by Terry Ward
Of IBEROSTAR’s three Montego Bay properties, families gravitate to the IBEROSTAR Rose Hall Beach for its abundance of included activities and overall bang for the buck. Just be warned that a stay at this property doesn’t entitle you to enjoy meals, pools or other amenities at the other properties.
One of many all-inclusive hotels lining the beaches stretching east of Montego Bay’s international airport, this Spanish-owned hotel offers an active Caribbean holiday for families who prefer to be entertained around the clock than left to their own devices — whether out on the beach, with water sports galore, or in the common areas and pools where activities and entertainment are scheduled throughout the day.
In case you’re not familiar with IBEROSTAR, it’s a Spanish chain that started up in Mallorca and the Canary Islands before opening its first Caribbean resort in Punta Cana in 1993. Now, IBEROSTAR is a mainstay among Caribbean all-inclusives, and very popular with Spanish and British travelers, as well as Americans and Canadians.
While the hotel calls itself a five-star property, don’t come here expecting true luxury. Rooms and suites are of the standard hotel variety, and all have balconies with views of either the ocean or resort property (called “gardens”). What you’re really coming here for are the good rates on inclusions, which range from all of your alcoholic beverages and meals at the property’s three specialty restaurants and buffet to non-motorized water sports, such as sailing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding (beginner scuba diving lessons in the pool are even included for kids). For getting a break, parents particularly love the resort’s daily mini club for kids ages 3 to 12, which is similarly wrapped into your all-inclusive package.
Many guests don’t venture off property, but the concierge can help arrange tours to nearby attractions, such as water falls and plantation tours, or send you off on a Bob Marley tour for a different kind of day.
And once the sun darkens the beach and you’ve enjoyed another Jamaican sunset, it’s hardly time to hang up your hat here. Every night there’s some form of live entertainment or music to enjoy — and all of the family-friendly variety, too.
Our Editor Loves
- Mini club for kids included
- Oceanfront location
- Nightly family entertainment
- All Inclusive Rates
- Children Programs
- Family Room 5+
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The hotel's 366 guestrooms are your standard hotel layout, with pullout sofas in all and your choice of a king bed or two doubles in all but the Junior Suites. Bathrooms have shower-in-tub configurations in all rooms and suites. Floors are tiled throughout and all have balconies with views of either the ocean or resort property. All rooms have coffeemakers and mini bars that are restocked daily with drinks and cooler-style mini-fridges that keep things chilled if not icy. Coffeemakers are also standard in the rooms. No matter which room type you select, a maximum of four people are allowed per room -- either two adults and two kids under 12, three adults and one kid under 12, or three kids and one adult. If your children are older than 12 they count as an adult (just don't tell them that).
Standard rooms can be connected, but even if you request in advance the hotel refuses to confirm anything until you actually check in. Don't bank on it, in other words. One rollaway bed can be added to the rooms for no additional charge, but they can only be confirmed upon check-in; cribs are available free of charge with advance notice.
The hotel's entry level rooms have your choice of a garden view or ocean view and either two double beds or a king bed.
Standard Ocean Front
Your views of the ocean are pretty much full frontal in these rooms, which also come with a choice of two double beds or a king bed.
There are also Ocean Front Junior Suites with king beds only, sleeping up to two guests.
by Jodie C
This is our first time to the Iberastar hotel and we love it we will definitely be back . What makes our vacation are the people from our concierge Marcia in the lobby Doringtin our rep and girls in the bar dept on the beach to the entertainment at night is just amazing. The room was beautiful the food was ok except for the dinners at night in the buffet . Other than we had a lovely time we went to Negril to swim with the dolphins and ride horses in the ocean . We drank everyday at the bar and the drinks are well made and tasty . We love it and we wil definitely be back soon . Yeah mon from speedy and Jodie see you soon!
by nick c
I dont how to start this but our 3rd time back was a nightmare. First day we checked in, our floor had someone going into multiple rooms and stealing only cash from the safes and searched all of our stuff. The security did investigations including searching through our underwear with no gloves and the rest of our personal stuff and came up with we must have lost the money or never brought any with us. Ive never felt so unsafe and treated like a criminal my whole life. We returned here because of all the entertainment staff, servers, and bartenders and never thought we had to worry for safety. The management said this was never an issue before but checking other reviews there is clearly an issue. We later found out head of security was fired for criminal offences and was re-hired recently. All in all i will return to Jamaica at other resorts but never again the Iberostar in any country in the world due to corrupt management (Melissa) and security(nigel). I feel if i list the names of their good employees that helped us out the whole week it may put their jobs in jeopardy because how corrupt it is there. If your booked to stay their keep all of your important stuff and cash with you.
The hotel has tennis courts where lessons and all gear are included in your rate. It is not lit and closes at 6 p.m. There is a basketball hoop nearby for playing some pick up and a horseshoe area, too. Ping-Pong is also available. For an extra fee, you can schedule a tee time at one of the offsite golf courses in Montego Bay.
The hotel has one main pool -- an infinity pool with a swim up bar. There are two lifeguards on duty here and at the beach, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The pool officially closes after 5 p.m., but people still swim.
