Margie's LONG LONG Our Lucaya Grand Bahama Island Review w/ **PICS**
Posted 12 June 2009 - 04:36 PM
I know that I wouldn't have been able to handle any of the planning or last minute relocation stress without this forum. I gained so much knowledge and so many ideas from here. My resort isn't really featured on this forum and the Bahamas threads are a little "slow" so I hope that this review will help other brides who consider the Bahamas for their DW.
Travel Agent – Destination Weddings.com – B+
When DH (FI at the time : ) brought up the idea of a DW I was not on board, but I looked into it to appease him. I found destinationweddings.com and paid the $50 just to get the info, because I figured even if we didn't go through with it, it was only $50. One of their TA's, Laura, contacted me within days and began helping me see the benefits of a DW. We discussed destinations, but I already had one in mind after seeing the Dreams Puerto Aventuras website. Communications were a little slow and I ended up finding everyone's trips cheaper on Travelocity right before the wedding, but, letting Laura handle everything was worth it because it took the stress off me. Primarily, the B+ is because when it came time to relocate, I had to do a lot of the leg work to find the new destination and make sure we could get everyone there so I deducted because I felt that should have been done by them. Also, our "travel documents" were just like itinerary printouts from Apple and both the transport company and the hotel kept asking for "vouchers" which we were never given." While I will definitely book my own travel on future trips, I will say, with all the other things to think about with a DW, using a TA is worth it and I would recommend destionationweddings.com.
US Air – B
They get a B based on the baggage fees because I think paying for EVERY bag is ridiculous. We had four bags going down and it cost $80, coming home we had 3 bags because we tried to condense since we didn't have OOT stuff any more. Well, I am not sure why, but coming home they were going to only charge us for the 3rd bag, not the first two, but the 3rd bag was overweight so we had to pay the bag fee and the weight fee, total $75. Had we known they wouldn't charge the first bags on the way home, we would have stuck with 4 bags and it would have only been $50. So this was my only issue. They were great about letting me hang my dress, except it would have been just as well in the overhead since their closets were not full length; they looked like an overheard compartment turned vertical.
Freeport Airport – A
The immigration/customs process here was SOOOOO simple. We had our passports checked by an immigration agent, wait time was like 5 minutes, then 5 minutes with the agent. After that we walked through customs, no pushing buttons. The agent took our bags and laid them on a table and said "Do you have anything other than personal items?" I said yes and he asked "What?" and I told him wedding decorations etc. He just said "Okay" and handed our bags back, no check.
Transfer – "Apple" – B+
This was supposedly an Apple transfer but it was just a guy with a van. They get a B+ because we told them we had private transfer and we were sent to the taxi stand instead and then 10 minutes later, reiterated we had private transfer and had to lug all our bags down to the other end of the pick –up zone because they had sent us to the wrong spot. Then the driver hounded us for "vouchers" that we did not have and wasn't going to take us anywhere unless we gave him a copy of something with "Apple" and our names on it. Just a bit frustrating.
Resort Check In – B+
Check in was fairly smooth I guess. We arrived there with two of our friends who flew in the same day on the same flight with us. We checked in on a Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. so there was no line. Our friends room was ready but ours was not which was a little frustrating and I wanted to pull the "bride" card but…I didn't. Instead, they told us one of the head of the events staff wanted to speak with us and we could go see her at the convention center while we waited for our room. Well…this resort is HUGE and the convention center was at the complete other end of the resort complex. So we walked the long walk down there and checked out the ground; this place is beautiful. We had to wait about 10 minutes for the events coordinator to be ready for us and then we sat down with her to discuss the menu and our needs for the wedding. She then walked us around to show us the sites for our ceremony and reception. But I will get into that in another section. She then told us to go back and complete check in because the wedding coordinator assigned to us, Stephanie, was with another couple and then we could come back and meet her and bring some of our decorations, etc. So we went back, our room was ready, they had held our bags and then got them and took them to our room. They too hounded us for a voucher that we did not have and finally settled for a copy of our paperwork. Other minor issue is that this resort is not automatically an all-inclusive, it is an add on option that we chose and even though our reservations were made as such, they did not give us any information on it and we had to go back to the front desk a third time to get our wrist bands and paper work explaining the all-inclusive package.
