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“Incentive Groups this is the pace to stay” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Secrets St James

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Secrets St James
4.5 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Lot A59 Freeport | St. James, Montego Bay, Jamaica   |  
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Ranked #9 of 63 Hotels in Montego Bay
Certificate of Excellence 2014
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Tampa, Florida
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Incentive Groups this is the pace to stay”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 15, 2013

Excellent luxury property, well designed resort layout, restaurants, rooms, public areas. Staff were exceptional & friendly everywhere - especially Sydonnie- Preferred Club, Stephene- housekeeping, Billy and his bellman, Lylibeth Eaton& Marjorie Clarke - Group Sales, Caulette Norma - rooms & Sheerene Facey- Thelwell - Events.

Beach - soft white sand, sea - turquoise jewel, gardens - tropical colorful. Spa very relaxing. Nightly entertainment very enjoyable.l

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
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 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Detroit, Michigan
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 15, 2013

I am not sure if I stayed at the same resort as a lot of the reviews I read about on this site. Maybe a lot of people had 5 star stays at a 3 star resort. There was some good things about it such as it was extremely clean. The service was attentive, the rooms were new, the Piano Bar was nice as was the Steele Drum Band one evening. It was nice not to have people hustling you all the time for drugs. But the food was average at best, some of it was inedible such as the Jerk Chicken guy who gave you chunks of bone more than anything. The workout facility was completely inadequate for a resort of this size. This was a place where you could not have any privacy on the beach. It also seemed like there were quite a few corporate retreats there during our stay. We have been to Jamaica 10 times over the years so I never expect much from the food but this was disappointing.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SWO_STJconcierge, Manager at Secrets St James, responded to this review, May 16, 2013
Dear Valued Guest:

Thanks a million for your review; it is greatly valued. We are happy that you enjoyed the service provided, the cleanliness of our resort, nightly entertainment, rooms and bar.
It is indeed disheartening to hear of your disappointment in our food and gym facilities. We have taken these troubles into thought and I am happy to advise that they have since been reviewed. Our gym has recently been refurbished and we have made an improvement in our food and beverage department resulting in an increase in the quality of the food.
It is our hope that you will return to see these changes!

Warm Regards,
Christina Smith
eConcierge Assistant
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Indianapolis, Indiana
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 15, 2013

Overall, not bad, but not what I expected for the money paid. Not as nice of an experience as we had at the Secrets Maroma Beach (SMB) property in Mexico. We would try another Secrets property, but would not return to this one nor recommend based upon our experience.

Here are some of the pertinent details upon which our judgment is based. Also note that St. James (SSJ) and Wild Orchid (SWO) share the same property and restaurants and this review applies to both.

Resort: Layout poor, particularly the area near the piano bar where the majority of the evening entertainment was performed. The stage was about the same level as the seating areas and you could not see, along with limited seating it was sub-par. The pool areas had tight walkways with the popular shuffle board right in the middle of a main walkway and not space to squeeze by without disrupting. The pool bars were somewhat inconveniently located with poor access from above ground, requiring one to walk through an awkward path through the sunbathers to reach the bridge to the bar and restaurant. The front "Rendezvous" bar at SSJ was in a bad spot and not a focal point for hanging out, much different from SMB where the front bar was amazing with inviting, cozy seating. SWO had a better bar, but still not as nice as SMB. Positively, the resort grounds were well-kept and the buildings, pool decks and walkways well maintained. It is on a beautiful piece of Montego Bay and we were happy with the physical location.

Staff: As an over-generalization, they were a little too "cool" and not the open, warm staff we experienced at SMB. Some call it laid back, but to me that is not an accurate definition. Only a couple instances I would describe as rude, though, which is more than there should be, but not the predominant feature. Certainly there were multiple exceptions, but this was our overall impression. Much of the service in the bars and restaurants was unnecessarily slow, and we even had a night at a buffet-style restaurant on "rib night" where the server came once and never returned, including not bringing us any beverages. We were there for 60 minutes as well, which is ample time, and it was not very busy. There were some great servers and bartenders who busted their humps, including a particular one at the Marlin bar who did a great job.

