Free self and valet parking, plus free airport transfers
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Huge grounds and layout requires lots of walking
Airport transfers must be arranged at least two weeks in advance
Set on a private beach within a short walk of downtown Ochos Rios, the 705-room Moon Palace Jamaica Grande is a sprawling all-inclusive that’d give Vegas joints a run for their money in scale, features, and extravagance. After undergoing a full renovation, this family-friendly property reopened in 2015 as a high-end luxury resort with majestic marble interiors. The sleek beach-house-inspired rooms have balconies with water views, and include iPod docks, flat-screen TVs, liquor dispensers, and welcome wine. There are four restaurants, multiple bars, four swimming pools, a world-class spa with 23 treatment rooms, a surf machine, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Guests can even swim with dolphins (for a fee). Travelers seeking a more intimate luxury experience could try Jamaica Inn.
Sprawling, marble interiors that feel more Vegas than Jamaica, with beachfront pool grounds
Palatial gates leading to the resort's 17-acre grounds stand in sharp contrast to Ochos Rios' bustle -- hinting at the luxurious setting inside. The wide drive leads up to one of two hotel towers, where the lobby, with its giant marble tiles, extravagant decor, and sheer enormity, screams Vegas. Apex ceilings soar above baobab-like trees propping up big round drum lights from their branches, and glass pendant lights hang suspended overhead like daytime stars. A cinema screen-sized window shows off the pools, waterslide, white-sand beach outside. The check-in desk welcomes guests with a giant, curving copper wall; and winding silvery-velvet ropes add a touch of VIP but also allude to long guest lines. The hotel unfolds in either direction like a grand marble showcase with plenty of jaw-dropping scenes along the way. The vast Awe Spa, for instance, includes a ritzy, chandeliered pool room; and a circular ice-room covered in mother-of-pearl mosaics, that feels like being in an opulent, iridescent igloo. Outside, four sapphire-blue pools stretch across resort grounds and onto a narrow stretch of calm beachfront. Swim-up bars, hot tubs, lofty palms, and bright-orange sunbeds add a tropical chill factor, and cabanas frame one pool, a la Miami. Neat rows of orange deck chairs and white umbrellas line the shore, and a rainbow of colorful water sports toys are on standby for kids.
The decor of restaurants and bars echoes their culinary and boozing themes. Timber panel and Venetian archways dress La Gondola (Italian), in a modern take on medieval grandeur. Momo (Asian) channels modern Shanghai with moody black, bold red accents, bamboo, and basket lanterns suspended overhead. Pier 8’s (seafood) open-air pavilion takes on a subtle nautical twist, and Martini Bar evokes an elegant Old World atmosphere with wingback chairs, timber paneling, and marble-topped cocktail tables. Moon Palace has put luxury (in droves) into the all-inclusive model, and it shows throughout.
A gated beachfront property, a 10-minute walk to Ochos Rios
This gated beachfront resort is about a 10-minute walk to downtown Ochos Rios, and to Ochos Rios Craft Market and Turtle River Park. Dolphin Cove and Dunn’s River Falls are about a 10-minute drive from the hotel. Ian Fleming International Airport, which is used for domestic and private flights, is about a 20-minute drive, but most guests fly into Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport and take a cab, shuttle, or bus to Ochos Rios -- about a 90-minute trip. The hotel offers free round-trip airport transfers if they're arranged at least two weeks in advance. Renting a car is also a possibility, and the hotel offers free self and valet parking.
Spacious, modern rooms with marble features and balconies with water views
All 705 rooms at the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande have been renovated in a sleek, minimalist style that seems to channel “modern beach house.” The neutral beige palette blends light and coastal woods with marble in the furniture and floors. Crisp, white bedding is embellished with coral-patterned bed runners and matching bolster cushions in teal and taupe. All rooms include small, round marble-topped tables with seating for two, iPod docks, large flat-screen TVs, work desks, coffeemakers, and mini-fridges, along with whiskey, rum, tequila, and vodka dispensers. Wi-Fi is also free. All rooms open onto private, furnished balconies with water views -- the higher the room, the more impressive the view. There are four room categories (Ocean View, Partial Ocean View, Family Deluxe, and Concierge Level) with a choice of king or two double beds. Family Deluxe Rooms include two adjoining rooms -- with cute extras for the kids, such as mini bathrobes, and plastic sand buckets and spades. Concierge Rooms come with extra perks, such as private beach lounge chairs with waiter service, free massages, and L’Occitane bath products. Bathrooms have large glass showers, and walls and vanities are of white and gray marble. Toilets are in a separate, adjacent room. Hairdryers, flat-iron hair straighteners, and quality toiletries are provided, along with bathrobes and slippers, digital safes, and garment steamers (instead of irons and ironing boards).
Water sports, state-of-the art gym and spa, four pools, and four restaurants
Moon Palace's features are extensive and reflect its top-tier status. The hotel is set on a sandy beachfront decked out with sunbeds and shade umbrellas, and a second small beach is reserved for water sports. Four pools stretch along the water, with swim-up bars, snack areas, hot tubs, sunbeds, and lush gardens unfolding around them. There’s a FlowRider surf machine blasting out waves, a waterslide, and a kids’ waterpark area adjoining the Playroom, which includes an indoor playground and ball pit. Water sports include snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, and scuba diving -- but some command fees. Guests can also swim with dolphins, for a fee.
The Awe Spa encompasses 23 treatment rooms, including ice, steam, hydrotherapy, sauna, and relaxation areas, and an indoor pool with submerged thermal beds. Various massages and pampering treatments are available (for a fee). There’s also a hair and beauty salon.
There’s plenty of dining and drinking on offer. Buccaneers Reef serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, offering gourmet buffets notable for their freshness. A la carte dinner restaurants stand out for their quality, menus, and presentation, but some guests have noted inconsistencies. Restaurants include: La Gondola, offering classic and modern Italian dishes; Momo, serving Asian fusion and teppanyaki; and Pier 8, with traditional and modern seafood overlooking the beach. Boulangerie has fresh crepes, pastries, espressos, and ice cream. There's also a food court-style area with sushi, panini, and pizza outlets.
Martini bar serves a wide range of classic cocktails; Loud Bar pours top-shelf drinks in a handsome sports-lounge setting, and Club Noir caters to late-nighters in a nightclub-inspired space complete with VIP areas. Huge events and conference rooms can accommodate large-scale gatherings. Free Wi-Fi and 24-hour room service are available, and supervised childcare and activities are provided at no extra charge. There’s also a business center and a gift shop in the lobby area.
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