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“It is what it is.” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Montego Bay

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Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Montego Bay
3.5 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica   |  
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Ranked #22 of 63 Hotels in Montego Bay
Hillsboro, Ohio, United States
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“It is what it is.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2013

I read hundreds of reviews before deciding on HISS for our family vacation. 90% of the reviews of this hotel regurgitate the same data (Great for families, jerk chicken is great, small island is nice, etc.) I chose HISS because of the "12 and under stay/eat free" promotion which allowed us to bring our 12 and 10 year-olds along and stay under budget. I will try and touch on some things that most other reviewers do not address.

Our flight arrived at 11:00AM, and then we were faced with the controlled chaos which is customs at MBJ airport. It took well over an hour to clear customs which is staffed by very rude, grouchy and/or unpersonable folks. I almost felt compelled to remind them that tourism pays their bills. Did not meet a friendly Jamaican until we got on our bus from the airport.

Arrived at HISS at 1:00 and the room was not ready, but that's not a huge deal. They will give you your wristbands for resort access and have a courtesy lounge and dressing rooms where you can change, check your bags and hit the pool. Came back at 3:00 and was checked in. We are Priority Club members, and I had read on other reviews that the ala carte restaurants could be booked in advance when checking in, but the clerk was aware of no such procedure. She did however upgrade us from a junior suite to an oceanfront suite with two separate rooms, a larger bathroom with jacuzzi tub, and a gorgeous view from two balconies. When we got to the room (building 7), there were only two beds, a king in the master bedroom and a pullout in the other. Not wanting to give up the view and the large bathroom, I simply called down and ordered a rollaway. Within 20 minutes, it was at our room door.

The rooms are indeed dated, but very clean. Never had any problem with hot water, but the water pressure was bad at times. The cable went out often as well, but I didn't come to Jamaica to watch TV.

The staff were all friendly and worked around the clock on grounds maintenance. The landscaping is on par with much more expensive resorts. They do spray for mosquitoes every night just before dusk and security will make you vacate the beach while they do. We were never bothered by any bugs at all.

The most annoying thing for me was this: we woke on the first day around 9:00AM and headed for breakfast. I read great reviews of the Italian restaurant so I stopped at the guest services desk to make ala carte reservations for the following night. However, the Italian restaurant was already completely booked, but I did manage to make reservations at Kenko (more on that later). The lady at the desk (the only unfriendly staff member that we met) advised that they start taking reservations at 7:00 AM and there is usually a line. Also, at 9:00AM, all of the shaded spots on every beach and every pool were taken. Not by people, but by towels, books, etc.

After the whole family suffered a sunburn, I decided to join in the reindeer games and set the alarm for 6:45 to claim a shaded spot on the beach, or even by the pool. Negative, Ghost Rider! Every umbrella'ed chair was again claimed, even though the pool and beach areas were completely empty. So I headed to the reservations line which was probably 60 people deep by 7:00. Stood in line for 40 minutes only to find out that the Italian restaurant was not completely booked, but closed on Thursday nights. Grrrr.

The next morning, I found myself awake at first daylight (5:45AM), grabbed four towels and headed for the beach. At this point, it was more of a quest. Finally found some unclaimed territory under a straw umbrella and reserved it with the towels. Even that early, many others had the same idea. I watched one lady drop four towels at the pool then go to the beach where she claimed four more. I almost went behind her and released her towels into the Caribbean Sea.

While that was the worst part of the whole trip, there were some other not-so-keen moments. Nothing that would keep me from going back, but things that were quite annoying. For example- There are no ice machines in building 7. There are four in building 6 (one per floor). None of the four actually worked. The fire alarms went off twice on our first night there. The soda machines NEVER worked right. Either too much syrup or not enough. Disgusting. There is a list of activities posted every day, but they are either very poorly organized or never happen at all. The pool closes at 5:00pm or if there is even a sprinkle of rain.

The buffet food was okay. Breakfast alternates between a few Jamaican dishes (Ackee and Saltfish, Boiled bananas, etc) and a few American ones (one day bacon&french toast, the next sausage&pancakes, repeating). By far, the omelet station was the best choice for breakfast. Lunch usually had 2 or 3 Jamaican selections and 3 or 4 American ones too. Dinner usually had a carving station or Jerk Chicken setup. The pickiest eaters will find something to eat here, even if its at the Kids Korner where there are burgers, pizza, etc.

