Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Enchanting grottos and plenty of amenities save this 201-room resort from run-of-the-mill status.
The real appeal at this 21-acre resort is not the pool (average), the rooms (small), the beach (rocky), or the location (near the airport), but rather the massive subterranean caves found throughout the property. Here, crystal-clear water is surrounded by dark and looming stalactites and stalagmites, and echoes of gently lapping water bounce from rock to rock before falling flat. Though dank and dark inside, the crystalline water below is cool and invigorating. Weekly cave crawls explore the grottos’ vast nooks and crannies, and guests are free to swim and snorkel on their own. The spa’s only treatment room can also be found in one of the grottos for a unique experience.
The rest of the resort is, by comparison, somewhat less enchanting. The 201 guest rooms spread out across 11 three-story colonial style buildings are identical save for the views, which range from undisturbed and expansive to obscured and partial, and the beds -- two doubles or one king. Decor is fairly standard with unexceptional beds dressed with a few small pillows and bright tropical patterned comforters. The small bathrooms were renovated in 2010 with lots of marble and modern fixtures; however, if anything, they only serve as a stark contrast to the aging condition of the rooms, which appear to have changed little in the last decade.
The grounds are flourishing with tropical fruit trees, hibiscus, birds of paradise, and bougainvillea, and a grand lawn overlooking the ocean is home to a family of chickens. From here, the views of the resort are quite lovely, with pink and yellow colonial buildings in the foreground and Grotto Bay’s turquoise waters in the background. Down by the water, the beach is rocky in areas, and tightly packed lounge chairs fill up fast. The pool is equally average, with a nearby restaurant, pool bar, and Jacuzzi -- none of which are worthy of much praise. Still, the sheer number of amenities, and the fact that they are well maintained, is impressive given Grotto Bay’s affordable rates, which are far lower than hotels like the Rosedon and Royal Palms, which have no beachfront and very few extras to speak of.
Inside the main house, which includes a lobby, dark business center, meeting area, and two restaurants, the look is a cross between old English cottage and quasi-contemporary, with yellow and tan leather dominating the overstuffed couches and chairs, and light wood plank ceilings and hardwood floors lending an almost cabin-like feel.
Of note is Grotto Bay’s claim to be the only all-inclusive resort in Bermuda. This assertion is false on two fronts -- the resort is not all-inclusive in the traditional sense, rather, there is a meal plan option at a higher nightly rate. Additionally, several other resorts on the island, including Pompano Beach Club and Cambridge Beaches Resort, provide similar plans as an additional option to overnight rates.
Close to the airport, but air traffic noise is not an issue
Less than a handful of resorts are found on the eastern shores of Bermuda, most likely due to the fact that the airport occupies a good portion of the region. As a result, most of the island’s best outings are quite a distance away. Still, a few exceptional sites -- including additional caves, the aquarium, and a shipwreck located just off the resort’s beachfront -- are located nearby, and unless you are staying here or at the nearby Rosewood Tucker’s Point, you might not have the chance to experience them. Additionally, the resort rents out mopeds on-site, allowing guests to bypass expensive taxis -- just be careful, as the roads leading to and from the airport are the island’s busiest.
In an effort to permit as few vehicles as possible on the island, car rentals are strictly forbidden. Even locals are allowed only a single car per household -- something you’ll likely appreciate when you see the lush, winding roads that unobtrusively snake through the island. Taxis are reliable and metered according to state law, so there is no need to negotiate fares; however, rates are exceptionally high.
Those looking to save on cab fare might consider renting a moped, the islanders’ preferred mode of transportation. While safety may be an issue for some, a local speed limit of just 35 km (about 21 mph) will likely assuage most fears. Consider the less expensive ferries and local pink-and-blue buses to cover longer distances between “the hook” (Bermuda’s westernmost island), the main city of Hamilton, and the beaches along the southern side of Warwick and Southampton.
201 identical rooms with private balconies and ocean views being their only perks
Scattered across the resort, 11 Bermudian colonial-style buildings create a charming salmon- and gold-hued neighborhood. Inside, however, all 201 rooms are virtually identical, and though bright walls and bedspreads add a cheerfully tropical touch, the overall theme is outdated. Bland tile flooring, ultra-firm beds, and old wicker furniture are run-of-the-mill. On the bright side, newly renovated bathrooms add a few small luxuries in the way of marble floors and modern fixtures. Particularly nice are the private balconies and patios, all of which have at least a partial ocean view.
An impressive quantity of amenities for one of the lowest rates on the island
Three restaurants and two bars, but cuisine is similar across the board
Though Grotto Bay claims to be “Bermuda’s only all-inclusive resort,” it is, in fact, not an all-inclusive property in the strictest sense. A free continental breakfast is served at the Rum House Bar in the Palm Court each morning; but beyond that, unless you have purchased one of the resort’s meal plans, you’ll be shelling out cash each time you eat.
On property are two indoor restaurants -- the casual Palm Court, which provides free daily afternoon tea and has a nautical-themed bar, and the fancier Hibiscus Dining Room, where full hot breakfasts and elegant dinners are served. Located between the pool and the beach is the Bayside Bar and Grill. All three of these restaurants have similar menus -- no ethnic or specialty cuisine here -- though the Bayside Grill has themed buffet dinners twice weekly. There's also a basic pool-side bar with swim-up seating.
The private beach might be rocky and the rooms might be small, but lovely grounds and magical grottos give this 21-acre resort a special mystique of its own. And though its airport-side location isn’t the best, an impressive roster of amenities -- including a small spa, basic fitness center, tennis courts, three restaurants, and two bars (including one poolside) -- makes for one of the island’s best deals.