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How to choose a true 4 or 5 star resort in Jamaica

Toronto
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How to choose a true 4 or 5 star resort in Jamaica

After much debate, we considered Caymans, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Jamaica and DR. We've finally decided to go to Jamaica for our honeymoon next June 2007. I read that Negril has better beaches but that Ocho Rios has better golf. Right now we just want to stay on budget so we will book a place if there is a good deal going on and it has what we want.

We would like to stay in a 4 or 5 star resort but there are or seem to be so many different ones. Superclubs, Sandals, RIU and Couples. Couples is a bit over our budget. So I want to select another one that is all inclusive food, drinks, transfers, tips. A few coworkers have been to RIU Negril and had good things to say but they don't include golf in their all-inclusive.

Our top-of-the-list must haves:

1) A great beach for tanning and/or snorkelling nearby

2) A golf course nearby (green fees and transfer to course included)

3) Great food is a must (we both love steak and seafood)

4) Great quality rooms with nothing broken or missing

Any recommendations? My fiance and I want to get good value for what we pay for and our budget is about $4000CAD or $3500USD. I prefer the smaller to mid sized resorts but he wants a resort with a good strong name/brand behind it. So I'm researching a mid to big resort. We are not afraid of bugs or mosquitoes, crabs or birds in the area. I've read some pretty funny posts by people who complain about the smallest inconveniences. We will bring plenty of repellent. Also IMO the key is not to wear perfume and fruity scents.

We want the Jamaica experience and that includes talking to some of the locals. We like the outdoors and great natural scenery. I want to go on at least 2 tours in the area. I wonder should we book those before or during our stay in Jamaica?

Sorry for the long post, But any help is appreciated.

montreal
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1. Re: How to choose a true 4 or 5 star resort in Jamaica

Greetings to you, congratulations!

Keep in mind that there are very few a/i properties in Jamaica that are true 5 star by most standards. The few that are include: Grand Lido Negril, Half Moon, Ritz Carleton, Royal Plantation, The Caves, Goldeneye...

There are lots of excellent 4 star resorts also to choose from like Breezes and Couples.

To most appropriately fit your qualifications of:

1) A great beach for tanning and/or snorkelling nearby

2) A golf course nearby (green fees and transfer to course included)

3) Great food is a must (we both love steak and seafood)

4) Great quality rooms with nothing broken or missing

your best bets are:

Grand Lido Negril

Breezes Runaway Bay

Half Moon

Ritz Carleton

Rose Hall

Keep in mind that Ritz and Half Moon don't have the nicest beaches by Jamaica standards..

Blessings and respect to you.

Steve

Kingston, Canada
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19,500 posts
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2. Re: How to choose a true 4 or 5 star resort in Jamaica

From your list I would immediately exclude the RIU properties. Although they promote themselves through travel companies as a 4 star they are a 3 in reality. There are many 4 star resorts, including Couples & Sandals, but only a handful of 5 star. The Superclubs Grand Lidos are two of them and it is possible to get a good deal to either of them depending on the time of year you plan to go. However finding anything like you are looking for, even at $4000 CDN all-inclusive with air, will be quite difficult even in the off-season. The other 5 star resorts such as The Caves, Goldeneye etc. are far out of your budget range. There are more golfing opportunities to be had at Grand Lido Braco then Grand Lido Negril. Negril only has one golf course but it's pretty decent. There are many more in other areas of the island.

One of the regular forum posters here is Jamaicasteve from Montreal, who is a travel agent, and has been known to get excellent deals at Grand Lido. If you would like his email address let me know.

Kingston, Canada
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3. Re: How to choose a true 4 or 5 star resort in Jamaica

Sorry Steve, my PC got hung up and you posted ahead of me.

Too funny.

montreal
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4. Re: How to choose a true 4 or 5 star resort in Jamaica

lol lol

There's been a lot of that overlapping lately! I did the same thing with Krim the other day, and yesterday MK and I overlapped also.

As he so wisely put: "great minds..." lol

Blessings and respect my friend.

Steve

Cherry Hill, NJ
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5. Re: How to choose a true 4 or 5 star resort in Jamaica

I will "third" the vote for Grand Lido Negril. We are going in June and got a lucky "early booking" special thanks to JamaicaSteve. Our total cost for 6 days/5 nights including airfare will be $2600US. (Good Luck replicating that deal!)

The food is the best at any all-inclusive in the Caribbean, the beach is great for relaxing and just off the clothing optional beach is some great snorkeling along the "cliffs" section of the resort.

The beachfront rooms (more expensive have been recently redone and some include a private patio with jacuzzi!).

Golf is about 30 minutes away (?) at Negril hills and greeens fees and transfers are included (caddy is mandatory & additional, I think).

