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“Not As Good As It Should Be”

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Secrets St. James Montego Bay
Ranked #11 of 61 Hotels in Montego Bay
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
St. Louis, MO
Level Contributor
39 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
“Not As Good As It Should Be”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 January 2014

This was our second trip to SSJ and we stayed for five (5) nights from 12/31 - 1/5. We love AM Resorts, and Secrets specifically, but I do not believe we will return to this resort again. As a few other reviews mentioned, for being an all adults resort and for the price you pay, you just expect more than what you receive here. There are many positives about this resort, but our expectations are just set higher since this is Secrets. If you have never been to an all adults, all inclusive hotel of this star rating, then you probably will not understand the cons I am mentioning and will probably think I am being to snobby or picky. However, that is far from how we are, as we are not hard to please and just enjoy being in the sun. I think some of this could easily be rectified by management if they read the reviews and put a plan in action.
Pros:
•Location - 15 minutes from the airport and close to the hip strip.
•Check in was easy and welcoming.
•They provided an awesome New Years Eve celebration! This was over the top and a great time for all.
•Pretty good evening entertainment out under the stars (better than the indoor theater).
•Our mini bar was freshly stocked each day. You have to remember to turn your Do Not Disturb light off or they will not stop.
•Many restaurants to pick from and a variety of items on the menu to pick from.
•No reservations needed at the restaurants.
•Bed were very comfy and we both slept great (pillows were not).
•Plenty of drink choices, alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
•Long slacks for men are not required. We did not realize that so my husband did not bring any dress shorts with him but they are allowed (except inside at the French restaurant).
•Pools are nice and there are enough rafts / floats to be shared among the guest. The pools were just the right temperature.
•Water sports available.
•Activities are available during the day.
•Beautiful grounds and hotel. I don’t believe the grounds keepers get enough “thanks” for all the hard work they do.
•Beautiful ocean views and clear water.
•Jerk chicken on the beach each day.
•Wildlife around the resort. Peacocks wall throughout the resort and joined us for breakfast one day. There are also two parrots that are in a cage and trees close to Wild Orchid.
•We were there during the horrible winter storm in the Midwest and Secrets were offering those that could not leave the resort special rates for the additional nights they needed to stay.
•Nice views of the sunset.

Cons:
•Nightlife was lacking.
•Piano bar had a horrible smell to it.
•They advertise many bars on property but no one gathers at them so there is no one to talk to.
•The overall attitude was not happy like Jamaica used to be, even when you would tip.
•Our clock I our room did not work. Not that it is a huge deal but it became a challenge when I called Housekeeping four (4) days in a row to ask for a new one. A new one was never delivered and I finally gave up.
•We tipped the wait service around the pool thinking it would assist in the service we would receive, however it did not.
•It took 1.5 hours to receive room service…and we ordered nachos and mozzarella cheese.
•The first two days (12/31 – 1/1) you had to get up at the crack of dawn to get a good chaise lounge by the pool. I am one of those that use this all day long from 9:00-5:00. Others were putting items on their loungers and not showing up at all during the day. That is very frustrating! If you are one of these people, please quit…there will be enough loungers when you are ready to use it. However, later in the week when the resort was not as busy, it was easier to get a lounger.
•Beach is man-made and not conducive for a long walks on the beach.
•They do not try and get people involved in activities like they do at Sandals. You wouldn't even know activities were going on if you were not right there when it started. Other resorts, like Sandals, go around and try to get people engaged.
•Typically bartenders are the friendliest; I did not find this to be true here.

Will I continue to spread good reviews to my friends and family about Secrets and AM Resorts…absolutely. This is a nice resort, there were just things that I know could be easily fixed and take this resort to the level it should be at.

Big shout out to Yvette as a waitress around the pool, Rayon at Portonifo and Terrol at the towel hut. Go visit Terrol and ask him to show you some card tricks. Go, enjoy and make a decision for yourself. There are many positive, just small cons that could be improved.

Room Tip: I believe the 3rd floor would be the best. Low enough to take the stairs but high enough to have a...
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  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
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6 Thank island30
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (2,314)
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York, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
220 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 122 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 January 2014

Arrival....After a 3 hr delayed flight and 10hrs in the air followed by 2&1/2 hrs to clear immigration, yes, 2&1/2 hrs, it goes without saying, we were tired and irritable.
At check in (main reception St James, we were staying in the preferred club but preferred reception was closed) we were not offered a drink or a cold towel. We were given very limited information on the resorts facilities, albeit the time was 23.45.
On being shown our room the electronic key would not open the door. The bell boy went to get the key reprogrammed but this failed to resolve the problem. Maintenance arrived and after 20 minutes we finally gained acces to our room.

