Grand Lido Resort Review - June 14, 1997

The Grandiose Grand Lido--it's not perfect, but it is pretty damn GRAND!! We just returned from a trip from 6/14/97 to 6/21/97 at the Grand Lido in Negril, Jamaica. This was our third trip to Negril, with previous trips being to Hedonism II and the Negril Beach Club. Our favorite vacations before this have been cruises (20-some cruises, all but one to the Caribbean) and St. Martin, which we have visited several times. We have also travelled to Aruba several times, as well as Antigua, Cancun and the Bahamas. What follows is our report on the resort itself, as opposed to our trip report, which is available under the topic GL Trip Report.

We booked through Go Classy Tours, as we always do for Jamaica. Based on recommendations from the Prodigy BB, we paid for beachfront accomodations and requested nude first floor rooms. Unlike Hedonism, Grand Lido does not currently have different room categories for nude and prude side beaches, although I wouldn't be surprised to see that next year. (HII has room categories of prude gardenview, prude beachfront, nude gardenview and nude beachfront). GL room categories are gardenview, oceanview and beachfront, plus the full suites. The full suites were about $500 per person more for the week. We did not see any of the suites which appeared to be in use, but we seriously doubt that they could be worth the extra money for them. Based on brochure rates (which are not necessarily what one pays) gardenview is only approximately $100 per week cheaper than oceanview and oceanview is only aproximately $100 per week (per person, that is) cheaper than beachfront. Based on the layout of the place, I personally would never book the gardenview rooms, especially if you're interested in the nude side, as they are so far from everything and the view is really horrible. If you are pinching pennies, actually the oceanview rooms are not bad as they are just down from the nude beachfront rooms. It's a little bit of a further walk, but you should have no trouble of noise from the nude hot tub, if you're a light sleeper.

As I said, we requested first floor nude rooms, and we were very happy that we did. On the first floor rooms, one can walk directly out of your french doors directly to the beach without putting on any clothes. On the second floor, one is expected to don some type of clothing to head to the beach. On both the nude and prude sides, the first floor rooms have a patio with two small chairs and a dining-height table, plus most people did as we did, which was pull up a couple of chaise lounges right by your patio to lay on. This was especially nice first thing in the morning and toward sunset. The balconies for the second floor rooms were very small--maybe 3 feet by 6 feet and had only 2 chairs and I don't believe they had any table at all.

Other than the full suites, all rooms at GL are the same. We had room 1061, which was a great location for us, on the first floor nude beach and close to the hot tub. You entered the room through a hallway with bathroom on the left and storage on the right, leading to the bedroom area, leading on to the seating area, then out toward the beach. Storage space consisted of about 5 feet of hanging space, with about 15 hangers provided, 4 drawers, and 3 open shelves. A 4-cup coffeemaker with coffee and tea were provided--and really appreciated. There was also a coffee pot with regular and decaf coffee at the bar in the morning. There was an iron and ironing board in the closet, as well as a keyed safe. And speaking of keys, GL provides their keys on wrist bracelets, which comes in pretty handy on the beach. However, the room number on our key was not our actual room number. I think that this was probably on purpose, and a good idea, especially since Eric left his key (including the safe key!!!!!) out by the hot tub one night. We went to the front desk and they had no problem whatsoever finding what key to give us, so I'm sure they have a code for such things.

The bathroom featured a bathtub, shampoo/lotion/bath gel dispenser, a 5 foot vanity and hairdyer. Lights in the bathroom--as well as elsewhere throughout the room--were a little dim. We enjoyed the provision of 4 nice-sized bathtowels, complete the with raised GL logo. I thought they would look wonderful in my bathroom here at home, but Eric didn't feel like spending a couple of years in a Jamaican jail, so he refused to pack a couple when we came home. Boo.

