Following a £20 million renovation, Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa has shed its traditional Jamaican design for a more modern version of Caribbean beach chic.
Citizen Femme was one of the first to experience the renovation that spans every guest room and many common areas of this grand and expansive property. The Montego Bay-neighbouring, all-inclusive resort doesn’t just look better – it’s also now more sustainable. New energy-saving systems make its energy more than 20 per cent renewable, and helps it avoid some 136,000 kg of CO2 emissions per month.
WHAT TO PACK
This is a modish beach escape for the traveller who wants it all. Every mood is catered to via every style of beach (topless, adventure, or family), pool (water park, adults-only, hydrotherapy) and restaurant (tiny jerk shacks, indulgent buffets, seafood with a sea view).
With 53 verdant acres, there is enough at your fingertips to spend a week on property without needing to repeat the same destinations or activities. It’s especially popular with couples and small groups of friends who want to leave any vestige of real responsibility back in the real world.
An incredible 537 rooms are spread across numerous mansion-like pastel buildings, and include 11 categories with even the smallest – the Junior Suites – spanning a comfortable 570 sq ft. Our Garden View Suite was a spacious 755 sq ft, with a living area, a bedroom with plush king-sized bed, a spa-like bathroom with a large hydro-massage bathtub and separate shower, as well as two furnished balconies: one off the living room with tranquil tropical garden views, and another off the bedroom overlooking a quiet pool.
The rooms’ new look feature subdued sandy hues and natural textures that allow the property’s lush greens and gemstone shades of the Caribbean to take centre stage. The renovation also unveiled a brand-new room category that boasts private pools: the Superior Suite Private Pool Oceanfront View and the Superior Junior Suite Private Pool Beachside. Celebrating a special occasion or seeking privacy without sacrificing the options that only a sprawling resort can provide? These are where you’ll want to be.
The Food + Drink
Eleven restaurants offer global cuisine that includes Italian, Indian, Asian, Mexican and, of course, Jamaican itself at Xaymaica. Here, the spiced meat of the popular local patty pastries are a great introduction to the island’s love of a flavourful kick, and we really enjoyed the heat of the jerk pork chop while fellow diners lauded the curried goat. Other standouts include rich Indian fare at Bhogali, and whole fried snapper at open-air Poseidón, perched above Sunset Cove beach with stunning views of – you guessed it – the sunset.
If there is one cocktail that defines the Grand Palladium – and perhaps Jamaica at large – it’s the rum punch, which is always at the ready at any restaurant or bar. But you’re certainly not limited to that (or the popular local brew, Red Stripe), and, in addition to 15 bar options (swim-up, lounge, on the beach, and more), carts around the resort pop up in the evening to mix Caribbean favourites such as the mojito with mango that tastes as though the fruit has just been plucked from the tree. Infinity Saloon Bar tends to be where the action happens; its expansive marble mezzanine overhangs the resort’s main pool and comes with 180-degree views of the sea. It’s more than just a place to drink, also hosting events such as silent discos, karaoke, and live singers and DJs.
The Little Extras
There’s nothing little about the extras at Grand Palladium. To start, Zentropia Spa features 18 private treatment rooms as well as a relaxing hydrotherapy area with a steam bath, a dry sauna, hot and cold hydromassage tubs and more – set aside an entire morning or afternoon to try it all out alongside a spa or salon treatment. It’s also easy to stay fit between the jerk barbecues and rum punches at a well-equipped fitness centre with trainers, and separate cardio and weight rooms. You’ll also want to keep an eye on the Palladium Hotel Group app each day to see what events are happening during your stay: you might end up at a lively white party on the beach, marvel at an acrobatic fire show, watch a cooking demonstration, or compete in a volleyball game.
While here though, you’re most likely to want to take in the Caribbean sun and sea, and you’ve got plenty of pools and beaches to choose from. The five pools include the adults-only Coral pool, a kid’s water park and the main infinity pool – one of the largest in Jamaica. The three beaches include Coral (an adults-only topless beach) and Sunset Cove, surrounded by tropical landscape and where you can enjoy water sports such as paddle-boarding and kayaking, and embark on catamaran sailings or other excursions (non-motorised activities are included in your rate, while motorised are an additional fee).
The To-Do List
Grand Palladium is well located in quiet Lucea between Montego Bay and Negril, making excursions to these popular locations easy (about 45 minutes to either). To the west, Negril is known for its calm azure waters and soft white-sand beaches. Here, choose from a number of beach clubs at Seven Mile Beach to sun worship for the day. Negril is also home to classic Rick’s Cafe, which has been perched on dramatic cliffs and hosting holidaymakers since 1974. Feeling daring? Plunge off the nearly 11-metre cliff into the sparkling waters below.
Montego Bay is more bustling, and the Montego Bay Cultural Centre is a great stop to learn a bit about the island’s culture and Rastafari religion. While here you’ll learn about Doctor’s Cave Beach, one of the island’s most beautiful stretches of shore that is now a private beach club. Venture a little further from Montego Bay and into the island’s forest to float gently down the well-shaded Martha Brae River on a bamboo raft – watch for little bars and craft stalls to pause at on your way down the three-mile waterway.
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