When it came time for Hubby and I to plan our ten year wedding anniversary this year, we knew we had to leave our land-locked Colorado for someplace surrounded by warm ocean water, white-sandy beaches and plenty of fruity cocktails. And, since we wanted to bring the boys, it had to be a place that would be a fun getaway for the whole family.
Enter The Grand Lucayan Resort on Grand Bahama Island.
A mere 90 miles from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida is the fourth largest island in the Bahama island chain, Grand Bahama Island. The Grand Lucayan Resort is on the south-shore, located in the town of Freeport. It is a 15 minute drive from the port (for ferry-takers) or 10 minutes from the airport (for flyers) - a whole world away from our dry, Colorado summer heat. This, we decided, would be PERFECT!
We were greeted by smiling-faced Bahamians into a beautiful plantation-style building filled with comfy wicker furniture lined with lighted-up palm trees and a to-die-for view. Ahhhhh! The boys jumped right into a “game” of chess (less of a strategy game for the 4-year old) while we checked in, but that only lasted so long since they were dying to get into their swimsuits and jump into the ocean. I have to admit, I was dying to jump in, too. Good thing they have changing rooms right there! (Nope, we couldn’t even wait to get to our room, first).
Next thing I knew, our months long of planning and layers of winter-stress started melting away.
When we finally decided to get to our room, we were blown away by the awesome views. Looking out into the Caribbean, we could’ve sworn we saw some pirate ships out in the distance… but I think that was a mirage. Yet, interestingly Pirates of the Caribbean was actually filmed just off this island, and Johnny Depp stayed at this very hotel! We wondered if Johnny could’ve stayed in our ocean view room? After all, I’m sure those fluffy beds would have totally been up to his Hollywood standards.
Aside from learning about Mr. Depp and all the movie making, here is what we learned about the Grand Lucayan.
Grand Lucayan Resort Tips
1. Get an Ocean View room. The views are amazing and while the Marina-side views were pretty nice, they were nothing like staring out into the deep blue horizon from your balcony chair with a nice cup of coffee.
2. Do not go with small children. The resort is amazing for couples, girlfriend getaways, destination weddings, conferences, spring breakers, heck, even for families with kids over the age of 8. But, not necessarily for smaller, weak-swimmers as all the pools are 4 ft deep with no zero entry options (except, ironically, the swim up bar has a small 3 ft deep section). Note: when the Camp Lucaya section opens (scheduled for November 2013), this may be a different story.
3. Go all-inclusive or bring extra spending money. Grand Lucaya just recently started offering an all-inclusive option, which we declined because we figured we’d hit up the local restaurants. Well that back-fired, as all restaurants were pricier than we expected.
4. Become a Bahamian. The Bahamians are SO laid back, I had to work hard to emulate this attitude and not get worked up when my drink order took longer than a minute. Once I let go and let it be, my vacation became a VACATION. It’s nice to let go.
6. Check out the off-property activities. There is shopping at the Port Lucaya Marketplace (directly across the street), a locals fish fry (5-minute cab ride to Smith’s Point), and visiting the Lucayan National Park. These Bahamian-specific activities can help make your vacation feel like a truly authentic cultural experience.
7. Eat well. The food is pretty darn good and the resort actually has seven restaurant options. Conch is available everywhere and in every form. I could not get enough of it! Conch fritters, conch salad, conch soup… mmmm… so yummy! For a fresh conch salad, check out the Da’ Conch Man in the Port Lucaya Marketplace. If you’re looking for the fanciest most-delicious-meal-of-your-life, check out The Flying Fish restaurant just west of the resort.
From the moment we arrived at the Grand Lucayan until the moment we left, we bounced between the pool, the beach and restaurants. We snorkeled, built sand castles, played lawn games and indulged in conch fritters. But, best of all, we unplugged from our life and were able to enjoy being with each other as a family and that was the best ten year anniversary gift a girl can get.
Thank you to the Grand Lucayan for hosting a portion of our trip. All opinions are my own.