Lots of planned activities, nightly entertainment, and friendly staff
Adult-only (con for some)
Free Wi-Fi and parking
No clocks in rooms
Some furniture showing signs of wear
No hot tub
Small property can feel crowded
Noise from planes flying overhead
The 238-room Hotel Riu Palace Jamaica is located along Montego Bay's Ironshore, right next to sister property Riu Montego Bay. This upscale, adult-only all-inclusive has a fun atmosphere, an outgoing entertainment and restaurant staff, lots of planned activities, a small beach, several restaurants and bars, and two pools. In fact, with so much going on, some people may feel a bit cramped. Luckily, the stylish rooms are spacious and come with private patios, jetted tubs, liquor dispensers, and rainfall showers. This Riu is best suited for young social couples, but older folks should not be deterred.
Designed with the intention of being a smaller version of this Spanish hotel group's usually mighty all-inclusive properties, Hotel Riu Palace Jamaica packs an abridged-but-concentrated punch with six restaurants, three bars, two pools, and beach area. The result is a tiny village vibe, but one that, at times, seems overdeveloped and crowded. Everything is packed tight into smaller than usual spaces, but during our visit, no one seemed to mind. The hotel was pretty full, but we never noticed a single guest searching for a place to sit, a lounger to throw a towel down on, or impatiently waiting in line for a drink. In fact, most everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves either relaxing in the sun or involved in one of the activities put on by the friendly and energetic staff. It's also nice knowing that if you start to feel claustrophobic or get Palace fever, you can escape to the sister property next door.
Off of a main intersection along the Ironshore's A1 highway, Hotel Riu Palace Jamaica is just 10 minutes from Montego Bay's Sangster International Airport. While this is convenient, it also lends to extremely loud bursts of noise as airplanes fly over the property. Guests who want to get off-property and explore don't have many options. Aside from sister property Riu Montego Bay right next door, the only things within walking distance are a gas station, Burger King, and small strip mall across the highway road.
Hip and contemporary rooms with a luxe bathrooms and a little wear
If you've ever stayed at another Riu Palace, you'll be familiar with the contemporary and hip rooms at Hotel Riu Palace Jamaica. Mostly white (floors, walls, and furniture), all rooms have purple fabric accents and black faux-marble bathrooms. For the most part, the rooms are similar in design and layout: They have open floor plans and deconstructed bathrooms with jetted tubs, dual vanities, luxe toiletries, and roomy walk-in rainfall showers. In close vicinity to the bed in each room is a wet bar area with minibar, coffeemaker, and full-bottle liquor taps. There's also a lounge area and small table and chairs, and private patio with plastic furniture outside. All rooms have air-conditioning and closets containing robes, an umbrella, and a small safe. Jacuzzi Suites have slightly larger outdoor areas with a large, personal hot tub.
A 24-hour selection of eats; some reservations required
Hotel Riu Palace Jamaica must know that people love to eat because they give guests an impressive number of restaurant, snack, and specialty a la carte options -- and food is available 24 hours a day. Outside of room service, there are restrictions for what is available when and the specialty restaurants require advance reservations. Breakfast is buffet style at the main restaurant, Montego Bay, while lunch is served for a few hours next door at Seaside. Snacks are available from lunch until just before dinner at beachside Aqua. Specialty restaurants include Japanese, Italian, gourmet fusion, and steakhouse cuisine and are only open for dinner (each of these is closed at least once a week, so be sure to check the schedule if there's one you definitely want to check out). No shorts or beach-going attire are allowed in restaurants during dinner service.
Two bars, two pools, a small beach, and access to Riu Montego Bay
Hotel Riu Palace Jamaica is a small spot, but manages to squeeze in your typical upscale all-inclusive resort features. While the beach is decently sized, it may be a disappointing to some guests (same goes for the lack of a hot tub). There are, however, two pools. The main pool has a lively vibe, the Hanover bar with a swim-up section, and a typically younger crowd, while the infinity pool is more relaxed and draws an older crowd. Drink service is available at the pools or on the beach, although DIY guests can walk straight off the beach into Aqua (open 24 hours), and order a drink to enjoy at one of the tables, while they shoot some pool, watch a game, or grab a snack. There's also a collection of modern plastic furniture set up as an outdoor dining area, although the cabanas and hammocks look more appealing. The lobby bar Vogue, with both indoor and outdoor seating, has an airport lounge bar vibe and is set up with a stage for live music.
Guests at the Hotel Riu Palace also have non-reciprocal access to next door sister property Riu Montego Bay, opening up a whole new selections of restaurants, bars, and features. While there is a gift shop, spa palapa, and business center at Riu Palace, guests will have to head next door for large production live theater shows and to use the gym and full spa facilities.
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