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“Secrets St. James Montego Bay Jamaica”

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Secrets St. James Montego Bay
Ranked #11 of 63 Hotels in Montego Bay
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Virginia Beach, Virginia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Secrets St. James Montego Bay Jamaica”
Reviewed February 17, 2013

TRAVEL: Customs in Jamaica is quick/easy. Transportation from aiport to hotel is 20 minutes. TIPPING: Bus/Car Service and Bellmen wil expect tips. We did tip at restaurants. It is unclear if it is expected at restaurants & by bar/wait staff. Bring plenty of $1/$5 bills. You will not be able to get change at resort (not even by wait staff!)
CHECK IN: Pleasent enough, but more lengthy than necessary. They will try to sell you some sort of time share. We arrived around 1:30 and room was not ready. It was ready at 3:00. No big deal. Just FYI.
ROOMS: Appears that all rooms have ocean view. Not sure if it's necessary to pay for upgraded ocean view room. We stayed in St. James Preferred Club Ocean Front Room and it had a great view. Ocean is very close to property. I do not recommend getting room on first floor unless you have a handicap. There are beautiful peacocks that appear to annoy the people on the first floor rooms.
POOLS/BEACH: Nice Pools/Beautiful Beach-clear water. Ample seating with umbrellas.
Service for drinks was lacking especially at the beach.
DRESS CODE: They are serious about the dress code. Men must wear long pants for dinner. Women must have cover ups for bathing suits at lunch.
RESTAURANTS: All were good. Himitsui requires reservations to sit at the Japanese Grille. It's fun and food is good. Make this reservation immediately as it's difficult to get into. Seating outside of the grille does not require a reservation and the menu is different and is also excellant.
BARS: This was lacking. Daytime had plenty of bars. Nightime had one Piano bar with limited seating. There were no bars to just hang out at before or after dinner. The outside bars closed at 5:00.
SHOWS: This was lacking. They have a house band that is good and they had one night of "Madi Grais" that was fun. But, no real entertainment
SPA: Very nice. We had a couples massage. Bring your bathing suits and arrive 1 hour prior to enjoy the facility before your massage. It is very expensive, but, nice.
CHECKOUT: We had a lot of problems at checkout. They have a lot of computer problems there. There credit card machine was down and they seemed to have difficulty handling this. Allow plenty of time for check out.
SERVICE: lacking. We were suprised at the lack of general service. The majority of the time we had to get our own drinks. Waiters would walk by us and not give us eye contact. Overall we found the staff to just be lazy. I guess this is what is referred to as "Island Time"
OVERALL EXPERIENCE: We had a great time. Great food, Great pools, beaches, Great room, Easy access from the aiport. Just a few service issues, but, I still recommend it.

Room Tip: Our room was near the Spa at St. James which is very quiet and private. St. James & Wild Orchid...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Pam M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed February 17, 2013 via mobile

We have traveled down south once a year for the past 15 plus years usally traveling with 4-8 people this is the first time we went with just the two of us. We thought it was our best trip yet! If you don't mingle and have fun with the workers they will leave you alone but if you want have fun they are a blast! I don't understand some of the peoples complaints though if your at a buffet wouldnt you expect to get your own drinks? Some people just like to complain. We will go back again everything was what we expected and it was kind of a hard choice because the last time we were in Jamaica we stayed at couples swept away which was also a good resort but I would give the edge to secrets because there was always something going on here with the entertainment. We don't go down there for only the food like some we go to have fun relax party or whatever we want on any particular day that's why we go on vacation

  • Stayed January 2013
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Helpful?
2 Thank Darylhemann
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bedford, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
144 reviews
55 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 154 helpful votes
Reviewed February 16, 2013

We stayed in the Secrets St James in January and consider this hotel to be the best all inclusive we have stayed in to date. We normally have 2-3 all inclusive holidays a year so I make this statement with some certainty!

