Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Jamaica Hotel Spotlights: Rooms on the Beach Negril / Royalton White Sands
Rooms on the Beach Negril
Negril, with its world-famous Seven Mile Beach, might offer the widest and most exotic range of accommodation on the island, from luxurious private villas to cozy B&Bs, beachfront and clifftop boutique hotels and all-inclusive resorts.
But for adventurous travellers who want to get out and really see the western and southern island by car, motorbike or guided excursion -- and make their own dining choices -- it's hard to beat Rooms on the Beach.
Recognizing that some visitors use their rooms as a pitstop -- basically, to shower, change and sleep -- parent SuperClubs has opted for a straight-up European Plan (breakfast-only) concept with attractive, functional rooms at a reasonable price.
Best of all, with just 57 rooms in two two-storey parallel buildings bracketing nicely kept gardens and a pool, the former Negril Inn occupies a terrific spot on the beach.
"Location is everything in Negril, and we're walking distance to restaurants, bars, shops, market and just about everything else," said manager Sienna-Ann Grant.
Most of the rooms are gardenview in two sizes, but there are nine oceanfront and three large family rooms (one double, one single and a pullout sofabed). High-season rates range from $96 to $152 a night for a family room, but early booking can drop that as low as $72 a night.
Renovated in 2008, the property has a recessed portion of beach to itself, with a restaurant/bar, small fitness centre and Internet cafe.
"We're proud to have received TripAdvisor's certificate of excellence for three years in a row," Grant said.
With a sister property out east in Ocho Rios (99 rooms with four meal plans available), Rooms on the Beach offers a comfortable and practical way to 'bookend' your North Coast adventures in Jamaica.
Royalton White Sands Montego Bay
A longtime Canadian favourite, perfectly located as a base of operations for North Coast touring, has been reborn as an "All-In Luxury" oasis that retains its strong appeal to families.
While 'Montego Bay' is appended to its new name, the 350-room resort actually sits 40 kilometres east of the airport, past the Trelawny parish capital and cruise-ship port of Falmouth.
That's a good thing, because it's both close to MoBay's dining, shopping and beachside lures and also a third of the way to Ocho Rios and its tempting attractions about 60 km further east.
Known in past incarnations as the Trelawny Beach, Starfish and Breezes Trelawny, the property was purchased by Canada's Sunwing Airlines and re-opened in November after a %50-million renovation.
"We have completely transformed the old property from the lobby coming back to the beach.," said Sales & Marketing manager Kerry-Ann Quallo. "Everything is brand-new -- the lobby, all restaurants, bars, all four pools, Kids Club, Entertainment Plaza, Spa. The overall concept is now contemporary, but luxurious."
All of the rooms have been dramatically updated, the two main buildings refurbished in pale white and glass-railed balconies. Two new beachfront wings now offer luxury and honeymoon suites, as well as the two-level ne-plus-ultra Chairman's Suite.
The resort boasts an array of amenities, including three main pools plus a children's splash pool and waterslide park; five reservation-free restaurants, six bars (including a sports bar), a gellato-serving cafe and 24-hour room service; and a fitness centre and a beachfront spa with jacuzzi and six treatment rooms.
There's even a private beach and walkout sunbathing island.
"We have a to-die-for kids club, with 12 waterslides," Quallo said. "We also have an inside kids' club with several touch-screens and machines and some Star Trek-bucket
seats. The two-year-olds to 12-years can knock themselves out with all the most up-to-date video games.
And finally, for all those praying for relief from hefty hotel Internet and phone charges, the Royalton says it's the first in Jamaica to sweep all that away with "All-In Connectivity" for the Wired Traveller -- those who want fast, 24-hour web and phone contact with home and/or office, and to plan and book their Jamaica excursions.
First, there's free wi-fi everywhere on the property -- including the beach -- as well as Bluetooth docking and USB charging stations in all rooms. And it doesn't end there.
"We're the only hotel in Jamaica that offers free international calls to the USA, Canada and Europe," Quallo said. "We have a Royalton app that you can download to your smartphone and make calls from your own phone free. Or you can call simply call the operator.
"It goes further. You have free texting anywhere in the world from the app while you're here. You can stay connected to your family, your friends, your business partners, your suppliers, your consumers."
While this old favourite is decidedly upscale now, it retains its outdoor personality, genuine Caribbean feel and laid-back family ambience.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 22, 2014 E2
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