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“Iberostar vs Sandals - Spaniards Win!”

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Iberostar Rose Hall Suites
Ranked #4 of 6 Hotels in Rose Hall
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Reviewed September 17, 2011

Iberostar is a hotel and resort brand that's largely unfamiliar to Americans - it's Spanish-owned and more European in feel than its heavily advertised counterpart, Sandals. But there is no question – for this review, it’s head-to-head competition between Iberostar and Sandals.
In my book, Iberostar is the winner. My comparison is made between Sandals at Ocho Rios with the Iberostar Rose Hall Suites at Montego Bay, which has extensive sand beachfront. Considering sales and specials frequently available on rates, both are comparably priced. Rios (neither of the Sandals properties at Montego Bay appealed to me for their lack of beachfront.
Two big advantages for Iberostar.
Advantage #1: It was extremely convenient, 100 yards or less, from any given suite to the pool and beach. Iberostar’s private beach was nearly a half-mile long. At Sandals Ocho Rios, it was a hike or shuttle bus/golf cart ride, and the expanse of sand beach was more limited.
Iberostar, just like Sandals, grooms its beach throughout the day. Ocean bottom in the swim area at Iberostar was fine sand and some sea grasses, both clean and easy to walk on.
Advantage #2: Simply stated, the food at Iberostar Rose Hall Suites was better than Sandals. Hands down.
Sandals is the winner in accommodation category, offering villas and bigger, some with private pools, at their Ocho Rios facility. These villas seemed to offer a maximum of privacy. Iberostar is more of a hotel-style, with roomy suites as the standard with larger suites available. (While both hotels include alcohol as part of their all-inclusive rate, Iberostar’s in-room mini-bar was disappointing, with only a few beers and some water on stock. At Sandals, just tell them your favorites, and they are bottomless bottles – applies to both alcoholic beverages or nonalcoholic).
There is no lack of native Jamaican fare at Iberostar restaurants. Native dishes were offered as an option for every meal at the perpetual Buffet and for most meals at the Steak House. Tip: Test the jerk sauce before applying liberally. It seemed to vary from just hot to “you’re on fire” type-hot from restaurant to restaurant.
Some details about food at Iberostar Rose Hall Suites: There were five restaurants available in this all-inclusive resort, plus an extensive buffet. The worst of the bunch was the Steak House. The setting, while perfect for lunch on the beach, was inappropriate setting for evening dining. Quality of the steaks were mediocre, at best, and certainly not aged or treated special in any way. However, the Steak House becomes a different restaurant at lunchtime, and it’s perfect for the beach. We ate there for lunch regularly (with a beach barbecue every Tuesday & Thursday).
On the other hand, the Mediterranean restaurant was excellent and worth a second visit. I’ve been to the Mediterranean (the real one), but I’m not sure that the chef of this restaurant has made that same trip. There wasn’t much “Mediterranean” about the place at all. However, they served excellent seafood, fresh and well-prepared.
The so-called Gourmet restaurant also was very good. Don’t panic when they serve you the appetizer – the portions are small, although you’ll get enough to eat by the time it’s all over.
In summary, I’d recommend Iberostar Rose Hall Suites or the Beach Club, wherever you get the better rate. The Suites, the Beach Club and the Grand Hotel are part of the same complex. Guests at Rose Hall can use the Beach Club facilities and vice versa. Only the Grand maintains its facilities as exclusive (although they do share the beach).
It’s important to shop rates for all three of these hotels. There are even periods in the off-season when the posh Grand has all-inclusive rates lower than the other two.
One more remark to travelers: Unless you walk the street wearing a police uniform, you will almost undoubtedly be offered ganja (marijuana), which remains illegal in Jamaica but is only enforced against tourists in the most rare cases. If you’re American, and you’re offered ganja, keep in mind that this is not your country and not your customs. A polite “No thanks” will usually be quite enough.
Travelers note: Iberostar does not have an American merchants point of view when it comes to liberal refunds or credits. Their motto should be: “We got your money, and you don’t.” Just keep it in mind when you travel here – their reputation and travel in hurricane season caused me to double down on trip interruption insurance.