Our dinner at the Japanese restaurant, Kenko was one of the highlights of the whole trip. My family loves the Hibachi/Teppanyaki style restaurants for both the food and the show. Who would have thought that the best Japanese steakhouse in both regards would be in Jamaica? I can't express enough how it was worth the $20/adult to eat there. Kids are free. Ricardo (Kirby) was our chef and was phenomenal. He had the whole table laughing the entire time. A very talented young man. Our waiter was great as well and brought every drink to us balanced on his head. Oh yeah, the food was great too. Lime Sorbet for dessert was pure bliss!

One thing that you will notice about the resort is that it attracts a lower class of people. Think Vegas- The Bellagio has a different clientele than Harrah's. Well, the HISS attracts Circus Circus type people. Alot of tax refund checks are spent here in the spring.

We snorkeled every day. It's best to bring your own gear because they will not loan to you if it is too windy or choppy. The best spot on the resort to see fish was under the pier that separates the adult area from the rest of the resort. There are always hundreds of fish hanging out under there, especially Sergeant Majors and Parrotfish. At the end of the pier one day we saw one really nasty looking Lionfish that we wanted no part of.

I have read a lot of reviews about the prices in the gift shop, but they are really not that bad. (Except for sunblock and aloe. Bring plenty). Prices are pretty much inline with what you would pay at the airport and beats the alternative of getting harassed across the street or downtown. The hotel also bring in vendors every other night or so to sell crafts and souvenirs. These people are not pushy and their prices are reasonable.

Here is a strong tip: There are plenty of transfer drivers who wait at both the airport and at the Holiday Inn. DO NOT book your airport transfer in advance. I wanted everything buttoned up ahead of time and paid Jamaica Tours Limited in advance through a travel website. Well, once they have your money, they have no reason to be nice to you. The lady tour rep at the airport was rude and unhelpful. The drivers both ways were fine, but our biggest issue was on the way back to the airport. Our flight was to leave at 1:55 and JTL was to pick us up at 11:20. The large bus was only a few minutes late, but then made a LONG stop at the Riu to pick up more passengers. It took well over an hour to get to the airport, then we were faced with check-in, customs, etc. By the time we got to our gate with less than 10 minutes to spare the aircraft was completely boarded. For airport transfers and/or tours, do not go through the desk or a third party. Drivers hang out by the lobby and will take you wherever you want to go in Montego Bay including the airport for $20 per GROUP, not per person and you will not have to share a ride with 50 others or make stops along the way.

Overall, my experience at the HISS was a positive one. We are the type of people who try to experience different things every vacation, so we probably won't come back to Jamaica for at least awhile, especially with the customs and immigration nightmares there. However, if we did return to Jamaica, I would definitely consider HISS again and do recommend it to a family on a budget.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Marstons Mills, Massachusetts, United States
Top Contributor
123 reviews 123 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 50 cities Reviews in 50 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2013

We enjoyed our stay at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort. It was a great value and a great place to take the family. The rooms are clean and they are doing lots of maintenance and upgrades to the rooms. The beach and snorkeling nearby are great as well. Make sure you wear your sunscreen!!!

Room Tip: Make sure you use your Priority Club Membership to great nice upgrades.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 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 1
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Belchertown
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2013

We just returned from 5 nights at the Holiday Inn Sunspree. It was "adequate".
POSITIVES very nice beach and pool, Very friendly and accomodating staff. Beach very kid friendly... no surf, shallow, good shorkeling.
NEGATIVES: There are NOT enough shade shelters on the beach. It is pathetic to have to put your towels out the NIGHT BEFORE in order to get any shade. Went out at 6 am one morning, and all shade was already reserved, so although I hated doing it, I played the "game" and left items out on chairs after we left the beach. They were not touched, and we were able to get shade the next day. They could use 3X as much shade areas as they have. They should have more structures on the beach, either large umbrellas or palupas. The pool could use another 40 or so large umbrellas. Many are very tiny, and would probably only offer shelter for 1 person.
Food was just ok...Always a good variety, but nothing special. Italian restaurant by far the best. Having to get up for 7 am to get reservations for the NEXT night is a nuisance. They should take reservations the day of, because if you arrive one day, you will not be able to get dinner reservations at a sit down restaurant for 2 days.
If you are anywhere near the entertainment, it is VERY LOUD until late at night. It was so loud that I was not able to hear our television in the room. Ask for a room in building on the BACK SIDE of the building. Sometimes the entertainment lasted until nearly midnight, and started at about 10 in the morning. Thought the volume even during the day could have been lowered. Made for a very noisy resort.
SUGGESTIONS:
Get a room far away from entertainment on back side of the building. It will be worth not having a view.
Bring a large plastic glass with cover...Their drink glasses were about 4 oz...very tiny. Everyone has their own and they are happy to use these.
If you like a lot of commotion and noise, this is the place for you. Perfect place to bring children. We went to Dreams a few times, and it is def. a "notch above" this resort. Will not go back, mainly because of the crowds and lack of shade.

