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"Come this way, milady," advised my dapper butler as he swept me — and my luggage — across the black-and-white checkerboard marble floors winding through the expansive Greco-Roman-style lobby of Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall.
It was the perfect introduction to the adults-only, all-inclusive property in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Even my check-in was accompanied by much fanfare, with a fruity welcome drink and cool towel offered the minute I stepped out of the airport van.
The exclusive AAA Four Diamond and TripAdvisor's Traveler's Choice Award-winner ranks in Iberostar's Grand Collection, its top designation. Located next door are the brand’s two more laid-back properties geared toward families — Iberostar Rose Hall Beach and Iberostar Rose Hall Suites — and Grand guests have access to all of those facilities.
Located on the northern tip of the island, Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall opened in 2009 with 295 suites in three categories: ocean-facing and ocean- or garden-view. All feature large balconies furnished with a small sofa or bamboo swing from which to soak up the sweeping scenery.
After a lengthy walk, my butler and I arrived at my comfortable suite, complete with a king-size bed with plush trappings, a pillow menu, a customized minibar and a fully equipped marble bathroom, which included a Jacuzzi for two and twin vanities.
I was informed that concierge service was available throughout the day and that my private butler would be on hand from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily “to help with anything you may need, milady” — which, apparently, included drawing me a rose-petal bath.
So far, I was impressed. But I found that the service with a smile, attention to detail and regal treatment didn't end there — it was apparent throughout the posh resort.
Clients will enjoy butler service at the multiple pools — one with a swim-up-bar — which are framed by graceful palapas for shade, as well as soft chaises and pool beds. Just steps away, the placid sea offers another scenario: the soft shore is dotted with comfy chaises, more palapas enhanced by butler service and a myriad of nonmotorized watersports.
A host of activities, such as Pilates, yoga, aqua gym, beach soccer and more, are conducted throughout the day, allowing clients to do as much — or as little — as they please. When the sun sets, the resort’s theater comes alive with colorful shows, and a lively disco beckons for anyone wishing to boogey into the wee hours.
Two international buffet restaurants and 24-hour room service assure satisfying dining choices, while four specialty a la carte restaurants — Kiniro Japanese Restaurant, Es Palau Gourmet Restaurant, Galleon Surf & Turf Grill & Steak House and La Toscana Italian Restaurant — add additional tasty options. The breakfast buffet was a feast for the eyes and the senses, with a generous selection of everything from the typical fruit, yogurt, eggs and pancakes to Jamaican and Spanish specialties.
With an ongoing focus on gastronomy, Iberostar Hotels & Resorts participates in "Iberostarchef on Tour," bringing Michelin-star chefs from around the world to one of its resorts to showcase haute cuisine for a night. I was lucky enough to catch Spanish chef Fernando Arellano, who crafted a seven-course menu and wine pairing drawn from his award-winning Zaranda restaurant in Mallorca, Spain.
Undoubtedly, a highlight of Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall was the spa, where I surrendered to the “Jamaican Ritual," a delicious coffee and brown sugar exfoliation and wrap followed by a massage and a plunge in the bubbling Jacuzzi.
Six bars scattered throughout the resort are where you'll find frosty drinks and lively conversation. Special favorites are the animated Lobby Bar, with live music and an ample cocktail menu, and the quieter Hemingway Bar, which features a pool table and television on which clients can follow their favorite sports teams.
Gift shops — which are shared by the property’s neighboring sister resorts — offer an array of items, ranging from kitschy souvenirs and T-shirts to coffee, rum and cigars.
All in all, the resort was relaxing, sophisticated and welcoming, and the service was impeccable. Would I go back again? Yes — in a New York minute.