Arrival: We flew Westjet to Bermuda, a short 2 hour and 40 minute flight from Toronto. Grotto Bay Beach Resort is right across the bay from the airport, taxi fare is around $8.00 US (all taxis are metered). Even though it’s by the airport, we never heard any noise from airplanes taking off or landing. We arrived at the hotel around 2 p.m. and were advised our room would not be ready until 3 p.m., so we went and had lunch at the Bayside Grill by the pool. This is the only place open for lunch, and they had a fairly extensive menu. The hotel has an all-inclusive plan, which is what we had. I believe it’s the only hotel in Bermuda that has all-inclusive. After lunch we went back to the lobby and received our room key cards. Our room was located in Smith’s Lodge (all the buildings are named after the parishes in Bermuda). While the rest of the buildings were 3 storey, this was a 2 storey building and we had a room on the 2nd floor. I think this was probably the best location in the resort. We had a fantastic view of the bay and pool area, and it was midway between the lobby and the beach. The whole resort is built on a hillside and there are lots of steps. I would not recommend it for anyone who has problems walking uphill!
Rooms: The room was nice. Had everything we needed – hair dryer, safe, iron and ironing board, coffee maker and coffee, lots of drawer space. The TV was an older type, but it worked fine. Our room had a connecting door to the next room, and it was a little noisy at times, but no big deal. We were on a corner, so no room directly next to us on the other side.
There is wireless internet at the resort, but you have to pay for it. You can buy it for different time periods, we just bought the one week plan for $50, as that was the most economical. Signal strength was sporadic in the room, but it was sufficient for what we needed.. I think once I went up to the lobby because I couldn’t connect in the room.
Restaurants and Bars: Breakfast is a buffet in the Palm Court Restaurant, from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Good selection of food, everything from omelettes and waffles to fresh fruit, yogurt, different kinds of breads and muffins. They also serve coffee, juice and pastries from 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in their coffee shop area adjacent to Palm Court. Lunch is served by the pool at the Bayside Grill. Food was good, good menu selection, and hot things always served hot, and cold things served cold. They will even give you your meal to go if you want to eat at the beach or in your room. There are two restaurants for dinner, and reservations are recommended for both – the Palm Court Restaurant and the Hibiscus Room, both open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Different menus for each restaurant. A good selection, tried something different almost every time. A couple of things I wasn’t crazy about, but for the most part it was good. In the Hibiscus Room you can get a filet mignon or rib eye steak. They put a sauce on the meat which I didn’t really care for. After that I just asked for the sauce on the side. There were several things on the desert menu, but we never had any room for desert. I did try the New York Cheesecake once, it was good. The first night they had a BBQ at the poolside restaurant, it was very good, lots of nice salads, shrimp, etc. Another night they had a Surf & Turf Buffet at the poolside restaurant, where they apparently had lobster, crab legs, filet mignon, etc. We missed that one as we thought it was all seafood, which we don’t eat. They also have afternoon tea every day in the Palm Court restaurant from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. This is free for everyone. They have a selection of teas and trays of cakes and cookies, a nice touch. No wonder I gained weight while I was there! If you are there on the all-inclusive plan, you still have to sign for everything. A bit of a nuisance but better than having to wear a bracelet. We found the service to be pretty good. Sometimes it was a little slower than other times, but we’ve had worse elsewhere
Beach/Pools/Grounds: The beach is very small, but nice. Since it’s on the bay, the water was perfectly calm and clear, and you could walk out quite a ways before it got deep. Great for families with small children. They also have an inflated slide out in the water for the kids, I believe they charge $10.00 a day for the use of it. There were lots of loungers, not so many umbrellas. They could use a few more of those. If you didn’t go down until the afternoon you’d have no trouble finding a lounger, but without an umbrella for shade it would be pretty hot. There is a very small beach to the right of the main one, which doesn’t really seem to be maintained at all, but one day when we couldn’t find an umbrella we went over there and there were two loungers and an umbrella and we had the whole area to ourselves. You can also rent snorkel equipment, floats, kayaks, and motorized paddleboats. If you’re on the all-inclusive plan the non-motorized stuff is free. There are also roosters and chickens that roam the property, and if you’re unlucky you may have a rooster crowing outside your room early in the morning. At night the trees and vegetation are alive with the sound of tree frogs (they call them Whistling Frogs). They are small and you can’t see them, but they sure make a lot of noise.