Arrival: Feb. 21 – 28 A 6 pm departure from Halifax meant a 3 pm arrival. Landed at Montego Bay at 11 pm, five hour flight, processed through customs, forty minute ride to resort, in room by 1:30 am. All amounted to just under 12 hours travel time.
Our "basic" room was on the third floor, with a corner balcony overlooking the Caribbean. It was over 500 square feet in size, and had amenities beyond my needs. Contrary to those who had comfort issues with the mattress, this light sleeper never awoke once during the night. The room was as good as it has to be: clean, comfortable, and well appointed. Housekeeping staff are discrete and do a wonderful job. I liked the feature where the a/c doesn’t operate when you have the balcony door open. It is but one of the measures taken in the spirit of being environmentally concious.Restaurants and Bars
Got to all restaurants but one, and left that one, Bubba’s, to those tourists (not from Canada), who can’t seem to go without their daily fix of steak, burgers and hot dogs – not that I’m no patron of red meat, but given options like Indian, Asian,Mexican, Italian, Jamaican, and buffets with a huge variety, I chose to avoid the familiar. There was ample choice on all menus, and apart from the Mexican dishes lacking anything exciting, my family unanimously endorsed every meal. Our favourites were the Poseidon for its fish, and the Asian. For lunch, we kept the jerk chicken and jambalaya chefs in business – their location at Sunset Cove dictated our choice of beach. If I was a whiner, I might complain about the quality of the coke they mixed with my rum, but this was as bad as it got. Feel sorry for me yet?
A day trip tour guide suggested trying a Dirty Banana at a bar, which we did the next day at the beach. Resembling a Tim Horton’s iced drink, it gently brought our senses into full relaxation mode, while soothing a parched palate. Others in my family found the same relief with a similar drink called a Hummingbird, made with strawberries.
Not a big pool fan, but the place is so big you could float your own armada in privacy.The three beaches are small, but once you pick a spot in the sun or shade, and listen to the waves, size hardly matters. The grounds are a delight to walk about, with gardeners and landscapers at every corner. For a property only opening seven months ago, they have worked hard to bring it to where it is. We came prepared for snorkeling, and while the water was as good as it gets, brilliant colors were not to be found on the bottom. It is what it is, and likely the boat you could hire would take you off shore to a more vibrant reef.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel
There is a huge theatre with a nightly show that we grew to avoid coming withing earshot of its deafening MC. I trust someone in management will soon realize that all those empty seats means others felt the same way.
There were four or five spots on the resort you could find entertainment nightly, and while the bands were good, their set list was clearly appealling to the same people who lined up for Bubba’s steak and burgers. Too many mainstream pop tunes, pop tunes with a Reggae rhythm, and as a treat, some authentic Reggae, made up the evening’s entertainment. We chose a few excursions off site, as despite the excessive creature comforts at our disposal, we all felt a bit of cabin fever (even with such a big cabin).
A tubing float down a river was a poor choice on our part, as we have all grown up with water and boating. We assumed we would find a spirited river, and navigate our own tubes through challenging rapids. Instead, the dry season gave us a river so low, we were all linked to the charming guide, who had to yell "butts up" each time the river bottom threatened ours. We also expected wildlife to abound; nary an insect to be seen, and I think we saw two species of birds, probably six birds in total. A trip to Negril and Rick’s Cafe turned out to ne predictably touristy. For many I’m sure it was enjoyable, but we were naively looking for something more authentically Jamaican. The locals are warm, inviting people, but the resorts don’t want to accept the liability for the risks that come with such excursions, and can’t say I blame them. Two members of my family took a tour to Nine Mile to the town Bob Marley was born and is buried. While there was similar comment on the limitations to freely explore, there were no regrets for having gone.
Here I am offering a reflection on a type of vacation that I will likely not attend again. All in my family felt constrained by the resort model. We wanted more access to the community, and at the Lady Hamilton, they would not let you leave the premises unless with an approved escort, again, with good reason. We will choose our next vacation site where we can have the best of both worlds – the mix of sun and surf, along with a local village where we can explore the culture a bit. This resort has it all for those who want to be pampered on site. The place is the largest in Jamaica, and that bothered some in my group, but I saw it as an excuse for a good five minute walk for the next Dirty Banana. We had a fabulous family vacation, because we focused on the measure of family, not whether the mattress was too firm or first come first served was inconvenient.
I read hours of reviews before deciding on the Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton. Too many people complain about things that shouldn’t matter. My resolution upon returning was to offer a more realistic profile of my experiences there, I hope some will gain by it.