We honeymooned in Jamaica over New Year’s Eve 2005. Immediately, we fell in love with the country. Since then, we have returned to Jamaica 4 additional times. The three major cities are Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril. On every visit, we chose an all-inclusive resort. Sandals and Couples are the other brands of All-Inclusive resorts that we have stayed at in Jamaica.
We’ve now vacationed in each city. We just returned from Breathless Montego Bay Resort and Spa. The resort is relatively new. It opened in late February 2017.
4 Reasons we love Jamaica
1. The culture: Music, Food
2. The people are happy, welcoming and kind
3. Length of Flight is reasonable (At least from WI)
4. No language barrier- I learned a little Patois on this trip
The All-Inclusive Experience
All-Inclusive resorts allow you to grasp what your trip will cost upfront. Your vacation includes your room, your food, your drinks, and entertainment. Some resorts include water sports. Dining is a combination of buffets, la carte meals, and room service. The entertainment team provides theme parties throughout the day and tantalizing shows at night. Also, If you opt for the preferred club level extra amenities are built-in.
Secrets Resorts in Montego Bay
Secrets Wild Orchid, Secrets St. James, and Breathless Resort are all owned by AM Resorts. The luxury brand focuses on romantic adult only resorts. These three properties are located in walking proximity to each other. You can easily access all three on one vacation.
Although this review is on Breathless Resort and Spa, last New Year’s Eve we stayed at Secrets Wild Orchid and Secrets St. James. I will provide you with a brief comparison of all three options.
The Breathless Resort is a white high rise building with glass wrapping the hallways. You can see straight out to the ocean as you walk from your room to the elevator. You can watch people come and go on the street that passes the Hard Rock Cafe. Breathless Resort is the smallest of the three resorts with only 150 suites, half of them offer butler service. Wild Orchid and St. James have 350 suites.
The suites at Breathless are modern and equipped with the latest technology. Free Wi-Fi is throughout all the properties. The suite boasts touch remotes that control everything from lighting to closing the drapes. The unit we stayed in had an incredible view of both the lobby pool area and the mountains and oceans.
The room’s lighting is adjustable in various ways, and the romantic lighting feature reveals hidden artwork on the glass of the toilet room. The bathroom has a glass partition separating it from the bedroom. An additional press of a button releases a privacy screen for the shower. You even order your room service from an Ipad.
A huge flat screen TV (at least 70 inches) flanks the front of the suite, while a sexy mural lines the space above the bed. They even provide you with a few naughty channels. Shhhh, that’s a secret. On the balcony, there is a whirlpool tub and outdoor seating.
The resort is hip, sexy and chic, giving it a Miami clubbing vibe. Breathless Resort is for the party people. At check-in, they greet you with purple champagne and a message: “welcome to the party.”
From the rooftop pool and bar, you can see a beautiful panoramic view of land and sea. Various large circular couches are throughout the resort circling gas fire pits. Music gets pumping for the daily foam pool party at 3 pm. The nightly entertainment displays the talent, rhythm, and spirit of the natives.
Since this resort is an addition to the other properties, it is not directly on the beach. It does have a designated beach area which shoulders up to the Hard Rock Café on the right and the St. James beach on the left. A short bridge walk is required to access the beach.
Preferred Club Level
Our butlers Orlando and Prince were attentive. They booked our spa appointments, made a couple of dinner reservations and reserved us a beach cabana. Towards the end of the trip, we were offered golf cart rides to the dinner and entertainment complex. Nice touch if you happen to be wearing uncomfortable shoes.
Every detail is aimed to “take the guests breath away,” I love that. When you stay at Breathless, you can still play at the other properties so let’s visit those.[stextbox id=’custom’ bwidth=’2′ ccolor=’D0B0C3′ bcolor=’8396B4′ bgcolor=’D0B0C3′ cbgcolor=’D0B0C3′ bgcolorto=’D0B0C3′ cbgcolorto=’D0B0C3′ image=’null’]
Go see the blue hole in Ocho Rios. It is a hidden gem, not yet commercialized and Jamaican owned. It has small crowds and attentive guides. Hire a driver and take a personal journey learning about Jamaica. Alrick offers a safe and informative ride. While supporting a Jamaican small business, you get a better experience at a similar price as the hotel offers.
