Planning a Quick Trip to The Bahamas on Miles and Points

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For the first time in my memory, our local school district added a fall break this year in early October that consisted of an early release day on Friday as well as a holiday on Monday. This seemed to be the perfect opportunity for a short getaway, but I wasn’t sure what the perfect destination would be until a Delta SkyMiles Flash Sale dropped the price for awards to Nassau in the Bahamas to 27,500 miles per round trip on our preferred travel dates with a reasonable one-stop routing through Atlanta.

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This was fantastic because it would not only allow us to check out the new Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, but also allow for us to take C back to do the water slides at Atlantis that she was still talking about over three years since our last visit. When we booked the trip several months ago, Josh’s work schedule for the fall was in flux, so it was best to leave him out of the planning and ask Grandma if she wanted to come along for the ride instead. Don’t feel bad for Josh though as he was thrilled to be able to go fishing kid-free with a friend for the weekend. 

Bahamas here we come

As luck would have it the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar was pricing at just 15,000 Hyatt points per night for a brief period of time this spring, so when we booked two nights at that property it only cost us 30,000 total Hyatt points instead of the regular price of 20,000 points per night. We booked our third night on the island using points at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island that is located next to Atlantis as we had done in the past. This hotel is located literally 100 yards away from Atlantis and staying there, even on points, gets you included wristband access to the Atlantis waterpark, movie theater, and other attractions making it a heck of a deal.

You can sadly only book international Choice hotels 60 days in advance of travel, but that wasn’t a problem for us, so we spent 30,000 Choice points for the one-night reservation as soon as the award booking window opened. I had purchased tho Choice Hotel points we used during the annual Daily Getaway sale. At the .4 cents per point price-point that these points sold for in the last Daily Getaways, that is a grand total of $120 for the hotel night and four wristbands to Atlantis.

This is a really good deal even if you don’t want to actually stay at the hotel because for our dates Atlantis day pass wristbands were selling for $129 for adults and $89 for kids 4+. During peak season the prices can go even higher for day pass access, so even one wristband costs more than the price of the points to secure a hotel night and up to four wristbands.

The view from the marina near Atlantis

While we had planned on spending the third night of our trip at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island, once we arrived at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar and realized how nice it really was, we decided to extend our stay there by one night and just use the Comfort Suites reservation as a way to access Atlantis. The kids were sleeping well in that room and it just didn’t feel right to upend everyone after just two nights. A last minute booking at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar was about $200 plus taxes and fees, but not having to move our stuff and getting to continue to enjoy that beautiful property for as long as possible was well worth it.

There was no way we were leaving here until we had to!

Speaking of taxes and fees, these can be substantial in the Bahamas, though thankfully no additional fees were charged with our Comfort Suites award reservation and both the daily resort fee of $32.25 and the $20.63 per night service fee were waived when staying on points at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar. I have heard mixed reports of the service fee being waived on award stays at this property, but it was proactively removed for us on our stay without us saying a word. When you stay on dollars at the Hyatt in the Bahamas, expect to be charged close to $100 in taxes and fees per night on a $200 room reservation. Thankfully, with Globalist status, the $32.25 resort fee was waived on our one paid night upon request, so our taxes and fees weren’t quite that high, but they are still higher than you are probably used to paying here in the United States.

We received access to the Grand Club at the Hyatt during our stay thanks to Hyatt Globalist status, and I would say that having club access is a game changer at this property. Of course not having club access won’t kill you, but it will very negatively impact your wallet. Food in the Bahamas and at this resort can be very expensive, so being able to get breakfast in the club, load up on waters and sodas for the day, and even eat a hot dinner complete with dessert in the club saved us a significant amount over the course of our three-night stay.

