My husband and I (Aussies in our early 30's) stayed at the Iberostar Grand Rose Hall for nine nights in June 2013. We'd previously stayed at the Iberostar Grand Bavaro in Punta Cana, DR (May 2011) and Iberostar Grand Paraiso, Mexico (June 2012), so I will also include a comparison between the three IB Grand resorts throughout this review.
IGRH is a beautiful, luxurious all-inclusive adults only resort. The people are super friendly with the trademark Jamaican megawatt smiles and relaxed attitude (think "yea mon, no worries"). We loved hanging out by the pool, enjoying a drink at the pool bar or lobby bar, indulging on the delicious food and cocktails, and meeting lots of people (staff and guests alike).
The overall resort is so similar to IG Bavaro, from the furniture, decor, look and feel etc, with the Paraiso being similar too but with a more spread out layout. Both IG Rose Hall and IG Bavaro have a real lush tropical feel with lots of palm trees and deep blue water; while IG Paraiso has a "grander" more luxurious, opulent feel. - more bells & whistles. Rose Hall is the smallest of the Grands but did not feel at all cramped or too small - even at close-to-full capacity it didn't feel cramoed or crowded.
The rooms at IGRH are really nice - roomy suites with comfy king bed, great balcony with couch and swinging love seat, big bathrooms with two sinks and jet spa tub. The rooms don't have wifi but do have an ethernet connection, so we brought a portable unit (Apple Airport Express) and had internet access on our iPhones and iPad from our room and balcony the whole trip, which was a great solution. Note you will need to request a password for each device, but there were no issues with this.
The rooms are identical to the rooms at IG Paraiso and almost indentical to IGB (slightly different configuration). All the rooms are the same throughout the resort - the difference being the view.
I think we had the best room in the whole resort (at least for our preferences). We opted for Oceanfront, which means you are right on the beach facing directly on to the ocean. We were in room 6423, which is on the farthest side of the 6000 building right in the corner of the top floor - overlooking the beach and the undeveloped area to the west of the resort. The view was spectacular. We wanted a private quiet room and prefer not to overlook the pool areas, so this room was perfect. Probably more out of the way than other rooms but as the overall resort isn't huge we were still close to everything.
Butler & concierge service:
Our butler greeted us at the start of the trip and very promptly organised everything we needed (pillow menu, minibar requests). He was friendly and professional and informative. He offered to organise a bottle of champagne to start off our stay and we happily accepted - he did this again several times over our stay and who was I to say no!
We requested a bottle of scotch for the room which wasnt a problem, and our minibar was restocked with our preferences of mini alcohol bottles, water, sodas and beer daily. Plus doritos and chips daily. And our ice bucket was refreshed each day too. Similarly, anything else we wanted was brought up really promptly.
The concierge desk was friendly and efficient in restaurant reservations and everything else we could ask for.
And housekeeping was great too - our room was serviced daily during the day and again at night with a turndown service - often with a chocolate left on the pillow.
Having now stayed at three Iberostar Grand resorts, and having read hundreds of reviews of each, I do think the butler service is very much dependant on who you get and what you want out of it. We are pretty low maintenance and are happy to call the concierge desk to ask a question or organise a reservation. We've been extremely happy with the service at each stay - I think IGP and IGRH have had the better service from the butlers and concierge.
Food & drink:
I love all-inclusive resorts due to the relaxed, everything-taken-care-of feeling, and being able to get food and drink whenever you like is fantastic. The quality of food at the IGRH is really good for an all-inclusive - we ate so much (I put on a few pounds!) and were never lacking for choice.
Breakfast was served in the main buffet and had a great selection of options and great service. each day there were two egg/omelette stations for made-to-order eggs & omelettes, which I loved. Also lots of fresh juices and your normal breakfast fare, plus some jamaican specialities. You could also pre-order breakfast to your room, or order room service (30-45 min wait). We did both, and were really happy with the room service breakfast. Lovely eating out on your balcony in the morning sun.
Lunch was served in an open air buffet restaurant by the beach. It was very nice sitting by the beach, close to the ocean, to enjoy your lunch. I prefer this to a more formal lunch option. The buffet selection was fantastic - we were spoiled for choice and it was hard to limit yourself to one plate! Great service here too.
On the Wednesday they did a big beach BBQ with Jamaican jerk meats and lots of salads and sides. This was fantastic and not to be missed. Great atmosphere with a live band and tables set up by the ocean on the sand. I loved the jerk chicken and jerk beef - make sure you try this at least once!
We also got room service lunch on two occasions - the Kobe beef burger is really good and a few nice salads also on the menu.
