Located just 10 minutes from the Montego Bay’s Sangster Intl Airport is the three star Holiday Inn Resort. There are 8 different hotel room buildings housing 518 guestrooms featuring standard rooms up to one bedroom suites and kids suites. There is a new adult only building which provides extra amenities for adults only. There are 2 pools (one is adults only) and 4 restaurants- Jamaican, Italian, Seafood and Japanese plus the buffet, jerk hut and the pool bars.
Average room cost: $200+ per night
Points per night: 40,000 (there was no option to select adults only rooms)
Using the Chase travel portal I was able to find rooms at 28,000 pts per night for the all inclusive standard room.
Kids stay free.
Check in: Our bags were taken out of the taxi for us and check in was quick and included an offering of rum punch… with actual rum in it! Great start!
As a side note, I was not offered anything for being an IHG platinum member. Normally they offer points or a snack bag.
Room: we were in building 1B, top floor (4th) which was called a junior suite. It was a large room with king bed, and separate sitting area that included couch, chair and desk. Bed is firm with 4 pillows but comfortable. Internet in room was so-so. Air conditioner broke during our stay, but was quickly repaired.
Bathroom: Small with tiled shower. Amenities include soap, shampoo, and lotion. NO CONDITIONER. Hair dryer provided.
There is a refrigerator in the room but they don’t give you bottled water. They also ask that you not bring food to the rooms or lobby. As such, there is no room service. Bottled water is available in a vending machine for $2. A coffee pot with coffee and tea is complimentary. TV has lots of US channels.
There’s a small balcony with 2 not very comfortable chairs and a table and a place to hang wet clothes. We had a partial ocean view room.
Overall, the room feels blah. The decor is lacking immensely! I was really anticipating more of a “wow” factor, having stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort on Phi Phi island in Thailand last year. This property needs some Jamaican or Caribbean flair! It’s just dull. Side note – they replaced all the coffee tables in all the rooms on our floor while we were here so maybe they are doing some updates. Also, two days in a row the fire alarms went off in our building… multiple times.
Restaurants: There’s a general buffet which has many selections but feels more like your eating in a cafeteria. It’s very loud and busy.
The food has been decent, but surprisingly, the fruit is not very good/sweet. I had the traditional ackee and saltfish for breakfast which was good. Ackee is a fruit that when cooked, resembles scrambled eggs.
Reservations are required for the ala carte restaurants and you can reserve for the following day only. When I went down at 9:30 am to reserve for dinner, I only had two out of four restaurant choices as the others were booked out or closed. I really wanted to try the seafood restaurant but it was sold out one night and closed the following. The next day, I got down to reserve 15 minutes after they started taking reservations and the Italian restaurant was completely booked already. There are no walk ups to the ala carte restaurants – reservations only! You can check after 6pm to see if there are cancellations, but there wasn’t each night we checked. I reserved the Jamaican restaurant one night and the only times available were after 8pm. We are early eaters. None of the restaurants here even open up until 6pm. You’d think they’d have earlier times if they get booked up so fast, not to mention there are a lot of older people and families with kids here that would probably enjoy a 4 or 5 pm reservation. I enjoyed my meal at The Terrace, the Jamaican restaurant. I got peppersteak, rice and beans. Jerry got oxtail stew which after sifting through all the bones in it, he said it was just “ok”. The Japanese restaurant, Kenko, charges a $20 per person fee to eat at. We choose this our last night (or else we would’ve been stuck with the buffet again). It was very entertaining with a Jamaican flair…
He overcooked the lobster and the rice was still crunchy. The sushi and dessert was good.
For lunch we ate at the jerk hut several times.
Two choices here – chicken or pork. They were both good but the pork was rather dry. It is served with a sauce on the side which is very, very hot (spicy) and also comes with a slice of nice soft white bread. A decent option for lunch!
There’s also a hamburger hut which served “not so great” burgers, fish and fries.
There’s an ice cream hut too where you can get a good cone!
We did not use the spa, but this is their price list for 2017.
Entertainment: Our first night here we were treated to a band playing steel drums, reggae and tribal music complete with dancers who put on a decent show. Another night there was a Michael Jackson show. Our last night featured a good reggae band.
