We returned from the Grand Palladium Jamaica about a week and a half ago and waited to leave a review in case my feelings changed, but they didn't. I still hate this place. We rely heavily on Trip Advisor reviews so I will be leaving a long, thorough one but I would like to give a little background on the resorts my husband and I have been to. This was our 16th resort in ten years. We've been to some of the higher end chains (Sandals, Secrets, Dreams) but have also frequented the mid-range chains (Barcelo, Riu, Paradisus, Iberostar, Occidental, Sunscape, etc.). We prefer grand openings, even though things might not be perfect-it's typically a great deal and a great way to experience the nicer resorts without breaking the bank. We would rather go twice a year or more in the off-season then pay more to go once in the winter. We are easy to please and just want good service, food, and drinks (yummy but not necessarily top shelf) and to relax poolside or on the beach. I think this background is helpful for readers because we are just normal people! That being said...this resort is terrible. I have only ever disliked one other resort and that was the Riu in Punta Cana. This was also our fourth trip to Jamaica so we knew what to expect from its people-typically nice to your face, but because they want something. The island is beautiful and we love the food and music so we just go with it. The bad reviews began to come in after we booked it so if this is your case, just read to find out how to make the best of it. If you haven't booked yet, please don't. There are other mid-range chains with much better customer service (Iberostar and Barcelo are our favorites in this catagory).
The resort is beautiful. However, I honestly don't know how anyone who is older or has any disabilities, etc would be able to manage. There are no elevators and good luck getting a ride. There was one man there in a wheelchair while we were there and I never saw him far away from the main building-it would have been impossible to navigate the paths. When we booked it, we were excited that it was physically large because we love to walk a lot. Unfortunately, we didn't notice that there were almost 500 rooms on each side. Reviews indicated the resort was only at 30-50% occupancy so we went with it. With our luck, the Palladium was at 98% occupancy the week we were there!!! Even though the resort seems huge, it just cannot handle 1800 people and this, coupled with the horrible customer service, made this trip horrible.
We paid extra to book a 1-bedrooms suite on the Lady Hamilton side. Reviews seemed to indicate the Lady Hamilton side, although not adults-only as previously planned, was still a little more adult-like with the adult pool, etc. At check-in (chaotic at 3:00) we were given our bracelets and envelopes but told the room wasn't ready and to come back in half an hour, which we expected. We hung out for a little bit and went back to get our keys but if our room wasn't ready, we were cool with it because we had suits and lotion in our carry-on. Our room number was on our envelope and it was exactly what I had asked for in an email- building 34 and a higher floor with a great view. However, the manager crossed it out and put a room number in building 27 (the Palladium side). I took the keys and told my husband what happened and he told me to complain (because I never complain when crappy things happen to me). While in the lobby, people were screaming at the front desk left and right. One family changed into their swimsuits IN THE LOBBY and threw their clothes at the front desk to keep until they were done. I went up to the front desk and explained I booked the Lady Hamilton side and they told me it was not available. I explained that I know they were running last minute specials but that we had booked a really long time ago so maybe they should bump someone else and let us have the room I requested. He said no, but to come back the next day and they MIGHT move us. I mentioned that I noticed everyone else screaming at them and that seems to work but that was not appropriate and I wasn't doing it but that I wanted my room. He still told me to come back the next day. I gave up and went to our room.
The one-bedroom suite is beautiful but wasn't really clean. While we were bringing in our luggage, the mini-bar guy came running in and pretended to fill the front fridge (the one-bedroom suite has two and I had already checked the front one-it was full). He was telling us how he would take care of us and shuffled the bottles around and waited for a tip. I was waiting for him to go to the bedroom and fill that one (it was completely empty) without being prompted, but he didn't. I just said thank you and let him leave. By the way, the 2nd mini bar was never filled our entire eight day stay. That first day was also the only time we would ever have four towels in our room.
The first night we ate at the buffet because we had read Oriental night was great. It was ok-not much selection but what they had tasted good. The second day, we went down the front desk and (surprise, surprise) there were no rooms on the Lady Hamilton side. "Maybe tomorrow". We always head to the gym before breakfast. The gym looks big, but not for 1800 people. Don't even try to get in after 7:45 am. There were no towels (like I want everyone's sweat on the weight machines) and the water jug was empty almost every day. By mid-week we realized we were better off just jogging the hilly pathways of the resort. After that, we spent the day poolside (yes, the water is about 72 degrees), soaking up the sun. It was busy but not a bad place we thought. We had already planned to try the Sports Bar for "dinner" because we wanted to watch the NASCAR race. When the burgers are fresh, they are really good. The Sports Bar is an awesome setup, but there is one bartender (Andreme-not so friendly until you sit there a while) and one cook who are expected to maintain the whole place. Therefore, the place was a mess. There were dirty dishes and glasses on two-thirds of the tables. But we had a good time-got our drunk on (the Real Rock isn't bad when it's cold from the tap) and went to bed.
