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