After a 9 year absence, we made it back to Jamaica this winter thanks to a good deal! As usual we were a group again this year. Depending on the day we were a group of anywhere between 2 and 11 people during the 2 weeks. Flights The best flights for vacation we’ve ever had! Sunquest opted to use WestJet as it’s carrier out of Ottawa this winter. Best decision they could have made after last years fiasco with Thomas Cook Airlines. Being WestJet is a regular airline space wasn’t as much of an issue as it is with charter flights. Only downside (which we knew in advance) was that it was a bring your own meal or buy a meal on board flight.
Arrival: After the 20 minute bus ride we arrived at the resort. As there were only 7 of us on the bus checking in, it went really fast. We filled out a registration form, handed over our hotel voucher and were given our safe key and towel cards. Given it was only 11:30 our room was not yet ready, but it was by 2:00 (if I recall correctly). Sunquest includes the key to the safe with your package. They also include a mini fridge which you need to ask for at reception as they are not in all rooms and are moved as required.
Rooms: We were booked into the Sunrise Tower. We got room A314. While the room was to have been renovated in the last couple years, there are some things that still need to be addressed i.e. tiles in the bath could be replaced, toilet paper holders were missing (there is a cubby for it though), and the Air Conditioner that worked seemed to take on a life of it’s own some nights (sounded like a jet taking off in the room). That said, there were 2 double beds in our room and the others in the group had King size beds as they had requested. Water pressure was good for the tub, okay when having a shower and the tap needs to be replaced as it’s was a small spray. Our housekeeping person was excellent. The room was clean every day and that’s what matters the most. We don’t care if the toilet paper sits in a cubby just as long as the room is clean, which it was. The Sunquest package is supply beach towels in your room. As we were checked in before our room was ready we were given cards. I’m not sure if this service is actually in place for those arriving later in the day or not.
Restaurants and Bars: As with last years trip to Mexico, the food here was delicious! The staff were constantly refilling dishes at the buffet. A couple times we had to wait a minute for something but they were on top of things for sure. The biggest disappointment for me was that we had hoped to get Jamaican Beef Patty’s either at the buffet or beach grill. This wasn’t to be. Apparently they were offered last year but not this year. There is a small staff tuck shop that we found that sells them though so we went there a few times to get them. YUMMY! Supper was always a different theme each night at the buffet so that was good. We managed to get reservations for the Italian, Asian, and Caribbean while we were there. You can book these up to 2 days in advance, just stop by the Guest Services desk in the lobby. While all 3 were good, the Italian and Asian restaurants were the groups favourite of the three. Snacks – The beach grill is the place to go. Burgers, Nacho’s. Jerk Chicken, Pizza, Ice Cream, Grilled Cheese, etc. I’d advise against the Hot Dogs – I saw others eating them but I tried and didn’t enjoy it (only thing I tried that I didn’t eat). NOTE: Supper at the Buffet: Men can wear shorts but must have a shirt with sleeves but we did see some men in tank tops. For the a-la cartes men can wear shorts. Bars
There are several bars to visit. There is the Pool / Swim-up Bar, the Beach bar, Lobby Bar, Theatre Bar, and the English Pub bar. Each bar we went to made good drinks. By default they serve the cheap brands, just ask for Appleton’s if you want the good rum.
Beach/Pools/Grounds: We didn’t spend any time on the beach this year. We did venture into the ocean once for a float around. As other reviews have mentioned, there are sea-urchins in the area which is why we didn’t spend time in the ocean. That said the beach is long and loungers always seemed to be available. Just bring water shoes. Pools We made use of the main pool each day of our stay. The pool is a good size and while the towel game is in use, we normally never had an issue getting a group of chairs at around 9AM so we didn’t worry. The resort also as the Pirates Cove Water Park that has a lazy river, and a couple water slides. The adults made use of the slides on a few occasions and same with the lazy river. The one child with us (9 years old) was on the slides a lot! One word of caution for adults is the covered slide has issues with the seams – you feel all of them on the way down. The other slide isn’t nearly as painful for adults.
There is also a pool over by the waterpark that had the daytime entertainment but we never made it to that one.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel: Entertainment This is where this resort really needs to improve. We arrived on the Saturday and then Sunday was the Super Bowl, which they did a big party up for, complete with a marching band before the game – worth getting out of the pool to see! The next couple days were good as it was Bob Marley’s birthday bash and then something else. After that it went into Guest participation or Crab Racing (seriously!) for the entertainment. Activities The Animation team posted a schedule of activities going on throughout the day at the buffet. Other than the couple shows I mentioned above, we didn’t partake in. Trips We taxied it into downtown Montego Bay twice and some made a day trip to Negril. Alton (our Taxi driver) charged us less than the resort offered, brought us into the shopping area, waited for us and brought us back safely. He brought us to a store called “Strawberry’s” as it was to have good prices, and it did. 1 Lb of coffee was $30US at the resort, they sold it to us for $18US. One trip he dropped us off at Strawberry’s and we walked back to Margarittaville stopping in stores along the way, we only found one other store on the strip with good prices for the same products.
Other Comments: General Sunquest advertises this resort as a 4 Star resort. I’d say it’s about a 3.5 Star. The resort could do a couple things to get up to the 4 star rating. 1) Free internet – any other 4 Star resort has had free wifi in the lobby, here you have to buy it unless your package includes it ($5 for 1 hr, $15 for 24 Hrs, $30 for unlimited – all will last up to a week if you log off). 2) Loungers – while there was always enough, some are in need of repair, and to be fair we did see them taking some away each day to work on so this is already in progress. 3) Air Conditioning – works, but as mentioned ours got really loud some nights (enough to wake us up). 4) 4 Star resorts tend to offer a minibar in the room, not the case here. If you get a fridge, it’s empty and it’s not filled. The Sunquest “Standard Select” rooms have you looking at a metal roof. The first floor has no view at all, the second floor is an iffy view. We had a view of a metal roof, kitchen vents and the cruise port in the distance – not very relaxing to look at. Next time we’d book Ocean View or a higher floor. There is a fitness area at the resort that is available. The gym area looks good, but some of the equipment needs to be replaced / repaired. One of the treadmills was broke the entire 2 weeks, one of the bikes won’t go past 5 minutes, one other has a shaky seat, and the last one’s display won’t work. The stair climbers need repair too. The weight equipment all worked well. There is also a studio that appears to have had water damage and is closed. We saw no sign of work going on to repair it while we were there. The resort also has a small stage, bar and other huts at the west end of the resort (just past the main pool area). Not sure what’s the plan for this area but nothing took place there while we were there. This is also the area with the life-size Chess and Checkers boards and a mini-putt area. Oh, and smokers take note. This resort is not smoker friendly (sorry to say but it’s nice for us non-smokers though). There is no smoking in your room ($250 fine if you do), there is supposed to be no smoking on your balcony, but it’s outdoors so I think staff ignore that. There is no smoking in the main lobby, restaurants, buffet either. You can smoke in a few spots out front, along the outside of the English Pub Bar, the entertainment area and the pools. Keep in mind that ashtrays are very few and far between so you may want to bring your own. Summary We had a great time and would seriously consider going back if the price stays reasonable (which is really the only reason we haven’t been to Jamaica in 9 years). I did meet Michael (who comments on reviews on Trip Advisor) and he does read the reviews and looks for ways to improve stays and I think this is one of very few resorts that do that – good job!
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