Our family of four (boys 12 and 10) stayed at Beaches Ocho Rios from March 30 to April 4, 2013. While the trip started poorly, things got better and we conditionally recommend the resort for other families.
A bit of background: My wife and I have stayed at some of the nicest resorts in the Caribbean so our expectations are high. This was our first time traveling to the region with kids. We tried to prepare ourselves for a different level of resort and type of experience but still had a day or two of culture shock.
We landed early afternoon in Montego Bay. It took an hour to get through the line for immigrations. Baggage claim and customs were a breeze and then we were off to the Sandals / Beaches “lounge” to wait for our bus. About 30 minutes later we were off on the one hour and forty five minute ride to the resort. From touchdown in Montego Bay to arriving at the resort was three and a half hours.
Our first impressions were not good. The pictures on the website certainly show the resort’s “better side.” My wife likened it to driving up to “South of the Border.” Registration was a mess with lots of people trying to check in and very little organization. Our room was not ready so we were escorted to BBQ Park to “have lunch” (at 5:00 pm) while our room was prepared. When we return to the lobby, we were taken to our room – which turned out to not be the kind of room we had reserved. We had reserved a room with two doubles and they gave us a room with one king instead. Because the resort was completely full, we had no recourse and our concerns were met with blank stares. Perhaps this is too high of an expectation, but we would have expected an apology or an attempt to make things right in some way – instead they were completely tone deaf. Overhearing conversations in the lobby, we were not the only people encountering the same type of problem. We were given the option to change rooms on the third day but were settled in by then and declined. We did not receive a tour of the property – which would have been helpful.
While not the layout we had requested, the room was reasonably nice – think mid-range Hampton Inn. We were on the third floor of the main building. Comfortable bed and furniture. Nice TV. Decent bathroom (though the shower had weak water flow throughout and often times did not provide hot water.). The sleeper sofa was very uncomfortable – the cot we added was better. The porch was roomy with a small table and four chairs.
Overall, the food was good.
• We ate most of our meals at Bayside (the buffet restaurant). The quality and variety were better than you might expect at a buffet. The desserts were particularly good.
• We had an absolutely terrible experience one evening at Neptune. Awful, inattentive service. Couldn’t find a waiter to take our order. The food took over an hour from when we finally ordered – and when it arrived, it was mediocre at best and wasn’t even what we ordered. There were kids with their heads on their tables throughout the restaurant so I know we weren’t alone. One of the singular worst dining experiences of my life.
• The Venetian was much better. The service was excellent. The food was good. Night and day experience from Neptune.
• We did not eat at Eleanor’s because they do not have a kid’s menu.
• We were disappointed by the lack of fresh seafood at each of the restaurants.
• You can eat healthy if you want to but it would take more willpower than we have.
We spent a lot of time at the water park which was a lot of fun. There were two “fecal incidents” during our stay that shut down the fun for several hours a plop. While they advertise nine different slides, there were really only three that had enough action to satisfy kids the ages of our children but they provided hours of fun. We spent less time at the main pool mainly because we were not able to find an available chair during our entire stay (and that was with going to the pool each day at 8:30 to try to reserve one). The main attraction for us at the main pool was the swim-up bar which was a lot of fun. The boys loved ordering smoothies and chocolate milkshakes throughout the day. They also gave the self-serve ice cream and slushee machines a serious workout.
We enjoyed our time on the beach and spent more time there as conditions improved during our stay. Unfortunately, many of the ocean activities were not operating due to relatively rough seas. We only had one day when all activities were open. From talking with the guys working at the beach, it is reasonably common for the seas to limit activities.
• The beach and the swimming area in the ocean are quite small.
• We took two snorkeling trips and really enjoyed them. You have to sign up the day before and the trips fill up. Fortunately, they added a few trips when the other ones filled up.
• The glass bottom boat ride was interesting and worthwhile. The guide did a good job of providing information on what we saw under the sea as well as the resort and adjoining properties. Again, you have to sign up a day in advance to get a spot.
• The banana boat was fun. While there was almost always a line to participate, it was manageable.
• The use of kayaks and paddle boards were limited due to the water conditions. We could only use paddle boards one day.
The “Players” (modern version of Julie McCoy, cruise director on the Love Boat) do a good job of creating fun and activity. We enjoyed the “Beach Olympics” and various water volleyball and water polo games. The evening activities were mixed – we really enjoyed the steel drum band one evening.
There are people and noise everywhere. After a while, you get used to it and settle in. This is not a place for relaxation or romantic time together. This place is for families with kids, not couples or singles.
The vast majority of staff we encountered were very friendly and showed great hospitality.
A few other things:
• The property the resort is on is very small. Things are really crammed together.
• Wireless internet is available for a fee. $43 for up to five devices for a week. Reasonably price but in today's world, you'd think it would be part of the all inclusive price.
• The two hottest commodities that always seemed to be in short supply: Chairs (by the pools or on the beach) and towels (beach and bath). There’s lots of reserving and hording because of the scarcity.
• The X Box and arts and crafts rooms were helpful diversions.
Our first impressions and experiences put us in “what have we done?” mindset. We encountered several instances of very poor service. That said, we ended up having a pretty good experience. Our family had fun together. We did things that we had not done before. We enjoyed the “splurge” that all-inclusive allows (it’s nice to not have to negotiate with your kids about how many ice cream cones or smoothies they can have). We probably will not return to a Beaches resort again, but we will have generally good memories.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- •Minutes away from the newly renovated Ian Fleming International Airport•Kids Camp with certified nannies to pamper the kids •Supervised Xbox® Play Lounge with flat screen plasma TV’s•Kids can enjoy fun and games with Elmo & friends in our Sesame Street Caribbean Adventure•Adults-only El Dorado bar located on a terrace overlooking the Caribbean Sea •A state of the art “Liquid by Beaches” Disco •Pirates Island Water Park offering eleven slides for all ages•Voted Beaches Resorts ‘World’s Leading Family All-Inclusive’ 14 years in a row ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Hotels.com and TripOnline SA so you can book your Beaches Ocho Rios Resort & Golf Club reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Beaches Boscobel Resort And Golf Club
- Beaches Boscobel Resort & Golf Club Hotel Boscobel
- Beaches Boscobel Hotel
- Beaches Boscobel Ocho Rios
- Beaches Ocho Rios