Heroes Weekend 2018 was a special weekend of celebration for my family. We decided to celebrate at the Grand Bahia Principe in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. My husband turned the big 30, my daughter turned 2, I celebrated the completion of two books (business and fiction), our accompanying friends celebrated graduating from UWI and getting engaged.
Although my party and I refused to have our weekend ruined, we enjoyed the time among ourselves, celebrating life joy and new beginnings.
The property is beautiful, however, the service overall is terrible. During our 4 days, 3 nights stay, we’ve needed a manager almost every, single day (and even at night).
We arrived at the hotel sometime around 1pm. We were able to check in but naturally were prepared to wait since check-in time was 3pm. We walked around for a bit, had lunch and was generally killing time and exploring.
As 3pm came and went with no word on the status of the rooms, when we checked back with the front desk at after 4pm on the status of the room indicating we had arrived hours before, we were told in no uncertain terms that that was irrelevant and by their count, since check-in is at 3, we were ONLY waiting for an hour. As we continued to wait, my tired husband literally fell asleep in the lobby (on his birthday) and the process only seemed to be expedited when it was almost 5pm and we began to become insistent and angry.
When we finally got to the rooms (2 rooms for a party of 5), one-room reeked of smoke (cigarette) and the elevator smelled wet and frowzy. In general, quite awful. As you can imagine we were already quite annoyed.
We were also peeved to discover “Free” WiFi was only available in the lobby. Additionally, the “Free WiFi ” was such a bother to connect to, the public relations desk served as a WiFi support desk as well and my husband chose not to bother with it all. Our room for some reason blocked local service signals. Ergo, choosing a data plan as opposed to paying for WiFi that began at US$50 for 8 hours, I was pretty much out of range/reach unless I roamed to/through the lobby. It caused an issue because our two rooms weren’t close to each other, we couldn’t call, and the property is so large and convoluted that we got lost every time we left the room. (We even ran into other lost guests several times while lost. After the first two times or so, it stops being funny.)
Day two started off great and was Siobhán’s birthday. It was great and ended with our request for a room change was granted. The bellman came and left without collecting the old keys and when I went to the lobby to return them myself, the front desk’s receptionist response was “So you never give it to the bellman?!”. At my very strong and borderline loud “Excuse me??” and “No, he didn’t ask.” She clammed up and took the cards from me. It would appear Grand Bahia employed me and I should have known that it was my job to deliver it to him, instead of her.
The phones in the new room didn’t work. The reception was a little better but barely functional. A staff member indicated it was because my carrier was FLOW. I was able to get onto the “Free WiFi” on day two, after the public relations desk, “registered” me and a two-hour wait. Later that night, my friends knocked on our door to borrow a rag, because, after their room cleaning, housecleaning took the ones they had and neglected to replace them. A request to the front desk to have them delivered resulted in a 45!minute wait and a call to ask how long it took to deliver a rag initiated the following response, “I’m not the person you talked to first.”.
Suffice to say, it never arrived.
Later that night, my husband retired with the baby earlier than the rest of the group. She was asleep and he wasn’t feeling well. I knew he would be hungry and requested taking him a plate. I was told I couldn’t do so (by an overly friendly and borderline inappropriate waiter) that I needed to make the plate, leave it with the room numbers and room service would take it up to the room. This was about 10pm. We did what was asked, only the plate and room service seemed to disappear into thin air and at 12am, my husband had walk across the property to get something to eat. The other room had to call for a manager when they were still waiting on the missing plates at 3am. They were sent fries, nuggets and pizza.
The buffet breakfast was 7am to 10:30am. We went down to breakfast at 10am. Approaching the egg preparation station to have an omelette, my friend was told his station was closed as he stopped working at 10am. My friend walked away and as I approached to retrieve my plate, the “chef” was busy complaining to the guest he was preparing the final omelette for that,
“Nobody nah pay mi overtime. A 10 o’clock mi dun work.”
The managers attempted to placate us by having another chef prepare the omelettes, however, his disposition was equally displaying annoyance at being bothered.
Suffice to say that by the time checkout rolled around, all four of us were more than ready leave and never return.
If you do choose, to stay at the property, be forewarned, this is the epitome of everything that is wrong with Jamaica’s customer service culture. I’m not sure if international guests are treated this badly, I’ve passed more than a few disgruntled guests at the desk in the lobby.
Memorable Staff To Note
We would like to extend our thanks and recognition to one waiter and entertainment manager in particular.
Rolando, a member of the wait staff at the buffet offers exemplary service. After sitting in his section just once, we refused to sit elsewhere in the mornings for our stay. This young man was welcoming, polite and extremely attentive and efficient. He’s very dedicated to his craft, seeming to enjoy it thoroughly. He managed to service each table as if it was the only one under his charge. We loved and appreciated his service, and made sure his managers knew it. Please promote him, your establishment would be better for it! Work di man a work, ano chicken him a jerk!
Rohan, the entertainment manager was the same. Attentive, accommodating and friendly. He went above and beyond to assist with the proposal, making sure it went off without a hitch and was very dedicated to offering the best experience.
Grand Bahia Principe would do well to keep these men on staff.
The daytime restaurant options were limited, but there were about 3 or 4 to choose from for dinner. The buffet was very good and varied, though there seemed to be a shortage of fruit in terms of variety. The meals were present y country-themed dinner each night and there were more than enough options to suit taste, lifestyle, age, etc. I didn’t like that the area, though large, was an enclosed room.
There was a lot to do, they have a full roster with the activities by day and area. There were entertainment options like shows, live music and karaoke, games, sports, parties, etc. They have a children’s village with a daycare (parents cant stay) and waterpark. Funnily enough, when we brought Sio, we U-Turned as soon as we were told we couldn’t stay. The boys were disappointed too, after making a bee-line for the kids’ video games. We never made it to the beach.
4 out of 10
Until the next one.
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