The flight out of London with Thomson was very long. It should have beeb 9.5 hrs but ended up being 11.5 hrs due to head winds. When we arrived we luckily only had a 25 minute transfer to the hotel.

Upon arrival check in was swift and we were escorted to our room by a porter who explained all the relevant aspects of the room. The view was stunning and the room was lovely. As is the new trend in hotel, they have glass doors for the toilet, but being a couple this doesn't bother us but may be an issue for others. There is also no door to close to have a bath in private as it is in the middle of the room. Again not issue for us, but it may be for non-couples sharing. As there are mainly americans and canadians visiting you have quite a selection of american channels to watch. Mini bar is included and is stocked with soft drinks and red stripe beer daily. We also received a complimentary bottle of rum for in the room on arrival. The beds were also noted by many guests. The mattrasses are massive and the bed is very comfortable. The only downside to the room was on the balcony where the elements had made all the metal lamps etc turn rusty which wasn't a very pretty sight and there were some cracks in the rendering, but only a minor point.

The setting of the hotel is beautiful as it is right on the tip of Montego Bay so there are stunning views all round.

The main pool was very nice, had a pool bar and the beds were very comfortable. Unlike other resorts you can have as many towels as you like here as it is very much all about your comfort and enjoyment which was the theme throughout. The only downside to the pool with pool bar is that due to its position when the sun goes in the water cools down quite quickly from 4pm onwards.

The cocktails are the best I have had in a resorts and you can anything you like whethere on or off menu. There are also imported brand drinks that are included and bottles of Heineken beer in the lobby bar which we unfortunately didn't find until the day we left.

There are many bars to go to and during the day you may want to try the one on the seafront as it has swings around the bar so you can rock with your cocktail looking out at the water.

You will never want for food. Breakfast is continental buffet with the option of having certain things such as omlettes made to order with an offer of a Mimosa to start your day as well as the resident peacocks displaying outside the restaurant. Lunch is also buffet style or you can try one of the 7 specialty restaurants. In the afternoon the jerk chicken van and the fruit van come round all the pools to offer more food. The Jerk chicken does indeed seem to be the talk of the hotel as you will have noted from other reviews. We visited the french and italian restaurants and the food there was simply beautiful and very well presented. You feel like you are in a five star restaurant.

Entertainment was hit and miss. The bands were generally very good but the acrobats and jugglers not so much as they kept dropping things....We didn't see much of the entertainment team but there are things to do for people who want to do so.

All through out holiday we were impressed with the staff. Although they obviously appreciate tips, they make every effort to ensure you have a good time which was refreshing to see. The only disappointing encounter we had was on check out where a form was pushed our way to complete and we were not asked whether we had had a good time or not at all. It was a case of pay and leave, but all the other staff made up for that.

The weather in January was gorgeous and I would recommend going this time of year. It was 28-34 degrees whilst we were there.

Unfortunately I was ill for most of our holiday (neuro virus, so nothing hotel related) so was unable to expeirence more of what the resort had to offer which I am gutted about. However, what I experienced of the resort was such that I would go back and do it over again.

Room Tip: Upon checkin were asked if we wanted to upgrade to a ocean front room. We didn't and I am pleas...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
9 Thank wiffy0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Liverpool
Level 4 Contributor
42 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed February 15, 2013 via mobile

Had an amazing time at the hotel, great food & cocktails, fab room and the people are brilliant would defo recommend 8-).

Booked trips via travel agent inside hotel by coffee shop much cheaper than rep.

The only down side was my husband wasn't very happy having to wear long trousers to get in the restaurants he likes to wear shorts on holiday like most of the men we spoke to while we were there. But other than that fab.

  • Stayed January 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank tracylynch01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tampa, Florida
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed February 15, 2013

Excellent luxury property, well designed resort layout, restaurants, rooms, public areas. Staff were exceptional & friendly everywhere - especially Sydonnie- Preferred Club, Stephene- housekeeping, Billy and his bellman, Lylibeth Eaton& Marjorie Clarke - Group Sales, Caulette Norma - rooms & Sheerene Facey- Thelwell - Events.

