Hello, I'm back from my July 30th wedding at the Riu Ocho Rios. We honeymooned at Secrets Wild Orchid. Let me know if you have any questions
Transfers Jamaica Tours Limited= D I have to give this company a low grade. We flew US Air and our extremely delayed flight got in around 3:15 when we were originally supposed to get there around 11:30. Granted we were tired and irritable. We went through customs rather quickly and arrived to our JTL bus. We waited 40 minutes for everyone else to board and then it was a 2.5 hour drive to the Riu. The driver stopped to pick up his friends and family and drop them off. Then we had to make a pit stop to pick up red stripes and beef patties that took 20 minutes, and then we stopped at about 4 different hotels to let people off. Grand Bahia Principe was the most impressive one we saw. My sister booked Lees Elite Travel to transport her from the airport and she loved it! Her driver, Michael was really friendly and gave them water, rum punch and fruit punch for the kids. They got to the hotel in exactly 1.5 hours with no stops. She ended up taking them back to the airport as well. When we arrived it was close to 8pm. We also used this company to go to Dunns’ River Falls. I found that they charged more than the others in the lobby and the driver was late picking us up from the falls. When booking this excursion remember the entrance fee to the falls is $15 and you can actually take a taxi there for $2. It’s about 5 minutes from the hotel. The falls were awesome! Our driver was supposed to come back and get us at 4:15 but didn’t come until 4:45. The park was closed our group was just about the only other people besides other taxis left in the parking lot. We also had to take this company back to the airport to transfer to Secrets for our honeymoon and again it was a hassle.
Check-In= B- Check in was a bit slow. We weren’t offered any cool towels but there was rum punch available for guests to go over and get it themselves. It took about 30 minutes because there were 3 groups in front of us and the evening shift are the trainees so service is a bit slower and inconsistent. We got our room keys and went to the room 1449 and it was a really nice junior suite that overlooked the quiet pool. It didn’t’ have a bad smell actually none of the rooms we visited had a bad smell except for one that smelled like smoke. Everyone from our group that got checked in that day was upgraded to a Junior Suite which was a pleasant surprise for my mom who got an incredible ocean view. I had her email the hotel a few days before and ask for it because she had booked a standard room. The junior suites have key cards while the standard rooms have actual metal keys. The security safe is also a metal key as well that you must keep up with. The only con with the room for me was the bed. The bed is very firm and the pillows are too but it’s not anything that you can’t live with. The major difference with the suites vs. standard rooms is the décor in the standard rooms is older and the suites have a drop down area with a sofa bed and flat screen tv while the standard room has a regular tv and doesn’t have the extra space.
Riu Property= A- The property itself is absolutely beautiful! The grounds are well kept and always clean. Our room was cleaned daily. We got fresh towels daily and when we didn’t get enough face towels it was no problem to just find a housekeeper and ask them. I don’t think our fridge was re-stocked too often but again the thing I wanted most was water and I would just leave a note and ask the housekeeper to put some more in. It is highly recommended that you bring a travel mug or something with you because the cups at the Riu are sooo small. I often found myself very thirsty so I was glad I brought something with me. Although the resort is large (800+ rooms) I never had a problem finding anyone and we had 62 guests scattered all over the property. Everyone mostly hangs out in common areas so we constantly saw everyone all the time. We tried the spa and got a massage while we were there and it was awesome! Make sure to sign up at the front desk and get a Riu Class Card to get %15 percent off. We also did the waverunners while on the beach and watch out for these people. They are not part of the Riu property and since it’s a motorized watersport you pay extra. We went up to them w/ a group of 6 and they wanted to charge us $60/pp for 30 minutes. We negotiated them down to $40 and my hubby timed the ride. They waved us back in within 15 minutes but that was okay because you get tired out there anyway. There are 2 different pools one is loud w/music and another is quieter. The beach is beautiful and there are people trying to sell you drugs and crafts but just tell them no thanks and they keep moving. We often heard steel drums playing on the beach, they bring in people to sell crafts so it was always something to do. At night the pre-show started around 8pm and it was usually boring but people were there just to socialize and have drinks. I was there for the entertainment but usually didn’t watch it. I was exhausted by 10pm.
