We arrived at this hotel with a group of friends on the 20th April, for a two week stay. We decided to travel to Jamaica after our trip to Cuba fell through due to a problem with the hotel. We paid significantly more for the Jamaica package, but were all under the impression, it would be well worth it!
After reading the majority of reviews on the hotel, we were confident we would not have any issues upon our stay but unfortunately this was not the case!
The first impression!
After almost 18 hours travelling from the UK, including airport travel, check in, boarding, flight, customs, and airport transfer, we finally arrived at the Rose Hall beach. It was raining, but hey, we had finally arrived!
Walked to front desk to check in and begin our holiday. Unfortunately, this was where our problems began. We were a little surprised to see the female member of staff on front desk attending to check in other guests while she was trying to check us in. As a group, we had pre-arranged a room close together with sea view. Our friends received their room fine, but then the member of staff realised she had allocated our room package to another couple. Looking extremely upset with herself she then proceeded to allocate us a different room insisting this was the correct room all along (supposedly close to our friends). "Ok" we thought as we just wanted to shower and freshen up after all the travelling! The bell boy was friendly, taking our bags for us and being helpful in general. Upon arrival at our room we realised firstly it was nowhere near our friends, had no single (King-size) bed as requested, and almost no sea view. As suspected, it confirmed our room was given to the other couple at check in. Being far from satisfied, we went back down to front desk to ask for a room change to which the same member of staff still maintained we had the correct room and that we could not change rooms because the hotel was full! Not accepting this we spoke to a more senior staff member who informed us the hotel was not full, and promptly advised that a new room would be available after it had been cleaned. At 8pm we moved into the room, and although still not near our friends, we were satisfied, but still bemused by the attitude & negligence of the first front desk staff member! Not a good start!
The hotel in general
Since it is still quite new, the hotel is very clean throughout and looked after by the grounds staff. The interior is good and kept to a high standard. The grounds around the pool area are very well kept and pleasant to look at.
The rooms are clean and spacious with the bathrooms being particularly nice. Comfy bed, plenty of TV channels if it is raining, room service and mini bar all good features we enjoyed. Had some issues with mini bar stocking but is put right straight away if you phone house keeping. Our room was cleaned to a high standard but on a couple of occasions, old towels were not replaced. Be aware that if your room is facing inwards towards the pool area, the evenings can be quite noisy. Many nights, we were woken by late night drinkers shouting and screaming, although it tended to not last too long.
The pools were very refreshing, especially if the sun was out! Not cold at all, although slightly chilled if it had been raining. A few missing tiles, but did not concern us too much. Plenty of sun beds around the pools, although shaded areas can be a problem. Pool bar was convenient, although sometimes easier to wait for service to come to you.
With the beach so close to the hotel, there is of course a big advantage, but overall, I was disappointed with the quality of it. If you want a cooler days sun bathing, then it is great, with plenty of trees yielding shaded areas. The sand however has a very artificial feel to it and certainly is not the greatest in the Caribbean. The sea was generally warm, but quite cloudy. A few clear spots here and there, but banks of sea weed further out often resulted in lots of floating debris close to shore. Snorkelling close in is quite poor, but you do see some fish.
I would rate the food as being average across the board (just about 4 stars). In the buffet, there is a magnificent choice of different cuisines although does get quite boring after the first week. Generally the buffet food was only average to good quality, to be expected for this type of hotel, although the areas where the food is cooked fresh were excellent. The Cajun restaurant was good, and the service excellent. Nice to have some change in the food offered from buffet, but again, was nothing special.
Steakhouse was disappointing, although tenderloin is certainly very nice (after trying my partners). I think they have got the a la carte concept slightly wrong since these restaurants are effectively still buffets!
Finally the Japanese…we had a few issues here, but mainly due to not expecting a sing-a-long karaoke cooking circus! We had hoped to see some fancy show cooking and taste freshly cooked Japanese cuisine, but ended up being covered in rice, hot oil and egg! The sushi and soup were awful and the mains were average. I think it depends on what cook you get, but I was certainly very disappointed with this restaurant.
Bars / Drinks
In general, the bars were good with the service being excellent. Nadeen at the outside seating area in particular was very friendly and always welcoming. Plenty of cocktails to choose from, and many more on offer. My only issue was that certain drinks seemed to run out at times, i.e. no mint for mojito, no lemon for margarita, no banana for dirty bananas etc.. Quite surprising for a 5 star hotel!
Certain members of staff at the hotel really spoiled it for us. There is certainly a need for significant training in some areas of the hotel, namely, front desk and guest services. I would rate these two areas as being just about useless. Our room bill was charged extra towels for no reason, papers were delivered two days late, check in and check out took almost two hours (each) to sort out, we were locked out of our rooms despite requesting late check out, staff persisted on dealing with other people while still dealing with you, and pretty much had no real clue on how to deal with any arising issues. We knew it was Jamaica, but for a 5 star resort, and after paying a great deal to stay at the hotel, we really did expect a hell of a lot more.
Tipping has been mentioned quite a lot for this hotel, and although the majority of staff do not ask for them, there are a few who very much expect it for the simplest of tasks. Watch out for the 3 piece band!
We didn’t really interact much with the entertainment side of it, since we came for the relaxation but what we saw seemed quite good. Some staff (Kem style) were great, others slightly annoying, especially when asking us repeatedly to rate them high on the survey!
We had no problem with the hotel and most of the facilities, but certain areas were well below expectations. We understand that at times, you can be just unlucky with problems you encounter, but after these two weeks, we would need some serious persuading to ever consider returning to Jamaica again. I do commend the managerial staff however who are clearly willing to listen to guests concerns and do try to sort your problems out.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This new 5-star- hotel is located in beautiful Montego Bay, Jamaica. Directly on the beach. Elegant colonial design. Water sports galore. Scuba diving. 3 specialty restaurants. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Iberostar Montego Bay
- Montego Bay Iberostar
- Iberostar Rose Hall Jamaica
- Iberostar Jamaica
- Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Hotel Jamaica - Montego Bay