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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16  Thank LarryGross
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 15, 2011

If you're looking for a quaint little hotel or B&B, then this isn't it. If you're looking for a self contained place with a decent amount of amenities and restaurants to choose from then this is it. We decided between this and the Hilton Rose Hall and were glad we chose this. It isn't modern luxury by any means, but I don't think there is anywhere on the island that you could compare to the W or Ritz (including the Ritz on the island). A lot of hotels are outdated and while this is no exception it was above the others we looked at and visited in terms of decor and cleanliness. The restaurants were good to decent, not great, but it is all inclusive so I dont think anyone should expect Nobu every night for the price. I think the staff was excellent and friendly and did a great job with being attentive to our needs. The only downside is that a couple of the restaurants were always filled up even when we tried a day or two in advance. I would have liked to try the sushi restaurant. The pool bartenders, cigar bar staff, and lobby bartenders were fabulous. If I go back to Jamaica for an all inclusive, I will stay here.

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled with friends
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4  Thank bryanchr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 14, 2011

Just returned from a week at the Iberostar Rose Hall suites, our best vacation ever. From start to finish the staff had the difference, all were superb, from the waitress' & waiters, the bartenders and the Star friends! We'be been to 5 all-inclusive resorts, but this one sets a new high standard, far nicer than the Iberostars in the Domincan republic. A nice added bonus, it's an English speaking country. Food was great, poo beautiful, rooms spacious. What sets this above- the excellent service from the staff. -We'll certainly be back.

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank StuartsScarborough
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 12, 2011

This was my 2nd time @ Iberostar, first time staying overnight in Jamaica. For reference, my last couple of trips were to Cancun area: Iberostar P. Lindo, Excellence P. Mujeres, Riu Las Americas, Riu Caribe.

I stayed 5 nights in early September. My first thoughts on arriving was how empty IRHS was. I thought 33% of capacity moving upward to at most 60% by the end of trip. It was noticeable in all of the bars, I barely saw people on my floor until the end of the week. Folks @ the I-Beach said they were more people there. Having been to Lindo, it seemed like a some of the same. Improvements were maybe nicer restaurants, bars, the bbq. Downers were the beach and pool size. The beach was nothing special and friends @ the I- Beach hotel said they witnessed Jellyfish stingings. I stayed out of the ocean after that. Due to the quiet time, I never waited more than a minute for a drink. Top shelf consisted of Stoli & Absolut as well as some pretty good Gin products. Whiskey= Jim Beam (blah). The Star Friends worked their tails off by the pool & beach. They worked hard but sometimes they were around and heard too often.

A large majority of the reviews on this hotel were spot on. I am not going to try and repeat how nice the grounds are, etc etc. I think I did the Japanese, Steakhouse, and the Med restaurants. I thought they were all pretty good and offered a decent amount of options. The lunch and the breakfast buffets were kinda average, nothing special. Dinner buffet better than those two. Hit up the bbq on the beach for jerk chicken/pork, very good.

The rooms were nice and good sized, as advertised. One suggestion might be trying to avoid the rooms on the ground floor near the doors to the pool area. If you don't want to hear people rustling in the halls early in the morning.

The prices for round trip taxi service into M-Bay were a rip off, unless you had a car full maybe. At night they wanted $80 bucks RT, with the city 15 min away.

Next time I would probably pick Negril for the beaches (much better). I understand that my review maybe sounds more critical than the others. I just wanted to not continually state the same positives as the other reviewers. Another thing, Jamaicans seem to be a lot nicer than Mexicans, imo.

Last tip, Red Stripe all over the complex on tap. I thought it got old rather old quickly. The lobby bars have Heinikien (sp) on bottle, unadvertised. There were rumors about Guinness (sp) as well.

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled solo
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5  Thank umich_fan1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 12, 2011

My husband and I stayed here in June along with about 40 others in a group that had gone down for a wedding. We had never been to Jamaica before and were not sure what to expect. We were very pleasantly surprised by this lovely, clean hotel with friendly, enthusiastic and helpful staff and delicious food.