Secrets St. James
While Breathless Resort is all about the party scene, on the other hand, Secrets St. James is all about sophisticated serenity. With the new swim-up suites, the proximity to the gym and spa, this resort is for your traditional luxury seeker.
Tennis and Sailing are available for guests. This resort attracts a mature client. Secrets St. James is geared towards the older luxury consumer. Accordingly, the furnishing in these rooms is equally traditional. Wooden poster beds, with rich brown and neutral tones.
Secrets Wild Orchid
In my opinion, Secrets Wild Orchid is the best of the three properties. First of all, it has the most central location of the resorts. The restaurants, beach party area, piano bar, and water sports are all near this resort. Second, we had a preferred club junior suite with an unobstructed ocean view during our stay. At the same time, we were hovering over the epicenter of all three resorts.
On NYE 2016 we watched as preparations were underway in the courtyard. They built the champagne fountain, rolled out the red carpet for the beach party and a marching band paraded through the grounds. If you like people watching the garden view suite’s balcony look out onto the main walkway.
Our plans to split our visit between Wild Orchid and Breathless were halted last year due to the construction, thus we had issues with our stay. They moved us during the stay to several rooms. Our butler did not follow through with promises and hassled us about buying additional weeks.
The chaos of the new resort not being opened in time, shifted several reservations. It also created many unhappy guests. I am glad we returned, and they compensated us for the issues we had. Here are the top 3 reasons why I would choose to stay at Wild Orchid again:
1. Best Location
2. Clean Comfortable Rooms, the housekeeping was great
3. The View from the rooms and the Beach Area are magnificent
4. Pop up Jerk Chicken stand at lunch and bar time
Travel Like Us
If you would like to travel in style like us exotic travelers, call or email my friend Edmundo Livera at Exotic Travelers 800-355-0886. Tell him you know Dione Laufenberg and he will give you our member pricing and benefits on your next trip. You will have to agree to listen to the member presentation and you must be married or living with a partner for 2 years to qualify.
The Spa/The Gym
The gym and spa are located on the St. James Resort Property.
While we were active, we did not spend any time in the gym on this trip. Yoga is offered twice a day at 8:30 and 5 pm. I intended to drop into one of those classes.
Since I am a self-proclaimed spa diva, you know I had to go to the spa. We did partake in a couples massage on both of our trips. We recognized most of the staff, which is a positive sign of retention. The therapists are strong, and they dive right in.
I always book deep tissue and prefer a therapeutic massage. However, they have a rough start to the treatment. By the end of the massage, my muscles were relaxed, and my knots were reduced.
Nonetheless, I experienced a couple of my massage pet peeves. With my experience in the spa industry and my license as a Massage Therapist I must state them:
Spa & Massage Pet Peeves
1. Unfriendly front desk staff, the experience starts upon arrival. Both of our greetings were flat; the desk seems bothered by the guest.
2. Using elbows before warming up the tissue with Swedish massage, kneading, or thumb palpitation.
3. Selling products or additional services during the treatment. Hustle on, but reserve enough time to do it after I’m under your spell.
Most importantly, this resort offers a slice of paradise and is infused with romance. It is hard to find something to complain about with the Caribbean breeze, tropical drinks and the rhythm of the island. Yet if I had to offer critics these would be a few:
- While we were impressed with housekeeping at Wild Orchid, conversely at breathless the floors were mopped, but the housekeeping never vacuumed the area rug and the floors never looked clean
- The countertops also appeared to be permanently stained with makeup already!
- Walk over the bridge and pass through security may not be ideal for some guest
- The house wine is mediocre if you’re a wine snob like me
If all-inclusive vacationing is out of your budget, read about a more affordable trip here.