Beach - soft white sand, sea - turquoise jewel, gardens - tropical colorful. Spa very relaxing. Nightly entertainment very enjoyable.l

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Carolyn K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Detroit, Michigan
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed February 15, 2013

I am not sure if I stayed at the same resort as a lot of the reviews I read about on this site. Maybe a lot of people had 5 star stays at a 3 star resort. There was some good things about it such as it was extremely clean. The service was attentive, the rooms were new, the Piano Bar was nice as was the Steele Drum Band one evening. It was nice not to have people hustling you all the time for drugs. But the food was average at best, some of it was inedible such as the Jerk Chicken guy who gave you chunks of bone more than anything. The workout facility was completely inadequate for a resort of this size. This was a place where you could not have any privacy on the beach. It also seemed like there were quite a few corporate retreats there during our stay. We have been to Jamaica 10 times over the years so I never expect much from the food but this was disappointing.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank DukeDetroit_Michigan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SWO_STJconcierge, Manager at Secrets St. James Montego Bay, responded to this review, May 16, 2013
Dear Valued Guest:

Thanks a million for your review; it is greatly valued. We are happy that you enjoyed the service provided, the cleanliness of our resort, nightly entertainment, rooms and bar.
It is indeed disheartening to hear of your disappointment in our food and gym facilities. We have taken these troubles into thought and I am happy to advise that they have since been reviewed. Our gym has recently been refurbished and we have made an improvement in our food and beverage department resulting in an increase in the quality of the food.
It is our hope that you will return to see these changes!

Warm Regards,
Christina Smith
eConcierge Assistant
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indianapolis, Indiana
Level 4 Contributor
40 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed February 15, 2013

Overall, not bad, but not what I expected for the money paid. Not as nice of an experience as we had at the Secrets Maroma Beach (SMB) property in Mexico. We would try another Secrets property, but would not return to this one nor recommend based upon our experience.

Here are some of the pertinent details upon which our judgment is based. Also note that St. James (SSJ) and Wild Orchid (SWO) share the same property and restaurants and this review applies to both.

Resort: Layout poor, particularly the area near the piano bar where the majority of the evening entertainment was performed. The stage was about the same level as the seating areas and you could not see, along with limited seating it was sub-par. The pool areas had tight walkways with the popular shuffle board right in the middle of a main walkway and not space to squeeze by without disrupting. The pool bars were somewhat inconveniently located with poor access from above ground, requiring one to walk through an awkward path through the sunbathers to reach the bridge to the bar and restaurant. The front "Rendezvous" bar at SSJ was in a bad spot and not a focal point for hanging out, much different from SMB where the front bar was amazing with inviting, cozy seating. SWO had a better bar, but still not as nice as SMB. Positively, the resort grounds were well-kept and the buildings, pool decks and walkways well maintained. It is on a beautiful piece of Montego Bay and we were happy with the physical location.

Staff: As an over-generalization, they were a little too "cool" and not the open, warm staff we experienced at SMB. Some call it laid back, but to me that is not an accurate definition. Only a couple instances I would describe as rude, though, which is more than there should be, but not the predominant feature. Certainly there were multiple exceptions, but this was our overall impression. Much of the service in the bars and restaurants was unnecessarily slow, and we even had a night at a buffet-style restaurant on "rib night" where the server came once and never returned, including not bringing us any beverages. We were there for 60 minutes as well, which is ample time, and it was not very busy. There were some great servers and bartenders who busted their humps, including a particular one at the Marlin bar who did a great job.

Tipping: Supposedly "gratuity included", which we do understand means to still plan on tossing a buck or two for good service. At SSJ/SWO, tipping seemed to be expected, which is a turn off. Another couple we spoke with felt the same way. We are not cheap when it comes to tipping and are generous when someone offers even adequate service.

