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Went to the Thomson reps at the airport to inform them we had private transfer. Expected to receive paperwork from them with emergency contact details, welcome meeting details etc but given nothing so we were not informed of a welcome meeting if in fact there was one which I am sure there would be to flog as many tours as possible lol.
We were met by Michael from Reggae Tours. We had booked the transfer via their website beforehand and they gave us a free complimentary upgrade to the executive car service as we had also used them last year for our holiday to Ocho Rios. The transfer was excellent and Michael was very informative pointing out interesting buildings and landmarks etc along the way which we thoroughly enjoyed especially with our first Red Stripe of the day in hand!
Check in was an absolute breeze. We had emailed Laura Lopez 7 days before arrival and she had replied and attached check in forms which we were able to complete at home and hand over at reception. We were greeted with a chilled glass of rum punch which was very welcome after our long journey!
We were taken to our room, 2834, perfect, all as my room request, with a beautiful view of the Caribbean Sea. We had friends join us at the end of our first week and 48 hours before their arrival we asked at reception if they could also be in block 28. Not only were they in block 28 but they were actually next door.
Had 2 superb meals at Xaymaica. Ate at Bubbas 4 times, the fillet mignon was delicious. The only other restaurant we tried was Lotus which was good too. The buffet had plenty of choice at mealtimes but on many occasions the food was not hot and only lukewarm or sometimes cold which was a real shame. Only one buffet restaurant was open due to low occupancy. On day 12 it was my fiances birthday and we ate at Bubbas. A friend notified one of the staff and they got the entire restaurant to sing 'happy birthday! The staff in Bubbas frequently sing at tables which is great fun.
During our stay we saw 4 cats nowhere near the restaurants so if you are worried by reviews saying there are 100's of cats walking inside the buffet then don't be. Not a single cockroach spotted anywhere!
If you are a smoker bring a good quality lighter from home as the ones from the gift shop keep exploding, we kept them in the shade in the beach bag but got through 5 in 6 days! Also cigarettes are very expensive at the resort, $13 for a packet of Marlboro Lights. I had my lighter confiscated on the way home at MoBay airport when my hand luggage was checked. In past years I have always had a lighter in my hand luggage without a problem.
We didn't go to any of the shows as we preferred to sit in the Infinity Bar and listen to the live music which was great every night including a steel band and the POP team joining in showing off their dancing/acrobatic skills!
Internet access in the lobby is free, not the quickest but at times the reason for this could be the number of people using facetime etc on their iphones and ipads which naturally slows down the internet for other users.
We didn't do any excursions from this resort, it was our 4th visit to Jamaica and we had done many excursions in the past. This holiday was purely to relax and recharge our batteries and this is exactly what we did!
We had no problems with the hardness of the bed, the quality of the pillows or the provision of towels. The shower was excellent, powerful with no pressure problems which sometimes occurs at large resorts. Use common sense when using the shower, there is approximately an inch gap all the way around the door so if the shower head is pointing directly at the gap then water will obviously pass through, it is not rocket science but I have read some many reviews complaining of flooded bathroom floors!
We went to the casino one night and only had Jamaican $ and were told that only US$ were accepted. The cashier changed the Jamaican and when we won 25$ after only spending a dollar the machine gave us a ticket. We cashed this in so had a successful night but the cashier appeared quite miserable as did some of the staff who worked in the shop but this was the exception and not the rule. All other staff was very friendly and the guys at the Infinity Bar and swim up bar were amazing and we had some good laughs with them.
Tipping is obviously a personal thing, we tipped well. We didn’t notice a lot of tipping though. What we did notice was the lack of manners from some of the holidaymakers, not a simple please or thank you which is really annoying. Simply walking up to a bar and saying “red stripe” in my opinion is very rude. I wouldn’t serve you without hearing please or thank you so it’s a good job I don’t work there!
We left on 8 October 2012 and our 2 week holiday passed far too quickly.
I am not going to go on and on repeating everything what everyone else drones on about but we loved the resort and like I said, it was our 4th trip to Jamaica and won’t be the last.
A big thanks also to the Palladium Addicts website, http://www.palladiumaddict.net, they are a mine of information!