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“Anniversary Trip - Did we stay at the same place?”

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Secrets St. James Montego Bay
Ranked #11 of 63 Hotels in Montego Bay
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Reviewed November 25, 2012

We just returned from our 1st Anniversary trip to Montego Bay - stayed November 16 - 21st. We chose Secrets St. James based upon the many exceptional reviews on the site. Last year we went to Punta Cana and stayed at the Iberostar Grand Bavaro - which was wonderful! We did a comparison on both of these as they are the same class of hotels.

I wonder if I stayed at the same place as the other reviewers! Upon arrival, we checked into our "ocean view room" on the first floor and I could barely see the ocean if I leaned up against the wall on our patio. We had a garden view. At the Iberostar, we were escorted to our room by the bellman with our luggage - this was not the case here. So back to the front desk we went and said that we paid for an ocean view room. After much discussion (the front desk said all rooms were ocean view), we were then taken to our new room on the third floor. Much better.

The room was stocked with beverages - beer, soda, water - no hard liquor or snacks. If you want internet, you will have pay approximately $15 for it daily.

The bathroom was unique in that there was no real wall between the bathroom and the sleeping area. It was separated by a see-thru curtain - so no privacy at all when you need it most! I know I was there with my husband, but doesn't everyone need a few minutes alone (if you get my meaning)???

The beach, pool area was very nice. The service on the beach was VERY slow and we ended up going to the bar ourselves to get our drinks about half of the time. We didn't have the issue of getting up early to reserve your spot as was the case at the Iberostar, so that was a plus.

The food was fair, with the exception of the Jerk Chicken cart - truly the best thing going. The buffet was satisfactory and we ate at the Japanese (2x), Italian and Mexican restaurants. The food was the best at the Japanese restaurant and the service there was the best (Melvin is a wonderful and gracious waiter). We also went to the Piano Bar a couple of nights. The piano man at 7pm is terrific. The place is HOT, but they had just installed fans, which were going to be turned on a few days after we left - so I imagine the temperature will be much better now. if you want a real drink with top-shelf alcohol, go to the Piano Bar. There is also a coffee bar and a very nice gentleman who comes around to serve it to you in the morning during breakfast - it was very good. All, but one of the restaurants is on the Wild Orchid side.

I was splattered with grease all over my favorite shirt and burned my chin when waiting for my omelette at the breakfast buffet. I guess the cook decided to practice his teppanaki technique and grease hit me ... he looked at me and barely apologized. I was stunned. My shirt is on it's second wash cycle trying to get the grease splatters out!

We had to request maid service on our second day as we came back our room at 5pm and it had not been cleaned yet. However, the rest of the time, it was perfect (we tipped daily). Our toilet didn't work properly either.

We also participated in the Unlimited Vacation Club presentation that we were told would take 90 minutes, but took 135 minutes (when we said we needed to leave). This is a high pressure sales gimic that will cost either $26,000, $16,000 or $9,000 to join - which you don't learn until the end after many requests. You are told of free vacations if you sign up and small yearly maintenance fees, etc. We sat thru this presentation because I was interested in getting the club Mobay VIP airport pass. This pass allows you to move to the head of the line in immigration and then you hang out in their club (which was directly across from our gate) at the airport. It was very nice. However, we read up on the Unlimited Vacation Club upon our return and it's nothing but a scam, in my opinion, with a lot of hidden fees and no better pricing than you would obtain by doing your own research. I kept asking what the price would be of my exact same vacation and never actually received an answer other than it would be 25% to 75% less - huh???

The overall attitude of everyone, while pleasant, wasn't as nice as the Iberostar Grand. We found it interesting that attitudes changed drastically when management was around - it appeared that top management paid a visit on our last two days - we saw them walking around.

We also received the $200 coupons upon our arrival - these coupons went unused by us. They are for bottles of wine - if you want a bottle of wine, you have to pay for it (approx $40) and the coupons give you $10 off of it. The free house wines are fair at best - so it might be worth it for you if you're a wine drinker. They are also for the spa - facials and massages - not manicures or pedicures (I purposely waited for these coupons to get a pedicure and was surprised that I couldn't use them for this service). The spa prices for the facials were approximately $140 and you get $20 or $40 off of that. The pedicures range from $40 (25 mins basic) to $70 (50 mins spa) - very high, I thought. You can also use a portion of the coupons for a "romantic dinner" on the beach. This will cost a minimum of $200.

We did not upgrade to the Preferred Club based on many past reviewers that said it wasn't worth it. It might be worth it to you if you like to sit on your balcony and lounge in the morning or after a day at the beach/pool (the preferred club has lounge chairs on the balcony, while the other rooms just have regular chairs and a table). You will also receive snacks and alcohol in your room. Finally, the view is definitely better. However, the extra $400 to upgrade was a deterrent.

