We are from Regina Sk. Canada. This is our 11th winter in the Caribbean, first time in Jamaica. We were there Jan 6th – 20th, 2011.
We arrived about 4pm. we were the only ones checking in at the time. The bellhop graciously took our bags, but the front desk people took their time getting to us (they weren’t busy, just ignoring us) – I felt that each staff member was waiting for the other to serve us. There was no welcome drink – if you came in a bigger group you got welcome drinks, but then maybe no bellhop! We were taken to a lovely room by the bellhop. Once we got to the room, the front desk called to say we missed filling out some forms – had to go back, it was their mistake, not ours. This is about the only negative we had about the resort – hint – if you want something done, go to guest services – they bend over backwards. We told them at guest services that this was our 5th stay at an Iberostar Hotel, and that evening we were gifted with a bottle of Rum and 2 t-shirts.
Rooms: We had an Oceanview Junior Suite. Lots of storage and quite roomy. The way the hotel is set up, most rooms will give you an oceanview (probably be safest to request when booking). Lots of hot water, shower pressure was excellent. We had a tub as well. There was a fridge in the room that did not work (again complained to the front desk twice – no result), but it really didn’t matter. All bars and resturants are really close by.
There is a large safe in the room, no charge.
Restaurants and Bars: For the specialty restauraants, bookings are made at guest services. They book on a weekly schedule – Monday to Sunday. Saturday mornings is when they start booking for the week (hint, hint!) You can also stop by after 4pm to see if there were any cancellations and maybe get in that way. Restaurants and bars were all 5 star. Food was excellent all the time. We ate at all 3 specialties, and I don’t know what to say, they were all great, portion sizes are huge. All types of food was available at all the resturants. Beef was great, not tough as compared to some of the other islands (Dominican, Mexico, Cuba). We didn’t see any lobster served, however, lots of shrimp, crab, chicken, pork, beef, fish. A large variety of salads and vegetables, desserts to knock your socks off. The great thing was all the staff spoke English and were more than willing to tell you all about the food, where it came from and how it is best cooked. Food was not too spicy or too bland unless you requested it that way. All soft drinks, coffee and tea are self serve, so you don’t have to wait if you don’t want to.
Bars were lovely – the lobby bar tended to be a bit slow, so if you don’t like waiting, just pop over to get your own. Drinks are good, make sure you ask for a "surprise" once in a while – they make lots of drinks that are not on the menu (sweet orgasm, Jamaica love). You don’t have to look far to find a bar – there is the lobby, cigar room, disco, pool, beach and Calypso theatre.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: We only spent one day at the pool, as it was very crowded around the pool. Not many loungers were available. The water was not heated, but not too cold. the pools are large, and not many people are in them, so if you actually want to swim, you can do so, provided you can maneuver your way around all the loungers parked poolside. The ocean was lovely. Water was warm. Sand bottom, no rocks, some muddy spots. You would only wear watershoes if you don’t like the mud squishing between your toes :). The beach is small, and loungers can be hard to come by. Uncle Tony’s restaurant is available for lunch, no shirt or shoes required!
(give the kitty a pet for me if you see her)
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: All water activities for the 3 hotels are here – parasailing (about $70/per person – 2 people at a time), snorkelling trips out front of the resort was $50/pp, there was hobie cats and kayaks for no charge, but you have to pre-book at the scuba shack)and get one hour at a time. The hotel offers a free shuttle bus to the Rose Hall Shopping Mall, every hour from 10-5 except Sunday. Prices are reasonable. 1 pound Blue Mountain Coffee – $22. US (good coffee). There are cabs available. There are some vendors set up on the other side of the pier, but you go at your own risk. The vendors are enthusiastic, and very friendly. They are very willing to haggle. Prices are excellent. (They like talking and touching, if you are friendly and polite, they don’t get upset if you don’t buy anything).
We went to the Black River/YS Falls – long and bumpy bus ride, but excellent tour guides and lots of beauty and information.
Other Comments: Tips are appreciated by most of the folks. This is one of the few places we’ve been to where people have expressed real gratitude ("Really appreciated, mon"). The prices at the shops in the hotel are very high, about twice the prices of the Rose Hall Mall shops, and 3 times more than the vendors. Buy your liquor at the airport ($11.00 for 1l. Appleton Rum). Jamaica would not be my favourite place to visit, it is definitely a young people’s culture. But the people were incredibly friendly and warm. There was no language barrier, and people love to share stories and information, so it was a very rich experience. WIFI is $2.00 per half hour in the lobby only on your own laptop. I forget how much to use the internet cafe – about twice the cost – and the computers are really slow, and the two I tried did not work (one had keyboard issues, on had Java disabled).
If you have a chance to fly Air Transat Club Class (about $300 extra/pp)it is well worth it.