This is our trip report from our first trip to Grand Lido in Negril, Jamaica, from June 14 to June 21, 1997. This report will be kind of a diary for the week for those who have been to GL before, as opposed to a description of the resort, which we are posting under a separate subject, GL Review.
We booked our trip through Go Classy Tours and booked our own air on US Air. We spent Friday night at a hotel near BWI airport, so we wouldn't have to get up quite so early for our 7 AM tree-hopper special flight from BWI to Philly, then non-stop from Philly to MBJ. We arrived in MoBay around 12:45. The guy who took our tickets at the airport looked a couple of times at our reservations, then called the resort. We surmised that maybe he was calling about our special request for a nude first floor room, although I don't know.
QUESTION--How do you know you're back in Jamaica? ANSWER--When you're propositioned TWICE to purchase ganga and you haven't even left the airport terminal building yet!! True story, from this trip! Anyway, we had collected our luggage, gone through customs and were in a van leaving the airport within 35 minutes of landing. We were placed in a minivan with only one other couple. We had a semi-reasonable driver who didn't threaten the lives of too many dogs, cats, cows, horses, etc, on the trip to Negril. Most endearing to us, he actually asked if we wanted to stop at a bar and when we said no, we sailed on to the resort, arriving at about 2:45 P.M.
We were greated with a handshake and a "Welcome to Grand Lido" smile. Check-in is accomplished while you sit and enjoy the drink of your choice. Still, it seemed to take forever, possibly because they had erroneously put on our reservation that we were supposed to be leaving on the 16th, two days after we arrived. Strangely enough, the other couple we rode with from the airport had their check out date incorrect also.
We didn't ask what room we had been assigned, but as our guide took us to our room and I saw that she was taking us to 1061, I knew that we had a great room. 1061 is just about a perfect location for us, just down from the nude pool and hot tub. We would certainly request another room within the range of 1059 to 1064 the next trip.
Since we hadn't had any lunch, we had a sandwich at the Timber House, then headed back to the room to check for the suitcases, which finally arrived at the room (delivered inside the room) at 4:30. We watched the sunset from the nude beach and determined that, for this purpose, the facilities on the Hedo nude beach are better, as you can't actually see the sun set from the section of nude beach by the hot tub, as there is a piece of land in the way. We had a very lovely dinner at Cafe Lido, including spring rolls, salmon pate, salad, grilled salmon, pork with vegetables, and a rather light chocolate dessert, accomanied by a Chilean white and a French red wine. Tired from the trip and a short night the night before, we retired early around 9:30.
Sunday we ate breakfast in the dining room and went to the Concierge to sign up for Piacere and for the nude cruise and the sunset cruise. We spent the morning on the beach until around 12:30 when it clouded up and started raining. We decided to use the occasion to head to the dining room for lunch and enjoyed a nice leisurely lunch, plus a couple of drinks at the bar. We headed back to the room and spent the afternoon sleeping and reading in the room, as it basically rained until about 4:30. Fortunately this was the only protracted rain of the week.
Dinner on Sunday was again at Cafe Lido and the food and service again were excellent, with prime rib and creme brulee. However, the shorts policy at Cafe Lido provided one of the few bad moments of the week. The problem is that half the people we had seen diining there on Saturday night had been in shorts. Therefore, on Sunday night, Eric wore shorts--nice shorts, and not particularly short shorts, but 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. Frankly, we would not have had a problem if they would just have enforced a strict no shorts policy, but this some shorts are OK and some aren't is kind of pretentious.
Monday the 16th was our anniversary and we began the day with breakfast of danish, Mimosa, fruit and coffee served on our patio. A wonderful way to start the day! We spent the morning on the beach and ordered cheeseburgers from room service for lunch, which were merely OK. What was great was calling room service and having it delivered to the hot tub and eating it on the beach.
