I am writing from the plane home in a last ditch attempt to hold onto my stay in Jamaica a little longer. Went right from breakfast to the beach before leaving this morning instead of my usual leisurely start, getting to the beach and pools after lunch. This early start is something I wish I'd done more. The beach is quiet and beautiful. Neither enormous nor too small or crowded.
We have been to many top rated Caribbean resorts and all-inclusives over the years, and The Iberostar Grand Hotel - Rose Hall is one of the two best that we have experienced. In the week we spent there, we were pleasantly surprised at every turn. Things that have been issues in other all inclusive were not issues here. For instance, there was always an abundance of towels and chairs outside, both in the sun and in the shade. Lots of fun activity at the pool too, but it wasn't invasive. There were decent yoga classes, something that has been iffy at other resorts. There were wine and jerk tastings, exercise classes, and pool games. All fun but we tend to follow our own beat and aren't big group people. Evening entertainment is standard fare. We were more impressed by the dancers than by the musical productions. Found a decent reggae band one night, karaoke silliness, and obnoxious but fun disco/dancehall late night shenanigans. There was plenty of opportunity to just soak in quiet relaxation too. The staff knew how to engage you warmly and also how to give you space.
One of the most pleasant surprises was the quality of food. We expected decent but not phenomenal since all-inclusives aren't known for fine dining. We ate in three of the four restaurants: French, Surf and Turf, and Japanese. They were all excellent. The cut and quality of every steak/beef dish we ordered was comparable to fine steak houses that we are used to at home, maybe better. We were lucky to have lobster both on its own and in several dishes (lobster thermidore, lobster and chicken teriyaki, and a lobster cream soup similar to a bisque). Consistently excellent. Our stay was from June 28th through July 5th. From April through June there is a restriction on lobster fishing in the area, so shrimp is substituted for lobster in the restaurants, but starting on July 2nd the lobster was plump and plentiful. Yummy timing for us!
Our room was spacious and comfortable. The wicker love seat swing on the balcony was a nice touch. Our room was at the end of the property, which was lovely because our ocean view was of a quiet unspoiled area, making us feel deliciously more secluded that we were.
Probably the most pleasant memory for us is the warmth and responsiveness of the staff. Everyone without exception was genuinely warm and engaging. I'd like to send a shout out to Francine in the French Gourmet restaurant. In addition to wonderful service and helpfully honest menu suggestions, she managed to join us for some hearty laughs and conversation. The chefs at the Japanese restaurant hibachi tables were unbelievable. No cliched onion volcanos here--but some masterful knife juggling. Donovan, one of the butlers was especially kind and astute; you knew he was there if you needed something but we needed so little that we didn't see him except for briefly as we came and went. It feels almost unfair to mention specific staff because there were so many terrific people whose names we have already forgotten, but whose smiles have left a happy and lasting impression.
To be fair, there were a few things that could be improved. The Internet was slow and sporadic. (No WiFi in rooms so we brought our own router but the connection was slow and we lost it completely rather frequently.) This was not just a room issue. Even in the lobby, the reception was slow.
Basic information was not always easy to come by. While most resorts put a daily info sheet for the next day in your room as part of its turn down service, Iberostar posted minimal information each morning in a couple central locations. Not the end of the world, but it would have been preferable to know what times breakfast or lunch was served in which locations or what the yoga or gym or entertainment options were before leaving the room.
The hotel policy around having butlers do everything for guests felt a little weird and inefficient. For instance, when we wanted wine or the minibar restocked, we pushed the "Butler" button on the phone. This connected us to an operator who sent the butler to our room. The butler than called from our room phone to someone else who sent another person to bring up what we requested. I guess some people feel special having their "own butler," but this felt like pandering to one's ego in a way that I don't need. The butlers were warm, hard working, attentive men, but I don't need a personal assistant to call for another towel or bottle of wine.
On a final note, one of the frozen drinks served at the pool was called a Jamaican Smile. It was a thick, sweet, strawberry and rum concoction--more of a dessert than a beverage. Sure I'll remember enjoying these while guiltily ignoring their zillion calories, but what I'll remember much longer is the real Jamaican smiles and the beautiful warm people who made our vacation here carefree and lovely. Yah mon!
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- Also Known As:
- Iberostar Grand Rose Hall Hotel Rose Hall
- Iberostar Montego Bay
- Iberostar Hotel Montego Bay
- Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall Jamaica - Montego Bay