Traveled with 2 other couples, all first timers to Jamaica. Flew with Thomas Cook/Sunquest/Jazz and aside from 1-2 hours delay on both ends, the flight part was fine for the purpose. Check in at the resort was painless, got our room assignments and were carted away to start our vacation. Our rooms were top floor, building 11, and those rooms were perfect for us. Nice views of the sea, pool area, lobby and infinity bar. Yes, occasionally there are smells in the halls/stairwells but those smells do not permeate the rooms. The room doors seal when closed. We had requested some specifics regarding rooms and we were quite satisfied with what was provided. If you have a few minutes, go see the concierge in the morning, she will give you a rundown on the resort and may try to get you to do a tour, but the info she gives is useful. We passed on the tour. The Rooms We had a regular room. Spacious and clean. Bed was comfy, pillows a bit small but acceptable, a few spares in the closet. A/C worked fine. Bathroom was well equipped, water pressure and temp was great. Water seemed a bit on the hard side. No issues with the room at all. We’ve been to A.I.’s 8 times and this was one of the best maintained rooms we have had. Our maid was Donalee and she was awesome. She even went out of her way one morning to knock a wasps nest from above the balcony with her broom… neither of us got stung. 😉 FYI, maids come early, not an issue for us early risers, but if that’s an issue for you, use the Do Not Disturb card. The Bars Just a few points… Lots of bars around, but sometimes it’s hard to find one open, especially late afternoon. We’re not sure what was going on but on two occasions, the bar at Sunset Cove ran out of rum… out of rum in Jamaica?? The Sports Bar does not serve rum after 11:00 pm… so they said. Miss Lou’s was relaxing and made great irish/spanish/special coffee. The infinity bar was our favorite with excellent service and the nightly live music was really enjoyable. There is one bartender there in particular who I watched bust his butt all week long serving patrons, he was the best… wish I had seen his name, tall man, maybe Richard?
Rooms: Restaurants Ugh… the concept of walk-up ala cartes does not suit this resort. Not all restaurants are open at once. If you are not there early, the waits are too long. We did one ala carte, had to rush to get there, and the food was nothing to write home about. We tried next night to find an ala carte but alas, we ended up in the buffet. I wasn’t a fan of the buffet. Not enough selection for such a big resort, but I didn’t starve. We also ate from the Jerk Chicken hut twice, good stuff. We ate at the Sunset Cove restaurant most lunchtimes, food was just OK. Wait service was hit or miss all around the resort. One exception was Owen at the restaurant at Sunset cove beach. He was outstanding. FYI, dress codes are strictly enforced. Beaches Sunset Cove is the only real swimmable beach… at least when we were there. The main beach is too rough and windy, Coral Beach or Adults Only beach is too rough and too rocky. Sunset Cove had a nice sandy stretch and is much calmer and less windy, but a long walk from the Jamaica side. There is some snorkelling right off Sunset Cove where I saw garden variety aquarium type fish, the odd octopus, flounder, grouper, lots of urchins and a lionfish. Lots of shade to be had on all beaches. Pools Three pools… I think, only saw two. The main infinity pool was where we finished our afternoons… after the Sunset Beach bar ran out of rum. Lots of seating, lots of shade and the staff at the swim up bar were very good. Pool was kept clean and was quite refreshing.
Restaurants and Bars: Resort as a whole Big, lots of walking. Some staff excelled, some not so much. Staff in some areas and behind some desks do not seem well informed on activities and such going on around the resort. We were given a run around on a few occasions when asking where we could eat, what was open, etc. The resort is too big to be wandering around following bad advice given by staff. The place was kept clean and tidy, surroundings are very pretty. A few other things… There was some concern in reviews about theft and safes. We experienced none of that, and in fact accidentally left about $50 on the desk one morning, it was still there when we got back that evening. Staff on the resort do not demand tips, though some do earn them. Public washrooms were cleaned regularly. The resort uses a towel card system. Getting loungers and shade anywhere on the resort was not an issue. There is spot saving that goes on, but in my opinion, if those folks got up early just to save a spot, they wasted their time, there are lots of choice spots from which to chose. Bring your own snorkel gear. I heard there was a $25 deposit to use the resort gear and I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually take $25 to the beach with me at an A.I. There are also mask and snorkel sets that can be purchased on site. Most travelers now take their own insulated travel mugs, if not, they can be purchased on site. The disco is nicely laid out but WAY too loud and a little dark. The DJ needs to recognize that when there are more people standing outside the disco than those in the disco, something might need to be adjusted… I’m guessing the volume. Room fridges are stocked with 2 water, 2 beer, 4 soft drinks and are replenished daily. Fridges are not very cold though. Bottom floor of each building conveniently has an ice machine that needs a room card to work. Most stuff you might want to buy is far cheaper at the Airport. The birds do make a lot of noise, but you can not hear them in the rooms with the doors closed. Checked out a couple of shows – Perfect Couple night was without a doubt the funniest show I have ever seen, and in Palladium fashion, the importance of guest safety was obvious. I thought the drinks offered around the resort were very good – quality, variety and strength. Overall Ummm… slightly above average resort that with a few little improvements here and there, would be outstanding. One or two little problems don’t matter but a handful of little issues can detract from the experience. No big complaints, but not much to really rave about either. Biggest plus would have to be just the general atmosphere. We had a pretty good stay, had a few laughs, met some nice folks, great weather and made it home safely.