Tipping: Supposedly "gratuity included", which we do understand means to still plan on tossing a buck or two for good service. At SSJ/SWO, tipping seemed to be expected, which is a turn off. Another couple we spoke with felt the same way. We are not cheap when it comes to tipping and are generous when someone offers even adequate service.

Rooms: The biggest positive for us, I would say. They were cozy, well-appointed and clean. The front desk switched our initial room for us from the 1st floor to the 2nd floor at our request due to noise and lack of privacy. Our sliding door was literally nearly on the pool deck to SSJ. Our front door was within a closed hallway which is very loud due to echoing and a problem we had a SMB as well. They accommodated the change quickly the following day. The second room was much better location and the entry door was not within a closed hallway, which really helped with noise. The housekeepers were great and they kept our mini-bar stocked with extra beverages that we had been drinking, rather than ones that we were not.

Restaurants: As noted, service was variable from very poor (to where I would have left a quarter tip in the US) to some exceptional, with it generally being sub-standard for US restaurants and certainly for a luxury resort. The food at the Jamaican restaurant (Blue Mountain) was very good and the best of the restaurants. Breakfast had some great selections as well. The hibachi restaurant (Himitsu) had pretty good food, but the show at the teppanyaki table was terrible. It was essentially watching someone cook, no flare at all. At SMB, Himitsu had phenomenal food and a great show, thus we hoped this would be the saving grace of our restaurant experience at SSJ. The remainder of the restaurants were not very good, some even bad. To be fair, it could have been our selections, but again, other guests told us they felt the same way. We also cannot comment on the French restaurant as we did not eat there. The fruit cart, coconut cart and jerk chicken cart that made rounds in the afternoon were all wonderful. The chicken was honestly the best food there. We did not try room service.

Beach: Decent amount of beach front horizontally, but the depth of the beach is very limited, leading to tight seating with stiff competition for the handful of good spots. While you are not supposed to reserve seats, this was the standard at SSJ. We thought it would be similar to SMB (which has a fantastic beach) and that there would be ample seating with decent spots available, but we were dead wrong. On our first day, we waited to get a spot until after breakfast at around 10 am and ended up in a corner where the water sports activities hut is located. This did not have a view of the bay and was without immediate beach access, due to the boats coming and going. The swimmable beach was only about 100ft away, but we were not in a nice spot to be certain. We had to get up at 7am to reserve one of the 20-30 premium spots, which was frustrating and diminished the experience.

Entertainment: The planned events during the day were fine, but definitely mediocre at best. There were many nice water sports available included at no additional cost and we enjoyed these, though they want to charge you $10 for someone to show you how to use the Hobies, which is absurd. There were motorized activities available for a fee and we did not partake. The night entertainment was primarily situated by the aforementioned poorly laid-out stage outside the piano bar, with only 2/7 night in the main auditorium, which was oddly enough also poorly designed. The programs were decent (when you could see or find seating), though not as good as at SMB, where we felt the entertainment staff really worked hard to put on a good show nightly.

Unlimited Vacation Club: One of the bigger turn-offs for us, though this is not exclusive to this resort from what I understand. It is a sales pitch where they try to get you to buy into a "discount" vacation club at resorts owned by the parent company that runs the Secrets chain. To be fair, we did not go so cannot assess the pitch or if it truly only takes the 90 minutes they tell you. What we can comment upon is the fact that we were confronted by the concierge twice trying to get us to go. We told her it was not of interest to us, still we were asked when seen. This became awkward to the point that we avoided walking through the front lobby and using the front bar. When we are paying the cost of staying at a luxury resort, I do not want to be bothered with sales pitches for what appears to be analogous to a time share and find this unprofessional. In my opinion, they should give a handout with the highlights and let the guest contact the concierge if they are interested.

