My sister and I stayed at Secrets St. James in Jamaica from August 3rd -8th, 2011. We flew into Montego Bay and had “No Problem” finding our transport counter (JTL) or locating our luggage. JTL’s route did take us on a bit of a tour through the Hip Strip, etc on the way to the resort. The drive to the resort took about 30 minutes but the driver was quite interesting and we did enjoy his running commentary but we were tired and anxious to get to Secrets. Upon our return to the airport, we bypassed this and the drive was shorter.
We arrived at the hotel on Wednesday about 12:30 p.m., immediately greeted by Marlon, with a heartfelt “Welcome Home”. We heard this repeatedly throughout the check-in process. We were escorted to our individualized check in desk where we were offered a beverage of our choice along with our welcome pack. I have heard of cool towels however, we were not offered one. We were shown on the map where our room, restaurants, and other amenities were located along with a list of what would be happening around the resort that day. We were then escorted to our room by O’Neil, with the whole check in process taking less then 30 minutes.
We were then taken to our room, which was 3311. I had previously emailed to request two queen beds and they did accommodate us. The room was a nice size and had table and chairs, wardrobe, ironing board and iron, big mirror, flat screen television with lots of channels, sofa and chair and the king size bed. There was also a cabinet with the fridge inside which was refilled every day with water, cans of Red Stripe beer and different soft drinks (juice, coke, diet coke, fanta, sprite). The safe was in the wardrobe and was opened and closed with a 4-digit code, which you selected yourself so no key or anything, so you knew it was secure. The bathroom had a huge shower, a double sink with a hairdryer and a separate little room with the toilet, and a huge tub. We were also provided robes and slippers, a nice touch. The balcony had two chairs and a table to sit and watch the sunset. One thing, if you worry about time, make sure you bring your own travel alarm…. as the clock resets itself on a constant basis.
FOOD AND DRINKS
We ate at the World Café for the breakfast buffet, there was a variety of hot and cold foods, fruits, cereals, etc. and also enjoyed mimosas and bloody marys. The Coffee Guy was great and made ice coffee to go. We also ate at the Blue Mountain Restaurant, (Cynar waited on us) and the snapper and steak were better then I thought they would be! The Hibachi restaurant and the food were good but the show by Ricardo was well worth sitting in the heat and humidity to eat. I say that because there is no AC and sitting inside by the grill was stifling. Again, with the fine staff and the show, we enjoyed the evening. I ordered breakfast via room service when getting ready for our excursions and it was a continental breakfast with many breads, pastries, jam, fruits, tea and orange juice. It came in less than half an hour. We ate lunch at the Seaside Grill and the grouper was great. We also ordered sandwiches at the pool and Kenisha brought me a club it was very tasty. Surf and Turf night at El Patio was also a big hit with a variety of island fish and steak. The drinks were always good, there was a cocktail of the day menu at the pool bar and you could get drinks out of a pineapple, which were nice. We also enjoyed the Jerk Cart on the pool deck and drinking the Red Stripes. We REALLY enjoyed the Red Stripes!
The nightly entertainment at Secrets was fun, a band or singer on each night at the plaza. There was a movie shown on a big screen on the plaza each night at 9pm. There was also a show each night, which started around 9.15pm. There were often competitions like the dance contest where the winner won a bottle of rum. The casino was small and we only stayed there a few minutes but enjoyed that too. There was area that had pool tables, ping-pong, and fooz ball. We went during Jamaica’s Independence Day (August 6th) and enjoyed the festivities leading up to and the day of consisting of Parades, the stilt walkers, the themed shows, and the decorations. The Piano Bar was fun and we also enjoyed the piano bar in the lobby.
HOTEL & SURROUNDINGS
Everything was beautiful and clean, there were always gardeners around and no one could ever fault the surroundings. The pools were all great, with the noticeable exception of the swim up bar pools. Really, people, it does not mean swim up bathrooms. Get out and use the facilities that are steps away. Back to the pools, it was nice to have the pool floats available. The Caribbean water was gorgeous. The beach in front of SSJ was awesome! We enjoyed watching the many weddings taking place along with the sunsets. There are a few things offered free, such as kayaking, catamaran, snorkeling (we did that twice) and tennis. There was yoga, bike riding tours, and scuba diving lessons as well which we did not do. We did try to play beach volleyball but it did not start at the times specified and we waited for about an hour on different days. I have also read complaints about mosquitoes and other bugs, I had no problems with mosquitoes except when we went zip lining. The groundskeeper also sprayed while we were there. The walks between the two resorts were minimal, as was the walk to the restaurants or shows. At the most, even at a slow clip, it might take you 15 minutes to get from one end to the other of both resorts – but hey, you are in Jamaica – what exactly is the rush???
EXCURSIONS & SHOPPING
You can book the excursions in the lobby with Michelle (Yeah Mon). We went to Chukka Caribbean Adventures and did the Zipline. Rico, Marvin and Tot were our guides and we had a blast! Make sure you bring mosquito spray or ask for it. We also were glad that we did not wear long pants as suggested, as we would have had heat stroke. Bring water from your hotel and wear shorts with pockets. I highly recommend this excursion. We also did the Amstar ½ tour of Dunns River. While the bus ride was entertaining and Marie did an excellent job, I was a little disappointed once we entered the falls. Tours set up in groups such as ours were hurried through the falls while tourists who chose to go on their own could stay a little longer and enjoy. We left our hotel at 8:00 a.m. that Friday, came back at 2:30 p.m., and were only at the falls for maybe an hour. We decided not to go into town to shop but did take advantage of the t-shirt store onsite. We left with several items from there to bring home.
The weather was cloudy when we first arrived but the sun came out and stayed out for almost the whole trip. So do not worry when you read the weather report saying rain, as it might rain most days but literally for a few minutes or when you are asleep! I would advise to remember the SUN BLOCK and to apply and reapply on a constant basis. You would not believe how many lobsters we saw walking around on two feet.
We did take advantage after our excursions to have a Swedish massage and a spa pedi. The hydrotherapy circuit was unbelievable and I am sorry I did not take advantage of a week pass. Stephanie did an outstanding job with my massage but unfortunately Camille was off task and the pedi fell way short of what it could have been. When she showed up 25 minutes late I was a little concerned but when she forgot she had turned the water on and flooded the floor I just knew it wasn’t going to be my best experience. Joan did the pedi for my sister and she was thrilled with her!
Staff and Visitors
98% of the staff were friendly and made you feel very welcome. That is a better average then most places and we enjoyed their pampering. I was amazed at the visitors who thought that ordering drinks for hours on end and not offering the staff a tip was okay. Even though it states tip was included, everyone is trying to make a living.
Anyway, we had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Billy Love, who went out of his way to make our stay memorable and inviting. Thanks for Everything Mr. Love - Irie!
You have to check out at midday, but our pick up by JTL was @ 11:00 and everything went smoothly and we had no problems. We will definitely be back again!!
- Also Known As:
- Secrets St James Hotel
- Secrets St James Hotel Montego Bay
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