Grand Isle Resort and Spa
What We Love
- A stunning location on powder-white Emerald Bay Beach
- Smallest villa is is 1,250 square feet; all have separate living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms and private balconies
- Free-form infinity pool with direct beach access
- Greg Norman–designed 18-hole golf course adjoins the resort
- Delicious Caribbean jerk-style dinners at The Palapa Grill
- Swimming with pigs has become one of the island's most popular activities
What To Know
- Free WiFi
- Emerald Bay is 14 miles north of George Town along the Queen’s Highway
- Non-motorized water sports (including kayaking, snorkeling and paddle boarding) are available
- Free WiFi
- Golf Course
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
A quick flight from Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Atlanta—or an easy connection through Nassau from a range of East Coast hubs—the Exuma Cays are the crown jewel of the Bahamas, an island chain defined by ribbons of white and pink sand and impossibly turquoise water. Along the east coast of Great Exuma, a few miles north of George Town, the 78-villa Grand Isle Resort & Spa occupies one of the island’s most spectacular crescent beaches, at Emerald Bay. The 78 villas are homey and spacious (the smallest is 1,250 square feet), with separate living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms and private balconies overlooking the manicured gardens or across Emerald Bay and out to sea. Interiors show off a Bahamian fondness for bold tropical colors, but they have a modern vibe thanks to dark wood furniture, cool tile floors and island artwork. Fitness fanatics can get their fix in the 24-hour gym or by trying out a slew of non-motorized water sports, including kayaking, snorkeling and paddle boarding. Or tee off nearby at the Greg Norman-designed Emerald Reef Golf Club, adjacent to the hotel, a par 72 championship course that plays to 7,200 yards and features six signature holes along the water. For everyone else there’s pampered relaxation to be had at the full-service spa or beside the infinity pool, which overlooks Emerald Bay. Evenings at Grand Isle Resort are low-key affairs enjoyed with a rum cocktail, a cracked conch appetizer and a Caribbean jerk-style dinner at The Palapa Grill. For couples and honeymooners, the staff can set up private dinners for two (with a prearranged menu of classic Caribbean fare) on your villa’s breezy balconies.
In the Area
The beaches of the Bahamas are chockablock with bars, and foremost among them is Chat ’n’ Chill, on Stocking Island, a ramshackle beach pub nestled on the shore across from George Town. Hop a water taxi or rent your own skiff for the one-mile jaunt across the harbor — and don’t skip the signature Goombay Smash cocktail. When hunger strikes, tie up at the colorful Staniel Cay Yacht Club and have a bite at the restaurant, a can’t-miss place for fresh seafood, cold Bahamian beer and, of course, the Out Islands’ famous cracked conch. The best way to experience the natural beauty of the Exumas is from the sea. Charter a full- or half-day sail with a local adventure outfitter and get lost exploring the deserted cays and coves that comprise this exquisite island chain. There are myriad natural attractions in the Exumas, but be sure to drop anchor and snorkel through Thunderball Grotto, a sea cave once featured in the James Bond film of the same name. And shore up at Big Majors Cay, home to wild pigs that are eager to greet your boat. Feed them scraps from the boat, or jump in and swim with the famed pigs yourself.
How to Get There
I have only been to Exuma a handful of times but this trip by far has set the bar high for any other trips. The staff at Grand Isle Resort were truly amazing to us and the property has shown me a different side of Exuma. It was the best of both worlds where modern meets rustic. For dinner make it a point to be on time for your reservations and make it a point to use the pool near the beach just outside of the restaurant, the views are unbelievable at sunset.
We got here to relax and enjoy our vacations. But the training level and service level of the staff made us mad every single day of the trip.
Room was dirty, restaurants took hours to serve us and whenever we asked for service, they would react like they don’t care.
It’s a chame that such a wonderful place has so low standards of service and commitment.
Wouldn’t suggest to go there for the price.
When I think of Exuma (& pretty much all of the Bahamas except for Nassau) I think of solitude and deserted beaches. This was definitely the case with a little bit of a car drive, there are public beaches near by that you will have all to yourself. The public beaches are prettier (and cleaner) than the beach on property at Grand Isle. I expected at this price point ("luxury") nicer beach chairs, and a service with the towels and umbrellas. The beach chairs on property were junky, and something you could buy from the local pharmacy in the US. The beach was also full of seaweed, not well maintained like you would see cleaned up at most luxury hotels. Lastly, the beach was shared with Sandals resort. Sandals is great, but not my style … so you can imagine my family's surprise!
Another negative is the main dining area (Palapa grill) had terrible service. I was expecting the Bahama mind-set, slow is not a problem for me. Rude, disrespectful, and adding things to our tab (3 extra groupers?) to increase the automatically added tip, bothers me. Supposedly there was a shake up going on because there was a new restaurant on property and a bit of competition. When the food delivered, it was good (tad on the expensive side).
The pool on property is quite nice.
The views & golf course (shared with Sandals) was outstanding.
The maintenance crew couldn't necessarily fix our out of order dishwasher, but they did seem to care and came quickly (especially when it was leaking on the floor below us).
I'd like to come back to the island but will try February Point next time.