Suggestion.....Late night arrivals could be shown a little more empathy and advised that resort information would be communicated the next morning. This would just make it feel a little more personal.

The room....Nicely appointed, clean, bright and functional. The bed and pillows are amazingly comfortable. A lovely rain shower, with constant hot water. Plent of towels and toiletries. Beautiful view from the adequate balcony.

Suggestion....Guests could be given some information on how the air conditioning works. We found it difficult to reach the lowest temperature possible and maintain it at that point.

Pool and beach areas.......Spacious around the pools, clean and tidy and the water a pleasant temperature.
The beach pleasant but a little disappointing, or maybe we just had a more idyllic vision in our minds. The beach is fairly narrow, with too many sharp shells and stones and not very long, broken up by small piers of rocks.
The single sunbeds on the beach are extremely uncomfortable with no cushions available, even in the preffered club areas.

Suggestion....provide more comfort for the beach sunbeds.

The restaurants....Of the 7restaurants open on an evening, we only ate at 5 so can only review those.

Seaside Grill...Fairly disappointing. A salad bar to start, just ok.
Asked for no seasoning on our steak, as I myself have a garlic allegy but it came with seasoning. I therefore suffered all night as a result. The steak itself was of rather poor quality, chewy and grissly.

Oceana.....Average at best. Salad bar again. My wife had surf and turf, with a very small portion of surf. I had salmon which was ok.

Portofino....Extremely poor. A long wait to be served and an eternity between courses on our first vist but we gave it another go and the food was very poor on both occasions.

Himitsu....This was probably our 2nd favourite restaurant, the food was good and the service excellent. The only annoying aspect personally, being the chef banging his cleaver on the gridle all night long.

Bordeaux...The best of the restuarants without a double. Non of them are gourmet but this one is probably the closest. It has a pleasant ambience and the food is decent.
With all of the restaurants we ate at we are certain all of the food is pre-prepared.

Breakfast and lunch....Served at the World Cafe. The food was decent with plenty of choice.

Coffee shop....Fantastic coffee! and Garfield? makes a great one!

Suggestion...Secrets, review the standards of your restaurants to ensure consistency throughout. There is a wide gulf it seems and non close to gourmet standards.

The Staff... From the gardeners to the bar, waiting staff, maids and reception, all we're generally friendly, outgoing and pleasant. Of any of those categories, we would have to say the gardeners were as friendly as any. Especially Omar who looks after the scarlet macaws. He was incredibly friendly and informative and obviously has pride in his job.
In our opinion, the staff did push for tips but don't get us wrong, they will always accept if offered!

Christmas and New Year.....The entertainment was excellent and the staff made a real effort. Father Christmas arriving by boat was unique and entertaining to say the least.
The fireworks on New Years eve were spectacular, colourful and fun.

Secrets.....If you want the preffered areas to be more elite (which is what guests feel they are paying for) we suggest some improvements are needed.
Firstly, why not have a designated preffered restaurant, serving Al a Carte food.
Secondly, in the 14 nights whilst we were there, on no occasion were we asked to prove we were preffered guests by any member of staff. This leaves the preffered extras that you pay for open to abuse by no preffered guests.

Finally.....All in all we enjoyed our stay and sincerely hope that the management of Secrets St James and Wild Orchid, take the suggestions we have made in the spirit they are intended and would be delighted to see some of these suggestions in place the next time we visit.
If we were returning to Secrets in the near future we would not choose to pay the extra for preffered, as it stands we do not believe it offers value for money.