Westin Breakers Cay building
Room – B+
Our rooms were on the Sheraton side of the Resort. There are 3 or 4 buildings of rooms, there is the Sheraton Reef, Westin Breakers Cay, Westin Oceanside Suites and Lighthouse Pointe, all making up Our Lucaya as a whole. It gets an A- minus because for the same money that would have gotten us an Oceanview Honeymoon Jacuzzi Suite in Mexico, we got a "room", a basic, nothing fancy about it, but still pretty and clean room, with 2 double beds. Our friends had gotten two doubles and then went and asked for a king and got it. The only reason we didn't is because we loved our view. None of the rooms in the Sheraton are considered oceanview, the ones with a view are called Deluxe Pool view, but we had a clear view of the ocean and wanted to stay put. The events coordinator offered to upgrade us to the Westin Breakers Cay but we didn't want to be in a different building than our guests. Only other complaint was the air conditioner in my parents room sounded like an airplane landing. They were two floors below us and one room over but we could even hear it from our balcony, but they stayed put too. Overall I would definitely stay here again.
More of our view
More to come......
Posted 12 June 2009 - 04:42 PM
As noted, this resort is huge and BEAUTIFUL. It doesn't look like much when you drive up, but the inside of every building is lovely and when you get to the grounds outside, it feels like paradise. The beaches are big and very clean. The only annoyance was the people offering braiding and selling jewelry on the beach, but you get used to saying no and they don't push. There is a huge pool at the Sheraton end of the resort and chairs were pretty easy to come by at both the pool and the beach. The pool has waterfalls and a big slide, but we only saw the waterfalls on twice and the slide was only for people sixteen and under and was never open during our whole week there, I think because it was kind of low season for them. No matter what building you stay in you can use the amenities on the whole property, so for a change of pace we went to the infinity pool in front of the Westin a couple times. That pool had better chairs because they were padded and there were umbrellas there too. If you walk all the way down to Lighthouse Pointe, there is another infinity pool and a lap pool and there was hardly ever anyone there so it was private. The resort has towel huts and gives towel cards at check in that you can use to get towels and you get the cards back to use again when you return the towels. The weather was GREAT. It was in the high 80's everyday, not too hot, and they get the tradewinds, so there is a nice breeze, but some days, like the wedding day, it is down right too windy. There is also a casino which is right on the property. We went there the night before the wedding so I could participate in a Karaoke contest. However, I ended up being the only person singing so they had an intermission to wait till it got later so see if more people would come. They ended up waiting so long, that I just gave up and left because it wasn't worth sitting around for $100. So instead we went and played the slot machines even though I hate gambling. And… on 2 cent machine, I won $300!!! So exciting. Some of our guests that had joined us for Karaoke left and went over to the Port Lucaya Marketplace which is right across the street. That place is SOOO cool! There are a ton of shops and vendors there, restaurants and pubs, boat tours, etc. And the weekends are like one big party over there. My aunt and uncle and brother said Friday night was like Mardi Gras. And we briefly saw a parade that was cool, the people in the parade had costumes like what the Mummers wear in Philly, which we appreciated since we're from Philly. There are two things that kept this resort from getting an A, one is the all-inclusive option that I will get into separately below and the second is our one and only truly bad experience. Twice during our stay, housekeeping made assumptions on what was trash and took two plastics bags from our room. One that was taken on our second day there was an easy mistake, it was packing material for my votives that I was saving to take them back home, and some ribbon that I had used for my placemarkers. I had left it on the floor between the beds with the glue gun. It was no where near a trash can but I guess maybe they thought it was trash because of all the cardboard. When I realized it was gone, the cart was still in the hall so I checked the trash and asked about it but it never turned up. I let it go because it was just cardboard and $3 worth of ribbon. Well, then the day before we left, another bag went missing, this time, not such an easy mistake. My DH had gotten dressed in my parent's room the day of the wedding and left the clothes he had taken off there with his cologne and other toiletries. Then my mom had used my camera to take pics at the wedding so that ended up in her room and when we all went to the bar after the wedding, my mom took our iPod and docking station back to her room too. When she checked out the next day (Sunday), she had put all that stuff in a plastic bag and gave me to take to our room, which I did. It rained on Monday morning so we went to breakfast and then right back to the room and housekeeping had not come yet. When the rain stopped we went out for lunch and a swim. We came back to the room later to shower and change for dinner and housekeeping had been there. After my husbands shower he went looking for the bag of stuff to get his cologne and the bag was gone. Luckily I had wanted to look at pics and took out the camera and had to take out the docking station to get to it, but the bag was gone and I couldn't find anyone in housekeeping to ask. DH told me to let it go cause he thought it was just his clothes and stuff, it wasn't till we got home that I remembered the iPod was in there too. Right now I am working with the investigations department at the resort and hoping to get some kind of compensation.
