Two important resorts celebrated their official openings during JAPEX in late September, so I was able to see both of them. In both cases I decided I’d like to stick around a little longer—like a week or two—which is not my usual reaction to new properties. Here are just a few thoughts on what stood out for me.
Breathless Montego Bay Resort & Spa
“Welcome to the party,” said the bellman at this newish (the soft opening was in February) adults-only beach resort, and he wasn’t kidding. Whereas AMResorts‘ adults-only Secrets brand exists to aid and abet romance, the Breathless mission is to foster socializing, whether the guests are outgoing couples or BFF singles looking for fun.
Now, I could go into great detail about the 150 suites with a sleek white-and-aquamarine color scheme, the seven restaurants and umpteen bars/lounges, the light and cheerful lobby, 24-hour room service, WiFi that works, etc., but for now, aside from announcing that the resort is running on all cylinders, let’s get right to the essence of it:
- There’s a pool party at 3 p.m. Every day.
- Instead of putting a dance floor between the stage near the main pool and the sound-absorbing sculpture facing it, Breathless has put in a shallow pool. I told you this is a partying resort.
- After 6 p.m., the festivities relocate to Altitude, the rooftop bar/pool/fusion restaurant. Be there. Breathless offers a Booze Cruise, too, and it’s included.
- Guests share the spa with the Secrets resorts next door, but that’s all they share. Whereas guests at Breathless may enjoy all the amenities at Secrets, guests at Secrets may not use the facilities at Breathless.
- The smallest rooms, the Tropical Suites (from $269 pp), are 527 sq. ft., and every room except the Junior Suite Tropical has butler service. All suites raise the bar for sexy, with semi-quasi-see-through curtains “hiding” the shower and lighting for every occasion.
- Guests who spring for the xhale Club get an upgraded room, better-than-premium spirits in the mini-bar, exclusive access to the rooftop pool during daylight hours, and other perks.
- Breathless doesn’t just court wedding and honeymoon business; in a nod to pragmatism, it also offers an Untying the Knot package. Smart.
Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa
I smiled and winced simultaneously when Rich Cortese, senior V.P. of operations for Aimbridge Hospitality, called the new Jewel Grande his “crown Jewel.” Still, he’s right. Jewel Grande occupies the former Palmyra condo towers you’ve passed a hundred times, so this is an all-suite, all-inclusive resort that includes multiple bedroom suites and villas. Target markets include families (there’s a kids camp), golfers (this Jewel is just minutes from the Cinnamon Hill, White Witch, Tryall, and the Rose Hall courses, groups (both business and wedding parties), and people who want luxury highrise (about 12 stories) elegance. First impressions:
- Jewel Grande looks much bigger than a 217-key resort, no doubt because the smallest suite in the place has 750 sq. ft.
- Most units are oceanfront or at least ocean view. And what a view!
- Suites have traditional, rather formal decor with tan and brown hues, plus state-of-the-art stainless steel kitchens. (For an extra fee, guests can have a chef prepare a private meal en-suite.)
- Butler service and airport transfers are included for every guest.
- I counted seven restaurants, not counting the ice cream place and juice bar. Too bad there wasn’t time for a tasting at Waves, the Caribbean-Mediterranean fusion restaurant.
- In the 30,000-sq.-ft. spa I entered the largest treatment room you could imagine and took a test-drive of the massage table. The therapist could do anything with this table: raise my head, lever up my back or my knees, and even reposition my arms. This was the most high-tech, comfortable treatment table imaginable, and you’re hearing that from the husband of a massage therapist. The spa will soon add a hammam, too.
- Yes, there’s a golf package.
- Book before Dec. 15, and a Junior Suite Double Double would cost just $553 through most of 2018.
For more on Jamaican tourism news, see recommend.com/destinations/report-japex-part-1-big-picture/.
For the inside scoop on resort openings in Negril and beyond, see recommend.com/destinations/report-japex-part-3-new-negril-hills/