We flew Westjet from Toronto, Canada. The flight crew were fantastic. Westjet, along with most airlines these days, does not serve any free food, and the food for purchase is all cold – so keep that in mind. Check-in at the Montego Bay airport took about 30 minutes. By the time we cleared immigration, our bags were ready. Our e-tickets from Westjet had stated that someone would be waiting with a Westjet Vacations sign to guide us to the bus. There was no such person. A guide from the airport directed us to the Jamaica Tours desk who did take care of us and directed us to the proper bus for the transfer to the hotel.
I can not say this strongly enough – this is not a luxury hotel! The rooms do not have jacuzzis, mini-bars, refrigerators, free water, etc. There is a condensation problem at this hotel – if you wash clothes, they will take days to dry inside. The rooms are a little musty. Once you get past this, the rest of the hotel experience is incredible. The pool, the beach, the hotel location, the amenities made up for the rooms in my opinion. I absolutely loved this hotel. I also loved the location of my room. I stayed in a cabana room directly on the beach. These rooms are little pricier, but well worth it. If you do book one, try to get one on the lower level. The lower level rooms have a large patio. They are less private than the 2nd level rooms with a balcony, but you are right on the beach. Literally, you open your patio door and walk 40 feet right into the ocean. Incredible! I normally love the 5 star hotels & I usually need luxury. Last year I stayed at the Grand Bahia with jacuzzis in every room. I would give up that luxury to stay at the Sunset Jamaica Grand again.
Restaurants and Bars::
The buffet was OK as far as all-inclusives go. A little smaller selection than other all-inclusives I’ve stayed in. For me, the breakfast was wonderful. I am Jamaican, so I was impressed by the Jamaican foods served at breakfast (ackee & saltfish, liver, fried dumpling, calalloo, escovitch fish, bully beef, cornmeal porridge, etc.) There are lots of typical ‘North American breakfast’ foods for those who don’t want to try the Jamaican foods. Lunch & dinner were just OK. The snack bar on the beach, Jamalicious was typical fast food – chicken, fries, burgers. We went to 2 a la carte restaurants: Ginger Lily, the Chinese restaurant was OK. Not spectacular, but fairly tasty. Food was on the salty side. La Diva, the Italian restaurant, was very good. I’d highly recommend this restaurant.
The beach was fantastic. It’s not nearly as spectacular as Negril, but it was not too bad. I loved it because it was not crowded. There were at least 3 times as many beach chairs as people. At other hotels I’ve stayed at, people would have to go to the beach early to save chairs. None of that happened here – you could go to the beach any time of day and be assured that you’d get a chair. The pools were spectacular – lots of pools and again, lots of chair availability.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:: I stayed at the hotel for a week with a friend. My parents were also at the same hotel, but for 2 weeks. They went on 2 tours booked through the hotel. They are in their 70’s (and are extremely active)and loved their tours. They did the 9-Mile Bob Marley tour as well as the Dunns River /Fern Gully tour.
My friend and I did a tour with the Blue Mountain Bicycle Tour company which we pre-booked from Canada. It was wonderful. They picked us up at the hotel and took us to the Blue Mountains where we all got bicycles and rode downhill for about 2 hours. We got a history lesson as well as information on coffee making. Great experience! My friend and I and my parents booked a driver for a day to take us around. I’d highly recommend this, especially if you’re not a fan of hotel tours &/or have specific places that you want to go to. Booking a driver is about $80 – $150 US per day for the whole group depending on where you’re going. Our driver had a van that seated 20, so this is a very economical deal. We got him to take us to Shaw Park Botanical Gardens, Wassi Art pottery studio, shopping, out for jerk chicken and then to Dunns River. With your own driver you can stay at places for as long or short as you want and the drivers know places to go that the hotel/tour staff may not recommend. I enjoyed this far better than a pre-organized tour. The hotel can recommend drivers. You can take your chances on the street – but if you do, make sure you get one with a red license plate that signifies they are a licensed taxi.
Other Comments:: The location of this hotel is one of the best features. It is right in town, but while you’re in the hotel or on the grounds, you don’t feel like you’re downtown. It’s quiet. You’d never know there’s a bustling city right outside the gates. Unlike many other hotels in other locations I’ve stayed in, you don’t need to take a taxi to leave the hotel. You walk 5 minutes right into town. The craft markets are right there as well as many souvenir shops, pharmacy, supermarkets, etc. If you’re adventurous, the market is close by as well. The entertainment at this hotel was also very good. Every night there was a show with great music & professional entertainers.
Yes, there are some annoyances with this hotel – as I’ve mentioned, the rooms are not 4 or 5 star quality. However, this was by far the best hotel that I’ve stayed in in Jamaica because of the location, the beach & the pools as well as the location of our room on the beach. I’d highly recommend it.