The lunch buffet stays open after lunch (4-6pm) with snacks and late lunch options - chips, cheeses, nachos etc - great for an afternoon snack by the pool.
In the evenings, the buffet was open on select nights, with usually three other restaurants available per night (of a total of four). We ate at the buffet twice - once on Wednesday which had a Mexican-themes buffet and on the Thursday night, which was supposed to be an outdoor beach BBQ but moved inside due to the weather (it didn't actually rain in the end but was threatening). To be honest we were a bit disappointed with the buffet - it wasn't bad, but wasn't special. The Mexican themed night had one station with Mexican food (including a taco station) but the rest of the buffet was the standard fare. It was fine but not special. I'd stick to the a la cartes.
A la carte options were Italian (our favourite), surf & turf, Japanese and gourmet (which we didn't try). Seating times were 6:30, 7, 8:30 or 9. The Italian was superb and great menu with lots of choices. The Japanese has a tepanyaki grill which was lots of fun, and the sushi, tempura and other dishes were good quality. Surf and Turf was mostly good too, although a bit hit and miss in that they were not consistent in cooking the steaks (hubby and I both ordered medium rare and got one almost rare and one medium). We rolled with this as we are pretty laid back when it comes to that sort of thing, but this restaurant wasn't quite up to scratch (that said I LOVED my meals both times, so worked out ok for us).
We were able to choose from a selection of included wines each time - it varied as to whether we were offered this or whether we had to ask. The red wine we chose was chilled on one occasion which wasn't ideal - but the same wine wasn't chilled on the next occasion we ate at the same restaurant. Minor issues. Given that we didn't have any luck choosing wines at the other iberostar resorts, the overall wine experience was better at IGRH.
Service at a la cartes was exceptional 95% of the time - and always super friendly. It seemed that on the few occasions when they were much busier than expected the service dropped a bit - nothing bad just a bit slower than their normal high standard. The restaurants are beautiful, and our evening meals were really enjoyable. A highlight of our stay.
If comparing the food across resorts, we enjoyed different things at each resort. All resorts had the same menus each time, except the Italian was different at IGRH this trip - not sure if theyve changed this in the other resorts also? Big improvement! At IGRH our favourite was the Italian. At IGB, it was the Surf and Turf and at IGP we loved the Japanese. The dinner buffet was best at IGP, but we preferred the beautiful outside dining at lunch at IGB and IGRH. Given the menus are the same, I think it depends a lot of the chef on the night and the produce. Some reviews have noted that IGP is the only one of the reorts with the option of ordering off the a la carte menu at breakfast or lunch. This is correct, but made absolutely no difference to us since we never did this at IGP anyway.
We spent our evenings at the lobby bar or Cigar bar - both had great drink service, huge selection of top-shelf spirits, and really fast and friendly. Most nights we found the lobby bar pretty quiet after 10pm. I enjoyed sitting at the bar and chatting with the bartenders and other guests. We found we met more people at Rose Hall than our previous trips - was a slightly younger crowd and friendly atmosphere. We also had some great evenings chatting with the staff - being an English speaking country made a difference (we don't speak Spanish) and we found the Jamaican people to be super friendly and fun - great sense of humour too.
The pool bar at the main pool is fun, with swim-up and poolside service. There was drink service around the pool too which was first class - the girls serving deinks came around so frequently you were never lacking for a drink, and were super quick and friendly. The cocktails are yummy however can get quite sweet after a few! Our faves were pina coladas, miami vice, jamaican smile (which is more like a dessert than a drink) and tequila sunrise.
The IGRH has one main pool area that is separated into three pools - the pool farthest from the beach is a quieter pool, the middle pool is used for activities and has a basketball hoop and volleyball net etc, and the pool right by the beach is an infinity pool with the pool bar. The layout around the pool is lush and tropical with palm trees and lots of loungers both in and out of shade. I loved how the main pool just seems to fall into the ocean, and if you're in the main pool you can look out right onto the beach.
We were always able to find shade at the pool even coming down as late as midday - no issues with "towel games" or anything like that. Compared to IGB and IGP this was a pleasant surprise. And the resort was at almost full capacity. The atmosphere around the pool was fun but relaxed - music playing, different activities and games etc, but quiet enough to read or snooze.
The layout was more compacted than IGB or IGP. IGB has a real tropical feel with cabanas tucked behind corners in the curvy landscaping and gardens. IGP has a huge main pool and lounges are more spread out. IGRH is a bit less private in this respect. On the plus side IGRH has that tropical island feel I really love, similar to IGB - palm trees, lush vegetation and deep blue water in the pools, looking out over the ocean. IGP doesn't quite capture this - and the water in the main ppools as a green tinge due to green tiles, which isn't as aesthetically pleasing. The IGP however has the big advantage of having a separate "tranquility" pool and the indoor pool in the spa area.
