Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
The second-best property of the Iberostar Rose Hall trio, with plenty of features and a family-friendly vibe
Of the three Iberostar hotels located in Montego Bay’s Rose Hall golfing community, Iberostar Rose Hall Suites sits in the middle, both literally and figuratively. This 319-room resort is sandwiched in between the fancier adults-only Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall and the rowdier and cheaper Iberostar Rose Hall Beach, and is the mid-range, family-friendly property of the trio.
The massive, bi-level lobby has cathedral-height ceilings, quirky, stylish furniture, and a grand double staircase with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the pool and beach. Every day around check-in time, this glittery behemoth becomes a circus; guests are often made to wait well past the 3 p.m. check-in time for their room to be ready (my wait lasted until 4 p.m.). The resort does allow guests to get started on the all-inclusive experience in the meantime, providing wristbands (but no welcome cocktail) upon arrival.
Other features are also massive, such as the resort’s infinity-edge pool with a swim-up bar overlooking the beach. Lounge chairs can be placed in the shallow, ankle-deep pool for guests who want to keep cool while relaxing, and those looking for a little more action can hop over to the nearby lazy river or activities pool, the latter of which features a pool volleyball net and game room pavilion.
Six restaurants, six bars and lounges, an Internet cafe, a theater, a water sports pavilion, a PADI dive center, and a kids' club round out the list of features. Guests also have access to a number of features that are shared with the other two Iberostar properties, including an expansive spa with a juice bar, Pilates and yoga studio and fitness center; a small casino; a nightclub; plenty of meeting rooms and banquet halls; and a few shops. Unlimited access to neighboring Iberostar Rose Hall Beach’s bars and restaurants effectively doubles the resort’s dining and drinking options, but guests cannot access any of the features at the fancier Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall. Don’t even consider taking the smallest peek at the property -- you’ll be turned on your heels by security faster than you can say “Iberostar.”
In Rose Hall, Jamaica's golf resort capital, less than 20 minutes by cab from the Montego Bay airport
Iberostar Rose Hall Suites is situated within the mall-like complex that houses all three Iberostar resorts, along the northern coast of Montego Bay, where most of the city’s megaresorts and golf clubs are located. Aside from that, there isn’t a whole lot else going on nearby, save for a few shopping plazas that definitely don’t look any more enticing than the hotel’s on-site boutiques. While nothing outside the grounds is within walking distance, the Cinnamon Hill Golf Course, Montego Bay Airport, and fun, and appropriately named, Hip Strip are a short drive away.
Big rooms aren't much nicer than those at the cheaper Iberostar Rose Hall Beach, but the bathrooms with huge soaking tubs are a step up
Rooms at Iberostar Rose Hall Suites are decorated in purple and green fabrics -- stylish striped chairs, subtle lavender-flower-patterned comforters with green accent pillows, chic green and purple drapes. They also have tile floors and recessed accent walls behind the beds. The overall decor is just a touch more sophisticated than in the rooms at the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach, but the rooms don't look larger; rooms have sitting areas separated by a step and a partial wall, just as they do at the resort's cheaper neighbor.
The bathrooms, however, are significantly better than those at the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach; they feature two-person soaking tubs and separate walk-in showers, as well as better hairdryers and bathrobes.
Each unit features a furnished balcony, but the space is recessed, allowing little light in, and the heavy concrete columns obscure the vistas when guests are seated in the patio chairs. The only real way to enjoy the view is to stand up and lean over. Ashtrays are also provided on the balconies, and, depending on the unit, the scent of smoke permeates indoors.
Not quite as crowded as neighboring Iberostar Rose Hall Beach
The white sand in front of Iberostar Rose Hall is soft (though there are occasionally small pebbles), waters are clear and warm, and there is a manmade reef for easy snorkeling right off the shore. Beach activities aren’t quite as intrusive as at Iberostar Rose Hall Beach where group aerobics and dance lessons are virtually impossible to ignore; consequently, this strip of sand doesn’t feel nearly as crowded. Palapa-style umbrellas make for decent shade, and a volleyball and mini-soccer field are available for guests looking to get active. The ugly tire tracks we spotted along the sand are a downside, however.
