My wife and I stayed at Secrets Montego Bay in February this year. We opted for the St James side and to be in the Preferred Club. To explain to those unfamiliar with the resort, the property
has two distinct but connected sides. The St James side is generally quieter as it is further from the entertainment zone which is found in and around the Wild Orchid side. A Preferred Club is found on both sides and is an upgraded section with bigger rooms, better mini bar, private lounge, private pool and areas on the beach. The whole property faces the sea and I would imagine all rooms face that general direction as well The beach which is manmade, is steps from each of the two blocks which make up the property. The property is quite close to Mobay Airport so no painful bus ride of 2 hrs plus.
We picked this property wanting to experience Jamaica but through a resort setting. We had stayed in I Prefer properties previously in Dominican Republic and Mexico and found the resorts to be clean and well run. The 'Secrets' part of the chain is adults only, and as a peaceful vacation is what we generally desire, then that is our first choice for a resort.
The positives of the resort are that it is clean, well run, there are several dining opportunies in the day and the evening. There are several bars which serve a variety of drinks you would expect at a resort in this location, drinks of the day, mixed drinks, Red Stripe reguar and light etc. The standard of the food and quality of the drinks can vary somewhat so I would advise some exploring and experimentation. The beach front bars and restaurants have the lower standards with food and beverages. Often at the bars you will be advised rather flatly that they don't carry that brand or liquor. Again experiment as you will. Sometimes you can forgive the mediocre fare if you enjoy the ambience or the friendly staff.
A big plus of the resort and to my mind the greatest resource of Secrets Montago Bay is the super warm and friendly staff who smile and greet you at every turn. They have been well trained and are seem quite genuine. Show them some interest, talk to them about their country and culture and you will make a great impression. I found it works better than taking the 'fistful of dollars approach'.
There were two areas in which we were disappointed in this trip.
The scale of the place and the layout felt as if you were in a theme park. Everything was safe, standardised, predictable.The place lacked some originality and personality. I would describe it as JamLite. Not necessarily a criticism more an observation. If you want something more authentic go smaller scale.
Our second area of concern was noise factors from neighbouring properties and the large numbers of convention goers. The Seawind bar which borders the Secrets St James side of the property hosts some very noisy parties and events in the day and into the late evening. The windows at the Preferred Club literally rattle and hum when events there are in full swing.
This does not make for a relaxing day at the beach or a quiet evening enjoying the terrace of your upgraded suite.
The property seems to have sold out in someways to hosting conventions. This might be the future for large resorts to survive, but it was not what we had in mind when we signed up for this destination. A large group of attendees, I did not consider them as guests, took over the Preferred Club area proceeded to be drunk and horse around disturbing all in their wake on several occasions. Unlimited alcohol and a lack of self awareness can and often does bring out the worst in people. A group that seems hell bent on having 'fun' in such a small space is no joke. Is there really the need for the Entertainment team to hype these individuals even further?
Also you risk being seated next to a dinner table of twenty individuals yelling and trying to outscore one another as to who can be the most outrageous. Again not what we imagined or signed up for.
Would we return to resort again? Well maybe, although we would seriously consider other options first, The property has a lot to offer and again as stated earlier the staff are its best resource. As to the 'theme park' aspect, that really is a question of taste. If people know themselves then they should decide that one on its own merit.
I gave the resort 4 stars overall. This allows for the fact that others would not always experience the larger groups we did and would enjoy the many facilities the property has to offer.
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- Also Known As:
- Secrets St James Hotel Montego Bay