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Reviewed March 5, 2010

I had a hard time choosing between the Ritz and Half Moon, and ultimately chose the Half Moon based on the stronger offering of activities at the resort. I ended up staying at both resorts briefly during the stay due to a flight cancellation and The Ritz had some less-than-stellar reports on a number of websites, and Half Moon reviews reported some issues so hopefully I can clarify between the two.

Half Moon: Is a stronger destination for families who want to lounge. I stayed in the Hibiscus area and some of the benefits were that it was close to the main hotel, and had clean, comfortable rooms. The overall feeling is rustic and cozy and the resort is laid out over several sprawling beachfront acres. We enjoyed biking around the property, sitting out by the beach and taking advantage of the activities provided at the hotel, including the spa, dolphin pool, and golf. It had such a long list of things to do that we were able to kick back and play each day out by ear, which I appreicated over the Ritz. The Ritz is more luxurious, yes, but your day is relegated to hanging out on the beach and staying in to watch tv.
I was disappointed by the beach though - the 'beachfront' by the Hibiscus area is unswimmable, and the main beach has a seaweed floor that I hated. The pool areas were nice, and the tree-enclosure makes for a better experience than the single Ritz mega pool.
The restaurants here are not very good, though. The Sugarmill is fine, but didn't live up to expectation and it had a terrible wine list with some crazy prices. The grilled lobster here is excellent though! I did not like Seagrape at all, though. The basic quality of the food at the breakfast buffet and lunch were not great. However, the beachfront patio bar was a nice place to relax after dinner and the lack of nightlife was fine, as we were pretty exhausted after the full days worth of activities.
The crowd was mixed through with small wedding parties and small/large families. There are more bugs here, however, because the resort is built into the natural environment. I thought it was very pretty and lush, but got bitten alive. We had a comfortable time in our shorts and flip-flops.

The Ritz: We had a flight cancellation and decided to make the most of it and use the extra time to check out the White Witch golf course, which we had mistakenly not seen until the end of our trip. This is one of the most beautiful courses I've played on! Despite the rain, it was an incredibly scenic, playable course. The Half Moon course doesn't compare at all to this course.
The Ritz also has better dining options. While we were at Half Moon, everything tasted a little 'off', but the Ritz has GREAT food all around. I can't play favorites here. We first ate at the Jerk Shack, and while it's not as good as [local] Scotchie's, the food is simple and delicious! We also walked around the perfectly manicured property and ran into some guys who cut down coconuts for us from trees for on-the-spot drinks :). Horizons, the main restaurant, had an excellent breakfast buffet, and White Witch was a wonderful dinner and post-golf option.
There are no real activities at the Ritz though, and after 6PM, there's not much to do, as the beach and pool close off. You can't really even walk around the property. The hotel seems more driven towards people who want to sit out in the sun for a weekend and play golf, but it's a far more sedate, buttoned-up option than the Half Moon. In terms of luxury though, the Ritz far exceeds Half Moon, but it's a more cookie-cutter experience. I wouldn't even say it's romantic - it lacks a cozy quality.

  • Stayed: February 2010
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8  Thank flippyfloppy1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 26, 2010

The Half Moon is amazing! My wife and I stayed there for our honeymoon for 7 days and we weren't disappointed. We were going to stay at the Ritz next door but preferred the Half moon because of a friends advice and the fact that the beach is 2 miles long and I like to walk the beach. The Ritz beach is small but the property was nice looking. We visited the Ritz and was glad that we didn't choose it. The hotel is nice but not our preference.

The property is huge and very well kept. The grounds were kept and the lobby was great. They have all the pictures of the celebrities that stayed there. But The thing I liked the most was that it wasn't a regular hotel but a collection of cottages. We stayed in Cottage 5 room 49 on the west end. Which I highly recommend that side. It's more private and quite which I like. It felt like we had the beach to ourselves. The beach on that side has less rocks and coral then the rest of the property. Also if you can book an oceanfront junior suite. We were 10 steps from the beach. We ate dinner on the patio most nights to the sound of the water. Originally we booked a deluxe room but was upgraded to the junior suite. I like the Hibiscus suites but prefer the west end due to how private the feel was.

The food was great. We ate breakfast and lunch at the seagrape and dinner at the Sugar Mill and the Thai place. We didn't try the Italian place due to the bad reviews I read. Plus I am from NJ where there are a lot of authentic Italian eateries which I prefer of commercialized food. The cost of food can be expensive. If you like to drink and eat a lot go all inclusive. We chose the european plan since my wife doesn't eat the much I couldn't see us spending $700 for her to eat. This worked well for us since we ate a big breakfast and that kept us most of the day. But the prices didn't scare us since we go to upscale eateries in NJ, Philadelphia and NY. So the were on par with what we were used to. The only thing I would change is that it would be best to put small air conditioners at the seagrape. In July Jamaica is hot!!! The fans didn't help at all!

