My wife and I stayed at the Grand Palladium 21-28 January 2010 and I must say that overall I was pleased. This will most likely be a lengthy review and there are things that I want travelers to know before booking. I also hope that the management at this resort uses this as a tool to correct problems. We have traveled to many all-inclusive resorts (Riu, Bahia Principe, Barcelo). This was at least our tenth visit to this type of resort. To start with, the resort is a monster. There are two lobbies, Grand Palladium Jamaica and Lady Hamilton. If you book one you could be placed in the other which can create some confusion. They should eliminate the two names and simply call it by one resort. This would have eliminated one of the problems we had immediately upon check in. We had reserved Lady Hamilton with a king size bed. We arrived at around 5pm. This of course was after an hour ride from the airport. I read others complain about the distance but that was really no big deal to me. Anyway, we arrived and were told that our room would not be ready for about three hours and were offered a room with two queens. This was a common theme among the other guests checking in around me as well. Due to the time of day I agreed to the arrangements and was given a room...My wife and I stayed at the Grand Palladium 21-28 January 2010 and I must say that overall I was pleased. This will most likely be a lengthy review and there are things that I want travelers to know before booking. I also hope that the management at this resort uses this as a tool to correct problems. We have traveled to many all-inclusive resorts (Riu, Bahia Principe, Barcelo). This was at least our tenth visit to this type of resort. To start with, the resort is a monster. There are two lobbies, Grand Palladium Jamaica and Lady Hamilton. If you book one you could be placed in the other which can create some confusion. They should eliminate the two names and simply call it by one resort. This would have eliminated one of the problems we had immediately upon check in. We had reserved Lady Hamilton with a king size bed. We arrived at around 5pm. This of course was after an hour ride from the airport. I read others complain about the distance but that was really no big deal to me. Anyway, we arrived and were told that our room would not be ready for about three hours and were offered a room with two queens. This was a common theme among the other guests checking in around me as well. Due to the time of day I agreed to the arrangements and was given a room assignment in a building that was located the furthest from the main facilities (pool, lobby, restaurants, bars, etc….). This building was on the Jamaica side and confused me as I thought one might be inferior to the next (they are simply mirror images). My real disappointment was in the fact that it was so far away from everything. Listed in the accommodations is an adult pool and beach. This is right up my alley since we don’t have children. After agreeing to the room and then looking at the map I realized that building 19 and the adult pool were 1/3 of a mile apart (maybe exaggerated but it was far). Additionally I didn’t understand why I was going to a different resort. We informed the rep that it was not going to be acceptable to which we were told that the Lady Hamilton side was completely booked and that building 19 was all they had. How can this be? I reserved and paid for the Lady Hamilton! Finally the so-called manager arrived and after a pleasant but firm exchange we were moved to a more centrally located building and upgraded to a larger room with a King bed (you get further with sugar than spice, right). There were many others having the same problem. Some tried to be pushy and their assertiveness seemed to fail. After reading this you may ask, “what’s the big deal”? In the big scheme it worked out fine but I found it ridiculous to be told that my room would not be available for 3 hours and I was checking in two hours after the check-in time. Now let me state that the room was awesome! Two flat screen TV’s, large bed, stocked ‘fridge, and large tub. Probably one of the most nicely appointed I have seen in all of my travels to all-inclusive resorts.
The pools were pretty nice. We were eager to visit the adult pool and we didn’t stay very long. It was always crowded, loud music that seemed to annoyingly fade in and out and skip and there was always a line at the bar. The bartender seemed to be in no hurry to serve the guests in spite of my tips. What most folks didn’t seem to know about was the pool referred to as the “relaxation” pool. First off, it was right outside my door and was rarely crowded. Additionally there were rarely any children running around. The bartender here, Natasha, could also really care less if she was serving anyone. I tipped her which would at least draw out a smile but she moved at a snails pace and was often more interested in talking with the pool staff than helping guests. This I also thought was funny, the pool staff. There was always a pool attendant, lifeguard and a bartender. The pool attendant was responsible for the towels, which were always out of stock. I could never figure that out. They would arrive at around 10 with fresh towels and by 11 they would be out of stock and often for the remainder of the day. Once they were out, the attendant spent most of his day sitting under an umbrella drinking with the lifeguard. Yes drinking. Natasha would slip them booze all day long. The bar ran out of beer for two hours one day, CO2 on another day and the pool was out of towels everyday. It just seemed poorly managed. Regardless of these silly little problems, I loved sitting by the pools. The weather was nice, the pools were clean with no strong smell of chemicals, the chairs plentiful and in working order and luckily we always had pool towels. Bring your own large insulated cup and you can avoid standing in line as often for a beverage. The main pool was beautiful however I cannot comment on the activities, as I never spent much time there. When I did wander past I would notice that the pool bar seemed to be a party but was generally ten guests deep with one bartender. One bartender for the swim up bar at the largest pool in Jamaica is unacceptable. This also seemed true about the bar next to the volleyball courts. I have read reviews of others complaining about the temperature of the water. It was cold but the air temp was 90 so I enjoyed to cool water. I don’t go to the pool to take a bath, I go to cool down. Overall I would rank the pools among the best I had seen.
