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“Gorgeous, Incredible Stay!”

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Grand Isle Resort & Spa
Ranked #1 of 6 Hotels in Great Exuma
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 13 February 2013 via mobile

Just returned back from a week at Grand Isle Resort + Spa with my husband and 4 other friends. First of all the villas are beautiful! Spacious, clean with a tommy Bahama style decor, it was a great place to return home to after a fun day out in Exuma. The resort itself is beautiful! The view from the pool area is magnificent. Emerald Bay is just a gorgeous beach with incredible turquoise water. There are coral reefs just a few yards out where you can use the resorts snorkeling gear to check out the great sea life.

We travel quite a bit and cannot say how kind and friendly everyone who works there is. I actually find that quite rare so it made our trip that much more memorable.

Their palapa grill has great food, amazing drinks and has a real comfortable vibe. The live music that we saw was fab!

The fitness center has all that you need and while we didn't take advantage of the spa this time around, we heard from other guests that its really exceptional.

So sad to be back in chilly NYC but so looking forward to our next trip back to Grand Isle!

  • Stayed: February 2013
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5  Thank arg2222
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 11 February 2013

Stayed at the Grand Isle Resort for 4 nights the last week of January. I had very high expectations and mostly they were met with a few exceptions. Here is a rundown of our experience at the resort.

* The villa was luxurious. Villa includes high ceilings, nice flooring tile and area rugs, multiple flat panel monitors, huge bathroom with two-person whirlpool tub, separate commode and shower, a washer/dryer setup (convenient after ocean swimming), and a safe. There is also a full kitchen outfitted with high end appliances. Villa is tastefully decorated, which is always a consideration. Bedroom was beautiful with decent furniture, bedding, and access to balcony. The interior was nearly immaculate, although there were a few hairs (not our hair color) found in the tub when running the whirlpool.

* Although I booked an Ocean view room, there was only a partial view of the ocean. To the left, I could see palm trees, another villa, and some of the property. To the far right, there was an outbuilding. I felt slightly resentful as I expected an unobstructed view of the ocean. I stayed silent on the issue with the property as I did book late; however, you should get what you pay for.

* Grounds are pristine. They seem to take pride in this property.

* Large beach is a short walk from villas and has plenty of chaise lounges. Sand is fairly clean. View off the beach is pretty but there seems to be a cell-tower across from the resort, which detracts from the beautiful landscape.

* Pool was perfect as it is clean, heated, and varies in depth. Not quite an infinity pool as palm trees block most of view. Lounge chairs neatly spaced around pool and beyond. It would be a real easy place to get a tan or read a book. I personally can't stand still for that long.

* Outside hot-tub was relaxing in the evening. It could probably hold four adults.

* Golf cart was a nice little perk but there's not too much to see beyond resort. We used it to pick up water at the nearby liquor store and do some sightseeing around the golf course. Our cart seemed to be low on battery most of the time even though it was charged all night.

* Although their website states that there is a larger than life hammock, it was nowhere to be seen. When asked about it, I was told that it was taken down for repair or until a replacement could be found. That was a minor letdown.

* Restaurant is decent albeit overpriced. Food was average but then again, you are on a small island. Ribs were disappointing even though my "Dining Concierge" stated that the meat falls off the bone. Instead, I found them to be tough. We did not find too many dining alternatives away from the resort.

* Staff was very friendly except for the manager of the restaurant on Sat. night. Although we made late dinner reservations with reception, the restaurant was not informed. This made for an awkward situation (us pleading our case to the manager). We were accommodated; however, the manager implied that we should dine quickly so that a larger party could be seated an hour later. We did eventually get seated after waiting at the bar but the entire situation ruined our dining experience. The infuriating part is that the entire lower half of the restaurant was vacant. We even offered to dine there but were brushed off. Being rushed in the Bahamas is very ironic.

* Snorkeling equipment offered to us was not the same brand as listed on website.

Overall, the resort is very pleasant and we had a memorable time. As you can see, there is also plenty of room for improvement. If you require an unobstructed view of the ocean, get them to commit in writing before reserving.

