This hotel has been reviewed by lots of people and I suggest you cruise through them and make up your own mind as to whether or not you would choose this destination. I won't belabour points already made other than to say we probably won't be returning.
The staff here are warm and friendly and really try to make your stay enjoyable. The short comings of this hotel are not the fault of the staff but rather the policy and bad management. I will lay out the faults we found in point form.
1. Smoking - expect to encounter cigarette and cigar smoke throughout the hotel and beach areas, even the elevators and in the pools. We haven't encountered so many inconsiderate smokers since we were in France.
2. Food - The food in St Ann's Buffet, the main dining area for breakfast and dinner, is spotty at best. There were some good selections but they were among many so so to poor items. If you are booked into the regular class portion of the hotel, you will probably eat the majority of your meals here.
3. Wine - To be kind, the red served in the dining area was awful and the white was undrinkable. You could not find a bottle of wine on the premises, it was served from jugs that I assume were filled from a tap in the buffet.
4. Bar Drinks - Cocktails and High Balls were strictly from bottom shelf booze. Some of the bartenders were quite creative in producing some heavy fruity drinks that were not bad but, for the most part, High Balls were pretty bad. The local Red Stripe beer is not bad but stick to the cold bottled stuff in your room mini bar, some of the draught was rather flat and warm.
5. Sports Bar - The sports bar is a bit of a joke. It is located in a basement area that is normally populated with drunk American football fans, many of whom smoke and monopolize the bar area. There are a couple of pub type pool tables and there are computers along one wall that, I assume, were for rent.
6. Swimming Pools - The Infinity pool on the deluxe side of the resort seemed fine to me. Clear water and quite quiet compared to the other pools. On the other hand, the pool adjacent to the Plantation Restaurant are was a zoo. There is a swim-up, or stagger-up, bar populated with loud partiers who drink a lot and never seem to leave the pool, if you get my drift. The water is murky and would not pass a normal North American turbidity test. Even where it is only chest deep the bottom the bottom is barely visible. When we were there in January there was a mix of regular families and the heavy duty partiers and I felt it was not a good place for kids, especially considering the language being used by the drunks.
7. A la Carte Restaurants - The policy of the hotel is to allow the patrons in the deluxe side of the resort to start booking reservations at 0800 hr while those staying on the regular side cannot access the reservations until 1000 hr. As a result, trying to get a reservation as a regular guest is fruitless so don't expect A la Carte dining if you are booked in the regular rooms. We had one evening meal in one of the A la Carte restaurants only because we were part of a wedding party.
8. WIFI Access - For regular guests It's pay as you go, although there is some free in the lobby.
*The ride from the airport in Montego Bay is about 1 1/2 hr. Try to relax because driving here is like nothing you have encountered before.
*Expect to walk a lot on this property. It is huge and to get from one end to the other is about a ten minute walk.
*Even though this club hotel is an "all inclusive", tipping the staff is advised. They work hard and do appreciate it. Take a pocket full of U.S. $1.00s.
*Hang out on the beach at the deluxe end of the resort. It's quieter than the chicken shack end and much better than the pool areas.
*The Jerk Chicken served out of the shack on the beach is great. It was the best food we encountered.
*If you choose to use the free WIFI in the lobby, remember it's available for 90 minutes once a day but if you sign off after a short session, you cannot sign back on until the following day.
*Do not rely on your out bound flight information provided by the hotel. Go on-line and check with your airline. We were given a check out time and a bus pick up time, only to arrive at the airport in Montego Bay and find we had a 6 hour wait in the terminal. Once your check out time is given, they want you out of the hotel.
*If you are going to venture off the property, go in a group and go with one of the operators who are authorized to pick up at the hotel.
*There is a small reef area off the beach that does habour some viewable fish so snorkeling is available. Be aware the hotel will loan snorkel gear if you are booked on one of their outings. I had my own mask and snorkel but when I went to borrow a pair of fins, I was told I had to buy them at the gift shop.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Situated in northern Jamaica, on the beachfront. Two 6-storey buildings and one 5-storey building. Surrounded by 90,000 m2 / 107,000 sq. Yards of lush gardens. Complimentary sun loungers on the beach. 10 Km / 6.2 Miles to Ocho Rios. 4 Km / 2.5 Miles from various shops. 105 Km / 65 miles to Montego Bay airport. 600 M / 1,970 ft. From a bus stop. Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Visa, Diners ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Hotel Ocho Rios
- Riu Ocho Rios Jamaica
- Riu Ochos Rios
- Rio Ocho Rios
- Club Hotel Riu Ocho Rios
- Rui Ocho Rios
- ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios Jamaica