Jewel Dunn’s River Resort and Spa - Ocho Rios, Jamaica -December 5 - 10, 2011
Let me preface that we were supposed to go to this resort in July, 2010 when it was still a Sandals. The resort closed before our departure date and we didn’t want to stay at another Sandals in the area, so we went to Key West instead. I am glad that it turned out that way based on our 2 prior Sandals experiences as we really enjoyed the Jewel.
Flight - We flew American Airlines against my better judgment and I was right. The night before our departure it snowed, which is rare in West Texas so getting out the next morning was a challenge and a true test of patience. When we got to the airport and checked-in we were told no delays they just have to de-ice the plane. We were supposed to take off at 7am and that's when they started the de-icing. Then they started having trouble with the machine working properly. They worked on it for 2 hours and then borrowed Southwest's de-icier and finished up. We didn't take off until 9:45am. Our connecting flight in Dallas to MBJ left at 10:10am. Needless to say we missed our flight. So when we finally got to Dallas they re-routed us 3 hours later to Miami. We were then delayed in Miami for 2 1/2 hours due to “mechanical difficulties” and finally left for MBJ at 10:30pm. Arrived at MBJ at midnight and got to the resort at 2:30am.
Unfortunately, from our departure point for International flights we are stuck with AA or Continental and Continental doesn’t go to every destination AA does, so it’s either put up with AA or sit at home. I wouldn’t be as upset except AA basically did the same thing to us a few years back when we went to Cancun. As icing on the cake, when we received our luggage in MBJ, AA had broken off the wheels to both of our suitcases.
Resort - We booked the lowest category room and received an comp upgrade to an ocean view room in the Sapphire building Room #2318. The resort was at low capacity and we appreciated the upgrade. The room was a little on the small side and apparently at one time was a concierge room as it had the cabinet for liquor bottles, but no liquor was in them. The balcony was nice and we could see a good part of the ocean through the palm trees, but the palm trees completely covered the view of the main pool. The only real thing I would change about the room is to add a ceiling fan and place a mirror over the desk so it can also be used as a vanity since the bathroom area is small.
Dining - We enjoyed all of the dining. We have to many AI hotels/resorts and the Jewel food quality and taste is very good in comparison. We were able to eat at all of the restaurants except Platinum for dinner. We were staying just enough nights to eat at every restaurant but since we missed the first night we missed Platinum. We did eat in Platinum twice for breakfast. However, the menu was the same. We found the buffet at breakfast to be very good. No lines, no waiting or having to go around other guests. The selection was basic fare and not as lavish as I have seen at other resorts. However, if staying longer than 5 nights, it might have become a little too repetitive. We did not eat at the buffet for lunch or dinner.
We enjoyed the beach party and the pier dinner. There was threat of rain before the pier dinner and we appreciated that they waited it out and started late instead of moving indoors. The 5 course selection was very good, but portion size very small. It took 2 hours to complete due to the many people attending. When dinner was completed, we ended up going to the snack bar and getting a hamburger before retiring for the night.
Unfortunately, we missed the Thursday night beach bonfire since it started too late for us. We went over there at 9pm and stayed until 10pm and nothing was going on, so we turned in for the night. It started up about 10:30pm and lasted until midnight as we could hear the very loud music from our room. As far as the entertainment goes, we enjoyed what they had, the only thing is it’s started way too late for us with the exception of the beach party. We generally like to eat at 6pm, so the entertainment should start around 8pm instead of 10pm or 11pm. I wished they would have had a real steel drum band one night.
We did the resort picture package. I so wanted to do this for our 10th wedding anniversary last year, but that’s OK. The photographer took us all over the resort and took our picture at various locations. We got 30 pictures on a CD for $60. It was so worth it.
We loved the pools and beach. I’ve read many people say the beach is small, but to us it was fine. The sand was soft and there are no rocks to enter the water. The ocean temp was good as well as the pools. We usually go to Mexico in December and the pools there are too cold to swim in at that time of year. The hot tubs were actually hot. The pools were one of the main reasons for booking this resort and we thoroughly enjoyed them. We liked the beach better than the one at the RIU Tropical Bay in Negril.
Excursions - I hired A-Z Jamaican Planners on-line for our excursions. Our driver was Oscar, who was a true gem and great guide. On Wednesday he took us to Dunn’s River Falls, Coyaba Gardens, Mahoe Falls, Shaw Park Gardens, Margaritaville, Island Village for shopping and Scotchies. Dunn’s River Falls, Coyba Gardens, Mahoe Falls, Shaw Park Gardens had lots of stairs and walking then I expected. By the end of the day we were hurting pretty bad, but it was worth it. We didn’t climb the falls at Dunn’s River as it would have been to much for us. We look around and took some pictures and left. I really loved the gardens at Coyaba and Shaw Park. Very lush and tropical and the waterfalls there were very nice.
Before entering Dunn’s River I told DH to not touch anything or engaged in conversation with anyone trying to sale something. Of course he doesn’t listen to me and as we are heading out a guy handed him a carving of a turtle and told him to take it “it’s free mon”. So he took it. Of course if you hold it, it’s yours in their eyes. I told the guy “no thank you” and tried to give it back and he puts his hands behind his back and starts trying to negotiate a price. I placed the turtle on the ground and we walk away. A lady yells after us “Don’t believe everything you read”. Really? Because I’ve read things like this many, many times.
When we went to the Island Shopping Center, I told Oscar I wanted a few food items to make a couple of gifts baskets for Christmas gifts. So he took me to this store and I told the guy at the counter what I wanted. I planned to purchase 3 small rum cakes, 3 bottles of jerk sauce, 3 small packages of coffee, 1 small bottle of rum cream, 2 wooden vases and 1 set of wooden candles. Of course there are no prices on any of this and when I asked him the price he told me he would give me a good deal. So when he rang up everything he told me it would be $250US. No way. So he came down to $150. No, so we left. I ended up buying everything somewhere else for $80.
On Friday, Oscar took us to the rafting on the Martha Brae. The river and lushness reminded me of when we did the Black River excursion when we went to Negril a few years back. We enjoyed the trip. Afterward, we went to Glistening Waters restaurant for lunch. The meal was very good. When we were leaving we saw some stingrays in the water by the white fence. I would definitely recommend A-Z Jamaican Planners and Oscar for excursions and sightseeing.
They weather was perfect. No too hot. It did rain almost every night while we were sleeping, but in the morning it would be clear and sunny. We had a great vacation. I actually liked the Ocho Rios area better than Negril and would return to the Jewel and Ocho Rios. However, I would like to stay in Montego Bay once just because we haven’t before.
I have our pictures posted at: http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn
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Jewel Dunn's River Ocho Rios, Jamacia Trip Report
Jewel Dunn’s River Resort and Spa - Ocho Rios, Jamaica -December 5 - 10, 2011