I love weddings, I really do. I love the build up and the anticipation. I love the fact that families and friends come together for a happy occasion, and for a few hours emotions and relations are cheery. So having been lucky enough to attend a sensational New York wedding immediately before arriving at the Iberostar, my wife and I were already feeling great.
In fact we could not have chosen a better place to continue our overseas trip, as for the whole week we were in Montego Bay, the Iberostar managed to lay on a different wedding every day of our stay. Some were locals marrying and partying in an idyllic location. Some were those exchanging vows a second time around. But topping the league were a 90-strong wedding party from Colorado who seemed, for the few days that they were in residence, to be having the time of their lives.
Their vibe was infectious. They contributed to a near constant pool party, fuelled in equal measure by performance pool bar staff and a very Jamaican entertainment crew. Games around the pool ranged from bingo, to running along a water carpet, and what looked like an aquatic bucking bronco, all to a hypnotic Reggae beat. So any hopes of making a dent in my reading were quickly dashed. Debit books, credit fun!
If you’re not into Reggae, you soon will be after a stay at the Iberostar. It’s all you ever hear. Now, I don’t mind it at all, and have been searching through the pirate radio stations at home to get it, but I really object to the same tunes being repeated five of six times a day every day – particularly the one about the “cuts” and “no hesitation”. We were not alone with this complaint as I heard several lobby bar conversations voicing similar concerns. I’m amazed that with such a high occupancy rate they can’t shell out for a few more tunes.
The hotel itself was perfectly adequate for a week’s stay. Nothing flash, but everything you needed. The room was a fair size with two double beds, sofa and a good size bathroom. We were lucky. Our room was quite close to the pool area but some were a good distance away.
Food and drink were acceptable. The buffet proved repetitive after a while but served a good range of local, and international fare. Imagine jerk chicken with a side order of pizza.
The occasional lunchtime beach barbeque offered a welcome respite a couple of times during our stay. The jokes in the hype wore a little thin though. “Jerk chicken, jerk pork, jerk fish, everything there is jerk – even the chef’s a jerk!”. Thanks. But the food was plentiful, fresh, and really good, so it was worth it.
The Iberostar had a number of instantly forgettable specialty restaurants, some of which featured their own buffets. How odd. These had to be pre-booked and were rationed according to the length of stay. This proved a chore but ultimately worthwhile, so stick with it if you go.
As a bit of a try on I tried to make a reservation for a restaurant in the Rose Hall Beach hotel next door. It has the same ownership, but is operated separately. Amazingly we got away with it, and ate at the Cajun restaurant. The food was fairly predictable, but we were served by probably the nicest and most helpful waiter in a bowler hat on the island. I’d go back just to be served by him.
Fresh from our success we promptly booked the Japanese restaurant next door. This was pure theatre and sensational in every respect. Go there just for the performance. If you like the food too, as I did, then that’s a bonus.
It was a rather odd set up with the neighboring hotels. There was certainly a hierarchy, with the Rose Hall Suites clearly ranking in the middle. The Rose Hall Beach is positioned as slightly inferior, but I really couldn’t tell the difference. Certainly the restaurants and pool area there were better than at the Suites. The premium option, the Grand Hotel Rose, was the adults only option. But when I asked one of the staff how the places compared, she just commented that the guests were “so uptight” over there. Charming.
Strangely enough the Grand Hotel guests themselves agreed, with a few of them straying into our pool area for better poolside entertainment and friendlier holidaymakers to chat to.
This aspect shouldn’t really be underestimated. At the pool, strangers really did become friends. It’s a great formula. Take a great beach side resort in the sun, add in unlimited food and drink, and allow friendship to result.
So what about the downside? In a word, wifi. It was pathetic.
Connecting took an age. I don’t know which antiquated system they have there but it needs replacing. Each guest gets a unique username and password, which can only be used for a single device. So with a couple of phones and a tablet it confused them no end why we needed extra.
In the end they gave us a pile of twenty codes. None worked, and a frustrating argument developed.
But what on earth is the risk here? It’s not as if they charge non-residents for wifi. This was completely baffling. Someone, somewhere, must have a head office procedure to follow.
Once we were able to connect reality struck that it wasn’t the fastest connection around. Email and facebook were ok, but if you need to download apps then forget it.
Coverage only extended to the lobby area and lobby bar, but I did once manage to get a signal in the “Gourmet” restaurant. Surely it can’t be difficult to extend the range to the pool area and into the rooms. Keep up Iberostar, things have moved on and you really cannot get away with this these days.
Lighting in the hallways was weak, and the whole resort appeared a little tired and in need of a makeover.
The lock on our patio door didn’t work, and although the engineer fixed it, still didn’t look like it would resist a firm shove.
The minibar was very poorly stocked indeed.
We didn’t take any trips outside the resort but they were available. There was a free shuttle to a shopping park if needed. With everything on site we felt this was just a waste of poolside time and made up for it at the airport shops. I don’t regret this at all.
With the exception of those on the front desk, all staff we talked to were great. They were really friendly and genuinely wanted to help you enjoy your stay. You could see that they took a real pride in their job.
All told, this was a really good choice for a week in the sun. Don’t expect luxury, but on the other hand, don’t expect to rough it either. Go for the weather and for the staff, but take a rest from the internet for true relaxation.
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- Also Known As:
- Iberostar Rose Hall Hotel Rose Hall
- Iberostar Montego Bay
- Iberostar Rose Hall Suites Jamaica - Montego Bay