My boyfriend and I were big fans of Secrets Royal Beach in Punta Cana, and thought we never needed to visit another resort. But when we waited too long to book our vacation this year, all of the direct flights sold out. We simply couldn't justify wasting precious vacation time by traveling over 12 hours each way. So I shopped around for another resort and found a good deal for Wild Orchid Montego Bay. Our plan was to "make the best of it" this year, and return to Punta Cana next time. Wild Orchid had another plan. Here's how they won us over:
EVEN BEFORE WE LEFT HOME: I emailed a little with the concierge staff prior to our trip, and I had a good feeling about the rapid responses I received and the friendly overall tone of the emails. By the time we traveled, I already felt welcomed and taken care of.
OFF TO A GREAT START: I wish I could recall the name of the woman who checked us in. She was friendly, fun and very accommodating. She knew all about the email chats I'd had with the concierge team, and if she had simply met our requests for a king sized bed and a quiet room, that would have been wonderful enough. But we were blown away when we were given everything and so much more - more than we would have dreamed to ask for. This generosity was a recurring theme at WIld Orchid. During our stay we frequently felt we were being given far more than we'd requested.
SERVICE: The first person we encountered at the resort was the fantastic bellman, Daemon. He was professional, but at the same time friendly and warm. This casually-excellent vibe is present throughout the resort. The standard for service is very high, but it never feels too stiff or formal. There's plenty of laughter, fist-bumping and high-fiving alongside the ubiquitous courtesy and politeness. "Welcome Home" has a special meaning when you are actually made to feel at home, and we were.
OUR ROOM: #2551 on the fifth floor. It had a beautiful view of the bay from the balcony, but I found I could also enjoy it while laying in bed. Seriously. I could look at the ocean while lying in bed - a bed that was huge and insanely comfortable. Great pillows and bedding; soft - but not saggy - mattress. Don't miss the body pillow in the closet. We didn't notice it until our last day. (A tip about the bathroom situation: there's little privacy. We managed fine by taking turns retiring to the balcony. But also, there are very clean and little-used bathrooms scattered throughout the resort. The restroom hidden just to the right of the elevators in the lobby helped us out more than once.)
(A tip about the temperature control. The AC goes off when you leave the room, and when you are asleep. You need to reset it to 20C each time this happens, and sometimes readjust the fan to high. I just got in the habit of checking the thermostat regularly. At night, if you wake up to use the bathroom, make sure you pass in front of the motion detector. That turns the AC back on.)
HOUSEKEEPING: I wouldn't have thought that the housekeeping staff could figure so large in a vacation experience, but they did. Kesha and Vanesha took extra-special care of us. Not only did they clean our room spotlessly every day, but they also went out of their way to fill every request we made. Even when it meant they had to return later to do so. I loved that we knew their names, and were able to communicate by notes when we didn't see them. They left us a farewell note that is my favorite souvenir from the trip. We also loved the nightly turndown service. One night, we were treated to an aromatherapy bath, that Christina prepared for us, complete with rose petals, candles, and romantic lighting. It was a true highpoint, even for my boyfriend, who wasn't so into the whole idea of an aromatherapy bath at first.
MINIBAR: Again, who would have thought this would matter so much? Ruth, our minibar attendant, was ridiculously great. She filled every request we made, and in no time customized our minibar to our preferences as though she knew everything about us. It was fun to communicate with her by little notes; and when we'd run into her in the hallway, she'd remember who we were and what room we were in. She's a superstar!
BEACH: I've read some complaints about the beach here, but we absolutely loved it. There is indeed a little rockiness a few feet from shore, so if you have very sensitive feet, water shoes might help. Otherwise, just walk slowly through this part, it's really not bad. You can see the bottom perfectly, so that helps you navigate. Once you're past that small strip of stones, the bottom is soft and sandy. Because there are very few commercial activities going on in the bay, the swimming is relaxing and quiet. We spent far more time in the water than we usually do. There are no other resorts in view, so the beach feels very safe and private.
BEVERAGE SERVICE: Wow. I've never had such attentive service on a beach. Love to Avion and Fun-Leo, who never liked to see our glasses empty. I've read some negative things here about the drink service so I want to say this: Yep. Sometimes after you order, it takes a little while for the drink to arrive. You know why? Because you're on a beach. And you're not alone on that beach. Plus it's 90 degrees and you shouldn't expect your server to run through the sand with his/her tray. Plan accordingly.
Breakfast. The buffet was great in both quality and variety. Omelets to order. Fresh tropical fruit. Pancakes/ Waffles/ French Toast (if you hang back and wait to take whatever is coming fresh off the griddle, you will be in for a special treat.) Mimosas for everyone! Cereal, pastries, bagels, smoked fish... Don't skip the smoothies that sit in pitchers near the omelet station. I didn't try them until the end of our stay, much to my regret.
Lunch. Jerk chicken on the beach along with tropical fruit, cut to order. Pair it with a pina colada made with dark rum, and you've got edible nirvana. I had that almost every day. Once, we waited too long and the chicken ran out, so we had burgers and homemade potato chips from the Barefoot Grill. It was fun, and good. But it wasn't jerk chicken. Damn... I really miss jerk chicken.
Dinner. There were 3 special buffet nights while we were there, otherwise the food at dinner is all ala carte restaurant dining. I was worried about this because my boyfriend isn't a very adventurous eater. We usually make out best with a buffet. But we didn't have a problem here at all. We went to the French restaurant twice. The first time it was good, the second time it was GREAT. We both loved the italian restaurant - I had the lasagna and my boyfriend had chicken parmesan. (The Mexican restaurant was not so hot for either of us, if I'm being honest. It wasn't terrible. Just blah.)
There's a coffee bar with great - and I means GREAT - coffee and coffee drinks, particularly when Garfield is behind the bar.
There's a self serve soft ice-cream machine near the coffee bar! With cones!
There are ping-pong and pool tables!
There are plantain chips at the piano bar!
There are barrels stocked with chilled water bottles all along the beach!
Cool wet towels at the fitness center!
Extras seem to be the norm at this resort. Our expectations were exceeded at every turn. I thought we would miss Royal Beach, but instead I think they are going to have to miss us for a while... We are already planning our return trip to Wild Orchid..
Finally, If you read reviews obsessively before your trip, like I do, you might be confused by the extremes of good and bad reviews here. What I want to say about that is this: Was our vacation perfect, wonderful, magical and unforgettable? Absolutely. And if I were looking for flaws, could I have found some? Absolutely. This is not the kingdom of heaven, people, it's a vacation resort, staffed by humans... humans who have lives, and who occasionally make mistakes, and who sometimes forget things. You know who you are... If life seems to perpetually disappoint you, and you generally find much to criticize in the world around you, don't expect miracles here. But if you are used to approaching life with appreciation for the people and circumstances that make your life sweeter, then by all means, expect greatness. You'll surely find it here.
Upper floors for better views. Away from the pool area for peace and quiet!
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.