Room Tip: Do not get a room anywhere near facing the pool area. It is very loud and entertainment there goes...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 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.
IHGCare, Guest Relations Manager at Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Montego Bay, responded to this review, July 2, 2013
Dear nan123Amherst,

Thank you for taking the time to post a review of our property. We are so glad you liked the friendliness our staff and our beach and pool facility. We would like to apologize for the experience you had in getting a shade at the beach and any inconvenience the noise and our restaurant services may have caused you during your stay. Your feedback is very important to us as this assists us in continually improving the services and facilities we offer to our guests. Kindly be assured that we treat this matter seriously as we always strive to deliver world-class service to our guests. Your review will be used to consider improvements needed and we hope that you can give us a chance to show what we have done.

Sincerely,

Anthony M
Case Manager
IHGCare
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brooklyn, new york
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 18, 2013

My husband and I went April 4th, 2013 to April 11th 2013. This was our second visit at this hotel. We LOVE it, you can always find something to eat, the rooms are clean,the beds are comfortable. If your a five star hotel person this hotel is not for you, but I would still try it. The beach and hotel grounds are gorgeous. The water is clear and aqua blue, not rough at all. There are alot of activities you can do, and its great for kids. They have a separate section for adults only which has a swim up bar on the pool side and walk up on the beach side. I just booked another trip for September, cant wait. Very relaxing, and the staff very friendly and accommodating. The jerk hut is great, and the other food available when the buffet is closed to change for each meal is very good. Buy big mugs and they will fill it with as much alcohol as u want. What more could you ask for. We did a sunrise massage, on a small dock with a gazebo at the end...absolutely heaven. Casino, spa, photographer, computer services and some days craft selling at nite, also with great entertainment at nite. Its not expensive and so worth the money. We booked thru cheap carribean.com..best deals ever.

Room Tip: We like building 3, 2nd or 3rd floor, we dont book a ocean view, we get a garden view. Your on the b...
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  • Stayed April 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ohio
Senior Contributor
46 reviews 46 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 17, 2013

This trip was something my husband and I threw together at the last minute. Considering this fact and how cheap we got the flight and hotel, it was a fabulous trip. Had it been our honeymoon or a more anticipated vacation, we would have been really disappointed (but then, we simply would have paid more). For what we expected and what we paid, it was perfect. I was really nervous reading some of the bad reviews, but I disagree with the really bad ones. It's true that this resort is best for families with small children, but my husband and I had a good time none the less at this three star resort.

We had to wait a while at check-in, but they did bring us drinks, which was nice. They made us wear a plastic wristband, which I didn't like, especially after I got burned. If it would get lost, it was $100 to replace. I also didn't like the towel card policy ($20 to replace). Each person gets a card that they can use to redeem one towel on the beach. Again, it's a 3 star resort, so things like this can be expected.

The other guests will also make it clear that it's a 3 star resort. You'll find people are more likely to cut in line and kids are more likely to be allowed to run around and be more obnoxious than at higher star resorts.

We went snorkeling (we brought our own gear). The water is shallow, but we did see several fish and even a starfish. I got bit by what I'm guessing were sea lice, though, and that was a little painful for a day, especially on top of a burn. We also did the kayaks (but the water along the allowed path was so shallow we got stuck). The catamaran was more fun, but there was a long wait.

