Master Z and I decided we needed to escape the rigors of kindergarten (me, not him) and our cold, windy winter for a mother-son trip somewhere exotic and warm. We learned about the Grand Lucayan Resort, on Grand Bahama Island, boasting 7.5 acres of white sand beaches, limitless activities and access to dolphins. This, we agreed, is THE place for us!
After our morning flight, we were dropped at the stately Manor House, located on the East end of the property. We were quickly greeted by smiling locals who directed us to the reservations desk in a lobby with beautiful, dark wood furnishings, buttery yellow walls and crisp white trim. I could hear my granny saying, “this place is classy!” (I have to say, I agree.)
My dry Colorado skin rejoiced as I inhaled the moist ocean air during our short walk to the 10-story building that was to become our home for the next four days. Before I knew it, Z had jumped into a game of chess with a few other kids, not an ordinary game though – the Queen was taller than him! Good thing the coffee shop was right there. As I sipped on an almond latte, I checked out the restaurant options, and there were at least three close by, including a poolside bar and grill. Nice!
We were thrilled to be on the fifth floor with an ocean view, in a room large enough for me to comfortably share with a messy 6-year old. He couldn’t believe the “humongous bed” and that there was “a refrigerator in our room, really, mom?” (The boy doesn’t get out much.) Did I mention the ocean view? It was spectacular!
Checking out our room took all of 2.3 minutes. Because, before I knew it Z was in his swimsuit, ready to get in the water.
The large winding pool we saw on the way in was actually much larger than we even expected, it started with a waterfall, wound around an activity area, and turned into an infinity pool at the aforementioned poolside bar and grill. Enticing as it was, we were drawn to the turquoise ocean waves and super-cool water trampoline a short distance out. Lounge chairs abound, so finding a place to relax was no problem. I quickly settled in for some magazine-time, while Z chased the waves.
I could get used to this.
The Grand Lucayan Resort, a Radisson affiliate, has a little something for everyone. The lodging options range from basic (but spacious) rooms to two-bedroom suites. There are four swimming pools (lap and leisure), a super bubbly hot tub, a conference center, two golf courses, an on-site spa, four tennis courts, and is only steps from off-site shopping. There is also easy access to a casino – if only my husband were here!
On our first evening out, we made our way around the corner to Iries, a Caribbean restaurant. All the prep talk about the Bahamas not having PB&J’s was paying off and I was going to cash in on some good, local cuisine. Menu items included cracked conch (a popular and abundant sea snail), sweet potato wedges, and grilled steak with Bahamian spices. We finished our meal with Guava Duff, a traditional Bahamian dessert that is prepared by folding fruit into dough and boiling, then topped with a rich, buttery sauce. I was not disappointed! Nor was the PBJ addict. Score!
After the long travel day and with our bellies filled with good Caribbean fare, we were looking forward to cozying up in our fluffy and inviting bed. Much to our delight, the staff had left little chocolate treats on our freshly-fluffed pillows. Guava Duff AND mini-chocolates? Who needs PB&J? Not us!
We woke up the next day excited to go on our (much anticipated!) activity for the morning, a dolphin experience. Founded in 1965 as a scuba diving club, the Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO) has become well known for pioneering the shark (no, thank you) and dolphin dives in the Bahamas. Excursions include: wreck dives, reef dives, shark dives and dolphin dives, as well as a variety of options for “close encounter” dolphin experiences. Not certified? No problem. UNEXSO divers will introduce you to the basics of scuba diving and provide you with the necessary equipment to get started, so that you can forego certification.
We opted for the “dolphin close encounter.” After a 20 minute boat ride, we arrived at Sanctuary Bay, a natural 9-acre lagoon, home to fourteen Atlantic Bottle Nose dolphins. I was truly impressed by the knowledge and care of the trainers. After a brief rundown of the history and rules (no waving, pointing, gesturing), we headed to a square platform. Guests were situated on three sides, the trainers and dolphins on the fourth side. Each of us took a turn stepping into the water with the trainer to pet and kiss the dolphin. Photos were snapped, tricks were performed (wow! They can jump high!) and we headed back.
Happy 6-year old, well-informed mother, photos of the experience. Check, check, check.
Lucky for me the Grand Lucayan Resort offers great activities for the younger guests. Camp Lucaya is for kids aged 3-12 and is only $10 per child. Awesome price! Currently, Camp Lucaya is housed in a temporary spot, but I was able to get a look at the future location and it looks really cool. It will be located at the western-most spot on the property in an eight-activity room, open-air building. There is access to a kid-friendly, zero-entry pool that includes a slide. (Note: it is scheduled to open by May 2012)
Next up? A trip to the spa.
Senses Spa & Fitness Center is an oceanfront facility covering 25,000 square feet. In the spa there are Vichy showers, wood saunas, steam rooms and treatment rooms. I knew that if I indulged in too many Guava Duff desserts, I would need to make a trip back to the fitness center that had nice modern treadmills, bicycles and steppers, as well as weight lifting equipment. I was happy to hear that I could have full access with the purchase of my massage.
And, about that massage….it was heavenly! I wasn’t going to let a name like Alpacino (that’s right, Al Pacino) scare me out of much-needed relaxation. Boy, was I glad I didn’t. Alpacino had the magic hands. He miraculously rubbed me out of stress and into that low-key Bahamian lifestyle that I had been craving all winter. 24 hours in and I was hooked.
The next day, we made way to Lucayan National Park, a magnificent ecological reserve where we could walk into the ocean for what felt like a mile. This park is perfect for kids! Sand, sun, shallow swimming. AWESOME!
We spent the rest of our time at the Grand Lucayan Resort sunning, swimming with our new SwimWays toys, eating (great options from casual to fine dining!), reading and playing. Z didn’t ask me once for a TV show or video game, and I found myself more easily laughing with him. We spent our time being silly and reconnecting. All I could think was “Now, THIS is the grand life!”
Thank you Grand Lucayan for being the perfect backdrop to a perfect mother-son trip!
Special thanks to Grand Lucayan for hosting this experience.