Trip Time: November 3 - 10, 2012
ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios was the choice of my daughter and fiance for their destination wedding. Our group arrived on Nov. 3rd. From the time we arrived at Montego Bay airport, we were greeted by friendly staff. The bus trip from the airport to Riu took approximately 1hr. 45 min. The driver told us that they do not stop anymore during the bus trip so the time traveling was not an issue. During the bus ride the driver told us a little bit about the island and then put on some Marley videos to get us in the mood for our week ahead.
Check in went fairly well. We were greeted with a tasty rum drink. Originally, we were given 2nd floor Ocean Front Suites but since we had requested 3rd or above when we made the reservations, our rooms were quickly changed to the 4th floor.
Rooms: Our daughter's room was not satisfactory (the one hiccup during the trip), but it was changed and upgraded the very next day to a beautiful ocean front suite with in-room jacuzzi! It was beautiful. We were all very pleased with the accommodations. The Ocean Front Junior Suites were lovely and accurate to the photos on the website. Personally, we found the beds a bit uncomfortable to our personal taste. The pillows were great but I guess it is true that when you are not sleeping in your own bed, it makes a difference!
Food: We did find the restaurant reservation process to be a bit daunting but by the end of our stay, we found that we were able to eat in all of the restaurants except one (which we found was just a duplicate of another we did try). Some of the meals were very good and it just depends on your personal taste. As Americans, we have different standards than others from different parts of the world just as they do and that must be taken into consideration. We loved the salmon at Tushima excellent, the lamb chops at Sir Richard wonderful and buffets (both breakfast and dinner) at St. Anne's full of a variety that would please all sorts of pallets. The smoothies at St. Anne's were great! Pizza at Piccola Italiana was great one time and just fair the next. The fruit did surprise us...not very tasteful. I do have to say though, if you walked away hungry, it was your own fault because there was always something available.
Drinks: Wonderful. A great variety. NOT weak at all...lol. In fact, I have to tell the bartenders to go easy on the rum! In room bars were well stocked and the fridge full of a variety of soda and water.
Room Service: Had a wonderful room service. Lots of towels. Room was spotless! The iron in our room did not work and it was replaced immediately! Our towels were delivered warm!
Resort Service: There were always people cleaning! They really kept all areas very clean. If it rained, they were mopping floors because they could get real slippery.
Pools: Very clean and well maintained. Acquatic Bar was fun! Wished the pools would be open in the evening. They close at 7 PM. I imagine it was for safety reasons and possibly because of the evening "bugs".
Beach: Allowances had to be made because the ocean was still washing up debris from Hurricane Sandy. I have to say that the beach staff was excellent in cleaning up as much as they could. By Wednesday it was really looking great. The staff would come and pick up emply drink containers, etc. constantly. There were no trash barrels on the beach. They kept it well cleaned.
Fun on the Beach: The staff would visit and encourage you to participate in activities, but they would not bug you too much. They were fun and friendly. Some of the vendors (who were not permitted on the beach but stood in the water), were willing to sell you trinkets (and you know what), but they did not push. We got excellent massages on the beach next to the Riu for less than the spa.
Shopping at Riu: Shops had a nice variety. Some prices were just as good as in town but it was all in what you were willing to spend. Really like the BEACH shop.
Entertainment: During our week we saw a variety of shows: Lion King (Africa), Mama Mia, Michael Jackson Tribute, Steel Drum Review, Jamaican Singer and in-house entertainers. They were all excellent. Their dancing abilities were awesome.
Tours: JTL offered great prices. Unfortunately, the day we wanted to go to Dunn's Falls, etc. the weather was really bad for climbing (rain and high winds), so we just opted to go into town.
People we spoke with loved the Dolphin Adventures. We found prices much better than what the cruise excursions are priced. Various water sports are offered...and no one is pushy.
SUGGESTION: Take the Shuttle into Towns to shop. Much better than expensive cabs!
Renova Spa: Daughter and fiance had massages and hot tub. Said the massages were intense. We had our hair and makeup done for the wedding and the woman were very nice and professional and did wonderful jobs on us all.
Wedding: Daughter was very pleased with the wedding coordinator. Everything done as requested. Wedding on the beach/gazebo was lovely. Minister was outstanding. Beautiful flowers. Photographer was great (Michael from the resort). Everything went just like clockwork. Reception dinner held at The Steak House was lovely...and service was excellent. Sweet Little Cake was a little disappointing. Could not figure out the consistency of it (looked fine but when you put it in your mouth it tasted like it was full of water...lol....but it was memorable to say the least! It was a simply beautiful day! The best day weather-wise the entire week!
SUGGESTION: Along with a good sunscreen, pack a bug spray that contains DEET. The bugs come out at night and if you are eating outside of the restaurants, or by the bars at night you will get bit! The Deet helps tremendously!
What We Took Back: The best thing I took back from Ocho Rios Jamaica was not anything material. It had to be the spirit of the people we encountered during our stay. Lovely people who call each and every day a blessing. We as Americans (and I am sure people of other countries who read this review will agree) take so much for granted where we live. The people of Jamaica do not complain about the "small stuff" like we tend to back home. We are truly rich in so many ways, and have more than so many of the people of Jamaica and yet in a most important of ways, we are the poor ones. I hope I never forget that indeed...every day is a blessing.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.