My 2 friends and I (aged 30 and 31) decided to go on a trip together. We arrived at the Rose Hall Beach on December 30th. We received a yummy drink when we arrived. We were told our rooms were not ready, but we could go and eat a late lunch at the buffet or check out the pool. We first stood in line to make our dinner reservations, but after waiting 15 minutes, we decided we'd better go eat at the buffet before they closed at 3:00. We ate, came back and the woman was gone from the reservations desk, not to return till 5:00. We got our room, and it was better than I expected. It did not have any ants (like some people's rooms did), and it didn't smell musty at all. We had actually been upgraded to an ocean view, which was really nice.
I will admit that the bed linens were kind of uncomfortable, specifically the blanket, which felt like a piece of foam. Also, the room was actually cold with the AC on and on the 3rd night we shut it off altogether, which resulted in us dripping with sweat. It was hard to get a happy-medium temperature in the room.
As far as food goes, I thought the buffet had a really nice, large selection. I expected it to be one long table of food for some reason, when in reality, it was an entire room of food selection. I liked it for breakfast, and lunch/ dinner were ok, but there was something about the quality of the food that was lacking. Much of it was just bland or tasted different than what I was used to in the U.S., and I'm not even talking about Jamaican dishes. I'm referring to traditional American food tasting somewhat different that it does at home. I just felt rather unsatisfied eating at the buffet primarily everyday. We also had one dinner reservation at the Cajun restaurant, and one at the Japanese restaurant. We enjoyed both, though the dessert selection in both restaurants were the same things served at the buffet. I just wish they had another place to get lunch or snacks.
That being said, the New Years Eve lunch on the beach was great! It was a barbeque. And then New Years Eve dinner was very elaborate! It was served in the buffet hall, but much more exotic and interesting choices! I'm very happy we spent New Years Eve at this resort.
My friends and I decided we wanted to go on an excursion. We all agreed on the "shopping tour". The bus was scheduled to pick us up at 9 a.m., and it was on time, but we had to wait for a few other people who must have been running late or something. After a few minutes, we left the hotel, and made several other stops at other hotels to pick up other people, which was fine, except that the tour was supposed to be 3 hours long, but we didn't even arrive at the first shopping destination till 9:40, and then almost every store in the shopping plaza was closed until 10 a.m. Our tour guide said she didn't realize they were still closed, but dispite this she gave us 30 minutes to shop. Needless to say we were only able to go in one store in the whole plaza that opened before 10 a.m. I was dissappointed with this. I felt the tour guide ought to know what time the stores open and schedule the tour to accommodate this. We then went to another street and everyone crowded into one store for another 30 minutes, and then we left for our final stop which was a craft market. Personally, I found the craft market to be a very weird shopping experience. The bus driver drops off a few people at a time and you are told that you must go with one of the crafts people and let them guide you through the craft vendors. It was very awkward for me to be "forced" to look at these people's crafts which were basically the same thing in each person's hut, and then they try to pressure you to buy a bunch of junk. I did manage to get a few items I wanted, but it was just a very weird experience and I didn't enjoy it the way I was hoping to. Last, but not least, after the craft market, the tour guide said she was going to take us back to the first shopping plaza for a second chance to shop. At this point I didn't even care about those stores, and since I didn't think we were going to return to them, I had already spent my money at the other store and craft market. We ended up getting back to the hotel an hour after we were supposed to. Bottom line: go if you consider the $16 just paying for transportation to and from the shopping places, but don't expect much.
I agree that the staff at the Rose Hall Beach is pretty exceptional. Most staff members that I encountered were at least courteous and respectful, if not very chatty, funny, kind and engaging. They were all very pleasant to deal with.
I also thought that the entire resort and grounds were very pretty, mostly well-maintained, and decorated nicely. I would like to have seen a few more Christmas lights up while we were there, but overall it was really nice. There's always someone cleaning up tables, mopping floors, raking the beach of seaweed, etc. So they really try to stay on top of things cleanliness-wise.
I had a couple other minor complaints.... the beach is very pretty, but there are a lot of trees on the beach. When I think of a beach, I don't think of a bunch of trees in the way. I suppose its nice on a hot day to lay under the tree or if you don't want to get a tan. Its just kind of a shame that they're all there somewhat obstructing the view of the Carribean Sea. On our last full day at the resort, it dawned on us to go look for a few chairs down towards the eastern part of the beach were there were a lot less trees. Sadly, we only got a pool chair the first day we were there. It was getting to be later in the afternoon, so there were some opening up, finally. But after that, we didn't bother to go wait around for a pool chair and just went to the beach instead. The water did have a constant stream of seaweed floating in. I'm not really big on "swimming" and hanging out in the water anyway, so it didn't bother me that much. It probably would have bothered me a lot more if I planned to really swim or snorkel. I realize that theres really nothing the hotel can do to stop the seaweed.
Overall, it was an enjoyable trip. I would maybe go back. I feel that the cleanliness, the staff, and the amount you get for the price makes it worth it. The food could be improved upon. I do not reccommend the shopping excursion. If I did go back, I would maybe go on the waterfall excursion or parasailing at the resort. (We inquired about it on our last full day and were told we had to make reservations in advance).