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: There is a concierge on duty in the lobby from 9 to 5, who will answer any questions, take your dinner reservations, etc. They do put out a daily activities sheet, available at the concierge desk, but it didn’t seem that some of the things listed ever happened…. Getting around the island – Some people rent scooters (available next to the hotel). Note that they drive on the opposite side of the road there. Since we were on the all-inclusive plan, it included a bus and ferry pass. They have an excellent bus system there, there’s a bus stop right in front of the hotel with buses every 15 minutes or so, and that’s what we used to get around. The town of St. George’s is only about 10 minutes away by bus. We went there the first day, it was pretty quiet as there was no cruise ship there that day. Lots of neat little stores, though, and everyone is so friendly. Stand there and look confused and someone will come up and ask if they can help you find something. The City of Hamilton is about 30 minutes away by bus (more or less depending on the time of day). Here you find a lot of the chain stores. Everyone says how expensive stuff in Bermuda is, but I didn’t find the clothing that bad, keeping in mind there is no sales tax there. We never did get up to the Dockyards at the tip of the island, maybe next time. The whole island is only 22 miles long and 2 miles wide at the widest point. Beautiful island, the bluest water I’ve ever seen. The Weather – It was very hot and humid while we were there. If we ever return to Bermuda, we would not go in August. There were a lot of things we would have liked to do, but we just found it too hot. The most interesting thing was the caves on the property. There are two. One you can go into and swim (water is cold, my husband says “refreshing”). The other is where they do some spa services and is usually kept locked. I had a massage there so was able to see it. We also went to the Crystal and Fantasy Caves which are about a 10 minute walk from the resort. Kind of pricey to see them – cost $54 US for the two of us.
Other Comments: Spa – As mentioned above, they do some spa services in the cave, but there is a $20.00 surcharge to have it in there. However, the alternative is a regular guest room with a massage bed in the middle of the room. Definitely not the atmosphere of a nice salon, and services are very pricey to begin with, and they add a 17% service charge/gratuity on top of that. Fitness Room – There is a small fitness room – I walked by it, not sure what equipment they had in there. Hot Tub – There is a nice jacuzzi just off the pool/restaurant area, I never saw anyone in there because the weather was so hot. They also have tennis courts, shuffleboard, and volleyball. Bars – There is a bar at the pool restaurant and one in the main lobby by the restaurant. With the all-inclusive there is some premium liquor that is not included, but there is an extensive list of included liquors. I mostly had white wine, but did try their Rum Swizzle drink – very good. Stores – If you want to buy some munchies or any other sundries, there is a store right across the road from the resort, and also a gas station/store to the left about a minute’s walk. If you’re not there on the all-inclusive plan you might want to buy your bottled water across the street, at the hotel bar it will cost you $3.00 US a bottle (regular size). The tap water is safe to drink though. We just took bottled water when we left the resort. There is a small gift shop in the lobby, and some evenings they had local craftspeople with their goods set up in the lobby or down by the pool. Not much going on at night at the hotel, not that we are up late anyway. They had a piano player in the Hibiscus Room some nights, a fellow playing steel drums in the Palm Court Restaurant another night, and a guitar player at the BBQ by the pool. I think a lot of people may have headed down the road to the Swizzle Inn, a bar/pub (less than a 5 minute walk away). In conclusion, we loved Bermuda. If we went again we would go when it was a little bit cooler so we could explore the island more. We did go to the caves, the Aquarium, St. George’s, Hamilton, and Horseshoe Bay Beach, but there are so many little inlets and bays that would have been interesting to visit had it been cooler. We thought the Grotto Bay Beach Resort was pretty good, it actually exceeded my expectations of a 3-1/2 star resort. They could use a bit of an update with regard to their outdoor furniture cushions and the carpeting in their restaurants, cosmetic stuff. The grounds were adequately maintained, but could have been better. Ie. the light on the path to our room burned out early in the week and still had not been changed by the time we left. A great location, with easy access to everywhere. We spoke with many people who were repeat guests, and other first-timers who said they would definitely be returning.