This was my ninth trip to Jamaica (but only third to the Negril area). I chose the Westender due to its high rating here on TripAdvisor and because of a recent Living Social deal. While I probably won't stay here again (ONLY because I rarely stay at the same place twice), I DO recommend it to anyone.
The grounds here are lovely! All of the foliage was neatly trimmed/manicured. There were a sufficient amount of comfortable lounge chairs and plenty of other neat seating areas to sit and enjoy the views of the water. I was surprised that the sand area wasn't tidied up nightly. I accidentally left two Red Stripe bottles and a banana peel near my lounger one day and it was all still there the next day. Yes, it's my responsibility to clean up after myself (which I did as soon as I noticed the mess the next morning), but normally hotels/resorts in Jamaica are known for tidy beach areas. I didn't spend any time at the pool (which is across the street), but I did spend time at the fresh water pool that's tucked into the rocks. It's a lovely way to get even closer to the ocean. I even watched an employee (Jose - great guy) drain it, clean it, and fill it again. There's a bar area near the water, but it was only used during the Sunday bonfire (very cool!). Although the occupancy rate was very low while I was there, I wish they would've opened that water-side bar for the rest of the nights. I didn't feel like going across the street to the bar attached to the restaurant at night.
Most of the rooms on the ocean side had a view of the water. I had to stay in Room 11 my first night; while comfortable, it had a view of the neighboring property's fence. But I then moved to Room 6 and loved it. It only had a queen sized bed while most of the rooms on the ground floor level had a king sized bed. I was a solo traveller, so the bed was fine for me. It was actually quite comfortable! The shower pressure in Room 11 wasn't very good, but it was perfect in Room 6.
I met the manager - Keith - several times. He was approachable and friendly. I appreciate his prompt responses to my many emails as I was considering purchasing the Living Social Deal. The shuttle driver - Jermaine - was professional and caring; he went above and beyond to make trips into town a positive experience. Jose (maintenance) and Kyneshia and Kemar in the restaurant were all friendly and pleasant. The chefs and housekeeping staff were also very pleasant. The night-time security guard (Raymond, maybe) made me feel even more secure than what I already felt. Although she wasn't an official staff member - Tara comes in to do massages and she was wonderful! Definitely book her!
So while I'm raving about the property, I chose to give it 4 rather than 5 stars. This was because of the Living Social deal. Two major things caused me to take away a star. The Living Social deal clearly stated that taxes would need to be paid on site - no problem, mon. So when I go to check in, the office employee hands me an invoice and told me the amount of taxes I had to pay right then and there (the amount wasn't a surprise, Keith told me in advance what it would be). Now I've stayed in dozens of hotels before and have never recalled having to settle my bill at the START of my stay. Again, no problem - I paid the taxes and received the key to my room and was on my way. But when I went to go check out 5 days later, the office employee (luckily the same one) asked me for the amount in taxes again! Huh? I couldn't believe that my account in the computer didn't show I paid 5 days prior. Luckily I paid in a unique way (a combination of Jamaican dollars and US dollars), so I was able to jog her memory. But I shudder to think what would have happened if, a) she didn't remember me paying, or b) another office employee would've been working that day (I saw a total of two of them working in the office while I was there). Simple errors like this should not happen.
Also, another couple with the most recent Living Social deal checked in a day before me. That couple and I decided to take the included 'Guided Tour' of the Blue Hole Mineral Springs together. I read the TripAdvisor reviews of the place before the trip, so I knew there is an entry fee. However, I wasn't with the couple when they made the final arrangements for the 3 of us to go. Unbeknownst to me, an office employee told them there wasn't an entry fee. So we get there and of course..it's $10/person to "use the facilities" (pool, lounge chairs, etc.). By that time, Jermaine (shuttle driver) already left. We used someone's phone to call the Westender and told them to send money with Jermaine when he came back later to get us. Whomever answered said the Living Social deal said it only included TRANSPORTATION to Blue Hole. I wasn't playing a semantics game and said it clearly stated "Guided Tour". They agreed and sent money with Jermaine. I'll give the Westender the benefit of the doubt - maybe they truly didn't know there's a charge for the Blue Hole. But that's something that should've been confirmed before including the excursion in the deal.
One other 'shady' part of the Living Social deal - although the deal is for 2 people, only ONE massage is included. That didn't affect me, but the couple that was also there with the deal was surprised by this fact. The voucher did say "A" massage, but since the voucher also stated it was for "two people", it was slightly misleading.
None of those things soured my trip in even the slightest way. But, if you're going to run a special like this, you need to go through each component and make sure everyone is clear on the specifics.
Like I said before, I'd still recommend the Westender to anyone. If you read the reviews on here, you'll know that it's impossible to walk ANYWHERE from here. That wasn't a problem for me. I specifically wanted to be away from the hustle and bustle of Negril, but yet close enough to get there when I needed to. I left relaxed and thankful for 5 days in paradise!
Thank you, Westender!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The ultimate Jamaican experience since 1983, The Westender Inn is a family-owned tropical oasis that blends island charm with laidback luxury. A boutique hotel that truly encompasses the island lifestyle, The Westender Inn is the ultimate getaway for relaxation and revitalization. Tucked away on the West End atop the crystal clear Caribbean Sea, The Westender Inn is your own peaceful hideaway in paradise. The perfect place to set the sun… ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Westender Hotel Negril