86,000-square-foot pool complex -- Jamaica’s largest -- with whirlpool hot tubs
All-inclusive dining via ten restaurants, including seven a la cartes
Free water sports on the hotel's man-made beach
Rooms feature daily-stocked minibars, whirlpool tubs, and large, private balconies
Giant, Roman-inspired spa with plunge pools, vapor rooms, and saunas
Bright, clean gym with a great equipment selection
Large supervised kids’ club with an outdoor play park
Free self-parking in a staffed lot
Wi-Fi is free in all rooms and common areas
Man-made beach is narrow and rocky
Mediocre food at all restaurants and no room service
Rural location with few attractions in immediate area
Sprawling, complex-like size won't appeal to everyone
Located 45-minutes west of Montego Bay, Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort and Spa feels a world away from anywhere. Even compared to the island’s typical large hotel complexes, the three-and-a-half-pearl mega-resort is massive. With an 86,000-square-foot pool complex, ten restaurants, late-night entertainment, and eight bars with nearly 24-hour drinking opportunities, it’s easy to imagine that most guests will never leave the property. The 544 rooms are spacious and done in a predictably traditional colonial style, with flat-screen TVs, minibars, and large furnished balconies or terraces. The massive size won't be for everyone, and other drawbacks include the remote location and the rocky man-made beach. The adjacent Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort & Spa is a four-pearl alternative that shares many of the same amenities, but is quieter and more exclusively adult centric.
Massive, 544-room beachfront resort where every amenity feels over-the-top
The architecture and design of Grand Palladium Jamaica are grandiose, almost to the point of absurdity. Every common area -- from the lobby and the pool to the restaurants and the hallways -- is larger than life. While clearly designed to elicit a feeling of awe, it’s all a bit too over the top. The massive whitewashed pool complex is the largest in Jamaica, and it feels like an odd blend of a waterpark and a Roman amphitheater. Inside of the hotel, the common areas, including the lobby, are similarly massive. The lobby, in particular, is done in earth-tone marble, and the wrought iron chandeliers, sharp wooden and wicker furniture, and pillared staircases opening onto ocean vistas come together to create the kind of bang-for-your-buck look that many travelers will want in their all-inclusive. However, the massive and sprawling layout won't be everyone's cup of tea, and there are more intimate options on Jamaica's north coast. While the adjacent sister property Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton attracts mostly adults, Grand Palladium Jamaica is family-friendly. The resulting vibe is livelier, and guests are far more likely to find children splashing around in the pool or running across the beach.
On a rural beachfront road, a 45-minute drive west of Montego Bay
The resort’s rural, secluded location is a mixed blessing. It’s easy to feel worlds away from the hustle of Montego Bay, but there are few attractions or points of interest within a reasonable drive. On the opposite side of Tom Pipers Bay -- along which the hotel sits -- less than 10 minutes from the resort, is the tiny town of Lucea. Guests will find a handful of restaurants and services there -- including a bank and a few gas stations -- but little else. Popular Half Moon Beach is a 30-minute drive west from the hotel for those who need an alternative place to swim.
Like most other area hotels, no airport transportation is provided. Rental car counters in the terminal provide daily rates that are on par with other Caribbean island locations. Alternatively, Jamaica’s taxi service is affordable and easy to arrange. Shared shuttle bus/van service is also readily available to/from the airport. Privately-arranged cabs and shuttles are typically less than half the cost of transportation arranged by the hotel.
Spacious rooms with beautiful bathrooms, stocked minibars, and furnished balconies
The decor in every room is clean, warm, and bright, though ultimately a bit spartan. Dark wood seating and furniture is accented with red linens that look unintentionally retro, and colorful wall art hung on cream walls is the only design element that would remind guests that they are in Jamaica. Marble tile floors add a touch of class, but otherwise decor is bland, what with the heavy red-and-white drapes and all. In fact, compared to the over-the-top decor elsewhere in the hotel, rooms are surprisingly simple from a style perspective.
The two room categories are similar in amenities and layout. Entry-level Junior Suites have 538-square-foot (50-square-meter) floor plans in one-room layouts. Suites offer 742 square feet (69 square meters) of space with a separate living room and sleeping area. Both categories are available in either one-king or two-double-bed configurations to accommodate up to four people. All rooms also include an oversized, furnished balcony or terrace with garden or ocean views.
All rooms feature large, flat-screen TVs, bedside iPod docks, and free, daily-stocked minibars (with soda, bottled water, and beer) are all standard. Wi-Fi is fast, free, and available property-wide. Beds in all categories are poorly reviewed as hard and uncomfortable. Bathrooms are large and well-appointed in both categories. The design is more high-end than expected of a three-and-a-half-pearl property, with marble on the floors, countertops, and bath surrounds. All rooms feature a two-person whirlpool tub and oversized stone and walk-in shower stall. Hairdryers and generic bath products are also standard.
