I know I put up many accommodation reviews and all of them so far have been pretty great. I’ve never stayed in a place that I wouldn’t recommend…until this one. I hate to be the bearer of negative reviews out of Jamaica and this one rates pretty high on TripAdvisor but I guess I just checked in at the wrong time. I wouldn’t consider giving it a second chance based on my first experience.
The hotel started off weird even before I got to Jamaica, I called to make a reservation and asked the receptionist if they have a taxi service between the hotel and Norman Manley airport. She said NO so I asked her if she knew approximately what the cost is to take a taxi from the airport to the hotel. Her answer again was just NO….just like that…no I’m sorry, nothing.
We drove from Ocho Rios to Kingston and this hotel was relatively easy to find, located at 70 Sandhurst Crescent in a community called Barbican, New Kingston. Nice neighborhood, quiet and not much around except houses. The hotel is within walking distance of some pretty main areas which include restaurants, that was a plus. The price was also a bit of a plus at $5200 JMD per night (roughly $60) as I was expecting to pay a LOT more in Kingston.
When we arrived at the hotel the security guard opened the gate to the parking lot and I saw that the entire hotel was under construction, not very attractive from the outside. I couldn’t even tell where I was supposed to go into the lobby, I had to ask a construction worker. He pointed me in the right direction and we entered. As I approached the front desk this is the first thing I saw….a whole lot of NO’s!! And for the life of me can’t understand WHY I can’t walk around in here with my hair rollers!
I find it ironic the sign says to turn off all the water taps before leaving the room because there was one evening…which happened to be the evening we had a big event to attend…our water was shut off for us. Compliments of hotel construction and the guy outside digging up the sidewalks and pipes right outside my room. I was furious because there was no advance notice and no way 3 of us were getting a shower in order to go to our show. I tried to talk to the front desk about it and they didn’t even apologize. They offered to call the manager, who never showed up anyways.
So when we checked in at the hotel I’ll give it good location and the room was decent and clean. It had 2 double beds, 2 fans, a huge walk-in closet and my favorite part – the veranda and the view of Kingston. I did spend a lot of time on the veranda and this view was amazing at night with all the lights in the hills.
I also know bugs are normal in JA, I’ve stayed in worse places by far but the ants in this hotel were out of control. We couldn’t even put a water bottle on the desk without it being attacked by the little ants. We did lose some food due to this problem as well. Perhaps that’s why the front desk also had a sign that read NO FOOD IN ROOMS. I thought that was odd until I realized that food just encourages billions of ants to bunk in with you. Oh and we had a centipede problem in the shower too…but the bathroom was pretty.
Our first night we ordered meals from the menu at the hotel, they had a large dining area in the lobby and we didn’t feel like venturing out. We decided to order macaroni and cheese thinking it would be soul-foodish, and the menu said each meal came with a side salad. They brought out two meals, one salad. When we requested a second salad they simply said no…a second salad is not an option. Weird. And so much for soul food because the mac and cheese was simply Kraft dinner. UGH.
We had a 3rd person arrive on our last night here which was prearranged when I made the booking, but on the phone they failed to tell me about the extra person charge even though I SPECIFICALLY asked about it on the phone. And they would not give us a second room key either. So 3 people had to use one key, which made it difficult to plan our own agendas.
So now for the outside of the hotel. It has a decent yard around the property and a huge sundeck out the back and overlooking the pool. Yes it has a nice pool which appeared clean but I didn’t end up swimming in the four days I stayed. I should have because Kingston in July is blazing!
Another really crappy thing was that a hotel employee was roasting breadfruit right beside our room and for about 2 hours our room became filled with thick smoke. Was there not a better place they could do this other than beside a guest room? Our entire wardrobe stank like a forest fire. And the insult on top of that injury is that I had to PAY the hotel to wash my clothing!! I did go outside and visit the dude cooking it though, so here’s a picture of roasting breadfruit.
Basically the customer service here was horrible. I’ve stayed in $20/night places with MUCH better service and no bugs! I was really shocked that in Kingston of all places, I’d find a place like this. Yes the rooms are decent but NO the staff here are not friendly and it seems like they all just don’t want to be there. When I told the front desk that I am a travel writer and they’re getting a horrible article she pretty much rolled her eyes and didn’t have any words to offer.
With all the crappiness of my stay there they didn’t offer any apologies for the water shut off, the construction or for the misinformation, and they sure didn’t offer a discount! If I ever go back I’m parading around the entire property ALL DAY wearing hair rollers just to piss them off.