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Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Jamaica
We stayed in Building 26, Room 2607 a full suite. Each component of the vacation will be evaluated and be given a score of 1 to 10 points. This was our 8th stay in a Palladium resort.
The Ground Transportation:
We used Flightline from our house to Boston's Logan International Airport. Our pickup time was 4:15 am. The driver was waiting in our driveway at 3:45. On the way home our driver was waiting for us in the designated area outside of the arrivals terminal.
In Jamaica we used Reggae Tours for ground transportation. No problem. They were there at the airport when we arrived and showed up an hour early for our trip back to Sangster. The ride in both directions was “exciting”. I would personally not want to drive in Jamaica. I definitely would use them again.
We traveled on weekdays because of the cost. This was also the reason we booked on American Airlines. It left and arrived on time. No problem there. Every seat on all 4 legs of the flights were booked. Well, that was good for the airline. The seats were exceptionally cramped with very little leg room. After putting my laptop bag under the seat in front of me for takeoff there was no room for my feet. They were the least comfortable flights we have ever taken. My wife and I both agree that we would not use American again. (Unless the ticket price was really good.)
Club Mobay is the premium arrival and departure service offered at Sangster. (Club Kingston is offered at the Kingston airport.) Yes it is somewhat expensive and yes you can do without it but if you can afford it then go for it. We were met in the jetway and whisked through immigration and customs in minutes (after our Club Mobay rep got our bags) while the rest of the vacationers were standing in line (some reportedly for up to 2 hours that day). Our ground transportation (Reggae Tours) was contacted and we were off to the resort after a nice drink and snack. For the outbound service there is a special line for security for Club Mobay members. We had gotten to the airport early and the crowd was not yet there yet but I can see how it would be good when it was busy. After security we went to the Club Mobay departure lounge and relaxed in comfy chairs and had a nice lunch from the buffet. Drinks are also available. We went to the gate about 30 minutes before loading. An unnecessary expense? Yes. Would I use it again? Yes.
We stayed in room 2607 a full suite. When we moved into the suite we thought we had gotten a great room. This room was both great and horrible at the same time. We had stayed in a suite at the Royal Yucatan in the GPRM (Riviera Maya, Mexico) and had noticed this suite was significantly smaller. This did not reduce our enjoyment of it. The jacuzzi was built for 1 as opposed to the jacuzzis on the decks in the GPRM which hold 2. Both decks had a view of the Caribbean, a very nice plus. On the living room deck one chaise had a wheel missing, making it sit funny. This, it seems, was my chaise. The bedroom deck/patio had 2 comfortable chairs. There was also only 1 sink in the bathroom, which we had to share, as opposed to each having a sink as in Mexico and Punta Cana. The sink's faucet set moved in its setting in the sink and I was constantly afraid that it would somehow fall out of the sink or leak. It didn't. For some reason the toilet was mounted very high on the wall. When sitting on it my feet did not touch the floor. Strange. Besides those considerations the actual physical room was fine.
If however I had known that there would be parties at the Las Brisas pool bar next to building 26 directly under our bedroom and at the Infinity Bar across the main pool that would last to after 2 AM on many nights I would have asked for another building. This is not the room to have a quiet relaxing vacation.
Housekeeping was spotty but adequate. Usually it was fine. One day no one ever came to clean the room. A couple of other days we were not left any towels and on a couple of days no toilet tissue was left. We got several calls from guest services asking if we had any problems. We reported the towel situation and within a few minutes towels appeared. My wife took it upon herself to get the toilet tissue off the unattended cart left in the hallway. It was after 6PM at the time.
Rating 7 (Mostly due to the noise but also due to the housekeeping)
While we were disappointed that several of the ala carts were closed due to renovations the food was still generally very good. The Blue Lagoon Lunch Buffet was closed which meant we had to use the Mobay Buffet (which meant our swim suits needed to be dry) or go to the Posiden down by the Sunset Cove Beach. (This was somewhat inconvenient. There was a late continental breakfast set up at the Blue Lagoon but it only offered pizza for lunch.) We usually ate in the Mobay Buffet for all 3 meals but did go to “Bubba's Grill House” and “Xaymaica Creole Restaurant”. My steak was fine at Bubba's but my wife’s filletmingon was undercooked. They did take it back and cooked it some more but she was disappointed in it. The Jamaican food at Xaymaica was another story. Great!!!! Service at the Mobay Buffet and the ala cartes was always good. No wait to be seated and the servers were very attentive. The food was very good, on a par with the GPRM. We are early eaters and so did not have a wait to be seated but did see a line form later during the meals.