The food was fine, but by the end of the week, I was getting a little tired of it. For breakfast, the omelet station was great. There were also freshly made smoothies if you get to breakfast early enough (they were no longer being made after about 9:30-10). Lots of fresh fruit, always some type of breakfast meat, some form of breakfast potato, and pancakes or French toast. There was always cereal, yogurt, porridge, hard-boiled eggs, etc., if you couldn't find anything else. For lunch, we usually ate on the beach at the Barefoot Bar (where we would get either a cheeseburger, grilled cheese, or fried fish sandwich). There's also jerk chicken and jerk pork at the Jerk Hut (order the sauce on the side...it is VERY spicy). You could also get a hot dog from Just Kidding or eat at the buffet. Dinners at the buffet were fine. Always some kind of soup, salad, and lots of bread and different cheeses. There was always a meat carving station and potatoes and vegetables for the sides. There was also pizza and a few other kid friendly dishes. My husband is adventurous and tried beef kidney, pig tails, etc. (there was usually one exotic dish every night). I stayed a little safer, but if you are really picky, you might have a problem finding variety. Desserts were okay but chocolate doesn't seem to be a big thing on the island as a whole. There were several juice options, but they all seemed exceptionally sweet.

The rooms were very average, but I don't like to spend too much time in the room anyway. We were put in a room with two double beds, which was a little annoying. The beds and pillows weren't super comfortable, either. I hate not having fitted sheets...it's so gross to wake up and realize you've been partially lying on a dirty mattress! There is no food in the rooms, which I am totally fine with. No food=no bugs. However, as priority members, they brought us a fruit tray and bottles of water to enjoy in our room. The balcony was nice, and we had a sort-of view of the ocean. I would not want to be on the first floor with a patio instead of a balcony as it feels less secure to me. We were in building 1, but we had no noise issues as we faced away from the pool area. The room was clean, and the floor was tile instead of carpet (which feels much cleaner to me). The bathroom was little, but I didn't mind. I didn't like the double doors on the bathroom, though. It was actually difficult getting out! (Once inside the bathroom, the doors would have to be pulled inward, not pushed outward, to open, and there was no handle or anything.)

There are several bars, and the bartenders were great. Ask to see the drink menu, as there are many good drinks and shots I wouldn't have thought about. Many of the drinks were too sweet, but I really did like the banana daiquris. The only beer available is Red Stripe, but my husband liked that fine. The Bob Marley shots are really strong! We never went to the swim up bar. The pool was always packed, and I don't like the idea of people drinking a lot and not leaving the pool for a bathroom break for hours.

We usually made our way to the beach by 9, and we didn't have too much trouble getting a lounge chair, but often couldn't get a good shady spot under a tiki hut or palm tree. And forget a spot on Tek It Easy Island by this time in the day. The adult beach was full of smokers and we always seemed to be downwind. I preferred the smaller beaches that were less packed with people.

The service was really good. The employees as a whole aren't very bubbly, but I think that is a cultural thing. Jamaicans seem to be very laid back people. They are soft spoken, and somewhat difficult to understand sometimes, but they are polite, friendly, and helpful. There was one exception, and it's funny because a recent review mentioned him too! Claude, who works in the water sport area, is chronically agitated and has a bad attitude. I didn't care for him at all. He really was the only exception, though. One other thing, I was surprised that no one wore gloves. Everyone from the girl holding the ice cream cone as she filled it with ice cream to the on-site nurse who put burn cream on us were bare-handed (and I didn't see much hand-washing going on). I guess those are just American standards.

It's awesome that the resort is so close to the airport, but it somehow still cost $30 for a taxi ride. A shuttle to and from the airport would really be an asset to the resort. The only free shuttle offered by HI is a nightly one to the bar/club area downtown, but it goes at 10pm and returns at 2am. We didn't feel like being stuck there that long, so we never made use of it. A shuttle to the Hip Strip for daytime shopping would have been more appreciated by us. We never did make it there.

We did go across the street to the shops. It was okay, but a little scary. I would not go after 4 or so. As soon as we stepped off property, we were bombarded with offers of "adventure" (also known as weed). They were fairly persistent, and it took a few firm "nos" to get them to back off. Honestly, you're best not talking to anyone and looking straight ahead. Don't worry about being rude. And haggle! I'm terrible at it, but all the shops have the same thing and I'm sure we could have gotten things cheaper. I knew what I wanted, but otherwise it was difficult to browse with the constant harassment.