Overall, while the place is nice, we don't think we will be returning to Secrets again.

Room Tip: Request a room on a high floor and request ocean front
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank KonoTMartiD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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4,646 - 4,652 of 6,569 reviews

Reviewed November 24, 2012

My husband and I traveled with 2 other couples in November '12 and stayed at Secrets St James for 6 nights. We have traveled extensively and have stayed at a number of all-inclusives. This property was absolutely beautiful, well maintained, with stunning beaches. The suites are very spacious, with comfortable beds, lovely bathrooms, and a nice sitting area. The hotel premise is very easy to get around, with beautiful views everywhere. The staff was wonderful and made the stay even more enjoyable!

The room has a large jacuzzi tub that separates the bedroom from the bathroom. However, there are curtains should you want privacy. The mini fridge in the room stays fully stocked, but did not keep the drinks very cold. There is a safe, iron/ironing board, and they supply soap, shampoo, lotion, hair dryer, etc. The beds are extremely comfortable! There is an alarm clock with an iPod/iPhone docking station. One of the coolest features is a separate door for room service. There's a small door that you can place the food in, shut the door, and they can access it from the outside. Therefore, you never have to answer the door for food if you so wish! Each room also has an outdoor drying rack for your swimsuits.

The restaurants were very good with a large variety to pick from. The drinks at the bar had some of the best options I've ever had at an all-inclusive. Make sure you enjoy the Jerk Chicken cart- its delicious! The buffet had good selections for breakfast.

The resort brings in vendors for souveneir stands at least once a week. You can haggle with the vendors, buy souveneirs, and not leave the premises.

All in all, I would highly recommend this hotel. It's absolutely gorgeous, well maintained, and a breeze to get to from the airport.

Room Tip: I was on the 2nd floor and a lot of palm trees blocked the "ocean view" room we had. I...
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank YogaTravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 24, 2012

My husband and I got back a week and a half ago from Secrets St. James. We had a blast!! Donna @ the Marlin Bar was AMAZING!! She was so nice and made us feel so welcome. My husband loved the Lemon Slushes and I loved the Purple Rain & Bob Marley drinks from the bar. Jobe, the lifeguard, is a great guy too. We didn't need any rescuing from the pool/ocean, but he was always walking around and making sure everything was going well for us.

The Ziplining at Chukka was worth every penny!! There were 7 different ziplines and every one of them was a blast (remember lots of bug spray). The tour guides were terrific too, they were cracking jokes and having just as much fun as we were. Eat before you go because it is about a 3 hour trip, with hiking in between the ziplines (they do have food and drink you can get afterwards).

The Dunn's River Falls was a good time too (bring water shoes or buy them from the giftshop so you don't have to rent them). The trip out there was a lot longer 2 hrs vs. 45 mins (the bus driver going to Chukka was better than the one going to the Dunn's River Falls too). It was cool to see how different the country side was from the city of Montego Bay. Climbing the waterfall was a lot of fun!! When you get done you will have to leave through a little market place area. Just put your hands in your pockets and don't make eye contact (then they won't try to hustle you or try to put things in your hands. And don't tell them your name in there either!). It was well worth the trip to climb the waterfall too!!

We are kind of picky eaters, but the Jerked Chicken from the push carts was AMAZING!! We were a little leery at first, but it was so worth it (and included as all-inclusive). We also loved the Italian place. We ate there twice (probably would have at least one more time but we didn't venture there until 3 nights into our stay). My husband loved the french toast and bacon he had every morning at the World Cafe breakfast too.

We would go back in a heartbeat because of the great resort and wonderful people!!

From your friends in Iowa
One Love!!
Jenni and Corey

Room Tip: The preferred club ocean view @ St. James was very quiet and didn't have as many people either.
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank J G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 24, 2012

This place is awesome. The people are wonderful and the resort itself is nothing less than amazing. First class everything from 24/7 room service to bubble baths prepared for us when we came in for the night. Every night we ate at a new restaurant at the resort. The food was delicious at each place. The best part was how easy everything was. We were treated like we were the only ones there and literally were not aloud to do any work. The Jamaicans have the best attitude and are smiling and singing all day long. The resort even planned and Thanksgiving party for us in which they made jerk turkey, grilled right in front of us. This place is a wonderful honeymoon spot!! A+ in our books. We will be back!

Room Tip: Corner Suites have awesome views.
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank bshea20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 24, 2012

We traveled mid November 2012. No complaints what so ever! The food was excellant. Really enjoyed the italian restaurant and the hibachi grill. Seafood buffet on Friday was very good. Jerk chicken on the beach also great. We traveled as a group of 8 and we all were really impressed with the comfort of the beds!

