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Secrets St. James Montego Bay
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Reviews (6,891)
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Reviewed August 4, 2010

My wife and I just returned from a 5 night stay in the preferred area of Secrets St. James. I'm 45 and she's 39.

1. The location is phenomenal. Ocean views everywhere, and a wonderful view of the mountains over the bay.

2. Service was outstanding in every way. Pleasant people always asking if you were enjoying yourself and asking to help in any way. I always slep with a fan on that I bring on trips(can't sleep in total silence). The fan broke the first evening. I called to the front desk to see if they could help. They called into town, got a price, and arranged for a worker coming in that evening to purchase the fan and bring it to me. The did so, and even brought me back the change since it turned out to be $5.00 less than anticipated.

3. Room was immaculate and beds were incredibly comfortable. Only weird thing was the toilet located right next to the shower with a fogged glass wall. NO privacy at all. Would be very uncomfortable for people who weren't couples, and some who are.

4. Ate around 6:00 every evening and were usually one of only a few people there. Seems most people ate around 7-8 p.m. You can wear nice shorts and a collared shirt to all restaurants except the French, which requires dress pants. Portions were just right, which encouraged you to try appetizers and desserts. EXCELLENT food. Mexican was probably the worst. All of the restaurants had a great atmosphere, and most had a wonderful view of the bay and mountains. We ate outside whenever possible.

5. Perfect weather even at the beginning of August. Temps in the mid 80's. Every day started off calm, then the wind picked up around lunch. You could see heavy storms in the mountains, but they tended to stay there, and not reach the resort. This happened almost every day, and we only got any real rain one afternoon.

6. Most activities were oriented around the water and pools. Snorkeling turned out to be our favorite, and we had never gone before. So fun, we intend to plan future vacations around great snorkeling.

7. Shopping excursion was fun, but prices were high once we got to look around later and compare. We went on the Dune Buggy excursion and had a blast. Like a roller coaster ride through the mountains. Got nice and muddy along the way.

8. Nice fitness center. We worked out with free weights every morning. Had an instructor who actually helped out a gentleman who had sustained a fairly sever injury just prior to the trip with physical therapy.

For those who are prone to get caught up in minor details, you will find flaws with some of the construction. Who cares? The location was phenomenal, the people were great, the food was terrific, and the atmoshpere was care free and worry free.

Will highly recommend to couples, maybe not so much to friends or singles.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank DennisBurgard
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 3, 2010

My wife and I just returned from this resort with another couple and had an amazing 7 days! The shear beauty of the location overrides any problems the hotel may have had. TripAdvisor reviews on this place are dead on. Our trip mirrored what we had read before so there were no surprises.

The biggest problem is the check-in experience. It was awful. Took us 6 hours to get to the right room. We were slated for a king suite on an upper floor but when we checked in we were put in a two queen on a lower floor, even after calling 2 days before to confirm. The front desk said they have no way of reserving certain bed types or to know who was checking in or checking out (how is that??) I chalk this up to the hotel being 4 months old. The hotel staff did make us right for it, leaving a bottle of wine and bouquet of flowers in our new room.

The rooms here are incredible, both inside and outside. We were in a Preferred Club Suite on the 4th floor. The only thing you gain with the PC is a 24 hour mini snack bar, self serve wet bar and personal attendant in the lobby who can get you those hard to find items (like Bud Light). You also get an outdoor soaking tub (jacuzzi without the jets) outside on your balcony overlooking the ocean. There is also a PC only bar by the PC pool but really there is no way to keep those out who didnt pay for the room upgrades. I recommend the upgrade considering its very cheap. Minibar is restocked every day (they missed 2 of our 7 days). Leave a couple $ and a note if you want something special, we stocked up on bottled water. The shower and indoor jacuzzi are top of the line.

Hotel wait staff are the friendliest I have ever encountered. We had one lady who was putting sun tan lotion and bug spray on guests, giving us hugs every morning, just awesome. The hotel management could use some refining but the wait staff here makes up for any problems.

