Just came back after a lovely week and it may be a bit of a read, but if you manage to get to the end, it will hopefully help you make a good choice, so here it is:
There are a lot of resorts with a "grand" in their name, but this one really strives to live up to this designation. Although when you pull up to the main entrance, you may be a bit apprehensive, considering it does look relatively small, the perception changes after a welcoming wet towel, a glass of champagne and realizing that the resort sits on a small hillside and the massive lobby is actually on a third level of what - for all intents and purposes - is a 5 level structure. Then, to get to the ground/pool/beach level you take a circular, stone staircase with a fountain in the middle, that wouldn't be out of place on a set of the Titanic movie. And the fun just starts here:
Rooms: ocean view is definitely a good choice, but facing a pool will not dampen the spirits either, except maybe on a ground floor, as you will have people walking back and forth in front of your terrace and a bit of green space and bushes don't offer enough privacy, IF staying in the room is what you like, but then, don't go to the islands :) Rooms are spacious, clean, with separate sitting area and a huge bathroom: "rain shower" easily accommodating 2, jacuzzi tub, 2 vanities. Half-covered terrace with a 2 person swing, which you can enjoy even during an occasional rain. And it seems rooms were constantly checked and cleaned - ours was spotless during the stay and mini bar was refilled regularly.
Service: probably one of the best I've seen in nearly 30 years of travel. Everything is "no problem" - the Jamaican way. Always with a smile. After a couple of days, you are greeted by name. Your "butlers" will attend to any desire, 24 hrs/day, chat with you in the corridor while you are walking to your room and will scramble to get you, let's say, an aloe oil if you get sunburned. They will call the room to see if all is o.k., they will knock on the doors to make sure nothing is amiss (mind you, that one could happen at the worst possible time, as it is an all adult resort, lol!). As one of security guards on the beach (more about that later) said: "oh, you are at the Grand, the VIP place". That's how you feel the whole time you are there, like the VIP...
Grounds: pristine and beautifully kept. Both pool and beach area. Grand is one of 3 Iberostar properties located next to each other (Suites is next door followed by Beach). Staying at the Grand gives you access to all 3, including pools (eg. "Lazy river" at the Suites), activities and restaurants. But guests at the others do not have access to the Grand, except for a walk along ocean's edge. Hence the security mentioned before, ensuring your bracelet is "the right colour" when you cross the property line. And to stop any vendors trying to "sneak" on the beach, as it is private and selling is not allowed. Except: from the water. As ocean cannot be made "private", you will see small boats/kayaks/rafts floating about on occasion, offering wares. If you want to look at them, you have to wade into the water, as they are not allowed to land on the beach. A bit of a break compared to some other Islands...
Food: here is the unusual part. Often people complain about buffet, rave about "specialty" restaurants. At the Grand, buffet food is one of the best we've had. Fresh, plentiful, dishes vary by day and there are enough choices to satisfy everyone. As to restaurants, we must have had some bad luck, because lobster, chicken an tuna were rather dry and chewy, although others were raving about the steaks. Also, the Steak House next door apparently is really worth a try.
Drinks: great. Top shelf, local and imported. Including Grey Goose and such. Mohito: best ever, according to the lady that - if you can believe it - had 40 of them in a week... Bar staff attentive, some of them do look at your hand when you approach to see if you are carrying money and the strength of the drink may depend on it. Tested the theory myself, always stronger when I approached with a $... :)
Entertainment: very good. Poolside - staff is excellent, tries to get you in a mood, but leaves you alone without "badgering" if you are not in the mood and just want to bake in the sun. Shows: exceptional for an all inclusive, happen every day at 9:45 pm, at the in-house theater. Live music at the lobby bar. Disco, night club, karaoke. Uff...
Other amenities: Spa (Swedish couples massage is a bliss) with sauna, Roman bath, jacuzzi, cold well and wellness pool. Very nice. Registered massage therapists. Gym. Cigar lounge. Games room (pool tables, computers, etc). Little shopping arcade as well, plus a small casino (slots only).
Money: don't bother exchanging, carry $US. Everyone accepts happily and a much better bargaining power when you go shopping.
Shopping: free shuttle to Rose Hall shopping centre every half an hour. High end stuff mixed with souvenir shops. Perfect for "quick and dirty" shopping spree. Or, $15/person gets you a half a day trip to 3-4 different stops, including a local market, for the more thrifty shopper.
Excursions: White Witch zip line is cool. 7 horizontal traverses, 1 high angle and 2 vertical drops. Wife has a fear of heights, took a risk and had a blast. But some were screaaaming, lol! Horseback riding including a swim in the ocean (on the horse), also worth trying. Tame horses, just beware "the trot" if you are a male and it's your first time. 3 days later and I am still checking the delicate parts for damage, if you know what I mean... Heard good things about the ATV tour as we'll.
One downfall - it's a human factor that probably won't change any time soon - "chair hoggers". Yes, even here. Towels left on pool and beach chairs for hours, starting somewhere at 7-8 am. Resort has notices against blocking chairs, but not too many pay attention. To their credit, staff will pick up the towels that are left unattended for a longer period of time to free up spots, but if there is a book, sunglasses or a bag, they can't. We were next to 2 chairs at a "prime" pool spot that had towels, a t-shirt and a bottle of sunblock already on them when we got there at 8:45 am. Nobody showed up till 12 pm, fully dressed, straight from the building/room. Sat down for 20 min, disappeared into a building for an hour... Come on people, you are not the only ones around! Not the resort's fault, but still annoying. Same everywhere...
This is getting long, so here is the bottom line: a really great spot if you are looking for an "adult only" break from the everyday "blah". Quiet, attentive, with staff ready to meet and exceed your needs. Maybe not perfect just yet, but very nearly up there, short of being at a private retreat on a private island. And if a group event is in cards for you, seek out Janelle (hope I am spelling it right) - she will make it really special for you.
Hope it helps - take the plunge and enjoy!
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- Also Known As:
- Iberostar Grand Rose Hall Hotel Rose Hall
- Iberostar Montego Bay
- Iberostar Hotel Montego Bay
- Iberostar Grand Rose Hall Jamaica - Montego Bay