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Friday, January 4, 2013

Jamaica / Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa

December 2012, Weekend before Christmas, 3-nights, King ocean front guestroom #255


early evening view from balcony
view from our balcony











Status perks

I redeemed 60,000 points per night for this stay (the standard amount). The room types available with standard reward points were "resort view" and "tropical view," so we reserved a tropical view guestroom.

I sent the hotel an email before our stay to ask about making dinner reservations, and to inquire about a room upgrade. The concierge contacted me by email about my dining requests. When I checked our reservation online a couple of days before our stay, I saw that we had already been upgraded to an ocean front guestroom!

If you are a Hilton Honors member, look for the concierge desk with the HHonors sign, located across from the check-in counter. There were no guests at the concierge desk when we arrived, so we were assisted at the desk for check-in immediately. Concierge Andrea confirmed our dining requests, and then she provided a reservation card for each night of our three-night stay. As a gold member, I received a coupon good for 10% off a cabana rental, and I received an internet access code for the complimentary internet perk for gold and diamond guests.

Guestroom #255


Before assigning a guestroom, Andrea read my profile preferences for a top floor king bed, and then she said there was not an ocean front guestroom on the top floor available for the length of our stay. She said that she could assign a guestroom on the 2nd floor right away (we arrived before check-in time), and that if we wanted to wait, the only higher floor room that would be available later was on the 3rd floor. This resort has 7 floors, and we did not think there would be much difference between floor 2 or 3, so we took the room on the 2nd floor. 

Guestroom 255 is a corner room on floor 2, which is also the same level as the front entrance. There was one floor below us on the ocean front side. The guestroom has a connecting room door, which must be well soundproofed, because we did not hear any noise from the room next door. I was told that most of the king guestrooms have connecting room doors. We did hear noise from the entertainment stage when we went to bed early the first night, although it did not keep us up long since were exhausted.

The balcony contained two chairs, a table, and a pullout clothes drying rack. If you plan to use the clothes rack, I suggest packing a few clothespins. It was very windy the first night of our stay, and there were many clothing items blown about on the grounds the next morning.

This guestroom has a long hall entrance with a very large closet. There were only 10 hangers in the closet (which is standard), although there was enough room for three times that many. The closet contained a safe and a folding luggage rack, as well. The only full length mirror in the guestroom were the mirrored closet doors in the entrance hall, so it was a close-up view. 

The tile shower was a good size, and there was a partial stationary glass enclosure. The water temperature in the bathroom was backwards. When the shower knob was turned to the [backwards] cold side the water never got cold. It was lukewarm. We also experienced this at a resort in Aruba, and did not realize the temperature settings were backwards for several days. I wanted to mention this because I read a review from another guest at this resort who complained that he did not have any hot water during his stay. You may want to try the knob in both directions for a minute or two to see which direction is correct.

The hair dryer was good quality, and it had a cool setting. Bathroom amenities included shampoo, conditioner, soap, bath wash, and lotion. Cotton swabs and mouthwash were not provided. Most Hiltons I have stayed in recently do not provide a robe in the guestroom; however, they are usually available from housekeeping. I was told I could get one when I called; however, I did not receive one the day I called. I asked Concierge Andrea about this the next day, and one had been delivered to our guestroom when we returned later that day.

The coffee in the guestroom was very good, and supplies were replenished every day. This was set up on a desk across from the chaise lounge. The coffee pot needed to be cleaned or replaced because it sputtered noisily and took over 10 minutes to brew. A mini fridge contained two small bottles of water, which were also replenished each day. I had read a review from a gold status guest before our stay, who said that he also received the standard HHonors water coupons at check-in for two bottles of water in the gift shop. He did not think this perk mattered since there were two bottles in the guestroom. I did not receive the gift shop water coupons, and I would have used them! I did not ask for these, so I am not sure if this perk has been discontinued, or if it was overlooked during our check-in.

The sleep quality was good. The bed was clean and comfortable, and the bedding was good quality. The inside chaise lounge was very comfortable, although we did not use it much, since we were never in the room for long. Turndown service was available upon request. We requested this one evening, and our bed had been turned down when we returned after dinner, although we did not receive a turndown amenity. I had hoped our bottled water would be replenished! The HVAC unit kept the room comfortable, although it was quite loud.

I thought guestroom housekeeping was acceptable, although not immaculate. I read reviews for this property that said the guestrooms were very clean, and cleaned to high standards. We did not have anything seriously wrong with our room (a couple hairs had not been cleaned from the floor and sink, and the balcony needed to be cleaned); however, I would not say it was outstanding. I was surprised that when we changed from this hotel to the Holiday Inn Sunspree, our guestroom was cleaner at the Holiday Inn.


Pool and beach

The pool and public areas at this property were well maintained and very clean. There was plenty of seating, and I did not observe any problems with chair saving at the pools. We did observe guests take someone's shade umbrella one day while they were gone. They gave it back when confronted by the first guest later, although the second guests did not say anything until asked. Seems there is always someone like this at every resort we have been to.
water slides

I thought the tan mesh loungers at the pool overlooking the sea were the most comfortable (visible in the balcony view photos), although there are not many shade trees by that pool. There were a few umbrella stands, and there were cabanas for rent by both pools. Only three of the cabanas overlooked the ocean, and they had already been reserved for the day we were interested in when we checked. Cabana rental was $50 for the day (before our gold 10% discount).