Food was pretty good overall. The best restaurants in order are Bordeaux (rack of lamb), Portofino (chicken parm), Blue Mountain, HIbachi, and El Patio. World Cafe has an UNREAL breakfast and lunch buffet, cant miss those! Only the Mani Lani in Hawaii had a better spread (barely). What we weren't told by CheapCaribbean or the hotel was pants are mandatory if you want to sit inside the restaurant. If you want to wear shorts, eating outside is fine. I didnt bring any pants and had to go into town and scrounge up a pair. They will let someone inside wearing holey, paint stained jeans with sneakers and a t-shirt over someone dressed to the nines in Polo Shorts and a Tommy Bahama shirt. Best to get to dinner before 7:45 as it fills up fast and almost every place has a 45 min wait. After dinner and at night, hang around the Piano Bar. Its a ball and they always have the house band play at 8:00 usually followed by a show or event. Lead singer for the house band sings like Seal, its awesome. The two casual lunch restaurants at each pool are ok at best. We went twice to switch up from the buffet to grab a burger. The Beach Club is a restaurant just past the Spa which is very,very good (not included in your stay) if you want to change it up. The coffee bar is unreal. Garfield makes a mean latte. Blue Mountain coffee makes Starbucks look like Folgers. Room service here is terrible. the food is awful and it takes around 2 hours to get lunch or dinner because all the meals are made at the Orchid portion of the resort and then wheeled over. I had a steak one night and my wife the jerk chicken and we couldnt eat more than a bite. no matter how tired or drunk you are, make the effort to go to one of the eateries on resort.

Activities and excursions at the resort are great. Snorkeling, Hobie Sailboats, sea kayaks are all free. Para-sailing, scuba diving, guided snorkel are all things you have to pay for. Make sure you sign up 30 mins before the free scheduled snorkeling as it fills up in about 5 minutes. The water and beach are as good as can be in the Caribbean. We took the guided shopping trip which was disappointing but a good cultural experience. The bus driver takes you to these crappy tourist shoppes and markets where he gets a kick back. If you want top notch, high end shopping, arrange to go to the Rose Hall Shoppes, just a few miles away.

Which leaves the spa...OUT OF THIS WORLD AWESOME! it has to be a top 5 spa in the world. My wife and I got 2 Swedish massages for $180. Just ask for them to slide the wall back and it turns into a couples massage for $50 less. What they don't tell you is there is an hour long heat and water therapy circuit included before your massage. 10 mins in a steam room, cold shower, 10 mins in a sauna, cold shower, 10 mins in hot tub, cold shower, 15 mins in a jet massaging pool, then a complete dip in an ice water bath followed by a hot water foot walk and then 10 mins relaxing in a covered chair. All before your treatment begins. Its a bargain and an experience. I would highly recommend at least one trip to the spa.

Until you get to the hotel, dont let go of your bags or your loved ones. Most of Jamaica is out to hustle and get anything they can. I was worried at the hotel when the bag men refused to let me handle my bags but thats only because its hotel policy and they were just fine with our bags. no worries there. Arrive at the Jamaican airport for return a minimum of 3 hours early, its a scary and crazy process.

Best:
-wait staff and the Jamaican people
-views/beach/ocean
-spa
-breakfast buffet
-room experience

Worst:
-check in process
-room service
-pants policy at dinner
-wifi is very spotty and requires you to login every single time you open up the internet

my wife and I will definitely be going back here again. We are going to stay at the Punta Cana Secrets resort next year in the DR.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5  Thank Ousieks1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 3, 2010

A wonderful property that I recommend to anyone visiting Montego Bay. The service was great, everyone on staff we encountered wanted to make sure we were having a good time. The food was very good, there was something offered to satisfy everyone. It is a great atmosphere for romance or relaxing, whatever your choice. We will definitely return.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank SDN11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 3, 2010