An activities board provides all the details for the day’s events.
Pools: There are 2 pools. The main pool is usually more crowded and loud. It’s right next to main activities stage so you hear the emcee on the microphone or music on the loud speakers.
There is a separate jacuzzi near the main pool. It’s an inserted tub style that looks like it’s about 25+ years old. It was warm at best.
The adult-only pool is smaller and quieter.
At the far end of the property near the adult only pool is an adult only beach where you may be able to snag a cabana with chairs or loungers.
Beach: There’s an island right off shore…. Maybe 150 feet away. You can walk to it through a few feet of water.
It has lounge chairs and palm trees. The island is much smaller than I assumed from pictures I saw, but it was very relaxing.
The rest of the beach is spread out along the length of the hotel offering various smaller beach areas with loungers to sit at. Many of the beaches have seaweed a few feet off shore making it hard to really swim or do much of anything in the water.
The main beach around the island is really the only area you can swim or play in. We didn’t get a chance to snorkel as it was very windy during our stay.
Chair hogging is an issue at the pool and beaches. People put their towels on them to claim them early in the morning.
We sat near some for over an hour and the people never showed up. Even the day it rained, people left their towels on the chairs all day, so that when it stopped raining, they had their chairs! Some hotels ban this practice, but this one does not. Eventually, after lunch we were able to snag a few chairs on the island.
Oh and get this… The pool and the beaches close at 6pm daily. 6pm! Why???? I suppose it’s a safety thing.
Other stuff to do:. Aside from organized activities like exercise, music, and contests at the pool they also have free use of non motorized water stuff like kayaks and paddle boats.
They have a mini golf course
Shuffleboard and bocce ball
There is an air conditioned fitness building,
and let’s not forget the casino…A 15×15 sized room filled with wall to wall slot machines.
There’s pool tables and ping pong,
and there is also a kids playground and kids club.
And there’s 2 guest laundry areas.
Drinks: it’s a three star all inclusive.
It’s bottom shelf liquor mixed with really sweet mixers.
We tried many drinks, most of which we didn’t like. The rum punch was decent. The only beer they serve is Red Stripe, the Jamaican beer.
Staff: Most were very friendly and they are all very laid back. Karen, at the restaurant was our favorite, very genuine and chatty. There was never anyone at the tour desk and there was no dedicated activities area to find anyone to talk to about the activities. Maintenance responded quickly to our few service calls. The housekeeping staff was very friendly and gave good service.
Other things to do nearby: You can visit the Craft Village next door to the adult only beach (accessible from the beach) to purchase some authentic Jamaican items.
Every day, right at the hotel, there were tables set up with locals selling their wares as well.
Outside the resort there is a stoplight. Cross the street and turn right and there is a small shopping village a few hundred feet away. They mostly sell souvenir’s and crafts.
We were “escorted” across the street by a man who was sitting on the other side of the street, appearing to be waiting for prey. He directed us to a man who rubbed aloe on Jerry’s arms. We ended up buying the aloe for $3.
As soon as we got away from him, another man came up showing us his necklaces he made out of watermelon seeds and coffee beans. We told him we had no money and he left us alone. They were very friendly but I really dislike being hounded by people trying to sell you stuff. It happens in many countries but I will never get used to it.
Taxi service is quite expensive as are the tours.
My final tidbit. This is a wristband resort. 😝 Since we are Platinum IHG members we get this sparkly gold band that gets us free transport and admission to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. We didn’t take advantage of that. I couldn’t wait to take the band off!
So who is this resort good for? In my opinion it is good for families with children. It’s nothing too fancy, but it has lots to keep everyone busy, decent food and all the crappy liquored up drinks you could want.
The layout of the hotel is such that the lobby, the main bar, the main buffet dining area, the main stage and the pool are all clumped together in one big area and all open to each other which makes it loud, crowded, and busy.
There’s a few spots tucked away where you can find some quietness. We didn’t even know about the adult only building until the day we were leaving or I would have requested to stay there.
We are heading to the Hyatt Zilara next, just a mile down the road. Stay tuned!!