On Monday, Eric played some volleyball in the pool and we finally started blending in with the group. This vacation was somewhat different than our usual vacations, which are either cruises or St. Martin. Usually on our vacations, we spend the whole week basically by ourselves and are perfectly happy. At GL, on the nude beach, in particular, a lot of the crowd kind of sits around and talks for a good portion of the day, either sitting on the beach or on floats in the ocean or the pool. You can be alone for the whole week if you want and no one will bother you. However, if you do make a little bit of an effort, you can join right in with the festivities. When we first go on vacation, we are still too stressed out to be too much fun, but by the end of the week, we were joining right in.
We thought we needed some more champagne to make it through the afternoon, so we ordered champagne and brownies for an afternoon snack. They said it was going to take 45 minutes to bring and we missed it when they brought it, so we called them and had them re-deliver it to the room. Eric got several cat-calls as he delivered the tray to me, sitting in the hot tub.
Six o'clock came and time to get dressed for the first time this day, as we had to get ready for dinner at Piacere. A trip to Piacere is a great experience, with fabulous service and food. We had a wonderful cabernet sauvignon, beef we could cut with a fork, wonderful crab cakes and lobster bisque soup. Unfortunately for us, we made the mistake of telling them it was our anniversary and they delivered us their standard anniversary cake. Trust me, the anniversary cake stunk. We wanted the hazelnut torte!! We should have just refused the cake, but they seemed to enjoy bringing it so much!! NEXT time we will disavow all knowledge of anniversary dates!! We were surprised though, at how warm it was in Piacere, especially since they require a jacket. They needed to shoot some of the A/C from the piano bar (which was VERY cold) over to Piacere, and also to La Pasta, which was also warm.
Tuesday morning we had breakfast at the buffet, then went over to Hedonism II for a tour of the new nude beach facilities. There are tours of Hedonism every day at 10 A.M. and 3 P.M. Basically, all you have to do is walk out the front gate and across the street and report to security at Hedonism. We were the only ones there for the tour and we told the lady that all we wanted to do was to see the new nude hot tub and pool and go to the shop. Technically, I think that they are not supposed to give people a tour of the nude facilities, so the girl just took us to the edge of the nude area and let us walk around on our own. The new nude pool, swim-up bar and misting area make the nude facilities at Hedo much nicer than at GL right now. Also, there is a grill right there by the nude pool at Hedo. They are in the process of building a grill at GL at the nude pool, so hopefully in the near future, one will be able to just walk up and get a burger, etc.
We then went to the gift shop at Hedo and I bought an additional paperback book, plus some Bacardi rum. This brings me to one of my other pet peeves for the week--even though the brochure for Superclubs states that they have premium liquors, they had no Bacardi at GL. I had posted a note requesting info about Bacardi before we left home and some people on Prodigy reported that they did serve Bacardi and some other guests at GL reported that they had seen Bacardi there before, but there was none during our stay. We talked to the fellow in the store at Hedo about the subject and he said, as we suspected, that the lack of Bacardi was political. Because Appleton rum is made in Jamaica, Superclubs does not serve Bacardi. GL at least--don't know about the rest of the Superclubs, also does not serve any beer except Red Stripe.
After a successful shopping trip, we headed back to the beach for a couple of hours of sun before heading to the dining room for a lunch of BBQ chicken, BBQ port sandwich, stuffed shells and assorted salads and desserts. Having acquired my Bacardi rum, I thought it would be nice to have a real rum and coke after suffering through Appleton and coke for three days. So, I put some Bacardi in the bottom of my sipper cup (of course, a HEDO cup) and went to the beach bar to have it filled with coke. Of course, the bartender took a look in the cup and saw the rum and thought it was water and proceeded to DUMP OUT my rum!! I sqaucked, but not soon enough and had to go in and replenish the Bacardi. For the rest of the week, I made sure to tell the bartender not to dump out my rum when I went to the bar.
We went on the sunset cruise on Tuesday, which is from 4 P.M. to 6:45. It was nice to do once, although I certainly wouldn't do it more than once in a week and not sure when we go back, whether we would do it again or not. They basically return you back to resort almost before sunset anyway. It was cloudy the night we went, so there was no sunset to watch.
Tuesday evening we went to La Pasta for dinner for the only time for the week. It was OK, although the service was not nearly to the level of Cafe Lido or Piacere. We had some garlic bread and wine and I had ravioli with meat sauce and Eric had some pasta with a seafood sauce.
