8 Montego Bay Bargains for Fall
Enjoy Jamaica -- and off-season savings -- at one of
these all-inclusive getaways
By Brent Stoller
Palladium Hotel Group
And when it comes to travel bargains, few options match the all-inclusive resort. One price paid upfront covers your room, meals, drinks (alcoholic and nonalcoholic) and snacks, as well as on-site entertainment, activities and nonmotorized water sports. This not only simplifies the budgeting process before the trip but puts vacationers at ease during it: Like a gentle ocean breeze, there's something sublime about not reaching for your wallet.
Set amid white-sand beaches and crystal-blue waters, the sun-drenched city of Montego Bay in Jamaica is host to a collection of resorts that provide relaxing rejuvenation. We look at eight of the area's finest all-inclusives while also highlighting just how much can be saved by traveling in the low season.
The room rates, priced at press time, are the totals for two people for a seven-night stay in the fall (Oct. 11-18) and, for comparison, in winter (Jan. 10-17). For more information, contact the resort specialists at Vacations To Go at (800) 998-6925, or click the links provided.
Sunset Beach Resort, Spa and Waterpark
Boasting a full menu of activities and its own aqua park, this getaway offers something for singles, couples and families. Water-sports enthusiasts challenge whitecap waves in kayaks and paddle boats, then explore the sea life in the resort's marine sanctuary. Guests craving a slower pace float in any of three freshwater pools and soak in beachfront hot tubs, while youngsters channel their inner buccaneer at the Pirate's Paradise Waterpark, which features a pair of twisting slides that stand 35 feet tall.
The resort features five culturally diverse restaurants that satisfy every palate. For guests in the island spirit, Banana Walk offers festively themed evenings throughout the week and an expansive Jamaican-style buffet.
A week in a standard room in the fall can be had for $1,190, an outright steal at $85 per person, per night. Compared to the same stay during high season, this is a savings of $574.
Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa
What was once an 18th-century sugar plantation now is home to this charming oceanfront destination. Windsurfing, snorkeling and sailing, along with the 13,500-square-foot Sugar Mill Falls Water Park, deliver fun in the sun to visitors of all ages. Away from the water, guests loosen up in rum mixology classes and revel in the resort's nightlife, while children enjoy magic shows, campfires, bobsled races and activities in the Kids Klub (ages 4 to 12) and Teen Zone (ages 12 to 17). Beyond the all-inclusive package, the par-72 Cinnamon Hill Golf Course challenges every club in a player's bag, and the Soothe Spa lives up to its name, calming both the body and soul.
Dining options range from family-friendly to upscale. Make a reservation
at Three Palms for gourmet Jamaican cuisine, or take the kids for brick oven pizza, made-to-order dishes and bottomless desserts at the Fresh buffet.
Contemporary in design and amenities, each guest room features its own private balcony or terrace. Resort-view rooms go for $2,464 in peak season, but that price dips to $1,526 in the fall ($938 in savings), or just $109 per person, per night. As an added incentive for families, children 12 and under stay and eat free year-round.
Hotel Riu Montego Bay
Sun by day, celebration by night -- isn't that what a Jamaican vacation is all about? Hotel Riu delivers, with a spectacular property set along picturesque coastline and surrounded by abundant green gardens. From tennis and windsurfing to kayaking and beach volleyball, there's no shortage of activities that help guests work up an appetite -- at which point they head to the main buffet or one of the themed restaurants for Asian, Italian or steakhouse fare. Thanks to daily programming for kids ages 4 to 12, parents are free to take a catamaran out on the bay, relax in the freshwater pool and hit the swim-up bar for icy concoctions in oversize glasses. Once the sun goes down, the party heats up, as nightly entertainment and live music fill the island air.
This Riu property is located about 5 miles from downtown Montego Bay, and travelers can slip away for shopping or explore the region via horseback rides and sunset cruises. Glistening Waters' Luminous Lagoon, where plankton glow beneath the surface, is one spot not to be missed; it's near Falmouth, about a half-hour east of the resort.
A seven-day January stay in a standard room runs $2,360. Book it for October and the total drops to $1,708, giving you a $652 head start on your next vacation.
The Oasis at Sunset
Adjoining the Sunset Beach Resort, Spa and Waterpark, the Oasis gives vacationers the best of both worlds: the variety of a larger development with the intimacy of a smaller one. As the most recent addition to the Sunset Resorts portfolio, the 124-room boutique property features upgraded accommodations, dedicated concierge service and complimentary Wi-Fi.
When guests aren't enjoying a host of nonmotorized water sports or jamming in reggae Zumba classes, they're challenging each other to mini-golf matches or holding out for the winning pull on the gaming lounge's slot machines. Meanwhile, children splash around for lost treasure at the water park, play pingpong in the Pirates Cove Teen Center (ages 13 and up) and learn cultural dances in Club Mongoose Kids Camp (ages 12 and under).
