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Sabrina’s (Breeze616) Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Review
We had an incredible trip and wedding at the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach. I loved every second and am so happy I chose this hotel for my special day. I unfortunetly don’t have my pro pics yet. The photos in this review are amateur, and really don’t do it justice, but you’ll get the idea ;)
Flight – West Jet – A+
First off, I have to say I almost missed my flight to my wedding! We had our first major snowfall of the winter season the weekend before we left. It snowed for two days straight and driving in the rush hour on Monday morning was the most stressful moment of my life. What normally takes about 45 mins took us 2.5 hours. I was freaking out at the cab driver to step on it but he was obviously as nervous as the rest of the drivers on the road and continued to drive at half the speed limit, even though the roads were totally clear by this point. Our entire group was at the airport and my MOH had a pen in her hand ready to grab a stewardess and pretend she was gonna stab her if they didn’t hold the plane for us.
West Jet employees were waiting for us at the door and ran with us through the airport, rushed us through the quickest check in and security I’ve ever experienced and got us on the plane just in time. It was like something out of a movie! I think my heart almost exploded out of my chest. It took the entire plane ride to calm me down. So basically, West Jet was awesome that day.
Montego Bay Airport - A
Upon arrival at the airport everything went smoothly. The airport is definetly not marked very clearly with signage on where to go. There was a HUGE line up from a flight from Europe and we all thought ‘oh god, do we have to get in that?’ luckily some guy from our flight ahead of me said, ‘West jet passengers can skip that line’ otherwise we might have waited there for no reason. But other than that, we moved through the airport, everyone got their luggage and we got on our transfer bus in no time.
Transfer – Divine Transportation - A
Transfers were not included in our travel package and I didn’t inquire about the transfer to my Travel agent until a month or so before we left. She then sent the transfer details and cost to my guests but some people did not get the email. Also, some people did not print off their transfer tickets so we had a bit of confusion getting onto our bus but eventually we all got on (in fact I think a few extra people in our group got on for free) and we made our way to the resort!
Resort – A+
I am so very happy we chose the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Resort. I’ve spoken to many brides on BDW who were married at the IRH Suites, but very few chose the ‘more economical’ Beach resort, and it had me a bit worried. I had NO reason to worry at all. The resort and grounds were beautiful, the service was amazing and the food was incredible. The main difference I know of to staying at the Beach resort is the rooms aren’t as nicely decorated, you don’t get the ‘butler service’ and you can’t eat at the other hotel’s restaurants. None of those things were very important to us and for the price of our stay at the IRHB, we were thoroughly impressed.
We did unfortunately have a few days of rain during our stay. Because so many of the hallways and lobbys are ‘open air’ they did have to work very hard at keeping the floors dry – but they did! The place was kept immaculately clean and in good order. Due to the heavy rains one day the elevators kept breaking down, but there was always at least one elevator running and they were always quickly fixed and were never out-of-order for more than an hour. The resort is only 4 floors so if we did have to use the stairs, it was no biggie – god knew we ate so much we were glad for the excuse of some exercise! I also saw in one of the stairwells they had cut a hole in the ceiling drywall but every time I walked by they were working on it and it was patched up and good to go within a day. I was completely blown away by the maintenance and housekeeping at this resort! Everything is perfect and looks brand new all the time. No one in our group was bothered at all by any of these issues, we were all having a blast!
Rooms – B+
No one had ANY issues with their rooms. There were no leaks during the rains, everyone’s AC worked wonderfully, beds were comfortable and TVs worked great. The TVs are not flat screen and the décor in the rooms is not as nice other resorts, but they aren’t tacky or anything, so its not a big deal.
My Fiance and I were given a beautiful room (2425) on the top floor with a huge balcony that overlooked the resort and the ocean. Our AC was stuck at a rather cool 20 degrees Celsius, but we liked sleeping with the balcony door open anyways, it was a nice temperature at night and the ocean breeze was lovely. It was perfect.
Check in – A
Check in was a breeze for most of us. My WC Tameica was waiting for me at the front desk and gave me a big hug upon arrival. We both jumped around in excitement for a minute then she made sure we were checked in quickly into the best room possible (we booked a standard room knowing we’d be upgraded anyways) then she carefully took my wedding gown from me, hollered at a team of Bellhops to gather our bags and carried my gown herself to my room with me.
