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“One of my Best vacation” 4 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, Montego Bay, Jamaica   |  
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Ranked #10 of 63 hotels in Montego Bay
Bronx, New York
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“One of my Best vacation”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 27, 2013

This was my 50th Birthday with 12 friends. We had a wonderful time! Friendly staff, rooms clean, terrace view excellent, great bars and the jerk cart was a highlight everyday. Food was ok....planning on going back soon!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (1,240)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Charlotte, North Carolina
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2013

Been to Negril, first time in Montego Bay. Stayed at Secrets St James in Mobay. While Negril is known for their beaches, SSJ was a great vacation for many reasons, Very clean and upscaled rooms, great room service by Oscar, Great swim up bars with more than generous drinks, great pool staff and large pools. Plenty of chairs at the pool and beach. Very large resort so it takes a little bit to get from one side to another, but what a view. I would absolutely stay here again without reservation.

Room Tip: Really all rooms have ocean view, we stayed pool side and was awesome
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2013

The Food: was monotonous. There were several restaurants with international themes but aside from the Japanese Hibachi (where you need to make a reservation for good reason), no matter where you go, the menus simply offer different renditions of the same fare. For example, Grouper seemed to be the ‘fish of the week’ when we were there. Hence, there was Grouper at the French place, Grouper at the Italian place and Grouper at the Mexican place. Breakfast was enjoyable and overall, the food was better there, at the World Café, than at the restaurants on any given night for dinner. Given too, that each restaurant was further away from the other, the obligatory two-mile hikes to get something to eat was a nuisance after awhile – especially when it was raining. I happen to have arthritis in my spine so walking such distances back and forth twice per day for seven days absolutely killed me.

Did enjoy the coffee bar which was open all day in to the evening and it was nice to be able to pick up an iced mocha whenever I wanted – even if it meant walking half a mile to get over there.

The Front Desk/Lobby:
There are several front ‘desks’ off to the right but directly in your path on the left are two more who are travel reps. When you arrive – they waste no time in trying to get you to sign up for some kind of travel presentation for which you must present a credit card. In return, they will give you resort a hundred bucks or so in resort credits. JUST SAY NO. They’ll follow up with a phone call to your room – say no again. We learned our lesson in Mexico when we squandered half a day of beach time wandering through a new hotel and refusing to buy a timeshare. So glad we held our ground and didn’t fall for this similar scam.

A few days in, tried to explain to one of the front desk people, that for anyone with a disability or walking issues, it is a quite a distance to get to any of the restaurants – especially those located at the furthest end of the resort. I had noticed that here were older guests there, and a young man who was evidently recuperating from a leg injury. Knowing that they offered a ‘spa tax’ (driver and golf cart) for guests who book a massage (though mine never arrived) – I suggested that they offer a ‘dinner taxi’ as a courtesy for those who may have need or preference for one. Completely oblivious to my concerns, she went on to expound on her plan to never get sick and live well in to her 90s. After talking to her, exhausted and frustrated, I was thankful for the bar right across the hall.

The Room:
While it’s true that every room has an ocean view –we were booked for an upper floor which undoubtedly offers an expanded site field, we ended up on the ground floor because our room ‘wasn’t ready’. It turned out to be very convenient and more than fine. Plus, I made friends with the stray cats that habitat the resort. I truly wish they would engage a local humane organization in a catch, spay/neuter, and release program to control the overpopulation of the cats on the island. I cringe at the thought that if left uncontrolled, they will resort to cruel extermination methods.

The room was quiet, spacious, clean and had adequate air conditioning, circulation, and hot water. Shower was terrific and the bed was very comfortable. However, because they have everything on a motion sensor/timer thingy, the clock never keeps time and the ceiling fan will shut off if you’re not in the room. Everyone we met complained about the same issue. Maybe it has been resolved by now.

Services and Miscellaneous Notes:

- No coffee in the lobby - a pet peeve of mine.

- Housekeeping times were sporadic but thorough.

- There is no self-service laundry but you can pay to have something done.

- They were good about cleaning up the jellyfish along the shore but several people were bit while scuba diving. Note: October is jellyfish season.

- The spa is pricey and I wouldn’t care but I don’t think it was worth the money. The day after my massage, I woke up with a stiff neck that was so extremely painful I was room bound all day.

- If you need to see the resort nurse – have $200 CASH available. I opted for standing under the hot shower for 20 minutes at a time.

- A small, useless tube of muscle cream in the sundries shop was $12.00. Likewise, for the 3-pack of Neosporin mini’s that I needed for the humongous blister that popped up on my chest after some crazy winged thing bit me at the open air hibachi grill at dinner one night.

- Every day they issue a flyer. Sometimes it’s left by the housekeeper in your room after you’ve already left for the day or else if you remember, you can look at one posted up by the towel house at the pool. Nevertheless, it would have been nice know about these flyers and that they contain daily events as well as listing the drink of the day. We did not realize what they were until just a few days before leaving.

- As far as booking any excursions, know that they range from the low hundreds to the swimming with the dolphins at $400 per/person. We chose not to spend the money or the day traveling on an uncomfortable bus, etc.

- I was not exactly thrilled with the class split of the St. James and the Wild Orchid on the same property. We cut through their lobby one night after dinner to shorten our million-mile trek back to the room and the look and feel of the Wild Orchid was different – more upscale – clearly more expensive.

- Tipping may not be required but it IS expected. If you want those drinks to contain a fair amount of liquor and to keep them coming on the beach – be sure to tip.
What to Pack
- More tanning lotion than you think you need- you don’t want to have to buy it there.
- Bug spray - there are flying creatures and sand fleas.
- TUMS – just because.

One last word of advice: Don’t bother with the rum. There’s nothing worth bringing back that you can’t get stateside. Since you can only carry-on when you leave Jamaica spare yourself the trouble of having to fit your bottles in to a checked bag if you have a connecting flight in the U.S.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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, March 1, 2013
Dear Valued Guest,

As guest satisfaction is of the utmost importance to us, we do appreciate that you have taken the time to detail your experience during your recent stay.

We are sorry to hear that the variety of food on offer did not meet your expectations, I have passed on your comments to our Food & Beverage Director for review and implementation of necessary changes.

Thank you for your dinner- cart suggestion, for clarity we do have transportation available within the resort to assist guests with walking difficulties, this is available on request.

As you quite rightly pointed out, although both Resorts share the same property they are different in both décor and cost - St James being modeled with British Colonial-style architecture while Wild Orchid boast contemporary chic.

I am sorry to learn of your experiences with tipping and wish to further assure you that whilst we do allow our team members to accept tips or invitations from our guests, solicitation in any shape or form is strictly prohibited. This is an area that will be reiterated with team members and reinforced within our training programmers as we wish for our guests a most relaxing and enjoyable time without been made to feel pressured.

We are happy to note that you were indeed satisfied with some elements of your stay and trust that as we begin to realize improvements in our overall service delivery in the very short term, we will have the pleasure of being of service to you once again.

Our sincere gratitude to you once again for having taken the time to share your views.

Warmest regards,

Nicola

Nicola Maxwell
Social Networking eConcierge/Executive Office Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cleveland, Ohio
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2013

We returned from Jamica after spending 4 nights at the Secrets St.James. Overall it was a good experience. First of all there are two resorts in one property. ALl the facilites are common for both.Not sure why it has two names!!

Good: Facility is clean and nice. Staff are excellent and friendly and want to make you happy. Conceirge Nadia was very good, Janel (Breakfast)and Jamie (Asian restaurant) were exceptional. The jerk chicken guy (Clifton) was awesome. The bar staff and restaurant staff (ladies at the pasta or omlette bar) were too good. The entertainment, pools and bars were very good. The choices of drinks were good. Room was spacious and nice. The View was spectacular. No body was looking for a tip but it was appreciated.

Bad: The beaches are small and people put their towels on the chairs early and you may not get a space. The pools are crowded too. The food very average and not high standard for the money we pay. There is also a big promotion going on for Time Share (calling it Unlimited vacation) and they push you hard. Everyone in the conceirge works for them and we felt they were only nice to get us to go the presentation. If you are not interested in time share don't get sucked in. I dont think the patrons should get this kind of pressure in a high end resort while we are vacationing.

Ugly: The resort caters to mainly American and Canadian tourists and it reflects on the food and culture of the resort. People are obnoxiusly loud and crass

Room Tip: All rooms are decent, but if you need quieter rooms , higher floors and go on the St.James side.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Fairfax, Virginia
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2013

Disclaimer, this is for our stay at one of the standard rooms. Not the "Preferred" rooms.

The Good:
No kids! Was nice not dealing with kids in the pool or running around the grounds. Staff is great. Most are very talkative and friendly. Lots of "ya mon" on the resort. (Didn't hear it so much off resort so I'm thinking it's just part of the act ;) Rooms were nicely kept. There was a heavy 'musty' smell as you walked into our room. May have been just our room. Free-flowing booze!

The Bad:
If you're a stickler for privacy when on the can, think twice. The bathrooms are pretty much open to the entire room, which isn't bad, but could have done away with the frosted glass toilet area. "Secrets, I don't need to even see the blurry outline of my honey sitting on the can." There was no A/C controls for rooms. Everything was controlled automatically. There are some sensors in the room and the sliding glass door it seems. Was still quite comfortable at all times though.

If you like stuff "cold" food-wise you'll be in for a bit of a surprise. The small fridges in the rooms do not get very cold, even when you crank them down. And many items you get at the restaurants are not as cold as you might expect. And the use a lot of soy milk. Only regular milk I saw was at the cereal bar in the morning. We thought the room was going to be stocked with some hard liquors but there are only a couple cans of "Red Stripe" in the fridge.

The only place to get the top-rail liquor seemed to be the Piano Bar way at the end of the resort. The best it seemed you could get at the other bars and swim-up bars is the "Reserved" Appleton Rum. But you have to ask for it. And even then you have to make sure they grab the correct bottle.

The off-resort bike tour was not very thrilling. I'm a pretty avid biker and was hoping for some good trails or street riding. You basically go a couple block off the resort in some pretty crazy traffic and turn around. I asked the tour guide if there was any other island trails to take and he didn't seem to think so.

We took a boat ride to Montego Bay for snorkeling. Was not that impressed with the coral. Water was pretty murky. We did some snorkeling in Cancun and it was far better. The resort had smaller, closer snorkeling excursions a couple times a day. We tried for one of the afternoon time-slots but the water was too rough they said. I heard the resort area is better then where we went out on the bay. A few people were just snorkeling off shore from the swimming area. In hindsight, I would have purchased and brought my own goggles/snorkel/fins and done that.

The Ugly:
As with most resorts, you need to get up early and stake you claim on chairs. Between 6:30am and 7:30am was the best time to get your pick. A few times we saw towels on chairs where people never showed for the day. This just doesn't seem right. One time we actually staked claims to chairs at both a pool and on the beach. We used them both though and would have opened one up if we didn't.

The chairs on the beach are decent but because of the slope of the sand and chair it's hard to stay up on the chair comfortably. Something I didn't mind to much but drove my honey crazy. If you go down by the volleyball area the beach seems to be flatter - and you're closer to the Piano Bar and eating establishments.

As another reviewer pointed out, the gym stinks. I workout daily. The facility (if you can call it that) is a small room with not much room to maneuver in. The largest barbell they have is 35 lbs. Make sure you go there with closed-toed-shoes on or they'll turn you away. There's no locker rooms but I found I could go to the spa next-door and they would let me use the locker room there if I asked nice. A few times I just walked past the front desk if they were busy and went into the locker room. I was able to use the steamroom then as well. "Secrets, work on the gym facility!"

We did use the spa one day for an actual massage. They have indoor pools and such to relax in before you get the massage. We forgot to wear our swimming suit on the day of our massage so they gave us a pass to just use the pools at some other time.

Misc Remarks:
Being all-inclusive, it was hard to drink/eat our daily monies worth (and lord knows I tried to drink it). But they have to make a profit of course. They have some small stores on resort. We had to buy a small 8-pack of bandaids and Pepto-Bismol and it cost almost $20.00. There's not a lot of hard-sales going on. Nobody approached us as being pushy.

We participated in the Jamaican cooking class. If you like fish it's worth it (I don't but my honey does - she said it was some of the best fish she had there). The class was in the blazing sun. The teacher was quite entertaining. The "How to Speak Jamaican" class that followed was kinda lame. They had some steel drummers playing at the theater one night. They were outstanding! Since we weren't in the "Preferred" section we did not get WiFi included. (I think it was $15 per day, $40 for 3 days). It was possible to go into the "Preferred" lobbies though and sit at one of their computers and access the Internet. I checked email a couple times. (Like who wants to check email anyways while there!)

I was expecting a lot younger crowd. There was definitely a good share of young-hard bodies there, but a lot of older generation - with a sprinkling of hillbilly thrown in. Saw one topless sunbather - older lady so nothing to write home about. Seemed the "Preferred" buildings and pools were 90 percent older folks. I guess they got the dollars. (The preferred areas were designated by different color towels - orange. Our area had brown towels. So when you look at the nice pics online and see orange, you're looking at the preferred section.)

All-in-all a good (three and a half star) experience. My gut reaction will be to try out another all-inclusive, adult-only resort before coming back to Jamaica Secrets.

Oh, and clothes. I probably could have gotten by with half the stuff. For a week, if you don't venture off resort, you only need a couple pair of swimming shorts, some nice (dress) pants (they won't let you eat at night in the restaurants with shorts) shirts, and a few socks and workout clothes. I brought 5 dress shirts and only wore 3 (probably could have gotten by with two). Only used 3 or 4 pair of socks (I brought like 10 pair). Nice shoes for dinner. (Disclaimer: The female version of this will vary widely). And how may pairs of underwear do us guys really need on vacation anyways!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 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.
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

Just got back from 5 days and 4 nights at the St James. My only regret was we didn't stay longer. The resort was beautiful and the staff friendly. Breakfast blew us away with so many different choices. We found that Bordeaux and The Japanese restuarant were the best for dinner. We loved the jerk chicken by the pool and all the fresh fruit. If we go back we will upgrade to the preferred section of the St James because their pool and beach were not as crowded.

Room Tip: Ocean view was great we didn't see a reason to upgrade to Ocean front. Stay on the fourth floor...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boyds MD
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

Nicely spread-out hotel on a beautiful stretch of beach. Most rooms appear to face ocean. Very nice accommodations. We chose Preferred to take advantage of snacks and upgraded liquor, right in our building. Check-in was a breeze, athough they offer more information then is needed when you first arrive. At the time, our exclusive hot tub did not work, and a few of the spa amenities were also broken. We found food to be slightly better than average for an AI, but a bit disappointing based on cost.

Room Tip: If you are on the Preferred side you will have a fair amount of walking to do as all restuarants and...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Secrets St James

Address: Lot A59 Freeport, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint James Parish > Montego Bay
Amenities:
Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#9 Luxury Hotel in Montego Bay
#9 Top resorts Hotel in Montego Bay
#10 Business Hotel in Montego Bay
#10 On the Beach 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*
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Also Known As:
Secrets St James Hotel Montego Bay

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