As for Exuma, the beaches and waters are beautiful. The sea is clear near shore and becomes a light turquoise blue farther out. It changes to indigo blue in deeper water. My words cannot capture the beauty of the ocean in Exuma. The Island is small and mainly uneventful.

I suggest you rent a boat from Minns and head for Stocking Island like we did. It was not inexpensive but it was worth it. This was the highlight of our trip! It's easy to find a secluded beach on Stocking Island and drop anchor. Go ahead and search for starfish, sand dollars, and swim in the warmer, calmer waters. You could stay at the resort and work on your tan, but for me, swimming at the resort beach was rough and murky (near shore) compared with Stocking Island.

Then there is the Tropic of Cancer beach. It's easy to get to with a rental car from Don's. Spend the afternoon relaxing while taking in the amazing views. It was so nice, we went there twice.

Room Tip: If you require an unobstructed view of the ocean, get them to commit in writing before reserving.
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  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Stoked-On-Spokes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 February 2013

We stayed at Grand Isle for one week. I would confirm the view of others: the hotel is a five-star resort in almost every way. The one bedroom oceanfront villa we were in was beautiful and modern, very similar to what I would expect at a Four Seasons or St Regis resort. Nice views of the water. While the units have full kitchens with modern appliances, we didn't find this useful, as it is 30 minutes from the resort to a grocery store. (Apparently there used to be one nearby, but it has closed. The decision to build full kitchens in every room in this resort feels like a waste, as, even the best grocery store in the Exumas, the Exuma Market near the marina in George Town, is not very good. This isn't Mexico.) We had the odd breakfast of coffee and toast in the room, but other than that, we ate out.

The staff were uniformly excellent, friendly and efficient, way above the Bahamian standard. Really enjoyed every single person we met. It is actually a striking contrast to the Sandals next door, which we went to one night on an evening pass, and had several frustrating experiences (and a couple of good ones too, it wasn't all bad, with their staff.

The food in the restaurant was uniformly good. We especially liked the wraps at lunch, the grouper or snapper at dinner (these are local catches), and the conch chowder anytime.

The pool at Grand Isle is spectacular, its large and pleasant to swim in, with great views of the cove. Poolside has a nice, quiet vibe. We were there on an off week (it was at maybe 15-20% occupancy), but, even if it was full, I think there would be chaise lounges for all. Grand Isle also has chaise lounges the beach (only a minute or two down the hill from the pool). NB: there can be a no-see-um/sand flea problem. We were fine for 6 nights, then on the last night my wife got 20 bites. Bring Skin-so-soft.

We rented a car twice, and it was a joy. Just ask at the Grand Isle front desk and the car is delivered to you. We did this once on short notice, and had a car within 30 minutes of asking.

Restaurants: Away from Grand Isle, we tried Santana's, Chat n chill, and Big D's. We found that Santana's, much beloved in these parts, is kind of overrated - it's a charming place, with a nice beach location, but given how far away it is, the food is heavily fried and not memorable. Pet peeve - this is the sort of value for money calculation that Trip Advisor reviews often get wrong. If you want lobster, pay $36 or similar in the better restaurant near where you are staying, and get something prepared well - it doesn't make sense to drive a long distance to get one that is only OK for $22. Chat n Chill was fine, but nothing special. The real revelation is Big D's in Steventon - the conch salad is fantastic , as is the scorched conch (not what you think it is!) and really, so is everything else they do. Big D's is not Bahamian fast food, like Santana's or Chat n chill - it is quality, well prepared, healthy food, all local catch, served in an authentic place, at a good price.