Room Tip: At least on the 2nd floor and not in an enclosed hallway seem to be key to limit noise and maximize...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Camberley, United Kingdom
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 15, 2013

I travelled to Secrets in January to celebrate my wife's birthday and was blown away by the hotel. The stay at the hotel was almost perfect. when we checked in we were given a bottle of Appletons and taken to our room. When we opened our door and went out on our balcony we were blown away by the view. We were directly beneath the hotel websites webcam. we had spent ages prior to our visit looking at it on-line! Our room was fantastic (3513), the bed was so comfortable. The food was with one exception exceptional and the service too. Our favourite restaurant was "Bordeaux" which is French dining with a local twist, we dined there 4 times in the two weeks! Potofino the Italian restaurant and Himitsu the Asian restaurant were also very good as was Blue Mountain the Jamaican themed restaurant. There are also El Patio a Mexican restaurant and the Seaside Grill and Oceana restaurants and a couple of nights a week the World Cafe took over the Blue Mountain and El Patio for Ribs and Lobster night. The Oceana was the only restaurant were we had a meal and service we were not happy with. The bars were busy but service was quick and the range of drinks exceptional, all top brand drinks and great cocktails. A few people i heard moaning about the dress code in Bordeaux, Potofino and Himitsu restaurants which was smart casual, long trousers and no open toed shoes for men. I thought this was a good touch, why not get dressed for dinner? One of our favourite places was to sit in the square and drink coffee at Coco Cafe great place to sit and unwind at the end of the evening. The entertainment was good both in the day time and evening. There is a water-sports centre with kayaking, hobie cat, snorkelling, para-sailing and diving. The para-sailing and diving was quite reasonably priced too. The only other little niggle was occasionally the coffee and creamer in the room was not topped up but a quick call to room service sorted it out. The spa at the hotel was fantastic and you get credits to use there as well. When we checked in they asked if anyone was celebrating anything and I told them it was my wife's birthday, when we returned from an excursion on her birthday they had left a bottle of champagne a cake and some chocolates with a banner on our door! We went on 4 excursions whilst we were there, Dunns River Falls, Black River cruise and Y-S Falls, 4x4 safari and Sunset at Ricks Cafe in Negril. all of them were good but we could have done without the 2 shopping trips on the sunset trip! It was the first time we had been to an adults only resort and it wont be the last! A good indication of a great holiday is would we go back there, YEAH MON! in a heartbeat!

Room Tip: All rooms have a sea view apparently but room 3513 was amazing!! With views of one of the pools and...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dayton, Ohio
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
88 helpful votes 88 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 14, 2013

Airport transfer-this hotel is about 15 away from airport. Quick taxi ride and you can start enjoying your vacation.
Room-this has the most comfortable bed I have slept in. Didn't hear the neighbors next door. Great supplies like vanity kit, large bottles of shampoo and shower gel, toothbrush and toothpaste. Plenty of soda, juice, alcohol in the room. Bring conditioner from home. Maid cleaned room well. No problems whatsoever . If running the tub in the room point jets down and fill tub above jets before turning on. We were cleaning water off of everything. One bad thing. You can hear everything that is going on in the bathroom. Nothing private there.

Check in - smooth didn't take too long.
Check out- they make you fill out a survey. So be prepared for that. Then you get your checkout slip for your ride to airport.

Food-breakfast is great. Don't let anyone tell you different. They has everything from made to order omelette and eggs, crepes, Jamaican breakfast items, oatmeal, cereal, cheese ,fruit, every kind of bread type available. I had banana bread one day, muffins the next, toast etc. lunch was ok. Sandwiches, hamburgers , hotdogs, a cart of jerk chicken that net around the resort.pasta bar at the buffet restaurant, soups etc.
dinner- Friday was all you could eat lobster. Need I say more. We did the Asian restaurant which was very good. Sweet and sour chicken to Thai pad. Japanese was ok food. You go for the fun experience over anything. French was my favorite. I had lobster bisque, medallions of beef and
lobster, Crete brûlée. We ate their twice. Italian was fine, all kinds of pasta dishes. Tiramisu was really good. They had. Jamaican restaurant and Mexican but we didn't eat there. You can look at the menus before you pick a restaurant. Sometimes there was a wait. They had romantic dinners on the beach but packages started at 200 on up. A little expensive to me. Service is slow but you are in the islands and it is all about the experience. Slow down and enjoy.

