Old Reviews – Half Moon Club

  Half Moon Club   Lisa ~ USA

August 2008

My husband and I, along with a group of 7 other individuals flew to Montego Bay, Jamaica for a golfing vacation/all inclusive package at the Half Moon Resort. Upon our arrival, we found out that we were being upgraded to a better set of suites at the resort. That was a pleasant surprise, although any suite on the resort would have been outstanding! We checked in to the open air lobby and were greeted with a complimentary Rum Punch. The Half Moon staff was exceedingly helpful and gave us an orientation of the resort and activities available. Our plan was the Platinum-all inclusive package that included golf, food, drinks and many on site activities.

We stayed in the Hibiscus Suites room #004. The suite was beautiful and spacious with a balcony overlooking the beach and beautiful waters of Jamaica. We received champagne and a basket of Jamaican coffee and spices in our room as a welcoming gift.

The resort has over 50 pools with one being a swim-up pool bar. We spent most of our pool time at this location. The drinks were wonderful and we were pleased to see that they made the “Hummingbird” drink which my husband and I had not been able to find since our last trip to Jamaica in the early 90’s.

The grounds of the resort were immaculate. Everything looked very clean and newly painted and the staff kept it looking that way the entire time. We had room service for breakfast that was wonderful. You could choose from numerous items including some native to Jamaica like cinnamon sugar bananas and cream which were out of this world. A butler delivered and set up the service on our balcony in the mornings. We also had turn down service each evening.

Service charges, taxes and gratuities were included in our package but you could tip the staff an additional amount if you thought they went above and beyond the required service. We did this on numerous occasions because the staff was so kind and efficient. They were truly there to serve any need you had and did it with a pleasant attitude as well.

We checked out bikes to use because the grounds were so large. One individual in our group had an accident on the last day because her bicycle chain came off of the bike. She was scraped up and bruised and broke her camera in the fall. The resort agreed to pay for her camera on the spot. I would advise checking out a bike because they came in very handy throughout our trip. The staff at the bike center said this was the first time anyone had had an accident of this type while at Half Moon.

Our group did almost every activity that was available during our stay. The concierge was amazingly helpful in scheduling our activities. Especially since she was dealing with 9 individuals who all wanted to do different things! She was very kind and remembered my name throughout our entire stay at the resort. I was very impressed!

Glass bottom boat ride-This was good but you could not see very much in the way of colorful coral and fish. Our guide said that the waters had been over-fished and there wasn’t as much to see. I would recommend this activity for individuals who do not feel comfortable snorkeling but it was not one of our better activities. This activity was included in our Platinum plan.

Snorkeling- The day we scheduled for snorkeling was very windy and therefore the waters were rough. Our guides warned us about this and said they would reschedule if we wanted to. Five of us were brave enough to go ahead with the plan. The boat ride to the reef was rough but exciting. The snorkeling was rough but our guide helped us and provided bread so that we would see an assortment of fish. We saw tropical fish, snapper and much more. The activity took a little over an hour and was well worth it. This activity was included in our Platinum plan.

Sailing- Several members of our group went kayaking, paddle boating and sailed catamarans. All of these water sports were fun and the guides were very helpful. All of these watersport activites were included in our Platinum plan.

Horseback riding- The resort offered two types of horseback riding. The first one was called the Jungle Jaunt. This included riding a horse within the confines of a corral while getting used to the walk and trot of the horse. We each had individual guides on horses beside us and all the while the guide would instruct us on what to do and also tell us interesting facts about the island. Once we were all used to the horses and learned how to “trot” (which was much more difficult that I thought it would be or that appears on TV), we ventured out of the corral and into the resort itself. We learned very interesting facts about the island and the Half Moon resort as well during this tour. We made our way to the beach and the horses walked along the shore. This was wonderful. I only wish we could have taken a picture of this part of the activity but we did not stop to do this. I am sure that they would stop if you asked but we did not think to do so at the time. We were able to take a group picture on our horses upon our arrival back at the stables. The horses were beautiful and well taken care of and the staff was wonderful, as usual. This activity was included in our Platinum plan.

The second type of horseback riding was the “Beach Trip”. My husband and I were going to do this activity but backed out when we found out that you would be riding bare-back. We were afraid it would be too unstable for our inexperience. I watched a group doing this activity and it looked amazing. The horses walked along the beach and then went out into the water, up to their ears! The riders held on to the horses by their mane or the horse’s tail and floated in the water with the horse. It was very wild to watch! Maybe next time, my husband and I will be brave enough to trip this. This activity was an additional cost of $80 per person.

Parasailing- This activity costs $60 (not included in the package) but was well worth the cost. We had two guides that took the boat out and operated the cords for the parachute. You could go up alone or in groups of up to 3 persons. We were up 500 feet in the air and could see the mountains as well as the entire coastline. It was amazing and very peaceful while in the air. It was a very smooth ride and landing due to the experience of the crew. I would most definitely do this activity again and would recommend it to all.

