Expansive spa with hydrotherapy room, juice bar, and Pilates and yoga studio
All-inclusive rates cover all meals and drinks, including top-shelf liquor
No kids allowed (a con for some)
Free Wi-Fi throughout hotel
Wi-Fi can be intermittent
No kids allowed (a pro for some)
The best of the three Iberostar resorts in Montego Bay, this 295-room all-suite hotel is light years beyond its neighbors in terms of decor, food, and features. While some elements remain shared with the lesser Iberostar Rose Hall Beach and Iberostar Rose Hall Suites -- for instance, the spa, fitness center, casino, nightclub, and shops -- guests at Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall get the pick of the litter with free access to all three resorts’ restaurants, bars, pools, and beaches. The rates might be higher, but for good reason.
The most luxurious option in the Iberostar trio of resorts, with stylish rooms, plenty of gourmet dining options, and innumerable features thanks to access to the other Iberostar resorts’ grounds
The Iberostar chain is a big fan of classifications. Its trio of resorts in Montego Bay are categorized as good (Iberostar Rose Hall Beach), better (Iberostar Rose Hall Suites), and best (Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall), and the separation between the three is iron-clad. Guests can trade down and take advantage of the features at the lesser resorts, but the opposite is not true. This is great for guests at Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, because it means that they can visit all three resorts, gaining access to five pools, 15 bars, and 11 a la carte restaurants, as well as the entirety of the resort complex’s half-mile beach. It also means that while guests at the other resorts must suffer more crowds, Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall is completely off-limits to guests at the other two hotels and feels less overrun.
Yet another designation in Iberostar’s hierarchical repertoire is its upper-echelon Grand Collection, of which Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall is a member. This doesn’t really have any concrete, tangible significance except that Grand Collection hotels are adult-only properties that are, on the whole, much nicer -- and of course more expensive -- than regular Iberostar hotels. At some resorts, this sort of classification might not be worth the added cost, but in the case of Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, it definitely is.
Upon entering the lobby of the Iberostar Grand, guests may wonder if they've accidentally landed in Las Vegas rather than Montego Bay. A cathedral-like rotunda clad in marble features metallic gold and red velvet furnishings, as well as reproductions of cubist and modernist paintings. The scene is opulent to a ridiculous degree, with guests in swim trunks and halter tops looking out of place against the surroundings.
The resort is a big newer than the other Iberostar Montego Bay resorts (the Grand opened in 2008, while the other two properties were completed the year earlier). The rooms are significantly more luxurious, featuring massive marble bathrooms, free well-stocked minibars with tons of snacks and liquor, and plush, high-design furnishings such as white leather benches, brocade fainting couches, and hanging wicker swings on the balconies. The pool is also nicer, with more upscale lounge chairs and cozy sun beds; the restaurants are more diverse in cuisine; and the services include benefits such as free green fees at the Cinnamon Hill Golf Course and butlers for certain rooms.
Still, many of the mediocre elements found at the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach and Iberostar Rose Hall Suites hotels are part of the package here as well. For instance, the resorts share the same small casino, nightclub, shops, and meeting rooms. Only the spa, which is also shared, is on par with the Iberostar Grand's level of luxury, featuring a hydrotherapy relaxation room, outdoor treatment room, boutique, salon, juice bar, fitness center, and spinning and Pilates studio.
In Rose Hall, Jamaica's golf resort capital, less than 20 minutes by cab from the Montego Bay airport
Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall is situated within the mall-like complex that houses all three Iberostar resorts, along the northern coast of Montego Bay where most of the city’s megaresorts and golf clubs are located. Aside from that, there isn’t a whole lot else going on immediately near the resort, save for a few shopping plazas that definitely don’t look any more enticing than the hotel’s on-site boutiques. While nothing outside the grounds is within walking distance, the Cinnamon Hill Golf Course, Montego Bay Airport, and fun, and appropriately named, Hip Strip neighborhood are a short drive away.
17-minute drive to Montego Bay International Airport
7-minute drive to Half Moon Golf Course
8-minute drive to Cinnamon Hill Golf Course (guests receive one free round with a three- or four-night stay, and two free rounds with a five-night stay)
20-minute drive to Hip Strip, for restaurants, bar, clubs, and shops
Plush rooms with big marble mathrooms, sitting areas, and large balconies
The rooms at Iberostar Grand are stylish and high-end, with rich fabrics and materials such as leather, marble, silk, and brocade on modern wood furnishings. The color scheme of turquoise and red is certainly bold and not very Jamaican -- it may feel a bit “Las Vegas” to some -- but it's certainly a big step up from the generic style of the other Iberostar resorts. Marble bathrooms are big and have deep Jacuzzi tubs, walk-in shower stalls with rainfall showerheads, and his-and-hers vanities on opposite walls. Balconies are roomy as well, featuring hanging wicker swings, couches, coffee tables, and ceiling fans.
The 293 suites are all almost identical, except that some come with a king-size bed and some come with two queen beds, and views are of either the garden or the ocean. There are also two additional Presidential Suites.
