We considered our Christmas-New Year's week vacation options for a budget family getaway and with the high prices on Paradise Island, airfare and hotel, we looked into Grand Bahama Island, with two young teens and a 6 year old. The weather was good, mid and upper 70's, sunny every morning with some clouds rolling in/out, then clearing again in the afternoons and evenings. Booking thru Travelocity, we found a great package option by way of the Club Grand Bahama. What was previously the Westin and Sheraton, is now the Radisson and Reef Village, together called Our Lucaya. The Radisson is more upscale, a stately manor house lobby, more luxurious grounds, more rooms with a view of the Atlantic, but very, very quiet. Reef Village is the much better value and has more action, though still quiet.
We took two rooms at Reef Village--a king size (garden view) and a two double Ocean view across the hall. The beds are very comfortable, as is the rollaway ($20 day) which is a real bed. The amenities are good- shelves, cabinets, desk, easy chair, refrigerator, and free internet ethernet access. The bathroom is small, and they seemed to run low on the coffee for the room, but the staff is uniformally friendly and attentive. In fact, the moment we landed and entered the immigration area, we were greeted by ‘Willy” a Club Grand Bahama guide in a fancy Panama Jack hat, who walked us and our luggage to a van, and 10 minutes later we were warmly greeted at Our Lucaya. Punch and cookies were in the lobby, room adjustments were quickly made to accommodate us with views and close proximity, and a Club Grand Bahama concierge team who were eager for us to meet with them. We unloaded at the rooms and soon after settled in at the Club Grand Bahama (CGB) room adjacent to the Casino.
We were handed special CGB cards and materials with all the options and descriptions. At the base Silver level, which we had booked, there is breakfast and dinner included, plus one activity per day per person. At least 4 different places offered breakfast and we tried each; 5 are available for dinner. Included activities include snorkeling, biking, mopeds, glass bottom boat, trampoline boat at the beach, etc.
On Lucaya Beach, the sand is soft and there are plenty of areas to lounge, or at the many pools which run almost right up to the sand There really is no distinction between the grounds of the Radisson and Reef, and other than the rooms and two lobbies, it is really one resort. We loved the spa, which is on the Radisson side but an easy stroll thru their tropical grounds. On one level they have massages and other services, and upstairs overlooking the pools and beach is an excellent (free) gym. Treadmills, elipticals and stair machines with tvs, nautilus and free weights, dance and spinning rooms. Outside there are tennis courts, one for each of the 4 Grand Slam surfaces. Three were available for our stay, the French, Australian and US Open. It is a small charge to play and they lend you racquets at a reasonable cost.
Literally across from the Reef and Raddison, which are on the beach side, is the Port Lucaya Marketplace, a small shopping village, which hums with straw stands, boutiques, many bars and restaurants (many in the CGB plans) and music at night. It is safe, though just look left when you cross the street, its British style. The vehicles stop and let you cross, and there is very little traffic.
We were surprised at how quiet and relaxed the atmosphere is, there are just not that many tourists here. What we understand is that this is due to a combination of the economy and culture. What you can see quickly is that Lucaya is seeking to set itself apart from Freeport. The shops have pushed the Freeport t-shirts and trinkets to the back of the racks or into boxes, literally, and now go with "Lucaya" up front. They are hungry for business and yet not aggressive or offensive. There is a strong goodwill that you sense from the people here, sincere greetings and desire to make us feel this is a place to return to. This is particularly true with the CGB team. No time-share mention, just- `enjoy our little Lucaya and come back’. In fact, the only time-share we heard of is at the Ritz in Taino Beach, and there is only a small RCI sign inside the lobby there which alerted us. When the Carnival cruises come in some days, late morning, the Marketplace has some more buzz and this brings much needed revenue to the vendors.
The CGB Club concierges could not be any more gracious, coordinating with vendors, restaurants, and drivers to take us wherever we needed to go. Glass bottom boat activity? ok, the CGB concierges said that they will get us a van to take us to the marina, wait, then take you back...he did. (And we saw sharks and Grouper and a sunken boat). When one restaurant they had booked closed early, they quickly coordinated amongst each other by cel phones to get us to another place. What a team these CGB ladies! For our beach party, a stretch limo pulled up to Reef Village and we loaded in to head to the other side of the canal. The CGB team made sure that we arrived and returned well. Bike riding and mopeds were free thru the CGB and we picked them up right across the street at the Marketplace, next to Frank’s Ice Cream (good) and the Duty Free shop. You do have to be careful riding because of the British style driving, not like the USA. There are plenty of side and beach roads to wander down and we have felt safe. Locals often stopped to offer assistance and they let you cross at intersections.
CGB worked with Unexso for all of us to play with dolphins as part of the Club experience in a lagoon, a few miles from Lucaya. For an extra charge, some of us were also able to spend extensive additional time with these amazing and sensitive mammals. Unexso is next to the Marketplace and Pelican Bay, and is a very professional dive/swim operation. They ferry you over to the lagoon and back.
The food options were good. Breakfast at Zorbas is perfect, inside or along the terrace, and dinner is excellent. Its always the most crowded at Zorbas, well earned, and the owners are a lot of fun to hang with. Lunch or dinner at Agave is a latin fusion mix and very tasty. We loved the fritters and breakfast at Le Med, the Hamburgers and chicken at Prop (at the beach at Reef Village), and the Willy Broadleef large buffet breakfast in an African-Indian setting, that was very cool. As for the CGB arrangement, we had essentially pre-paid for most meals and its very smooth to just show the cards. Included with dinner is appetizer, entree, dessert, soda or juice (alcohol is extra but modest priced). Zorbas is the best because they do not switch their menu when they hear you have the Club cards, After Decks does and the Club menu is much more limited. Zorbas dinner was very good and large portion Greek. China Beach behind Prop right on the ocean had a great ambience with Thai-Malaysian-Japanese fare, and very good pad Thai. Our favorite dinner was at Iries, which is connected to the Radisson and across from the Cove/Casino side entrance, with outstanding gourmet caribbean, steak, ox, and seafood, in a colonial home, matching the manor house entrance. Luciano’s, overlooking the Port Lucaya marina served upscale French and was very good too. We got to see all the Sunday football action at Sparkys bar in the middle of the Marketplace (part of Agave), and listened to bands play at night outside in the center of the Marketplace at the Count Basie Theatre.
There is an option to upgrade to Gold and Platinum levels in the Club. Most of the top restaurants are included in Platinum and the activities at the level are too many to list. But it is very costly, upwards of $300 per day more for our family of 5. Upgrading for a day was made available and that was worth it. What we did hear and see is that the All Inclusive thru the resort hotel (not the Club Grand Bahama) is not worth it for more than a few days since the food options are quite limited. The transfer from Reef Village back to the airport was also smooth and efficient. CGB had a driver waiting for us and we were met again at the airport 15 minutes later by warm Willy, who escorted us to the ticket counter wished us a safe trip home. We plan to return.
- 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