The third day I went back up to the front desk for our room. This was my last try because we had yet to unpack our suitcases. After I told my story, a really nice woman at the front desk told me that was crazy and that of course she had a room for me and to come back and get the keys in an hour. We went to the beach (Sunset Cove) and didn't get back to a few hours because we were trying to just enjoy the resort. In hindsight, this was a bad move. Anyway, Sunset Cove is horrible but the view is beautiful. The jerk chicken at the Jerk Hut (we live for fresh jerk chicken) is pathetic. The chicken is really poor quality (super greasy) and you stand in line just to get a pile of bones and greasy skin. There were two people picking out all of the shrimp out of the jumabalaya as soon as it came out and just left rice and squid rings for everyone else. Nice. Did you really need two dozen shrimp each for a snack? That was one of the problems with the resort-the people who were there were just as rude as the employees. We took a nap in the early afternoon on the beach. I woke up to find three HUGE sandcrabs dancing around my chair. It took everything I had not to freak out since everyone around me was sleeping. One of them was easily eight inches wide. By the time my husband got it, they had buried below (that was a long 15 minutes). I told him to put on his sandals and run. We never set foot on that beach again. (The main beach is actually nice and sandy now. We spent the remainder of our beach time there.) On our way back we stopped in the lobby again to get our new room keys. The only nice person I had met at the resort was nowhere to be found. The manager from check in was there and I explained everything again. He told me there were no rooms. I had finally had enough and started to cry (I'm a crier-not a yeller). He dialed the phone and shoved the receiver to my ear. On the other end, I hear "This is Roger, the General Manager". I explained the situation and he told me there was no difference in the sides. I explained that everyone knows that there is and this is not ok- I just wanted what I paid for. He told me to take it up with where I booked it because I didn't book it with them. I explained that we travel a lot and had never had any trouble and there was nothing to take up with BookIt-that was ridiculous. He actually told me that my "unhappiness was not his problem" and that I should be happy that "the Grand Palladium gave me a room". Are you kidding me? You didn't GIVE me a room- I PAID FOR a room. I repeated what he said to him out loud (there were many people near me and I wanted them to hear what the management team is like) and asked if I heard him correctly. He said yes and that we would add me to the list of twenty people who want to move and not to count on it. I told him not to bother and let him know that I thought, although his resort might be full today, their horrific customer service was going to catch up with him someday and he needs to take accountability for that. And hung up and walked away. We went back to our room, unpacked, and got ready for dinner. The rest of the trip was even more of a disaster.
From there we went to Bubba's. It was 5:45. The hostess told us they were full for the night. We asked if we could put our name on the list anyway for much later-we didn't mind eating at 10:00 and she said no. She told us to come back at 7:30 and they might think about starting another list for the evening. Huh? We went to Ms. Lou's for some Red Stripe and pass the time. No Red Stripe. Had some drinks and went back to Bubba's at 7:30. She wouldn't put us on the list. We reminded her what she just told us and she just looked at us. So,we went to the Mexican restaurant. Pretty good. Went to bed. The next morning we went to the pool. On the way there, we stopped at the smaller pool bar on the Palladium side. We have 52-ounce Bubba Kegs. Bartenders cringe when they see us coming but the reality is it is easier to make two large drinks maybe twice a day than 20 drinks in their little 6 ounce cups! Anyway, we ordered some dirty monkeys and he told us he didn't have bananas. (Gavin is usually the bartender at this bar and he is the best! He is the only good service we had the entire trip. But he was off this day.) We asked for Hummingbirds and to substitute with banana liqueur. "Too early for the blender". It was 11:30!! We moved on to the main pool bar and had the same problem-they wouldn't make blended drinks! They would give beer or a pina colada or daquiri from the slushie machine. Yuck. The woman at the pool bar is so not-friendly. She could tell we would agitated and made us the strongest rum punch ever. For the rest of the week, we couldn't get a drink from anyone but Gavin. Either they wouldn't make it, supposedly didn't have something for it (who can't make a Seabreeze?) and just wouldn't wait on you. One day at the adult pool, one of the guests was looking for some marijuana so I had to wait until the bartender found a guy with some. I will tip for a good service but I won't tip just to tip or when servers are rude. People who insist on tipping like crazy all day because these people are "so underpaid" are not only crazy but ruining it for everyone else. Bartenders at these resorts (not to mention skycaps at the airport, etc.)are probably making more money than you. They are receiving $1-$2 per round in US money all day, tax free. Resort jobs are good jobs. If you really want to make a difference, stop in one of the poor towns that you pass through and give a mother with four children selling seashells your $50. One time at the pool bar, someone asked mean lady if she had change for a $20 USD. She pulled out 20 ones and traded. So the person asked if she could do $20 more and she could. It was 2:00 in the afternoon. Anyway, the drink issue is terrible. We don't even want top shelf-we just want a drink! If you like Pepe Lopez tequila poured on top of your liquid daquiri mix, this is the resort for you.