Wednesday we again had breakfast on our patio at our room, except for Monday night at Piacere, probably my favorite meals of the week, with danish, mimosa and that wonderful GL coffee. We actually DID something on Wednesday, taking out one of the small sunfish sailboats for a while. Wednesday was the first day there was any wind at all and we enjoyed tooling around for an hour or so. Around 4:30 it started kind of a gentle rain and we repaired to the hot tub for a 3 bottle champagne night (before dinner), just Eric and I. Fortunately, dinner on Wednesday was buffet in the main resaturant, which was fine, since we were feeling no pain by this time.
Thursday was the nude cruise, which is from about 10:30 to 12:15. There wasn't a particularly large group this trip and we had no problem finding seats on the benches all the way aft. It was HOT, though, and we did take advantage of the hose on the top deck provided for cooling off. Unlike the sunset cruise, which provided very light hors dourvres, there was nothing to eat on the nude cruise.
We went to the main dining room for lunch and had a wonderful Cajun lunch, with Cajun steak and fries. Dinner was again at Cafe Lido and provided another very unpleasant surprise. We arrived at Cafe Lido around 8 P.M. and wanted to eat inside. We were told that the wait to eat inside was approximately 15 groups, which we translated to being maybe in the nature of an hour. Frankly, I don't find that acceptable, since except for the very limited number of seats at Piacere and the equally limited number of seats at La Pasta, Cafe Lido is the only choice. We decided to take the last remaining table outside. The service Thursday night was, in a word, pitiful. The waiter took forever to take our order, our wine glasses sat empty most of the time, the time between courses was interminable. We were very surprised considering what great food and service we had on the earlier occasions when we ate early. Even though we didn't know it, apparently the resort was full, at least by Thursday night. I am not sure that I find it acceptable, however, that one has to eat at 6:30 in order to get decent service at Cafe Lido.
Thursday night was the PJ party, which was populated mostly by people from the nude beach. There were maybe 30 people there, as opposed to a Hedo PJ party, which seems to attract hundreds of people. From Tuesday to Wednesday, it had seemed like there was a major turnover of people on the nude beach, as a large number of people left and a bunch of new people came in. The crowd that arrived Tuesday and Wednesday was much younger than the previous week and I think that if we had been at the PJ party the week before, it would have been pretty empty. Anyway, the nude beach contingent did a good job, taking home all the prizes except most conservative and best couple. Of course, our next door neighbor won "Biggest Bulge", so we proceeded to call him "Big Balls" for the rest of the week. After all the noise of the disco, we decided that the hot tub would be a much better venue, so we left first and called room service and ordered 4 bottles of champagne and 10 glasses. By the time the rest of the crowd arrived, the champagne had arrived and we had a good time, although the security guard kept coming by and shushing us.
Friday morning I had wanted to eat at the room, but we didn't have any of the tags to order it, so we went to the main dining room. Earlier in the week, I saw the maid and requested some and she gave me one, but she never replaced it. Can't figure out if she was supposed to do that or not, but we were generally unimpressed with her service, as she missed our room at night twice, and generally came at really odd times, once coming at 10:30 P.M. After breakfast, we went to the concierge to book a plane flight back to Mo Bay, as the "going home blues" were starting to kick in and we decided that we couldn't go the bus trip. We tried to book what the concierge called the scheduled flight, which was supposed to be only $38 per person. However, there was only one seat left on that plane, so we had to do what she called the charter, which was $60 per person. We made some purchases in the gift shop and headed out to the beach for the day. Friday was kind of an on and off day, as it was kind of cloudy and there were a few showers in the morning. We sat in the hot tub for most of them. Finally on Friday, we made the best choice of the week for lunch, deciding to order the lamb chops from room service. I had seen rave reviews on Prodigy regarding them, but hadn't paid much attention. However, take a word of advice and order two orders of lamb chops (comes with fries) and one chef salad for two people. Wonderful!!!!! We spent the afternoon on the beach. I read most of the time and Eric, along with about 20 other people, made kind of a floating island of floats, and sent messengers over to the bar for liquid libations.
