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“Nice Enough Hotel - But Not My Idea of a Good Time” 3 of 5 stars
Review of The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel

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The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   West End Cliffs | Westmoreland, Negril ., Jamaica   |  
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Ranked #1 of 90 Hotels in Negril
Southfield, Michigan
1 review
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Nice Enough Hotel - But Not My Idea of a Good Time”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 4, 2013

We arrived at the Montego Bay Airport where very friendly Jamaican men helped us find the private driver that we'd set up through The Spa Retreat. We found him holding a battered little sign with "The Spa Retreat" printed on it. We were expecting the driver to be holding a sign with our names on it. So, we had him call the resort and tell us our names before we would get into his little car (which was kind of old and worn but very clean). The driver was genuinely friendly and accommodating!

This being my first time visiting Jamaica, I was shocked by the poverty of the tiny clap-board shacks we saw during the hour-long drive from the airport to the resort. Then, the driver suddenly swerved up a dusty-looking drive-way, stopped at a small, lonely looking security gate and announced, "You're home!". I was disappointed, and almost frightened.

The driver escorted me and my guy to the business office, which looked deserted except for the manager. She seemed polite, asking us to take a seat. Magically, another woman appeared with two small, lukewarm glasses of fruit-punch with fruit slices (non-alcoholic). My guy and I sat down, and surprisingly found ourselves getting shoulder massages from yet another lady. It was a nice gesture, but weird for me.

Next, although we had settled our bill (including the all-inclusive meal plan) prior to arriving, the business manager asked for my visa and attempted to charge us an additional $1200 for meals! When we protested, she relented saying she must have been mistaken. But she didn't seem too happy with our not just going along with her. For me, that was a bad start to a bad vacation.

I had been planning to snorkel off the cliff-side, but during the arrival tour, the manager told us to be careful of sting-rays. I thought, "Ok, I guess I won't be snorkeling on this trip". The little sea water pool seemed to receive at least an hour of maintenance each morning. However, the bottom was still slimy the few times I got into it. So..., that was it for me as far as wading in the pool.

We selected a cottage, which was very clean and comfortable, and pretty-much what we expected. My only complaint about the room is that all the flowers along the perimeter of the cottage deck attracted "bee-like" bugs which kept me from being able to relax. There were also lots of crazy ants, gnats, mosquitoes, etc. Before I knew what was happening, I'd gotten about 40 bug bites on my arms and legs which itched horribly! Of course, that's not the fault of the resort. As a matter of fact, when I told the manager about the bites (as we were checking out of the resort), she told me I could have requested bug repellent. But I just think folks should know what they're getting into. I think the 2nd floor suites would have been a better option for us. They're bigger, more shaded, and more private.

FOR ME -- THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING:
"All Inclusive" isn't like the all-inclusive at a resort in... say... Cancun, or on a cruise ship. At The Spa Retreat "All inclusive" means 3 meals, breakfast/lunch/dinner. Since there were so few guests while we were there (less than 10 in the whole resort), ordering a meal included waiting an hour before you could eat. If you didn't like what you'd ordered, too bad (unless you wanted to place another order and wait another hour and get the cook mad at you). The effect is that there are no simple in-between meals or snacks available unless you venture out of the resort (which I didn't really want to do). We tried ordering an extra entrée at each meal so we could be sure to get something we liked, but then the wait staff and cooks seemed to be whispering behind our backs. Probably saying something like, "Look at the greedy Americans!". I got devastatingly sick on the last day of the trip. I had ordered the Jamaican Combination plate a couple of times (contained oxtails!). But I'm not sure if I got sick because of the bug bites or the food.

I spent most of the trip hungry (or sick), when I'd planned to eat like I was ON VACATION! Maybe I should have understood this when I booked it, but I didn't. Before I decided to stay here, I questioned Jamie (Spa Retreat marketing rep) several times about the meal plans, because I just didn't get it! She kept telling me all-inclusive meant "all you can eat" breakfast/lunch/dinner. So, I can't really blame the resort. However, I think you should know this if you're considering it. Don't expect to feast like you would on a cruise ship or at a larger all-inclusive resort. Lobster was out-of-season, so that took out 15% of the small number of meal selections available. There was no real entertainment at the resort. You're expected to go to RICK'S PLACE, or somewhere else if you want to party.

