This is going to be a thorough review (ie. long!) but I want to include some helpful tips for fellow travelers and suggestions for the owners/management of this resort and the June Plum restaurant on the property. My husband & I booked a last minute trip through Sunwing to Ocho Rios and decided to give the Mystic a try. Normally we stay at 4-5* resorts, however it was a last minute decision & therefore budget was the biggest factor. We found the pictures of this resort appealing & overall most of the reviews were good. We liked the idea of a breakfast plan as we prefer to venture out and enjoy the local food & culture when traveling. We also prefer smaller resorts over the large ones that tend to be the same no matter where you are, lots of people, busy, not our thing. We don't want fine french cuisine or Italian food when we come to Jamaica we want Jamaican food :) Upon arriving in Jamaica we met a very nice gentleman by the name of Steve. Steve provided our transportation from the airport to the resort & we enjoyed our fun conversation with him while waiting for the other passengers to board the bus. Once we arrived at the resort we were greeted by Kanisha who was friendly and welcoming. We were taken to our room by Renardo, who was also very nice, friendly & polite. We knew from reading the reviews that the biggest issue for most people with the Mystic was being given an unsatisfactory room initially so we knew to expect this. We were shown a main floor standard room and asked for a nicer room. I will say I don't know who the staff in the office behind the front reception were...assuming management of some kind, but when we were negotiating a room change they never came out to introduce themselves or talk to us, which we found to be unprofessional, considering your customers are your business at a hotel & customer service is paramount. Kanisha had to go back and forth between us & the "higher ups" & when we were finally given a 1 bedroom suite upgrade we were informed there would be a charge of $20/night, which we paid. The suite was perfect, clean & updated as shown in pictures, however there was a major issue in the bathroom. There was a huge area of active black mold on the ceiling near the shower, it was wet, we figure from a leak from the loft above? We really would have liked to stay in the suite, however the mold was terrible & we were concerned about our health so we asked for another room. We were told there was nothing available until the next day so we just stayed out of the bathroom unless needed until then. The next day there still wasn't anything available so we stayed in the room one more night. On the third day we were given the loft above which was very nice, clean & updated as in photos & no mold! We could tell right away the air was much better. The only small issue with this room was that the rain head shower head was not positioned properly over the nice large tub..tip to the owners it should be brought out & centered over the tub to avoid pooling of water around tub & on floor. Every time we showered there was a lot of water pooling around the tub & onto the floor...which we tried to mop up with towels as best we could...but which was most likely the cause of the mold issue in the unit below us. A couple of the buildings did look more run down, their roofs & trim work...which should be taken care of, although we do understand Mystic owns about 50% of the buildings, perhaps the more run down ones are privately owned? Basically we enjoyed our stay at this hotel. The staff were very nice. We feel that the owner/management should show a bit more care for their property and clientele. The hot tub was out of service the entire time we were there and the pool bar was never open? There was no explanation for this? The restaurant, which we understand is leased & therefore under separate ownership/management, served up delicious food & reasonable prices. It is rated #2 in Ocho Rios so we did have high expectations which were met. All of the staff were wonderful. There was a problem with items on the menu not being available & two nights in a row there was no wine at all which we found to be completely unacceptable. Again, this falls on the management, not the staff. The breakfasts were good serving up local Jamaican fair and there was always a fresh made omelet for us which was terrific! The coffee was amazing. As far as things to do in the area of "Ochi" we did walk down to the local jerk shack at the bottom of the resort...it's got great jerk & festival! very reasonable. It was early evening though...gets dark around 6pm this time of year, and we were approached a lot to buy drugs. They are not shy about it and if you're not expecting this it could be extremely intimidating. They are quite pushy about it. I felt safe as my husband is a strong man who looks like he can take care of himself...but otherwise I don't know? We met our hotel cab driver, Singh, on the 2nd day of our trip. He took us down, free of charge, to the free local beach..Ochi beach. If you are a beach person this won't do it for you. We've been to some of the nicest beaches in the world so we are spoiled, but it's very small & in a bay where the cruise ships come in. We called up Sing and for a fee he took us down to the beach beside the riu hotel in Mambee bay. There was a $10 charge per person & we had to pay Singh $30 return to get there & back, but I will say we always felt safe with Singh & he is a very good driver. You can go down to the street & pay less for cabs/buses but I don't think I'd feel very secure about it. Anyways, back to the beach, there is a restaurant there, Bamboo Blu and it is very good, we enjoyed another nice meal there, the food was reasonable but the drinks were pricey, $5 for a red stripe and about $8 for a rum ..the beer normally goes for between $2.50-$3 elsewhere. The lawn chairs were $5 each to rent but they told us to go ahead...they "didn't see anything...ha..ha.." but then after having one drink we were told we'd have to pay for them so we quickly got up & said forget it. We didn't care about the fee it was the scam we didn't appreciate & we did pay $10 each to get into the beach so we thought that should be included. We did the Dunn's River Falls which is a must! I will say it's not appropriate for kids under 10 in my opinion...there was a couple of children in our group & 2 of them were crying throughout because they were scared. If you loose your footing you could really hurt yourself as some of the rocks are extremely slippery. We had no problems but were careful to watch where we were going, they tell you not to step on the "black rocks" & that is the best tip! it wouldn't be good for elderly