Included in your all-inclusive package are all non-motorized water sports, but there are some catches at this property that don't apply at most other all-inclusives, so be aware of that. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can sign up for one hour's use of things like paddleboards, kayaks, snorkel gear and Hobie cats. From noon to 1, however, the water sports center is closed, so don't plan to do anything then. If you're a seasoned sailor, they will let you take the Hobie cats out without requiring the $45 hour-long "refresher course." But if you capsize (quite easy when there's wind) or otherwise require a boat rescue to come and get you, you'll be billed $49. It's rather appalling, if you ask us -- be warned.
Several pay-as-you-go organized tours arranged by the onsite water sports operator leave from the IBEROSTAR's pier. There are some fun options including sunset snorkel cruises ($65), kayaking trips through the mangroves ($65), after-dark trips to see the Luminous Lagoon and swim in bioluminescence ($65) and scuba diving trips to the reef ($85 per dive, includes all gear). Parasailing is also available for $130 for a tandem or $85 for a single.
The IBEROSTAR offers a free daily club for kids ages 3 to 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the stipulation that you're required to pick up your kids between 1 and 3, when the club shutters for employee lunch. Staff keep the little ones entertained both in the kids' club room, with its games and arts and crafts activities, and elsewhere around the property with activities such as treasure hunts, dance classes, backstage tours of the resort and beach activities.
There are no dedicated activities here for teens or a teen room. But this age set usually enjoys joining in the scheduled daily activities at the pool deck (ongoing, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) that include things like horseshoes competitions, darts, volleyball, aerobics and more. There's also a pool table in the lobby and a small game room just downstairs from there with darts, another pool table and foosball (where the teens like to gather).
There's nightly entertainment every night at the IBEROSTAR. Kid-focused shows start at 8 p.m. on the main theater stage, and adult shows follow at 9:30. The theme could be everything from Jamaica Night to reggae and steel drums performances, with local entertainers spotlighted. Every Wednesday night the entertainment is moved outside, down on the beach, where a pirate themed beach party with music and entertainment takes place from 8 p.m. onward.
As is the case at many all-inclusives, there's no shortage of round-the-clock eating options at this IBEROSTAR. There are three specialty restaurants offering Asian, Creole and steakhouse cuisine and one buffet restaurant. High chairs are readily available in all restaurants. And while the food is not worthy of five-stars here, it's decent for an all-inclusive and sure to keep most everyone in your family satisfied during your stay.
Little River Buffet
Open for breakfast (7 to 11), lunch (1 to 3) and dinner (6:30 to 10) daily, with no reservations required, this central buffet-style restaurant is where you are likely to spend most of your family meals. And while the dress code is casual, you should definitely throw a cover up over your bathing suit if you're coming from the beach or pool. Breakfast is a typical spread of hot eggs, meat and vegetable dishes, with lots of pastries, fruits and cereals the kids will like. Lunch and dinner always include a carving station with meat and plenty of seafood, pasta, salads and vegetarian dishes, too.
White tablecloths set an upscale scene at this classic American steakhouse where choice cuts of meat share the menu with simple burgers, nuggets, wings and the like for kids. Open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner from 7 to 10 p.m., with snack items like quesadillas and sandwiches offered from 4 to 6 p.m. Reservations are required for dinner.
Book a table here for Creole-style seafood, chicken and rice dishes (and the usual nuggets and burgers if your kids aren't feeling daring). Open for dinner only, reservations are required for your choice of four different seatings: 6:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
When you need a sushi or sashimi fix, reserve one of the four dinner seatings here - 6:30, 7, 8:30 or 9:30. As long as you don't come expecting authentic Japanese food here (it's more California roll-style), you'll find plenty to like. You get a show of sorts when you book one of the teppanyaki tables, when stirfry dishes are cooked with flair before your eyes.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Wi-Fi is included with all-inclusive rates.
Babysitting services should be booked 24 hours in advance and cost $12 per hour for up two kids until 11 p.m. After 11, there is a surcharge of $30 in addition to the $12 per hour rate. Please note that the sitters are not certified, but are moms themselves who are also trusted employees of the property.
There is an onsite gym open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and kids under 18 have to be accompanied by their parents here. There are treadmills and weights and towels and water are provided.
The Art of Smart Timing
All of the hotel's activities are available and open all year long.
Jamaica is very hot for much of the year, with the summer months particularly sweltering. But sea breezes help keep things comfortable. December to March bring the most pleasing temperatures, but seas can be rough.
The island -- and resort -- blooms into high season from late-December and stays busy and at max capacity through April. The spring break period, in March, is particularly packed.
For the best deals on rates, aim to book in May, June and September.
The nearest airport is Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, located about 20 to 30 minutes west of the IBEROSTAR. The hotel recommends an outside service for transfers, Jamaica Tours Ltd., but does not help with bookings. There's a transport desk at the airport on arrival in case you've forgotten to book your shuttle before you left home.
The hotel can arrange taxis for you to Montego Bay or private driver services if you wish to explore farther afield in spots like Ocho Rios or Negril.
For Mom and Dad
Take advantage of the IBEROSTAR's babysitting services for a fun meal off property. Book a taxi to Montego Bay's Hip Strip -- the main walking strip -- for a romantic meal at Marguerite's, which serves delicious Caribbean-style seafood with sea views. Finish the night with a nightcap back at the IBEROSTAR's Calypso bar, open until midnight.
And while these is no spa at this property, you can always head over to sister property IBEROSTAR Rose Hall Suites to schedule a couples massage at the spa there.