The only time we left the resort was for a day-long trip to Dunn's River Falls in Ochos Rios. I was not very happy with this tour. We booked it at the resort, and it was the only option given to us by the concierge desk. They really pushed the full-day trip, which we agreed to as half day was $60 and full day was $67. The full day included shopping. The bus stopped at the HI to pick us up, which was the second of many stops. It took about an hour to get to Ochos Rios. The tour guide gave us some information along the way, but I've had better tour guides. Anyway, our first stop was at a shopping complex. It was fine, but we held off buying things as we expected stop number 2 to have better deals. Once we got to the second stop, though, we were not happy at all. We all got off the bus, and were divided into three groups. From there, each party was assigned a hut and a salesperson. As it was one salesperson per party, the pressure was very intense. It was clear we were not getting out of there without buying something, so we got some coasters and a little purse. Again, we are not good hagglers and got ripped off. We were then ushered into an almost identical hut where the process was repeated. They try everything (you're the only customers I'll see all day, we never see the cruise ship customers, etc.). They also all claim to make their own things (but everyone has the same stuff). At the second hut, I bought a small carving, but when they tried to take us to two more huts, we insisted we had no more money. Finally, we made our way to the bus. It was an awful experience. I was really disappointed that this is where the tour took us. It felt more like a scam than a shopping trip. They then took us to a buffet restaurant for $16 pp. This was irritating as it was not mentioned by the concierge. They said lunch was on your own, but we had eaten a large breakfast and didn't want a buffet meal. We were hoping to go somewhere to buy snacks, which was not an option. Luckily, we weren't bored the whole time while waiting for others to eat as we were able to pay $1 pp to go in and walk around the waterfall and old plantation. Finally, we made it to the Dunn's River Falls. It was, of course, awesome! Definitely worth seeing and doing. It's no break from the harassment for money, though. Your tour guide will try to sell you the DVD of you climbing the falls and beg for lots of tips. When you get done, you go through yet another craft area where they try to sell you everything under the sun. Also, bring a waterproof camera. You'll want pictures. I didn't and actually took my digital camera. It turned out fine, but was pretty risky. Otherwise, we missed out on the cliff diving in Negril, which would have been awesome, but you can't do everything.

Tips:
*Bring SPF 50+, and a lot of it! I've been to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Mexico, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic and I've never burned while wearing sunscreen. I brought a full bottle of SPF 30, and it was not enough. I applied it three times daily, and my husband and I both burned. As I said before, we saw the nurse about it, and she said we should have brought SPF 50, 60, or even 80. Oops. Bring several bottles, too. We nearly ran out. A 4 oz bottle of SPF 50 is $26 at the gift shop. On that note, fun noodles at the pool are $9, cheap shampoo is $5, postcards are $1. Basically, make sure you don't forget anything!! The gift shop is insanely overpriced, much worse than your average hotel gift shop.
*Bring water shoes for snorkeling (to avoid stepping urchins and crabs) and for Dunn's River Falls.
*Bring large insulated cups if you don't want to return to the bar often. I got good ones for $5 at Wal-Mart, and was the envy of many. (The gift shop sells large cups for $20).
*The exchange rate is more in your favor at the HI than the airport for some reason. It's not really necessary, though. Everyone accepts American money, and most prefer it.
*There is a jacuzzi that is not easily found. We only used it when we were cold from being in the ocean late at night, and it was really nice.
*The work out area is nice enough, and there are also tennis courts, a basketball court, and a mini golf area. There is also ping pong and pool. This would be a really great resort for families with kids. They should never be bored.
*We never used either of the pools. They were crowded, and the beach was so much better.
*There are plenty of bathrooms around the resort, but they got pretty icky as the day went on. Otherwise, the resort was impeccably clean. They also spray for bugs daily. We did see one roach, but really, this is to be expected somewhere tropical. It wasn't in our room and we didn't mind too much.

Overall, great vacation for the dollars spent. We really enjoyed ourselves but probably wouldn't return as a couple.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IHGCare, Guest Relations Manager at Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Montego Bay, responded to this review, May 6, 2013
Dear razzledazzle12,

Thank you for giving a comprehensive review, highlighting not only the bad but also the good. It delights us to know that you enjoyed the hotel staff service. I apologize your stay was negatively affected by the room accommodations and some aspects of hotel services. I understand the inconvenience this caused you. We value the opinion of our guests as this gives us the avenue to improve the quality and service that we impart.

Again, thank you for your valuable feedback. We do hope when pleasure brings you back to the area, you will allow us the opportunity to exceed your expectations.

