by Amanda Norcross
When many of us think of the Bahamas, we immediately conjure up images of the pastel-pink towers that rise up over Paradise Island, across the bridge from Nassau. We can’t help it—we’ve seen the commercials for Atlantis; we’ve been to Atlantis and can attest to just how much fun it really is. It’ll always be a bucket-list destination for families.
But if you’ve been there, done that—or are just looking for a more unique experience in the Bahamas—we know just the place.
Welcome to Grand Isle Resort & Spa.
Located on Great Exuma, Grand Isle Resort & Spa offers exceedingly spacious villas with one, two, three or four bedrooms. All villas offer fully equipped kitchens, washers and dryers, and patios and/or balconies, many with close-up views of the Caribbean Sea. Each villa also has a garage with a complimentary golf cart for guests to use during their stay.
The oceanfront resort shares a beach with the adults-only Sandals Emerald Bay, but has its own corner of space that feels quite sequestered. Families can visit the Hummingbird Hut for complimentary water sports gear, including boogie boards and kayaks. Staff will often organize water sports games, either at the beach or at the pool.
Speaking of pools, there are two (one is designated for adults only and features day beds in the water). There’s also three onsite dining options (plus room service), golf, a spa, and fitness center. And when you’d like to venture out and explore the islands, there are plenty of excursions from which to choose.
Our Editor Loves
- Coved sand beach
- Multi-bedroom villas
- Personal golf carts
- Water Sports
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Luxurious and expansive, the villas range from one to four bedrooms, with gourmet kitchens and washers and dryers. They also have balconies and/or patios overlooking the resort gardens or the shoreline, which starts out rocky at one end, then segues into a gorgeous one-mile stretch of sand along Emerald Bay.
Most of the units are stocked with games, plus a DVD player and movies. Games and DVDs can also be borrowed from the front desk.
Because each unit is privately owned, decor varies from villa to villa. When booking your villa, you'll be able to choose between a one-, two-, three-, or four-bedroom (penthouse) villa.
Note: Cribs and rollaway beds are not available at this resort.
One-bedroom accommodations span 1,250 square feet on one floor. They sleep one to three guests, with a king bed in the bedroom. They have one bathroom.
Two-bedroom villas sleep up to five guests, with one bedroom with a king bed and in the other, a queen bed. They offer 2.5 baths—which means no fighting over the bathroom—and span 2,315 feet over two floors.
Especially ideal for families, the two-floor, three-bedroom, three-bathroom villas sleep up to seven people and are 2,370 square feet in size. Note that three-bedroom villas do not have tubs; the other villa options have both showers and soaking tubs.
The ultimate villa at Grand Isle is the Grand Penthouse, with four bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, and extra perks such as an elevator, movie room, and surround-sound speaker system. Put on some beach tunes and take it all in from your balcony with views of the ocean. This villa spans—get ready for it—5,200 square feet!
With great staff, very kind and profissional. Great location. The rooms are very very good with kitchen with everything you need. Clean and quiet.
Good beach. Beautiful golf and pool.
I really appreciate everything.
Our vacation to Grand Isle Resort and Spa in Exuma, Bahamas, was one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had with my family. From the moment we arrived, we were consumed by the breathtaking resort, greeted by the most gracious staff, impressed with our well-decorated and equipped villa, and overwhelmed by the warm weather and pristine beaches. This trip was designed to provide each of us with a much-needed reprieve from the hustle-bustle of our daily lives and absolutely delivered. Our private villa was situated right on the golf course. It afforded us gorgeous views of the ocean, the space for a massage and uninterrupted relaxation, and amenities (such as the golf cart) that made transport across the resort very easy. Not to mention, every food item we requested was provided without incidence and allowed us the opportunity to make a meal after a long day of travel. It was apparent to us that the Grand Isle has painstakingly invested a sincere interest in fulfilling each request down to the details, which sets them apart from other nearby properties.
Unbeknownst to us, Hurricane Dorian decided to make an untimely
+y visit just one week ahead of our arrival. This created a bit of distress for us as we had been planning this trip for quite a while and assumed we would have to cancel. However, the resort’s general manager, Mr. Robert Sands, took time out of his busy schedule to personally contact and reassure us that the island was (thankfully) unaffected by the hurricane. Moreover, the attention Mr. Sands paid to us was not just specific to our family. I observed him interacting with other guests across the resort in the same polite and professional manner and credit how smoothly our stay was to his stellar style of leadership.
Additionally, I credit this remarkable experience to the work done behind the scenes and to those who took responsibility for our every need:
In closing, it is my sincere hope that anyone who has ever had an interest in any one of the 700 islands that the Bahamas offers will consider visiting the Grand Isle Resort and Spa. Continued tourism is the best way to help rebuild the devastated areas in this country and helps to keep the locals employed. I know for sure we will be back…and on that trip we will definitely swim with the pigs!
The resort has two pools—one is family-friendly, and the other is for adults only. Complimentary towels are available by the pools.
Guests have complimentary use of kayaks, paddleboards, boogie boards and snorkel equipment. Complimentary life jackets are also available. Hummingbird Hut (next to the main pool) handles the water sports and also organizes family activities at busy times.
Seasonally, the resort hosts theme nights throughout the week. These include beach bonfires on Thursdays, karaoke at the Palapa Grill on Fridays, and dive-in movies with popcorn on Sundays.
The hotel concierge is happy to help guests arrange excursions. Many guests opt to do a half- or full-day boat jaunt to neighboring islands via tour operators such as Triple A Adventures.
The Palapa Grill serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Kids' menus with activities and highchairs are available.
Hop up to the bar for an island refresher—perhaps a Bahama Mama or Kalik Gold (local beer)—at this lively beach hut, where grilled specialties are also served. You'll find jerk chicken, ribs, fish, corn, coleslaw, salad and most importantly, Bahamian mac and cheese, on the menu. Enjoy your food at the bar, under one of the palapas, or take it to your beach chairs.
23 North (named for its map coordinates) is the resort's upscale dining option—but that doesn't mean it's too fancy for families. Everyone is welcome to dine at this dinner-only restaurant, where Asian-inspired cuisine is served in a minimalist-style environment. Highchairs and a kids' menu are available upon request.
Room service is available via the Palapa Grill, and coincides with the restaurant's hours.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Wi-Fi is complimentary throughout the resort, and works best in the main resort areas, near the restaurants, reception and pools. We found in-room Wi-Fi to be spotty depending on our location in the villa.
Babysitting is available via a third-party service, recommended by the hotel.
- Fitness Center
The resort's fitness center offers cardio machines and strength training equipment, with partial views of the ocean from its windows. It's accessible with a key card.
The closest airport to Grand Isle Resort & Spa is Exuma International Airport in Georgetown, about 20 minutes away. There aren't many direct flights into Georgetown, which means you'll connect from a larger hub such as Miami International Airport or Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. All U.S. citizens need a passport to visit the Bahamas.
All villas are equipped with a complimentary golf carts, a fun way to get around the resort (though everything is easily walkable).
- SeaStar Spa
What's a beach vacation without a spa treatment? Make a reservation at the SeaStar Spa, where massages, body treatments, facials, and the like are available. Enjoy a treatment by yourself, with your partner or as a family—children's spa services are available. Pro tip: Book a deep-tissue massage; we've been to many resort spas, and the massage at SeaStar is one of the best (if not, the best) we've ever had!
- Dinner on the Beach
Hire a babysitter and treat yourselves to a quiet dinner on the beach, with the sound of waves crashing (instead of kids whining) as the soundtrack to your meal.