The service staff (maybe around 5 or 6 locals during our stay) seemed really accommodating. But there was something not "genuine" about the whole thing. I felt like they were wishing we'd just go home already (or maybe that was my OWN wishful thinking). They were really impatient with my travel companion when he got drunk one night; even borderline rude to him. Another afternoon, we were out on our cottage deck with the door closed (trying to keep all the bugs out of the cottage) when through the door window, we realized someone was rifling around our room! Turns out the housekeeper had let herself in to re-fill the ice-bucket! She scared me half to death! Why couldn't she just check to see if we were on the porch before letting herself in? Weird.

The ABSOLUTE BEST THING was the deep tissue massage on the beach! Best I've EVER had in my life, and I've had a few. Also, the owners were nice, even helping the servers clean up, and trying to entertain everyone at the little outside bar (everything is outside – even the restaurant). The other guests seemed to be having a good time with the owners. They seemed to be very familiar with each other. I suspect they were already friends of the owners (but I could be wrong).

The other good thing was the GLASS BOTTOM BOAT tour. It was fun, even though we got drenched during the daily torrential thunderstorm. It was always either too hot, or a thunderstorm because it was off-season (which I didn't realize when I booked).

I don't want to visit Jamaica again. The trip was so disappointing, I'm planning to go on a cruise at the end of this month (less than a month after the Jamaica trip) to make up for it. I also will not be returning to The Spa Retreat. It was a bad experience for me.

Room Tip: Avoid the cottages if you'd like more privacy and shade and you don't like bugs.
See more room tips
  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jamiekeeley, Public Relations Manager at The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel, responded to this review, June 12, 2013
Thank you for providing your feedback. As we were in communication via email prior to arrival, I thought I satisfied all of your questions. Our onsite Guest Services Manager, Kelly, checked in with you several times to ask how you were enjoying your stay, and had you expressed disappointment at any point we would have welcomed the opportunity to resolve your worries.

We go to great lengths to provide a clean and comfortable car for private transportation service nevertheless; we are pleased to note that the driver was friendly and accommodating. Upon arrival, we intend to welcome our guests with a relaxing experience. We are surprised that this was not to your liking as all of our guests welcome this gesture. We are however, pleased to note that you embraced the seaside relaxation massage during your stay. Our Front Desk will review and confirm with all of our arriving guests the charges that have already been collected, there perhaps was a misinterpretation of what was being reviewed.

In regards to our All Inclusive Package, you are correct all of our dishes are made fresh to order a la carte in our Blue Mahoe Restaurant, we do not offer buffet service. Our team of talented chefs pride themselves on offering an organic “farm to table” experience each and every time you dine. With respect to our Meal Plan packages, we do not set limits as far as when food service begins/ends, our restaurant is open from 6:00am – 10:00pm. Nor are there restrictions on portion sizes or the number of meals you can indulge in. Our Chefs will even prepare dishes from off the menu upon request!

We do practice responsible tourism by way of respecting the close of lobster season during the incubation period. Thank you for bringing that disappointment to our attention we will certainly advise guests of this prior to arrival.

In regards to our nightly turn down service, prior to arrival we specify that we offer this optional personalized service. We will supply a do not disturb sign in every room and advise at check-in to make use of this to those guests who opt not to receive this. Our teams also provide a customary knock at the door to make guests aware of their presence. Also, had you communicated that you were experiencing the discomfort of bug bites during your stay we would have been happy to provide you complimentary bug spray.

We aim to create an environment of peace and relaxation for all of our guests to ensure that visitors leave feeling utterly rejuvenated; body, mind & spirit. Our boutique property offers 18 private handcrafted stone cottages. Regardless of occupancy level, The SPA Retreat differs in comparison to large All Inclusive Resorts as it maintains constant shelter from large crowds, making the property a true “retreat”. During your visit we were actually at 90% occupancy however, due to the very private and intimate nature of the sprawling property most guests find The SPA Retreat provides a quiet escape from their busy lives.

