Review: Wendy and Jason from Ottawa Canada
Hotel Name: The Jewel Runaway Bay Country: Jamaica Dates Traveled: April 8, 2018 – April 15, 2018 Room Number: 2nd floor of the block overlooking the water park and gardens
We chose this resort because the online reviews were really good and we loved the idea of a ‘tweens and teens’ club for our 11 and 13 year old. There were a lot of activities, including an incredible water park, 3 different pools, a beautiful white-sand rock-free seaweed-free beach and 5 fantastic restaurants.
Resort Overview – The resort is small-medium sized compared to some other resorts we’ve stayed at, and we loved the size of it because you were always a minute away from the beach or the pools or back to your room. Everything is close and so we never worried about where the kids were because if needed to find them, they were always somewhere nearby.
Restaurants: We tried all of the restaurants all of them had great food. The pizza restaurant was delicious, the buffet restaurant was always plentiful with lots of good options that never ran out. The Japanese was our least favorite only because the ‘show’ part where they make the food in front of you wasn’t as interesting or exciting as what we’ve seen in the Japanese restaurants at other resorts, but the food was still good. The restaurant down near the beach (the Moonstone) has great lunch options including jerk chicken, pasta bar, paninis etc). There is a snack bar in the water park that we all loved, serving jerk chicken sliders, popcorn, hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, nachos, snow-cones etc. The restaurant inside the lobby area was delicious and incredibly unique, serving meals on fishbowls, mini-guillotines, Mr. potato-heads, toasters, etc. The kids loved that. All drinks are included at this resort but you can pay to upgrade to a nicer bottle of wine in the restaurants if that is something you want to do.
Pools and Beach: There were three pools, none of them are huge but they suit the size of the resort. The main one next to the buffet was the biggest and had the volleyball net. The infinity pool has the swim-up bar, and the small pool over near the first block of rooms was the quietest and had the best wi-fi reception. The beach is beautiful, and there were always plenty of chairs available in the sun and under the trees for shade. The staff doesn’t come around a lot down by the beach to take drink orders, but it’s not a big deal because the bar is only a few steps away! There was no solicitation on the beach by any merchants at all, so it’s very relaxing. They offer scuba lessons and glass bottom boat rides at a price, but all the other water activities are free, including snorkeling, sea kayaking, sea bicycles and sailing, all of which we tried and loved. There were no rocks and no seaweed anywhere. Truly a beautiful beach. The snorkeling was average, but that is to be expected right off the beach. There were lots of fish to see when you were snorkeling, but not a lot of variety of types of fish or other creatures. The reef seems pretty damaged but again it’s not surprising since it’s only about 30 feet offshore so there are always lots of people snorkeling at it. The grounds were always well maintained and clean. The water park was a highlight. There was a lazy river that was great for cooling down. There were 2 big slides, but not too big or scary, perfect for kids and teens. There is a whole section for little kids and toddlers in the waterpark but we didn’t really spend time there. It never felt too busy, except on two occasions where the water park was open for the afternoon for local school groups who were bussed in for a few hours. I think it’s great to allow access to local kids as well so that didn’t bother us, but since that made it crowded we just spent those few hours doing other things on the resort. There was never a shortage of chairs at any of the pools, or the waterpark, or the beach.
Entertainment - We didn’t do a lot of the evening entertainment activities but the house band that we heard playing a few times in the evenings were really talented. We never felt that the quality of service was tied to tipping. Sometimes we tipped the bartenders, sometimes not and it didn’t change the level of service we received. There was never any pressure to tip all the time.
Excursions - Rather than go through the resort tour companies we try to support local businesses, and so, in this case, we hired a local driver for the day to take us on our excursions. We couldn’t have been happier with it. He had been recommended to us by friends who had recently also been to Jamaica. His name is Chris Linton and his social media links are:
We got in touch with him before we left and he helped create our day of excursions. There are so many options that he can offer and help you decide, depending on what you’re in the mood for. Blue holes, tubing, bamboo rafting, Bob Marley, Dunns River Falls, etc. He picked us up in his fully air-conditioned spacious mini-van and brought us to the Blue Holes (I can’t recommend this enough, our number 1 highlight), Konoko Falls (beautiful) and Scotchies restaurant for lunch (amazing authentic jerk chicken and pork). Chris was a wealth of knowledge, answering all of our questions, and telling us stories and historical info about the areas we went through. By the end of the day, we definitely felt like friends. The cost was the same as if we’d done a big group excursion with the tour companies, but going with just our family was great because we didn’t ever have to wait around or be on anyone else’s schedule. Chris brought us where we wanted to go and made sure we got the right tickets at the right price and that we got to do exactly what we wanted to do.
Rooms The rooms were fine. Nothing fancy, but very clean and a good size for the four of us. The rooms were clean and serviced every day morning and evening. We had asked in advance for a king and two singles instead of the usual configuration of 2 double beds, and that was not a problem. The room was set up as we had requested prior to arrival.
The beds were comfortable, the air conditioner worked well, there was a tv with lots of good channels, a room safe, and a bar fridge fully stocked with water and soft drinks. There is no alcohol stocked in the rooms, but we knew that was the case and as a family resort it didn’t bother us since it keeps people from partying in their rooms which keeps the room blocks nice and quiet. The balcony had a table and 2 chairs and plenty of space to relax. Our view was out onto the gardens which were very tranquil.
Kids – There was an abundance of activities for kids. They have a kids club up to age 10, and then a tweens and teens club for 11-17-year-olds. Our kids are 11 and 13 and they loved the club. They met a whole gang of buddies their own age and while the parents relaxed the kids did laser tag, sailing, glass bottom boat rides, capture the flag, soccer, float-in movie at the pool, tweens/teens disco, and a lot more. The staff who ran the tweens club, Ki-Ki and Ri-Ri were absolutely wonderful.