The Grand Club at the Hyatt Baha Mar was outstanding

The hotel seems to still be in a ramp-up mode for now, but I do know for sure that Globalists get lounge access, and before they realized we had Globalist status at check-in we were told the club could be accessed for an additional $100 per night. While club level rooms don’t seem to be bookable for stays right now, as you look further into their booking calendar you can also access the club by paying 27,000 points per night instead of the usual 20,000 points, or you can book a club room by paying 3,000 points per night on top of an eligible paid rate. Those who have Explorist status should also be able to use one of their four annual club access awards, though I have read mixed reports on whether that works right this second or not.

Grand Hyatt Baha Mar

Speaking of ramp-up mode, not all of the room types are operational. We were unable to use a confirmed suite upgrade as we were told they are not yet available. There are one-bedroom residences available for booking, but the actual standard suite, which I believe is the Grand King Suite, isn’t yet available according to their booking engine and what was told to me. I do see that and other room types available beginning in early 2018. However, as you will see when I get to the actual review of the hotel, the standard room with two queen beds was totally fine for the four of us on this trip.

The final piece of planning that went into our long weekend to the Bahamas was transportation as we had no desire to mess with a rental car. On our first trip to Nassau several years ago we happened upon a recommendation for a transportation service run by a woman named Sandra. She worked out great for that trip, so we used her company again this year, and while she didn’t drive us on this trip, all of the drivers were fantastic, courteous, and on-time. They had a good condition car seat available on each of our rides, the charges were billed right to the credit card they had on file for us, they dealt with some of our last-minute changes without issue, and I highly recommend them if you want to set-up transportation around the island.

Our cash expenses for this trip were limited to the taxes we paid on our Delta flight awards, our ground transportation, the third night we added at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar when we realized we didn’t want to leave, and basically just our lunches and assorted tips since we had breakfast and dinner in the club lounge every day. We literally saved thousands of dollars on our long weekend trip by relying heavily on points and miles.

Now that you know what went into planning the journey, I can’t wait to share with you details about the resorts and fun we had while we were there. Let me know if there is anything specific you hope for us to cover in upcoming detailed posts on the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar and more!

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Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Comments

  1. Thanks for starting your trip review MP. The taxes, fees and food in the Bahamas are bordering on insulting. I realize no one is twisting my arm to go, but it’s getting out of hand. The ancillaries for the room are approaching 50%. Makes points and miles almost required unless one cares not about cost.
    The Bahamas work much better than Hawaii for us east coasters so I look forward to the rest of your review.

    • The fees are insane, but thank goodness this hobby allows us to avoid a good chunk of them. Bahamas are so nice for east coasters for sure! Can’t wait to share more!

      • We were on points too, so we asked for the resort fees to be waived and they did it after a quick consult with a manager. That helped.

  2. Summer, we were at the Baha Mar just before you (Oct 1-4).
    Interestingly, they offered us the Grand club at $50 per day and of course we jumped at that! We are only Discoverist level. The staff here are great and extremely helpful. In the Grand Club Lidedra was our favorite. We got top notch service from Kirkwood, Mikell, Crystal and Justin in the Grand Club as well. This saved us a bunch of money too! The free drinks in the Grand Club (beer, wine, champagne, and hard liquor) was free from 5:00 to 9:00 pm each day. Outside the club at the restaurants and pool bars, frozen drinks were $13 plus 15% service fee plus 8% VAT. So $16 to $17 per drink – ouch! Most entrees were in the $22 to $25 range, but that is before the 15% add on and 8% VAT on top of that.
    Did you go to the nice French pastry shop Café Madeleine hidden at the end of the retail shops. Select deserts go half price after 11:00 am and in the last hour (7:00 to 8:00) I think everything is half price, but you still have to add in the service charge and VAT. But they are oh so good!
    Baha Mar was virtually untouched by Maria and Irma and is in great shape. Resort was at only 20% capacity when we were there. Recent hurricanes and being somewhat off season may have contributed. We had no trouble getting a pool chair at any of the 9 pools. At one point we had the whole pool to ourselves!
    For transportation, we used the cab service which runs $22 to $26 depending on what they charge you for bag handling. Make sure you know the negotiate price before you get into the cab! We paid $24 to get to Baha Mar from the airport and $25 to get back to the airport.