Room Tip: 3rd or 4th floor if you wish to have an unobstructed ocean view.
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  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Gerry C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
57 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 January 2014

The resort is good but when you get into adult only resorts you expect a certain level of service. This place falls short sometimes good sometimes not always friendly that's Jamaica I guess!! Rooms were cleaned, beds were made nothing special. Mini bar rarely got any attention but we didn't care as we just called room service. Restaurants were ok food was alright, but service was just so unpredictable from night to night and from table to table. The other problem I had was the up selling. Checking in they try to up your room to preferred for $50 a night same room but access to proffered club. So $50 a day for wifi and liquor bottles in your room. Then they try to sell you the time share!! I thought it was odd that a resort like this does not offer free wifi. The resort itself is beautiful the beach is narrow but long and very nice the pools were always clean. Unlimited towels is always nice but of course people rarely clean up after them self and staff only picks up the left overs at the end of the day which leaves many chairs unused. The jerk chicken cart is as good as everyone says!! One tip I would give is if you were thinking of booking preferred club you may find wild orchid better our room faced the preferred pool and in the afternoon and night there was a lot of noise from the kids and people at the resort next door when we were on the patio, in the room it was quiet but there was noise from the hallway. As far as the two resorts go it is not a big enough resort to notice a difference between the two.

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Bob H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 January 2014

We stayed at Secrets St. James on Montego Bay Jamaica. The service and attention to detail was wonderful. I would like to compliment Conseaires Dexter and Katyann for an awesome jobs.
The food was always good, with a variety nice resturants..The room was always clean , along with the turn down service that they offer..What I really liked was not being pestered by vendors on the beach.

  • Stayed December 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank toolmarker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hayes, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 January 2014

I've just returned from SSJ after spending Christmas and New Year the grounds are beautiful the resort is spotless the staff are amazing couldn't do enough for you.
As a solo traveller I found the resort to big and isolated I was sick for two days the only people who noticed that they hadn't seen me we're the water sport team and the ladies on the beach.

The resort sells it self on elegance that just not the case as there is no dress code in the evening the restaurant allow guest in with shorts flip flops some look as though they were just returning from a barbecue! One of the most disturbing thing was people were smoking next to me at the outside tables, nothing was said .

The food general ok not authentic I was disappointed with Jamaican selection at breakfast couldn't believe there were serving peppered steak,curried chicken ect not breakfast food.

The New Year Eve party was fantastic and the fire works was just amazing

I would like to thank the water sport team for making my holiday special also Walton,Yvette,Erica
Would I return to SSJ no , would I recommend SSJ 100%

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Novelette D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Montego Bay, Jamaica
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 January 2014

As it relates to aesthetics, decor and architecture, this is one of the most luxurious resorts I've ever gone to. The facilities were great, 24 hour room service was a plus and staff were courteous for the most part. I checked into the resort on a Friday afternoon in summer 2013. I'm keen on details so the first thing I noticed upon entering the room was a glass top table in the sitting area but there was a small chip on the rim of the glass. The first thing that came to mind was that this is unacceptable in such an impeccable space. I however dismissed it since that was the only negative thing i saw since I've been there and it wasn't even that big. I settled in, went through their guest guide and learned that bath robes and slippers were to be provided for each guest but none was issued to our room. There was only 1 shower cap; we had to call to request more. We asked for the refrigerator to be restocked but the lady literally put 1 can of beer in what was an almost empty refrigerator. We still considered those to be minor issues and did not waste a lot of energy on them. After all, the stay was a gift so they probably didn't think we were deserving of all the amenities there were. On Saturday, two ladies came for housekeeping; we told them we're getting ready to leave the room and they should return shortly. They did just that. One of them had even complimented me on my makeup application. We went to the pool, had a good time and returned to the room. On Sunday, it was time to check out so we packed and went to the reception area to be checked out. The agent told us there was a US$200.00 charge on our room. Now this got me really surprised since we never ordered any additional amenities. We inquired further and learned that the charge was for a broken glass on a table top and that they have pictures and a report to prove it. Yes! That same table! Okay hold up...so there was an investigative show down in our room with photographers, reports and the whole works on Saturday and we are only hearing of it on Sunday at check-out time??? That was NOT good enough. We asked to view the pictures and report but that couldn't have been facilitated for whatever reasons. We asked to go back to the room just to see what this was about but when we got there (this was within 5 minutes of us leaving) the glass was taken from the table and the tip that we had left was already taken up. Housekeepers were already prepping the room for other guests who were waiting in the lobby...with the same bed linen we'd just used. Oh, and these "lucky" guests would of course be getting bath robes and slippers because they were right there in the housekeeper's carousel. We make it pellucid that we will not be paying the $200 charge because we did not break the table. The table was already broken when we got there. The overall stay was not a bad one but this left a horrible taste in our mouths. We feel we were unfairly dealt with and we will not be returning to Secrets...ever!!!

