Let me preface this with . . . I am not an expert traveler and am pretty easy to please.
We went to SWO for our 1 year anniversary and my sister/BIL's 10year wedding anniversary. We are fans of Mexico, but because of all the drug cartel business in the news recently, we decided to go else where. It was between Jamaica and Punta Cana and Jamaica was cheaper .. . we shouldn't have been such tight wads, lol. Here are my thoughts on our vacay:
Flying into MoBay airport and getting through customs was a BREEZE! We booked our trip through CheapCaribbean.com and our transfer company was right inside the airport. It took no time to check in with them (Jamaica Tours Ltd) and we were off to board our transport van . . . with the assistance of the NAGGING bag boys (the ones that take your luggage from the airport to the van). We tried to tell them over and over that we could manage our luggage but they insisted "we were on vacation now". Once to our van, THEY HELD THEIR HAND OUT FOR A TIP!!!! We didnt ask for their help!!! We gave them $5 USD, the guy still held his hand out for more!!!! Our chauffer was AWESOME (with JTL) . . .we had our own mini-tour to our hotel - explaining some of the history, pointing out areas of interest, etc.
Our arrival to the hotel was ok-ish. The bellmen were scurrying around like ants to a mound. They quickly moved us into the front desk area where we were greated with a glass of champagne and a cool towl (which was very much needed!). Our agent that was checking us in was ok. From our Mexico hotels, after check-in, they would show us around the hotel (the pool, entertainment areas, bars, restaraunts, etc). Not here . . . the front desk clerks are glued to the chairs. I never once saw them get up the entire trip.
After checking in, our bellman took us to the room. He oriented us to the room. My sister/BIL's room was not ready upon arrival (03:30pm), so we had to unload all of their stuff in our room (because the bellman did not have a key to the room supposedly). After we ate lunch, their room was ready, as promised.
I miss our bed from our SWO room! It was like HEAVEN!! The showers could have been bigger, but still, were plenty accomodating. The vanity area was nice. The soaking tub was great in that it filled up quickly and depending on the your mood was either good or bad - it was tucked behind a wall so you couldnt see the TV, but you could see the beach. I guess it just depends on what view you wanted.
I know many complained about the "sensors" in the room bc the rooms wouldnt stay cold and yes they are there. Our first EVENING, we were burning up because it wouldnt cool past 23C. We were told the lowest it would cool to was 19C. We asked for maintainence to come look at the AC unit . . .within 20 min, they were there and fixing it. The rest of our stay, our room stayed bw 17-18C :) EXCEPT when housekeeping came bc they would turn the AC completely off. My best advice is, periodically throughout the day, check your room after housekeeping has been there to turn it back on.
This was our biggest complaint by far.
Roomservice - ALWAYS turn on your privacy light and, when you order, specify that you want your food delivered to your privacy box. It worked everytime. I usually left a couple bucks in the box for a tip.
Bar service - We learned that the actual pool bar (in the water) has the best service aside from the lobby one. All the outside restaurants use the the poolside (out of the water) bar to make drinks, so, servers come first. It takes FOREVER to get a drink from there. If you do, just order one to be put in the hurricane glasses . . .you wont be making as frequent trips :)
Restaurant service - Just dont plan on getting anywhere fast! Only one restaurant requires reservations (see more later), but you wait 15-30 if you go prime time 8-9. We found this very irritating. When we were in Mexico- the waiters were always waiting on you hand and foot!!! They always grabbed the chair for the ladies, always placed the napkin in our laps, refolded the napkins when we left the table, and NEVER let my glass run empty! It would take 10 min to get a coke, you had to ask for a refill, and then, it took another 10 min.
Housekeeping: The first two days, we never saw anyone. Rumor was, it was a national holiday one of the days . . . I personally dont care! I have to work national holidays, so should they . . . it's my vacation, lol! I did have to call one day for toilet paper as we were running low. I miss the 24hr "toilet paper fairies" from Mexico. These fairies always seemed to know when we left the room and always folded the toilet paper, plus, kept our room constantly tidy.
Many complained about the food as we spoke with other guests throughout the hotel. We found it wonderful but inconsistant. The guys got REALLY upset one night about the dress code because they were required to wear long pants to dinner, but a girl could come into the restaurant in teeeeeeeny tiney hotpant shorts (a sneeze would have revealed her lady bits) and a shirt that that hung off one shoulder with her bra hanging out and striperella stillettos. REALLY???
- Himitsu - they tapanyaki rest. It has a choice of table or grill service . . . the menu is WAAAAAAAAAAAY better at the table than the grill. Dont waste your time sweating to death at the grill (there is no a/c in there). The guys liked this bc they didnt have to wear pants here, ha! Their sushi wasnt half bad (a california roll and a veggie roll) but I wouldnt crave it. This rest is not on my "you have to try list".
- Bordeaux - YUMMMMMMY! My husband was nervous bc he "doesnt like French food" . . . he practically licked the plate! This was our second fav restaurant.
- Portofino - Our favorite. Many compared it to Olive Garden . . . I could see that - but it was still great. Everything we tried was WONDERFUL!! Well, the terimisu was lacking, but other than that, I'm craving some right now :)
Those three were as far as we made it for dinner - we went to Himitsu twice (table and grill service), Bordeaux twice (bc the first night, we had waaaaay too much rum at the swim up bar and nothing was appetizing) and Portofino once. The menu for Oceana looked great.
- Seaside grill - had WONDERFUL tritip steak for lunch!
- World cafe - it was a buffet - breakfast was ok (I'm not a breakfast fan) and lunch, was the same, ok. Once we discovered seaside grill, we never went back for lunch buffet.
- Roomservice - the club was great . . . pass on the nachos unless you are REALLY drunk - its just chips and watered down nacho cheese.
- Nightly entertainment was fun - we went to a casino night (where we one a bottle of rum thanks to picking the winning crab at the crab races,lol). Other than that - we seemed to be ready for bed after dinner, ha!
- The poolside entertainment was lacking. This is bc they alternate from SSJ and SWO. I think they need a group for both sides.
- Snorkling - good luck with that! We tried multiple times to go. The last time we gave up - we showed up at 03:30pm and they said we could rent any bc they closed at 04pm. In Mexico - we could check it out to our room for 24hrs at a time. We found this very frustrating!
- Spa - OMG! Peter was AAAAAAAAAAMMMMMAAAAAAAAAAAAZING! By far the best massage I have EVER had! I'm still trying to figure just how expensive it would be to fly him to the states!
So, below listed, it asks, would I recommend this hotel to a friend - eh, not sure! Probably not, lol!
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