The bedroom area of the room was around 14 by 10 and featured a king sized bed, table on each side of the bed, phone, 2 bedlamps, a make-up table with chair, and a full length wall mirror. Down two steps from the bedroom area was the living room area, which was approximately 8 by 14 and consisted of a couch and chair, coffee table, and remote control TV and stereo/boombox unit. The TV channels were Discovery, HBO, Fox, Playboy, a Spanish channel, and TBS. There was a dual cassette tape player, as well as a radio (but no CD player). French doors from the room led out onto the beach. Unfortunately, the doors did not lock with the key. They only locked with deadbolts at the top and bottom. So, we basically had to leave the french doors doors unlocked or go around to the front door to get into the room. Obviously, we opted for the former. We basically locked up everything important in the safe, with the exception of our camera, so it wasn't a major problem. Next time we go to GL, I will probably leave the good camera at home, so there will effectively be nothing to steal in the room except our clothes. ("He who steals my clothes steals trash" ???)

Nude beach facilities are important to us, and the availability of same was one of the main reasons we booked at GL,. although probably 80% of the people who book at GL never go anywhere near the nude beach. Nude beach facilities were good, although frankly not as good as Hedonism at the current time. The prude beach at GL is a long, pretty wonderful traditional beach with some shade (not a lot), and almost no rocks, etc., in the water. The nude beach has lots more shade, is quite a bit shorter and has some rocks, seaweed, coral, etc., in the water. It is not the best beach we have seen, by far, but adequate. If you want to spend a whole lot of time in the water, some water shoes might be in order. There is a nude pool and hot tub right on the beach with a bar which is open 10 AM to 6 PM. Unlike Hedo there is no swim-up bar and in fact, no place to sit at the bar at all, and no grill CURRENTLY. As of our trip, they are bulding a grill right by the nude bar. I'm not sure exactly what the situation will be when it is finished, but I hope that one will be able to just walk up at lunch time and get a hamburger or hotdog, etc., from this grill, as we perceived this to be a major deficiency at GL, that it was kind of a big deal to get something to eat at lunchtime, as one either had to put on clothes (taking for granted that one was one the nude beach) and head to the main dining room, or order room service for lunch. Room service could be ordered to be delivered to the bar area, but it still was a little bit of trouble to do and usually took 30-45 minutes to arrive.

OK, so what about food at the Grandiose Grand Lido? There are three restaurants for dinner, plus buffets for breakfast and lunch every day, and buffett for dinner on two nights, plus 24 hour room service, and the three 24 hour "Houses", the Timber House, Stone House, and Beach House.

The room service and "House" menus were the same, with the addition of breakfast items on a separate hang-tag system. One could go to the Timber, Stone or Beach House and be served by a waitress, including drink orders, and generally service was quicker than room service. Items included a tossed salad, chef salad (GOOD!), soup de jour, club sandwich (decent), lamb chops (GREAT!!!!!), snapper sandwich (OK, but one had to order french fries separately--which were very good, by the way), deli sandwich, potato skins (WONDERFUL!!), hamburger (AWFUL!), hotdog, ice cream, fresh fruit plate, brownie (GOOD!!), and an ice cream with banana dessert which sounded wonderful but we didn't have. We ordered room service several times and it always was what we ordered and generally arrived within 15-20 minutes, although one or two times it took close to 40 minutes around lunch time.

Breakfast from room service is served from 6 A.M. to 10 A.M. and one orders it by placing a hang-tag on your door by 2 A.M. Breakfast choices were supposedly The Executive, which consisted of fruit, cereal, yogurt, danish, coffee and mimosa, and the Negril Eye Opener, which consisted of danish, coffee and OJ. Side orders included cottage cheese, fruit plates, and various fruit juices. Of course, we wanted a combination of both, so we just wrote in what we wanted on the tag and it always arrived within the designated time frame and was exactly what we ordered. Especially since we were staying on the first floor on the nude beach, I really preferred the breakfast served on our patio to going to the main dining room.

