to a sports bar or whatever on Sunday night or Monday night, if the NFL games had not been on the TV, but they were, so we just watched the games from the piano bar or our room. I actually could have used a massage, but just never got round to it. We walked by the gym every day, on our way to the buffet. I think that counts for exercise, don’t you? There was good snorkeling right off the nude beach, but we didn’t do that either. We actually had planned to do that, but the weather turned kind of windy by the middle of the week and the water not that comfortable, so we lucked out without having to do that either. REPEAT GUESTS
We were repeat guests, although as I said, a VERY long time ago and we were not invited to any repeaters party. There were a LOT of repeat guest there at the time, particularly on the nude side, and I can see why folks particularly on the nude side come back often, as the vibe there on that side is very good. TRIP HOME
There comes a time when all vacations must end, as did this one. We were told to call two days before our trip home to re-confirm our pickup from the hotel, which we did. Since our flight did not leave until 5 PM, our pickup was scheduled at 12:30 PM. I guess local calls are supposed to cost money (as opposed to free calls to the U.S.?? <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Crazy.gif" alt="" /> I had the resort place the call to JTL to re-confirm our pickup time. I knew that checkout is supposed to be 11 AM, so I called back the front desk about a late checkout and spoke to an extremely disagreeable fellow. This is how the conversation went: Me—“Hi, I just got confirmation that my pickup to go home isn’t scheduled until 12:30, and I know that checkout is supposed to be 11:00 AM” Fellow says “Yes, that is correct”. Me “Well, what do I do between 11:00 and 12:30, is there a room where I can shower or something?” Fellow , something to the effect of “well, you’ll just have to get something to eat or something. You figure it out.” (By the way, there is absolutely ZERO to eat at the resort from 10:30 AM when the buffet closes until the beach bars start serving food, around noon, except for chips and cheese at the beach bar.) Me “OK, could I have a late checkout?” Fellow “OK, but only until mid-day”. Me “OK, mid-day, is that noon?” Fellow “Yes, that’s what it means”. Me “Do I need to confirm that with anyone else?” Fellow “No, I’m the one who makes those decisions. (..in a real snotty tone). Guess you can figure out something to do for a half hour.” I tell you, every time I dealt with someone from the front desk they were rude and unhelpful. (By the way, two DIFFERENT maids came by our room the last morning, wanting to know why we weren’t out yet.)
So, the day before we were to leave, we went to the lunch buffet and got two plates of cheese, fruit, some cold cuts, and some bread and put them in our fridge to have for our last meal. Eric got some chips and cheese from the nude beach bar, and we enjoyed our ‘last meal’ on our patio. We then packed up and were at the desk at noon straight up. We got some drinks from the bar and got on the internet, waiting for our ride, which arrived a bit early.
Our ride back to the airport was in a smaller –about 15 person – van and since we were the first ones on, we sat in the front and talked to the driver, which was quite nice. It was nice being able to see things along the road this time, as opposed to our trip in the dark the opposite way. This time, we only stopped at Riu to pick up some more people, which was nice, as opposed to stopping numerous times.
We arrived at the airport at approximately 2:00 PM and walked straight up to the desk for Jet Blue and checked in and proceeded to check out Club Mobay. CLUB MOBAY
I had read online that if you are a Diner’s Club member (which Eric is) that you can get the Club MoBay departure service free if they have room, but that you cannot pre book it. Since our flight was so much later than most flights we figured it would not be a problem getting in and we were very happy to discover we were correct. In fact, we both got in free! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Joy.gif" alt="" /> There is expedited security screening for Club MoBay and they walk you straight through the line and then point you toward the lounge. We had checked in and were through security and inside Club MoBay by around 2:10, which meant we would have had a very LONG three hours to wait, if we had had to wait in the regular departure lounge, and this was so much more comfortable! The lounge provides free alcohol drinks, including top shelf liquors and drinkable wines (as compared to what we had for a week! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Crazy.gif" alt="" />), several large screen TV’s, comfy seats, free high speed wifi, and SHOWERS, as well as snacks. The snacks were the only thing I was slightly disappointed in, as they basically did not have anything warm to eat, other than some soup and some meat patties. The St. Maarten airport lounge has meatballs, chicken wings, mini quiches, etc. They provided bar service to your seat, which we tipped for, although most people did not. You could go back and forth to the main departure lounge and go shopping or go to the smoking lounge and come back, which is a really nice feature. Overall, we were extremely with our experience, and I would definitely pay for the service, as we felt it was well worth the $30.00 per person. That we were able to get it free this time was frosting on the cake!!
The flight home left on time and our only complaint is that they showed a Superman movie and the flight was so short, we missed the end of the movie! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Crazy.gif" alt="" /> We should all have such problems! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Smile.gif" alt="" />
Overall, we had a good time, we thoroughly enjoyed our time on the c/o beach, and the people we met there. We relaxed.
If I were running the resort, I would change a lot of things, but I’d probably be bankrupt within a month! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/dine.gif" alt="" />