My boyfriend and I stayed at Secrets St. James with another couple in the middle of August 2011. This is two resorts in one and you can use the amenities at both. At first I was afraid that this would make the resort huge and crowded. I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. Though there were quite a few people there (I think we saw 2 or 3 weddings take place during our stay) I never felt as if it was over crowded. There were always plenty of chairs by the pools and on the beach for everyone, though if you wanted the huts on the beach you needed to claim them fairly early or after it rained. (August is during rainy season so it rained everyday, but only in the afternoon and only for a short period of time)
We arrived at the same time as a TON of other guests, but there were several people working the check in desks so overall it did not take as long as I expected when we first walked in. We did, however, have a little snag. I had previously emailed the resort to confirm our reservation and the confirmation email was very quick to come back (yay!), but once we were in the lobby we figured out that they had sent me the incorrect information and it did not have my name on it, but my friend's name who had booked our rooms together. Apparently this was some sort of problem because they made my friend get on a computer and print out something with my name on it in order for me to be able to check in. I don't know why they couldn't just look up my name in the computer and then check my ID as every other hotel I've stayed at has done. They also never gave us the welcome drink, but I had so many drinks over the course of the stay that I didn't mind. This was slightly annoying, but not enough to ruin the day or trip. Once we got past this, they informed us that our room was not ready, but we could have lunch while we waited. So the 4 of us went to the Seaside Grill to have a drink/snack while we waited. We had already been served lunch on the plane and were not that hungry so we all ended up getting dessert instead of a meal. I had the guava mousse and it was to die for! I think my friend had it twice after that because she loved it so much. After our snack we returned to the lobby and our rooms were ready. The bellman brought our luggage and pointed out all the amenities our room category had to offer.
We did not choose to upgrade our room to preferred as we didn't think it was worth the extra cost. Our 2nd floor room was extremely nice! We had a king size bed, jacuzzi tub, separate shower, mini fridge with drinks and we would have had a view of the pool if not for the palm tree in front of our balcony. The room was very clean and the maid did an excellent job every day. Our AC worked perfectly, but our friend's room had a problem with theirs. They called the front desk and they sent someone to fix it and never had another problem after that. The only complaint I had was that they did not offer free internet to all the room categories. At this caliber resort I sort expected that they would. They did however have a business center with pay by the minute (50 cents US) internet or $15 per day or $60 for the entire stay. A bit steep so we never used it, but our friends did the pay by minute a couple of times.
I have found that most people tend to find the food at All-inclusives to be middle of the road or mediocre, but we actually liked the food here. The Italian restaurant was our favorite and the food was very good. We also ate at the French restaurant, Oceana and did the buffet for breakfast. Those were good as well, but the buffet was nothing special as is pretty typical. This isn't Vegas though so we weren't expecting anything spectacular. We tried to make reservations for the hibachi grill, but we made the mistake of not calling the day before and could not get a reservation. As this was our last night at the resort we never got to eat here, but we heard from a couple of other guests that it was good.
Most service in the Caribbean would be considered slow. However I felt that it was actually pretty good at this resort. What do you want to hurry up on vacation for anyway? All of the staff was very friendly and greeted you with a smile. Tipping was not required, but was always appreciated. I never had a drink that was stingy on the alcohol and my boyfriend stayed pretty buzzed as a result.
I got a hot stone massage at the spa which also allowed me access to the facilities. I thought these were awesome! The dynamic pool was fun to play around in, the sauna was nice, the sensation path was pretty cool too. They had a beverage bar area with lounge chairs in the hydro therapy room which was very nice. I love cucumber water! You waited in this area for your therapist to come and call you by name. I recommend getting to the spa an hour in advance (they tell you this when you sign up) as check-in can take quite awhile. I arrived 30-40 minutes early and ended up only being able to use the hydrotherapy room for about 15-20 minutes. The hot stone massage itself was AMAZING! I had only had one on my feet during pedicures before and a full body one was excellent.
All the non-motorized sports were included, kayaking, hobie cat, snorkeling etc. However, they wouldn't check out snorkel gear to you unless you went on their short guided snorkel tour and then you had to give it back at the end. We heard this was free, but we never went on it. I ended up buying snorkel gear at one of the resort shops (30$) so bring your own! You can snorkel right past the jetties in front of the resort and I highly recommend this if you can swim. I took out both a two and single person kayak and had a lot of fun. They don't allow you to snorkel from the kayaks (though we did anyway), but if you are in a two person and one person stays in the kayak to make sure it doesn't drift off it's doable. If you have never tried to get back in a kayak from the water I do NOT recommend it. It can be fairly difficult if you don't know what you are doing. My boyfriend and I knew what we were doing and we flipped twice trying to get back in. We paid to go para sailing one day. This was both fun and scary. My two friends were the last to go up in the para sail and as they were in the air a rainstorm (that the two other couples on the boat with us had been watching) hit. The rain was pouring so hard we couldn't see land anymore and our poor friends were stuck in the air because they couldn't get the para sail down due to the wind! I was scared that they were going to get struck by lightning while they were in the air, but thankfully the two guys running the boat were able to get them safely back down. I feel this incident was bad judgement on their part for letting my friends go up when we could clearly see the storm heading our way, but excellent job on getting them back in the boat.
The jerk chicken and burger carts start on the Wild Orchid side and make their way over to the St. James side. Go get in line when they are on the Wild Orchid side as we never saw them actually make it to the St. James side before running out. The same goes for the pineapple and coconut carver! All of these are delicious (and free) so I recommend trying them.
Overall we had a wonderful time at this hotel and Jamaica and we would definitely return again.
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- Also Known As:
- Secrets St James Hotel Montego Bay