Food/All-inclusive – B-
First off, let me say that even with a B- grade, this would not prevent me from going back here or recommending it to other travelers/ DW brides. There are not many all-inclusives in the Bahamas. On Grand Bahama Island there are only 2 and in over all quality, Our Lucaya is the better resort. However, since the all-inclusive is just an option, it is limited, so just go with that in mind. First off, to be on the all inclusive plan, you have to wear wrist bands and make sure they are seen when you enter the restaurant and order. I thought it would be bothersome, but it wasn't. The B- is for two reasons. First off, the food is not gourmet. If you want world class faire, you will not find it here. But the food is good, very good in fact, it has a lot of local Bahamian flair. The second reason is the limitations. When you are on the all inclusive plan, there is ONE restaurant that you can go too for breakfast. It seems to change with the seasons but while we were there it was Willy Broadleafs. It is a breakfast buffet and while it is your only option, it is not too bad because they change the options on the buffet daily and there is a made to order omelet/egg station so you can change it up daily. We stayed for 8 days and ate there everyday and I must say, it wasn't until the last day that I was like "Okay, I've had enough of this place" Had we stayed longer we probably would have gone across the street and gotten breakfast there one day. But the atmosphere and d©cor of the place was really cool. For lunch, there were too options, Prop Club or Sugar Mill Bar. Prop Club was an actual restaurant and Sugar Mill is the beachside bar. At Prop Club, they had there full menu and they had a limited all-inclusive menu which you choose from when you are on the plan. Again, the food is good, lots of seafood and Bahamian chicken dishes, sandwiches and pizza. This is where we ate on most days and I really liked each dish that I had, it just got repetitive. Sugar Mill was more grill food, burgers, hot dogs, hot pita sandwiches and salads. We only ate there once while spending the day on the beach, but we did drink there A LOT. : ) Dinner was the biggest issue. There were two choices for dinner, one was Prop Club again, again with a limited dinner menu to choose from. The other was called Iries, a Bahamian seafood restaurant that was a little more up scale. However, you were limited to going to Iries once every third day. So, we, along with our friends decided to go there on our first night (Tuesday) so that we could go again on Friday when all of our guests were there. Well…we walked over on Tuesday and walked into the restaurant and it was empty, doors were wide open, but it was empty. We looked outside where the menu was hanging and then noticed the hours; the place was only open THREE nights a week, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Needless to say that kind of ticked me off. So we went to Prop Club instead. There were other restaurants on property that you can chose from, you would just have to pay, but again, many of them were only open limited hours, or not at all I guess because it was low season. My parents ended up treating our whole group to dinner one night at a place across the street at the Market just so we wouldn't have to eat at Prop Club again. We did get to eat at Iries one night as a group after everyone arrived. The food was delicious. I had steak tips cause I am not into seafood and I loved them, they were so yummy. And our waitress was nice enough to let two people in our party upgrade to lobster for free even though it wasn't on the all-inclusive menu. No matter where you eat, they bring you a check at the end, 15% gratuity included and all you have to do is sign and put your room number. When we ate as a group, at most of the places they would just bring one big check and one person could sign since it didn't really matter anyway. But at the breakfast buffet, they insisted on one check per room and wouldn't do it as a group. None of the restaurants ever gave us a problem about seating us together as a group, but not sure if it would be an issue if they were at capacity. We were concerned at first because our list of what was included also seemed to limit alcohol selection and we had been ordering shots of Cuervo and bottled beers and signing for it, but when we asked we were assured that as long as we were at one of the places on the list, it would be included and not charged at the end and sure enough, it was fine. There were many cases where the staff at Prop Club would make exceptions and let us get things that weren't supposed to be included. And the staff was very pleasant. We made friends with one of the bar tenders at Prop Club and one of the waitresses, the waitress even came into work on her day off on our last day there to give us a wedding present. One final word of caution, everyone is on island time, do not expect high speed service, it is a very relaxed pace, but hell, you're on vacation, so enjoy it and relax. The staff and the free flowing alcohol definitely made it worth it and helped bump this from a C+ to a B-.