That night we went to Ms Lou's again for Red Stripe. No Red Stripe. No bananas. There were no bananas in this resort for FIVE DAYS! Isn't this their #1 agricultural export? (One day we took bananas from the breakfast buffet and gave it to the bartender when he told us he couldn't make a drink. That was kinda fun. We did it for the rest of the week.) When we went back to the room to get ready, we had no towels. I found the maid (it was 5:00 pm) and asked for a couple. She brought two to our room and expected a tip. Why would I tip for towels? There aren't any in my room! I wasn't asking for extra! Not giving that tip cost me as we got one towel (total, not each) to share for the rest of the trip. Or so she thought because really every night we went into her closet and took two, hid them, and left a big pile at checkout. That night, went to the Italian restaurant. The hostess told us there were 19 rooms ahead of us. I asked how long she thought 19 rooms would be. She said, "Well, 19 rooms." We love resorts without reservations. If you've ever been to a resort where you have to stand in line at 9 am for reservations only to be told they can get you in after they leave appreciate a no-reservations resort. Or give me a pager so I can go to the bar and wait. The Palladium has no idea what they are doing. If they call your name and you aren't there, you're done so everyone sits outside and waits. By the way, 19 rooms was an hour and a half. All she had to do was tell me that. Italian restaurant was ok. That night, there was a note under my door that our Lady Hamilton room would be ready the next day. I'm sure they thought that was funny. I threw it away-our trip was half over.
Had the same drink issues the next day at the pool. Went over to Gavin and tipped him to fill our mugs, which he would have happily done without a tip. Over the course of the rest of the week, we were appalled at the behavior of the guests. Lunch is pretty good upstairs but insanely crowded (the buffet is closed in the winter, but couldn't you at least open one if you are at capacity?). People were screaming at the pasta chef because he could only make two at a time. Others would just push you out of the way to get some food. I can't be bothered-it's all-you-can-eat people! They will put out more. We decided to try Bubba's again that night. While we were waiting for the Italian the day before, my husband went to Bubba's and asked them what we should do to try to get in. They told us to wait in line at 4:45 (it opens at 5:30), so we did. How dumb did we feel standing there? But the line filled up and people got crazy-pushing and shoving. We passed the time talking to a nice couple (Hi Matt and Sarah from D.C.!). When we got in line, they were a few people back so we asked for a table for 4 and got right in. They probably wouldn't have gotten in on their own. While we were there, half of the tables were empty, including four tables pushed together next to us. Halfway through, a group of 10 from Spain were brought in. There were absolutely not in line anywhere and it was about 6:15. Later we realized that Europeans have an "Imperial Club" at the resort and restaurant tables are saved for them. So while the rest of us beg for a meal, they can walk right in. You can't buy Imperial Club through a US reservation. Bubba's wasn't that great. The server told us right away that they didn't have the ribs or the strip steak on the menu. Shocker.
The last pathetic part of our trip was the Beach BBQ. These events are usually the highlight of my trip! I love them. You have to sign up in the lobby (we just happened to walk by that day-they don't advertise it anywhere-just a tiny sign on the desk Friday morning). When we got there, they were at least 30 minutes behind. Of course, our name wasn't on the list when we tried to get in (wow-another shocker) and he told us to stand elsewhere until everyone else got in. We ended up getting in but left quickly. There was a band and a fire eater while we stood in line for food. Here the meal was actually just burgers on the grill! And the line was backwards so you got your meat last, but somehow you were supposed to get your condiments first (without buns or burgers). We left. By this time, it was 8:30 and we couldn't get into any restaurants too soon but we were hungry so we went to the sports bar. This time the burgers were reheated and really awful. We just cut our losses and went back to the room. We should have gone to an a la carte, but we were so annoyed at this point we couldn't take it. The next morning, the bellman never came to get our bags at checkout. We figured this would be the case and dragged them down three flights of stairs ourselves and began the long, hilly trek to the lobby. Halfway, a bellman drove by in a tram and instead of asking us if we wanted a ride, actually sped up. I just had to laugh at how pathetic these workers were. He must have been rushing to an Imperial Club room for a tip.
I've never actually been happy to leave a resort. What a horrible waste of money. The Palladium has such potential, but you have to pay attention to the little things and this is something they just don't do. Just make people basic drinks. Just be friendly. Provide bottled water at the bars (you cannot get bottled water here unless you take one of the two little bottles from your mini bar or buy more in the gift shop). Give people towels in their rooms (bath towels-I didn't even have hope for washcloths). I didn't have to have the Lady Hamilton room at check in-just tell me you are sorry. After the third day, give me a little spa credit. There were no apologies. I was just amazed at how they just don't care here. Tipping doesn't help-they just don't care. It's a mentality passed down from management. If you are already booked for here, just enjoy the beach, the sports bar, and the food. If you haven't booked a resort yet, please avoid here.
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Palladium Jamaica Hotel Lucea
- Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort And Spa
- Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa Lucea