Our last trip before the Pandemic was to Royalton Negril! I raved about this resort to my husband, having visited once before in 2017 with one of my best girlfriends and having a great time. As such, we decided to do our vacation trip there. HOWEVER! It's slowly becoming a trend on my blog that going to a resort during the week of Christmas may not always be the best decision...as you probably recall from the details of our trip to Moon Palace Jamaica.
Location: Norman Manley Blvd, Negril Date Visited: December 2019
Type: All-Inclusive Resort (Family Friendly) Cost: ~USD$300 per night [Discounted]
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Before You Go
I'm not even going to try and sugarcoat it. This resort is HELLA FAR. The fact that I can fly from Kingston, JA to Miami, FL and back in the same time that it takes to drive to Royalton Negril is saying something. The first two hours of the drive were scenic and filled with excitement - But the last two hours?! Restlessness and anxiety. Heed my warning before embarking on the journey! Ensure that your will is strong, your playlist is stacked and your company is good. Pro tip? have a rest stop along the way to refresh the mind and body, as one can only play 'I Spy' so many times before every 'something blue' is the sea.
Once the GPS said that our destination was approaching on the right, I was overcome by relief. This feeling was quickly overshadowed by confusion, as signage wasn't immediately clear as to where Royalton Negril's Check-In was, as opposed to the Grand Lido and Hideaway properties. A security officer quickly assisted us and we were on our way. While my husband went to park the car, I proceeded with check-in. The check-in security officer fumbled for a few minutes with a thick stack of papers with guest details...only to tell me that our reservarion could not be found.
Spoiler Alert: It all went downhill from here. Literally.
Imagine my emotions at this point, worse after the four hour journey [cue tears]. It was difficult to distinguish where my annoyance was more directed - the fact that our reservation seemed to have gone on its own vacation, or that a 4-star resort wasn't employing a digital solution for check-in to achieve greater efficiency. I was soon told that the reservation must be at the Diamond Club (premium section of the resort) and I was escorted downhill to that Lobby. Surprise, surprise, our reservation wasn't there either. We then started going back and forth across the property via golf cart to sort out the check-in process. After an hour and a half and a few strong (but sanctified) words from me, we finally got a room.
Style/Ambience - 9 out of 10
Royalton Negril has beautiful, luxurious architecture. There's a good balance of warm wood tones, glass/mirrored accent pieces and modern metallic furniture. The lobby area is quite large and al fresco, so one is greeted by a cool and soothing rush of sea breeze upon entrance. The decor is mostly cool toned, with light greys, browns and beiges to complement the relaxing aura.
Room - 9 out of 10
I think the rooms at Royalton Negril are, for the most part, top tier. The rooms feature the same modern aesthetic seen across the property. We stayed in a Luxury Family Suite, which was more than spacious enough for the two of us. All Royalton Suites have a standalone jetted jacuzzi soaker tub, which is definitely a highlight. The room is divided by floor to ceiling blackout curtains.
The bathroom area was also quite luxurious, with double porcelain sinks and a walk-in rainfall shower with a seating area. The point in this section was deducted for cleanliness, as when we arrived, my husband discovered an old, used bar of soap in the shower...and it remained there for the duration of our stay though housekeeping came daily.
Food & Drinks - 5 out of 10
Half of the food we had was good, while the other half was not. To add insult to injury, the resort seemed to be near full capacity, so the wait time for a la carte restaurants was at least an hour. The food at the Italian restaurant - Grazie Italian Trattoria was so bland. The food at the buffet (Gourmet Marche) was okay, and the drinks similarly, but definitely nothing to write home about. The redemption in this category was the food at Score Sports Bar as well as the Hunter Steakhouse, which was really good, but the portion sizes were almost unbelievably small. Room service, for the most part, was pretty decent!
Customer Service - 6 out of 10
The service at Royalton Negril was going well until our last day. Our check-out day fell on Christmas Eve and it was not pleasant at all. Most of the property seemed to be on lockdown by 11:00 AM, with preparations for Christmas Day well under way. As such, trying to find somewhere to get food in-between standard meal times was futile! We'd already left our room with the intention to check out in an hour or two, so room service wasn't an option. Staff were of little to no help; and one (fairer hued) staff member in particular was quite curt when we enquired about food options. After that encounter we were fed up and didn't hesistate to check-out early, thus leaving the end of our trip on a sour note.
Amenities & Entertainment - 5 out of 10
My husband enjoyed the gym, which boasts two stories of modern equipment. I went to the Royal Spa and got a mani/pedi. While my pedicure came out great, my manicure left little to be desired, as the nail polish started to chip off by the end of the day. On the matter of entertainment, I found that not many guests were engaged with the daytime activities, which were limited to begin with. I won't lie to you, I was pretty bored for a decent portion of the trip.
Children up to age 12 would give a better review, as there's a water park with a slide for their leisure. There's also a hangout lounge for teens, but I can neither confirm nor deny that it was open during our stay. The main infinity pool area was perpetually filled with people, and only those who arrived early claimed a lounge chair. The nighttime shows by the Amphitheatre were more of a hit with guests, with the classic Michael Jackson set tickling the fancy of many a tourist.
MADD Factor - The Escalator
I know you just read the sub-heading and are halfway confused. I completely understand. I really struggled to find something about Royalton Negril that sets it apart from...well...any other resort in Jamaica. While searching the depths of my memories (and trip notes), I recalled the novelty of the escalator, which leads from the main lobby to the ground floor of the resort with majority of the restaurants. You might think I'm reaching here, and I definitely am, but do YOU know another resort with an escalator?! Please, tell me in the comments.
Overall Rating: 6.8 out of 10
Verdict: It was cute, but there are better options closer to Kingston
A trip to Royalton Negril is not for the faint of heart. At the very least, it wouldn't be my first choice, knowing that Royalton Blue Waters/White Sands in Falmouth is less of a drive. I'd say that this resort is for those whose primary goal is to relax and unwind. The resort is quite family-friendly, and children could entertain themselves for hours. I'm not sure how parents with small children would manage that road trip though. If I were to go back however, I'd want to stay at Hideaway, the Adults-Only section of the resort and see how it compares.
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Check Out Royalton Negril: https://www.royaltonresorts.com/royalton-negril
Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. This review is not sponsored.