I have to laugh when I read these reviews because I have figured out that it is all about expectations. It’s funny that people shop for the absolute best deal and then complain that they are not getting the high class product. The fact is that you get a lot for your money at the holiday inn sun spree in Montego Bay. My wife and I flew from Pittsburgh roundtrip and spent Mon-Thur nights at this all-inclusive resort for $1604.00. Since Airfare is roughly $700 of the cost, we paid a little more than $100 per night each for the hotel. The grounds were absolutely beautiful and fairly well kept. The rooms were clean and we had no issues. There were 5 restaurants and 5 bars and we rarely waiting more than a few minutes for any kind of services. The staff was very friendly and helpful but not really in a hurry. We were greeted with a rum punch and checked in – in about 5 minutes. There were some annoying things but nothing to get overly excited about. We arrived on Monday around 3:00 pm and the policy is that you have to make reservations for the nicer restaurants one day in advance. The restaurants were never very busy and this policy must be a way to reduce the number going to the fancy restaurants but we made reservations and went early a few times and were seated right away. The Sorrento had the best food; the sea breeze and Paella (sp?) were ok. There is also a policy that you can only eat once per week at the fancy restaurants. They don’t advertise this in there “all inclusive” advertising but it’s not really a big deal. There is plenty of food and the daily buffet has something for everyone. There is a Hut Bar that serves only a Jerk Chicken plate which is a great snack or meal. Get there before 6:00 pm also. There is also a Just Kidding Around snack hut that has fountain drink, juice, ice cream (soft serve cones), nachos and hotdogs – Again, closes at 6pm. Right by the main pool is the Barefoot Grill and they have hamburgers and fries and close at 6pm but then reopens at 10:00 pm until 1:00 am. There is nothing available from 1:00 am until 7:00 am when the breakfast buffet opens. On Monday evening they had a beach party buffet on the East beach and it was good food and a fun time. There is a coffee pot in the room but the coffee is different than American coffee. So if your expectation is to have the same coffee you have at home, you should bring some with you. The food theme here is very similar to a cruise ship. The fancy restaurants are a little better food but over all there is plenty of food and the quality is a little better than your average cruise ship and as long as you get your fill between 7:00 am and 1:00 am you should never be hungry.
The bars were fine. You can sit in the adult pool on a stool in the water and get served. You can ask the bartenders for a drink list and they have a list of 20 plus drinks that they will make for you. There are frozen drink machines at most of the bars and frozen drinks are plentiful. The cups are plastic and little but you can buy a big cup or bring one with you – the bartenders will fill anything. They also have an “over proof rum” Which is something like 68% alcohol. Ask for that if you are a serious drinker, if not you can drink a long time and not get drunk. They have lots of different alcohol but it seemed to be lower proof but I’m not really a liquor drinker so not a lot of experience here. Which brings me to the beer. ONLY Red Stripe. You can buy Heineken and a few other beers in the gift shop but no Bud-Light or Bud. We would have gladly paid $7.00 a beer for Bud-Light but it was not available. We even went to 7 bars on the hip strip and were able to only find Bud at one but no bud-light and Miller light at one. Not even available at Margaretville. The selection of beer is very poor. The Sun spree did not even offer Red Stripe Light. The poor selection of beer and the fact that you could not even buy cold bud-light by the bottle was the most annoying aspect of this all inclusive. Again, very little waiting to be served but no one was ever in a hurry. If ten people were at the bar or you were the only one in line it usually only took a few minutes to get a drink. The Port Royal bar was very nice – Served drinks in real glasses, not plastic ones and was a nice quiet fancier setting.
Rooms: They activities on the main stage were of cruise ship quality. We saw a few good shows, nothing spectacular. We did the pool tournament. There was bingo – same old stuff. This is a family resort so we did see kids around. Nothing too bad – but we are grandparents so if you don’t want kids around this is not the resort for you. I highly recommend the Island Routes Tour Company. Included in our $1604 fee was a free Catamaran Cruise and it was free. We also reserved the horseback riding trip through Island Routes and both trips were great and met all expectations. The bus picked us up right on time and we went to the Sandals Resort to get on a beautiful catamaran. It was a nice calm day and the staff was great. They were working for tips and bringing us drinks. A very nice trip. The horseback riding was also wonderful. For non-horse riders it was plenty long. The driver picked us up and then went to several other hotels before we made the 45 minute ride to the western part of the island. A nice site seeing tour of the island. Rented a locker for $5.00 and paid $3.00 for a bottle of water and only $2.00 for a bottle of pop. The Chick patty thing was only $2.00 and very good. The horseback ride itself was nothing special – very well trained horses and like any other ride in the woods – Did see a marijuana plant, banana tree and some old buildings. The best part of the trip was the horse swim at the end of the trip. Our horses never had their feet off of the ground but were covered with water to their necks. This happened at the end of the trip with different horses and different saddles but we spent about 10 minutes in the water and it was a blast. We also took a trip into town to the hip strip. We went during the day and had an enjoyable afternoon doing some bar hopping. The best deal was happy hour at the Bob Sled Café – Two beers for $3.25 and a chicken jerk pizza $18.00. Happy Hour was 4:00 pm until 10:00 pm.
Restaurants and Bars: Two warnings – We did not rent a car but might reconsider had I known the price of the taxis. The airport is about 7 miles from the sun spree and the price one way is $30.00. It’s a racket too – because could not really negotiate a lower price. I was able to negotiate a little tour of the hip stripe along with the ride there. Our same driver stopped at a few places with us and then later came back to pick us up. The second warning is that the Jamaican Vendors are very aggressive. There is a large market right across the street from the Sun spree. You can walk there a shorter distance than places inside the resort depending on where your room is at. They are in your face sales people. They give you a price that is at least double of what they will take and then will negotiate the price. If you want to pay full price you can shop at the sun spree gift shop with no hassle. If you want a bargain – ask for the best price then go to two more place and ask for their best price and then offer one dollar less. Or you can express an interest in something and the vendor will keep lowering the price until you buy or leave. Have fun with it but don’t stress over a few dollars. It’s like buying Girl Scout cookies – How many of us have paid $5.00 for a $1.00 box of cookies. Don’t take anything from the vendors you think is free because they will expect paid – This includes a friendship bracelet or a couple braids in your hair. You think they are putting a few in so you will maybe buy more – They aggressively tell you that you need to pay for these things they are “giving” you. Anyway, just wanted to return the favor for those looking for information. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have specific questions. I was in Jamaica in April 2011.
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