RIU Montego Bay

We are travel agents who recently had the pleasure of staying at the RIU Montego Bay, opened in August 2008, a quick two mile transfer from the vastly improved Sangster International Airport and just three miles from Jamaica’s “hip-strip” downtown nightlife.  This new, four star, family resort has 701 rooms and jr. suites. The lavender and white buildings are situated on a surprisingly good beach with white sand and calm, clear surf.  We didn’t expect the beach to be this nice given that it is on the NW coast.  The check-in process was smooth and pleasant but we had to wait a bit for the room to be readied – check-in time is 3:00pm.  We were invited to have buffet lunch and our room was available by the time we returned to the front desk.

Public Spaces
The Jamaican-Mediterranean style open air lobby has spokes radiating out to access restaurants, tour desks a conference center, two beautiful bars, and a Pacha disco which doubles as their theater area. 

There is an enthusiastic group of activity coordinators called the Animation Staff. Those holding the microphones tend to scream a bit when they get excited directing the adult’s activities and the DJ tends to turn up the volume too high. Beach towels are readily available and the two towel huts are supervised by friendly staff, not the “control freaks” you can sometimes find zealously guarding the beach towels at other Caribbean resorts.

There are inter-connected buildings with the lobby/shopping/restaurants in the center. The Club section is more active, lower priced and will attract of the value-conscious family crowd. The Palace section has jr. suites with Jacuzzi bathtubs – a big plus. We stayed on both sided and much preferred the Palace wing for its upgraded concierge services and amenities and quiet, elegant ambiance.

Pathways are well lit and the signage is excellent. There are a limited number of categories as well and it’s the luck of the draw as to how close or far you are from the action, centered around the two main pools and the dining venues. The garden, pool and ocean view accommodations are easily handicapped accessible.

There is a Kids’ Club with a supervised program and playground. A full-service spa, a small but adequate fitness center, a PADI Dive Center, and two lighted tennis courts keep active adults in shape. The theater has seats for almost everyone and offers nightly local entertainment with lots of involvement of the RIUs staff and guests. There is a sports bar with internet access @ $16/hour. Tour and excursion operators have a large space in the lobby and offer a variety of fun trips and experiences at extra cost.

The quality and variety of the food and beverages are excellent. The elaborate, air-conditioned “St. Ann” is the main buffet with different themes for all three meals. We enjoyed the selection but found the traffic pattern to be a bit chaotic and the “red or white wine” served in all restaurants to be mediocre. The Italian “Piccola” pizzeria was great fun and very convenient for snacking. Our favorite dining spot was the “Sir Richard,” an air-conditioned, refined, `a la carte dining experience. It is way too small, however, and it was a bit difficult to get a reservation there. “Plantation” and “Mammee Bay” are multi-purpose venues offering excellent breakfast and lunch buffets and `a la carte dinners with a “steakhouse” menu. We did not dine at the Asian `a la carte restaurant “Mandalay” or the Japanese “Tushima” (exclusively for the guests staying in the Palace section). There are bars everywhere, including a terrific swim-up bar in each pool with local beer, mixed and blended drinks and premium spirits served up by a friendly bar staff.

American tourists and US dollars are welcomed at RIU Montego Bay and every attempt is made to satisfy guests’ needs. The public areas are imposing and beautiful with imported tile floors. There is an abundance of lovely, well-manicured gardens and everyone involved with the resort seemed quite proud of the facility.

The place pulses with reggae rhythms and a genuine sense of Jamaican hospitality. This is part of a family owned and operated chain of 120+ hotel worldwide. They have wisely brought in the best of their people from Spain, the Dominican Republic, and from their other resorts in Negril to help them open this great property. As travel agents, we will be recommending it highly to our clients.