Of note is the fact that the suites are about the same size as the suites at the Iberostar Rose Hall Suites, so while guests get significant decor upgrades here, they don't get more space.
Not nearly as crowded as neighboring Iberostar resorts
Iberostar Grand’s portion of the trio of resorts’ half-mile stretch of beach is -- no big surprise here -- the best. Sure, the sand is about the same half-powdery-half-pebbly consistency, and the water is just as clear and blue as anywhere else, but the beach stands out for what it’s missing: crowds and loud noise. There are lovely sun beds in addition to the generic yellow lounge chairs, and palapa umbrellas shade guests far more efficiently than the brushy little trees on Iberostar Rose Hall Beach’s sands. A volleyball net provides opportunity for a little bit of activity, and a beach grill means guests need not even leave the sand for a bite to eat.
A mammoth infinity-edge pool overlooking a quiet beach
Iberostar Grand’s pool is huge. It features multiple levels of water, a volleyball net , a footbridge, a swim-up bar, and fancy padded lounge chairs and sun beds shaded by palapa umbrellas and cabanas. Though pools at the other Iberostar resorts are equally large, the vibe here couldn’t be more different -- it's mellow and relaxing, with few crowds, few partiers, and best of all, no obnoxious music pumped loudly through the speakers.
In addition to the swim-up bar (which is staffed with enough bartenders to handle the demand, unlike at the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach), guests can also order beverages from a wait staff that wanders the grounds. It’s not always easy to find one of these staff members, however.
There's little reason for guests to visit the pools at the other Iberostar resorts, which are loud, rowdy, and crowded, but guests are allowed to should they choose.
Expansive spa with hydrotherapy room, salon, juice bar, and an outdoor treatment room
Spa Sensations is shared between all three Iberostar properties in Montego Bay. It has a salon featuring hair, make-up, and nail services; a relaxation room with Jacuzzi and hydrotherapy pool; a boutique featuring a variety of products; and extensive fitness center that includes a juice bar and a Pilates and spinning studio. Signature treatments incorporate local ingredients such as coffee, cocoa, and oranges, and span a variety of specialties including Shiatsu, Swedish, and Turkish massage. The spa’s outdoor treatment room is located on a private balcony overlooking the pool and the Caribbean Sea -- not quite as serene as, say, the tree-house treatment rooms at Couples Negril, but soothing nonetheless.
Six excellent on-site options, 24-hour room service, and seven more a la carte restaurants at neighboring Iberostar resorts
On-site dining options at Iberostar Grand are diverse. They include the obligatory buffet and 24-hour beach grill, as well as four a la carte restaurants specializing in gourmet, Japanese, steak, and Italian cuisine. But the variety doesn’t stop there, as guests also have access to an additional seven a la carte restaurants at the neighboring Iberostar Rose Hall Beach and Iberostar Rose Hall Suites hotels. While the food and service is generally better at Iberostar Grand, the change of scenery might be welcome for guests on a long trip.
Reservations aren’t difficult to get here (unlike at the neighboring Iberostar properties), room service is delivered promptly by a butler, venues are elegantly designed, and a la carte and buffet restaurants alike serve excellent fare that generally exceeds expectations for an all-inclusive. Iberostar clearly knows how to treats its guests well -- it just chooses not to do it at the less expensive Iberostar Rose Hall Beach and Iberostar Rose Hall Suites hotels.
All drinks, including top-shelf liquor, are included
Drinks are typically strong at the Iberostar Grand, and top-shelf liquor is included in the rates (such as Dewar’s and Tanqueray). There are five bars, including a swim-up bar, an elegant lobby piano bar, and a theater bar. Many bartenders have a specialty -- guests will do best to inquire if they are looking for the best cocktail at the bar. During my 2012 visit, Randy was known for making a mean Dirty Banana at the lobby bar, while at the pool bar, guests in the know asked Sentillman for a Wiki-Wacky-Woo.
Plenty of on-site activities, both land- and water-based
The fitness center at the spa is modern and well-equipped, with a juice bar, Pilates and yoga studio, and a decent amount of cardio weight machines. Unfortunately, it closes at the ridiculously early hour of 7 p.m.
Other activities include free non-motorized water sports (windsurfing, sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, and catamaran cruising) and free classes and events such as aqua aerobics on the beach and beach volleyball tournaments. Scuba diving and parasailing are also available for an extra fee.
Land-based sports include tennis, billiards, foosball, and ping-pong, as well as golf at the nearby Cinnamon Hills Golf Course (Iberostar guests receive preferred rates).
Shared with the Iberostar Rose Hall Suites and Iberostar Rose Hall Beach, the casino is nothing special, with a dozen or so digital gaming machines and an adjoining room that attempts a sports bar vibe, with a dart board, TVs showing sports, and a card table.
Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall offers plenty of options for weddings small and large. Enclaves throughout the resort offer private locales for intimate nuptials, and several meeting rooms are available for cocktail hours and receptions. The resort has an on-site wedding team that assists with details, such as the wedding cake, bouquet, music, photography, and catering.