The SPA Retreat is a laid back, relaxing environment with a focus on friendly “Jamaican/Canadian” service. We are shocked by your perception of our team as not "genuine" as the people truly are the gem of this country. Out of the thousands of guests that have visited us we have never received this feedback. The SPA owners live on property and truly enjoy making friends with each unique guest that stays with us. Our wish is that by the time you depart you feel a part of “The SPA Family”.
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320 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (145)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2013

My buddie and I planned a week of relaxation and golf ( not necessarily in that order)) and frankly we couldn't have found a better place for that in Jamaica then the Spa Retreat in Negril. A beautifully set up small, peaceful resort with the best service imaginable. Rustic, tastefully decorated and very comfortable rooms, wonderfully tasty and yet healthy food, spectacular sunsets (and the cocktails that go with it) to die for and above all, the peace and quiet.I have, in all my Caribbean travels, never encountered a better, personalized service then at the Spa retreat. Every single employee always there to help you and that with a smile on their face. Makes your vacation so much more enjoyable. I had one of the best massages ever from "magician masseuse" Michelle. I heard the reflexologist Peter can also do wonders. A day for us would go as follows; Get up around 7am..a swim in the sea ( often lovely dog Rosa would dive in with me), breakfast. 10 minutes taxi drive to the Negril Hills golf club. Tee off at around 8h30 ( play early as it gets nice and hot !) back in time for a late lunch, little nap, read and chill and ready for another beautiful sunset followed by a meal that would make some chefs here in Montréal jealous. For you golfers out there, The Negril Hills Golf club is a a great golf course in the rolling hills surrounding Negril. Every hole is quite a different challenge and although there are a few golf courses an hour drive or so away we didn't mind playing the same course 6 days in a row. Loved every second of it and I will definitely be back. Be it for a long weekend or longer. Highly recommended.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jamiekeeley, Public Relations Manager at The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel, responded to this review, June 14, 2013
Thank you so much for your review! We are so pleased that you enjoyed the combination of golf & relaxation during your recent trip to Jamaica. We are truly humbled that you feel you have "never encountered a better, personalized service then at the Spa retreat", thank you for that wonderful compliment! We look forward to your return one day soon, one love!
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Chicago
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 27, 2013

I have never been to a resort that provides such personalized service -- I truly felt like I was at a private retreat. LIke others have mentioned, when you arrive you are greeted with a refreshing fruit drink, a cool cloth, and an awesome shoulder/neck massage. It was exactly what I needed after my flight and lengthy van ride. I could feel the stress from work melting away. During our three-night stay, my husband and I had dinner ever night right next to the ocean. At times, we were the only ones eating there, and we felt like we felt like we were having a private ocean-front dinner. All of the staff was so friendly and provided exemplary service -- Dwayne makes awesome cocktails, and Tyrone makes dinner service seem effortless. The owners are really friendly too, as is Rosa, the resident diving dog. We had a relaxing couples massage and a facial treatment-- which I highly recommend. We stayed in one of the Rooftop cottages. The room was large, with a nice bathroom and beautiful balcony with sunset views. The only negative of the room was a little bit of street noise coming from behind the building, but that didn't bother us. We picked the Rooftop cottage instead of one of the oceanfront cottages because we wanted more privacy, and it certainly was private. Jumping off the cliff into the ocean is a must -- as is snorkling. The salt water pool is also really nice and provides a more relaxing way to experience the ocean. I would go back in a heartbeat.

  • Stayed May 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jamiekeeley, Public Relations Manager at The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel, responded to this review, June 6, 2013
Thank you for your review! We are so happy that you enjoyed the personal service and attention to detail that The SPA Retreat team extends to guests. We welcome you as a new member of The SPA Family and will anxiously await your return! One love.
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Toronto, Canada
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 26, 2013

When I arrived at the spa, I was in dire need of a vacation. I got much more than that. I was greeted with cold drinks, a cool cloth and a shoulder massage. Good start and it only got better!
The friendly staff pampered me and attended to my every need. I enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere of an adults only resort. The views, daily ocean swim and delicious food all made for a relaxing and transformative experience. Best holiday ever!

