All of you that know me know that one of my greatest loves in the Caribbean is Jamaica. I’m always excited when I fly into Montego Bay.

I just got back from Runaway Bay, Gran Bahia Principe hotel that really disappointed me.

I didn’t expect a lot. Sandals, Beaches or Couples – Bahia Principe is just not, but there was a lot wrong with this hotel. Let me just qualify this by saying I had a great time! It’s not where you stay it’s who you are with and I was there with 90 ladies and had a fantastic time.

Part of the hotel was under construction, I really don’t mind construction, it didn’t disrupt peace and quiet, unless you were in the spa and wanted to have a treatment with the background of jackhammers. I personally didn’t have problem with my room, I was in a single occupancy so king size bed was fine with me (when the group first arrived there the hotel assigned king size beds to everyone, which was a bit awkward as that was one of the first requests made to Bahia Principe – double beds, and it took a few hours and some serious phone calls to get that changed). Pillows were a bit stone-like, but for the price point we coupldn’t really expect pillow menu that one gets at El Dorado and Azul properties.
My biggest problem was the food. For me Jamaica represents and orgy of flavors and distinctive cuisine. When I was in Jamaica last in June when I toured all Beaches and Sandals on the entire island, I didn’t have one meal in 9 days that I wasn’t making ‘mmmmm’ sounds. Breakfast is breakfast – same everywhere – omelet stations, toasts, mimosas… But lunch and dinner – ouch! Unless you are in the mood for pasta, lots of colorful stuff – but nothing really of substance. Jerk chicken and pork at the beach were as my friends said “good”, but I ate jerk pork at Scotchies on my way from the airport. I had really good food at Couples Tower Isle, where I was invited to lunch after a property inspection. When one stays 5 days or longer at Bahia Principe they are entitled to 2 specialty restaurant dinners. Our 1st one was at the steak house that actually ran out of steak  (yes, you read it correctly the steak house ran out of steak). Let me not even mention that getting the reservations are close to impossible. And soups – beautiful Caribbean seafood chowders, bisques, creamy vegetable soups never made their appearance anywhere on any menu. Curry goat was an insult to curry and to the goat.
Bahia Principe was chosen because of the price point, as it was reasonably priced, but there are other hotels in a similar price range that would have been a suitable choice for our purpose. It’s only saving grace was the pool. I personally don’t do very much pool, as I have it at home, I’m in the Caribbean to experience the sea.
The beach was definitely not white sugar-like sand we are all used to in the Caribbean, it was more pebbels the size of rice and peas, but a good water shoe solves that problem. I really liked the calm water without a wave, and you can see fish right there and snorkel right off the beach. Lots of ladies didn’t even want to get in the water because they didn’t want to buy water shoes, the sea grass about 2 feet in was grossing them out, which is really too bad. Not the greatest beach, but in my mind much better than 80% of Cancun beaches.
The staff was also not happy. As much as they were doing their job, there was hardly any trace of the Jamaican smile and hospitality. Management was obviously doing something wrong.
As everyone knows by now, I live to breathe bubbles, so diving was a mandatory activity. I booked 4 dives (multiple package for $200), but my dives were on the annoying side. Nothing to do with the staff (great staff), but there was a couple that just got their PADI open water certification, and absolutely had no underwater etiquette. Especially the wife. She was so close to me that my fins kept hitting her, and it was very distracting. On the 3rd dive it took her 17 (SEVENTEEN!!!) minutes to get to the 45 ft. depth. Considering that the whole dive lasts about 35 minutes, that was an outrage. Divers always know that safety comes first so if something is not comfortable the dive should be aborted as not to keep the other divers from enjoying their well earned dives. The dive masters are excellent, boat drivers are great, but the diving boats are in bad shape, paint peeling, far cry from Newton Boats of Sandals and Beaches, dive staff that actually has separate boats for beginners and more experienced divers and those dives are free. My dives were still very enjoyable, in spite of my underwater company.
So Gran Bahia Principe – unfortunatelly thumbs down.
Happy Travels!
p.s. I was very kind and mild in this post I could have been a lot more detailed and graffic.

Labels: , , , ,