The smell of coconut rum and beat of the live calypso music were hypnotizing as I made my way through the open-air halls of the Grand Lucayan, Bahamas during a recent visit. The 519-room hotel sits alongside one of Grand Bahama Island’s powder-white beaches. Here groups can enjoy any of the resort’s free activities offered daily including yoga and mixology courses, or lay in one of their oversize poolside hammocks and enjoy a good book.
For meetings, the resort offers 90,000 sf of both indoor and outside venues ideal for large groups. Their Grand Lawn is perfect for 1,500 pax starlit soirees where group members can dance to the rhythm of the hotel’s Junkanoo parade, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.
The resort has two championship golf courses—The Reef Club and Lucayan Country Club—which is the oldest course in the Bahamas and was designed by renowned architect Dick Wilson. Both courses can also be used for events, offering more than 13,000 total yards between the two.
As if there weren’t enough to do back at the hotel, a 15-minute trip to Lucayan National Park makes for a day of lounging and exploring the pristine beach where the sexy (and recently single) Johnny Depp and his crew of swashbuckling buccaneers filmed Pirates of the Caribbean’s second and third movies. Be on the lookout for hidden booty.
Benjamin Davis, Grand Lucayan’s GM, talked to us a little bit about what makes the resort and surrounding area ideal for group business. He summed it up pretty accurately by saying, “I don’t think anyone should ever be bored if they’re here for three or four nights.”
Prevue: What are the resort’s top selling points for U.S. meeting planners?
Benjamin Davis: We are a beachfront resort, which is pretty much our top selling point. On top of being on the beach we have a large amount of indoor and outdoor function space, and we can take groups of up to 400 to 500 rooms. We also have sufficient a la carte restaurants for them to dine at on different days of the week, two golf courses where groups can host events, a spa, and the ability to host events on the sand like organizing Beach Olympics for a group.
Externally there are attractions that are available for those who want to see a different side of the island. There’s deep sea fishing and scuba and swimming with the dolphins. It’s a complete package that could easily interest a group so they don’t have to stay on-property the entire time they’re here. It gives them a different flavor of the island. Oh, and we also have a casino so I think we have a fair amount of stuff for a person to do to get a feel for the area.
What’s your favorite part of the resort?
My favorite part is the ocean. I think it’s soothing and the white sand beach is great. I think it’s quite nicely done because we have the beach divided into two sections. One area is on the eastern part of the property where the beach is more secluded and quiet and has the infinity pool. It is more of our upscale area. The other beach has the water sports and activities. Again, I just love the ocean.
How much of your business comes from the U.S.?
I would say most of our business is from the U.S. We’d love to grow in group business because we have the facilities to organize events quite well. We have decent price points for groups and meal programs available. We can also do group buyouts.
Do you work with outside companies to organize events or do you have in-house staff?
We have outside vendors who we work with to do the decorations and facilitate with the set-up of the event. Groups don’t have to find their own company, we can do it. Some of our events are quite nice, actually.
We’ve put together carnivals or a Junkanoo event—which is the theme of the island. We can also do a fish fry or barbecue. A la carte dining on the beach is nice, too. Whatever you want to do, we can create.
We also have a huge tent that can cover the Grand Lawn. We had the preliminary section of the Miss Universe pageant here a few years ago and they used the entire facility. In other words, anything can be done.
There’s a little bit of everything. I don’t think anyone should ever be bored if they’re here for three or four nights. That’s something that just won’t happen.