Our group, which we dubbed the "gang of 6", ranged in age from 16 to 56 and stayed at the Jewel April 13th - 19th, 2014. We didn't want to come home! The Jewel Runaway Bay (JRB) was the perfect place for our group with something for everyone (food choices, entertainment, beach activities, excursions). There were guests in every age group - oldsters with canes, toddlers, parents old and young, younger teens, older teens, newly weds, singles - you name it. The mix of ages was one of the things our gang loved the most.
Our gang won't go into incredible detail about the Jewel itself because many of the other reviews have covered everything you could ever what to know about the Jewel experience and we'd just be repeating all of the truly wonderful things they have all passed on. For sure, the detailed reviews helped our gang pick the JRB as the place we wanted to spend time. So, here are some of our thoughts about the JRB in no particular order.
We stayed in the Turquoise section on the second floor above the plunge pool rooms. Big rooms that could handle 3 of us each. These rooms seem to have been renovated as they had the jet showers and big, beautiful bathrooms. But the best part was the balcony overlooking the quiet pool and the beach beyond. Getting up at sunrise each morning - watching the early-bird guests routinely poke their noses out, the pool and beach staff start their routines, seeing the sun rise over the sea - what a beautiful and peaceful start to the day. The Concierge desk checks in with you periodically which was really helpful. We must give a shout out to Charmaine, who was our main housekeeper for the week - she and Ann Marie took care of us no matter what we requested - and - they left the best towel "buddies" on our beds each day!
We had originally booked two adjoining rooms in the Premier/Standard wings thinking it would be fun to be able to have sort of a "big" room where everyone could come and go and mingle at will. In retrospect, the Oceanfront Junior Suites with Concierge Service overlooking the pool and beach worked out best for our gang, but from what we saw it seemed that every room category has it's own unique vibe - some have said the rooms with no view were wonderful as they were very private while sitting on the patio/balcony and others seem to have liked the rooms on the "logo lawn" where people watching could be had.
Wow, we can't say enough about the staff at the concierge desk!! Even before we arrived at the JRB we were emailing with Sherefa and Shereka for more information. We were truly taken care of so that we had "no worries, mon"!
The JRB certainly has one of the widest, most beautiful, clean beaches (the staff raked every morning, they don't need to join a gym!) we have ever experienced (it truly rivals Negril beach). The calm, clear, warm water was to die for! Our gang of 6 was always able to find loungers for everyone as a group with enough shade under the palm trees no matter what time we hit the beach - none of that "reserving" loungers with towels early in the morning (though it seemed that at the activity and bar pools reserving loungers was more the norm). We hung out on the quiet end of the beach for the most part. There is good snorkeling just outside the swimming buoys, but go early in the morning so the lifeguard doesn't whistle you in for being outside the buoy swimming zone.
Ha, one of the great things was that you could get as many beach towels as you needed without having to sign your life away with a towel card!! We found that we each only got a towel once each the entire week - we just hung them up on the balcony drying racks and used them again each day (trying to be ecologically conscious!). It is true that it's hard to find towels earlier in the day, so we just got them at the sports activity hut after taking a hobie cat sail our first afternoon.
The highlight at the end of each day was the nightly entertainment. It ranged from guest participation, to staff performances, to local/professional musicians. On our first evening the Silver Birds Steel Orchestra was on stage - a fantastic steel drum and dancing performance. One of our gang won the "King of Reggae" title for his bootie dancing on beach dinner night! We hit the lobby lounge for karaoke (the group of teen girls dominated), sang oldies with the piano man, and then off to the disco which was pretty much deserted (all the better for our gang since we could request songs - a few Michael Jackson numbers!).
Something for everyone at the Coral Cafe buffet, great cooking entertainment and tasty grilled stir-fry at the Jade Samurai (reservations needed), a bit more formal at the Moonstone Italian which had fantastic fare, the best pizza made to order at the Jester's Court Pizzeria, informal burgers/wraps/fries at the Beach Grill. One evening the staff setup a dinner on the beach, another evening they setup dessert on the logo lawn and dinner around the main pool with twinkling lights.
The food was really good and we have some picky eaters in our gang. Be sure to try the French toast made with French bread - very tasty! Eggboy entertained everyone at breakfast - where are you from? - ah, Delaware - no sales tax, capital is Dover - Eggboy knew it all. We have to give shout out to Anne Marie, our server one evening, who showed us where the restrooms were near the Coral Cafe - she literally walked us to them - above and beyond! So, the verdict - the food was fantastic - there is something for everyone.