The nonstop music pumped through speakers by the pool can be heard at the beach, and ruins any chance at serenity. Some guests might be able to nap or even read through it, but others will find it hard to tune out. Guests also have free access to Iberostar Rose Hall Beach’s pool and beach, but the vibe there is even rowdier and louder.
A huge infinity-edge beachfront pool as well as a lazy river pool and activities pool -- but serenity is nowhere to be found
The Rose Hall Suites pool complex is enormous, featuring a lazy river pool with free floaties, an activities pool with a volleyball net and nearby games pavilion, and a behemoth infinity-edge main pool overlooking the beach and Caribbean Sea. Even for a 319-room resort, the main pool alone is gigantic, with more than enough space for children and families to steer clear of couples and partiers near the swim-up bar (and vice versa). But there don't seem to be enough lounge chairs for the size of pool, and many guests claim chairs first thing in the morning.
With music constantly rumbling through a large sound system, the vibe certainly isn't relaxing. The loud music might make sense at Iberostar Rose Hall Beach, which is known for its rowdy guests, but it may not be appreciated by all of this guests at this family-friendly property.
The other two pools -- the lazy river and the activities pool -- aren’t nearly as popular as the main pool, and guests often head to them only when the main pool's lounge chairs are full. For those who do want to do more than lounge, the activities pool has a volleyball net and a games pavilion with ping-pong tables, giant chess, and even a small workout area where stretching and yoga classes are held.
The towel huts from which guests must obtain their towels are inconvenient. Most resorts have attendants stock towels throughout the pool area, but guests at Iberostar are issued a towel card at check-in that allows them one towel at a time; guests must constantly carry it around if they want to dry off after a swim. And heaven forbid anyone lose their card -- the fee for a lost card was $10 in 2012.
Expansive spa with hydrotherapy room, salon, juice bar, and an outdoor treatment room
Spa Sensations is shared between all three Iberostar properties in Montego Bay. It has a salon featuring hair, make-up, and nail services; a relaxation room with Jacuzzi and hydrotherapy pool; a boutique featuring a variety of products; and extensive fitness center that includes a juice bar and a Pilates and spinning studio. Signature treatments incorporate local ingredients such as coffee, cocoa, and oranges, and span a variety of specialties including Shiatsu, Swedish, and Turkish massage. The spa’s outdoor treatment room is located on a private balcony overlooking the pool and the Caribbean Sea -- not quite as serene as, say, the tree-house treatment rooms at Couples Negril, but soothing nonetheless.
The family-friendliest pick of the Iberostar trio, with a kids' club, water park, kids' menus, and pull-out sofas in every room
Iberostar Rose Hall Suites is extremely kid-friendly, with affordable rates, pull-out sofas in every room, on-site babysitting services, all-inclusive meals featuring kids' menus, and, best of a all, a rockin’ kids' club with a water park, video game center, playground, pool, and arts and crafts.
Lucy’s Kids Club is free for kids ages four to 12, and has a (literally) cool water park, with a playground pool showered by fountains and a giant bucket that spills over the children as they play on slides and bridges.
Six restaurants, including four specialty a la carte options -- but reservations are hard to secure
The Rose Hall Suites has four a la carte restaurants (meals are included in the rates), including Mexican, Mediterranean, steakhouse, a gourmet fine dining options (the fine dining restaurant has a dress code and adults-only policy). A buffet and beach grill are offered as well. The food is good, if not great, but options are diverse and guests can find food 24/7 (Maria Bonita is open overnight.)
The real pain here is the reservation process for the a la carte restaurants, which requires guests to physically visit the guest services desk (phone calls are not permitted). For same-night dinner reservations, guests must arrive before noon; however, most reservations are yanked up a day in advance. Guests in relaxation mode may forget such details, and get stuck at the buffet every night.
