It is extremely difficult to write this review especially since I'd carefully read so many positive and exciting highlights from others prior to booking this quick trip. However, from check-in to check-out, the stay was so underwhelming that I almost don't want to tell you about it. BIG SIGH. But! Since you're already here, let's cut to the chase, shall we?
Location: Montego Bay, St. James Date Visited: April 2021
Type: All-Inclusive Resort (Adults Only) Cost: USD ~$300+ per night
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Before You Go
We plugged our destination into the GPS and were led confidently to an empty plot of land. I mean, if Google Maps is trying to point people away from this place, it must be with good reason, but I digress. The important point here is that following the GPS may lead you past the actual resort, so do keep your eyes peeled. If memory serves me right, there's a filter lane requiring one to make a u-turn, as there's no direct turn off from the main road directly to the resort's entrance.
Style/Ambience - 6 out of 10
First of all, the property is MASSIVE. Iberostar Grand Rose Hall shares its square footage with sister resorts Iberostar Rose Hall Beach and Iberostar Rose Hall Suites. Grand Rose Hall is the adults-only section of the resort, and supposedly the more modern.
The architecture is quite reminiscent of the rensaissance era. The lobby area boasts massive columns and arches, classical mouldings, floor to ceiling curtains and iconic checkerboard floors [pictured]. The crisp neutral toned furniture pieces are the only modern accents in the space, but they are overshadowed by a weird mix of paint and curtain colours. I felt like the lobby especially, while grand, is quite dated, and has the potential to make one feel dizzy from all the busy decor elements.
Room - 6 out of 10
We stayed in an ocean view suite on the ground floor. While we were told it was an upgrade, it struggled at times to feel like it.
Pretty view right? What I didn't say earlier was that the photo is strategically cropped, as to the left of the view was a front row seat to a wedding (congrats to the happy couple!) and to the right? The back door of the Beach Grill, with staff going to and fro, throwing out garbage and dropping off dirty glassware.
The main interior of the room is quite large, and maintained a mix of a colonial and modern decor. The room featured a large King bed and had a sunken living/lounge area complemented by dark wood and red accents throughout [pictured].
The bathroom is probably the pièce de résistance of the entire room, and where the upgrade is most seen. Iberostar Grand Rose Hall rooms may have the nicest and largest en suite bathrooms I've ever seen. There are separate vanity areas on each end of the bathroom, a rain fall glass enclosed shower and a large jetted tub [pictured]. The bathroom truly personified the luxury the hotel claimed to have.
What the staff failed to tell us however, was that the room had motion sensors. So how exactly did we find this out? Well, just imagine you're taking a shower, only to be standing fully soaped up in pitch darkness after a few minutes. After a call to concierge and some flailing of the arms later, the sensors tripped back in and restored power. We had to be mindful of this for the rest of the trip, and couldn't stay too still while in the room. It was VERY annoying, to say the least!
There was also a significant lack of available outlets. We had to unplug lamps in order to charge our devices. Another thing was that WRETCHED SAFE. Oh my goodness, just when we thought nothing else could make the trip worse...the safe started to malfunction and would not open! More on this in the Customer Service section though.
Food & Drinks - 5 out of 10
To keep it real with you, the food was a big hit or miss. The most enjoyable food was the room service [pictured]. HOWEVER! The spicy wings from the room service menu [not pictured] WILL burn your tongue off...or at the very least try to. They should rename it "spicy spice" as I can't recall tasting any chicken.
We had dinner at the surf and turf restaurant, Galleon, which was so-so. The plates were huge but the side dishes left much to be desired. The cocktails weren't anything to write home about either. Breakfast at the buffet was the biggest let down by far; as the staff were far from welcoming and the food was either salty or bland. Yuck.
Customer Service - 3 out of 10
Bwoy...I'm beginning to wonder if 3 is even too high a score for this section. Let's get into it then tell me in the comments what score you'd give. Firstly, the security guard at the gate detained us for what felt like half an hour THEN proceeded to give us incorrect directions to the Iberostar Grand lobby. We found ourselves driving in a circle before getting to where we actually needed to go.