We spend most of our time at the pool so the beach isn't a big factor for us. We spent a short time one morning on the beach but found it a bit windy - not sure if it was like that all the time. The water was very warn and clear, with a bit of an undertow in the water but no big waves. Nice soft sand. There were always stacks of people on the beach and those we spoke to loved the beach area and got great drink service. Lots of activities on the beach too.
Compared to IGP the palapas at the beach did look less spread out. We didn't walk down past the other resorts, so can't comment on that either. A beautiful beach which was all that mattered to us.
Activities & entertainment:
The Star friends were friendly and enthusiastic and tried to hit the right balance between encouraging you to join in the activities but leaving you to relax if this is what you preferred. We enjoyed interacting with the Star Friends here at IGRH far more than we had at the other Grands... the Jamaicans have a great sense of fun, are high energy but still with that laid back "no worries" feeling. It also helped that they were all English speaking. This was a big factor in making our stay really enjoyable.
There are pool activities like volleyball, bingo, dancing, ping pong, cooking demonstartions, water aerobics etc happening throughout the day. There are also water sports on the beach, which we didn't use. We typically prefer to chill by the pool and dont get too involved in the various activities, but they are fun the watch and the star friends make them a form of entertainment!
There did seem to be more activities at IGP, particularly more pool actitivies. However at IGRH we found more occasions when the star friends would come by your lounger for a good chat... One day when we were playing chess by the pool (there are lots of games and activities you can use) we taught one of the star friends the basics of the game - he caught on super fast too!
The Theatre had shows every night which were pretty similar to those at the other resorts. We saw two: Boogie nights and the Big Band show. Their female lead singer was fantastic. The quality of the shows is great, however once you've seen these a few times they can feel a bit same same from resort to resort. Quality-wise the shows were comparable to IGP.
On the Thursday night instead of the theatre show they had a pirate themed beach party, which was stacks of fun. They go to a huge amount of effort and create a fun atmosphere with games and activities on the beach. I'd love the other resorts to do something on the beach on an evening - great fun!
We also enjoyed hanging out in the billiards room playing pool. There was also a dart board and lots of games available.
We played golf at all three resorts. At IGRH the included golf is at Cinnamon Hill golf course, which is not an iberostar owned course like at IGP and IGB. It's an amazing course, oceanside on hole five, with great views on the back nine. And challenging too! The package includes your own caddy (who you need to tip $20) and you also need to pay for cart fees ($20). Drinks and snacks and green fees are included. If you're a golfer this is a great inclusion and we had lots of fun on the course. Bring your camera!
We went to the disco on two occasions. As with the other resorts, the disco is shared across the iberostar resorts (Suites and Beach). The disco was fun - great atmosphere, lots of people, mainstream music with everyone dancing. Yes it's touristy but lots of fun. The disco at Rose Hall is smaller than the disco at Paraiso - hubby preferred Paraiso's disco (which has a more modern feel despite a Star Wars theme which is really cheesy). IGB had a small casino, which is something we would have loved to see in Paraiso and Rose Hall as another nightlife option. There was a small room with maybe a dozen slot machines at Rose Hall, which we didn't enter - don't go expecting that this room is a casino though!
We loved our stay at IGRH and would definitely return. It's a really relaxing vacation, where you can do as much or as little as you want. The Jamaican people were awesome and made this vacation a lot of fun. The food, drinks and service are all top-notch for an all-inclusive resort. This resort is perfect for a relaxing, indulgent vacation.
I think all three Iberostar Grands are really SO similar, and depending on your preferences each person will find different things they love most about each resort. My thoughts:
- IGP is the grandest, most opulent and luxurious, and first-class service. Bigger and newer resort, more bells and whistles, more facilities.
- IGRH is the most friendly, fun and laid-back, with great service in a tropical setting. It's smaller in size but the Jamaican people make up for this with their big personalities. Also is English speaking which was a plus for us.
- IGB is the right combo of grand and tropical, with gorgeous, lush grounds and great layout. Great service though communication could be a bit of a challenge for non-Spanish speakers like us.
For us, the perfect resort would be the IGRH people with IGP service at the IGB resort grounds :) But if thats not possible, we'd happily stay again at any of the resorts. Next trip we might try something new, or if we were to go back to an Iberostar it would probably be IGRH.
Hope this review is helpful, feel free to ask any questions!
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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