I would think that there is only one other "name" that is bigger in Jamaica and only one, maybe two, of their resorts even approach the level of luxury provided at GLN.

Plus, at GLN you are just a short cab ride from all the nightlife and ambiance of the main beach area at Negril if you want to get out.

The are only about 180 rooms in two-story buildings so it does not have a mega-resort feel to it. Lots of lanscaped areas with hammocks and jacuzzis spread around the property.

It is a great place for "luxuriating" it is not a very "active" resort. For active, I would recommend another SuperClubs resort, Breezes Runaway Bay. It is not 5-star but is undergoing a complete renovation to all rooms and facilities. Otherwise it meets your requirements and has lots on on-site activities.

Enjoy!

Northern Michigan
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for Petoskey, Michigan
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6. Re: How to choose a true 4 or 5 star resort in Jamaica

We look for a lot of the same things in our Jamaican destination, and it seems like we have the same kind of budget and mindset. With that said, I'll second (or third or fourth or whatever) the recommendation for Grand Lido Negril...IF you can get it in your price range. A VERY close second choice would be Couples Negril...beach is gorgeous, golf (and nearly everything else including tours, is included) the rooms are simple but classy and the food (next to GLN) is the best in Jamaica (as far as AI's are concerned). From your initial post, I don't think you'd be happy with any Sandals, Breezes or Beaches resorts...not that there's anything wrong with them, they just don't provide the same level of service, amenities, food, etc...Breezes Runaway Bay, who a lot of people will steer you towards, is a great resort...wonderful beach, golf nearby, completely renovated, etc...the vibe is different though...it's not a romantic honeymoon spot, it's more of a younger, party type vibe...maybe that's what you're looking for, but on our honeymoon, we wanted something a little more intimate...where we could sneak off by ourselves if we wanted, and Couples Negril provided us with exactly that. We've since been to a lot of AI's in Jamaica, and I haven't found what I see as a better honeymoon destination.

Just remember, there's a lot of good information on these forums, but take opinions with a grain of salt...everyone has an individual opinion, and it's easy to become biased when you have a favorite resort. Do the research and pick what you feel suits you best...whatever you choose, I'm sure you'll have a blast!

montreal
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7. Re: How to choose a true 4 or 5 star resort in Jamaica

I agree, Well said dhc! I forgot to mention CN ( and CSA )

Blessings and respect.

Steve

Long Island, NY
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497 posts
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8. Re: How to choose a true 4 or 5 star resort in Jamaica

Deadhead says that you won't find a high level of service at Sandals, Breezes, or Beaches. Beaches is not an option since it is more family oriented, not really ideal for a honeymoon. I can't speak for Breezes, but I must say that my stay at Sandals Negril contradicts Deadhead. I thought the service was excellent, on par with any fine resort. By day 2, the staff greeted us by name and had our favorite drinks ready for us. Everyone was friendly. Any requests were handled promply with a smile and a yeah mon. I assume the other Sandals resorts are comparable. I know Grand Lido and Couples enjoy great reputations, but Sandals also belongs in that group.

If you like Couples but feel it's over budget, you may want to check out Couples Secret Rendezvouz. You end up in one of the Couples resorts, but you won't know which one until a week before you go. This might be a way to get into either Sans Souci, Swept Away, Negril, or Ocho Rios while staying in budget.

Or there's always the Riviera Maya.

Northern Michigan
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for Petoskey, Michigan
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9. Re: How to choose a true 4 or 5 star resort in Jamaica

Good point on the secret rendezvous Chardo...your post does make me wonder though, have you been to other properties in Jamaica, or just Sandals?

Chicago, Il
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10. Re: How to choose a true 4 or 5 star resort in Jamaica

Don't know if you'd consider Punta Cana or LaRomana in the Dominican Republic. PC has a BEAUTIFUL white sand beach with a few decent golf courses. LaRomana has the famous "Teeth of the Dog". Check both areas out. Lots of direct flights to either from Canada.

We stayed at the Melia Caribe Tropical (in Punta Cana) and enjoyed it. Fits your bill. Also check out Paradisus Palma Real or Paradisus Punta Cana. Those share the Cocotal golf course with Melia. Possibly better food than Melia according to recent reviews.

I like Jamaica when there is a deal. Otherwise, I'd choose from many other places. White Witch at Ritz Carlton possibly best Caribbean golf I've played. See my other posted comments on golf.

And if you're truly a golf nut like me, you'd consider Maui (Kapalua!!!) or Kauai (Princeville) or the Big Island of Hawaii (Waikoloa or Mauna Lani). That was my honeymoon...2 weeks. Mix between resorts and bed & breakfasts. Wifey hit the spa while I hit the links. Might cost more but very worth it.

Bye,

SeaBass

Fellow Golf Nut