We got in on an incredible hotel suite deal, but food and beverage of the $4.2bn Grand Hyatt Baha Mar resort are the true Pirates of the Caribbean.
My Suite Deal Was Amazing
Here’s the part where everyone resounds that “beggars can’t be choosers” but I will get back to that in a moment. We got an incredible deal on our suite, a two-bedroom, two and a half bathroom ocean view which typically sells for about $1700/nt for just $300. I saw a post online and booked it more than a year in advance.
That said, management played games with the reservation much as they did for this blogger which would have cost me any elite status credit or points from the stay when they had no legal right to do so. I also booked a 2,049 sq ft suite and the unit I received was much smaller than that. Further, as a Globalist, I would have been entitled to an upgrade (they had availability at check-in all the way to villas) which would have compared closely in size. It was an amazing deal, as stated, but I would have received something almost as good anyway and paid less (the nightly rate was lower) without all of the hassle with the rate rules.
Prices Are Unreasonable, Value Poor
How much should a burger, fries and a can of coke cost from a beachside food truck? If you said $30 before any gratuity, you nailed it. A plain hot dog on the beach with a bag of chips? That’s a far more reasonable $16 with another $2 for the can of soda. Three servings of one-scoop of gelato? $24!
We found reasonable value the last time we visited but appears prices have gone up around the resort but food quality has not. A very average (though larger) burger at the poolside bar and grill was $22 with gratuity and taxes – it seemed like a much better deal but wasn’t.
My wife and I really don’t drink alcoholic beverages, our guests who were also staying at the resort do. Cocktails ran $20 for run-of-the-mill drinks (Absolut and water) and that’s just about anywhere on the property; a reasonable drink was a $17 daiquiri. We would have loved to try the Chinese restaurant that rang pretty authentic in my experience, but crossing the $20 mark for three xiaolong bao dumplings is insanity. At the Japanese restaurant, two pieces of Tuna shashimi were priced at $32 ($16/per.) The spot looked nice, but it wasn’t Nobu.
No Reservations, But That Table Is Reserved
Continuing the disrespect for their customer base, one of the most irritating things happened on Super Bowl Sunday. The Cigar Bar (T Squared) was very clear, they had a buffet available (price not disclosed) with a minimum of $100 spend per table. That’s totally reasonable and while it’s not ideal for a family like ours, sitting on the periphery outside would have been fine, almost no one that night was actually smoking cigars anyway. It’s clear that our party of five would have spent $200-$300 without a doubt.
“Would have” was the operative term.
The sign was clear that they were not accepting reservations, it would be first come, first serve. An hour prior to kickoff, staff wasn’t quite done setting up the tables and TVs, but they had time to mark tables as “reserved.”
I raised this to management and they understood my frustration, they also offered a credit for money we had spent on the resort the previous day, but my issue is that the practice likely wouldn’t be resolved in the future. I asked what qualified for a reserved table since they wouldn’t accept reservations in advance, it couldn’t have been status (I’m a Globalist) and it couldn’t have been solely by room type because we should have been at the top of the list in that case – no one had an answer and we found it absurd.
$100/person… for Pizza
Before our backup plan of T Squared came into view, we had checked out a pizzeria downstairs. It had a premium sports bar feel and a large pizza, which at least three of us could share, for about $28 before anything else was factored in.
The hostess was confused as to whether it was $100 per table or per person minimum for the Big Game. We asked the concierge when we got up to our room and they confirmed it was per table as it was with T Squared. A day later we were near the restaurant and came in to clarify and secure a table, and they stated it was $100/person including $100 for our six-year-old which was funny to me because even the two-star Michelin restaurant Gaggan didn’t charge us the minimum for Lucy. They explained this was because the restaurant wouldn’t have any turnover during the four-hour game.
When our backup plan T Squared failed us as well, I thought I would visit out of spite and just see how full they were. As you might imagine, the party was a miss and the only diners were finishing their meals. No one showed up for their ridiculous requirements.
I worked in the restaurant business for about a decade, part of which was for a pizza restaurant. On Super Bowl Sunday, our pizza shop was jam-packed with deliveries, however, the inside of the restaurant was a ghost town. At another restaurant I worked, our company Christmas party was held on Superbowl Sunday because staff work most of the holidays and the restaurant would be empty.
While it is certainly different at a resort less than 200 miles from where this year’s game was played, and everyone wants to watch the game in a loud, exciting environment, their extortionate rates were insulting and the market let them know by not showing up.
I get it, the Bahamas are expensive. Fine. But there is a difference between elevated prices and premium products and taking every possible opportunity to rob your customers blind. In many cases, it didn’t work. We utilized the lounge due to status (though buying up to a Club room is advisable for those without access) to offset a lot of our food costs. We also left the property to eat for half of our dinners. Our friends that were drinking on-site would limit themselves to maybe just one and commented that if they were priced even at $12-13/per, they would probably have ordered several, instead, they had just one or none. Frankly, as lovely as the resort was, even if we were able to get the same deal on a room again, we probably won’t be back.
What do you think? Are these policies fair? Is Management acting in bad faith, or is it naivete? Should we just expect $30 burgers in the Bahamas and $20 drinks?