We did have one issue at check in as one couple who were part of our wedding group but did not book with our group Travel Agent was put into a room booked through our agent and my sister and her husband were left with no room. It took a few hours to figure out what happened, and my poor sister and bro-in-law went through some hassle (unbeknownst to me as I went for a tour to check out the reception location etc and couldn’t be found) but it got resolved.
Food – A+
The food at the IRHB was AMAZING. The buffet was varied everyday so you didn’t get tired of it and there was always some new yummy thing to try. The Jamaican table in the buffet was my favourite (its in the back of the buffet near the bread table) Some of my fav buffet dishes were: Jerk chicken (obviously) mashed pumpkin, any of the fish of the day, crab salad, tofu salad, custom order pasta & festival (a yummy Jamaican bread). But pretty much everything in there was delish! My Mom is celiac and did not have any issues with the food. I steered clear of any carbs for the first 5 days before the wedding and there was still tons to eat. You can also come to the buffet for late night munchies. Breakfast was the best. I loved the omelet station and the cook who made the omelets was so sweet and funny! Even though his station was always busy he was always smiling and singing and flirting with the ladies. They did have two omelet stations so the line was never too long. They also had freshly made donuts and a juice bar with about 6 different kinds of freshly squeezed fruit juice/smoothies from local fruits – try ‘Soursop’ its delish!
I had a lot of regular travelers with us and they said that this was the best All-Inclusive food they’ve ever had. No one complained of food poisoning at all. Only one of my guests was loving the fresh the coconuts from the trees (ask a maintenance person and he’ll climb a tree and get one for you) and discovered coconut water is a natural laxative. Hahaha. She took one of the immodiums I put in everyone’s OOT bags, slowed down on the coconuts and was good to go :)
A la carte Restaurants – A+
Japanese – A
The teppanyaki table was tons of fun. I’m a bit spoiled with an incredible Teppanyaki place close to my house, so it wasn’t as good as that place, but still decent. The sushi is mostly vegetarian or with smoked salmon, but tasted good. Our cook was funny and entertained us, and the food was great. I had the steak and it was tender and yummy.
Cajun (Rehearsal Dinner) – A+
This restaurant seemed to get the bad reviews on Trip Advisor and I don’t know why. It was delish! We had our Rehearsal dinner here so we had about 23 of us there. Our server was awesome, he joked with us, talked about the dishes with us and provided excellent service. The meal was served quickly and we had no complaints! I had the blackend Grouper (fish) and it was awesome. My MOH had the chicken and she is the pickiest eater ever, she raved about it and ate every bite. My FI and my Dad had the roast beef and said it was incredible.
Steakhouse – A
We used the steakhouse for our reception. The food was great and the service was awesome. Very timely and courteous. The knives were not the best 'steak' knives I've ever used - I thought maybe the steak was going to be tough because of how long it took to cut it, but once in the mouth it was tender and yummy. You can also go to the steakhouse in-between buffet hours for snacks. They have burgers and salads and other stuff you can munch on if you missed the lunch/breakfast buffet or whatever.
Service – A+++
I cannot say enough about the service at this resort. I was never a few minutes by the pool, on the beach or in my seat at the buffet without a staff member offering me a beverage or any assistance. My coffee cup was refilled regularly at the buffet with me hardly ever asking. They remembered how we liked our coffee or if we drank tea and always served us with a big smile on their faces.
My husband and I went to the new Secret St. James for a few days after everyone left and there was a huge difference in the service between these resorts – I don’t know if its because Secrets is a quieter resort with a more ‘reserved’ clientele, but I missed the warmth and friendliness I received from all the staff at the Iberostar, especially considering Secrets was more than double the price. But I’ll go into more detail on that in the Secrets review.
I never felt that I needed to tip the staff, but I almost always did. A dollar here or there meant nothing to me considering how wonderful they were at their job. I wanted to give them a tip because they deserved it. And if a dollar meant that I never had to leave my pool chair and the daiquiris just kept coming, well then it was definitely worth it :). But I honestly think that even if I didn’t tip, they would’ve kept coming, and there were days that I didn’t have tip money and I was treated just the same.