In the afternoon, we had made plans to all get together to eat dinner at the buffet and were supposed to meet before at a bar. I thought that we were supposed to meet at the main bar in the restaurant, but wanted to get some hors dourvres first, as I was hungry, so we went to the piano bar around 7:10. Unfortunately, they were just running out of some very tasty chicken wings and didn't replenish them. We did meet up with one couple from the nude beach, who proclaimed that we had been supposed to meet at the piano bar, not the main bar, and we kind of got trapped there with them, waiting for the others to show up. While we were sitting there, the wife of the Captain of the Zein came by to talk with the other couple. She said that the resort was totally full, at least that night, as they apparently can stay in a room there if the resort is not booked. Otherwise they have to stay on the boat. She did say that they were getting ready to take the ship for repairs in July and the way that she talked, I wouldn't be surprised to see it gone for most of July and August. I sent Eric out a couple of times to try to hunt for the others, but he never saw them.
We had been looking all afternoon on the beach for Gary and Judy Passama to show up and knew that they would be looking for us in the main restaurant also and I was somewhat anxious to escape. By 8:45, I finally convinced the other couple that the rest of the group had dissed us and that we needed to go eat. So, as we were walking from the piano bar I spied a couple kind of looking around and thought that it looked like Gary and Judy, who had sent us their pictures. I booked toward where they were, ostensibly leaving Eric to apologize to the other couple, but he just followed me. Well, it was in fact Gary and we hugged and talked for a couple of minutes and they had already eaten and we decided that we'd better get something to eat. At this point, the other couple had disappeared, so we had dinner alone. After dinner, we hunted around for the other couple and found them at LaPasta and apologized for disappearing. The rest of the group had appeared finally and was down by the dance floor, but we decided to go back in search of Gary. We called their room and arranged to meet at the Timber House for a non-alcoholic drink for them and an alcoholic drink for us. Gary and Judy decided to head off to bed and we headed off to the hot tub. We decided we needed a last order of potato skins and champagne, delivered to the hot tub. There was only one other couple there when we arrived. However, by the time the potato skins arrived, the rest of the group showed up and looked longingly at our potato skins. We ate them fast, as more people showed up, all hauling bottles of champagne, as well as one of those tall silver champagne buckets, which they proceeded to fill with bottles and arrange the others around the base. I can only verify 9 bottles of champagne, as that's all I saw before I pooped out around 12:30. Eric told me lurid tales the next day of different methods of opening champagne bottles and shooting corks from the hot tub to the pool, plus of three of the group heading to the Timber House au naturel, for more champagne and being denied because they had had enough. Eric claims that the count was around 15 or so for the night. All I know is that I woke up about 3:30 and saw that he was still not in bed so I went out to make sure he wasn't dead or drowned and hauled him out of the hot tub, as he and one other fellow were the last ones still there.
Saturday was our last day in paradise, and we started out the day with breakfast on our patio and congratulated ourselves on the fact that we had booked the plane flight back to MoBay. We ended up with another two hours on the beach, plus a lunch of those wonderful lamb chops and chef salad as a result. Instead of having to be at the front desk at 10:45 for the bus, we had to be there at 12:30 and proceeded with check-out, which took about one minute flat. The resort took us to GNAT, which took about 5 minutes, as we watched with increasing trepidation the huge thunderstorm clouds in the distance. It was also a little disconcerting to have them ask us how much our luggage weighed. We were booked on a plane which seated around 10 people and had a SuperClubs logo on the side. Despite my initial fears, the flight was very smooth, though we flew through a few showers. We arrived at MoBay approximately an hour and 45 minutes before the flight and endured a pretty long check-in line for US Air and had an uneventful flight home. QUESTION--How do you know that you have had too much champagne at GL?? ANSWER--When you're standing in the baggage claim area at BWI Airport and think that you hear a champagne cork popping and it takes you a couple of minutes to figure out that's NOT what it was!!
Well, that's about it. Would be happy to try to answer any questions. Looking
forward to the next trip, either to GL or Braco!
Carol & Eric
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