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
11 Thank Camille C
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, 16 January 2014
Dear Valued Guest:

Thank you for having visited our resort and we do thank you for your review. It is always our aim to give the best possible service to our guests. With that said, we are disappointed that our resort did not meet your expectations.

It is our hope that you may consider our resort again in future and perhaps see and experience changes, as we are continuously making them.

Best Regards,
Christina Smith
eConcierge Assistant
econcierge1.sesmb@secretsresorts.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Frankenmuth, Michigan
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 January 2014

We just returned from a 7 night stay at Secrets St. James, Montego Bay. Overall quality of the resort is very good. Some minor issues (no shampoo or lotion in our room) but were quickly resolved once we inquired. Reception is good and most are very friendly and helpful. Nadia helped us arrange a private taxi for a one-day trip to Ocho Rios. Our driver was Mark Campbell and we are so glad we went this route rather than a bus with a large group. Our two activities on this trip was to climb the falls at Dunn's River Falls (very cool) and the Green Grotto cave tour. Both are well worth the trip (about 90 min from Montego Bay). However, Mark was a great host and shared some history of the area (we saw the high school attended by Olympic Gold Medalist Usain Bolt) and made some road side stops to experience the true Jamaica culture. In addition, he stopped at the Coconut Tree restaurant for some real jerk chicken!

Back at Secrets we enjoyed the daily breakfast buffet at the World Cafe. The staff was very friendly, especially Rendardo and LeRoy.

The resort is located on a small bay/inlet which has a very nice sandy beach and a mix of pool side and beach side lounge chairs. We enjoyed beach volleyball each day at 10:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Our favorites were Bruce (super nice, friendly, good athlete) who joined us playing volleyball. Other were there but not as often as Bruce were Happy Feet, Cornflake, Genius and Alistair. If you have seen the movie Cool Runnings (which you should see!), Alistair sounds exactly like Sanka. He is also very funny and lightens the mood.

Kadeesha was my favorite waitress on the beach. When the resort ran out of mint for Mojito's she recommended a similar drink with limes (Caipirinha). She knew my drink and made sure I never had to order. She has a great personality and was a lot of fun.

At the Seaside bar (one of three beach/pool side bars) Mark was a great bar tender. He looks to be a former military guy, but I was impressed how he went about his business, keeping everything clean and neat.

Each day the Jerk Chicken Guy came by the pools with his grill cart providing the best jerk chicken each day. This was one of our favorite treats out by the pool.

Also, the fruit lady had her cart out each day as well serving up fresh pineapple, papaya, grapes, and mellon.

Included in the resort fees are free access to guided snorkling, hobie's, kayaks, etc. Jermain gave us lessons on the hobie and he was patient and a real sailing expert.

The snorkling just around the rock wall was absolutely amazing! Some of the best coral I've seen and so close to shore you can actually swim right to it.

The restaurants on site were decent - not great, but decent. Our favorites were the Patio (Mexican) restaurant, Bourdeaux (French), Hibachi (Japanese). My personal favorite waiter was Wichester. Very polite, professional.

The New Year's Eve dinner and party was a blast. We were encouraged early in the week to reserve our time for dinner - all restaurants served the same meal that night (surf and turf). We selected a 10:00 p.m. reservation outdoors at Boudeaux. This location allowed us to have a table when the band began playing at 10:30 p.m. through the New Year!

There was a desert station that had some very good sweets including a Banna Foster that the chefs prepared on request.

The New Year came in with a huge fireworks show, band and laser light show. It was quite memorable.

The house wines were so-so and aside from purchasing select wines for New Year and one evening (their wine list is offered each evening) it was ok.

Lunches at the pool side restaurants (Seaside and Oceana) were conveninent and good.

Weather each day was 82-85 - perfect.

In addition to the friendly staff, we met some really nice guests from around the world.

My wife and I brought out two adult children (age 23 and 19) and opted for two rooms. I wasn't real big on the lack of privacy in the bathrooms (especially if someone else came in the room), but we made it work. Our kids had a ocean front walk out room and we were a floor above them, which was convenient for us.

Overall, it was a very relaxing, friendly, sunny place. We loved the weather, the staff and the friendly people we met around the pool and the beach volleyball.

Room Tip: We had a beach view - not beach front. Initially, I wanted the beach front, but later was glad we ha...
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  • Stayed December 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Fred E
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 On the Beach Hotel in Montego Bay
#10 Top resorts Hotel in Montego Bay
#11 Luxury Hotel in Montego Bay
#11 Family 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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