Sincerely,

Zelyn N
Case Manager
IHGCare
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Boston, Massachusetts
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 17, 2013 via mobile

Second time to Jamaica, this time with kids. This hotel offers value. Things to know as a family. Before you go sign up for priority club. Your room will be upgraded, you'll have free wifi, they'll make your dinner resies and you wont have to wait in line.
Tips: the hotel is older but it is clean except the island I did find butts from non families avoiding the kids. Food: everything was good except scrambled eggs. Beer except jerk hut was warm. Wine don't try. They are known for their mixed drinks! The restaurants are better than buffet. Note there is dress code for men: collared shirt and pants but my husband got away with dress flip flops.
Don't take a 20pp shuttle or book an expensive tour. Call Palmer at Uton tours. He did our airport transfers and arranged a day trip to dunns river for a fraction of the cost. Be aware my 5 year old couldn't do the Falls and my 9 year old did it but struggled.
Rooms: we found renting 2 standard rooms gave us an extra bathroom and was less than a family suite. Calling Jamaica we were guaranteed adjoining.
Bring: water shoes and kids long sleeve sun shirts. Even though we all sunblocked we all burned. There are no kids sun shirts to be found. Good thing: sunblock water toys etc aren't like Disney. All very affordable at hotel.
Entertainment bit hokey but my kids loved it! Overall great affordable family trip. We'd go back for the value. All the staff is so friendly. Remember if you get good service tip is always appreciated! Ps get braids at water sports not spa! We also did glass bottom and was great!

  • Stayed April 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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NY
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2013

I stayed here with my husband and children ages 7 and 9 for the Easter break 2013. I read all the reviews and was a bit nervous. I can not tell you how this resort exceded our expectations and we can not wait to return. It is the first time I was ever on vacation that I wasn't ready to leave at the end.

First, I do have to say that we became priority rewards members hoping we would like it and use points to return. Upon check in (which was a smooth and easy process with drinks offered) we were told that because we booked through Apple Vacations, our points would not count and we could not do the special check in for priority rewards members. That was disappointing to say the least, good to know.

The room was great... two kids stay and eat for free and have their own room with bunk beds was a great deal!! HIghly recommend the kids suites. The bathroom was small but totally functional and had everything we could need. The room was spacious, had a safe and fridge. Plenty of room. We were happy to be in building four where everyone recommended for families because it was far away from the loud music at night but close to the playground, beach, etc.

The pool was spotless, scrubbed clean daily. The beach was amazing and raked every day too. The place was so safe and clean, no vendors, nobody approached us, security, etc. The people were so nice and friendly and went out of their way to do what they could. The private island was so nice because the kids could snorkel and find all sorts of crabs and shells on their own. It wasn't deep and no waves so we could play frisbee or relax and not worry about them in the ocean. The pool had a lazy rizer and water fall. Negative: people did put out towles early so you have to reserve them early, but if nobody was sitting on their chair, we used it til they came and everyone was nice and this wasn't a problem. Again, the staff was friendly and the people we met were very friendly.

You don't need bug spray because absolutely no bugs but we did need LOTS of sunscreen. In the gift shop everything is WAY over priced. You need water shoes if you want to do serious snorkeling or don't pay attention. We had them but rarely used them but their are sea urchins in the rocks. Bring your own snorkeling gear too so you don't have to borrow theirs although you can.

FOOD: One complaint you have to be in line by 6:30 a.m. or you will not get a reservation for a restaurant. They will only let you make one so you have to do this for each restaurant. We did this once for the Italian restaurant. It was good but again, we were with children and thought the buffet was just fine. They have a second buffet upstairs with table service so this was the "fancy" buffet. We drank the water, nobody went hungry and the food was good. They had a different theme every night and we tried different things. We didn't come to eat, so we were happy. I have to compliment the people though who make it oustanding. The omelette chef in the morning was amazing. He made so many at one time so fast and they were perfect. They had fresh fruit smoothies in the blender, and the kids loved the waffles, pancakes and eggs. I loved that they had yogurt and hard boiled eggs every morning, too. I went to get shrimp once and it wasn't peeled. I didn't say anything but walked away and the chef stopped me and asked if something was wrong. I explained that I didn't like when it wasn't peeled. He said come back in 10 minutes and he had actually peeled shrimp for me and made my own dish. AMAZING! They had fruit salad and we asked if they had just regular fruit, they brought out a plate of apples for the table. They had BBQ chicken nuggets, I asked if they had plain and in a few minutes they brought out plain nuggets for the kids. When I tell you they want you to be happy and do everything with a smile whether you tip or not, I mean it. They were great. I can't not mention the jerk chicken hut was the best although the sauce was super hot and the guys at the gril making grill cheese and the best cheeseburgers were amazing too. We did this every day for lunch. The kids could have ice cream, popcorn etc and they always made them daiquiris or pina coladas (no alcohol of course). The hot dogs were a bit too spicy for the kids and I would suggest they get regular ones. But the kids loved the independence to be able to go places and get things without us and they made friends too. There were people here but it never felt too crowded. I do hate that people can smoke though and they need more ping pong tables. There was only one and it is so fun.