The beaches: The main beach (Las Bisas) is where we spent most of our time. The section behind the Las Bisas bar was always well groomed and we never had a problem getting a shaded spot. The spa people did come down to the beach and they would take a large prime section to give massages but even then there was always a good spot. Water shoes are a must for this beach and we did have them. The floor of the sea was quite slimy due to seaweed. We have gone to a lot of beaches including the GPMR and GPPC (Punta Cana) and this beach cannot compare to them. It's OK. But that is it. We never got to the other beaches. We were asked once each day by a Spa employee if we wanted a massage. When told no they moved on and we rarely saw them twice.
We went to the main pool (The Infinity Pool) and the Adult Pool. We never had a problem getting a couple of chairs with a palapa. The pools were generally clean, always a plus when there is a pool bar. There was some algae on the sides under the new Mexican restaurant but there was a staff member cleaning the edges of the pool so I do assume he took care of it. While there was always people in the pools they were never crowded. We noticed several tiles missing and the aqua jets in the “spa” sections did not work in both pools.
The Travel Club sales staff: The big problem at the Infinity Pool was the constant sales pitches by rotating Travel Club reps. We were approached at least 4 times a day with very high pressure pitches. For me that's not a problem. I am sales pitch proof unless I decide I am interested. I understand the Travel Club. I have met others who love it. I have decided that it is not for me. One day while I was doing something else my wife spoke to one of these reps. She mistakenly gave him hope that we might go to a meeting to be pitched the club but he needed to speak to me first. When I came back so did the rep. I tried to be polite and to tell him “thank you but no” but he refused to take no as an answer. He went so far as to say he would make an appointment for me “to review the club” after I had told him that I absolutely had no interest in it. He kept insisting that he would make that appointment and I told him directly not to make it because I definitely would not keep it and they would just try to contact me again because of the missed appointment. He finally got the fact that I was not a good prospect and moved on. This was not the only Travel Club rep I encountered. You could not walk between the lobbies without being approached. It got to be a game to slip by them. I have been to the GPRM and the GPPC and have never encountered the level of harassment by Travel Club reps at those resorts. If this is now the policy of the resort I will have to reconsider my patronage. My wife has suggested that the Travel Club reps give you a button or sticker or something to mark you as previously contacted.
The grounds: One of the things that always impressed us about Palladium properties is that they were always immaculately clean and constantly maintained. We are sorry to say that this is not the case in Jamaica. The resort while only a few years old is starting to show its age. The roadway to our building was uneven, the cobblestones heaving up and down in sections. At the main pool the ground has been covered with a coat of white cement that is coming up with large sections missing. My wife noticed that the edges of the stairs in the Lady Hamilton lobby were starting to chip and deteriorate. We also notice that there were papers (trash) left on the walkways and grass for days before they were gone as well as food that was disposed of on the edge of the road. It was there for several days also. Trash next to the roadways was all too common, something neither of us remembers from Mexico or Punta Cana. While sitting on the chaise on our living room deck we noticed that someone had made a little camp in the shaded spot under the bathroom window. There were 2 plastic chairs like the ones the pool lifeguards used left there and a couple of “empties”.
Common restroom facilities:
There seems to be a problem here. I encountered several stalls with broken locks and missing locks. Hand soap was frequently empty and it was not refilled that day. (One dispenser in the Las Brisas bar men's room was empty for over a week.) Paper towel dispensers were frequently empty or broken and not addressed. Each restroom had a chart on it showing when it was cleaned and inspected. This seems to be only for show.
Always friendly. Always helpful (or at least tried to be). We had no problem with the staff. Guest services had any housekeeping issue quickly resolved and when we reported a problem with the safe a nice young man quickly appeared and fixed it. (It needed new batteries.) The staff is one of the resorts high points.
Including non-resort items the vacation gets a rating of 8.11.
Including only on resort items the rating is 7.66.
Would we return? Yes, but knowing what we now know I definitely would ask for a different building. If it was a choice between the Royal Yucatan Riviera Maya and the Lady Hamilton Jamaica the choice would be hard, but Mexico would win. (Punta Cana and Jamaica tied.) But we did enjoy our stay in Jamaica and may go back there sometime in the future.