Strong Contender

Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Hotel remains a popular, all-inclusive choice

By: By Kenneth Shapiro

Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Hotel remains a popular, all-inclusive choice
Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Hotel remains a popular, all-inclusive choice

While other islands in the Caribbean are facing a decline in U.S. visitors during this challenging economy, Jamaica’s numbers remain strong. Without a doubt, one reason for the island’s success is the freshness of the destination’s resorts. In particular, Jamaica is seeing a boom of Spanish hotel brands that have opened new-builds in the last year or so. One of these resorts is the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Hotel.

This all-inclusive property, with 366 rooms, including 32 Ocean Front Junior Suites and four Presidential suites, opened in May 2007. When I visited there in January of this year, everything still felt brand new, making it an especially good resort for clients that won’t settle for anything but the latest accommodations. I especially liked the design of the Junior Suites, which featured an archway separating the bed from a sitting area.

In addition, the hotel is only 20 minutes or so from the airport in Montego Bay, meaning visitors will spend less time on Jamaica’s highways and more time on the beach.

As a well-known Spanish brand, the Iberostar is naturally popular with Europeans. According to Miriam Ramirez, reservations and groups manager, however, the guest mix at the resort includes anywhere from 40 to 80 percent Americans.

Nearly all of the Iberostar’s guestrooms feature either garden/pool views or full or partial ocean views. The rooms offer cable television, air conditioning, ceiling fan, a balcony, large bathrooms and more. My room didn’t have an alarm clock, which I found a bit annoying, but I’m sure those leisure guests that get into the relaxed island vibe won’t mind at all.

The resort is built on a beautiful stretch of white-sand beach, with a sprinkling of trees in the sand to provide just the right amount of shade. These trees seem very tropical and give the beach a unique feel. In fact, the trees have become a signature feature of the resort.

"The original plans of the property called for those trees to be removed," said Ramirez. "But everyone just loved them so much we decided it would be huge mistake to get rid of them."

In addition to the beach, the resort has a large oceanfront infinity pool (taking up over 7,000 square feet), with a Jacuzzi and swim-up bar. The pool is where many of the resort’s daily activities take place, including water polo, water basketball, exercise classes and even bingo.

The resort also offers a variety of ocean watersports, including catamaran sailing, windsurfing and sea kayaking, and there is a PADI Dive Center on property as well that will arrange snorkeling trips and beginner’s scuba classes.

Other facilities at the resort include shopping, a fitness center, library, game room and more. The resort has an Internet center, and there is Wi-Fi available in the lobby. For in-room use, guests can request an Ethernet cable for an additional charge.

The Iberostar Rose Hall has five main restaurants, as well as complimentary room service (until 11 p.m.). The number of a la carte dinner reservations allowed as part of the all-inclusive plan depends on the length of the guest’s stay. For example, guests that stay for three nights are entitled to one reservation at an a la carte restaurant; four- to six-night stays get two reservations; and so on. Restaurant choices include Little River (for breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets); Uncle Tony’s (a beachfront snack bar); Jambalaya (Cajun a la carte); Samurai (Japanese a la carte); and Uncle Tony’s (steakhouse a la carte). I found all of the food to be far above average. I was especially impressed with the buffet, which was not crowded and had an extensive variety of high-quality choices.

There are also six bars and lounges on property, including a cigar bar for those that might want to sample a stogie from nearby Cuba.

In addition to the restaurants, the resort features nightly entertainment on property. In the main theater, there’s a different musical variety show every night, and there’s a disco that keeps the late-night crowd rocking.

Overall, despite being rated as "five-star," the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Hotel may not be the right choice for truly upscale clients. It’s hard, however, to imagine this mainstream all-inclusive not being a hit with most other types of guests.