Secondly, on finally reaching the correct luggage drop off/parking area, we sat in the car for what felt like an eternity waiting for someone to acknowledge us and give us instructions for parking, check-in and sanitisation. I believe it was the resting bi...I mean, stark annoyance on my face that caused one of the two security guards stationed on the outside of the lobby to pay us any sort of attention. The fact that I refused to move the vehicle until acknowledged may just have played a part in it too.
Thirdly, after going through sanistisation and entering the lobby, a most unpleasant staff member just shoved a cold rag my way then walked off. We had no idea where check-in was and noone seemed to care either. We ended up following behind another group of guests who seemed just as confused as to where to go. I'd get on my soapbox and argue that Management should work on communication and flow of guest traffic, BUT! our North American neighbours of a fairer hue didn't seem to have any trouble with this and the staff seemed to cater to them very well.
I'll stop right here and give kudos to the saving graces for this part of the review: We had a most pleasant bell hop and concierge who brought our welcome drinks. Our morning butler was also pleasant and helpful! Did I mention before that we had a personal butler? If not, then yes we did - one per shift for morning and evening! Butlers were accessible via WhatsApp, and were helpful in planning things to do during the stay.
Now on to rock bottom. Remember that wretched safe I'd mentioned earlier? Well, we were getting ready to check out and realised the digital safe (with our car key and other valuables) would not open! We were mindful of the time also, as curfew was still in effect for Jamaica and we had a 2+ hour journey home ahead of us. We had to call the front desk on three different occasions to get assistance. Then we waited more than half an hour before someone came to assist. A staff member even lied to us that the safe could not be opened via a manual override. Yet still, a manual override is EXACTLY what the manager did when she finally showed up to assist. To add more fuel to the fire, the manager then suggested that the delay was "a sign to stay another night". I mean... come on, read the room, sis.
Amenities & Entertainment - 6 out of 10
The property is gorgeous. There's no denying that. The property has a spacious beach area outfitted with loungers, and boasts a large main pool [pictured] which is host to many daytime activities. I don't recall seeing many water sports being conducted. I'm unsure to what extent the pandemic had impacted that being so.
While I didn't care for it, my husband thoroughly enjoyed the night activities, specifically the magic show - props to Wizard the magician! The Spa/Salon was quite small for a resort that huge. At the time of my appointment, a bridal party was being serviced at the same time, so the already small space felt even more crowded nor did it seem to allow for much social distancing. Notwithstanding, I received one of the best pedicures I'd ever gotten! The gym was closed at the strangest hours so my husband didn't really get to enjoy that facility during our stay.
MADD Factor - The Hanging Swing Chair
Just outside the suite was a large patio with a hanging swing chair and an outdoor fan [pictured]. I've never seen this feature at any other hotel I've been to, though I'm sure they exist. Please tell me in the comments which other resort has them. I thought it was a great alternative to patio chairs/loungers.
You see the three minutes it took to step outside, check out the patio and take that photo? Well, that was the sum total of my time spent on the patio, as there were so many mosquitos claiming the space for themselves. Best believe we stayed behind the safety of the screened door from there on out. While it was a unique and nice feature, we weren't fully able to enjoy its use.
Overall Rating: 5.2 out of 10
Verdict: Meh, I'll Pass.
Will we be back? It's unlikely. While there were sprinkles of pleasant moments here and there, there wasn't anything overall that made us feel like we wanted to be return guests. It may just have been one of those chance poor experiences, as staff didn't seem keen on giving us much regard. Then again, probably if we were of a fairer hue or celebrating a special occasion, this wouldn't have been so.
Have you ever been to any of the Iberostar resorts? If yes, how was it? If no, would you go? Let me know in the comments!
MADD TIPS: Call ahead and make dinner and spa reservations. Use the app for early check in to avoid hassle.
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Check Out Iberostar Grand Rose Hall: https://www.iberostargrandhotel.com/all_inclusive.asp
Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. This review is not sponsored.