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“Beautiful Resort, a few service hiccups”

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Secrets St. James Montego Bay
Ranked #11 of 63 Hotels in Montego Bay
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
61 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Beautiful Resort, a few service hiccups”
Reviewed 2 January 2014

Overall we had a very nice time, but based on the other reviews I had read I was expecting more. It was enjoyable, but the various service problems were disappointing and frustrating.

Pros
1. Jerk Chicken & Coconut water cart – chicken was delicious, we got without sauce because it was spicy even without the sauce.
2. Pools & Beaches - beautiful view (albeit the beaches are fairly narrow). We didn’t have a problem getting chairs at the pool or beach, but there definitely were more available in the preferred areas. I also liked the preferred pool better because it was quiet and relaxing. However, the wait staff at the main pool was much more attentive than the preferred pool. It was always faster to go to the bar yourself at the preferred pool.
3. NYE extras – the entertainment, desert tables and extra bars set up were all great. The fireworks set off on the property were incredibly beautiful reflecting off the water.
4. Food - Most of the food was fairly good. As one other reviewer noted, I did get the impression that the meals were prepared ahead of time and simply brought out. The Italian wasn’t very good in my opinion, but the others were fine.
5. Staff is very friendly and polite – even though there were several service issues, I got the impression that they were all a result of poor management rather than the individual’s failing.
6. Room – the shower had an option of a regular or rain shower. The bed was comfortable, room was clean and fairly large with a beautiful balcony view.
7. Very close to airport

Cons
1. Check-In - We were served a drink and chilled towel upon arriving. We decided to upgrade our room after the sales pitch. Our room wasn't ready. So, we came back at the time we were told. Unfortunately when we arrived at the room, housekeeping had just arrived. So, we traipsed back to the front desk. No one seemed to know what the problem was or what to do with us. They offered to put us in an interim room until our room was cleaned. We said that we would keep our keys and asked that our bags be delivered to the room whenever housekeeping was completed. When we arrived in our room, we still needed to call for our bags. It was frustrating to have to waste time trying to figure out where they were going to put us. We easily spent an hour and a half trying to get checked in.
2. No towels – Replacing of the towels was a bit spotty. One day we didn’t have a bath mat, which we dealt with. The next we didn’t have any fresh towels and the used ones were gone. We called the front desk and it was over an hour and still no towels, called again and 30 minutes after call #2 they came.
3. NYE Dinner – Service was SO slow. It took over 2 hours. It took over an hour after we sat down for anything besides water to arrive, which was consistent with everyone around us. Management eventually came over to one of the neighboring tables and they complained of the wait, but the management response was inadequate. For example, another table said that they were currently waiting for bread. Rather than the manager go get the bread, he went to the waiter who was assisting another table and told him “they need some bread”. Also, the kitchen did not seem to have enough food available, which is a little crazy considering it was a prix fixe menu, reservations required and even the wine was pre-ordered.

Stayed December 2013, travelled with family
Helpful?
2 Thank travelgirl1009
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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English first
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
95 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 January 2014

Stayed here a week and I have very little to recommend for someone to choose Secrets over the other. Staff were not friendly at all, as a mater of fact most could have cared less if we were having a good time or not. There were a few exceptions like some of the bar staff but in general, very poor customer service. The food was average at best, buffet breakfasts were OK, lots of food but not the best quality. We did have a nice dinner at the French restaurant one night and it is nice that you can prebook the restauranats as many times as you want.

Beaches were small and service beach side was marginal at best. Pool time was annoying as the music was so loud or there were so many "games" that we couldn't sit there and enjoy the experience.

I will not be going back to this resort and likely not Jamaica.

  • Stayed November 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank smyzzz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SWO_STJconcierge, Manager at Secrets St. James Montego Bay, responded to this review, 3 January 2014
Dear Valued Guest:

We thank you for taking the time to share your most recent travel experience with us and do apologize that our service delivery was not as was expected.

Providing the best in customer care is at the top of our priority list and it is sad to note that you found our team members less than friendly to you and although this is very usual at our Resorts, we will ensure that the necessary re-orientation is administered to all staff to make certain that we are consistently meeting the expectations of our guests.

Your feedback is extremely important to us and all reviews are monitored closely so that the changes where necessary, can be implemented as we are committed to delivering on the Unlimited Luxury that our Brand is known for.

Our many thanks once again for posting your review and we do trust that as we realize improvements in these very critical areas, that you will indeed be encouraged to visit with us once again.