Food= C- I’m sorry I did not like the food. The breakfast buffet was your standard all-inclusive buffet, I’m not a big breakfast person so I would normally just get muffins, pancakes, or bacon. For lunch the jerk hut was my saving grace. Dinner was the biggest problem for me. Yes, the buffet has a ton of food but I just didn’t’ think it tasted good. We never had a problem making dinner reservations and I would go about 9 or 9:30 am. We tried the Steakhouse one night and the portions were so small. I got the chicken which was decent and corn on the cob and baked potato. Well the corn on the cob was about ¼ the size of a regular piece as was the baked potato. It could literally fit on your spoon. My hubby got the red snapper, I tasted it and it was pretty good. We made a reservation for Tushima but ended up not using it and gave it to a friend who thought it was bad. I heard from other guests Sir Richards is the best. We had a welcome dinner at St. Ann’s the night before the wedding. It was sushi night and some guests loved the food and some didn’t. A couple of our guests got food poisoning as well. They had a wide variety that night. For the Welcome Dinner they put 2 long tables together in the back of the dining room and we put welcome bags on the tables for all the guests at that point. St. Ann’s is very classy so it turned out nicely.
The Wedding= A – My coordinator was Natricia. I had emailed her about a month before to ask if we could meet and she emailed me a couple of days before I left to set up an appt. the day before the wedding. She actually called the room 2 days before the wedding and asked me if I wanted to meet with her right then. When we got downstairs there was another couple (maybe the wedding the night before) who was in her office yelling about how rude they had been treated. There was a security guard standing outside the office and management was inside with the couple as well. Not sure what happened but Natricia asked if we could come back tomorrow which was fine. So we met with her the day before the wedding. Our meeting lasted about 1.5 hours. I pretty much knew what I wanted thanks to this forum. I would recommend knowing exactly what you want when you go in because if we didn’t Natricia wouldn’t have suggested any extras. We got the steel drum, butterfly release, private poolside reception w/bbq menu, and fire dancers. I went with the free boquet which I thought was beautiful. I also had pre- ordered the gold chivari chairs from Tai Flora. In order to use these chairs at your ceremony and your reception there is an additional $60 transportation fee. The day of the wedding was beautiful. We thought it was going to rain as we saw the clouds roll in and heard thunder in the background. But it didn’t rain and we got a rainbow as well! My wedding was at 4pm. My photographer Brian Nejedly came to my room around 3:30. Natricia had told me to be ready by 3:45 but she didn’t get to the room until 4:15 and I didn’t hear from her either so it makes you worry a little bit, but have no worries. I think she was waiting on the minister to show up. We then walked downstairs, the ceremony started. Before walking down the aisle she asked me what song the steel drum should play and I told her cannon in d. They played it as I walked down the aisle, but I was so focused on whether or not it was going to rain I didn’t even notice it, lol! The ceremony lasted about 20 minutes and then we had pictures with Brian who is very nice. The steel drum played until about 5pm and champagne was also served. The reception started promptly at 6:30. The DJ played wonderful music and we had a cousin MC. Many guests loved the food, it was fresh and cooked right there. We had steak, chicken, shrimp, ribs, baked beans, rice and peas, corn on the cob, and there were 2 cakes that I didn’t see until later. There was a lot of other food on the menu too that I don’t remember. We were served by the waiters who were very nice, but didn’t bring out all the food we asked for. So if you choose this dinner option take a walk to the buffet and get some food yourself. The fee for the bbq menu was $55/pp and included an open bar. I had so much adrenaline I could barely eat though. The fire dancers showed up about 8pm. Natricia came into the reception about 7:00 to give me the status about where they were, as they were coming from Negril. The guests really enjoyed their presentation. The poolside reception overlooks the beach so the dancers were down on the beach. The called everyone down to participate and you can see some photos of everything below. All in all I thought the wedding turned out wonderfully and went just as we had envisioned it would. If you are thinking about having a wedding here I think you will have a good time if you use this forum and go in knowledgeable about all of your options. Some people complained that the wedding coordinator wasn’t around that much, but I knew going in that this wasn’t a like a typical wedding coordinator and she had 3 other weddings that day so she wouldn’t be by my side the whole time. So if you are someone who needs that type of attention then the Riu is not for you. Overall I think Natricia did a great job though I feel bad because I totally forgot to thank her. I think the Riu Ocho Rios is a good property and I would give it a solid 3-3.5 stars.
Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay- Honeymoon
This resort opened in March and I was super excited to be able to stay here. The property itself is beautiful. We stayed on the Wild Orchid side in a preferred club suite. The room was gorgeous and the bed is the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in, I had a hard time sleeping in my own bed last night because of it, lol! As soon as I hit the pillow I was asleep. The resort has more of a couples feel to it as its mostly couples there in their mid 30’s 40s. Check in is very personal you actually come to a desk, sit down have a drink and they give you all the information that you will need. They then send you to eat lunch and when you get back you get your room key. One of the benefits to the preferred club is that downstairs in the lobby there is free internet access and food all day long. There was a breakfast menu with pastries, juice etc, and lunch dinner would be a hot plate item and lots of cakes, cookies, alcohol, fruits etc. Since this was located directly downstairs it was a plus. The food at this resort was definitely a step up from the Riu. The quality was much better. There’s no need to bring a mug here because all of your drinks come in big glasses. The service is very good w/bell hops, as you walk the grounds people are always asking how you like the resort and if you need anything. For the restaurants you do not need a reservation which is awesome and it was never more than a 2 minute wait. There is a teppanyaki restaurant, Italian, Mexican, Jamaican and French restaurant. The resort had lots of activities during the day like bike rides, tours into town, pilates, yoga, aerobics, steel drum lessons, and conga lessons just to name a few. For lunch every day we ate at Oceana which is an outdoor restaurant by the pool, they offer jerk chicken, burgers, pizza and the likes I loved it. The entertainment at night was very classy, live music, piano bar, there was a disco that opened at 10:30 but I never went. The best show we saw there was the Silverbird Steel Drum band. They were so incredibly awesome!!! I highly recommend that you attend that one. There was a reggae night with a live reggae band. The only downside was the mosquites. At this resort you need bug spray very badly! I got bitten all the time, there were mosquitoes in the room, in the restaurants everywhere. They do fumigate at night but still bring your bug spray. They usually have music on speakers playing throughout the resort all day so it’s much more of a relaxed atmosphere vs. the Riu where it’s a loud party during the day. I actually missed that aspect of the Riu. I saw a couple of small weddings at the gazebo while I was there and a lot of them chose to have a private dinner later that night in the gazebo which is an extra cost. We went to the spa while there and it’s amazing! They have you do a 7 circuit hydrotherapy before you get your massage which is awesome. You get to do the sauna, hot and cold water dips and some others which is very nice! Then sunsets at Secrets were beautiful. Housekeeping comes twice per day in the morning and for turn down service at night. They also give you a brochure for the next day’s activities every night. For the honeymooners gift they give you breakfast in bed and you choose your menu, they also gave us fruit and champagne twice. We ordered room service twice and it was pretty good. The other side of Secrets is the St. James side which is about a 5 minute walk maybe less. I liked the St. James side better I thought it had a more lively feel and the water sports were over there too. They had a trampoline in the water on that side that I didn’t see until my last day, I would have loved to try it. For lunch on the St. James side there is a restaurant called Sea Side Grill so if you stay there you don’t have to walk the few minutes to the Wild Orchid side to eat. There also a small shopping area on site with gift shops, a casino and a couple of pool tables and ping pong tables. Overall I would give this property about 4 stars. It was very nice.