Rooms: The biggest positive for us, I would say. They were cozy, well-appointed and clean. The front desk switched our initial room for us from the 1st floor to the 2nd floor at our request due to noise and lack of privacy. Our sliding door was literally nearly on the pool deck to SSJ. Our front door was within a closed hallway which is very loud due to echoing and a problem we had a SMB as well. They accommodated the change quickly the following day. The second room was much better location and the entry door was not within a closed hallway, which really helped with noise. The housekeepers were great and they kept our mini-bar stocked with extra beverages that we had been drinking, rather than ones that we were not.

Restaurants: As noted, service was variable from very poor (to where I would have left a quarter tip in the US) to some exceptional, with it generally being sub-standard for US restaurants and certainly for a luxury resort. The food at the Jamaican restaurant (Blue Mountain) was very good and the best of the restaurants. Breakfast had some great selections as well. The hibachi restaurant (Himitsu) had pretty good food, but the show at the teppanyaki table was terrible. It was essentially watching someone cook, no flare at all. At SMB, Himitsu had phenomenal food and a great show, thus we hoped this would be the saving grace of our restaurant experience at SSJ. The remainder of the restaurants were not very good, some even bad. To be fair, it could have been our selections, but again, other guests told us they felt the same way. We also cannot comment on the French restaurant as we did not eat there. The fruit cart, coconut cart and jerk chicken cart that made rounds in the afternoon were all wonderful. The chicken was honestly the best food there. We did not try room service.

Beach: Decent amount of beach front horizontally, but the depth of the beach is very limited, leading to tight seating with stiff competition for the handful of good spots. While you are not supposed to reserve seats, this was the standard at SSJ. We thought it would be similar to SMB (which has a fantastic beach) and that there would be ample seating with decent spots available, but we were dead wrong. On our first day, we waited to get a spot until after breakfast at around 10 am and ended up in a corner where the water sports activities hut is located. This did not have a view of the bay and was without immediate beach access, due to the boats coming and going. The swimmable beach was only about 100ft away, but we were not in a nice spot to be certain. We had to get up at 7am to reserve one of the 20-30 premium spots, which was frustrating and diminished the experience.

Entertainment: The planned events during the day were fine, but definitely mediocre at best. There were many nice water sports available included at no additional cost and we enjoyed these, though they want to charge you $10 for someone to show you how to use the Hobies, which is absurd. There were motorized activities available for a fee and we did not partake. The night entertainment was primarily situated by the aforementioned poorly laid-out stage outside the piano bar, with only 2/7 night in the main auditorium, which was oddly enough also poorly designed. The programs were decent (when you could see or find seating), though not as good as at SMB, where we felt the entertainment staff really worked hard to put on a good show nightly.

Unlimited Vacation Club: One of the bigger turn-offs for us, though this is not exclusive to this resort from what I understand. It is a sales pitch where they try to get you to buy into a "discount" vacation club at resorts owned by the parent company that runs the Secrets chain. To be fair, we did not go so cannot assess the pitch or if it truly only takes the 90 minutes they tell you. What we can comment upon is the fact that we were confronted by the concierge twice trying to get us to go. We told her it was not of interest to us, still we were asked when seen. This became awkward to the point that we avoided walking through the front lobby and using the front bar. When we are paying the cost of staying at a luxury resort, I do not want to be bothered with sales pitches for what appears to be analogous to a time share and find this unprofessional. In my opinion, they should give a handout with the highlights and let the guest contact the concierge if they are interested.

Room Tip: At least on the 2nd floor and not in an enclosed hallway seem to be key to limit noise and maximize...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Brian K
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

Property: 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 Spa Hotel in Montego Bay
#9 Romantic 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
#11 Family Hotel in Montego Bay
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Secrets St. James Montego Bay 5*
Number of rooms: 350
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Secrets St James Hotel Montego Bay

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