Grand Hyatt Baha Mar review – Part I

By Michael:
This post is the first of a 3-part series about the newly opened Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, which just opened a couple of months ago in Nassau, the Bahamas. In this first installment we review the hotel in general, including the room, casino and other general hotel features. We cover the pools and other activities in this post, and finally we cover the different food options, including the newly opened Grand Club lounge on this post

Booking:

The hotel is a category 5, which means 20,000 Hyatt points per night. Due to the hotel being originally planned as a category 4, there was a glitch when bookings opened, and the rooms were selling at the category 4 price point of 15,000 points per night. I booked two rooms, one for us and another for my parents. The website showed 15,000 points but after booking, 20,000 points were deducted instead. We quickly realized through a couple of other fellow blogger posts that the hotel was honoring the lower category price for all bookings, so a quick tweet to the Hyatt Concierge team manually credited my account for 30,000 points (5,000 per room times 2 rooms times 3 nights each).

Transportation:

The hotel has an airport shuttle service. Note that I purposely left out the word “complimentary”. The hotel can arrange the service for you, and for 5 people it was $45 flat rate. We opted for a cab instead, which is $24 for the first two people, $4 for each additional person, and a per luggage charge. Bahamas and U.S. dollars are interchangeable, at a 1:1 rate. We were charged $40 from the airport to the hotel and $35 back to the airport. I tipped $5 extra both ways and the cab service was hassle free and the drivers were very nice. Uber does not have a presence in Nassau. The ride is about 7 miles, about 10-15 minutes.
The hotel is not operating at full capacity yet. Through some conversations with the staff, we learned that they are releasing about 300 new rooms per month until they reach the total of 1,800 rooms, which is massive for any type of resort. As a result, the hotel felt empty the whole time we visited. I can see the hotel being overrun with people once it’s operating at full capacity, so if this is a resort you’re planning on visiting, I’d recommend going sooner rather than later. Full capacity is expected to be reached in October 2017.

Check-in:

Check in was really quick and painless. We arrived at around 3:45 p.m., although only one of our two rooms was ready at the time. The main check in counter was spacious and well decorated. The centerpiece table was beautiful.
The main front desk featured a fish tank with 70-something lionfish. Very cool feature, although quite odd as lionfish are a nuisance invasive species in Caribbean waters.
As Globalist, we were upgraded to two oceanview rooms on the 15th floor of the East tower. The West tower is still not operational as far as we could tell. The rooms, while not connecting, were conveniently next to each other. The front desk clerk who checked us in offered to email me when the second room was ready, so we dropped our luggage in the first room and headed for the Grand Club to get some snacks and drinks. The Grand Club had just finally opened the day before our arrival. The personalized service was stellar, because as we were spending some time at the lounge, one of the attendants told me our second room was ready, so she took my ID, went to the front desk and retrieved our keys and brought them to us, which I thought was very thoughtful.

Room:

The elevators for the East tower are past the casino, so it requires a bit of walking from the lobby. Everything in the hotel looks brand new and freshly painted.  One odd thing we found was that the signage points towards an ice machine but there is no ice machine on any floor.  You need to call for ice.
We were assigned to rooms 1532 and 1534, which were straddling the elevator section, each door on the opposite site of the table on the above picture.
There’s something to be said about getting a room that barely anyone has used. The room still smelled brand new and the decor and color themes were classic Caribbean, tropical, blue water colors. Suites at the hotel do not appear to be complete yet, so we had to settle for being upgraded to an oceanview room with a balcony, which was still great.
The two rooms were identical mirror images of each other. By the entrance there was a large mirror with two lamps on the left, and to the right was the double door entrance to the bathroom and three different closets.
The medium size closet contained the safe, beach slippers and a couple of drawers while the smallest contained the iron and ironing board. The largest closet had the luggage rack and a couple of bathrobes.
The room featured a king size bed with a chair, a separate couch and a working desk.
The TV could use better positioning as it is placed in an awkward place, because it’s lined up with the bed, but parallel to it, so if you’re lying in bed it’s uncomfortable to watch, and if you’re sitting on the couch you’re not directly facing the TV either. Either way, with so many hotel activities you’re unlikely to spend much time watching TV.
Behind the bed there was also some sort of weird couch set up that did not seem to serve much of a purpose other than placing luggage, unless sitting there and staring into the bathroom is your thing.
The bathroom had a double sink with a soaking tub and separate glass shower and toilet sections. The shower featured a rain shower plate and a handheld shower. Water pressure was excellent.
The bathroom had sliding doors that if you would like privacy they can be slid closed for your 2-year old toddler to open and close them as you’re using the toilet and shower (none of the bathroom doors lock, which is a huge pet peeve of mine with hotel rooms). The sliding doors can also be left open to give the room a much bigger feel and natural light, and you can also enter the bathroom that way, although you have to sort of wiggle your way around the bathtub.
My wife was pleasantly surprised to find out that the bathroom toiletries are not your usual June Jacobs brand, but instead are ESPA products, which were not only a step up in quality, but also were twice the size as normal toiletry bottles. She may or may not have taken an extra few of them home.
The desk had a Keurig coffee machine, mini-bar, and storage drawers.
The minibar seemed to have the smart system of some other Hyatt hotels such as the Grand Hyatt DFW, so beware that if you remove any of the items the system automatically charges your room folio for those items, so I made sure not to touch or remove any items to make room for our water bottles.
The desk also features a tablet that you can remove from the docking station for portability, and from there you can order room service, additional toiletries or other personal items you might have left home, browse hotel restaurants, etc. Surprisingly my parents’ room did not have this tablet, while ours did.
The balcony had two chairs and a small table. Some hotel rooms only have step out balconies with no furniture, but ours was a full balcony. The view was great, and we sat out on the balcony the first night and had some beers. Up on the 15th floor is very breezy so it’s nice to sit out in the evening. You can see Atlantis out in the distance on the far right of one of the photos below.
One gripe I had with the room were the light switches. While they were fairly intuitive, they were not functional. There was a master switch by the entrance and another one by the bed. The one by the entrance had High, Medium and Low light intensity, and an All Off switch. The one by the bed was missing this All Off switch. We like to leave the bathroom light on when we sleep, as it’s easier to get up at night, especially the first couple of nights to avoid bumping into furniture in an unfamiliar setting. Hitting the All Off switch would disable the bathroom light switches, so you had to walk around the bed, turn the room lights off, and then manually turn the bathroom lights on.

