We flew into Montego Bay via JetBlue with no issues or delays. We got to the resort a bit early - 10:30 am. Since check in is not until 3:00 pm, we were given our all inclusive bracelets, and were allowed to place our luggage in a locked storage room. We were also shown to the hospitality rooms (Showers and changing area) to change into our 'resort wear' (bathing suits). The hotel was not full during our stay, so we ended up on the fifth floor (top floor), with a beautiful view of the pool and ocean. I am truly not sure if this was a garden view, pool view, or ocean view room. It was great nonetheless.
A couple of initial notes on overall first impressions and generalities... The resort is well maintained, and presents itself very well. Especially after stopping at the Holiday Inn first on the way there (transfer bus stop). Though the Holiday Inn was nice, this complex was much nicer. The Iberostar Beach shares a chunk of property that consists of the Iberostar Grand, Iberostar Suites, and Iberostar Beach. The order listed also indicates the overall order of price and grandioisty! Don’t let the fact that the Iberostar Beach is the cheapest of the three, throw you off guard here... It was still great!!
The lobby is large. It is not open air, but it gives you the sense that it is, as there are many windows. There are MANY chairs, couches, and benches in the large space. There is also an excursion desk, and concierge desk (where you make dinner reservations), as well as the traditional lobby desk. The lobby did have a slight odor of mustiness or mildew, but your nose quickly dismissed it after a few seconds. In the middle of the lobby, there are numerous glass doors that exit to a little courtyard, with additional chairs and outdoor furniture. This was a popular hangout for those wanting a breath of fresh air while using the lobby only WIFI, or... for smokers.
The resort is large. The lobby is on the third floor according to one of the elevators, and on the second floor, according to another! That took us a while to figure out, and accept! I highly recommend, taking your first day there, and just exploring a bit. Try different ways to get to your room, lobby, beach, pool, restaurants, and bars... It takes a bit to master the halls and elevators. In many areas, what appear to be sparsely traveled hallways, worked out to be the most direct routes to where you want to be. A few other reviewers complained about how long it took to navigate to the beach or pool. I can see how you could say that, however, there was likely a more direct route that those reviewers missed. We were on the top floor, and it never took more than 2-3 minutes to get to the pool area.
Internet usage is available by prepaid card only. One type of card lets you utilize the internet in the business center’s fixed desktop computers. A second type of card allows you to use WIFI, in the lobby ONLY. The caveat to the WIFI card was that you had to use the card all at once. So if you bought a 4 hour card…. It was only good for four consecutive hours. We bought a handful of 30 minute cards ($2 apiece) that allowed us to check our emails once or twice a day, and call home via Skype. If you have a WIFI smart phone, you can put it in a mode where you can just use it as a WIFI only device, which allows you to use Skype for pennies a minute. Great little trick if WIFI is available!!
Getting back to our room situation…. At about 2:15pm or so, we stopped by the lobby, and they informed us that our room was ready. We were showed to our fifth floor room, which also had a similar musty smell, as did the lobby. Again, this smell seemed to quickly dissipate, as your senses grew accustomed to the light odor. The room was nice. Tile floors (with little area rugs at the entrance to each bed side), a pull out couch, a kind bed, nicely equipped bathroom and shower, ironing board, hair dryer, soaps, shampoo, lotion, etc. There was also a free to use digital closet safe. There was a tv with a good amount of stations (not an HD TV) within the hutch. There is NO alarm clock in the room. There were actually no clocks really anywhere (except the lobby desk) at this resort!
Room service in included (decent/standard menu), and the mini bar was stocked with a few cans of soda (coke, orange, grape), beer (Carib), and a couple bottles of water. The fridge is re stocked every couple days. We used the water out of the tap for brushing our teeth, etc - as the Jamaican water is just as safe as that in the US.
We made our way down to the concierge desk in the lobby to make some dinner reservations. In a semi-confusing manner, it was explained to us that you were only guaranteed reservations at the ala carte restaurants for a certain number of nights, relevant to the duration of your stay. We were staying four nights, which meant we were guaranteed two reservations. After your 'guaranteed' reservations, it was first come first serve. Interesting approach.
We ended up only eating at two ala cartes - the Japanese restaurant, and the Cajun restaurant. The Japanese was by far our favorite, though both were good. The Japanese restaurant was your typical hibachi presentation. While the food was not the most authentic Japanese we have had, it was tasty. Each couple is given soup, a fixed sushi appetizer, the meal, and access to the dessert buffet. They even had hot and cold sake if you desire.
The buffets at this resort were great. There was one main buffet that served breakfast, lunch and dinner. There was a secondary buffet at the steak house restaurant that served a smaller version of the large buffets breakfast and lunch presentation. The smaller one was also open a bit longer, accommodating those that are later risers, etc. The main breakfast buffet shuts down at 10:30 am. I cannot recall the time the lunch buffet shuts down, but i think it opens at 1:00 pm.
