Freeport/Our Lucaya questions

Old Jan 22nd, 2008, 09:55 AM
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Freeport/Our Lucaya questions

Have been to Nassau...stayed on Paradise Island. Considering a trip to Grand Bahama Island and would be landing in Freeport. How does Freeport compare to Nassau? Is Our Lucaya more similar to Paradise Island? Thinking of staying at Pelican Bay. Comments on hotel would be appreciated. Are bike rentals available nearby and, if so, is the area safe to ride in from a traffic perspective? Are there any trails?
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Old Jan 23rd, 2008, 07:03 AM
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MassMama, check out the details in this thread regarding the Our Lucaya area/Freeport in general.

Especially the comments near the end from travcarib and padams41.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...5&tid=35101046

I would say Our Lucaya is similar to Paradise in that it is Americanized and built up, but not to the extent/extravagance of Paradise. Very safe also.

However, unlike Nassau and the rest of New Providence, which has some great sites, there's not much else to do or see, unless you count the beaches. And for that, I'd say the Out Islands have more to offer...
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Old Jan 23rd, 2008, 09:12 AM
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I have been to both islands and really didn't care for GBI. There really wasn't alot to do, except for the beach. It was fun at night to go across the street to the village, but everything else was kind of lame. So lame, I can't even remember much about the place except for the fact that I won't go back. I much prefer the outter islands.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2008, 02:59 PM
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I would rather vigorously disagree that there isn't anything to do on GBI. While it certainly cannot be compared to New Providence/Paradise Island for night clubbing, it certainly has plenty of activities during the day. Virtually all possible water sports, horseback riding, snorkeling, diving, booze/supper cruises in evenings, casino, great golf at the two Our Lucaya courses, tennis, beach volleyball, eco tours, kayaking and more. With the opeing of Bikini Bottom there is now a great local place to go (Thursdays and Saturdays), for a great night of Bahamian music in a reputable local bar/restaurant. I also tend to disagree that Our Lucaya is even remotely like Atlantis or any other place on PI. It is a relatively quiet but beautifully maintained property with three hotels, 2 Westins and a Sheraton, and four if you count the Lanai Suites as a third Westin property. The action in the evenings, other than the aforementioned Bikini Bottom, is almost always across the street from Our Lucaya (and next to Pelican Bay), at Count Basie Square in the Port Lucaya Marketplace. The evenings they have live entertainment the place is usually packed by every age bracket and a mix of local Bahamians and tourists. It's a blast, especially for first time visitors. I realize it is a different taste than those that like NP or PI, but we like it and enjoy the laid back atmosphere much more than the hustle of those two islands. GBI has a hurting economy right now due to three hurricanes devastating the island in less than 14 months back in 2004-2005 and forcing the closure of the second biggest resort on the island (Royal Oasis). However, and we just got back from an 8 day trip there last week, it is still what you make of it and whether or not you'll like it depends on what your tastes are. It was very quiet for most of our stay and that was disappointing to us. Still, all the activities I mentioned above were available. I say give it a shot and enjoy it. If you do choose Pelican Bay be aware you are granted unlimited access to the largest and best freshwater pool on the island, across the lagoon at the Ritz/Taino resort (free water shuttle for PB guests). If it isn't to your tastes don't go back.

Danny
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Old Jan 23rd, 2008, 03:17 PM
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Here is a copy, compiled by Cal, a frequent contributor to GBI forums, of SPECIFIC things to do on GBI. Add Bikini Bottom to the bottom of his list since it is very recently opened.

Danny

THINGS TO DO
1. The Dolphin Encounter with UNEXSO. – Great for Children and adults
2. Reef fishing: with Lil’ B Charters
3. Sailing/snorkeling cruise on the Fantasea 40’ catamaran with Reef Tours
4. Deep Sea fishing with Reef Tours
5. Genie’s native Extravaganza
6. Genie’s Island Tour
7. Evening Wine & Cheese Cruise on the Fantasea 40’ catamaran with Reef Tours
8. Visit Gold Rock Beach and National Park with caves – need a rental car. – go at Low tide.
9. Horseback Riding with Trikk Pony
10. Horseback riding with Pinetree Stables—ride through different ecosystems and on the beach.
11. Bahama Mama Booze Cruise (Port Lucaya Marketplace)
12. Bahama Mama Dinner Cruise (Port Lucaya Marketplace)
13. Snorkeling at Paradise Cove (go at high tide) - great snorkeling)
14. Smiths Point fish fry on Wednesday night on Taino Beach
15. Lunch at Banana Bay restaurant – need a rental car
16. Lunch At Bishops at High Rock – need a rental car
17. Parasailing
18. Jet Ski Rental
19. Kayak Nature tour snorkel trip to Petersens Cay
20. Kayak Nature tour trip on Gold Rock Creek/Gold Rock Beach
21. Golf
22. Gambling at Isle of Capri Casino
23. Free Live Entertainment nightly at Port Lucaya Marketplace
24. Shopping at Port Lucaya Marketplace (100 shops and restaurants)
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Old Jan 23rd, 2008, 07:41 PM
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Wow, there is a lot to do in Freeport. I am going on a cruise in December and wanted to know what to do during the stop, great suggestions.
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Old Jan 24th, 2008, 06:00 AM
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Fasst1 -- yes, thank you for that list! When you say "freshwater" pool at the Ritz, you mean a chlorine pool versus a saltwater pool, right? Have you heard any comments about the new Ritz hotel there?