Noise from throughout the resort -- be it late-night partiers or neighboring rooms -- can be an issue.
A massive pool complex, 10 restaurants, and a stunning spa, but a rocky beach
Nearly every communal amenity at Grand Palladium Jamaica is grandiose. At 86,000 square feet, the pool complex is Jamaica’s largest. In addition, the property features 10 restaurants, eight bars, and a Roman-inspired spa. However, the hotel’s man-made beach is rocky, narrow, and forgettable, especially by Caribbean standards. As this is a family-friendly resort there's a kids' club and playground. Freebies also include parking and Wi-Fi.
Massive pool complex with swim-up bars and whirlpool hot tubs
The hotel features a total of five pools, but the real draw is its enormous Main Pool. As the centerpiece of the property, a two-story structure that includes a restaurant and a bar overlooks the entire space. A swim-up bar and four built-in whirlpool hot tubs provide a bit of adult-centric fun. The atmosphere is livelier and more family-friendly than any other pool on the property, and travelers should expect to see plenty of kids frolicking here.
Additional, smaller pools around the property provide more adult-centric lounging. The Coral Pool is adult-only and features a built-in whirlpool while the Roselle Pool is adult-centric (though children are still allowed) with built-in, in-water lounge chairs. Dozens of lounge chairs surround every pool providing substantial seating. While there are few umbrellas to be found, dozens of private palapas provide shade throughout the day.
All-day dining via ten restaurants including seven a la cartes, but no room service
With ten full restaurants and a handful of bars, there’s no shortage of on-site drinking and dining options. In addition to three all-day buffets, seven specialty and a la carte restaurants each serves a themed menu. Unfortunately, the food throughout is mediocre.
Each of the hotel’s three buffets -- The Blue Lagoon Restaurant, Mo’Bay Restaurant, and Negril Restaurant -- serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Menu selections are similar between each, with mostly international fare and a handful of local, Jamaican dishes. The Blue Lagoon is located in a beautiful, open-air space overlooking the pool and sea from the second floor.
The remaining specialty restaurants each take their themes to exuberant levels, from a visual perspective at least. The look and feel in each is so bold, over-the-top, and canned that it takes on a Disney-like quality. In some cases, the decor is curiously mismatched. At Bubba’s Steak House, for example, lime green curtains, velvet bench seats, and bold blue neon lighting under the booths would feel more at home in a Manhattan nightclub. Menus are designed to match each unique theme, including Mediterranean (Poseidon Restaurant), Mexican (El Agave Restaurant), Jamaican (Restaurante Xaymaica), and Italian (Arte E Cuccina Restaurant).
Enormous, Roman-inspired spa complex offers a long list of services
The Zentropia Palladium Spa & Wellness Center is among the largest spas in Jamaica. Like many of the resort’s common areas, the decor and open-air architecture are grandiose and include large, Roman-inspired columns, oversized stone statues, and a pool exclusively for spa guests. The lengthy spa menu features almost every imaginable massage treatment. Vapor baths, plunge pools, several whirlpool hot tubs, and a hydromassage therapy are all available. The adjacent salon provides an equally extensive list of beauty treatments, including waxing, manicures/pedicures, exfoliations, and hairdressing.
A rocky, man-made beach that’s underwhelming for such a grandiose property
Unfortunately, the hotel’s private man-made beach is rocky and underwhelming. While quite long, it’s also very narrow. In many spots, there is less than 75 feet of sand between the property and high tide lines. The hotel provides as many lounge chairs as it can reasonably fit without overcrowding the space. However, the seating is inadequate given the hotel’s size. Private palapas and a large amount of palm trees provide excellent shade in most spots.
The condition of Jamaica’s water is highly dependent on the season and weather. However, the water along the north shore tends to be warmer and calmer. It was easily swimmable -- even for children -- when we visited. The typical list of water sports -- kayaks, Hobie Cats, and snorkel gear -- are all provided free of charge. Diving and sailing or windsurfing courses are available for an additional fee.
A nighttime theater, a nightclub, and a 22-hour sports bar
The resort offers three entertainment venues specifically for adult guests. A large theater provides themed nightly shows and trivia nights. Boogie Woogie disco club is open for a few hours in the middle of the evening with live DJ sets and impromptu, staff-led dance “classes.” The aptly named Sport Bar provides drinks and light snacks almost around the clock. The decor is bold, bordering on garish, with a dozen televisions, a lively atmosphere, and pool, foosball, and ping-pong tables in the rear.
Like most other aspects of the resort, the gym here is large, especially compared to other hotel fitness centers along Jamaica's north shore. It's a bright space lined with windows and is fully stocked with modern cardio equipment and an impressive array of weight machines. A full selection of free weights are also available.
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