Thank you + kind regards,

Caulette Mornan
Social Networking/eConcierge
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
22 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 January 2014

We stayed in here in July in the excellence club. It was a great stay – rooms were nice, pool was lovely and heated, there was a good variety of food – which was average resort food (at times yummy at times not but you’re always full). There was a great jerk chicken cart every afternoon not to be missed! The main drawback was the beach – it was small and not all that nice, normally this would have been disappointing but the pool was so nice it didn’t faze us. For a resort so large the service was really great and everyone was always nice and accommodating. Overall a great stay and we would definitely go back! The non excellence club section had more of a loud party vibe and we would not have enjoyed the trip had we stayed there.

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Jennifer G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ontario
Level Contributor
26 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 January 2014

I've done quite a bit of travelling lately (five trips to different countries in the last twelve months) and missing a few reviews, so hopefully I will find the time to write about those also. Now…., I love love loved this resort and hope to return in March 2014. Don't hesitate in choosing this resort, you will not be disappointed. This was my first trip to Jamaica and I can say that the resort staff and locals are the friendliest people that I have ever encountered along my travels. The airport is ten minutes away and you will not be bothered by any sounds, we enjoyed seeing the planes come and go (all sizes). If you take a look at the website for Secrets St. James/Wild Orchid the map will show you where everything is located. The shows at night are worth the visit! I'm not talking about typical resort skits with the entertainment staff, I'm talking about real steel drum bands and singers brought in from outside of the resort to perform, very talented artists. When you watch the shows outside at night the backdrop across the bay with the mountain full of lights reminds me of Bora Bora. We stayed in room 4320 in a preferred suite and the location was excellent, water views both ways (not looking at other balconies) and very private. The preferred club pool is a beautiful spot (we like it quieter) and if we weren't at this pool we were on the beach. The preferred pool looks like one large pool, but is divided into two sections (hidden by a little foot bridge), the section closest to the building is heated, yes heated, and I loved it!! The other section of the pool has the infinity side and the temperature was good too, maybe 84F. I loved that they had floaties for the pool, used these a lot, especially great to lay on your tummy to tan your back, much more comfy on your body than laying on a sun lounger. Plus, the floaties are great entertainment when you see other guests try to get on them gracefully!! lol (myself included). Important Note: Only one of the restaurants (if you want to sit inside), the Bordeaux Restaurant requires the men to wear long pants, etc. This is a real bonus, I think. We generally bring nice things to wear for dinner anyway, and when we were there others dressed nice too, but it is nice that you can go to dinner and men at least have the option to wear nice bermuda shorts with a great shirt. When we went the weather at night was hotter than expected and my husband was so glad that he could wear shorts. I could really go on and on about this place with only good things to say, you'll just have to go yourself and experience this great resort. Now the question, "would I go back for a repeat visit" - absolutely, without a doubt.

Room Tip: Room 4320 had nice views and didn't lookout to other balconies so was very private, it is also a...
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank Tropical_Holidays
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hickory, North Carolina
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 2 January 2014

My husband and I stayed 12/1-6. The trip was wonderful. Drinks upon arrival. Booked through AMEX and had no problems whatsoever. Everything at the hotel was wonderful: check in, rooms, beach, beach service, pool, food, entertainment, special free anniversary champagne and breakfast room service. We were worried about snorkeling because you can only go in supervised group. The snorkeling wound up being the best thing that we enjoyed. Right outside the roped off beach are coral reefs with wonderful fish. The guide would point out different fish and bring up things for us to see. We did it every day we were there. Also, they serve the BEST Jamaican jerk chicken straight from the grill right by the beach chairs so we never even tried the lunch buffet. The only problem we encountered was a spoiled steak at a restaurant. My husband was slightly sick for one night. It did not ruin our trip and we would go back, but it was still disappointing. Overall, we loved this resort and would go back. Decided after we got there to do no excursions and spend whole time at resort.

Room Tip: We chose a room on top floor. Great views.
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  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank PEllenG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
US expat
Level Contributor
19 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 January 2014

If you have already committed to come here, no worries... our one week stay over Christmas week was overall a nice experience. The Secrets St. James & Wild Orchid are basically one gated resort, with 8 restaurants, several small beach fronts, and two pools open to non-preferred customers. We were in St. James so we had to walk to Wild Orchid for 7 of the 8 restaurants and all the shopping. We had two rooms: a king bed room with the bathroom integrated, separated only by a sheer curtain (hard to use the bathroom without waking partner) and a two-queen bed room with a separate bathroom (no soaking tub). Both rooms were spacious with a sitting area and either a small balcony or a patio, and were cleaned every day with plenty of towels etc. There was individual control of the a/c, although we had trouble during the night maintaining a consistent temperature (did the motion sensor think we left the room?) The restaurants offered one large buffet in morning, the buffet & a few casual options for lunch, and at dinner all had sit-down service.