Common areas and other random thoughts:

The common areas were spacious, and since the hotel isn’t at full capacity yet, everything felt empty. The casino was the area that usually had the most people during our stay, although it had a lot of empty tables with dealers just sitting around waiting for players. Casinos are really not my thing, so I did not gamble at all. The entire casino floor is huge.
The lobby had lots of sitting spaces, a few bars including one that featured a live jazz act for two of the nights we were there.
During the stay all the staff walking around the hotel, out by the common areas and all other places were friendly and always said hello, and they all seemed excited about the new hotel.
The hotel is going through some growing pains that always come along as you open a brand new property. Some staff seemed uninformed or not well trained, and sometimes contradicted each other. There were also quick blackouts a number of times, and one of the nights the blackout seemed to reset our room lights, so when power came back on all our room lights came on at 2:30 a.m. and woke us up.  It happened as we walked the casino area and many of the machines turnes off and also one time it happened just as we were to board the elevator, luckily we waited outside for it to reset and didn’t get stuck inside. The same thing happen to at least another room as we started comparing notes, so I assumed the issue was property-wide.

Other fees:

 It is worth noting that the hotel not only has a mandatory 15% service charge on all food and beverage you order, but also a general service charge of $20.63 per room per night to be shared among the remaining non-front line employees. I did not particularly like this feature (nor was I aware of it), as I think imposing a service charge not only removes the incentive for employees to go above and beyond the standard service, but also shifts employee salaries to the guests instead of falling on the hotel to pay appropriate wages to those employees. This, in addition to a mandatory $30 per night resort fee (waived for Globalists), really adds up beyond the cost of the room. I’d rather tip for good service, not just for employees to do their required work.
We truly enjoyed the facilities and thought the hotel was beautiful, had a great location and was family and adult friendly.
On this separate post we cover the facilities and amenities, including pools and water activities. We hope these installments are useful to anyone looking to stay at this property.
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8 Responses to Grand Hyatt Baha Mar review – Part I

  1. Brooke says:

    Thanks for your review! Can you tell me what all was inside The Grand Club Lounge? What were the hours and did it include any alcohol? Thank you.

    • travelguys says:

      Hi Brooke. Yes, alcohol was included and staff was always happy to pour it for us. Food got progressively better as our stay went along and service at the GC was great. Hoping to post a review soon.

  2. sofrontin@hotmail.com says:

    Hi, I’m really considering a family vacation to this property, but the food prices are concerning. Did you find yourselves ever going off property to eat, and if so was it an easy cab or adventurous bus ride?

    • travelguys says:

      I personally did not venture out although there are a couple of options nearby. We wrote a subsequent post covering all the food options at this resort. See link at the top of the post for additional info. Thanks for reading!

  3. janice says:

    You include the info below under Other fees:

    It is worth noting that the hotel not only has a mandatory 15% service charge on all food and beverage you order, but also a general service charge of $20.63 per room per night to be shared among the remaining non-front line employees. Can you please elaborate? I’m aware of the resort fee, but Is this room service or is the 15% up-charge any time you order food? What is the general service charge? Per night per room? Didn’t see this when looking at booking charges. thanks.

    • travelguys says:

      @Janice, it’s something similar to the set up at cruises. Cruises add a fixed amount of tips to your room, but when you order at the bar, etc, they still tack on the tip amount. The only difference is with cruises you can generally request that the tips are removed if you feel the service has been poor. The general service charge is to reward other employees who don’t necessarily face customers and are unlikely to get tips. I personally feel is a ridiculous charge, but that’s their policy.

  4. Traveller Tom says:

    Alcohol is served from 5:00 to 9:00 pm daily in the Grand Club and of course it is free. Must consume it there, can only carry out soda and water bottles, so make sure you do. Save you a few $$. Desert is served from 8:00 to 9:00 pm on the Grand Club.

    • travelguys says:

      Yes, I got nicely called out for trying to take a glass of wine out of the GC to the restaurant, where they were selling them for an outrageous price.

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