The Half Moon is not the sort of place I typically would stay when traveling to a foreign country, and not the sort of place I've stayed in previous trips to Jamaica--I stayed here because it had been selected as the site of a business meeting. I generally prefer to stay in accomodations that will enable me to sample the local culture if and when I choose to do so, rather than resorts that are walled off from rest of the country. If you are in the latter category, though, the Half Moon would be an outstanding choice for you--it is a fabulous resort for those who are interested in a relaxed, beautiful, and luxurious Carribean "resort" experience.
This is a HUGE property--probably more than a mile from one end to the other, mostly running along the edge of the sea. On one end is the main hotel building, and I stayed on the other end, in one of the "villas," which are large houses with a common area, dining room, kitchen, and private pool, each with 7 guest rooms that share the common areas.
Each villa is assigned its own full-time butler, housekeeper, and cook. If you want your cook to prepare meals for you, she will--you have to buy the ingredients and bring them to her, and she does the rest. The resort has a couple of small, limited-inventory food stores (or "commissaries" as they call them) where you can purchase the ingredients, and though the prices are inflated they aren't absurd. Our cook was excellent--which isn't surprising, I guess, since it seems that pretty much EVERYONE in Jamaica is an excellent cook! You can also make arrangments to have a van pick you up and take you to a local supermarket off the property (there are apparently not many options within easy walking distance) if you want to purchase a wider range of food at the reasonable local prices, but they charge a lot (around US$40) for this service. The butler will make whatever other arrangments you want, and the housekeeper, in addition to cleaning your room, can do laundry, ironing, and the like for you.
Each villa comes with 2 golf cart style electric transports for the guests of that villa to share in getting around the property. Considering the size of the property and how widely-dispersed the amenities are, this is very nice--otherwise, you would spend your whole day just walking from one thing to the other.
Those staying in the main hotel and other non-villa accomdations, of course, do not have the options I just mentioned, such as a cook and other personal staff.
There are at least 4 restaurants on the property as well. All are quite good, and one of them, the Prince of Wales pub, is fairly reasonably priced, the others would seem overpriced even in Manhattan, let alone in a place like Jamaica. You are pretty much a capitive audience at the Half Moon, because there do not appear to be any nearby dining options off the property in this relatively remote location--if you want to eat in a restaurant, you would have to arrange transportation into Montego Bay (about 7 km away) or somewhere else between the resort and the city. Considering that you could spend 10 bucks and get a great meal at a locally-owned restaurant in town, it seems unfair to charge 4 or 5 times that much (or more) to their captive guests in most of the restaurants on the property. And the bigger omission, in my mind, is that there are basically no options on the property for traditional Jamaican food--you can get Thai food, Indian food, British pub grub, Italian, and traditional European food, but not much in the way of Carribean-themed food. It's easy to find Italian or Thai food at home, but it isn't easy to find jerk pork, ackee & saltfish, or the other delicious traditional Jamaican items one wants to have when traveling in Jamaica--and you won't really find it at the Half Moon either, unless you're staying in a villa and can have your cook make it for you. I noticed that the nearby Ritz-Carlton Resort, for example, has a jerk shack on the beach that its guests can get food from--the Half Moon would be better if it did the same.
There's really not much to suggest that you're in Jamaica--if you were magically dropped there from the sky and didn't know where you were, you might guess that it was Hawaii, Cancun, Florida, or some other tropical location--the only thing quintessentially Jamaican about the place is the staff members' accents. That can be good or bad, depending on your wants or needs, I guess--the service is great, unlike the more relaxed service typical in the islands, and you won't have even one person pestering you to buy wood carvings or trinkets while you're trying to relax on the beach, offering to braid your hair, trying to sell you ganja, or begging for change. Some may prefer a more traditional island experience, of course.
Having said all of that, the property is beautiful, the beaches and pools are nice, and the staff is friendy and highly professional. My villa room was spacious, though it's getting to the point where it probably needs a little more physical maintenance (toilet handle needed to be jiggled sometimes, some tiles are cracked, etc.). The bed isn't the most luxurious or comfortable, but it wasn't bad. Of course, this place is still off the scale when it comes to most non-resort accomodations in Jamaica, so these are very minor complaints.
All in all, if you're looking for the resort experience and don't mind paying for it, and aren't interested in experiencing the local scene and local culture, you will be very, very happy here.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A destination in itself, set on 400 acres of manicured grounds with two miles of beachfront. We have 197 individually-appointed rooms and suites and 31 villas, most of which have views of the Caribbean Sea. All of our guests can enjoy the extensive facilities of this destination, which include the largest award-winning spa oasis in Jamaica, an 18-hole par-72 championship golf course, our own equestrian centre with 28 horses and the Sugar Mill, awarded as Jamaica's best restaurant. As a discerning traveller, you will enjoy the luxury of space and tranquility we have to offer. Imagine your first morning taking in the panoramic view of the horizon, and watching the sunrise having just concluded yoga meditation in our overwater bungalow. Then, cycle to the Seagrape Terrace for breakfast before beginning a day of whatever you want. Whether you choose to lounge on the beach, play a round tennis or golf, visit a local art gallery, or go horse riding along the beach, your days at Half Moon are yours to spend in any way you wish. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Half Moon, a Rock Hotel Montego Bay
- Half Moon Jamaica
- Half Moon Resort Jamaica
- Half Moon Bay Jamaica