Our stay was during the second week of December 2011.
We arrived at Kingston Jamaica, Norman Manley International Airport at 11:15am and after clearing immigration we were outside at around 12:30pm. The Boeing 737's were filled and everyone had to join the line to get through the security checkpoints.
After all the official formalities we were outside where we were graciously greeted by our Airport transfer driver. He advised that it would take approximately (2) hours to get to the SJG Resort. This being said, we boarded the vehicle and we were on our way to the hotel.
Jamaica is a very beautiful country but most of the areas which could be seen along the roadway where we drove looked very impoverished and shanty-town-like. We could clearly see that Jamaica is a rich/poor country. It's either you are very rich or the other extreme where you are very poor. Well, for us, that's how it looked. We could be very wrong. But seeing for your own self you can make your own presumptions and assumptions.
Higher up in the mountains just before we got to the hotel was quite lovely. Beautiful river with the most amazing water I have ever seen.
We arrived at the hotel between 2:30pm to 3:00pm. It was quite a long drive, but honestly, it didn't really feel that long. I had great company next to me, so it wasn't too bad.
Okay, now on to the meat of the matter:
Check in wasn't too bad. But I had to show the girl at the desk my reservations confirmation number for her to only then be able to understand what I was trying to tell her. But this wasn't a problem or anything.
Our room was ready when we arrived but the room assigned to us wasn't the room that we had requested prior to our arrival. We asked if we could be given another room which we had requested and was told that yes, we can get that room but would have to wait another thirty (30) minutes for the house-keeping staff to have the room sorted for us.
Yes, we were tired from traveling from 3:30am but we agreed and waited it out in the lobby. We didn't want to venture too far away from the lobby area as we were not sure if it was safe enough to leave our bags unattended. So, we set on the sofa in the lobby and waited.
When we went back to the front desk to check, our room wasn't quite ready but we were told that we could go over to the guest services desk where we would be able to make reservations for our nightly dinners at the a la cart restaurants. Now, this wasn't what I expected when I went over the desk. We were told that all of the three restaurants were fully booked for the first two nights and that we would not be able to get a reservation for dinner until our third day stay. This we thought was totally ridiculous and totally unfair as they said that they operated on a first come first serve basis. I was like "this is unfair, we are all paying the same money to stay here and should all be offered the same/equal service as all the other guests". The guest services agent seemed lost and not knowing what to do but did offer a suggestion to try and go to the restaurants closer to dinner and ask if any of the reserved guests did not show up and if we could be accommodated. We thought that this was so lame and we felt weird to have to do something like that. We did voice our grievance and let them know that we were not pleased with this. But we were tired and we didn't bother too much again. We just wanted to check into our room and sleep. And oh! Reservations for any of the specialty must be made two days in advance. This is their normal policy, which we strongly believe needs to be immediately revised. And the thing is that you can't reserve the restaurant prior to arrival, because you need to have your confirmed room number for them to enter and confirm your dinner reservations.
After this, we went back to the front desk to see if our room was ready. Hallelujah our room was ready. We were given token cards for beach/pool towels. We didn't have to pay for/guarantee these with a CC. Also we were given a lock and key for the room safe and this too we didn't have to pay for BUT we were advised that in the event the pool towels token were not returned we'd be charged for the towels and if the lock and key for the safe was lost/misplaced we'd have to stand that cost as well. We agreed, as we had no other choice/alternative.
We were escorted by the bellhop to the elevator who took us up to our room. We apologized for not being able to tip him as we didn't have any local or US currency with us and I don't think that he would have wanted our foreign currency.
Upon entering our room, we could see that yes the room was nice, but it was also quite basic. Nothing exciting or fancy about it. It is in itself a very basic hotel hotel. Nothing to fall head over heels in love with. But, to be honest, it was very clean and did have all the basic amenities which would have need for our few days there.
Bed was comfortable and pillows were soft and nice, all six (6) of them. Water pressure on the first night wasn't all that great,but the next day it was good enough.
Our view was very nice. We had a direct ocean view room and we were so grateful for not getting one of the rooms that face the main room. But I want to believe that those rooms may be the quieter rooms.
We had a lovely little balcony with a small table with two chairs, which served it's core purpose well enough.
Sliding door took some maneuvering to close/lock, but I sorted that out and didn't want to make that into a big problem.
Yes, meals are all-inclusive and are plentiful. We are vegetarians we believe that more effort should be placed to cater for vegetarians. We couldn't partake of any of the deserts either as all of these contained eggs. There was also no entree or main course vegetarian dish for us and we had to eat mostly salads, fruits and all the side dishes that did not contain meat. There was always a vegetarian soup, pasta, rice, vegetable medley etc so we only ate these and had to be contented. The food was delicious and a splash of Grace pepper sauce went a long. The chefs however did try very hard to accommodate our requests. This was at the main Buffet restaurant. At this restaurant you can go in very casual in your flip flops, shorts and tee. I would advise not to go in your wet swimwear or wrapped in a towel. Not very nice for your wet body to be sitting wetting up the restaurant or your dirty/wet towel touching others or rubbing against the food. The food wasn't bad and I wouldn't say anything bad about the food at the buffet restaurant.