I do have to make a note about housekeeping though. I felt there was a difference in how clean our room was if I had remembered to leave a tip or not. Also, some of my guests felt that some of their cigarettes were taken and if anyone left out any ‘herbal refreshments’ it was taken for sure. I guess because technically its illegal to have ‘herbal refreshments’ on the resort, they may actually have authorization to take it (although it is ridiculously easy to buy it from any local). So make sure you lock both your cigarettes and your ‘refreshments’ in the safe.
Pool/Activities – A+
The infinity pool at the beach resort is gorgeous. It was never very busy and I didn’t notice children in it all. It is separated by a walkway and the other half is a shallower part for the kids. The pool is not heated, but it was nice to cool you off after a tanning session, and wasn’t so cold that you couldn’t hang out in it by the pool bar for hours.
The star friends at the Iberostar are sooo much fun. They provide a lot of entertainment, even if you don’t watch or participate in their games, they always spend a few hours just socializing with all the guests. They would tease the boys and flatter the girls and just have fun with you. We really enjoyed their presence and they brought a lot of joy to this resort.
We participated in some of the games; archery, beach aerobics and a dance contest (which I won). All of them were great fun. We also watched the theatre show on Saturday when they brought in the outside entertainment. The contortionist was INSANE. Very entertaining.
Beach - A
I really liked the beach at the Iberostar. Sure its not Negril or Turks and Caicos but they raked the seaweed regularly so the bottom was nice and sandy and there weren’t any rocks. There are lots of trees for shade and lots of space for sunlight. The resort was at full capacity during our stay and there seemed to be plenty of loungers. I also had no difficulties walking the entire beach of all three resorts, no one stopped me or bothered me and I saw lots of ‘white’ wristbands on the other beaches. One of my guests loved to jog in the mornings along all three beaches and back and never had issues doing it.
There is one area of the beach that is close to the Suites that they let the seaweed grow a bit and there is a manmade ‘reef’. Its great for snorkeling, we saw lots of fish and a small stingray. I did get stung by something while snorkeling there, but it wasn’t very painful. It just felt like I scratched myself and left a loonie sized irritating rash. I could’ve went to the medical staff for ointment but it wasn’t a big deal. I put tea tree oil on it later and it was gone in a few hours.
Disco – A+++
The disco Mango Walk is in the Suites resort. You take a golf cart at the front doors to the disco. It was BANGIN! The first night we went was a Tuesday and for the first while they were playing really lame 80’s pop and 70’s disco. I tried requesting songs and the DJ kept playing crap. It was reggae Tuesday at the beach resort so we were ready to head back and go to the Music Bar, I told the golf cart lady why we were leaving so soon and she said ‘What?! Lemme take care of it’ We waited outside and soon enough I could hear Rhianna playing so we started heading back in. We passed the golf cart lady and she gave me a high five and said ‘ I got it girl’. Hahaha
We went back to the disco on Friday after my wedding reception and the place was rammed! It was AWESOME. The DJ was sick, they had gogo dancers and handed out balloons to everyone. I danced until 3 am and everyone spoiled the bride with many drinks and ‘herbal refreshments’. Best night of my life.
Spa - A
I used the spa twice during our stay. Once because one of my nails broke before the wedding, and they fixed it for me (put a new tip on) and repainted my nails. That only cost me $20, so not bad at all!
The entire bridal party then used the spa to have their hair and make-up done. They did an amazing job on everyone’s hair. Yes, it was hairsprayed SOLID, but it needs to be in that weather. My hair held up all night, despite that it was a fairly loose design. I had her re-do my ‘poof’ in the front 3 times to get it right and she was very patient and understanding. She even managed to hide my headband that my hair-shell was attached to. The makeup was pretty good as well. They wouldn’t put on my false eyelashes though (I had to do it) and all of us had to add more eyeliner to the bottom rim, even though we all asked for more. I ended up making a few little changes to my hair and makeup, but nothing major. They did a great job and everyone was on time except me with my ‘poof’ pickiness. Haha
Wedding Coordinator – B+
Tameica is great. She was so excited to meet me because she knew I was going to do something different and unique. She was flexible and managed to persuade management to bend some rules for me to have my special day as I wanted.
I felt that the day-of set-up was lacking a bit of instruction/flexibility from her. More about this is explained the Ceremony/Reception section of this review.
