Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
No buildings at this resort are more than two stories tall, and in the main dining area a grand vaulted ceiling accounts for the height. The tranquil open-air lobby and shady entrance immediately induce a sense of calm. The resort is decorated in a Balinese style, with dark-wood floors, carved wood furniture, and louvered windows, giving SATP a luxurious feel that is also eco-friendly. In 1998, it became the first hotel in the world to receive certification for environmentally sustainable tourism from the U.K. organization Green Globe.
The open-air lobby has a series of wooden roofs and ceiling fans, and a mixture of dark wood and stone floors. Interesting lamps and statues are scattered around the lobby, and there is a wonderfully large, carved wooden daybed to curl up on and surf the free wireless Internet.
This adult-only resort's clientele consisted exclusively of couples -- mostly British by my count. Rooms are dark and romantic with large, multihead showers. Dinner is by candlelight, and a singer with an acoustic guitar plays mellow tunes while people eat. The resort is small and offers no real evening entertainment or daily activities. Any kid who doesn't enjoy chilling by the pool or playing at the beach would probably get bored.
The property is filled with various species of flowers and labeled palm trees, hence its name. A special perk here is a daily walking tour with the head gardener, Shorty. Every room feels tucked away and secluded, and even the pool receives lots of shade from the towering palm trees overhead.
The resort is technically “all-inclusive,” but that just means guests don’t need to stress over paying for drinks, meals or water sports. The vibe blissfully lacks the techno music by the pool, wacky evening entertainment and industrial one-size-fits-all service mentality typical of many all-inclusives resorts.
The resort is 90 minutes from the Montego Bay Airport -- an $80 (per person) cab ride. The location feels peaceful and secluded.
Sunset at the Palms is on the northern side of Negril along Norman Manley Boulevard and across the street from Bloody Bay (as well as the much larger -- and very purple – Riu Palace Tropical Bay).
The resort isn't beachfront, but a crossing guard is on-duty all day to help guests across the road. I tend to agree with online reviewers who said the location actually makes the resort feel quieter and more secluded.
Small and authentic, the beach has no hassling vendors. Guests can borrow kayaks and windsurfing boards, and a crossing guard helps them safely reach the water.
The beach is quite natural and authentic, with trees, roots, and rocks intact. The main drawback is the distance; it takes at least five minutes to walk from the lobby to the beach, and even longer from the guest rooms. There are no towels at the beach (what's that about?), so it would have taken me about 20 minutes to get to the resort and back if the beach manager hadn't kindly volunteered to pick one up for me.
Rooms are chic and large with Balinese accents, but could use more light. Guests should request the 4 or 7 block, where rooms overlook a meadow and hills. Bathrooms and daybeds are highlights.
Sixty-five of the 86 rooms at the Palms are set within a series of stilted bungalows (referred to as "treehouses") across the lush property.
Interestingly enough -- and perhaps an indication of past problems -- a formal letter is placed in every room reminding guests that marijuana is in fact illegal in Jamaica, and any guests caught smoking the substance on property will have to contend with the local police. That’s fair warning: guests who hope to delve deep into the Irie life might consider staying somewhere with a more lax attitude toward alternative substances.
The pool bar spoils its guests with top-shelf liquor. Bartenders are polite and accommodating.
The entertainment's mellow here -- expect chill musicians. There are no scheduled events, but guests can easily head to local clubs for music and dancing, should the urge strike.
There is no entertainment staff at this resort, other than a rotating schedule of evening musicians. Negril, however, is filled with great live music venues and dance clubs, so it's not like these options are out of guests' reach. But there's no wild partying on site.
No guests under 18 allowed.
This adults-only resort does not allow children, a policy implemented in December 2013.
A mellow and quiet oasis amid a thicket of palm trees
The mellow non-megaresort vibe of Sunset at the Palms is perhaps most appreciated at the pool, which, surrounded by thick palm trees and centered around a Balinese-style swim-up bar, is serene. Gone are the obnxious half-drunks elbowing their way to the front of the bar; gone are the children playing Marco Polo and splashing you while you try to read; and gone are the loud speakers that pump reggae music like it’s Bob Marley's birthday. Rather, all guests will find here are a few floaties on which to peacefully glide along the water and an isolated Jacuzzi shaded by a picturesque palm. Later in the day, guests imbibe in many a Dirty Banana or Rum Punch resulting in a slightly livelier setting, yet the vibe never seems to escalate beyond happy activity into rowdy drunken territory.
A small spa with breezy treatment room and salon
In terms of size, the spa at Sunset at the Palms may be no match for nearby megaresorts such as Couples Swept Away or Breezes Grand Resort & Spa Negril, but its simple, airy vibe seems to jive much better with the local bohemian style of Negril anyway. Just one spacious open-air treatment room features two massage tables, surrounded by local flora and palms. While the area is certainly serene, its close proximity to the tennis courts does pose the danger of noise during a soothing treatment.
Treatments include a range of massages and facials, and a small salon provides hair, nail, and make-up services.
Plenty of standout services, especially given the resort’s small size
Sunset at the Palms’ fitness center isn’t huge, but it’s definitely large for Negril standards -- for instance, Riu Palace Tropical Bay’s fitness center is smaller, and that resort has nearly five times as many rooms. The gym here, which is equipped with two treadmills, an elliptical machine, a stair stepper, a stationary bike, free weights, and plenty of Cybex weight machines, is more than adequate.
Those guests looking for outdoor adventures should take to the on-site tennis courts and bike rentals, or head across the street to the resort’s beach, where a water sports center offers scuba diving (including instruction and certification), deep sea fishing, glass-bottom boat tours, and a range of free non-motorized water sports such as snorkeling, hydrobikes, and kayaks.
Intimate weddings with plush environs, great guest rooms, good food, and personalized options, but the beach is open to the public
Not ideal for guests with mobility impairment
The layout of Sunset at the Palms is not convenient for guests that require canes, walkers, or wheelchairs to get around. The winding paths that meander through gardens and palms may be navigable for some, but every single room requires a few steps or even a whole flight of stairs to access. And while the bathrooms and spacious shower stalls might accommodate a wheelchair, they are not set up for roll-in access. Guests who can take a handful of steps might manage, but anyone with real mobility impairments should book elsewhere.
The resort is located across the main road that connects Negril with the rest of the island -- and the resort’s beach is accessed only by crossing said road. But a resort-employed crossing guard ensures that cars come to a complete halt for guests that wish to cross, and in most cases, there isn’t much traffic to contend with in the first place.
Security is also ensured at the resort, with a wood gate that closes at night, and a 24-hour manned guard house that ensures only those who belong there make it past. In addition to a 24-hour front desk, there is around-the-clock security. In-room safes are also available.
Across the street from the beach, the upscale Sunset has a warm, helpful staff, intimate setting, and great food -- all of which create a relaxing retreat that's a far cry from the crowded chaos at most all-inclusives. This adults-only property is designed for mellow couples or small groups.