I should add, that after 11:00 pm, the Cajun restaurant opens up as a snack buffet for those in need of a late night bite to eat! Decent selection. If you’re hungry – it will work!
The jerk and curry chicken dishes at the lunch buffet were great. The breakfast buffet had everything you could want and then some. The dinner buffet was also surprisingly good.... They seemed to take pride in making sure that nothing sat too long, or ran low. We did not run into anyone that complained about the food during our stay. Also - no one we talked to complained about any stomach issues, etc... Which is always nice to hear!!!
The pool area was large and well maintained. The infinity edge and catwalks were nice touches. The fun staff spent a good chunk of time at the pool area in the afternoons... Coordinating games, contests, dance, aerobics, darts, etc... They did a really nice job, and were outgoing, yet not in your face too much.
The beach area was very nice as well. There were a lot of shade trees which is great if you need the shade. We are sun seekers on vacation, so we had a morning spot that was a great sun spot, and then after lunch relocated to our secondary spot for optimal sun! Not a problem. The further down beach you go towards the suites, and grand (but still on the Beach property), the more the beach opens up with less trees... Just an FYI.
The drink service on the beach was decent, with about 3 waitresses working at all times. The beach bar (hi Andrew) was also fantastic!! Have Andrew make you a triple play!!! Tasty!
You are able to walk the beach to the end; walking through the Suites and the Grand.... At the end of the Grand, there is a jetty wall, and you cannot walk any further. At the end of the Beach Resort, there is an armed guard and a sign (very secluded btw), that warns you of passing through the property line. On the other side of the property line (you can see all this from the adjacent dock on resort property btw), there are tin roof beach shanties with vendors selling knick knacks and Jamaican 'treats' from what we were told. We asked a few tourists that we saw walking back, and they said it wasn’t really much of anything. We skipped it nonetheless.
The lobby bar was our favorite evening hang out. Kevin is a great bartender, and really good guy. He had a great heart, which truly showed through in his work and demeanor. Dean (also at the Lobby bar) was a fantastic bartender and quite the mixologist. We spent a good amount of time at this bar!!! They serve cappuccinos, espressos, coffees, and of course beer and cocktails.
The liquor at the resort was pretty good... A lot of Appleton branded rums, captain morgan, numerous gins (including bombay sapphire), malibu, canadian club, johnny walker, j&b, absolut, smirnoff, stoli, and many others! Beer choices were typically red stripe and red stripe light. The cocktail menus showed other beers, but they only had Red Stripe during our visit. The caprinihas on the drink menu are delicious. Try a few flavors.
The theater bar was probably the second best one, especially if there was a show going on in the theater... Otherwise, it was usually slow. The music bar and cigar bar were also there... but seemed hit or miss. The lobby bar was usually where it was at!!
The nightly shows were pretty good. Above average resort grade in my opinion... They were well planned and choreographed. Jamaican Roots Night, Reggae night, etc... Nicely done. The beach party (singers, dj, dancing, fire eaters) is on the beach once a week. It was actually pretty fun! The beach bar stays open late for that night (otherwise both the beach and pool bar close at around 6:00pm).
Tips are greatly appreciated at this resort. No one seems to expect them. Which is a nice touch. The staff was fantastic. The bar tenders are really outgoing... The room maids are extremely friendly, and the fun staff was outgoing and polite. Since it is a private beach, there are no beach vendors bugging you. The closest thing to a beach vendor would be the photographers (staff) that will ask if you want a photo. If you say no - they are 100% ok with that! No one is pushy here - which was fantastic.
There is a disco at the adjacent iberostar resort (I think in the Grand) that we are allowed to use when they have events. a free shuttle will take you over there when something is going on. Short walk as well. There are also free shuttles that take you to a small shopping plaza a few times a day. We skipped this, as we were told the airport was the place to buy all your booze and gifts (and they were right btw!!!). There is also a shuttle that will take you to downtown/Margaretville. Which is nice, as its otherwise a $65 cab fare!!!! Cabs aren’t cheap here!
We didn’t leave the resort once... Which was awesome. We are typically the kind of people that get out for a bit, but our time was short here, and we went to simply unwind. Which we certainly did!!
All in all - a great vacation, and a excellent resort! Good food. Extremely nice staff. Average to above average rooms. Nice lobby. Good amount of food options (including the buffet!). Fair amount of bars, and evening entertainment. And - a great overall feel and vibe. We didn’t really know much about Jamaica or what to expect, but we will certainly be back!
I think all the rooms share an ocean view from the balcony...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.