I honestly don't know where to begin and this will likely be long and still not cover everything. After wanting to visit Sunset at the Palms for 8 years, we finally booked it for our first trip post-COVID. We were looking for something special, a smaller place and a more personalized experience. The overwhelmingly positive reviews on Trip Advisor and in a FB group that we joined boast of a place that feels like home, where everyone knows your name, where you will be taken care of. Unfortunately this was not the case for us. Not even close, and we feel strongly that we did not get the experience that we expected based on the level of service we received and we what we paid for this stay. We are good tippers who tip along the way, and even this did not help, so believe me, it wasn't that.
We travel a few times a year to all different kinds of resorts and hotels, big and small and mostly in the Caribbean. This was our 4th trip to Jamaica, so we are familiar with the vibe and pace and we have always enjoyed ourselves there.
This hotel was probably one of the most frustrating places I have ever stayed. Especially for a place with dedicated concierges that make all kinds of promises but don't deliver. “We will do this, and we will do that” No they won't. I did not get the worry free week that I expected and paid for, instead it was one thing after another.
If you have never been here before, you are going to feel very lost. They give you a verbal orientation and a piece of paper with some suggested meal times and that's it. The rest you learn as you go. There should be a booklet in room with all the listed amenities and times, with extension numbers, frequency of housekeeping, process and place to get beach towels, water bottles, etc…Instead we had to learn the hard way, that no one was coming to clean our room, that no one was going to put water in our fridge that didn't work and that we had to ask to be fixes 3 times before anything was done.
The day after we arrived it was my birthday and we visited the concierge to see if we could book a couples massage. He said they were fully booked which was understandable with such short notice. However not 30 minutes later we were on the beach and Brenda from the spa came around to try and drum up business. I told her we tried to book for that day but they were fully booked. She said who told you that then she called and made us an appointment for that afternoon. Interesting. That same morning I had also specifically asked the concierge about making reservations for the specialty restaurants. He asked me if I still had the paper he gave me and I said yes, and he said all the times were there. I said, so no reservations? And he said no. So a few days later off we went to line up for the Lotus only to find out we don't have a reservation and we need one. Interesting. I immediately went to see that same concierge and after waiting for a half hour it seems he pulled some strings and was able to get us in. Thankfully, because I was on the verge of pitiful tears because I was just so frustrated at this point. I think he must have saw that and he finally put some effort in. I will acknowledge that they tried to fix things when mistakes were made, but when it's one thing after another, it just doesn't matter anymore.
Besides this concierge who seemed to want to avoid doing anything, the main issue was poor staffing levels. The resort just did not have enough staff for a return to almost full capacity like it was the week we stayed there. Especially when there was no buffet. Meals took a minimum of 1 hour, but frequently 1.5 hours, which is understandable for seated table service. What is not acceptable though is to be seated and then not have someone come to your table or even pour you a glass of water for 40 minutes or more, which happened more times than not.
Also, what was ordered was generally not received. There was always something missing. Despite being asked about dietary restrictions and promises about accommodating, I did not find this to be the case. Don't bet on it yourself if you have any “special” dietary needs. I don't eat meat, fish or seafood and basically I ate a lot of sides for dinner which were all delicious. The few times I asked specifically for a vegetarian meal, each time I got stir fried cabbage and carrots. I didn't starve but I did eat a lot of bread and cheese to accompany my big salads and rice and beans. For breakfast and the beach grill there are rotating menus that change once a week, I think it was on Sunday. Unfortunately for me, the first breakfast menu that I only had for 2 days had more options for me. The breakfast menu for the rest of my week left me eating bread and cheese and fruit every morning. It would be better if they rotated the menus every 2 or 3 days so it didn't seem so repetitive.
I would like to point out though that the food service staff worked so hard, they were running around constantly, but there just were not enough of them to make any meaningful difference to the user experience. They were fighting a losing battle, running around with beads of sweat on their foreheads trying to keep up. I felt really bad for them and I felt bad for us and all the other frustrated guests there.
4 days in we emailed our travel agent who contacted hotel management. With 2.5 days left on our trip the general manager asked to speak with us. She was very nice and listened to our concerns and she acknowledged that there were not enough staff. Said that they lost a lot of staff over Covid and were currently In the hiring process. Well this wasn't going to help us but she did say though that the rest of our trip (a whole 2.5 days!) would make us want to come back. Empty promises anyway, because nothing changed and she did nothing for us, so I would love to know what she was referring to. Our last full day was spent trying to avoid the front desk, to not ask for anything and to do everything ourselves to avoid more disappointment. We gave up on housekeeping halfway through the trip and just made sure we had enough water bottles refilled at the beach bar before going to back to our room.
We loved the beautiful beach with lots of shade and space for everyone. The accommodations were very cool and unique. I just adored the cabins, their cozy balconies and all of the open air main areas and the beautiful grounds. I am disappointed though that I will never know what this resort is like during “normal” circumstances because we won't be back,