April 5 – 9th, 2014
Our group departed at 6am on April 5th for Montego Bay. Upon arrival at the airport we were met by the Apple Vacations transfer company who whisked us away to our 1st host hotel, the Grand Palladium Resort.
Once at the Grand Palladium they started us out right away with a sight inspection of the resort. They have a nice kids’ club area for the little ones, nice walkways, one of the largest pools in the Caribbean and plenty of food and drink options! At the end of our tour it started to rain, so the afternoon was a bit of a washout. I did walk around on my own to check out the beach area, which is pretty small, and some of the grounds area around the pool, which was very nice. Overall it is a nice resort. It is a large resort, so requires walking or waiting for the shuttles to come by to give you a ride!
On April 6th we started out bright and early for the Negril side of the island. This was my 1st visit to Negril, so I was excited to see the area! The 1st resort we saw was the Sunset at the Palms. This is an adults only resort with tree-top type rooms. It was very quiet and green. Wonderful walkways and friendly workers. The resort was at 100% capacity, so we could not see the inside of the rooms, but did talk to many guests who gave great reviews and we did see the pool and restaurants! The beach is located across the street, but it is a short walk complete with a crossing guard. Once you are at the beach you have access to a bar, nice restrooms and a wonderful white sand beach! They will be adding a pool later this year by the beach.
Next we moved on to the Grand Lido Negril. This resort was formerly Breezes Negril. They will be going through a complete renovation starting in May 2015 as well as adding approximately 300 rooms.
The next hotel was Rooms on the Beach. This is a smaller boutique type hotel that is not all-inclusive, but does include breakfast daily. It is in the perfect location for finding nightlife and many bars and restaurants.
We then went to the Azul Sensatori for an inspection and lunch. This just became an Azul from being Beaches Sandy Bay. They have already done many renovations and are still working on some areas. However, this is a beautiful resort. Once the renovations are done they will have an adults only section as well as a spa opening in June. Our last resort was Couples Swept Away. The Couples brand definitely caters to honeymooners and romantic getaways. The beach is beautiful and they have many fine restaurants and bars.
Before heading back to the Palladium we made a quick pit stop at Rick’s Café and saw the cliff divers and listened to some live local bands. A nice way to end the day! On April 7th we checked out of the Palladium and stayed in the Montego Bay area and started our inspections with Secrets Wild Orchid and Secrets St. James. These 2 sister resorts have very different atmospheres. St. James is quiet and reserved and Wild Orchid has many activities and a lively atmosphere.
Our next resort was the Royal DeCameron Montego Bay. This resort is a solid 3 star with beautiful views! You are within walking distance to the hip strip and other shops and restaurants.
The Riu Palace Jamaica is a new resort and adults only. It is right next to their sister resort, Riu Montego Bay. The Riu quality and service are top notch here. Crisp modern rooms and wonderful restaurants and bars and a wonderful beach.
We then went to the Iberostar complex. This includes Iberostar Rose Hall Beach, Iberostar Rose Hall Suites and Iberostar Grand Rose Hall. The “Beach” resort is their lowest level. If you stay here, you only have access to this resort. If you stay at the “Suites” resort you have access to that resort and the “Beach” resort. If you stay at the “Grand” resort you have access to all 3 resorts. The beach is very long and wide.
We then made our way to our 2nd host hotel, The Royalton White Sands Resort. This was previously Breezes Runaway Bay and Starfish Trelawny, however you would never know it! They have completely redone the resort and it is beautiful. It is now a 4 ½ star resort with wonderful staff and grounds. They gave us suites in their Diamond Club area which gives you a private check-in area, early check-in/check-out, a special area on the beach for Diamond Club clients only. The suites were very large with extra big balconies! I would definitely stay here again. They have a waterpark with slides for both young and old.
On April 8th we went to the Ocho Rios side of the island. Again, this is an area that I had not been to previously. Our 1st hotel inspection of the day was at Jewel paradise Cove. This was previously Hedonism III. They have 7 restaurants and 6 bars. It had a fun atmosphere and very friendly staff.
Couples Tower Isle was next. Again, this is a consistent chain and was a beautiful area. We had lunch here and the buffet had a wide variety.
Overall I enjoyed all 3 sides of the island that we saw. I would not hesitate to stay at any of the resorts we toured. They all have good qualities!