Review: Grand Hyatt Baha Mar
In Part 1 of the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar Review I covered all the wonderful aspects of the resort including the rooms, an overview of the resort and the outside areas of the property. I also discussed using Hyatt points to book my stay. The current sign-up bonus on the Hyatt card is enough to pay for 2 nights with points only, that’s a pretty great deal. In this part of the review I’ll discuss the casino, the restaurants and the service issues we encountered.
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Service Issues at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar
Service is an area where Baha Mar falls very short of the mark. There were so many instances of poor service on our 5 day trip, I had to do a two part review! I saved the aspects of our trip that were most affected by poor service for the second part of review.
Beach and Pool Service
One major area where service fell short was during the day at the pool and beach. (See Part 1 of the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar Review for non-service related pool and beach details.) We went to the beach on two separate days and saw only one server on one of the days, the other day we had to walk over to the pool for a drink/lunch menu. This is one area where Atlantis has an edge, at Atlantis there are plenty of servers quickly bringing drinks to you beach and poolside.
The service at the pools was better but still severely lacking. It almost made me wonder if the waitstaff doesn’t get to keep the tips they earn. Once you get someone to take your order, you wait. Also, the amount of liquor in the drinks is far less than you would expect- they very carefully measure out the amount of liquor in drinks. I don’t think they fill to the top of the measuring device either. If they continue to provide such poor service, they should probably put a little more alcohol in there so that you don’t notice.
The casino is huge. The layout is very different from other casinos I’ve been to. Instead of being one big square or circle, the gaming areas are spread across the resort. The look of the casino is beautiful and it has really stunning crystal chandeliers throughout.
Unfortunately, the casino was missing a few things. First thing missing? People, there were very few people gambling or even hanging out in the casino. At any given time there were only about 3-8 Blackjack Tables going, very few Roulette tables as well as other table games. The high roller area never to seemed to have more than 5 players.
Another major issue with the casino is the staff. Unfortunately, the casino dealers are very inexperienced. Our party consisted of four seasoned gamblers, so we know the table rules and bet payouts. We found ourselves constantly correcting the dealers. Even worse, every mistake seemed to be in the casinos favor. This took a lot of fun out of gambling since we couldn’t relax and have a drink, we had to pay attention and protect our bets. At one point I hit a bonus hand in Pai Gow and was under paid $100! I think the worst thing I saw was a Black Jack dealer tell a player he busted on 13 and proceed to take his money. I’m sure over time this will get better, but if you’re a table game player, please be alert and pay attention to the game.
Another thing that I was not impressed with was the selection of complimentary alcoholic beverages offered by the casino. In the main pit, there is no premium liquor. I was shocked when the waitress told me the best brands of Vodka they serve are Absolute and Smirnoff. Yikes! I then asked about scotch and was informed a cheap version of Dewars was the best. Every self respecting casino I’ve been to at least serves Ketel One and hopefully Johnny Walker Black Label. (Or am I spoiled by the Borgata?)
It seemed as though the drink servers didn’t necessarily have set sections to cover as we felt like there were plenty of servers passing by, but no one taking our orders. Eventually we learned you could just flag them down and order a drink, but it doesn’t seem like the best way to operate. Again though, you’ve got to keep an eye on your bets, so maybe the drink issues are for the best.
There are around 15 different eateries to choose from ranging from super casual to fine dining. Overall, the food was good. A unique feature that I haven’t seen before is the food truck collection on the beach. There are four different food trucks serving Mexican “El Jefe”, barbecue, hot dogs and sliders. We ate at the hot dog truck and the Mexican truck and both were really good. Be sure to get a jalapeno margarita from El Jefe for only $12 including taxes and fees (a steal compared to other options).
There was one major takeaway from each sit down meal: Baha Mar really needs to work on it’s service and organization. Wait times for servers, drinks and in between courses was astronomical and incredibly aggravating. Another major source of aggravation was that most of the restaurants seemed to be out of a significant number of menu items. At one point we went to the Swimming Pig for dinner and they told us they were completely out of food! How does that happen?
We ate here New Years Eve and would give it 3.5 stars. The food was good and the staff was very pleasant. They made it a point to tell us that the food comes out as it’s ready, they repeated this point about 10 times. I suspect the reason they do that is because they’re not quite ready for large crowds. Our server came to our table multiple times with plates of food that we didn’t order and duplicate orders. We ordered a meatball appetizer and 3 came out at separate times. At first it was funny but by our 3rd chicken parm we were ready to get the check. The whole dining experience was around 2.5 hours and that’s just too long for a 3 course meal.
Dinner for 2 here was $380. We had plenty of drinks, 2 apps, 2 entrees and a side. Both entrees were dry and just average. Additionally, the time between the appetizer course and the entree was over an hour wait! If the servers here were concerned about their tips, I’d imagine someone would have spoken to a manager and had them come by our table to apologize for the wait or offer a round of drinks, but no one made mention of the long wait time. At this point we were so tired of complaining about the service, or lack thereof that we said nothing and left feeling like we overpaid for terrible service.
Stix was by far the best food we had, I think it was also the cheapest. We sat at the bar in the middle of the restaurant figuring that if the service was as slow and carefree as usual, we’d at least have some entertainment watching the cooks prepare the food. I am happy to report the service here was efficient and there were no service issues. There was however the usual problem of the restaurant being out of several menu items.
Don’t let the beautiful pictures fool you- we waited almost an hour and a half for sushi during lunch. The wait for the two drinks we ordered was about 30 minutes as well. How can a place that charges $30 for a sushi roll make you wait 1.5 hours for lunch? Again, no mention of the incredible wait time by anyone.
Concierge and Management
At one point after we waited 1.5 hours for our sushi, we decided we no longer wanted to do the Prix Fixe Katsuya Dinner for New Years Eve. We went to the concierge and explained what happened and asked if they could help us with reservations for a different restaurant, they told us we should walk over to the other restaurants to see because it would be quicker that way. Yes, you read that right- the concierge told us to walk over to other restaurants to see about dinner reservations. What in the world is the concierge there for if not to help with reservations?
We got so fed up at some point that we went to speak with a manager and he apologized and gave us a $250 credit to Cleo, the meditteranean restaurant. This was nice and definitely made me feel that they value their clients.
The Grand Hyatt Baha Mar is beautiful and the facilities are incredible. The rooms are brand new and leave very little to be desired. Everything about looks and feels luxurious and sophisticated. The pool scene offers something for just about every type of person and mood. Overall, the food is good (better than Atlantis for sure). The staff is friendly and the managers seem to be trying their best. The casino staff is inexperienced and that is something that could definitely ruin your trip if that’s an important aspect of your vacation.
I go the Bahamas every year and I used to stay at Atlantis. In light of the dinginess of the rooms and common areas at Atlantis (other than the Cove and Reef) I will be staying at Baha Mar from now on assuming that the service issues get worked out overtime. I may go over to Atlantis to gamble, but Baha Mar is superior in many other areas.