Wedding Coordinator – Stephanie – A-
Stephanie was SOOO sweet. She was supposed to be off on the day of our wedding but she came to work to put our wedding together for us. We met with her our first day and took her most of our decorations in a suitcase and explained how everything was to be set up. I had a few things that still needed assembly that I told her I would bring to her the next day. She had pictures of how I wanted the chuppa and my bouquet and took notes on what I wanted. She also made my hair appointment for me. She was wonderful from the first moment was met her, and when we went to shake hands with her, she said "I don't shake hands, I hug" and gave us both big hugs. The only minor issue was a miss communication on the wedding day. Our ceremony site was on the other end of the resort from where our rooms were. The ceremony was at 5:30 so she said she would send a golf cart for my dad and I and our photographer at 5:15, well, 5:20 no golf cart so we started walking. Got to the grassy knoll in front of the site and no wedding coordinator, no bouquet, just a little stress : ) I went looking for her and couldn't find her and then she appeared out of no where with my bouquet. When I mentioned the golf cart she stated I was supposed to call her when I was ready for it, which I don't recall ever being said. But, not enough to bring her grade too low, she was great.
Salon – A
Nothing much to say here. I went without pictures because I hadn't anticipated having it done for budget reasons but decided to do it anyway. I gave her a brief verbal description of what I wanted, up because of the wind, loosely pinned in the back with some curls and a view face framing curls. It was a tiny bit "tighter" than I was picturing but it turned out beautiful and love it. I did my own make up.
More to come...the good stuff : )
Posted 12 June 2009 - 04:54 PM
This resort has several options to choose from for ceremony sites, but site fees are "built into" the cost of the package and therefore, your budget kind of dictates which site you can chose, but they are all gorgeous. Our budget was small because I had budgeted around the cost of the Dreams of Love package in Mexico and spent in other places since that package had everything I needed. When we decided to relocate, I had to "find" money in the budget because this resort had a lot of packages, but none fit my needs, so I went more a la carte and it was slightly more than what I would have paid in Mexico. We married on Breaker's Cay beach, which is fairly private, big and has like a rock wall surround that was great for pictures. My bouquet was exactly like the picture that I sent and the minister read the ceremony that I had written myself. There were only two small deductions here, and one couldn't really be controlled. My chuppa inspiration was the chuppa with the hanging orchids, but instead of orchids, I bought garlands of gerbera daisies in my colors, orange and green, to have hanging. Well, the tradewinds came on strong on the ceremony day and with the garlands hanging, flowers started popping off so they had to swag them instead. I will admit, before I knew the reason, I saw the site on my way back to my room from the salon and I was ticked, so ticked I stopped to grab a drink before going to my room But in the end, it was still beautiful and didn't matter. The other deduction was the minister not following script on the sand ceremony resulting in our vase looking terrible to the point I dumped it and we are going to do it again at home. Otherwise, the ceremony was everything I wanted, DH wrote the most beautiful vows and it was the best day ever.