Beaches: We went out one day to explore other beaches and restaurants, one day to get to the boat rental at Minns. The beaches at the south end of the island are no better than those at the north end, and it's a long drive (almost 90 minutes from Grand Isle). I wouldn't bother going down there. Much better was the secluded beach on the Atlantic side of Stocking Island, and Cocoplum beach. These were awesome, secluded beaches, and you can do a bit of shelling (overall though, the shelling in the Exumas , when we were there, is overrated - we've seen much better in Florida, eg Captiva or Boca Raton). Cocoplum can be hard to find. The road to Cocoplum is not marked, it's just another dirt road going east off the Queen's Highway. Going north, after Steventon but before Rolleville, when you see the faded sign for Runaway beach club, make a u-turn, it is about 100-200 yards south of that road.

Snorkeling: we did this three times at Emerald Cove, next to Grand Isle, and used the rental boat from Minn's to visit a number of hard-to-get-to sites. While we saw dolphins, a ray (not including the "domesticated" ray swimming in front of Chat n Chill), and lots of schools of small fish (mostly shad), snorkeling in the Exumas was a little disappointing. It's not that colorful or exciting, and the water is surprisingly cold when you get out of the coves. We enjoyed it nonetheless, but be warned - this is not "world class" snorkeling, no matter what the websites say. This could be the time of year, I am not sure.

There is no better experience than landing at the Exuma airport, especially direct from a major airport (Air Canada from Toronto). It's a one room building, you get your bags, walk 20 feet, and the taxi takes you 15 minutes to the hotel, and stays with you after you check in, to take you and your bags (which never come out of the car) to your room. Touchdown was 6.15pm, we were in the room before 7pm. That is true, stress free, off-the-grid luxury!

Notwithstanding the minor things mentioned above, we loved Grand Isle, had a great time and would come back to the Exumas. But given the grocery setup, the Exumas is somewhat better for couples than families.

  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank ensco3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 January 2013

My husband and I recently spent a week here with our extended family and our 15 month old son. It was beyond what we expected; we were blown away by the resort, the conscientious staff, the beach - and bonfire under the stars that looked like fireworks on pause - the epic, epic landscapes in every direction, the people, the culture, amazing food (we bought fresh vegetables from local farmers on the roadside), the white tropical sand, spectacular day trips, Captain Jerry, poolside cocktails, decompression, rest, revitalization and on and on.

Best family trip ever.
Everyone from 1 to 71 left with a sparkle in their eye.

Thank you for building such a paradise - I can now replace my fake screen saver with this real one. We are in love and counting the days til we can make it back again!

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled with family
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12  Thank EmilyMcInnes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 January 2013

We were in need of time away to recoup from our hectic lives and Grand Isles was a great choice. We stayed in a 3 bedroom. The villa is furnished beautifully and the beds are quite comfortable. The kitchen is outfitted perfectly allowing us to cook when we wanted to. We ate most breakfasts at the villa therefore used the premium quality pots and pans. When we didn't feel like cooking we went to the resort restaurant. It is positioned next to the pool therefore has a lovely ambience day or night.
We enjoyed many of the resort amenities therefore had occasion to meet many of the staff. From reception, to restaurant, to spa then pool the staff had such genuine attitudes and we felt very welcome.
We enjoyed the pool and the beach. Also we used the world class marina next door when we boarded our island day cruise.
I recommend this resort for all. We were a family ranging from 4 to 75. We also had the romantic young couple staying on their own and they had a great time. Plus I talked with someone staying solo and she was having a good time.

Room Tip: It doesn't matter we looked at a multitude of rooms and they all had great views and the same am...
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  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled with family
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3  Thank AmalfiRegina
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 January 2013

