When a family wedding was announced, I’ll admit that the chosen destination wasn’t tops on my travel list. Some of the comments I’d read from past travelers online showed Jamaica in a less than stellar light, after all. Now, after having been to the Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa in Lucea (just outside of Montego Bay) I’m so grateful that the bride and groom brought us to this amazing locale.
After a forty minute shuttle ride from the Montego Bay airport we were greeted in the lobby of the Grand Palladium by friendly staff and a cold tropical drink. My husband and I brought our two kids (ages 5 and 8) along on vacation and they were handed juice upon arrival and made to feel just as welcomed.
There was a short wait to check-in but the process itself was rather quick. Afterward we were brought immediately to our room by shuttle. The junior suite was quite nice and rather spacious. My husband and I found our Queen bed to be perfectly comfortable (although slightly short on pillows), but the pull out couch that was for the kids to sleep on was not quite what I had expected. When pulled out to a bed the couch was low to the ground and very short, just barely large enough for our two small kids to fit. No complaints from the kids though, they seemed to enjoy it just fine. The bathroom was a good size complete with Jacuzzi tub and a very spacious stand alone shower. The rooms were kept clean and housekeeping staff were very respectful of our belongings and our needs. (As an aside, our safe didn’t work the entire week that we were there. We had to get a little creative hiding some of our valuables just as a precautionary measure, but it really seemed like a non-issue at this particular resort).
The Grand Palladium shares facilities and services with the neighbouring Lady Hamilton Resort & Spa. My family of four booked our stay independently from the rest of the guests who were attending the wedding and as a result we accidentally booked at the Grand Palladium rather than the Lady Hamilton. When I realized what we’d done at check in I was quite upset – it wasn’t until we had an opportunity to explore the site that I realized just what our error had actually meant. While our room was a six or seven minute walk to the area where the rest of the guests were staying we had full use of all of the same facilities and we paid less for our stay (not so upsetting in the end). The only notable difference was that we were unable to make dinner reservations in advance as the others could. As it turned out it wasn’t a problem and many of us dined together most nights. After a few too many trips to the buffet table at dinner I personally welcomed the additional exercise that came with the brisk walk back to our room. At the end of a long day in the sun when the kids were maybe a bit too tired for the long walk we hopped on one of the free shuttles.
There were a number of pools throughout the resort with the main pool located right in the centre. The main pool is billed as the largest pool in Jamaica; it certainly never felt crowded! The pools (including the main) have varying depths which made it perfect for kids, they were able to wade in the shallow end in a space that was rather substantial. The sheer size of the main pool meant that it was quite the paddle to the swim up bar, but definitely worth the trip. The water was very clean and well maintained but quite cool, surprisingly. There were more than enough loungers to choose from and the deck included both shaded and sunny areas for rest.
There were a number of beach areas attached to the resort. Unfortunately in some spots it was too choppy and rocky for swimming. The sand in Lucea is certainly not the sand of Negril, but the beaches did have beautiful rest areas including elevated sunning decks and shaded loungers. The largest beach connected to the resort is perfect for swimming and provides an opportunity for fantastic snorkeling and other water sports (included with the resort stay).
The resort included 7 a la carte restaurants and 3 buffets. For fast service very near the pool the buffets were the best option. They offered a wide array of different foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Italian and Indian restaurants (Reggaetoni and Bhogali, respectively) were the favourites among our groups. The Asian style (Lotus House) Restaurant was met with much less fanfare, however. My personal favourite was Bubba’s bar-b-que house. The entrÈe was entirely delicious (perhaps not as filling as the indulgent buffet), but the cherry on top, so to speak, was the chocolate cake for dessert, likely one of the best cakes Iíve ever had.
For onsite entertainment after dark the resort offered some great stage shows, music and dancing at the disco, and live entertainment at the Infinity bar (overlooking the main pool and ocean).
There are several options and tours available for exploring offsite. We took a trip into Negril for some shopping and to check out the cliff divers at Rick’s Cafe. Everyone in our group regardless of age enjoyed the afternoon. Some from our extended group set off for the Luminous Lagoon, a sparking and glistening night time water experience – but the water didn’t sparkle much for our group, evidently. The bus ride from the resort to the dock left a couple of people too sick to continue on to the boat and for those who did they found the experience less than exhilarating. For the families with young children, the entertainment options available at the resort outweighed packing the kids up for another excursion.
Ultimately the service at the resort was great. The staff were courteous, helpful and friendly. Be prepared with a pocket full of small bills for tips, of course (change is available with the cashier in the lobby). Coincidentally our daughter celebrated her fifth birthday during our stay at the Grand Palladium. With just a mere mention to the kitchen staff she was treated to a birthday song and dance in the middle of the restaurant and a special personalized dessert.
Although initially double booked, the wedding was done beautifully from start to finish and the resort took measures to make up for their booking error.
Overall our trip to Lucea and our stay at the Grand Palladium exceeded both my expectations. I’d be happy to stay at a Grand Palladium resort elsewhere and I look forward to visiting Jamaica again one day (hopefully sooner rather than later)!