people either or people that aren't as mobile. They take a video but it costs $40 which we thought was outrageous & too bad...we'd probably have paid $20 but it's a bit greedy asking for $40! we did give the tour guys a tip, which is expected, Harris, who more monitored & looked out for our safety had his hand out waiting for it when we were done. Johnny was the camera guy & he was a real hoot, very funny & made it a great experience. Another day we ended up going to Reggae beach which I will say is the best beach as far as Ochi is concerned...it's hard to get an answer from anyone about good beaches there & reviews are mixed. Basically if you are looking for an AMAZING beach I wouldn't say Ochi is the place for it, but Reggae beach was very nice, more natural, you can walk a stretch, again have to pay to get to/from & to get in but at least the lounges are free & there's a restaurant, VERY good food, you can eat right on the beach & we loved that. Our server was really nice, Shanika I think..sorry if I got that wrong! The water was a bit rough so we didn't swim, but really beautiful. Go there on a weekend, monday, tuesday, apparently they have big parties during the day on Wed/Thurs when the cruise ships come in, good deal i think $75 for all you can eat/drink for day, but would be very crowded & completely different vibe. We took a full day personal tour that we arranged with Singh. His son, Alrik (Grayson) (ZaZa), came along for the day to join us and we all had a very nice time. I will say the driving is nuts there so we didn't ever think about renting a car & touring ourselves...which is what we normally do when we travel. Singh was great, he grew up there so he knows a lot. We would highly recommend doing a tour this way, one on one & you don't have to worry about anyone else. It cost us $200 for the day, plus lunch, plus we chipped in $20 for gas, totally worth it! We saw Kingston, Spanish Town, Port Royal and went up to the top of Blue Mountain where they make the coffee. You have to pay a fee there as well and we did buy coffee. It was a great tour and very interesting. The roads wind around & around. We were ok but if you tend to get car sick you'd be best to take a natural gravol or something for nausea before hand. We also enjoyed stopping for lunch on the side of the mountain at the Crystal Edge restaurant. We had fabulous curry goat & shake n bake chicken, yum yum! We met a local Wine rep, Ozzy, who was kind enough to take a photo for us & recommend we check out the Golden Eye resort in Oracabessa..at least for a drink, while we were visiting Ochi. Our last stop on the tour was the Bob Marley Museum, again another charge $20 each, but worth it. It was very cool to see where Bob Marley lived & rehearsed & memorabilia...there was a 20 minute video at the end which was good as well. There were some sights Singh wanted to show us on the way back but as I mentioned before the sun sets quite early at this time of year so we missed a few things....I would suggest maybe heading out earlier in am so you can cram a bit more in, we were pretty relaxed about our departure & I think it was around 9am before we got going. We did venture out to "James Bond" beach one day...be careful as there seems to be some confusion, the reviews I read & photos I saw were something different than what we encountered. This James Bond beach (in Oracabessa area) was very small & man made, all filled in area where the banana boats used to come in according to Singh and another very nice Jamaican, Johny who we met. We had a very nice afternoon speaking with Johny & his wife Bonnie and another lady who had family there, and there is a big restaurant which served up another delicious meal & was extremely reasonable. Our last day we decided to check out Mystic Mountain which was included in our package. We'd read mixed reviews & thought it might be hokey...but Kanisha said we should check it out & well, I can tell you we were very happy we went. The ride on the ski lift up the mountain is beautiful with striking views & very relaxing. We did take the bobsled ride which is like a roller coaster ride thru the jungle! it was short but CRAZY...I screamed the entire time & my husband got the hugest kick out of that of course. We had a nice Mango & rum drink at the restaurant and there is a infinity pool & water slide, which we did not test out. There is a look out tower with more incredible views. We had tried to get into the Golden Eye resort the day before after leaving the small James Bond Beach but were turned away at the gate as there was some "celebrity" staying there? In all fairness we were told to call ahead & didn't do that. So after the Mystic Mountain we decided to give it another try. We asked if we could call the Golden Eye resort from Mystic Mountain & they accommodated us. We did get in for the afternoon & we were extremely happy we made the effort. To me this is more like what I expected of the James Bond Beach. We were taken around by a lovely lady who showed us the different areas of the resort & different types of buildings you can rent & the costs associated. There are beach front homes & lagoon homes which are beautiful & quiet & the water is just gorgeous. Ian Flemming wrote the James Bond Novels here & it was cool to see his old den & photos & memorabilia. The restaurant was great, amazing service. The vibe was very cool. If you read about it you will discover a lot of stars have stayed there...apparently Sting wrote every breath you take there! There are a couple of pools, an infinity pool & one over the ocean shaped like an eye & trimmed in mosaics to resemble an eye! it's a great spot with the ocean splashing up on the rocks around you! there are beautiful lounge chairs with plush cushions & towels & a small beach. They had the best drinks there called 007 Dirty Bananas which I highly recommend. We loved this place & would totally consider staying here a few nights if we return. Overall we really enjoyed our trip and our stay at the Mystic was good. It is a quiet place, many times we felt like it was our own personal resort. I believe with a few improvements as noted above they could kick up their star rating, but for the time being the hotel itself is rated correctly as a 3* in my opinion. Thanks again to the staff for making our stay a good one! We wish you the very best!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A modern gated complex complete with swimming pool, bar area, restaurant and tennis court. Air conditioned rooms with jacuzzi with king and queen side beds. Can sleep up to 8 people. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Crane Ridge Hotel Ocho Rios
- Mystic Ridge Resort Jamaica/Ocho Rios