When it's time to get away, 165 yards of soft, sandy beach exclusively for Oasis occupants await, complete with thatched shading and a hideaway for nude sunbathing. And since vacationers have access to everything at Sunset Beach as well, dining options abound, though the Oasis does offer two a la carte restaurants solely to its guests.
A weeklong winter stay in one of the resort's club rooms, which overlook lush gardens, costs $2,752. In the fall, however, the price plummets to $1,736, translating to $1,016 in savings.
Iberostar Rose Hall Beach
Ideal both for families and couples, this beachfront property's manicured gardens, ocean views and first-class service put travelers squarely on island time. Guests are as active as they want to be; many head to the bay for snorkeling, kayaking and windsurfing (nonmotorized water sports are free for one hour per day, per room), while others relax in lounge chairs and work on jealousy-inducing tans. Spirited beach volleyball games and water polo matches are a great way to get the blood pumping and meet people.
The fun continues into the night, as a revolving array of dancing, live music and comedy shows dot the evening calendar. Care for the younger crowd comes courtesy of on-site babysitters (charges apply) and Lucy's Club, where children ages 4 to 12 paint, watch movies and make friends with kids from all over the globe.
Four restaurants satisfy every taste bud, offering options from Cajun cuisine and tender cuts of steak to Japanese dishes served at communal stations. The main buffet boasts miles of international fare at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Collect your bags at the Montego Bay airport and, a quick cab ride later, unpack in a garden-view room that costs $1,736 for a week in October -- $722 cheaper than an identical stay just after New Year's.
Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort and Spa
This all-suites destination is modern in design and long on hospitality. Sharing amenities with the neighboring Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort and Spa, the Lady Hamilton gives guests access to three buffets, seven a la carte restaurants, a nightclub and 13 bars that keep the good vibes flowing.
Five pools -- including one said to be the largest on the island -- are perfect for a soothing dip, while the sparkling beachfront is home to an assortment of water sports. A nursery and indoor and outdoor play areas keep the kids busy, and the adults-only pool serves as a sanctuary for singles and couples. Tension-reducing spa treatments are available for an extra charge -- and can be paid for with winnings from the on-site gaming area.
Adorned in British colonial-style decor, the resort's junior suites offer garden, pool and sea views. They start at $2,092 for a week in the fall, saving vacationers $507 over the high season.
Secrets St. James Montego Bay
A welcome cocktail and cool towel flip your switch to vacation mode upon your arrival at this adults-only retreat. The 350-suite complex is perched on a peninsula and features gourmet dining at nine restaurants, dedicated concierge service on every guest floor and endless ocean views.
Relaxation rules at the beach and around the partially heated pool, and thanks to an attentive wait staff, nobody goes thirsty. While aquatic endeavors are popular, archery, bicycle tours, bocce ball and lawn croquet put a twist on the traditional island getaway. Hit the state-of-the-art fitness center to work up a sweat, then let your body recover during an oceanfront massage. For those in need of a golf fix, five layouts are within 10 to 25 minutes of the resort. Nightly entertainment abounds in the open-air theater and gaming lounge, where a few hands of poker can be the perfect cap to an evening.
Once things wind down, guests return to their luxurious suites, which feature
a separate sitting area, an oversize bathroom with whirlpool tub and a furnished balcony. Junior suites with an ocean view run $4,508 for a week in high season
but are available for $2,646 in the fall. For perspective, that $1,862 in savings is enough to pay for an additional seven-night October stay at the first five resorts listed in this article.
Sandals Montego Bay
Love is in the air at this couples-only hideaway, the original property in the Sandals family of resorts. Tropical gardens spill into sugar-white beaches and stunning ocean vistas, lulling travelers into an island state of mind.
Though it offers the traditional assortment of water sports (plus water skiing), what separates Sandals from most all-inclusives is its complimentary diving program, which affords each certified guest two outings per day. Novices receive basic training and are underwater by the next day, while experienced divers can embark on night excursions for a different view of life under the sea.
For those committed to leisure, four pools, four whirlpools, a swim-up bar
and an enthusiastic wait staff ensure stress drifts away in the gentle Jamaican winds; residual tension can be dismissed during a couples massage in the Red Lane Spa (fees apply). Evenings are capped with themed festivities, a trip through the chocolate buffet or a sing-along to your favorite tune in the piano bar.
A week in a Caribbean luxury room, tranquil in its decor, goes for $3,641 as
a refuge from the winter cold. However, $3,025 buys the same room -- and the same amenities -- for seven nights in the fall, saving you $616.
The information in this story was accurate at the time it was published in September/October 2014. Please visit Vacations To Go or call (800) 998-6925 for current rates and details.