The food quality was outstanding. I can’t think of one bad thing to say about the food. There are an assortment of a la carte and several buffets. You don’t need reservations and are not limited by the number of a la carte restaurants that can be visited. We ate at the Italian, Asian, Mexican and Creole. The service was always outstanding! There were waits but nothing longer that I have waited at a restaurant in the states. This could be avoided by timing. It seemed that if you got to a restaurant around 6:30ish then you could expect immediate seating. If you arrived later it could be an hour. I had read complaints about this but I was on vacation and this didn’t seem to be an issue with me. I would suggest remaining in the area around the hostess stand, as they seem to announce either a name or a room number for seating. If it goes unheard they move to the next guest. This seemed to cause problems. The buffets were great. I will admit that the breakfasts could be a little annoying. There was always a line to be seated. This seemed to be due to a poorly managed operation. Often they were out of coffee cups, flatware, etc… They were determined to set the tables with two forks and two knives per seat at breakfast. Now I am not that uptight at breakfast. Furthermore, tell me where to find everything and treat it like a regular buffet and I will find my own plates, utensils, etc… This would immediately eliminate the line of 10+ waiting to be seated.
If you have read any of the other reviews you will read complaints about towels in the rooms. This became almost comical. If you are a gambler you could make a daily game of “how many towels will I get, will I get any or which type will I get”. My wife quickly learned that washcloths were a hot commodity and would lock them in the safe. One day all of our towels were removed from the room and not replaced. None, zero. No bath towels, no hand towels, and no face towels. Luckily, there was still a cleaning person working our building so we were able to get towels from him without having to call the lobby and wait for someone to bring them to us. There was a sign similar to other hotels asking to save on water/cleansers by hanging towels which can be used again and to put dirty towels you want replaced on the floor. I for one don’t need a replacement daily however the staff would take them regardless if they were hanging or not. You can tip, beg, plead and still it is towel roulette. This was the same for fridge restocking. Some days 3 beers, some days 1 water, and some days you would not get anything.
Tours of the area seem to be made available by a variety of agencies on the property. There is also a taxi service, which is available however they seemed rather expensive. We decided to visit Negril however; the Taxi company quoted me $80US for a round trip. The tour agency located next to the Bob Marley shop offered the save service for $14US. This tour included a shopping trip in Negril at a small shopping center called Time square (buy coffee here, it seemed the least expensive) and then an open-air market. Personally if I returned, I would not even bother getting off the bus at the open-air market. They are very aggressive and every booth seemed to sell the same exact stuff and vendors begged you to enter their area. Had I been in the market for some clothing colored in the Jamaican flag colors this would be the place. They probably had great deals but I didn’t have the patience. Stick to the Times Square market. This tour ended with sunset at Rick’s Café. It was a great time. Lots of music, food, fun, bands, and for the adventurous, you can dive off the surrounding cliffs. If you are hoping to come home with some Jamaican souvenirs, don’t buy them at the resort. It is worth the $14 tour price to save money in Negril. Popular items seemed to be Marley and Red Stripe T’s. These are approx. $10-$15 more at the resort per shirt. For example of how bad the prices are, I wanted to buy a Marley Bio (paperback). The price printed on the book was $14.95 however the price attached was $60US. Seriously!?!? The airport had similar prices as Time Square on these items. You can wait to get the stuff there. I would suggest you buy any blue mountain coffee in Negril, as it was a little less expensive.
The beaches, as you may have already heard, are not like the 7 miles of walk able sand in Negril. The sunset cove beach area has several activities such as sailing, paddle boats, etc… There were bars and food available, plenty of chairs and shade. I am more of a pool person so I spent little time on the beach and cannot provide a good review.
Marijuana, marijuana, marijuana. I read many reviews of folks complaining about being offered drugs. It may or may not happen. I don’t know if it depends on your gender or appearance. I must have the face of a user because I was asked quite regularly however my wife was never approached. We were not off the airplane for more than 10 minutes when I was approached in the airport. approached by members of the resort staff, approached in time square and in the market. If you don’t want any simply say no and they don’t seem to be pushy. I will warn you that if you are bothered by marijuana and its usage, you may want to avoid Rick’s Café. Public usage seemed to be accepted. Be careful if you are planning to take your kids to watch the cliff diving as they may be exposed to drug usage.
If you plan on being there during the Superbowl, go to the sports bar. It will be packed and fun. We watched the last playoffs there and had a great time. They had a large spread of food, plenty of TV's and there did seem to be enough staff on hand. I would recommend showing early as there will be a lot of folks if it is anything like the playoff games.
This place has the potential to be an awesome, simply awesome resort. The grounds, buildings and pools are beautiful. The food is great, restaurant and bars are plentiful. The problems seem to stem from a lack of employees and often resources (towels, cups, etc…). The bottom line is that management needs to get on the ball and fix them. I would pack my bags and return tomorrow. I had read the reviews prior to my trip and was prepared for the small problems and they in no way ruined our vacation, but a lot of small (easily fixable) problems/nuisances add up quickly. I know this was rather long but I felt it important to share my experiences in an effort to assist future guests.More
- Free Parking
- Breakfast included