All-inclusive rates provide a discount over pay-as-you-go stays
Coffee shop serving local coffee and light snacks
Free Wi-Fi throughout the resort
Restaurants are pricey and reservations required for the a la carte options
Few freebies when compared to other Montego Bay and Ocho Rios hotels
Some units -- particularly the villas -- are looking a bit tired
No elevator to reach upper-floor rooms
Wi-Fi is slow and extremely spotty
Half Moon is a four-and-a half-pearl oceanfront property with two beautiful beaches outside of Montego Bay. Its 388 air-conditioned rooms are a mix of modern and traditionally-decorated units with living areas, extensive minibars, and flat-screen TVs. Private balconies have ocean, pool, or garden views, and multi-bedroom villas include perks like cooks and butlers. This sprawling resort has tons of amenities including a huge spa, three tasty -- yet pricy -- restaurants, multiple pools, free tennis courts, a kids' club, and a massive gym. At this price point, the hotel has surprising few freebies, and most guests opt for all-inclusive rates as pay-as-you-go prices are sky high. For a more family-friendly oceanfront all-inclusive that includes extras like an adventure park, its worth pricing out Melia Braco Village instead.
Classy, laid-back resort with an abundance of ocean views and an A-list clientele
Half Moon originally opened in 1954 and has a classy yet laid-back tropical vibe. It's been drawing A-list celebs and the world's moneyed elite for decades -- think: tropical country club with an amazing beach. The style is elegant, with plantation-like details that combine to create a mansion-like presence along the sea. Expect pillared entryways, open-air public spaces surrounded by lush landscaping, lazily spinning paddle fans, and sophisticated touches like black-and-white checkerboard tiling. Despite its luxury leanings -- and sky-high prices -- the resort manages to feel unstuffy. During the day, guests often fill up the lobby’s plush armchairs and couches in search of the strongest Wi-Fi signal (which seems to be in the lobby). The library next to the lobby is another great spot to kick back, as it's decorated with vintage hotel photos, shelves of art books, and beautiful carved masks. The hotel’s grounds are meticulously maintained, and hold numerous places for guests to kick back, hide, or sunbathe. These include a breezy coffee shop and multiple tony dining options, as well as pools and beaches. They grounds are sprawling, meaning that you'll want to borrow a bike or rent a golf cart to get around. Even so, getting lost here is a pleasure, given the sheer volume of palm trees, grassy fields, and rows of blossoming hedges afire with colorful blooms. Guests are mostly from the United States and Canada, and are generally a mix of couples and families -- especially those traveling with tweens.
On the ocean, a 15-minute drive from the Hip Strip and near Rose Hall Great House
This luxury property is located along the breathtaking oceanfront in Montego Bay’s Rose Hall area. It's not the most walkable part of town, and a car will come in handy -- you'll find an ATM, mini-mart, and restaurants serving Jamaican and Indian cuisines within a five-minute drive. The hotel's golf course also takes about the same amount of time to reach by car. Rose Hall Great House -- a grand plantation home that's a major tourist destination in Jamaica -- is an eight-minute drive from Half Moon. Heading in the opposite direction, Montego Bay’s touristy epicenter (known as the Hip Strip) takes 15 minutes to reach by car. Montego Bay’s bustling downtown has markets, shops, and great craft market and is about a 20-minute drive from the hotel. Budget 70 to 80 minutes by car to reach the touristy Ocho Rios area, which is home to Dunn’s River Falls, Mystic Mountain adventure park, and Dolphin Cove. It takes about 30 more minutes to reach the Blue Hole from there. The closest airport is Sangster Inter national, which only takes 15 minutes or so to reach in a taxi.
Classic rooms, suites, and villas with modern amenities plus private balconies -- many with ocean views
Half Moon’s air-conditioned rooms are a mix of traditional rooms, suites, and huge villas that include up to seven bedrooms. Overall, the look is classic -- you'll see lots of polished tropical hardwood, a mix of classical and contemporary art, and neutral-toned fabrics. King-size poster beds with fluted posts and embroidered white-on-white comforters are standard in most rooms, although some units have plush tan headboards. Unfortunately, some rooms are more modern than others and the villas are sadly the most dated and overdue for an update. Alternatively, the ocean-view Imperial Suites are a top choice with their one-bedroom apartment style layouts that include private ocean-view balconies. Note that elevators don't reach rooms that are on the hotel's top floors.