Don't listen to thenegative comments. The food was NOT bland. The air conditioning worked just fine in the rooms. It is not a long walk to the restaurants just a short stroll. Besides with the

The staff was very friendly. Some of our favorites were Alistar at the pool and Michael the front bellman. Oraldo was also fun to listen to him sing at breaikfast.

I can hardly wait to go back.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with family
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3  Thank Barb284
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 23, 2012

This was our second trip to secrets St James. We stayed at preferred this time and found it to be nice.I don't know if I would put out the money for preferred again but it was nice. The staff at the resort was wonderful.Everyone said hello and always asked how you were doing. The restaurants were nice and I never felt that we had to wait to get a table. The rooms were clean and the staff was always accommodating
I will definitely go back to secrets again. I had a very relaxing vacation.
Make sure to touch base with Chris brown ( bellman) he will help you find what you are looking for. He will help you get a good taxi driver to take you where you need to go.
I loved the cafe! The best latte in Jamaica. Rodney definitely knows how to make a great cup of coffee!
Avoid the vacation club presentation! It's a new way to sell a time share.

Room Tip: Ask for a higher floor when you get there! The view is awesome.
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Mariweidner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 23, 2012

This was my hubby and I 2nd visit to Jamaica. Our 1st visit was our honeymoon which we stayed in Ocho Rios so this time we wanted to stay in Montego Bay. After so much research and reading so many reviews, we decided Secrets was the best place for us to celebrate our 6th anniversary. The reasons we chose Secrets: affordable price, location (15 min from airport) and the great reviews. I was kind of leary of being close to the airport thinking we would be bothered by the noise but believe it or not we didnt notice any noise for the airplanes. We used Reggae Tours for our roundtrip airport/resort transportation (highly recommend them). We paid $25 per person and it was private transportation roundtrip.

We arrived early around 12:30 pm so we were not expecting to get our room until 3 pm but to our surprise we walked into our room around 1:30 pm...Totally Surprised. We were in room 3206 and it was clean and beautiful. I love the view. Most of the rooms have oceanview. The rest have gulf & mountain views or oceanfront views. Either way you will have an awesome view. Our bed was so comfortable and we didnt have any issues with our A/C. Some days we felt like we were in a meat freezer. The refrigerator (cooler) was always filled with water, sodas & beer. Do not expect it to be very cold like a refrigerator. We was told by the maintenance worker it was a cooler so your drinks will always be cool not cold. My hubby filled one of the bathroom sinks with ice and we used that to keep his beer "ice cold".

The reason we love Jamaica is because of the people. The staff (Carol - housekeeping, Marlon - bellboy, Genius - The Entertainment Team, last name Cooper - Gift Shop) at Secrets were absolutely wonderful whether you tipped them or not. We did not feel obligated to tip anyone. We tipped whenever we felt someone went over & beyond their duty which happened alot. So make sure you bring lots of $1.

The food was really good. We ate at all the restaurants and my favorite was the Italian restaurant (Portofino) and the Japanese Steakhouse (Himitsu). We ate at Himitsu twice. We are not fans of buffet but we both agree the World Cafe (buffet) was really good for breakfast. My hubby's all time favorite was the jerk chicken cart. He ate it everyday for lunch.

The grounds are kept very clean and the landscape is beautiful. We were there during hurricane Sandy and the next day the staff was out bright and early cleaning the grounds. You would have never known a hurricane came through. I was really impressed with the way management handled this emergency situation. We were given a choice to stay at the Conference Center which they had boarded up, filled with food and provided entertainment or you could stay in your room. We are from Florida so we were not afraid of a category 1 hurricane so we decided to stay in our room. We were only on lockdown for 4 hours so we were able to come out and still have dinner at one of the restaurants. Because of the hurricane management gave everyone a voucher to return and get 2 free nights which we will happily redeem in April. I'm a travel agent and I heard other resorts did not give their guests free nights. We use to be a Sandals #1 fans but Secrets have stolen our hearts. We will be visiting St. James again in April and we look forward to visiting their other properties soon.

Almost forget....Please please please bring mosquito spray. You are on a caribbean island and mosquitos live there.

Room Tip: All the rooms have good views but request a top floor room to get an awesome view.
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank msucooper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Secrets St. James Montego Bay

Address: Lot A59, Freeport, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint James Parish > Montego Bay
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#4 Business Hotel in Montego Bay
#9 Romantic Hotel in Montego Bay
#9 Spa Hotel in Montego Bay
#10 On the Beach Hotel in Montego Bay
#10 Top resorts Hotel in Montego Bay
#11 Luxury Hotel in Montego Bay
Price Range: $393 - $1,068 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Secrets St. James Montego Bay 5*
Number of rooms: 350
Reservation Options:
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Secrets St James Hotel Montego Bay

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