Before going to Secrets St. James I read a lot of negative and positive reviews. So I am writing this to clear everything up. This was my first trip to Jamaica and did not know what to expect, so we packed everything you could imagine because we did not want to get caught without something. Secrets is split into two resorts basically, there is the St. James side and the Wild Orchid side. My wife and I stayed in St. James preferred area at first we thought it was going to be a pain, but it turned out to be perfect. The room was excellent and stocked with a few bottles of booze, which we hardly touched because there was a full do it yourself-bar right outside our room.
All the good restaurants are on the Wild Orchid side of the resort, so if you don’t mind a stroll along the beach before and after dinner then the St. James is the perfect place. There a 8 different places to eat at, and each of them were excellent; The World Café, The Barefoot Grill, an Italian (Portofino), French (Bordeaux), Japanese (Himitsu), Mexican (El Patio), Seafood (Seaside Grill), and the Oceana (not sure what they served there). One thing the Secrets website fails to tell you is that there is a small dress code for dinner: shirts with sleeves, dress shorts are allowed; flip-flops and swimsuits are NOT permitted. The Bordeaux is the only restaurant that requires you to have long pants if you want to sit inside, but shorts are okay to sit outside. The place to eat breakfast is the World Café and this is the best place to eat breakfast, on the preferred side of the St. James you can eat breakfast, but it just isn’t that good. Not sure if they had the same on the preferred Wild Orchid side. Don’t forget to try the jerk chicken it is AMAZING, but do yourself a favor and get the dark meat (leg and Thighs) otherwise you they will chop up the breast and you will get lots of bones in your chicken it is still good and if you like it spicy put the sauce on it.
One thing to keep in mind even though the resort states that reservation are not required to eat dinner, I would highly recommend making reservations to eat dinner. Especially at the Himitsu restaurant if you want to sit at the table where the chef cooks in front of you. My wife and I winged it every night and did not make reservations, so we had to wait a couple of time, but usually not longer than 30-45 minutes.
Room service was a little disappointing, but it was still good to order that late night snack. I kept ordering the Beef patty and it was amazing each time, but my wife had ordered a chicken wrap and I think they forgot to put the chicken in the wrap. They always told us that it was going to be 45 minutes, but they were always there quicker than that. The Surf and Turf was excellent on every Friday night.
The St. James side is a little bit more laid back and tranquil, and the Wild Orchid is a little louder and more active. The Wild Orchid side has the Beach volleyball net, but the sailboats, kayaks, scuba, parasailing, and glass bottom boats are in the middle but more towards the St. James side. The following activities are complimentary to guests: snorkeling, kayaking, Windsurfing, and Sailing (if you have never sailed it will cost you $10.00 for someone to go with you, but if you are daring and want to try sailing without any knowledge do not get stuck out on the ocean because it will cost you $30.00 to be rescued, [no this did not happen to us]) also if you want there are lessons for windsurfing and sailing for a small cost.
There are activities every night, and sometimes you can be torn on which side of the resort you want to be on due to what is happening. The Piano bar is where we hung out quite a bit at night, but that is not the only place to hang out at night. They had barn fires on the beach, there is a place called “Desires” to do a little dancing, which is open from 9 pm until 2 am.
We had one problem with the bar staff and that was because the bar tender was more concerned with flirting with the guests rather than doing his job. I had to tell him I was going to talk to his boss and from that moment one he paid a lot of attention to everyone wanting a drink. We also feel that the all-inclusive cost is way too much. We do all-inclusive just about everywhere we vacation, but this is the first time we paid $225 per person per day. We also did notice that since we did not buy into the vacation club that he level of attention went down a little bit after our meeting with the vacation club. We even told them up front that we would not be buying into the vacation club, but we did it anyway just so they would comp our spa time.
One last thing, there are mosquitoes and my wife is a magnet for them. If you do not want them in your room do not leave your sliding glass door open, but what I had done was I brought a couple of citronella candles and a couple of packages of “Off” mosquitoes coils just in case I needed them. We never used them. The hotel will spray your room but instead of waiting for the hotel to do it, just go prepared even if you do not need to use them at least you have them. When we were there (April 7 – 14) the mosquitoes were not bad but towards the end of our trip the mosquitoes were starting to bite.
Overall, we had a blast and are looking forward to going back. A big shout out to Nordia at the front desk in the St. James preferred side and if Peaches (Francisco) and King with the entertainment staff are reading this we look forward to another Volleyball match with you. One other person Floyd the life guard was a world of information he got us up to speed on Jamaican life.
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- Also Known As:
- Secrets St James Hotel Montego Bay