We travelled as a family of four, with 2 children aged 6 & 9. The location and setting is top notch. We had a Beachfront Room on the Atlantic Side, and it was wonderfull to wake up early and watch the sun rise, which I did on numerous occasions.
The disappointment stems from lots of little things, that if they happened once, you would just overlook, but they happened again and again and became irritating and annoying.
My Children are by and large not bothered about Kids Clubs. They may pop in the odd time now and again if something takes their fancy. However, you try finding out what goes on in the Kids Club. For the first few days of our stay it was advertised in the lobby area, but then it disappeared. The guest services had no idea of the activities on offer, which sort of defeats the idea of having guest services.
As a family we spent most of our time by the 'main pool'. Shirley, who worked behind the bar is an absolute daimond. However, I lost count of the number of times my kids would pop to the bar for a drink, and come back and be disappointed because they did not have what they wanted (usually shakes and smoothies). This occurred virtually every day, and was staggering that the raw ingredients needed were not available. The same could be said of Ice Cream (only available from CoCos which was a good walk away). The only ice cream on offer seemed to be Rum and Raisin - for kids ?
The set up surrounding evening meals was extremely disappointing. Docksiders is a buffet restaurant, with limited choice. Rainbow Gardens was off a menu, which when open was very good. CoCos had the same menu all day and night (Burgers, Ribs etc). When the Rainbow Garden was shut (which seemed most of the time),you could pretty much guarantee a 40 minute queue to get sat down in Docksiders - made all the more frustrating by the ample empty tables - we were advised that they had insufficient cutlery ! Such was the time spent queuing, and then waiting for the kids meals to arrive (this took from arrival at the restaurant to food arriving for the kids over 1 and a half hours on 4 occasions), that the adults were basically left with the scraps of the buffet - we even resorted to eating bread only on one night.
There is a distint lack of atmosphere on an evening. Restaurants did have live bands, playing whilst you ate. But beyond that, nothing. There was simply nothing to do after the meal. The Jacaranda Bar is adults only after 9 pm, and during our stay they had a DJ on from Thursdays to Saturdays only - that started at 9 pm. I am not bothered about 'in your face' entertainment every night, but I would expect some choice. CoCos was an ideal location and size for somewhere to have a bit of atmosphere, but was completely wasted. So if you have kids, and want a drink past 9 o clock you have to sit in the lobby.
It is the first time as a family we have been to the Caribean, but the seventh time we have done All Inclusive. St James was better than some, but considering the cost of the holiday was worse than most. I felt very short changed, and disppointed. A stated it was just the culmination of several things that left us feeling disappointed.
I would not visit St James Club again, largely because I do not consider it worth the money based on our experience. It is advertised and sold as a family friendly resort, but it was not that at all.