Secrets in Montego Bay, Jamaica is a new all inclusive resort that started opening in March, 2010. You should really consider going to it because it has a terrific location a short drive from the airport, wonderful beach areas, and truly stunning design and décor throughout the property, far better than usually seen in resorts. Just one bit of very important advice: do not spend you money on going to Secrets St. James or Wild Orchid (the two sides of the resort) for quite some time. Wait months for the hotel to get its act together, fix many technical problems (like malfunctioning air conditioning and plumbing), and train its large staff to offer first rate service to guests.
Secrets may become a four star resort, but right now it is at best a three star hotel with very uneven service and many amenities that are advertised but not fully delivered. As always, there are guests that have never gone to a first rate all inclusive resort, especially on Jamaica; they have low expectations and no comparisons to intelligently judge whether they are getting their money’s worth at Secrets. Some people just accept terrible conditions and awful service, but many others that we met at Secrets did as we did and forcefully complained to the highest level of management, because they should not have opened Secrets until it was in far, far better shape and with a far better trained staff. Many of us received some satisfaction from doing this, but many people, especially those on a honeymoon or having a very special vacation suffered greatly.
Some examples: a couple finds that the bed in their room has not even been assembled; none of the plumbing works in a room; nearly all the showers in a building leak into the adjacent area; air conditioning and electricity in rooms shut down every 20 minutes or so during the night causing guests to wake up in a sweat in the early money hours; room service delivers late, delivers food cold, never delivers at all, or delivers something entirely different than what was ordered; housekeeping makes up the room poorly and differently every day; beach service is often lacking; rooms have ants in them; many restaurants and bars lack effective air conditioning and there are no fans in most of them, making them very uncomfortable; guests that have reservations for special type rooms are not given them; some guests wait for many hours to get a room; the higher quality amenities for the higher cost Preferred Club buildings are not apparent (e.g., bed pillows were awful); in room refrigerators did not keep things very cold.
Another plus, however, is that the entertainment offered is much better than other places. What about food? There are five restaurants (with no reservations required) and two eateries near the beach. Overall the consensus among seasoned travelers was that the food was good but not great. Some examples: steaks were not the very best cuts; large shrimps were missing; smoked salmon was seen only the first day or two; bars never had lemons or limes; house wines were not impressive; the food at the Asian restaurant was not really authentic and well seasoned. I cannot fathom exactly why the rates at the Wild Orchid side are higher than at St. James (I stayed at both). Wild Orchid is very close to all the restaurants and entertainment venues, but otherwise is not really better. Also, the higher cost Preferred Club choice at both sides of the resort right now is hardly worth the extra cost, though it might become so. Club guests at St. James had to use the free computer and Internet service at Wild Orchid. The beach for the club guests at St. James was somewhat larger than at Wild Orchid. Not all the bars offered the same high end liquors by the way. Finally, the mini bar service was awful.
You want to get what you pay for, and you should, but right now the odds are that you will pay far too much for what is actually offered at Secrets. I love Jamaica and have been going there for some 30 years, so I know that there are a number of four and five star all inclusive resorts with consistent, dependable first rate service, food and amenities. Travel agents and websites that are sending people to Secrets, Montego Bay, however, are committing fraud, which is what so many of the other guests we conversed with felt. Wait, be patient, then think about trying Secrets.
Final note of caution: You will find some very positive reviews of this resort on some websites. I find these absolutely amazing because they are completely contrary not only to my experience but also to dozens of couples I had in depth conversations with while at the resort. So, I keep asking myself how some people can have such a positive reaction. It comes down to this: many people are inexperienced with first rate hotels and all inclusive ones in particular, especially in Jamaica where there are some fine ones. Also, some people seem to have a personality trait which I consider delusional thinking that makes them avoid pain by choosing to see only positive things, especially when they spend a lot of money on a vacation; they don’t want to be complainers. I assume that these people did not do what I and dozens of other guests did: go to the top hotel manager and honestly explain our disappointments. So the positive-thinkers did not get the free one week return vacation that we did, which we deserved. Finally, some guests surely stayed in a deep inebriated state while there, taking advantage of all the liquor, beer and wine they wanted, and others probably were stoned on the high quality local weed.