Crossing the grassy knoll to the beach
Walking with Dad (pro pic)
Our friend doing the reading
ring exchange (pro pic)
My bouquet and our rings (pro pic)
The Kiss (pro)
Man and Wife (pro pic)
Posted 12 June 2009 - 04:56 PM
Videography – A
The videographer was a very nice man, Kendal Knowles I think his name was. He taped for an hour and had the video edited and waiting for us at the desk when we checked out 3 days later. We got two copies. It’s a tad cheesy but very cute and I am so happy we got it.
Reception – B+
B+ because I wanted an outdoor reception but due to our group size we couldn't have one, so we got put in a private banquet room. It wasn't too bad, the building, The Manor House was beautiful and there were huge windows and a balcony looking out over the grassy knoll and toward the ocean and our ceremony site. We had a full bar set up, the food, Filet and Shrimp Scampi was probably the best food we ate all week, we danced to our iPod and we had fun. We did first dance there but other than that, none of the other dances, and we opted not to add a wedding cake since sliced cake came with our dinner choice (we are going to do dances and a cake at our AHR). We had the room for 3 hours till 9. After that, we kept the party going, I walked from the reception room all the way down to Prop Club with our docking station in my hand and music playing and dancing. We then partied at Prop Club where they have a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights. DH and I partied a little too hard, and ultimately our two double beds and up coming in handy when we both got to the room and passed out, what a memorable wedding night.
First Dance (pro pic)
My aunt and Uncle and you can kinda see my table set up
Photography – Linda Lucas, Dream Images Austin – A+++
Long and short of it, this girl is awesome. If she lived in PA or I lived in Texas we would hang out all the time, and her work is amazing as well. I am going to write a full review in the bridal referrals section but I just have to say in here how awesome she is. Due to restrictions that Dreams laid on after I had booked a photographer located in Mexico, I wasn't allow to use a local photographer from Mexico; I had to use the resorts or bring my own. Luckily, the photographer I had booked had a bad experience at a Dreams Resort according to his assistant so he had opted not to do my wedding and I was free to back out, plus he just got a really BAD review on here, so I am relieved. I didn't want to use the resort photog and budget restrictions dictated that I needed to find someone who would provide services in exchange for just the cost of the trip/food. I googled and found a couple in Texas that offered that deal but they were booked on my date, so I took a long shot and asked if they could recommend someone that would offer the same deal. They said they would forward my email to their friend Linda who they had mentored before she went out on her own. Linda emailed me, was free on my date, I loved her work and the rest is history. Her husband acts as her assistant/second shooter, so I paid for the trip for the two of them and it end up being the same as what I was going to pay the guy in Mexico. She was so flexible with the change of destination. One of my primary concerns was making them feel comfortable. I met her at the transfer drop off in front of the hotel when she arrived and we immediately clicked. It was more like I had a friend who happened to be shooting my wedding and she and her husband Brian fit right in with our group, so much so that when she is on the east coast for a NY DW in July, our group plans to meet up in Manhattan to hang out. I have gotten a few preview pics so far and I love them. Between her and Brian shooting we are getting a ton of photos and I can't wait to see the rest. If you need a photographer, please look her up, she would love to do more DW's, ours was her first and she did awesome. Our TTD was awesome too, though DH and I had hangovers that kinda killed the mood. I haven't seen any of those yet, but I am sure they will be incredible cause we faked it well.
My wedding and the whole trip was awesome and even with all the stress and relocating, I would do it again in a heartbeat, and I would recommend my resort and vendors to anyone looking to wed in the Bahamas. I didn't realize this was going to be so long. Sorry ladies, if you're still reading, thanks.
MODS - I'm sorry if any pics are too big, I tried to resize but I think I was unsuccessful.
Posted 12 June 2009 - 06:07 PM
Posted 14 June 2009 - 10:09 AM
Posted 15 June 2009 - 08:52 AM
| Originally Posted by paraisobeachbride2009 |
Wow thanks for such a great detailed review! You looked absolutely gorgeous and I loooooooooove, love, love your dress...who makes it? Congrats to you and your DH! I can't wait to see the rest of your pro pics!!
Thank you!! My dress is actually from David's Bridal believe it or not
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