We took a 2 floor, 2 bedroom, ocean front villa (#1112) for our post-Christmas holiday and were utterly charmed and delighted with it, as well as the resort itself. Emerald Bay from the perspective of either balconies, gives you almost a full 180 degree unhindered view of the sun all day. Nothing spoils your contemplation. The villa is separated from the manicured lawn of the golf course below by a hedge that ensures your privacy. Inside, very high ceilings, stone flooring and modern design touches enhance the feeling of peace and quiet. Beds, pillows and duvets are cushy. You have en suite washrooms on the ground floor and a powder room upstairs. It's very nice for entertaining or for travelling as a family or even two couples. People from the resort next door came in droves to admire and enquire. In terms of price difference with them, there wasn't a huge difference and if two couples used the house, the savings were significant compared to their rate. But I digress. Every unit comes with an electrical, covered golf cart that is kept in your garage for charging. There is a little cart highway that snakes around the resort but also beyond, in the marina. It's handy especially for families with kids. The infinity pool was superb, the area around it for lounge chairs was vast and well staffed. The restaurant offers delicious foods whether breakfast or dinner. The welcome at the reception is top notch and their recommendations, spot on. We rented a car from the airport to explore the island and go snorkeling off-resort. We ended up quite satisfied on site with the variety of fish we saw and the resident (small) barracuda some distance from the beach. The surf lulled you into relaxing however stressed when you arrived. Activities like an evening bonfire, or as we saw for the kids, sail boat regattas in the pool and treasure hunts, are thoughtful touches to create a sense of community. Everywhere you go on the resort, the standard for cleanliness is very high. Your villa comes stocked with the basics like coffee, tea, sugar. We stocked up at the Exuma grocery store in Georgetown, and stopped in at Smitty's halfway other times. If you arrive on the weekend as most flights do, the stores get their deliveries on Monday so at first, you may not find everything like produce but it's worth it to go back. We mostly cooked in our villa throughout the week and used the poolside restaurant when we first arrived and for refreshments. It was overall dreamy. We took after dinner walks "around the block" on the impeccably landscaped (interlock pavement) street. We were never bothered by insects so no need for insect repellent whatsoever thanks to a constant breeze and that goes for anywhere on the island. The resort is right off Queen's Highway which will take you as far north as Barraterre and south to Little Exuma. A visit to Stocking Island across Georgetown where we met returning visitors to Exuma from the last decade and a half, confirmed for us that we were at THE best spot in Great Exuma at Grand'Isle. We agree. Please make a point to walk the length of the bay to say hi to "Uncle Louie" and pick up some souvenirs. The shopping on the island consists of the straw market and a handful of little shops in Georgetown.

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank LoulouFdeV
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 January 2013

We stayed at Grand Isle Resort over Thanksgiving.
Our children's ages range from 9 yrs to 19 yrs...so we were hoping for a vacation where everyone would have a good time and Grand Isle in Exuma was perfect.
The Villas are top notch and beautifully decorated. The pool, beach and service were top of the line as well.
A shout out to Emerson at the pool.
The restaurant on the premises was also very good.
We thought we'd tire of it but the food was delicious and fresh.
Only caution: Think about renting a car, taxis are expensive if you wish to travel the Island. Also, while in Georgetown, stop at the grocery store and pick up excentials and snacks. Alcohol too.
The golf carts provided were great for tooling around and doing some good birding.
We did take a boat trip (Thanks, Capt Jerry) to the 'Chat n Chill and did some snorkling.
The golf course is top of the line and very scenic.
Overall, a great trip. We'd go back to Grand Isle again, it was a slice of paradise.

  • Stayed: November 2012, travelled with family
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7  Thank SMP65
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Grand Isle Resort & Spa

Address: Emerald Bay, Great Exuma
Region: Caribbean > Bahamas > Out Islands > Great Exuma
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 6 Hotels in Great Exuma
Price Range: £320 - £726 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Grand Isle Resort & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 78
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located on Emerald Bay in Great Exuma, The Bahamas, Grand Isle Resort & Spa is a stunning ocean front resort. The exclusive gated community comprises 78 luxuriously appointed 1- to 4-bedroom villas that range from 1,250 sq. ft. to 5,200 sq. ft. and offer a fully equipped kitchen, spacious living area, high-end amenities, and extraordinary views. Getting around the resort is quick and convenient, as every villa is equipped with a personal golf cart. Grand Isle is one of the finest resorts in the Caribbean and is ideally suited for family holidays, romantic getaways, destination weddings and honeymoons, or for simply enjoying the beach. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Grand Isle Resort And Spa
Grand Isle Hotel Great Exuma
Grand Isle Resort & Spa Bahamas/Great Exuma

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