What to say?! Any concoction you could think up the bartenders would make for you!! We never saw anyone out of control which was a plus factor. There is also drink service on the beaches which was unexpected, but much appreciated.
We took the Chukka "Kitty Cat" catamaran cruise to climb Dunn's River Falls. We arranged it with the Jewel tour desk a few days in, though we should have made arrangements our first day as it fills up fast. First you take about a 1/2 hour small bus ride to the port in Ocho Rios, then walk to the catamaran (ground is a bit rocky), sign in, give up your shoes (no shoes allowed on the boat). Once under sail we were on to do some snorkeling for 1/2 hour or so where we saw lots of good stuff! Then everyone climbed back on the "Cat" and we were off to Dunns River Falls. Arriving at the Falls, the crew brings out the bins of shoes, so that if you wore water shoes (a must for the climb) you could retrieve them before climbing (if you didn't have water shoes you could rent them for $6).
For sure, the river/falls water is REALLY cold, so keep that in mind. The guides that take you up the Falls also records everything on video and you can buy a DVD of the climb and have it delivered to your hotel (be sure to bring essentials in a ziplock plastic bag for the climb because you get totally soaked! For sure, bring some $ for a tip for the guides.). One of our gang had climbed the Falls several years ago, so opted to climb the steps next to the Falls and got some excellent photos of our gang of climbers. The steps were many and steep, but there were some observation decks where you could hang out and actually step into the Falls water. The second deck had a little beverage hut - hmm, time for a Red Stripe ($5 US)! Dunns River Falls is like a State Park in the US. We had a conversation with one of the Park employees who told us that it wasn't just about climbing the Falls, but a place to come for a family day.
Once the climbers reached the top of the Falls, they walked back down a pretty steep path to the beach. There are restrooms near the beach (as well on the catamaran). We made it back to the "Cat" and the party began!! There was no drinking pre-snorkeling or pre-climbing, but the drinks started flowing, lunch was served (we included it when making reservations, but you could add it on while on the boat - about $10 - excellent jerk chicken), and the music started blaring once we headed back. Even our reserved 16 year old got into the scene! The "Cat" took a bit of a tour around the Ocho Rios bay sailing past one of the resorts to encourage them to take the tour! The ride was a little bit rough here and there, so if you have issues with that then sit at the rear of the boat where we had staked out our seats (bonus points, you get to see the crew helping folks off and back onboard for snorkeling - what great entertainment!).
The crew was fantastic - entertaining, safety oriented to almost a fault, informative about everything you would be doing - no uncertainty, no wondering what you had to do as things were explained in entertaining detail. All in all, a very fun time.
Two members of our gang made a pact to go Hobie Cat sailing at least once a day. It was about a 10-15 minute sail out and back with one of the sports staff doing the sailing. One day it was a yellow flag day (rougher water) and we sailed out really fast. There was another Hobie out there just sort of slowly "motoring" along so we challenged them to a race - very fun!
We also took the Glass Bottom boat ride (an undersea Grand Canyon that almost rivals the Marine Sanctuary in Montego Bay) where you snorkel further out on the reef. Some of our gang stayed on the boat and could see all kinds of fish and coral through the glass bottom. Well worth the bit of extra cost.
What to say?! The staff at the Jewel is the best. They take care of you without you even realizing it (until you get back home and have to take care of yourself!). Thank you Jewel staff, you made our vacation special with no worries on our part. Please know we will be back to see you!!!
Our gang was made up of two newbie travelers who had never flown in a plane before much less ever been outside the US or traveled to an all-inclusive beach resort. The rest of us have traveled the world and the Caribbean pretty extensively. We weren't sure what to expect with this mix of travel in-experience. Our newbie travelers took everything in stride and have now been "bitten" by the "travel bug" - woo hoo - that was the point! We hope our "gang of 6" review is helpful. We recommend the Jewel Runaway Bay with no hesitation. We are going back as soon as we can save up enough vacation time!! If you go, you will truly love every moment - enjoy and take the plunge - just GO!! Here's to feet in the sand, libations in hand, and some relaxing family time again soon!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort, one of the most complete all-inclusive resorts in the world. Located on 22 lush, oceanfront acres of Jamaica's famed north coast, this spectacular resort offers some of the best SCUBA and golf on the island. Unwind in our new plunge pool suites. Indulge in our new full-service spa. Dine around at up to 5 different restaurants and 5 different free-flowing bars including a swim-up pool bar. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Breezes Runaway Bay Resort And Golf Club
- Breezes Runaway Bay Resort & Golf Club Hotel Runaway Bay
- Breezes Runaway Bay Jamaica
- Breezes Runaway Bay Hotel
- Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort Jamaica