The difference between preferred and not is the Internet access comes with it for preferred, tubs on balcony, snacks and drinks in lobby all day and all night.

Internet access was awful no matter where you were and only one device you have can have the access on it. So I had to sign off my iPad so husband could use his computer for Internet that is. Just sporadic access.

Spa-I had a very good massage. Regular price for resorts. 139 for 60 min. Spa had nice amenities. They lots of different types of massage and wraps. Nice people working in the spa. Just a huge push for lotions and things which I liked.

Tennis court. They only had one court so you had to schedule.

Workout room-was always packed in morning. It was small. It is on the st James side not the wild orchid.

Wild orchid side was louder. Louder in the pool areas, the restaurants are on the wild orchid side, the night club and night life is all on the wild orchid. The st. James is further away but it was quiet and relaxing.

Nice touches-maid does towel animals for you, turn down service at night, fruit kabobs and cold face towels at the pool, drink service at pool and beach so you don't have to get up off your chair, fruit and coconut carts that go up and down the beaches and pool areas. Self serve ice cream machine.

Pools were great. There was bath water pools and cold water pools. Plenty of floaters and chairs.
Beaches- we saw a couple of jellyfish,lots of sea urchins at the buoy line. Bring water shoes if you are going to do serious swimming. We saw salt water fish when snorkeling off the beach, file fish,
starfish, colorful tangs, crabs,turtles, stripped fish etc.

Activities- cooking classes, yoga morning and evening, dance classes, darts, pool, piano bar, chess, basketball, shuffleboard, biking. Bands, name that tune, newlywed games. So much
To do or not to do.

Room Tip: Try and get a room on the third or fourth floor to have a great view.
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 14, 2013

Very nice resort. We visited in May 2012 with two other couples, we all had a great time. Good food, entertainment and grounds. Staff all friendly and helpful. Sits nearly alone on a peninsula near the old cruise dock. so nothing within walking distance outside the resort. Great snorkeling about 100 yards off the beach. Two couples had one complaint, they did not mop the room floors or used dirty mops as the floors were sticky although they looked clean. said something to the maid, problem solved.
We would return to this resort.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
McHenry, Illinois
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 14, 2013

Couple of items, nearly every restaurant for dinner requires men to wear long slacks. I only brought one pair. Also the resort does not provide cream rinse, bring your own. You can request a certain room till you are blue in the face (we checked out rooms77.com) it will make no difference, you get what they give you. It would be nice if there was a large clock At the pool area (it was a godsend at Turks Caicos resort)

Room Tip: Good luck, requested a choice of 3 different rooms, never received my choice
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SWO_STJconcierge, Manager at Secrets St James, responded to this review, February 20, 2013
Dear Valued Guest:

We are happy that you visited our resort again and thank you for having done so. Guest satisfaction is very important to us and we do try our best to make everyone happy. Kindly note that room assignments are granted based on availability in accordance with your booked room category. Once your preference of room is available, our front desk will certainly honour your request. High occupancy seems to have been the reason why we were not able to accommodate your request and we do regret that we were not able to.

Your suggestion about the clock is indeed a great one for our management teams’ consideration. Please be assured that your concerns will not be taken lightly and we will work to improve them for future and it is our hope that you will return to see these differences.

Warm Regards,
Christina Smith
eConcierge Assistant
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Secrets St James

Address: Lot A59 Freeport | St. James, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint James Parish > Montego Bay
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#4 Spa Hotel in Montego Bay
#4 Business Hotel in Montego Bay
#8 On the Beach Hotel in Montego Bay
#8 Top resorts Hotel in Montego Bay
#9 Luxury Hotel in Montego Bay
#12 Romantic Hotel in Montego Bay
#13 Family Hotel in Montego Bay
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Secrets St James 4.5*
Number of rooms: 350
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Also Known As:
Secrets St James Hotel Montego Bay

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