If you haven't committed yet, read on. The check in process was painful overall, taking 45 minutes!!!, as the staff worked hard to up-sell us every possible item from the overpriced massages to their AM unlimited vacation resort package (which requires at least 90 min of your time rewarded by a small incentive; I had read in advance about how horrible this sales experience is so we did not attend). We were annoyed to find there are absolutely no cots available on the property. I could have sworn the travel agent said we would have a cot. The best the management offered was to sell us a third room at full price (even though we had already paid for the 3rd person's food). This we took as another sign of the management trying to squeeze as much profit as possible from their guests, which cast a bad feeling on the entire stay.

Here are a few suggestions for management:
-Speed up check in, provide larger map of the resort with breakfast restaurant highlighted, and explain included activities, rather than try to upsell us!
-Provide cushions on chairs at beach as they were uncomfortable without; poolside cushions need upgrading.
-Provide more vegetarian dinners. there was only one vegetarian dinner option available at each sit-down restaurant so if we wanted to return to a restaurant our daughter had to eat the same thing again.
-Improve management of breakfast service! Our party of 5 had to wait for seating, then for coffee, sometimes for silverware even.... why not have a few tables set up for parties of 6 already? have a coffee pot for each table? Or have a coffee self serve station?
-Overall the food was not gourmet. Some better than others. I had the impression that the dinner food is prepared in advance in the kitchen, not prepared to order, so like a cafeteria where the waiters go in and pick up the food-- especially the Italian restaurant.
- Provide more variety of included activities rather than poorly attended poolside games (we liked the yoga!; the bike ride was lame). We would have loved some more fitness classes.
-Improve equipment in game room (all pool tables were plywood and warped)
-Is the snorkeling equipment sanitized after use? It did not appear to be...

My expectations had been high as the reviews on tripadvisor had been so strong, and we paid a princely sum to go on this vacation.... it failed to meet the luxury standards I have experienced at all-inclusives elsewhere, but overall it was nice.

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank perrysburg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Long Island, NY
Level Contributor
12 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 January 2014

We had an amazing time at Secrets St. James. We love an all inclusive and traveling with four children and another family we totalled 10 people. First I must say that the food here was by far the best I have ever had at an all inclusive. We contacted the concierge because we were concerned that we would have trouble getting a restaurant to seat the ten of us. That was absolutely no problem. They were very accomodating. Also my wife has celiac and has to eat gluten free and they accomodated us at every restaurant. They even offered for us to meet the executive chef to review the options. Above and beyond! The jerk chicken cart by the beach for lunch was amazing, as everyone else reports. Quality all the time with the food. THey even have a coffee bar open all day and up to 10 pm serving lattes, cappucino etc.

The pool area was terrific with plenty of chairs and for a couple of bucks the pool person set up 10 chairs for us each day. There are many pool areas to choose from so chairs are not an issue. The second largest disapointment was the beach. While it is beautiful to see, the beach seems to be totally manmade and is only 20 feet or so wide. It is not really a beach. I love a nice beach and that was disappointing. The main disappointment for me was that at quality, high priced resort like this, I being a business person needed to be online and the wifi was sketchy at best. Then to top that off they charge $15 per day per device. THAT IS CRAZY AND PRICE GOUGING AT ITS WORST! It made me uncomfortable to pay that.

All in all it was a terrific vacation. The employees are very friendly with no exception. The place is well kept up, the rooms were very nice, and the food was amazing.

Room Tip: Most roms face the ocean, but getting a high floor (4 or 5 floor) is good. The first floor gives no...
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  • Stayed December 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Ajab1952
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Secrets St. James Montego Bay

Property: Secrets St. James Montego Bay
Address: Lot A59, Freeport, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint James Parish > Montego Bay
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#4 Business Hotel in Montego Bay
#9 Spa Hotel in Montego Bay
#9 Romantic Hotel in Montego Bay
#10 Top resorts Hotel in Montego Bay
#10 On the Beach Hotel in Montego Bay
#11 Family Hotel in Montego Bay
#11 Luxury Hotel in Montego Bay
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:5 star — Secrets St. James Montego Bay 5*
Number of rooms: 350
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Secrets St James Hotel Montego Bay

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