On the northwest corner of Jamaica, about 30 miles north of Montego Bay, lies a luxurious, all-inclusive Caribbean resort that offers a haven of retreat for its guests –– the Grand Lido Braco.
In the heart of the small, practical and recently renovated Sangster airport, immediately next to the rental cars, you will easily find the large Super Clubs office. Super Clubs, which Grand Lido is a part of, will arrange your ride directly to the resort. Just sit back in their clean, comfy mini-buses. You get to skip the negotiations with dozens of cabbies outside competing for your fare or offering purchases of ganja or worse. The ride also saves you from the worries of navigating the traffic, the construction and driving on the left side of the road, if that’s something you aren’t used to.
After about an hour’s drive along the coastline, you arrive at their guarded gate. A lush green expanse of grass and palm trees line the entrance –– it’s their nine-hole executive golf course. The mini bus pulls up to a yellow Victorian building and you are welcomed into the lobby with a nice, cool, towel and a light cocktail to refresh you from the steamy Caribbean heat.
Once you are checked in to the warm, seaside village, you don’t have to give another thought to cash, unless you want to go on some extraneous tours, get a massage or facial treatment at the spa or are looking for some souvenirs. You don’t even need cash for tipping, as it’s not permitted.
Along with your keys, you receive the activity itinerary for the next several days. The hard part is deciding how you want to spend your days. You can plant yourself in one of the several hammocks hanging throughout the property, reading your favorite novel in seclusion and listening to the rhythm of steel drums in the warm breeze. Or, you can piece together any number of activities that are part of the all-inclusive menu. The regular side and the Au Natural side both have their own set of activities. Be aware, if you go to the Au Natural side, you are expected to be in the buff. Lookie loos are not welcome and you will be chased off if you are not there to participate.
If you decide you want to take advantage of some of the activities Braco has to offer, you can choose among the various water sports, which occur from 9am to 4pm daily: pedal boat riding, sunfish sailing, kayaking, water skiing and windsurfing. Some activities require signing in early.
A Scuba diving P.A.D.I certification and a night dive are offered for an additional fee. You must also sign up a day in advance for any dive trips and must pass a required swim evaluation and medical requirements.
There are plenty of other activities available, as well. Out of the ocean and into the pool there are aquacise classes, pool volleyball, and ongoing games and competitions that allow you to collect points and turn them in later for prizes. If you are water logged and need a break, you can take tennis lessons, golf lessons, participate in scavenger hunts, beach volleyball, kickboxing, yoga, pilates, reggae dance class, Jamaican drink mixology class, Jamaican pastry class, and so much more.
Along with the Executive 9 hole golf course that you drove through on the way to the lobby, there is a championship 36-hole golf course minutes away.
So you don’t lose track of your workouts, there is a gym on premises, with an ocean view. Inside the gym is the spa that has a plethora of menu of options for facials, massage, etc.
If your adventurous side still isn’t satisfied, you can choose to head off property for any number of guided tours; horseback riding in the ocean, Bob Marley tour, zip lining tours, hiking, waterfalls, etc. These all have additional fees but can easily be arranged through the resort activities desk.
Are you exhausted just thinking about it? Feeling hungry? You can eat as much as you want while you are a guest of the resort at the five resort restaurants:
1. Victoria Market, breakfast buffet, lunch buffet, dinner buffet. Also a hub for entertainment and activities. No reservation is required. Walk in anytime; it’s an open air cafe.
2. La Pasta, the casual Italian restaurant. Open from 3-11. No reservations required; it’s also an open air café.
3. Nanny’s Jerk Pit, open 11-4 and offers authentic local cuisine. Another open-air café. Note: Try the Jerk Chicken!
4. Piacere, French Nouvelle Cuisine, reservations and jackets are required.
5. Muna San, the Japanese Restaurant. Reservations are required here as well. Casual Elegance is the dress code here.
If this isn’t enough to satiate your growling tummy, room service is available 24 hours a day. And if you ever feel like you are going hungry while you’re guest here, it’s your own fault.
With full belly and a few dollars to spend for souvenirs or even if you forgot your sunblock, there is ample shopping in the town square area of the resort. There are also local artisans on site that set up tables and sell their wares; jewelry, paintings, bowls, carvings, etc. The artists here have been screened for authenticity and quality. They have been invited to show their work to you at the resort for your convenience. It is a much different pace with the artisans on property than if you are walking around Montego Bay. In Mo Bay you are more likely to be hounded by people trying to sell you anything from their art, a taxi ride, ganja and some friends were even offered speed. At Braco, you are welcome to take a look without feeling pressured to buy anything that you don’t want.
When the sun sets and its time to turn on the evening razzmatazz, there are several choices spread throughout the resort. The Piano Bar offers Karaoke, as well as a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy your friends or to make new ones. The Sidewalk Café and the Clubhouse both offer friendly atmospheres to enjoy drinks and good company. There is often live music and dancing in the Victoria Market area. There are bars spread throughout the property that offer different atmospheres, depending on where you want to go and who is there when you arrive. There are often events schedules at these various locations, changing on a nightly basis, so check your activity calendars.
When it’s time to turn it, you’ll head to your comfortable, luxury room. The beds are comfortable, like sleeping on a cloud. Every room offers lockboxes, as well as a CD player, a stocked refrigerator, TV, toiletries and a cozy atmosphere.
One thing they don’t offer in-room is Internet access. If you insist on checking your email, you can buy a day pass for $20 that allows you access to their wireless connection if you have your own laptop and you bring it to the lobby. Otherwise, you can use the small two-computer office room that charges $12 per half hour or $18 per hour.
A couple side notes; Keep in mind that they ask for an age limit of 16 for all guests. There is also a required Departure Tax at the airport. It is often that you have already paid that with your airline tickets, but it may be a good idea to check this with your airline to be sure.
The prices for the resort vary based on the season. The high season for Jamaica is December through the end of February. Depending on your dates, the room you choose and availability, your rates will range from $373 per night on up to $1100 per night. You can reserve on www.expedia.com or you can go directly to the Super Clubs website. Have a great vacation and enjoy Jamaica Mon!