You get a good sense you're in for a good time when the JTL bus is driving into the resort as you arrive and a JTL tour guide from somewhere else who had hitched a ride on the bus looks over at you and asks if you were staying there--then she gives you the thumbs up and says "good choice"--totally out of the blue, hadn't even spoken to her before that. The driver then said to us as he unloaded our bags that we should be careful to get out and experience the area because in this place "you're never going to want to leave the resort". They were both right--and I din't hear them say that to anyone at the other resorts we dropped people off at.
We stayed for 7 nights, booked a Butler Suite, and just as the JTL folks said--had a great time. I think this is a solid 4 star resort and unless you're overly picky, you find this to a fabulous resort--here's my lowdown on a few topics:
Crowd--this is a couples or group resort. I great resort, but I wouldn't go here as a single. We were a couple, so we loved it. We befriended and engineer working at a bauxite mine and he was staying there on business travel as a single--the place was tough for him--not enough people to friend up with considering the couples setting. On the other hand, if you are a couple or a group, its really great.
Rooms--super clean, well cared for each day. We did have a 2 room suite, so that may have helped, but we loved our room. Two balconies were sweet. Everything worked fine the whole time. I've travelled a lot and must emphasize how pleased we were with the cleanliness of the whole place. Wired WiFi worked well and was easy to connect. We had a little trouble gettting the soft drinks and juice replaced everyday--but we did have a butler, so if something we wanted wasn't there--they got it for us.
Grounds--yeah the beach is a little small, but it is very nice, very secure, and had plenty of room. If you really need to take a walk--you can get through the fence on the east side and walk for miles (but no security). The rest of the grounds are really nice and again, very clean. Security is excellent. I was impressed how all the staff, managers on down, were always picking up used glasses and plates etc. They do a great job keeping the place in shape. Pools were all very nice and plenty warm when we were there (mid-April 2012).
Crowds--I don't think the resort was at capacity when we were there, but we had no trouble using any of the facilties whenever we wanted to. Lines for drinks and food were usually non-existent or pretty short at peak times. Gym, free spa stuff, tennis courts, etc were always available. You do need to get a spot on the beach or patio early in the day if you want an umbrella or shade/sun spot. We got one every day where we wanted, but it did take a little effort--kinda of added to the fun in my mind.
Food--we thought the food was great. If you're a gourmet foodie, you might find something to complain about, but if you just want nice tasty food, with suitable variety, prepared well, you'll love it. None of the restaurants are 5 star, but we were very happy with all of them. I was amazed at another review's complaining about the Jade Samurai--that place is great--it's not done by full fledged BeniHana chefs, but they did a great job and the food was very tasty. The pizza counter is fabulous as well. All in all, the food is really good at all restaurants and in keeping with my solid 4 star rating for the resort.
Drinks--drinks were good, but a little variable depending on who made them. The drink of the day is fun and usually quite good. All of the bartenders will make them to order and you can control the strength that way. My fiance loved the "Dirty Banana" and I loved the "Jamaica Gem"--try one. They only have Red Stripe beer and Red Stripe Lite, but I expected that. Actually, my only complaint with the Jewel is the attitude of some of the bartending staff--a few of them were downright rude and several don't look very happy as they work. I had a tough time getting them to give me regular Red Stripe instead of lite--not sure why, but was a constant thing. I think the bartender crew as a whole needs some cheerful training. If you get Cornell as a bartender, go find another bar. He was downright rude to us several times (in spite of tipping him) and two other couples made the same comment to us without our even asking (sorry dude, but you need to work on your people skills).
Staff--Other than the bartending staff mentioned above, the staff are great. We got a little friendly with Sasha of the entertainment team--she was really a kick and it was fun to see her enthusiasm. The entertainmant staff is really good and a big asset to the property. I was really please with the staff overall--everyone is nice and accomodating--that's why we found the bartender's attitude so strange--didn't fit with everyone else. Our butlers were also excellent--they do move you from one to another without warning sometimes--we ended up with 4 different butlers in 7 days--they have a day and night shift, so 4 isn't too many, but I think they should do a better job telling you about the switch. In any case, they were all great and were happy to do anything we asked and we really liked all of them. I think we were pretty low maintenance for them, but our goal was to enjoy the really the nice suite and some added service--we didn't need to be waited on hand and foot. That part of our stay was really good. We don't do this every year, so the few extra bucks to make the stay really luxuious was worth it to us.
Water Sports--they have Hobie Cats, kayaks, and wind surfing to use for free--staff will take you out on the Hobie Cats if you can't sail (you'll want to tip them well, they can really give you a good ride). The on-site snorkelling ($25/person) was way better than I expected--we swam behind a giant devil ray--really cool. The reef doesn't look like much from shore, but really will surprise you close up. Maybe not as good as fancy snorkling place, but considering the cost and convenience was a reall good value. Alexis is the guide and one of the real gems of a person at the resort.
Anyway--hope you enjoy your stay at the Jewel. We had a fabulous time and I don't hesitate to recommend it. It is the best place I've been to yet (only out of 3) and I'll be comparing future vacations to this one--but I may never do so well.
Butler Suite was fabulous--3rd floor and higher.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC