My Fiancé and I stayed at Secrets St James between 27th February to 13th March, I wish it was longer!
We arrived at roughly 2:30pm to be welcomed with a cold towel and a rum punch, what a way to start your two week stay!! We left our luggage with the bell boys who told us they would take it all to our room. The receptionist went through details of the hotel, restaurants etc and we were given a voucher booklet which she explained could be used towards bottles of wine and facials in the spa etc (we thought this was a great idea, but never got round to using any of them.) We were then taken to our room by a very nice lady who unfortunately I cannot remember the name of, she asked if we would be celebrating anything whilst we were here in Jamaica to which we explained we were newly engaged, she congratulated us and said she would arrange something special.
I will never forget opening the door to our room, we were both so blown away, it was HUGE! A double wardrobe with shelving and drawers. A free to use safe that is big enough to fit laptops, chest of drawers, flat screen TV, whirlpool bath, tropical rainforest shower and normal shower, his and hers basins, a two seater sofa, a dinning table with two chairs, telephone, a privacy light you can use when you don’t want to be disturbed, full length mirror, mood lighting, minibar stocked with red stripe, coke, sprite, juice, fanta and water, a secret hatch for room service so you wont be disturbed and the biggest most comfortable bed you could ever imagine!!!! We went out onto our balcony (which also had a table and chairs) and again we were totally blown away, the view we had was beautiful. We overlooked the preferred club swimming pool and miles and miles of turquoise ocean. We truly were in paradise.
There was a knock at the door and in came Biggy Smalls with our luggage, he stood and chatted with us for a while which was really nice of him to take the time to do. Then there was another knock at the door and in came our "something special" a bottle of champagne and a fruit platter!!! This was followed by a phone call from reception saying we had been booked in for the Japanese Show cooking on Friday night. How wonderful has the first hour of our stay been!!
Our first morning we went to the World Café for breakfast. We were shown to a table and asked if we wanted tea or coffee then told to help ourselves to food which consisted of a help yourself buffet serving a large variety of things from fried breakfasts to cereal to bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese, the choices were endless. There were also a selection of fruit juices on offer, orange, pineapple, grapefruit, cranberry and fruit punch. We tucked into our yummy breakfast when a waiter came and asked if everything was ok, he also asked if we were here for a special occasion? Again we explained we were newly engaged and again were told he would arrange something special. A few minutes later he came back to our table with another gentleman who then both announced our engagement to the whole of breakfast and went on to sing to us. It was beautiful and both were very talented.
** Breakfast is served between 7am and 11am.
Throughout our stay we visited the World Café for a buffet lunch, again serving a selection of different things each time. We also ate at the Seaside Grill which was lovely, they have a huge help yourself salad bar as well as a menu with choices from pizzas to seafood tacos. We also ate at Oceana a few times where you are given a tick sheet and choose whether you want a wrap or a burger then select what you want inside it, all served with a portion of curly fries. This was my favourite lunchtime choice and I even tried to make me own version of this "tick sheet" lunch back home for my family. We only tried the Jerk Chicken stand once but it was beautttttttiful!! It is a very busy little stand and usually makes an appearance by the pool areas at 12.30ish. The BareFoot Grille serves things such as beef and chicken patties, hotdogs, nachos, pretzels and vegetable fritters as well as beer and soft drinks, this is all help yourself and is a great place to stop at if you fancy a snack.
** World Café Lunch 12.30pm-3pm
** Oceana Lunch 12pm-5pm
** BareFoot Grille 11am-5pm
** Seaside Grill 12:30pm-5pm
For our evening meals we tried most of the restaurants, Portofino, the Italian being our favourite. We ate here I think seven times it was that good. You can choose to sit inside our out, we mainly chose outside as it was very romantic having a candle lit dinner. I'd defiantly recommend the bruschetta to start followed by the Caesar salad followed by the pork with mushroom sauce dish. Amazing. The Lasagne there is also excellent. Look out for our the best waiter in the resort, Rayon Robinson. NO matter how busy the restaurant was he always came to check we were ok.
We tried the French restaurant, Bordeaux, once and I thoroughly enjoy it. We had the camembert to start followed by lobster soup then a peppered steak served rare, delicious!!
We tried the Mexican restaurant, El Patio, twice and again was very impressed. You are given chips and salsa dip for whilst you look through the menu. I would strongly recommend the chicken Quesadilla to start followed by the beef fajitas, they come out sizzling. El Patio serves help yourself food after 11pm, mainly burgers and hotdogs if you fancied a late night snack.
We tried the Asian restaurant, Himitsu, twice. Once for the normal menu and the second time for the show cooking. I would strongly recommend both or if you don’t have the time then please make sure you do the show cooking as its fantastic!! You start off with the choice of either a vegetable soup or shrimp soup, then a sharer plate of sushi, then the chef cooks you a whole mixture of delicious foods using chicken, beef and shrimp.
We went to the World Café for there pasta theme nights and really enjoyed it, they serve spaghetti and meatballs to carbanara to lasagne, all yum yum yum!!
Unfortunately we didn’t try the Jamaican restaurant, Blue Mountain, or the Seafood restaurant, Oceana, or the grilled cuisine restaurant, Seaside Grill for any of our dinners so cannot comment or what id recommend. But judging how good the food was at all the others im guessing these three wouldn’t let you down either.
Please note that when going to dinner men MUST wear long trousers, sleeved shirts with collars and NO sandals. We only had to wait for a table on two occasions and were given a buzzer and told to have a drink in the Piano Bar until our table was called, we never had to wait more than 30 minutes.
** Blue Mountain 6pm-10pm
** Bordeaux 6pm-10pm
** El Patio 6pm-10pm
** Himitsu 6pm-10pm
** Oceana 7pm-10pm
** Portofino 6pm-10pm
** Seaside Grill 6.30pm-11pm
We used room service several times, a few times for breakfast when we wanted a lay in, then items from the all day menu when we didn’t fancy going to dinner and late night menu when we got peckish. It is available 24/7 and is usually with you within 45minutes no longer. You can ask for it to be left in your hatch if you do not want to be disturbed. All menus for room service and times they serve each menu are found in your room in the information folder.
We spent most of our stay around the St James pool. We found getting a sun bed a bit hit and miss, some days we would be getting up at 7am to secure a sun bed (sometimes even earlier) and other days you would be able to get them still at 11am. I guess it all depends on the amount of guests and cross over of flights etc. the amount of towels you can have is unlimited so we usually got two each. The bar at the St James pool opens at 10.30am but if you needed a drink there are barrels dotted around with ice cold bottled water.
There are waitress who walk around the pool area taking drink orders so you don’t even have to get up and walk that short distance to the bar!! Kadeisha was our absolute favourite, fantastic worker with a great personality. You should defiantly try from the cocktail list a Bob Marley, Blue Hawaiian, Mud Slide and the Strawberry Daiquiri…I could do with any of those right now!!
There are daily activities around the pool but you are not forced to take part. They hold Blackjack tournaments (my fiancé was hooked!!) pool Olympics, guess the song (we sucked as most were American TV shows that we don’t have in Enlgand), dance classes, super soaker fun, fishing (where you have to fit a small hoop over a bottle of rum using a fishing rod) and other various games, most games you can win a bottle of Appleton rum. The entertainment team are all very very good at their jobs and take the time to go around talking to everyone. Sassy is hilarious and never fails to make you laugh and Mickey Mouse was our favourite employee out of the whole hotel, he even took the time out of his own lunch break to play badminton with us. There are photographers who you will usually see around the pool areas, they will take your photo and then you can go and see the pictures in the photo shop near the bureau de change later on in the day. We bought a few of our photos (3 for $45US).
The white sandy beach was gorgeous and the sea was crystal clear! It was jelly fish season but we didn’t see any when swimming but try to be a bit cautious just incase. There were always sun beds available anytime of day when we went. And again there is the waitress service to order your drinks. We didn’t try any of the water sports activates but they were available if you fancied it. You could do kayaking, sailing, snorkelling etc. we went down to the beach at 6.30am one morning and it was pure bliss!! No one was around and we had the whole place to ourselves, we went straight in the water for a swim, you'd be surprised how warm the water was at that time of day.
Evening entertainment was very good. There are movies shown outside by the shops and the Coco Café. (At turndown service you are given a newsletter with a list of the following days activates and information, on here you will also find what movie will be shown.) In the gift shop and essentials shop your bill is charged to your room in which you settle when checking out. Each night on the main stage there is some form of entertainment, from a circus act to steel drum band, but if you want a seat you will have to get there early. There's a games area where you can play pool, table tennis, giant chess and giant connect four, in this area there is also a casino but we never used it.
Most nights after dinner we found ourselves having a few drinks in The Piano Bar and watching the evening entertainment from there. We would then go on to Desires, the nightclub. We absolutely loved the club, the music was brilliant and some nights they would do guests karaoke. Danger (Dane) and O'Neil who worked in there always kept our glasses full when we sat around the bar. In all the bars they served branded alcohol, lots of Grey Goose, Bombay Sapphire hummmm yummy (in the 2 weeks we stayed we never had a problem getting the drinks we had asked for at any of the bars).
We booked our excersion to the Dunn River Falls through the man at reception and enjoyed our Cool Running's trip very much and would strongly recommend giving it a go!!!! You spend roughly 1hr 45mins on a bus driving to Ohio Rios where you are served a lovely jerk chicken and rice lunch which is included, then board a catamaran which then takes you out to sea for a snorkel by the reef (snorkels and flippers are provided onboard) then they take you to the Dunn River Falls where you climb the world famous waterfall, which is all filmed and you can buy the DVD at the end for $40US. Then you are taken back on the catamaran only this time partying with everyone onboard the whole way back and you are supplied with free beer, rum punch and water. Please note you have to have special water shoes for this trip, we bought our own with us but they can be rented from the boat for $5US.
Overall this was the most fannnnnnntastic holiday we have ever had!! We would go back in a heartbeat, all staff we met were so friendly and helpful and always smiling which was nice to see and we really did feel they helped make our stay so wonderful. The service the hotel provided was outstanding and I will be recommending this hotel to everyone and anyone who will listen. Just a quick note, we took Jamaican Dollars and lots of small denomination US Dollars for tipping, we pretty much tipped everyone as we really appreciated everything they did for us.
Also note when leaving Jamaica they are VERY strict about baggage allowance. Every kg you are over you are charged £17!! ($25US) We were over by 5kg ouch!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.