If you're traveling with little ones, this resort has it all - nice beaches, good pools, a fun water park, a good kid's program, and decent food available all the time. And, all at a reasonable price. Don't expect a 5-star resort (you're not paying for a 5-star resort) and you'll have a lovely time.
ROOMS: We stayed in the W wing, next to the water park and were really happy there. Just steps from the best pools at the resort and really quiet at night. Bonus: we even had a view of the ocean from our balcony, although we hadn't paid for an ocean view. These rooms aren't in the towers and they have lovely gardens and a nice Caribbean feel. While I thought they were a little run-down when I checked in, by day 2 I just thought they had character. Only negative is that these rooms are pretty far from the restaurant and rest of the resort, but that's why they're quiet, so I'll take that trade-off.
BEACHES: A few to choose from: when we had the kids with us, we went to the smoother, easier to play in the water and build sand-castles beach (the main one). This is the one with the nice reef offshore. But, even closer to shore, near the rocks, kids can see starfish and sea urchins and tropical fish. Cool. When we were just us adults, we went to the adults-only beach which was so quiet and relaxing and had lots of shade trees and chairs available. We never used the nude beach, but saw some pretty happy people come and go from it.
We enjoyed the snorkling in the bay - but would have prefered to go out and look around at our own pace. Unfortunately, you can only use the resort's equipment if you go with a resort group. If I went back, I'd bring my own equipment. It can be bought at the resort store, but at a steep price. Speaking of which...
RESORT SHOP: Has everything you need or want - but (understandably) VERY expensive. They know they're your only option, unless you want to blow 3 hours of your vacation (and $10 per person) on a shopping excursion to town. For example: $12 for 10 diapers. Yikes! Bring your own sand toys, sun screen, diapers, etc.
POOLS and WATER PARK: Exceeded our expectations, probably because the water park staff are so laid back and cool. They allowed our 2 year old to go down the slides on her daddy's lap and our 6 year old to use a floatie on the slides, too. They LOVED it. We spent many, many happy hours there. The lazy river and fountains were really fun to play in, too. And, the pool there starts out really shallow, so it's a great place for toddlers. The kiddie pool (near Club Mongoose) has a smaller slide to get the kids used to water-sliding before hitting the big slides.
FOOD: The buffets were decent and had good hours, and if our kids were hungry at off hours (or we wanted to feed them early so we could have a date later), the burger/ jerk chicken shack was open when the buffet wasn't. I'm not too picky about food, and I thought there was a good variety - everybody was happy. Drinks service was spotty, but I can get up and get my own Diet Coke or coffee if I need to, so no big deal. We also enjoyed the 3 sit-down restaurants, but thought they were better without the kids because the service was "relaxed" - nice without kids, but slooow with kids. The Asian restaurant was okay. The Italian one had good atmosphere and okay food. The Caribbean one had great service and great food.
Oh - and we loved the bars! Nicely spaced out over the resort, rarely crowded. My kids enjoyed Shirley Temples and banana smoothies while we enjoyed all that delicious rum.
CLUB MONGOOSE: Will watch your kids (ages 2-12) while you and your spouse have some time alone. What's not to love? Check the board outside the club to see when they have activities planned. My kids attended birthday parties, sand castle building contests, and other fun events. At times, it's just "free play" which amounted to my kids watching TV - but I didn't really mind, because they were so tired from swimming, they needed the down-time. They also have evening hours - but sometimes they are shortened or eliminated because of kid-friendly evening entertainment - so, check the board before you schedule a date-night. The staff at Club Mongoose were so friendly and sweet with my kids. They loved it there.
To address other reviewers' concerns:
Yes, the resort could use more (and non-broken) beach chairs and umbrellas. But, we were always able to find chairs, if not shade. The beach and pools never felt crowded to me - except for the day Carnival Cruises came in (just one day of seven). The resort adds extra bar space and buffet space to accomodate the extra people, but they can't add pool and beach space. If coming again, I'd find out when Carnival is coming in and book my trip to Dolphin Cove or Dunn's River Falls on that day.
Some background so you know where I'm coming from: I traveled with my husband and two kids (ages 2 and 6) in April, 2012. We live in California and have traveled a lot to beaches in Hawaii and Thailand, but this was our first trip to the Caribbean and first time at an all-inclusive.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Consists of two 10-story Sunrise and Sunset Towers. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sunset Beach Resort Jamaica
- Sunset Beach Jamaica
- Sunset Beach Montego Bay
- Sunset Beach Resort Spa Montego Bay
- Beach Resort Sunset
- Sunset Beach Resort And Spa Jamaica
- Sunset Beach Resort Montego Bay Jamaica
- Sunset Beach Resort Spa Jamaica
- Montego Bay Sunset Beach Resort