During our second day we were lucky to get a reservation for the Italian restaurant (La Diva). This restaurant is very nice and is on the ground floor of the South Tower. We stayed in the North Tower. Anyways, the food was quite good here and we loved the pasta dishes, soup and desert. They did take vegetarians into account at this restaurant and greatly appreciated that and must commend Andron for the wonderful waiter/server services he provided.
On our third day we were lucky to get the Asian/Oriental restaurant (Ginger Lily). Now, this restaurant is nice but I did not like where we were seated.The table was too small and it was up against a wall and it was very close to the kitchen. The menu contained absolutely no vegetarian options and we felt that it may have been been a waste to make all the effort to come to the Ginger Lily. We asked Shane (over sever) if he could speak to the chef to make a meal cooked up for us. He did ask and we were told that they could make a tofu meal for us. Our tofu meal came to us and it was quite tasty. I would not say that it was the best I ever had but it was good enough. At least they tried to make us happy by cooking something we could eat. We couldn't eat any of the deserts as they all contained eggs. We left after requesting a nigh cap of a cup of tea.
On our fourth day we we went back to the La Diva restaurant as we totally enjoyed the food there. We could have gone to the South Beach Restaurant but the time being offered to us was too late and we needed to get to bed early that night.
So, the only restaurant we missed out on was the South Beach Restaurant. But I'm sure we didn't miss on out too much. But who knows? Maybe, this may have been the restaurant we may have liked the most? I don't know.
However, remember at the a la cart restaurants (all three of them) you need to wear shoes and drink in semi-casual/formal resort wear. Nothing excessive, glamorous or fancy though. Simple and basic is sufficient.
There is a grill station where sandwiches and burgers are available at most of the day. The only time they close at the grill is from 5:30pm to 10:00pm. They then reopen from 10:00pm to 2:00am. I guess this is when guests crave a midnight snack. I don't know.
However, all the staff that we interacted with were very nice and tried to make our stay as enjoyable as possible.
The beaches are lovely. Not grand beaches. The private beach is quite small and located in front of the North Tower. The water is very clear, warm, shallow. It was never crowded here. There were always loungers available and non-motorized equipment available for guests. No wait or line up to use equipment.
The public beach in front the South Tower is nice and much larger than the private beach but personally there is nothing fantastic about it. We never had the need to swim in that one.
From Fridays, the local arrive and invade the hotel. This is total nightmare. The once relaxed resort atmosphere now turns into utter chaos. The resort becomes noisy with unruly children and adults who behave like they have never been to a hotel before. Breakfast was challenging during the weekend with the locals, as they pilled mounds of food/fruit onto their plates and gave no regard to the other guests. This was the one thing that didn't settle too well with us. We have no problem with the locals being there, we just did not like how they behaved. We were happy that they were not there during the week or else we would not have enjoyed our vacation at all.
Check out was quick and not a problem at all. Very simple.
Overall, we had a great stay at the Sunset Jamaica Grande. The hotel management is trying to bring back the resort to its former glory. This can be seen by the amount of renovation/construction work going on. We tolerated the construction noise because we knew that in future when we or other guests returned, the hotel would be in a much better condition. Staff was very nice to us. Our friends at the Spa and Gift Shop made our short stay so much more enjoyable. I would recommend the spa and gift shop to all. On our one day outside the gates of the hotel was a disaster. We were heckled and solicited to buy things that we definitely did not want. We did not feel safe on the streets of Ocho Rios and after 15 minutes we returned to the hotel. You feel very safe on the hotels compound. Stay there or if you need to go out, take a taxi or registered tour bus. Don't walk on the streets!
All in all, we would would return to the Sunset Jamaica Grande. Maybe next time we'd stay in Montego Bay for our next Jamaica holiday but we would recommend this hotel to first timers to Jamaica.
Thank you Sunset Jamaica Grande for a wonderful holiday!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Escape to the all-inclusive splendor of the legendary 730-room Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios with its spectacular variety of amenities, divine dining, spa and stellar location. A beautiful white-sand beach fringes the resort while five lavish pools meander through this beachside complex, featuring waterfalls, plunge pools, Jacuzzis, swaying rope bridge and swim-up bars. Amenities include five restaurants, two beach grills, eight bars, two kids clubs, non-motorized water sports, full-service spa, air-conditioned fitness center, tennis, mini casino, nightly entertainment, disco, shops, business center, conference facilities, weddings and much more. Services abound, offering the ideal getaway for singles, couples, families and groups. The sensational Lighthouse Waterslide opened in April 2007. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sunset Jamaica Grande Ocho Rios
- Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort Spa
- Sunset Jamaica Grand Resort
- Sunset Grande Jamaica
- Sunset Jamaica Grande Hotel
- Jamaica Grande Hotel
- Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort Ocho Rios