Guests at Iberostar Rose Hall Suites also have full access to all of neighboring Iberostar Rose Hall Beach’s restaurants, which include a buffet, beach grill, a steakhouse, a Cajun restaurant, and a Japanese teppanyaki venue.
Free room service is also available from late morning 'til night, although the menu is slim, with just a handful of generic American and Jamaican cuisine offerings.
Strong cocktails are part of the all-inclusive rates, but tipping is expected
At the resort’s six bars and lounges -- which include a swim-up bar and music lounge -- the drinks are rather strong compared to many all-inclusive resorts. Even better, the bar features some top-shelf options such as Tanqueray and Dewar’s, rather than just the generic stuff.
But tipping is expected, unlike at the all-inclusive Couples properties, which some guests might find irksome.
All-inclusive rates include food, booze, and water sports
Babysitting services available for a fee, and butler service for some units
A number of options -- a theater, bars, a music lounge, a casino -- but only the nightclub sees much activity after dinner
Though Iberostar Rose Hall Suites have a number of nightly entertainment options, many of them are mediocre and the scene is pretty mellow after dark (perhaps in part because the resort is the kid-friendliest property of the Iberostar Montego Bay group). The theater productions are cheesy, the bars lack entertainment (even the music lounge tends to be short on actual music), and the casino is small and understandably empty most of the time. The final option for guests is the nightclub that is shared between the three Iberostar resorts. While small, it offers the best slice of nightlife on property. Some guests complain that it’s boring, but it’s definitely the best shot at a bit of after-dinner action.
Plenty of on-site activities, both land- and water-based
The fitness center, located within the spa and shared with guests at Iberostar Rose Hall Beach and Iberostar Rose Hall Grand, features a Pilates and spinning studio, a juice bar, and a small cardio and weight area. Unfortunately, it closes at the early hour of 7 p.m.
Other activities include free non-motorized water sports (windsurfing, sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, and catamaran cruising) and free classes and events such as aqua aerobics on the beach and beach volleyball tournaments. Scuba diving and parasailing are also available for an extra fee.
A small casino and lounging area
Shared with the Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall and Iberostar Rose Hall Beach, the casino is nothing special, with a dozen or so digital gaming machines and an adjoining room that attempts a sports bar vibe, with a dart board, TVs showing sports, and a card table.
Wedding packages and on-site planners available
Iberostar Rose Hall Suites offers plenty of options for weddings small and large. Enclaves throughout the resort offer private locales for intimate nuptials, and several meeting rooms are available for cocktail hours and receptions. The resort has an on-site wedding team that assists with details, such as the wedding cake, bouquet, music, photography, and catering.
During my stay at the hotel I witnessed a romantic and intimate wedding taking place on the ocean-facing balcony off the lobby. The party consisted of just 15 or so guests, and they were given the utmost consideration, with an attentive photographer and a post-ceremony photo session that was diligently cleared of any passersby thanks to extra staff.
Complicated layout and lack of ADA-compliant rooms are not ideal for guests with mobility impairments.
Iberostar Rose Hall Suites is difficult for any guest to navigate, due to its complicated layout. I had to walk to one end of the building, take an elevator, and then walking back to the other side of the builiding just to get to my room from the main pool and lobby. It was inconvenient for me, and would be much more so for a guest with mobility impairments.
Additionally, the resort does not provide any ADA-compliant rooms so guests in wheelchairs have no guarantee that they will be able to access all areas. Guests with mobility issues should probably consider staying elsewhere.
This 319-room, mid-range all-inclusive property is the second-best, and family-friendliest, of the three Iberostar resorts on Montego Bay’ northern shore. The rooms are large enough to share with the kids, and the resort offers an awesome kids' club with a water park, as well as a lazy river and an activities pool. Numerous features range from an expansive spa and Pilates studio to a casino and nightclub. All-inclusive rates cover meals and drinks at the property's six restaurants and six bars -- but the reservation process for the a la carte dining options is a pain.
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