This trip report will have many comparisons between the Royal Hideaway and the Grand. The whole time there we played a little game where we would say, “Point for the Grand” or “Point for Royal Hideaway”. It is important to remember that this trip took place four years ago and things have changed. Our last trip to the Royal Hideaway was late November 2009. We’d had a few Grand trips under our belts by that time and were horribly let down by the way things were at the Royal Hideaway. At one point I even considered calling Tami, my TA, and asking her to switch us to the Grand. We didn’t, but it clearly was not the same.
Back to my first Grand trip – trip report. There is a gate that our van drove through that is the entrance to the Grand. For the first couple years this was manned by an employee who made sure it was okay for you to enter the Grand grounds. I haven’t seen anyone in recent years, so that must have been one of the cost cutting measures they made. He was there this time though. We gave our name. We drove though to the Port Cochere. We stepped out of the van and were greeted by a bellman who took our name and gave us cool wash cloths. We were then taken inside to check in.
If you book an ocean front room, they take you right to your room and check you in there. Our experiences at RH were that when you arrived they opened the van door, welcomed you and took every last piece of luggage you had, including backpacks and then took you inside to the lobby. You are seated either at a desk, in a chair or on a sofa to check in. You are brought cool scented cloths and champagne. Being seated while checking in gives the point to RH.
We went inside the lobby and to the check in counter. We had booked a jr. suite. The vast majority of the rooms themselves at the Grand are identical. There are 5 ocean front corner suites that have jacuzzis on the balconies and two presidential suites. There are also some honeymoon villas. I think there are eight. They do not have ocean views. They are kind of in the jungle, off to the side of the resort.
While we checked in we were brought a tray that had a choice of champagne or fruity non-alcoholic drinks. You can pick which you want. These drinks are brought by a waitress from the lobby bar. This first time only, the waitress came back and asked if we wanted more champagne. I said yes, Zung declined. He can never keep up with me. Champagne refills gives the point to the Grand.
Check-in chica asks us if we are celebrating anything special. We told her we were celebrating Zung’s 60th birthday and had just had our 28th anniversary. I asked if we could be upgraded (hoping for the big one – Ocean Front). She said she could give us a “partial ocean view.” I asked about Ocean Front and she said that would be an extra $100 per day. That was the same info my TA had given me.
We decided a 60th birthday was worth an Ocean Front upgrade. I asked if we could have a corner room (with the balcony jacuzzi). She said they only had two and they were both occupied. I knew they had more than two, and I knew someone who checked in the next day in the morning who got one. In the years since this experience I have learned that upgrades are pretty random. Whatever it takes to get a really good comped upgrade I apparently do not do and long ago quit worrying about it. I book a standard room and see if I will get an upgrade when I arrive and am grateful if I do. People get way too worked up over this issue and I’ve read numerous reviews where they complain that they didn’t get upgraded or didn’t get a good enough upgrade. It has really gotten out of hand. We paid for our ocean front upgrade and considered it money well spent.
We filled out the paperwork and were given our wristbands. At RH they do not have wristbands, so the point definitely went to RH on this. I have found the wristbands not to be a big deal. I rarely even notice it and wristband freedom is certainly not going to keep me from a place as fabulous as the Grand.. This first year our wristbands were a light grey color. I had read reports that they were clear and since this first trip they have been clear, so maybe they ran out of clear ones this time.
The bell boy came a took us by golf cart to Building #71 and gave us a tour of things on the way.
We arrived and could not believe the view from the ocean front building lobby area. Definitely worth it.
Our butler met us and he and the bell boy took us to our room. I honestly don’t know why they don’t have the drapes drawn because that view is to die for. Perhaps it was because they were not expecting us in an ocean front room? Our butler gave us a room tour. The rooms are beautiful and nicely decorated. There was a spacious balcony that had a swing that could fit two and a loveseat that was way too comfy. The Grand definitely got the point for the room and an extra point for the balcony.
Note the glass that is in Zung’s hand. It is filled with Havana rum. The whole rum in the room thing is a whole ‘nother post!