The staff at the Half Moon was great. I couldn't believe how they remembered me and my wife's name. They joked and talked to us throughout our stay. My philosophy is if your nice to them they will be nice to you. I didn't want to come across as a snob and treat them beneath me. If you treat them like humans they will be glad to help. Eventually they were going out of there way to help us. I only had a problem with one person in the concierge. I booked a reservation at the Sugar Mill and the lady had a puzzled look and asked me did I know that it was the top restaurant. I told her that's why I wanted to go. I know I am young and didn't have on a business shirt but I came prepared because I know what hotel I was staying at. But I just dusted it off and left it alone.

All and all the Half Moon is expensive but you get what you pay for. I know what I like and it was worth it to pay the money. It would suck to stay somewhere for 7 days and not like the hotel. I can't say enough about this place. Not sure why people would have negative reviews. Maybe it's because I need less. I don't need someone kissing my butt or always doing something for me. When I am away I like to be left alone. I want the staff to be nice and accommodating but I am cool I can take care of myself.

Also just as a side bar - if you want a nightlife they don't have one! They a small band at the seagrape but nothing to party about. If you want a upscale, relaxing stay go to the Half Moon. They do have shuttles that run to Margaritaville and other places. But I am glad it wasn't a party hotel. I really like my peace and quite. They know what Kind of clientele they want to attract.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Nas1128
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 26, 2010

My husband and i just returned from our 3 week stay at half moon. We take over 5 beach vacations a year and have been to tons of island resorts and this was BYFAR the best resort i have ever been too (and i have been to my far share!) From the moment we arrived we were treated like royalty! Right when we stepped off our plane, we were whisked away to the resort's private lounge where were served complimentary cocktails. After a short while we left the airport. Although there is a shuttle service, we had arranged for a car to pick us up. It was only a short 10 minute ride until we arrived at the expansive properties of half moon. We were immediately greeted by smiling staff eager to provide their services. We were given complimentary drinks while they took our bags to our royal oceanfront villa. Next we were given the golf carts that came with our villa and soon we were there. My husband and I were both awed by the breath taking views of our oceanfront villa. Even though it was only the two of us traveling, as soon as i saw the villas on the website i insisted that we must stay in one, because i much prefer the spacious living as well as the privacy, as well as the butler, maids, and personal cook. Staying in the villas at half moon is a must if you want to enjoy yourself. We saw the other rooming options including hibiscus suites, cottages, and imperial suites and they were all WAY too small for our taste. Throughout our 3 week stay we enjoyed the many activities, beaches, and our private pool. While my husband enjoyed playing golf, i frequented the spa, and enjoyed almost all the treatments on the menu. I strongly suggest this because they are all superb. As well as playing golf and enjoying the spa, we also liked using the courts to take private tennis and squash lessons. Also we enjoyed the dolphin lagoon where were we got the trainer for a day package which was an amazing experience. As well as this we got private horseback riding lessons and got to ride our horses into the waves (amazing!) We also attended the "yoga retreat day" were we did pilates, yoga, and yogalates on a private beach (so relaxing!) Also we went shopping at the various shops in town were i purchased many fabulous luxury items. The meal plans are totally unnecessary seeing that the restaurants are not even that expensive compared to other five star restaurants. We enjoyed eating at every restaurant on the property as well as having home cooked meals prepared by our personal cook. Well i think this is dragging on a bit =) so let me end it here. Half moon is the best resort i have ever been to (and i have been to sooooo many) and i highly recommend it to anyone who wants a lavish, luxury vacation where you will be treated like royalty!

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank Islandhopper1818
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 26, 2010

We chose Jamaica as a last resort for a late booking, having been previously deterred by all the negative press the country gets. We couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised. Not only is Half Moon an excellent resort with every imaginable activity on tap, our day trips to several local attractions endeared us to the people and enabled us to see the beauty of the island. Half Moon is very luxurious, offers excellent food and facilities and has fantastic staff. The high number of return guests we met is testimony to customer loyalty. We stayed in a lovely cottage, sharing a pool with only two other units and only a stone's throw from beach. All of the staff were extremely friendly, and we found the dive team particularly helpful, even managing to set up a dive off property so we could complete our course when rough seas prevented us diving from the hotel beach. Swimming with the dolphins was an experience our two teens will never forget. And travelling around the large resort on bicycles added to our enjoyment. We left the property totally relaxed, and looking forward to returning again.

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled with family
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Thank HappytripperKent_UK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 25, 2010

I have been to half Moon Bay with my husband, couples trip, friends trip and large family reunion. 10 minutes from the airport and a world away. You never need to leave the resort. Multiple restaurants, golf, stables, dolphin swim, tennis, incredible spa, many pools, the list goes on. All inclusive plan called the good life package includes a massage for each adult. Do not miss morning yoga or pilates in the outdoor cabana built on stilts over the carribean sea. Book with American express for extras like late check out...My parents honeymooned there 50 years ago...elegant, historic, and unforgettable.

Stayed: February 2010, traveled with friends
2  Thank runawayboss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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