from New York City, New York
Submitted on 01-10-2017
Based on the great reviews I read on TripAdvisor, I decided to take a chance and book our stay at Blue Haven this year instead of our regular hotel. Let me start off by saying that I have been vacationing on TCI for the past 10 years (at least once in the Spring and once in the Winter) and remember what it was like when the beaches were empty for miles and there were only a few hotels around. Perhaps tourism has gotten a bit too big here and hospitality 101 has gone out the window. We booked our...
Based on the great reviews I read on TripAdvisor, I decided to take a chance and book our stay at Blue Haven this year instead of our regular hotel. Let me start off by saying that I have been vacationing on TCI for the past 10 years (at least once in the Spring and once in the Winter) and remember what it was like when the beaches were empty for miles and there were only a few hotels around. Perhaps tourism has gotten a bit too big here and hospitality 101 has gone out the window. We booked our stay 6 months ago based on the reviews and were completely disappointed during our stay. Let me first start off with the positives-the resort is gorgeous and has so much potential to be the 5 star hotel it is advertising itself as. The grounds were well kept and the rooms were clean and majority of the rooms are facing the water. I knew when I booked this hotel that it was a little off the beaten path, meaning it is not on Grace Bay Beach, it is off the Marina in the Leeward side of the island. So it is a man made beach for those who are reading this review and want to stay right on the beach. We decided to try this location as Grace Bay beach has gotten very crowded over the years. We never had a problem finding chairs in the morning and it was quiet throughout the day which made it extremely relaxing.
Now let's move on to the things that require major attention...mainly the hospitality of the staff. I'm not sure if they are overwhelmed with the amount of work they are made to do (although the resort was pretty empty the entire time we stayed) or they genuinely do not care. Upon arrival, we were greeted and told that the room was not ready and were given a tour of the facilities. We decided to have lunch while waiting on the room at the swim up bar. The set up to run food from the kitchen at Salt Grill and Bar to the swim up bar is not effective. There is one guy running food in a cooler from the restaurant Salt which is not right there. They aren't even cooking the food at Fire and Ice which is right in front of them. Our order of conch salad and fish tacos took over 30 minutes to arrive and when it did, the order was wrong. I think two customers just left because there food wait time was too long. Next, we are shown our rooms which are lovely. We stayed in room 404. Word to the wise, we did not know this was a connecting room to a 1 bedroom next to us. We had the worst neighbors the entire stay. First was a family with small children that allowed the kids to scream and bang on the connecting door at 530AM the next morning. I called the front desk and honestly, it took 3 tries before someone picked up the phone and when I explained the noise, the staff member honestly sounded like she just woke up and did not care. We asked for a room change but were told that the hotel was booked the entire weekend. This is a resort really for couples. It is really not meant for families with small children.
Since we were up early we decided to take the bikes they have for guests to use and bike down to the Gourmet Raceway supermarket. They have a market on site but the prices are outrageous even for the island. The hotel is pretty remote so they probably feel people will pay those prices since you have to take a cab to get anywhere. The bike ride to and back to the store was about 6 miles. You can stock up on breakfast items, water etc.
Speaking of breakfast, during check-in, we were never told that breakfast is complimentary! it is buffet style. We only found out the following day when we heard people next to us on the beach talk about it. Probably something that should have been mentioned when we checked-in. We were also not the only ones that did not know, shared a cab one night with two couples that also were not told of the complimentary breakfast.
Most resorts have all the chairs and umbrellas/towels set up in the AM for their guests. Not at the Blue Haven! You have to open up your own umbrella (and they are heavy) as the beach person doesn't show up until around 11AM. The towels are by the pool area. And while you get your towel, the guy behind the beach bar will yell at you and ask if you are staying at the hotel and which room number you are at. Ok, the first day I can understand, but seriously I'm on vacation, no need to yell, you can come around and ask politely. By the third day, the same guy Tyrone is still asking me what my room number is like day #1. Try to recognize a guest and make them feel like you remember who they are. Most likely they will feel like the resort is making an effort to get to know you. Nope not at Blue Haven.
We ate twice at Salt, food is ok, service is horrific. Again, both time we went, it was slow. First night, we sat outside and there was only two tables of others. There is a designated smoking area off the deck but the woman behind us decided that she would rather smoke her cigarettes at her dinner table. The waitress asked her to stop smoking but then brought over an ashtray for her to continue smoking and say it was "ok". I asked the waitress if smoking was "allowed" and she said "no", and she realized what she had done. OK. Night before we left, we just wanted to keep it simple so we went back to Salt and went inside to sit. The staff acknowledged us as we walked in, and said to sit "anywhere" as we were the only two patrons. So we sat down, and waited and waited. At this point we thought it was funny that we weren't given menus or even assisted as we were the only people in the restaurant. Finally we just started to stare and wave at the staff that were talking to themselves. It took about 25 minutes before someone came over to see what we wanted to drink/eat. I believe it was the bar manager that came and he looked embarrassed as he should have been.
Just for others to know, there is a FREE shuttle that goes between Blue Haven, The Alexandria, and The Beach House. We took the shuttle one night the to Alexandria and then walked down the beach to have dinner at Hemingway's. You just have to ask the front desk to call for the shuttle. It can take up to 15-20 minutes so plan ahead. Again let's go back to poor hospitality. The guy who drove the shuttle was probably the most unfriendly person I have ever come across on TCI. We said "good evening", no response, thank you with no response. He only shoved a clipboard into us so we could write down which room we were in. Other guests also commented about how unfriendly he was.
Overall, the entire staff needs to be retrained. I cannot believe that the people who wrote raving reviews about the resort and staff are the same people who we came across. There was nothing they offered that made us feel welcomed. Every time we asked a question, it was like it was a chore for them to do. There is turn down service at night but we stopped it after the third night because all they did was take away the top pillow and the cleaning staff would eat their dinner in our rooms. We would come back to our rooms reeking of friend chicken or fish.
So bottom line is, the hotel is beautiful and has so much potential. What's lacking is a good manager and well trained staff to make guests feel welcomed. Let's not forget that the rooms per night are not cheap. If I am paying money to stay at a 5 star resort, I expect to receive service that is top notch. TCI is a beautiful island that I will return to, but never back to Blue Haven.