Wednesday 4 January 2012

Grotto Bay Beach Resort, Bermuda

Gord and I stayed at the Grotto Bay Beach Resort from Saturday, December 31, to Wednesday, January 4.

We were supposed to leave on Tuesday, January 3, but all flights to and from Bermuda got cancelled that day due to gale winds.

The person at the front desk offered us our room back for a rate of $139US plus taxes/services ... so about $180US for the night. We were originally on an all-inclusive package which included all drinks, food and a bus pass. It would costs us $99US each and we decided not to take that option since we hadn't taken advantage of it when we had it.


Because it is off season, the poolside bar/restaurant were closed. There was only one restaurant open and that was in the main house. When we arrived, we had lunch since our room wouldn't be available to us until 4pm (we had a four hour wait). Gord had the buffet (not a lot of choice but he said it was okay). I ordered off the menu .. there is a good selection of things to choose from (American-based like sandwiches, burgers, wings, etc). The service was very slow as there were only two servers (they seem to have a skeleton staff since it's off-season) so have patience. Though we had the all-inclusive option, we only ate there for four breakfasts, two lunches and two suppers. The food was good but the slow service drove us nuts so we went elsewhere.

If you are not on the all-inclusive plan, expect to pay a couple dollars more than what you are used to at home. Tips (17%) are included on your bill automatically if you aren't on the all-inclusive plan (for most restaurants in Bermuda, tips are automatically included in your bill).

Food and drinks can add up ... you'll pay a couple $$ more than you're used to at home. It's a pain that for every meal/order you have to sign for it. It's not like in resorts in Mexico where you have a wrist band and can wander around getting food and drinks and then wander off.

If you are not on the all-inclusive plan, the Swizzle Inn (which is fun) a couple blocks away is the only place within walking distance to eat. Otherwise, you have to either take a cab or rent a scooter to eat.


There is only one bar at the hotel and it is very small. The service is extremely poor. Most times we had a 15 minute wait even if the bartender was there, we were first in line and there was only six people sitting at the bar. He was either talking to his buddy, talking on the phone or blatantly ignoring us. If he's busy, he should at least acknowledge us and let us know he was in the middle of something but they don't. It was maddening considering the ability to have drinks was included in the cost of our stay. Once you do get a drink, though, it's a generous pour and the liquor is high quality. Beer selection are a handful of American brands.


Nightlife is non-existent. As I said, there is only one bar and it is very quiet and slow. We were there for New Years Eve (we had dinner at the gala) and it was dead until 11:45ish. People showed up just before midnight, had their bubbly and then headed back to their rooms.


Our room was a good size. We had a king bed, a balcony and a mini fridge. Our building was in the middle of the resort, halfway between the beach/pool and main house (walking to the main house was a steep uphill climb so beware if you have health problems).


There is no WIFI in the rooms. You can use it in the main house but you have to pay for it. It is $10/hour to $70/week per device. Rather than buying it there, we would walk a couple blocks to the Swizzle Inn pub as they have free WIFI and we'd have a couple drinks while we got caught up with the world.


The property is nice. It's not large so it's easy to get around. The pool and beach are fairly small. Alas, the weather wasn't great so we didn't get to enjoy them. The highlight are the grottos (caves) ... definitely worth going in and looking. You can even swim in there if you want. The water was very clear but chilly. There are tons of roosters and chickens all over the property and Bermuda running free. The roosters crow all day. We thought it was cute.


The resort is less than ten minutes from the airport (you can see it from the resort) so you don't have to spend a lot of time on a bus getting there. And as everyone else has said, you can't hear the planes. The resort is a short bus ride ($5US return) from St. George's, a small historic town. There's not a lot there but it's worth spending a couple hours and checking it out.

Hamilton is about a 30 minute bus ride in the other direction. If you want to take the longer more scenic route, take bus #1 or #3. We went there on Monday, which was a bank holiday, so nothing was open which sucked. We walked around a bit and then took the ferry to the Dockyards. That's definitely a spot the check out. The buildings date back hundreds of years and there's so much history. The old and new prisons are there. There is shopping, a navy museum and a couple of pubs (one has a brewery and makes its own beer). We had a great time.

You can pick up the Bermuda Railway Trail nearby. It's 18 miles that has been turned into a hiking/walking trail. We spent a couple hours on it and ended up in Coney Island Park, which you can see from the resort. It was about a five mile walk there and back. Another must to do!

The Swizzle Inn pub is a couple blocks away. We spent a fair bit of time there because (1) free WIFI, (2) good food and (3) fun atmosphere. Even if you are on the all inclusive plan, you should check it out.

There is a convenient store in the hotel that you can buy snacks, etc. There is a bulk store across the street from the hotel but isn't really helpful unless you want something similar to a Costco. There is a gas station a couple blocks away where you can apparently buy booze, etc.

All-inclusive versus non all-inclusive

If you plan on staying on the resort and never leaving it, I recommend you take the all-inclusive option. Just remember to be patient because service is slow and you will be eating and drinking in the same place for every meal in the off-season.

If you plan on venturing out and exploring Bermuda, I wouldn't recommend the all-inclusive plan. We had it and definitely didn't get our money's worth. We ate and/or drank elsewhere every day for a meal.

Though we had a good time, we won't be going back to the Grotto if/when we go back to Bermuda. It was too quiet and isolated for us. And as I said, the service was friendly but slow in the restaurant and practically non-existent in the small bar. Considering the cost being there, they need to work on their customer service in that area.

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