The breakfast buffet at the main restaurant was served from 8 A.M. to 10:30 A.M., and included made-to-order omelettes and eggs, plus scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, plaintains, fruits, salmon, and either pancakes or french toast. Coffee, orange juice and water were served by usually very attentive servers, who generally seated us, drawing out our chairs and placing our napkins on our laps.

Lunch buffets were served from 12:30 to 3 P.M., and normally consisted of some luncheon meats, fruits, salads, and about 3 or 4 hot entrees and a couple of hot vegetables, plus various desserts and ice cream. Servers served mixed drinks, plus 4 different varieties of wine, iced tea and coffee. Service for lunch was generally excellent also, although iced tea seemed to take much too long to deliver. A couple of days, the luncheons had "themes"--cajun one day (with a great cajun steak and cajun fries) and mexican another day.

Dinner offered three choices on most nights, La Pasta, Cafe Lido and Piacere. Buffets were offered at dinner on Friday and Wednesday and (other than room service and the Houses), buffet and La Pasta were the only choices on Friday night. Wednesday night was supposed to be Carnival night, but I didn't really see anything which signiified Carnival to me. We arrived for the "Grand Buffet" on Friday night very late, and just picked up a few items. I presume that the selection was much better earlier on. La Pasta is open 3 P.M. to 2 A.M. and shorts are perfectly acceptable. La Pasta offered garlic bread, one meat dish and about 4 different pastas with 4 different sauces, plus some desserts. We ate there once and I was not particularly impressed.

Cafe Lido is open 6:30 to 10:00 P.M. Cafe Lido serves a continental menu which varies each night. Written materials for Cafe Lido indicate that no shorts are allowed. We would not have a problem with that policy, if that really were the policy. However, the shorts policy was enforced sporadically. On Saturday night, Eric wore long pants and observed 50% of the men in shorts. On Sunday night, Eric wore shorts--nice shorts, and not particularly short shorts, and the maitre d' quite snottily told us that he would allow us to sit outside that night but that they only allowed "dress shorts". Of course, on subsequent nights, we saw a gal with VERY short shorts, plus a fellow with raggedy jean shorts, dining there.

We ate at Cafe Lido on three occasions and were very impressed with food and service on the first two. The menu varied each night, but consisted basically of about 3 appetizers, a couple of soups, a salad and about 4 entrees. We enjoyed some wonderful spring rolls, grilled salmon, and pork with vegetables and a merely adequate prime rib and creme brulee. On the first two times we arrived fairly close to 6:30, sat outside and had absolutely wonderful service. On the third occasion, we arrived at approximately 8 P.M. and wanted to sit inside. We were told that in order to eat inside, there were approximately 15 parties in front of us, which would have roughly translated to about an hour wait. We took the last table available outside. Service that night was very slow, the meal was interminable, my wine glass remained empty for about 10 minutes, and in general, the comparison to the first two nights at Cafe Lido was amazing. Frankly, considering the other two choices for dinner are Piacere (reservations only and about a dozen tables only) and La Pasta (about a dozen tables, but no reservations), I was pretty distressed that one could not go to Cafe Lido at 8 PM and expect to be served for an hour, and that the quality of the service when the whole restaurant was full was so much worse than it was the first two nights. It seems to me that if the resort is anywhere near full, that there are not nearly enough tables available for dinner. Even though it didn't appear to us to be the case, at least by Friday night, the resort was supposedly 100% full.

Piacere is the French restaurant, and the only one that requires reservations. Jackets, but not ties, are required for Piacere, although the restaurant does keep a couple on hand for emergencies, as the fellow in front of us used one of the resort's coats. We were able to only get reservations for one night there. Service and food at Piacere are definitely worth the trouble for reservations and the dress code. We had lobster bisque soup, crab cakes, fabulous steaks, and a very decent red wine.