We were at St. James from 7/24-7/31.Overall, we had a really good time at Secrets. It did lack the “wow” factor for me in certain areas. I would say that it was a 50/50 split in terms of how the staff treated you. Some of the employees were so eager to help you while others could care less that you were staying at this hotel. I found that if you tipped these nonchalant employees were more apt to treat you just a tad nicer. The location was great even though immigration at the airport could be a little long. I liked staying at the St. James side as it was quieter and the walk to the restaurants was nice after eating and drinking24/7. The “island time” got a little much at this resort. I know I am on vacation and have no where to be but it got a little ridiculous at times waiting for things as simple as a straw. The major issue that I must say got resolved was check in. This is when I thought the vacation was starting of just like all the bad reviews have mentioned. The person we dealt with was not in the mood to be there checking us in, nothing was explained to us at all. If I did not do the research on this hotel myself, I would have been lost. We got to our room, it was immaculate. Gorgeous view and looked just liked the pictures. We soon figured out we were the first ones to stay in this room because it did not have a clock, blow dryer, room service menu, soap dishes or iron. The safe was not working either. When I called the concierge she said we would soon get help for the safe and get us the missing items. After waiting for an hour and half, I started getting anxious and impatient. I walked down to the concierge and dealt with a nice woman who could only offer us a different room in the morning. I told her we would be happy staying in the room if we got what we needed, she said she couldn’t guarantee us that. Finally we got what we needed and unpacked. Then we get a call form the hotel manager advising us that we will need to be moved because they are starting construction in the morning. Why would a 5 star resort put us in a room with no basic amenities while there would be construction? Regardless, we got a new room the next day which had an amazing view. The hotel manager was very professional in this instance and called to check in twice.
There were many pools you could choose from or beach areas. Some were more livelier than others so you could have your choice. They did have waiters at the pool and beach. The bars were so close by you could also get up and get one your self. We chose to sit at the quieter St. james pool and loved relaxing. There were some pool float hoarders which was ridiculous becuase there were not many people at this pool and many floats. Even when they were told the floats need to be in the pool, 5 min later they would go grab it again -go figure.
I would say the food ranged from ok to good. The breakfast buffet you could have whatever you ever wanted for breakfast. Lunch at the buffet was good while I did enjoy seaside grill. We really were not fans of Oceana at lunch as we felt the menu was limited. Dinner was really good at Bordeaux that we repeated it 2x. Himutsu was good as well. We did not do the tepanaki table. In our opinion again, we did not care for El Patio and the service was very slow. What was weird to us was that we were given one room service menu and it had variety, we ordered it one night and then were told that they are changing the menu. We get the new menu and there was barely anything on it to order. The desserts at dinner were like other have said. They are from a box and lack presentation
Entertainment at night was fun. They had good bands and the famous steel drum band was not to miss. The piano bar was a lot of fun and the club was good for the few nights we went in there. As others have said, I can see how the setup at Desires is strange considering there is little dance floor.
Some general comments: Mosquitos were not that bad, I did wear OFF at night and got few bites. It rained one day but we had massages booked and the spa was amazing. Yes, there is shotty construction and the staff is working really hard to repair things I feel it is such a shame because the hotel is so new! The house wines, again in my opinion, were not that good. Regardless, there are a lot of other drinks you can choose to have. Would I go back again….maybe. I did have a good time, defiantly ate and drank well. There are some details the hotel needs to work out but it should soon have that “wow” factor.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank ERCLADY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 2, 2010

The trip was wonderful. This was the first all-inclusive that my husband and I went on and there was nothing to complain about.

Room - Wonderful, well cleaned, fridge well stocked.
Food - Very good, several selection for all tastes. Be careful to see when certain resturants will be open.
Beach - Perfect sand(actually prefered the beach to the pool, plenty of chairs under umbrellas. I would highly recommend doing the snorkling in the morning there was not as much wind.
Drinks - Very strong but they will make them weak if you would like.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank lizzybe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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