Room Tip: Rooms overlooking the central courtyard seemed to be the quietest.
  • Stayed: June 2011, traveled with friends
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3  Thank Elena M.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 11, 2011

We had the perfect beach wedding here with a little more than 30 close friends and family members. The resort service was great, with the exception of the front desk staff. For an all inclusive resort, the food and drinks were fairly good. The Spa was awesome, the amenities and the staff there were perfect. It was a joy working with the wedding coordinator Nicole. The place is huge and could be overwhelming at times . Overall, beautiful place that was very clean and well taken care of, the resort service was great, with the exception of the front desk staff which at times were rude, including the night of our wedding. However, to be fair, the vast majority of the staff, restaurant, bars, pool, Spa, casino, etc. were great and extremely helpful.

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled with family
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4  Thank TabsC_3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 10, 2011

Ok, I hope this is helpful....I went with my three daughters ages 18, 10 , and 4. They loved it and didn't want to go home. When we arrived there was a van that took us to the hotel (about 15 min drive) ...we saw the other resorts which didn't look so nice (I.e. Riu) except for the Ritz of course. Iberostar was breathtaking. We arrived at 10-am and they took out luggage and showed us where to chane into our bathing suits to swim while we waited for a room. They were passing out drinks at the counter!!! I loved it. We also ate. Our room was available around one o clock. They brought our luggage to our room. The room was very clean, modern, with a beautiful ocean front view. Private balcony. We ate at the buffet which was excellent. Every type of food you can imagine, fresh, and friendly service.

I recommend you make reservations upon arrival for the restaurants because they fill up quickly. The steakhouse was okay, but we loved the Mexican the best and mediterranean second. Jamaican food at the buffet was Awesome. Breakfast was great.

Pool-- my kids loved the pool. They had activities for kids at the pool and adults. There is also the lazy river which is nice and another pool. Very clean. Drinks brought to you or you can swim up to the bar. But....bring your floats because they have no pool toys for kids and the hotel store is a RIP-OFF!!!! They will charge like $25 for a float or sunscreen. Bring it with you!

Beach--very very nice. The straw umbrellas are the best! Drink service is great too although I feel sorry for the hot outfits of the employees. They should be in something much cooler and comfortable. The beach is little rocky. But once u get in the water the sand is smooth and nice. Water is. Clean and clear. There are lifeguards.

Security--I never saw so much security on the beach! Not that anything was wrong but you can tell that this is a priority at this hotel. I got up five thirty on the am to watch the sunrise and I wasn't alone. I counted six security guards in the beach area I walked and some looked like they were in the bushes. You are never alone.

Snorkeling--we paid for the motor boat ride and went to the coral reef to go snorkeling. The two guides were awesome. They made us feel safe and pointed certain fish out to us. They were great and highly recommend it.

Luci club-- excellent service. My daughter had a blast. Very clean and nice women. My daughter painted, swam, watched a movie, played in the sand, etc. I got a few hours of relaxation due to this club.

Entertainment-- I only went to the early kids shows which were good. My kids had a fun time. I did see a casino and a nightclub.

Room service--excellent. 24 hour room service included and food is spectacular. They also fill up your fridge with drinks at no cost and come to your room each day in the evening. Our cleaning lady was great and looked at details.
Negative-- this isn't really a big deal but they have free wireless in the lobby and a direct line in the room. I wish there was wireless everywhere and a cafe would be nice. Also, I didn't like the towel system and how you get cards. Like who steals blue towels?

Room Tip: Someone told me that they booked their room and when they arrived they asked for an upgrade. I'...
  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled with family
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7  Thank Nichole H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Iberostar Rose Hall Suites

Address: Main Rd, Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint James Parish > Montego Bay > Rose Hall
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#2 Green Hotel in Rose Hall
#2 Romantic Hotel in Rose Hall
#2 Family Hotel in Rose Hall
#3 Top resorts Hotel in Rose Hall
#4 Luxury Hotel in Rose Hall
Price Range: $286 - $742 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Iberostar Rose Hall Suites 4*
Number of rooms: 319
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Also Known As:
Iberostar Rose Hall Hotel Rose Hall
Iberostar Montego Bay
Iberostar Rose Hall Suites Jamaica - Montego Bay

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