Rooms and suites have flat-screen TVs with cable channels, extensive minibars, free bottled water, and coffeemakers. All also ostensibly have free Wi-Fi, but the service is slow and spotty. Bathrooms are massive and we love the basketweave tile floors. They include granite-topped vanities with dual sinks, rainfall showers, illuminated beauty mirrors, and hairdryers. Some rooms also have huge whirlpool tubs. Toiletry-wise, expect bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, lotion, aloe vera, cue tips, cotton pads, and bug spray. Safes, irons, ironing boards, luggage stands, robes, slippers, and scales are also standard.
The Villas are separate from the hotel's rooms and suites, and while they aren't the prettiest from a style perspective, they feature perks like private pools, cooks, butlers, and maids. Unfortunately, the trade-offs include old tube TVs and old-school art like paintings of country scenes with white picket fences. Keep in mind that getting around the sprawling property can take some time, so you may want to borrow a free bike or rent a golf cart to make it easier for yourself.
Two gorgeous beaches, multiple pools, fitness options and an enormous spa, plus a kids' club
Half Moon isn't without luxury competition in the area, and it's somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to offerings. While some of Jamaica's most famous dining destinations are found on-site, prices are eye-wateringly high unless you opt for the hotel's all-inclusive rates. Fees also add up for activities and extras (which aren't included with most all-inclusive bookings). Aside from that, it's all about the outdoors here, and there's a lot to choose from for either active travelers or those looking to relax.
With two miles of oceanfront, Half Moon’s beaches are a top draw. The beaches are divided into Sunrise and Sunset sections and while beautiful, the ocean just offshore is overgrown with sea grass. Most of the beach action happens at lounge-chair lined Sunrise Beach. Kayaks, paddle boats, and floating devices are free to borrow. Hobie Cats, snorkeling equipment, and diving equipment are also available -- though these cost extra. Sunset Beach is the quieter option. It’s a long walk (or golf-cart ride) from most of the hotel’s amenities and seems to be less maintained. We spotted lots of sea grass during our 2017 visit. For a salt-free swim, Half Moon has multiple freshwater pools, including a main pool with a walk-up pool bar and two hot tubs. A second 50-meter pool is perfect for laps, but neither have ocean views.
Fern Tree Spa is massive and has a zen-like vibe due to the abundance of attractive hardwood and ambient lighting. Services range from massages to salon treatments, and amenities include a sauna, multiple pools, and an oceanfront yoga room. Regularly scheduled yoga and aqua-yoga classes are also available for a fee. Sports facilities are numerous and include a huge gym with Life Fitness equipment, free weights, and a dedicated spinning room. There are several tennis courts, and everything from rackets to court time is free. Private and group tennis lessons are also available for a fee. Sand volleyball, a basketball court, and an equestrian center round out the offerings. The hotel’s 18-hole golf course is located across the street and free shuttle transfers are available to the tee.
The kids' club, Anancy Children’s Village, includes a jungle gym, activities, and half- or full-day programs. There’s a fee for kids to participate in the day programs, unlike most of Half Moon’s more family-friendly competitors. Mini-golf is also available. The hotel’s concierge service can arrange tours, taxis, airport transfers, car rentals, and babysitters. As the resort is sprawling, guests can rent golf carts (for a fee), though bicycles are free. Other amenities include meeting rooms, a gift shop, a small shopping area, and an ATM. Hotel freebies include bottled water, valet parking or self-parking, and printed New York Times Digests. There’s also free Wi-Fi throughout Half Moon, but its spotty and often slow.
Excellent dining options, though if you're not on all-inclusive plans prices add up fast
The hotel’s restaurants are pricey, but delicious. Seagrape Terrace is Half Moon’s oceanfront buffet and a la carte restaurant. It has a fabulous terrace that serves local and international cuisines for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and features two live-cooking stations. The more formal dinner options both require reservations and there is a mandatory dress code. Il Giardino is the Italian eatery, while Sugar Mill is the fine-dining spot for creative island cuisine. It's located at the resort’s golf course across the street, and is one of the island's most famous dining spots. The hotel’s casual dining options include a beachside Jamaican jerk pit, Moongrape, and Lester’s, a cafe serving local coffee, sandwiches, and snacks. Half Moon also hosts weekly beach barbecues. There are seven bars scattered throughout the property. Most previous guests strongly suggest opting for the hotel's all-inclusive plan to avoid massive bills upon checkout. Called the Premium Plan, it includes airport transfers, plus all meals, an in-room dining credit, minibars, and drinks (premium liquors and Champagne are part of the rates).