Dolphin swim- This activity was an extra cost as well. Because we were there during the “off-season” the rates were reduced almost in half. Originally, the dolphin swim would have been $185 but we paid $100. We were given a brief orientation about the dolphins as well as what we would do during the swim. The dolphins were very friendly. We were able to kiss the dolphins, hold on to their side fins and “dance”, feel their backs and bellies as they swam in front of us, dance in circles with the dolphins and last but best of all, we “rode” the dolphins in to the shore. This involved floating with our feet flat and spread apart. The two dolphins swam up and pushed your feet so that you were rushing through the water “Titanic-style” all the way up to the shore. There were staff members filming the entire activity as well as taking pictures for sale at the end. This was the highlight of the trip for me. You could purchase a CD with all of the pictures for $60 and a DVD of the entire event for $170, which I thought was unreasonable. So, we purchased the CD for our group and will make copies. (The staff told us we could do this!)

Spa- None of the people in our group took advantage of the spa. Partially because of time limitations but also, I felt like I could do a spa treatment in the states and wanted to save my precious time in Jamaica for activities directly related and specific to Jamaica. I am sure the spa is wonderful and offers several different treatments but we just did not take part in them this trip. Maybe next time!

Fitness Center- I did use the fitness center one day during our trip. Mostly out of guilt for how much I had been eating! The facility was immaculate. Each cardio machine had a personal TV and all was in good operating condition. There was a staff member on hand if needed. There was also strength equipment available.

Now for the best part…..the FOOD.

There were 5 restaurants on the resort property that were included in the package.

The Sugar Mill was the most “elite” and provided a wide variety of menu items. We all ordered different meals and each of us enjoyed them all. The desserts were good as well. Some of our party ordered the baked Alaskan but did not finish it because the Brandy made it too strong. Service was good but the restaurant is out of doors and it was very hot throughout the evening. The restaurant was closing for renovations after we left on July 30th, so maybe they will add air conditioning!

The Seagrave Restaurant on site offered breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets as well as a full menu. There were authentic Jamaican items on the buffet and menu. The jerk meats were spicy and tasty. The shrimp cocktail and sauce were awesome! After our group tried it the first meal, we ordered it at every meal afterwards! We mostly ate the buffet at breakfast (unless we ordered room service) and ordered from the menu for lunch and dinner. The lobster salad at lunch was amazing and the presentation of all of the food items was beautiful. The grilled lobster and mango crusted sirloin were wonderful. Service was great with 2-3 staff members available to your table at all times.

II Giardino Italian– The last night, we reserved for the Italian restaurant on site at the Half Moon. They offered authentic Italian dishes as well as some we had never heard of before. Jerk shrimp with linguini, lasagna, grouper, cod fish, were just a few of the items that our group ordered. All of the items that we ordered were wonderful. The tiramisu for dessert was a little strong for my taste but the pistachio cake got rave reviews from the group. Of course, we had to get Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee after every evening meal.

Beach Bar-B-Que- Monday through Friday evening there is a beach barbeque. This event offers a buffet of authentic Jamaican dishes like goat stew, jerk chicken/pork/beef, fruits and root vegetables and plantain turnovers. The entertainment was interesting and included a Jamaican man who could contort his body into the most unusual positions. Then, they had a pole dance contest with guests and the entertainers. The band was good at this event.

Cedar Bar- The Cedar Bar is located right by Sunset Beach. The bar was 2 units over from our suite. My only complaint of the entire weekend was that there was a 3 piece band that played each evening. They did not play reggae or steel drum music as I would have expected. Instead, they played guitar and drum music and the vocals literally screamed their songs. We could not get away from it while inside our suite. We were thankful each night at 11pm when the band packed up for the night! I didn’t hear any steel drum music the whole time we were in Jamaica. That was very disappointing. You might want to request a suite away from the Cedar Bar!

Shopping- The Half Moon Village Shops had a variety of items available for purchase. There were the typical Jamaican T-shirts, jerk spices, Blue Mountain coffee, Jamaican rum, Bob Marley items, clothing, jewelry, perfumes, etc. You will need a bike or the shuttle in order to get there as the shops are at the end of the resort property. There is also a Commissary for groceries and health/beauty items. I wish I had taken a taxi and gone to the local roadside shops off site from Half Moon to see more of the native Jamaican items and people. But, it was not advised to go off of the property.

I felt safe the entire time we were on Half Moon Resort. There were security guards every 100 feet or so constantly guarding the property and along the beach. But, you were on your own if you chose to go into the town.

There is a wooden sculpture shack on site that houses a man named Andrew Johnson. He makes all of the sculptures by hand with wood from the island. He can carve anything from dogs to dolphins. His work is incredible. We purchased several pieces from him and the prices were more than reasonable. We bought two large carvings (one fish and one dolphin) for $30 total! His work is amazing. He makes smaller items such as birds and turtles for $5 each to take back as souvenirs to friends and family.

This trip was far and away the best vacation I have ever been on. The island is beautiful and the people surprisingly friendly. The food was excellent. The suites were first class. Everything about Half Moon was wonderful….except the music that I mentioned earlier. If you get the chance, you do NOT want to miss Half Moon in Rose Hall-Montego Bay, Jamaica!! We are going back next year!

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