How are the beaches and the general conditions on the island? Has everything been repaired since the hurricane damage?

My children, ages 12 & 16, are really interested in one of the jeep tours. Do you know anything about those?

How how restaurants? Although we would probably go out for 1 or 2 really nice meals, I would be interested in what restaurants offer reasonably priced family fare.

Just as a side note, we have been to Nassau/PI twice...stayed at Atlantis and at Comfort Suites. As a family with two active boys, we enjoy activities like you suggested during the day and nightlife other than the bar scene...the marketplace sounds similar to the marketplace now at Atlantis. Is the entertainment in the markeplace free? Also, I read somewhere that there is a stage in the marketplace. Is there organized seating to view the stage?
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Old Jan 24th, 2008, 08:15 AM
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Just be very careful not to confuse the "Ritz" in GBI with the real Ritz Carlton chain. There is NO relationship at all.

Pelican Bay is very nice property. The Westin/Sheraton complex is also very nice.

My biggest complaint with GBI is the outrageous additional fees the hotels tack on the room rate when you check out - so called service fees, taxes, resort fees, and it adds up a LOT of extra money (think 15-20 bucks per PERSON (not room) per night)...and of course you get no service to speak of. It is all a ploy to get more money for the hotel unions.
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Old Jan 24th, 2008, 10:06 AM
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The "extra fee" thing has been discussed elsewhere on this board. There are fees like this charged on many of the islands, not just GBI. I typically book a package through a travel agent (or mine will match prices gotten on-line) and all those extra fees are included in the price UP FRONT. So, no surprises when you check out.
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Old Jan 24th, 2008, 02:00 PM
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Sadly in GBI they tack them on no matter how you buy the package...read the fine print and it always says so. Many people are rudely shocked upon checkout to see their prepaid bill go up by a couple of hundred $$ or more for these "service" fees. Total rip off and one reason we avoid the Bahamas anymore.
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Old Jan 24th, 2008, 09:01 PM
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Reisender,
You are incorrect and, I suspect, deliberately trying to lead people to believe resorts/hotels on GBI are ripping people off. Every darned hotel/resort in the world has such fees. I have done several reviews of other major Caribbean destinations over the years when misleading information like yours is posted on a forum and GBI stacks up VERY well against them in terms of Taxes, Fees, and Service Charges. Not cheap, but NOT hidden charges. Any decent travel agent, any decent on-line booking organization and the hotel sites themselves all clearly indicate there are additional taxes/fees/etc. NOT included in the basic room rates for virtually any of them on GBI. That includes places like Orbits, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Westin/Sheraton (operators of Our Lucaya), and many others. Take your spiel somewhere else. You are also TOTALLY incorrect in stating they add them on no matter HOW YOU BUY THE PACKAGE. It is simply a false statement. My wife and I just got back from 8 days at Our Lucaya on their golf package. ALL taxes, fees and service charges were INCLUDED in the package price. That is the 9th or 10th time we've stayed at either the Westin or Sheraton at Our Lucaya on the golf package and the extra charges have ALWAYS been included. Anyone caught with their pants down at check-out got suckered, not by the resort, but by a travel agent.

Danny

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Old Jan 25th, 2008, 09:37 AM
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Right on, Fasst1....you are correct. When we traveled to PI both times, I checked my bill upon checkout. No additional charges since I had already paid them to my travel agent as part of the "package"

Now, could you go back and answer the questions I had for you relative to GBI (see 7th message down in thread)? Also, are there places to rent and ride bicycles on GBI? We really couldn't around Atlantis (too busy) but it sounds like there is more wide open space in this area of GBI.

Also, how do the Sheraton and Westin stack up again Pelican Bay? I read that you have access to the pool at the Ritz if you stay at Pelican Bay. True? Do you know if it is a nice pool?

