Let’s start at the end and work backwards, did I like it and would I go back? Absolutely! I say this not to bore you with details unless you want them.
Resort: very nice, the grounds are well kept and beautiful, many photo opportunities, even the concierge calls you every other day and ask you how they are doing. Anything that you need, they will do their best to accommodate. Not crowded at all, never an issue getting anything that you want/need.
Airport transfer: it was included in my deal, plan on it taking an hour. Nice AC bus, comfortable, but traffic is a bit slow.
People: they don’t get any better. From the people who help you with the bags (George), the people at the front desk, bartenders, wait staff, to the people who wait on you at the beach, nothing but good to say. Be prepared to be greeted, talked to, fist bumped, taught the Jamaican handshake, and you’ll be answering Ya Man, before you know it.
The room: we were in 625, a king room, not a huge room, but plenty big enough for 2. The furniture was good, the bed was comfortable, and the bathroom was large. One word of warning… the tub is high and there is no handrail to climb out, someone is going to fall and get hurt I’m afraid, especially if they are older. The AC is a Panasonic split system with remote control, works great with one exception... there is no cooling in the bathroom, just an exhaust fan. Not to worry, the bathroom does not get hot except after a shower. No biggie and really can’t do it with the configuration of the AC unit. The room has a large walk-in in closet with lots of space, very nice. The balcony has a clothes drying rack, 2 chairs and a small table, perfect. The TV was OK, no HD, refrigerator, iron and board, hair drier. My only complaint, the clock was a charging station for an IPhone and you couldn’t see the time… maybe on vacation it was a good thing.
The bars: top shelf liquor, not a chance, good drinks, not really, mostly sweet and light on the booze drinks. You can however ask them to put a little booze in it and they gladly accommodate, that’s the plus to getting to know your bartender. We spent quite a bit of time at the Aquamarine pool and swim up bar plus the main Sunken Treasure bar. Nachos and cheese (sorry no peppers) plus popcorn almost 24/7 at the Aquamarine, food about 18 hours a day. Want jerk chicken at 3 am... Aquamarine is the place to be. Unfortunately their bar closes at 6 but you can always find a drink somewhere if you need one. Aquamarine serves up fantastic jerk chicken, jerk chicken or pork raps, good burgers, and hot dogs. If you want good drinks, look up Jason at Aquamarine or Sunken Treasure before 6pm… HE IS THE MAN. Ask him to make you a long island Iced Tea if you dare. Jason makes drinks that no one else makes and he makes them good. As one ol’ southern boy said “so good it makes you want to slap your mama”…LOL.
Restaurants: Aquamarine for snacks (Great), Platinum, ate their twice (Excellent), Jade Samari, unfortunate my wife felt ill and we had to miss that one but it gets high ranks from others, Court Jester pizza (Very good), Moonstone, missed that one, they close earlier. My wife and I did the romantic beach dining, if you don’t mind $150 it was well worth it, especially since we were the only ones on the beach that night for dinner.
Nightlife: The shows were good, especially the beach party and do not miss the steel drum night, I was exhausted just watching their energy. We didn’t go to piano bar or Bling, not our kind of music. What ever happened to traditional reggae? New reggae is rap + salsa …. Just not the same.
Food: the buffet was not huge like some, but enough to find something that you like and plenty of it. The selections for breakfast lunch and dinner again were limited but sufficient and the service was good.
The beach: not a huge beach and the sand is very course, some seaweed out in the water especially at the private beach. Seaweed is not an issue, but not as weed free as many. They are pretty good about raking the beach throughout the day. Don’t miss the private beach after you had too much sun, they have a back row of lounge chairs in the shade, I took a nap that I wish would have lasted all day. The water is pretty calm most times although we did have 3’ breakers one day and they red flagged the beach sports.
Pools: plenty, large, clean other than the things that blow in throughout the day and they do try and keep things clean. I did see them in the pool a few times cleaning the sides too. Each pool has at least one grotto that you can duck into to get in the shade if you want. Don't forget about the waterslide in the main pool, us larger guys went down like human cannon balls...LOL. Be very careful with wet feet around the main pool or you will slip and get hurt… that and it gets HOT on your feet.
Excursions: we went to Dunn’s River falls. I was there 30 years ago but worth going back, it’s about 45 minutes away. Be prepared to be hounded by venders on your way out, you can’t avoid it. Be sure that you have shoes with straps, no flip flops. You can buy or rent shoes at the falls if necessary. If I could make any suggestions, wear shoes that will keep small gravel out. Be sure to take some extra money with you on the excursions, there is usually someone on the bus selling ice cold Red Stripe for $4 each.
Tipping: although included and not expected, bartenders appreciate it, the glass bottom boat guys like it, Platinum deserved it, the romantic dining waiter deserved it, and if a guy brings me a drink to the beach while I’m relaxing, he earned a tip IMO. Tipping the maids was appropriate, I’m sure that they appreciated it and they did a good job every day. If you want to see real appreciation for a tip, give it to your servers in the buffet, even a $1 makes them very appreciative and I would guess that they don’t make much money.
Suggestions: no REAL complaints…. the catsup sucks…LOL…. pinkish and see through, I was missing my Heinz for sure. The tub needs a safety hand rail to get in and out. The hot tub was TOO HOT… ever try to get in a hot tub with sunburn? The hot tub got little use because of the temp. Better drinks and top shelf would be nice… you’ve got to find Jason to fix this. Maintenance… I would give them an 8.5/10. Being in building trades myself, I’m sensitive to these kinds of things. Quite a few burnt out bulbs in Platinum, not 1 or 2, probably 6, no excuse. Missing small pieces of trim in my bathroom, the access panel for the jetted tub held in by a couple of drywall screws jammed in the crack, toilet seal was loose, again, no excuse. Get used to 2 ply toilet paper that the plies are not bonded together…LOL… always a mess. The tissues were the cheapest thing I ever saw, they literally fell apart when coming out of the cardboard dispenser. I read lots of complaints about water running out of the tub … yep, poor design, nothing you can do and no big deal.
Conclusion: Take the time to get to know the people at the resort, they are all great people and many have personal stories that you will appreciate. Take time to meet other travelers, lots of good people. This was a great resort and my second trip to Jamaica, and a very good one.
I’d be glad to answer any questions that you may have.Edited: 05 May 2014, 00:56