    Did you get to pat the nurse sharks and rays at the Discovery Center at the far corner of the resort? They do it 3 times a day when they feed them and let you get hands on!

    • How many of you were there? Maybe it is a per person charge since there were four of us. Either way, good to know and yes to the resort and pools being almost empty at times!

      • They explained to me that the $50 rate was good for up to 4 people and it was a special they were running at the time. The regular rate for up to 4 people is $150 per day (if you aren’t a Globalist). So your $100 rate is still better than full price! I think you could almost justify $150 per day for four people given the high cost of food and drinks.

        We only had two of us, but still well worth it for our first trip without our children in 25 years! Our last daughter went off to college this year.

  3. How does using the Choice reservation for a day pass work? Do you have to check in one day and then it’s good for the next day? We are going to Baha Mar for a week in April and I’d like to try to do this.

  4. We were there the on day 2 of the opening back in May I loved it as a quick weekend getaway from the east coast my husband not so much. But, maybe because we saw nobody there the first week and he was bored(likes to people watch). I love to gamble so this is a great choice for me. With no status we took a hit on the food (although gambling win made us come out ahead). I was wondering has anymore restaurants open? Shops? Are they running any happy hour specials by the pool? Any nighttime entertainment beside the jazz bar? One of my grips about the Bahamas is being harassed on the beach for either hair braiding or water sports or buying something.. When we were there that was not an issue but I wonder as it continues to grow if it will become one. Right now Aruba Hyatt still wins me out with better beach(although when we were at Baha Mar there was no beach feel.. no umbrellas no drink or food service etc) , In aruba able to walk to tons of restaurants, different nightly actives with piano bars and bands playing etc..Would love to see a great reggae band playing at Baha Mar. But, I will return for a couple of nights for some sun and gambling.. Anything above 2 nights I will probably pick a different island. Glad you had a great time. Your kids are still young enough to enjoy the pools and swallow beach area.. My kids now older would like it just to gamble.. But if my kids were teens again.. they would be bored stiff here.

    • No beach hassle, many restaurants, several high end shops, drinks and food by the pool, outdoor drummers one night, amazing singer in bar one night, but still not many people. When they put in reported arcade and water park may work for teens even more….though that may take years.

    • Yeah when we were there pretty much just the Jazz Bar. Almost wish we had someone hassle us on the beach so that I could buy a t-shirt or something. The few shops that were open – Tiffany’s, Rolex – are not shops that we frequent. I do agree that in Aruba the beach sand is finer and whiter and there are many more off resort options available within walking distance for shopping and dining in Aruba. Baha Mar is its own complex, so nothing in close proximity. They could definitely work on the beach feel. They did have chairs and umbrellas set up, but no one taking drink orders on the beach or by the pools. If I am paying that much for a drink and built in gratuity, then I should get someone to bring my drink to my pool chair. Totally different atmosphere in the Grand Club. Superior service there. They even brought us a nice desert try to our table after we got to know them by the third day (of course we tipped them well because we appreciate nice people and good service)

      That said, I think this resort will continue to get better. It may take a few years but they have the right staff in place. Atlantis better take notice.

      • Agree. If they actually get a water park in place here, I can’t imagine going back to Atlantis unless the kids beg me. They did deliver some drinks to us at the pool, though we ordered them at the bar first. I think this place will only get better with time, but the bones are very, very good.

  5. I would love if you could address the beach and ocean. Is it clean? Does seaweed wash up during the night and have to be scrapped away each morning, for example? Is the water really clear? Are people walking around and selling their wares? Did you feel safe? How was security?

    Thank you! I really enjoy your blog. I appreciated your lounge pictures at the Hyatt Regency Maui!

    • Short answer was totally clean on our visit. Very beautiful and sort of clear though they say water still settling from storms. Absolutely felt safe there and no one selling while I was there. More to come!

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