Thanks again!
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Old Jan 25th, 2008, 12:34 PM
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Pelican Bay is more a boutique hotel than a resort. It's got, I think, three smaller pools, a restaurant and nice views of the Port Lucaya Marina, which surrounds it on three sides. Westin/Sheraton Our Lucaya is a huge resort. Three hotels (two Westins), two golf courses, 4 tennis courts (one of each surface type), 4 pools, three beach bar/restaurants, 4-5 other restuarants, 7 1/2 acres of beach, every conceivable water sport, a casino, and immpeccably maintained grounds. I honestly do not know if the Ritz pool is fresh or "somewhat" salt water. Many pools these days are called fresh water but contain some 'salt'. It is huge, and it IS beautiful. I also do not know if it is heated. You can rent bicycles right outside the entrance to Pelican Bay on the main drag. The outfit sets up, I think, right next to the Minister of Tourism Information Booth on the street. It's great place to bike but be careful, stay on the left (as autos must), and I wouldn't recommend it at night. Our favorite restaurants, both in the Port Lucaya Marketplace, next to Pelican Bay and directly across the street from Our Lucaya, our Luciano's and Pisces. Dinner reservations are recommended for both. LeMed is also very good and both they and the Pub at Port Lucaya are excellent for lunch. One not real close that we also love is a seafood place called The Stoned Crab, located on Taino Beach about a 5 minute cab ride from either hotel/resort. I refuse to go back to Nassau/PI so don't know how the Marketplace compares, but I can say the entertainment provided for free most nights in Count Basie Square is great and all ages thoroughly enjoy themselves. One of the highlights of all our trips is watching the little kids cavort to the music. The square's surrounded by open air bars and restaurants and there is very nice seating, with tables, if you want to sit in the square and enjoy a drink or just watch. Reports on the Ritz are the new, and renovated, buildings are very nice. We strolled the grounds are trip earlier this month and were impressed. Lots of timeshare pressure though and I'm not into that stuff.
GBI was devastated by three hurricanes in less than 14 months in 2004/2005 but almost all tourism areas have been completely repaired for some time now. Royal Oasis, Garden of the Groves, and Pier One Restaurant are the things that are still not back and running from that damage. You can still see hurricane damage around the island. Some beaches were permanently scarred, or at least have not yet been resanded, but overall GBI has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean basin. If you get a chance to out toward the east end of the island and visit Gold Rock Beach (go at low tide). Gorgeous and HUGE. You can walk out nearly half a mile at low tide. Private residences bear the brunt of the remaining unrepaired hurricane damage but there is steady, albeit somewhat slow, progress going to complete those repairs. Don't be surprised to see a LOT of what appear to be portions of homes being built that are abandoned. Too many misunderstand that. Most Bahamians build as they have the cash to pay. When they run out of money they stop building and do not start again until they have more cash to pay for construction. I've seen one home, absolutely stunning now, that took nearly ten years to finish. I cannot help with the jeep tours. I know little about them. GBI is flat and almost everywhere you can go has a passable roadway. If the kids want to go on a jeep tour just to do it I can say I've never heard bad things about them. Go and enjoy.

Danny
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Old Jan 25th, 2008, 12:40 PM
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If you go to this site: http://travel.webshots.com/album/562183214dJJDba you'll find over 100 photos from out trip earlier this month. That will also link you to, literally, hundreds of other photos of the island I've taken over the years. If you would like a labelled aerial photo of the Port Lucaya area and a copy of a very lengthy trip report I wrote email me at [email protected] and I'll send them along to you.

Danny
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Old Jan 26th, 2008, 04:39 AM
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I've been to the Sheraton in Nassau and the Westin in Lucaya within the last year. I much preferred GBI over Nassau. But, that's just my opinion.
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Old Jan 26th, 2008, 06:33 AM
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Are guests at Pelican Bay permitted to use the facilities at the Sherton/Westin Our Lucaya resorts? I thought I read that somewhere but I don't know for sure. How do they distinguish who are Pelican Bay guests? Do the Our Lucaya guests wear wristbands or something?
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Old Jan 26th, 2008, 07:02 AM
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Another question regarding reasonable restaurants in the Marketplace....everything is relative soooooo -- what is considered reasonaable for GBI? On PI, about the cheapest dinner for 4 was a pizza...still around $30 (for a pizza!!!) Please let me know suggestions for reasonable dinners and an approximate cost for 4. I'm just trying to plan ahead as far as how much money to bring.
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Old Jan 26th, 2008, 07:32 AM
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Hope this link works. It should take you to Luciano's menu, giving you an idea of prices for an upscale restaurant.

Danny



http://www.thebahamasguide.com/lucianos/
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Old Jan 26th, 2008, 07:47 AM
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You're killin' me, Danny! Although it looks very good, this is too upscale for our budget. I'm interested in reasonably priced family fare....stuff that my 12 and 16 year old boys will like and something that doesn't break the bank! Know of any menus for pub style food, pizza, chicken/ribs, chinese, subs, etc...
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Old Jan 26th, 2008, 03:22 PM
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Try places like Pisces (dinner only but outstanding pizza and NOT for $30!), The Pub, Zorba's, or LeMed for lunch or very reasonably priced dinners. There are over a dozen decent restaurants in the Marketplace. I suggest on your first day/evening in town you stroll the Marketplace and check their menus. Virtually all of them have their menus posted outside the entrances. The most famous gathering place next to Count Basis Square that many people never realize serves food is Rumrunners. Very good food at decent prices there also. There are also a couple of fast food places like Domino's. Several of the places are open for dinner only and you may want to make reservations to insure you get seats if you decide you want to try a meal there. One place I do NOT ever recommend is the Ferry House at Pelican Bay. Far more expensive that Luciano's and teeny, tiny servings.

Danny
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