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jamiekeeley, Public Relations Manager at The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel, responded to this review, May 29, 2013
Thank you for your review, it was a pleasure to have you as our guest! We are thrilled to learn that we were able to provide you the rest and rejuvenation you desired and honored that you regard your recent stay to be the "best holiday ever"! Until next time, one love.
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Sunrise, Florida
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 24, 2013

my husband and I visited the Spa on our wedding anniversary. We did not stay at the Spa but since we knew the foot doctor, Peter, and heard several reviews about the place, my husband decided to surprise me with my first relaxation massage. I must say it was indeed heavenly, so relaxing and Michelle is a real gem, very pleasant and warm. Hopefully, on our next vacation trip to the island, we can make the Spa the place to stay.

Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jamiekeeley, Public Relations Manager at The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel, responded to this review, May 29, 2013
Thank you for your review. How lucky are we to have been able to provide you with your first ever massage experience!! We are pleased to learn that you enjoyed our signature spa services and must agree, Michelle is fabulous! We look forward to the possibility of having you as guests of The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel upon your return to Negril, one love.
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Toronto, Canada
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 22, 2013

From the second you arrive at the Spa Retreat, all of your stress will melt away. It helped that we got a welcome neck massage at the front desk! The location is stunning, the rooms are beautiful and impeccably clean, the food is delicious, the drinks are flowing and every single person working at this resort was an absolute pleasure to meet. As other reviewers have mentioned, this is not your place if you're looking for a big resort. The Spa Retreat is meant for total peace and relaxation. It is quiet, peaceful and basically a little piece of heaven. Not to mention if you're a dog lover, meeting Rosa is a pleasure. Made me miss my pup a little less while I was away. Honourable mention to both of the front desk staff Heather and Kelly who are absolutely lovely, Dwayne who works the bar and my husband and I literally would welcome to our home and Deneisha in the spa who gives one of the best massages I've ever had. Honeymoons and quiet getaways, if you want to relax this is the place. And you never have to worry about the food. Everything, literally I tried the whole menu, is delicious!!! Also a plus, getting to know the very cool owners...I'll always proudly support my fellow Canadians. Definitely a confident excellent rating!

Room Tip: Go for the seaside cottage if you can! Amazing!
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jamiekeeley, Public Relations Manager at The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel, responded to this review, May 24, 2013
Thank you so much, we are truly humbled by your wonderful review! It was a pleasure to have hosted fellow Canadians such as yourselves as our guests, we will look forward to your return one day soon. One love!
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2013

This place is heaven on earth! We just hosted our wedding at The Spa a few weeks ago and everyone was so welcoming. Not only is the location perfect- the rooms are really beautiful, the food is seriously delicious and the spa services are wonderful. There is a salt water pool, seaside bar and a private beach. Whether you're looking for a quick weekend getaway or looking to host an event, this place will take great care of you! Don't miss out!!

  • 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jamiekeeley, Public Relations Manager at The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel, responded to this review, May 22, 2013
Thank you for your review! It was an absolute honor hosting you and your guests at The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel for a weekend long celebration in honor of your special day! We will look forward to welcoming you back "home" for many more visits as you grow together over the years! Soon come.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel

Address: West End Cliffs | Westmoreland, Negril ., Jamaica
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Jamaica > Westmoreland Parish > Negril
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Spa Hotel in Negril
#1 Luxury Hotel in Negril
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Negril
#2 Romantic Hotel in Negril
#3 Business Hotel in Negril
#10 Family Hotel in Negril
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A true luxury escape located on the West End Cliffs of Negril, Jamaica and located on nearly 2 acres of oceanfront; this unique property extends from white sandy beach into exotic grey cliffs overlooking the vibrant turquoise hues of the Caribbean Sea. 18 Handcrafted stone cottages with spectacular tropical gardens and cliff side dining at the Blue Mahoe Restaurant will enhance your SPA escape. The SPA Retreat features an open-air day spa offering classic aesthetic treatments with a Jamaican flair. The adults only, SPA Retreat features a sea water pool, sandy beach deck, A/C, free Wi-Fi, in-room safe, yoga and specialty tours to enhance your experience. The devotion to quality and service familiar to The SPA’s Canadian locations continues to surpass guest expectations from the moment your flight touches down. We look forward to having you as our guest! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Spa Retreat Hotel Negril
Heart Beat Seaside Retreat Negril

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