This all-inclusive, family-friendly Holiday Inn sits on a half-mile of private sandy beach, a short drive from the airport. This lower-middle-range, 551-room resort, while well-maintained, is dated with an old-school vibe. Kids are front and center here -- those under 12 stay and eat free, kid-friendly suites with bunk beds are available, and there’s nonstop entertainment and activities at the Children's Activity Center. Adults can either revel in the atmosphere, or escape to their own beach area and pool. The Holiday Inn is best suited to families craving value over luxury, who like resort-style cheesy fun, and have the patience to stand in buffet lines. Families could also consider the Sunscape Splash Montego Bay, which offers an aquatic park center around a castle and a spa for adults.
Boisterous, old-school, family-style resort with entertainment -- on a lovely stretch of beach
Set behind a giant wall between the main highway and a long stretch of calm swimming beach, this aging two-and-a-half pearl mega-resort comprises 551 rooms, spanning seven buildings connected by wide open-air pathways. Streams of guests meander throughout the property. There are long buffet lines, the sound of kids splashing in the pool, and nonstop musical entertainment. The massive number of rooms and its concentrated eating and activity space can feel overwhelming, but the resort’s sprawl means there’s plenty of beach to find solitude. There’s never a dull moment in the main congregating area off the lobby -- where the pool surrounds the performance stage that can be seen from the busy buffet restaurant. Overall, the dated aesthetic feels a little like stepping back in time -- to the '80s, perhaps, with plenty of cheesy entertainment and children everywhere. Though the resort predominantly attracts families, there’s a dedicated adult-only area offering calm reprieve, along with a long, bright row of beach cabanas nestled at one end of the property.
The beach, lined with palm trees, thatched shade umbrellas, and an unending string of deck chairs, is expansive, calm, and free of vendors. There’s a mini sand island located within wading distance from the beach, which adds a sense of tropical escape to the view, and is a great vantage point to take in all the resort action.
About five minutes from the airport, and close to golf courses but not much else
Located in Rose Hall, with two golf courses in the immediate area, the Holiday Inn is about a five-minute drive from Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. It’s also a five-minute drive to Rose Hall Great House, but there's not much else nearby -- the closest tourist hot spots, such as the Hip Strip and Montego Bay Craft Market, are about a 30-minute drive from the property. Guests tend not to leave the resort.
Typical for Holiday Inn rooms -- spacious but generic
The 551 rooms at the Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay come in Standard and several Suite options, and while they’re all styled similarly, some seem fresher than others. Regardless of category, all rooms are spacious, with furniture that’s more practical than stylish. Dark timber furniture with white bedding and either warm or cool-colored accents dress each space, along with generic tropical prints on cushions, floor rugs, and in artwork. Standard bathrooms are small, with plastic showers. Higher-category rooms, such as the One Bedroom Suite are more luxurious with large spa baths, separate showers, and separate toilets. All have granite vanities, hairdryers, and individual toiletries. All rooms have balconies (or patios on the ground level), although ground-floor rooms can lack natural light.
Amenities include flat-screen TVs with multiple channels, coffeemakers (with paper cups), irons and ironing boards, safes, and free Wi-Fi. Sofa beds are a plus for families, and each Kids Suite features a partially separated slumber and play area with bunk beds and a TV with kid-friendly channels.
Usual all-inclusive trimmings and nonstop entertainment catering to kids -- plus an adults only area
The pool circulates around the entertainment center like a moat and is crowded with deck chairs, but anyone lounging beside it might feel a bit on display given it’s in full view of the buffet in the main lobby building. The beach is large and clean, and a private sand island, equipped with lounge chairs, is a short walk through shin-deep water. An adult-only beach area and pool with swim-up bar and hot tub offer a calmer escape from the kid-crowded main pool and entertainment area.
Kids of all ages are well catered to, and the daily activities board near the pool gives a full rundown of what’s on offer. Random entertainment “shows” unfold on the stage throughout the day. There’s a kids’ club with plenty of indoor activities and a full jungle gym. Teens have their own arcade/games room with an air hockey table, internet stations, Xbox, and a row of low-rider race car chairs. Babysitting and childcare can also be arranged. At one end of the resort, there’s a nine-hole mini golf course, beach volleyball, and a fitness center with modern cardio- and weight-training equipment. Tennis courts are on offer, as are water sports such as snorkeling, catamaraning, and kayaking. Free Wi-Fi is provided throughout the hotel, but it can be patchy, and there's a self-serve laundry at either end of the resort. There’s an on-site barber and beauty shop, sauna, steam, and hydrotherapy treatments, and other usual spa suspects on offer.
The casino is more like a lifeless row of slot machines off the lobby -- a common feature of Jamaican all-inclusives. Other features include a VIP check-in lounge, same-day dry cleaning, and a photo shop.
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