I do want to mention that the playground is nice for brief periods, definitely for littler kids, so is the kids club. My kids took one look and were never go in there because it was for babies. They did go watch a movie one night because they were tired but that was it. I thinkt there was a teen center, but to be honest, it was non issue because the kids were having so much fun and didn't need it. They did a nice job of entertainment by the pool and a fun egg hunt which was super cute.

Finally, they had a market on the property to one area and they were allowed in the pool area on certain nights. Everyone was very nice and it was fun. Nobody was pushy and I think the hotel did a great job. What I really appreciated was being able to walk across the street to the cute shops over there. The front gate checked us in and out and we had no problem. The vendors over there were very friendly and we enjoyed talking with such nice people. Also, they don't tell you but at the end of the beach past the adult pool, there are some shops down there and the people were so nice and friendly there too. We got our best deals there on braids, wood carvings and jewelry. If you get burned, they were even selling aloe plants. Go there, support the local vendors.

The nightly entertainment was great for kids and my daughter participated in a fashion show which she loved! Take the glass bottom boat ride which was a great price and well worth it. It's right on the resort. The beach towel service was great.. give them your cards when you get there and pick them up when you leave. We just kept getting new towels.

One draw back to Montego Bay is all the excursions are FAR away. We only did Dolphins Cove in Sandy Bay and it was a long ride but well worth it. Great memories. If you want to do more excursions just plan on taking time to get there or stay in ochos rios or negril.

I'd like to thank the Holiday Inn staff for the amazing family vacation and I can't wait to come back. Please know that we didn't always tip because it is annoying to walk around with money when you are swimming and snorkeling but they have envelopes at the front desk where you can leave a tip for the entire staff. We did that so know we appreciated it and thought that was a great idea and very convenient.

Room Tip: stay away from building 1 and 2 if you go to bed early and 6 and 7 are by the adult beach and pool.
See more room tips
  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 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
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Additional Information about Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Montego Bay

Address: Rose Hall, 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 Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#13 Spa Hotel in Montego Bay
#17 On the Beach Hotel in Montego Bay
#17 Top resorts Hotel in Montego Bay
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Montego Bay 3.5*
Number of rooms: 520
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
*All rates displayed are All-Inclusive* When comparing Jamaica hotels, consider the All-Inclusive Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Hotel-Montego Bay Jamaica. After an extensive renovation, this favorite Montego Bay hotel looks fantastic! The renewed color theme throughout the hotel will help you kick off your Jamaica vacation. A newly refreshed lobby, enhanced guestrooms with flat screen TV's, restaurants, beach and swimming and sunning areas make this Jamaica hotel better than ever. This Jamaica resort is located approximately 7 minutes from the Montego Bay International Airport. We offer an array of services as well as optional tours. Our wedding coordinator can help you plan your dream Caribbean wedding. Please look at our package page for more information. Conference facilities available. Children activity centre from 6 months to 12 years. The All- Inclusive Caribbean vacation includes room, non-motorized water sports, three delicious meals and snacks - buffet or a la carte. Please note: Some restaurants are not open every day and require reservations. See food and beverage section for schedules. Local brand cocktails and soft drinks. *Must advise arrival flight in info field when making reservations. Taxes and service charges included. Our property offers a courtesy lounge with luggage storage area and shower facilities. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Holiday Inn Sunspree Jamaica
Montego Bay Holiday Inn
Holiday Inn Jamaica
Holiday Inn Rose Hall
Rose Hall Holiday Inn
Holiday Inn Sunspree Montego Bay Jamaica
Holiday Inn Montego Bay Jamaica
Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort Jamaica

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