One neat aspect of Grand Lido is the M/Y Zein, which is the yacht that Princess Grace of Monaco supposedly spent her honeymoon on. There are sunset cruises every day of the week except Friday and Sunday, I believe, as well as a nude cruise on Thursday morning. Technically, one is supposed to sign up through the concierge, but no one checked names on either cruise. I think that they mainly wanted to get an idea of how many are coming. The sunset cruise is from approximately 4 P.M. to 6:45 and offers drinks and very light hors douvres. Dress for the sunset cruise required long pants for the men. The nude cruise is on Thursday morning from about 10:30 to 12:15. There are drinks but no food served onboard. And it is HOT, so the hose on the top deck to spritz oneself with water is very welcome. The Zein is also used for some weddings and reaffirmations.

GL's brochure proclaims that they serve premium liquors and local brands. This is true, for the most part. Tanguerary, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Grand Marnier, etc., were available, as well as wines and champagne. However, my personal favorite, Bacardi rum, was not available. The main reason is basically political, as one of Jamaica's main products is Appleton rum, which is the only rum that they served. Also, there were no beers available, except Red Stripe, which is the Jamaican beer. The abscence of a Bacardi was a major deal for me, and I ended up going over to Hedonism II and buying Bacardi at the store there. Bar service in general was excellent at GL, and there was no problem with weak drinks whatsoever. During the main daylight hours, from about 11 A.M. to 4 P.M., there was a waitress walking the beach taking drink orders. Bar service at the Houses and the main buffet restaurant was generally excellent.

Maid service during our visit was problematical. I have to assume that, based on the level of service which we observed elsewhere in the resort, that the quality of our maid service was an aberration. The timing of the service was odd, both in the morning and in the evening. Most days, the maid did not arrive to make up the room until after noon. Also, several days she did not leave us any hand-towels for the bathroom. Evening service was even more problematical. On at least two occasions, she arrived at approximately 9 PM, when we had just arrived back from dinner. We basically just told her to leave us some fresh towels and get lost. Then, on one other night, she arrived at after 10 P.M. Two nights she did not come at all. I have to assume that this was not the normal level of service to be expected at this resort. The resort was full, at least on Friday night, so this might have had something to do with it.

OK, so what about entertainment and activities? Most days, we had breakfast, read or sunned or talked with other beach inhabitants, had lunch, sunned some more, watched the sunset from the hot tub, had dinner, spent an hour or two in the hot tub and went to bed. A really full schedule!! There were lots of activities available during the day and some during the night, although we ignored most of them. There was snorkelling gear available during the day and many people snorkelled just off the beach, and there were two boat snorkeling trips per day, plus scuba diving and glass bottomed boat. There were sunfish sailboats plus sailboards and giant trikes and waterskiing, all included. There were parasailing and jetskis available for rent, in addition to a catamaran cruise with snorkelling down to Rick's for about $40 PP. The resort also offered various excursions, including tours to Kingston, YS Falls, Dunn's River Falls, a plantation tour, a submarine ride, Negril highlights, horseback riding, countryside tour, shopping to Negril ($10 PP) and transfers to Rick's Cafe ($13 PP).

Evening entertainment for us consisted mostly of dinner then a few hours in the hot tub or laying out by the ocean. There was entertainment in the main dining area from around 9 P.M. There was a 50's/60's night and there was kareoke several nights, which we think is the rough equivalent of "stupid people tricks". There is no toga night, ike at Hedonism and, while there is a PJ night, unlike when we went to the Hedo PJ party, there were no cows that gave their lives. The disco is open from 10:30 P.M., but we only went there the one night for the PJ party, as I hate that loud noise. The piano bar is nice and cool and is a nice place for a quiet drink before dinner and they do serve some nice hors dourvres there, but you have to get there somewhat early to get them.

In general, we were very impressed with the level of food and service at GL. Except for the maid service, it compared about equally or was above the level we have come to expect from cruises. There are lots of amenities, from the room service to bar waitresses on the beach, to the wonderful floats provided on all the chairs, to the yacht, to the food and service at Cafe Lido and Piacere, to ordering chapagne and potato skins at 1 A.M. in the hot tub, which make the Grand Lido truly Grand.

Carol & Eric

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