Luckily, I had the most amazing MOH in all of history. She went to both the ceremony site and reception site and whipped the staff into shape and refused to take no for an answer. She told me that Tameica probably hates her guts, but in the end, Tameica worked with my Nazi-MOH and allowed me to have what I wanted. It was gorgeous and perfect.
Ceremony – A++
While getting ready I looked out from my balcony about 1.5 hours before the ceremony and none of my décor for the huppa seemed to be on it and the staff seemed to be standing around. I gave pretty clear instructions with diagrams etc, but I think they were lost when, due to the wind, my plans wouldn’t have worked, and weren’t sure how to improvise. They didn’t want to set up the fabric on the huppa as I had planned, and so were not going to set it up at all. Also, they couldn’t figure out how to put up the flower arrangements on the corners of the huppa, so they had them in a really weird place. Luckily my amazing MOH stomped her way down there and showed them how to put the flower arrangements on the huppa and how to improvise the huppa fabric. In the end, it looked stunning and we had A LOT of paparazzi. The WC and other staff made sure that the beach was clear of onlookers from the orange wall to water’s edge throughout the entire ceremony.
The steel drum band was fabulous. I had no idea what songs I wanted until the day before the wedding. I left a message for the WC of the songs, and they played everything wonderfully. While we signed the marriage certificate, my BMs put on a lil hip-sway number to the steel drums, totally spontaneous and very cute. Everyone swayed along too.
We wrote our own ceremony script, pieced together from this thread http://www.bestdestinationwedding.com/forum/thread/21660/share-your-ceremony-script and the reverand said he loved it and asked to borrow parts for future ceremonies. I said ‘of course!’
Reception – A+
Similar set-up issues occurred for the reception. It started raining while they were setting up the patio reception site, and had to move it inside. Well, my directions for set up were only for the patio set up and I didn't give detailed instructions on the 'back-up' location set up. Tameica called my room and told me that they could not move the rented dancefloor from the patio into the restaurant, even though there was plenty of room for it. MOH to the rescue! Again, she went down and made them set up the dancefloor, move my head table from the ridiculous place they put it (unbeknownst to me) and she improvised the placement of a lot of things. It wasn't EXACTLY as I pictured it in my mind, but the little things really don't matter - it looked stunning and I didn't have to lift a finger :).
Cake – A
We went with the standard resort cake. Two tiers, buttercream icing and fresh flowers. I chose the purple orchids as the flowers and vanilla cake. It was very delicious, moist and yummy. The icing job was kinda old school but not ugly or anything. I don’t like fondant and I didn't trust the resort staff to try a new technique with the buttercream, so I just went with it. They brought the entire top tier for us the next morning and I had some cake with my breakfast in bed :)
Resort Photographer – B
They actually did a pretty good job. I think she could’ve taken more care to angle the camera so that paparazzi were not in some of the shots. Also, the lighting doesn’t seem right in some of the pics, but overall, I was glad to have some great photos so quickly after the wedding, since we’ll have to wait for our own photographers pics. The photos from the Ceremony section of this review were by them.
Group Outing – A+
Our group went on an outing one night to the Luminous Lagoon. Its only a 20 minute drive from the resort. For our group the cost was $45 plus tax and gratuity each person. It included transfer from the hotel and back, a boat ride into the lagoon and a 3 course meal at the lagoon restaurant.
The lagoon was really cool. There are only 4 places in the world that have a lagoon like this, and Jamaica’s is the brightest. Basically you go out on the boat in the night and suddenly you notice the wake behind the boat’s motor starts glowing a bright blue! There are microscopic organisms in the water that glow blue when the water is agitated. Eventually they stop the boat and everyone can take a swim in the water – it was so cool to see the water all around your body start glowing blue with every movement you made. A very unique experience. Everyone loved it. The meal was ok in comparision with Iberostar’s food. If you decide on this outing, I would skip the meal.
All in all – it was an amazing trip, a beautiful wedding and we all had the time of our lives. My advice to future brides getting married at the Beach hotel is; if you have a lot of décor, make sure you write out very clear instructions on how to set it up with lots of diagrams and do the same for your ‘plan B’ set up. Also, make sure you have a bridesmaid or someone who will be ‘the b*tch in your corner’ as they say, who understands all your plans. So that they can do the running and you don’t have to stress about a thing. Most of all, relax and enjoy your day!