There were many different seating areas around the tropical lagoon pool--in the sun and shade. There were three whirlpool tubs in this area. They were not always hot; the temperature was inconsistent, so we checked them each day. The lagoon pool included a lazy river, and two water slides--one for use with tubes, and small slides for use without tubes.

There is a small and shallow beach area with loungers in front of the lagoon pool, between the two water sports areas. Non-motorized water sports were included. We did not use any, so I can not provide further information about that.

Food and beverage service was excellent at the pool overlooking the sea. I did not observe any servers at the lagoon pool; however, we were not at the pool all day, and we did not sit in the main area where the water slides come out. The servers at the pool bar were excellent. They remembered what we liked, and often had our drinks started as we approached.

pool bar on right
Ping pong, and life-size chess pieces were set up between the two pool areas. This is also where the towel hut was located.

Food & Beverage

The food and beverage quality was good. I found out at dinner the first evening, that champagne is also included. It was a lower quality Brut, but acceptable for a couple of glasses. I did not care for either of the red wines (cabernet or merlot), and I did not try the white wine. Champagne was available at all of the bars (even the pool bar for mimosas in the morning); however, it was only served in glass at the restaurants. Wine is served in glass at the lobby bar, so I did not understand why champagne was not. At least the plastic champagne glasses were decent quality.

Sky, Smirnoff, and Appleton Estate V/X were available upon request. Cheaper island brands were automatically poured unless the guest requested something else. Chambord (which I like in champagne) was available at Three Palms restaurant. None of these brands incurred an extra charge, although we did tip the bartenders and servers (not a lot).  

The buffet restaurant Fresh was the only breakfast option. I am not a fan of buffets or omelet stations where the eggs are often cooked until brown, so I did not care much for breakfast. The fresh fruit options were okay--watermelon, pineapple, and melon slices. My husband likes omelet stations, so he thought breakfast was great.

For lunch, we dined at Seaside Grill, located next to the pool overlooking the sea, and at Mangoes, located next to the tropical lagoon pool. There was also a jerk chicken wagon on the sidewalk in front of the tropical pool and Mangoes each day around noon. The chicken from the wagon was excellent! The jerk pork shoulder at Seaside Grill was excellent, and the shrimp fritters and seafood pasta salad were pretty good too. We thought the best thing at Mangoes was the beef pocket. I do not know what the burgers were made of, but it was not beef. They were awful!

Luna Di Mare
We had dinner at Luna Di Mare one evening. The service was excellent, and the food was very good. We had the fish special, which was delicious. The bread was basic white bread, and the tiramisu was not very good. The dessert did not have much cake; it was mostly whipped cream in a glass.

We had dinner at Three Palms two evenings. This restaurant is located overlooking the golf course, and a shuttle ran between the hotel and restaurant starting five minutes before reservation times. The problem with the shuttle, was that it did not hold enough people for the number of reservations made, so some guests always had to wait for the next run. The distance was walkable if you are not wearing high heels, although there was no sidewalk. The only traffic on the road was the shuttle, and you do not need to cross any streets. We did observe some guests walk to the restaurant. I thought the seafood was even better at this restaurant, although we received better service at Luna Di Mare. Prime rib was the special the first night, which my husband said was not very good. We both thought the seafood combo dish was excellent, and the fish entree special the second night was excellent. Unfortunately, I do not recall the names of the seafood entrees.

Entertainment 

There was entertainment every night on the patio under the lobby bar. There was an excellent singer the first night of our stay. The same musicians played each night, although the male singer that we thought was fabulous did not perform very often. The last night of our stay, the entertainment included a female fire breather. Servers served guests seated at tables in this area.

Gift shop and shopping

The hotel gift shop carried good quality products with great prices. As a HHonors gold member, I could also get an additional 10 - 15% off. The clerk working did not know for sure how much the discount would be; she said she would have to check with her manager in the morning, and she offered to hold items for me. Since I did not end up purchasing a dress I was considering, I did not find out the exact discount amount. I observed many nice dresses, hats, and more clothing items. I purchased lip balm in the gift shop because I had forgotten mine, and the cost was less than what we had found at the airport en route.

The hotel has a free shuttle to the Shops at Rose Hall. We took the shuttle and browsed through most of the stores. The dress prices at the shopping center were much higher than the prices at the Hilton gift shop. The vendors will bargain at the shopping center; however, the garment quality was not as good as the products offered at the Hilton.

Overall

We received excellent service at this resort. We observed many managers overseeing the activity and talking with guests. Someone inquired about our satisfaction during almost every meal, including lunch, and often at the bar and in public areas as well.

click photo to enlarge for detail
I usually prefer top floor rooms because the view is better and it is usually less noisy than the lower floor rooms. Since a higher floor ocean front room was not available, I would have requested a bottom floor guestroom, if I had known how much larger the patio is. The photo here shows the ocean front bottom floor guestroom patios. This only applies to the bottom floor rooms that are ocean front rooms. The side/ocean view rooms on the bottom floor do not have a nice large patio like the bottom floor rooms in this photo.