First impressions of the Jewel Grande Montego Bay

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The Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa recently completed a renovation project.
The Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa recently completed a renovation project.

The arrival at Jewel Grande is regal, to say the least.

The grand doors at the front entrance give way to a lobby clad in pink marble. Your line of sight leads directly to an outdoor staircase that overlooks the lengthy pool. From here it is pure blue all the way to the bright pop of turquoise sea at the end, flanked on either side by orange lounge chairs and cabanas. Inside the lobby, bartenders in smart vests mix up elegant cocktails while fresh, lemongrass scented towels are handed out.

Long-time visitors to Jamaica might remember this property as the Palmyra Resort & Spa. But now it is the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa, a completely renovated and renamed resort and a member of Playa Hotels & Resorts, which emerged on the scene no more than a year ago.

The Lobby Bar at the Jewel Grande serves small bites and cocktails.
The Lobby Bar at the Jewel Grande serves small bites and cocktails.

What was once a 299-room hotel is now 129 rooms in two towers, the Sabal and Silver Towers, with the potential and plan to expand to 700. All rooms are light and airy with marble counters and natural wood. There are nine categories in total, the grandest of which is the Oceanfront Three-Bedroom Penthouse Suite at 2,582 square feet.

The lowest room category is the 806-square-foot Oceanfront Junior Suite, each with a stocked minifridge, butler service, and, as it name suggests, an ocean view. The largest accommodations are the 11 three-bedroom villas, which feature an ocean front or garden view and include a private plunge pool, full kitchen, soaking tub, and washer and dryer.

The 12 food and beverage options range from fine dining to the barefoot-casual poolside Crickets Grill. The Fiery Pelican Outdoor Grill serves Jamaican and Tex-Mex cuisine; Le Bouchon offers lunch and dinner buffet; The Lobby Bar has small bites, beer, fine wine  and cocktails; Ortanique Cafe & Juice bar, which is in the Grande Spa, offers smoothies and teas. Pierside Restaurant offers Asian fusion with direct sea views; Rum Runner Bar is all about cocktails; and Waves is the flagship fine-dining restaurant with a focus on Mediterranean and Jamaican cuisine. Two coffee bars serve coffee and quick eats.

While the rooms and restaurants are worth the trip, the spa is why you stay. The Grande Spa is a small palace, spanning 30,000 square feet in an Italian villa-like setting. The spa has 14 treatment rooms, a relaxation lounge, Himalayan salt room and hydrotherapy pool, but its wellness services, treatments and retreat programming have all been curated by the spa director, Sienna Creasy.

Creasy, a U.S. citizen, fell in love with Jamaica when she was in the Peace Corps, and for her, that was it. She was hooked on Jamaica and never looked back. Today she has crafted the entire spa collection, including introducing Reggaelates to the menu: a fusion of yoga and pilates to the beats of reggae, hip hop and dancehall.

The spa also offers TRX classes, barre classes, Zumba, yoga and just about any other fitness class you could possibly want to take while on vacation. 

Two VIP spa suites have thermal massage tables with zero-gravity technology and whirlpool tubs. Guests will likely want to sign on for the Signature Spa Journeys, which have been inspired by products and rituals in Jamaican folk medicine. The wellness oasis also has a Gharieni Quartz therapy massage table, which is designed to provide harmony and an immune system boost. 

Rates at the Jewel Grande begin at $352 per night based on double occupancy. All-inclusive services extend beyond F&B to airport transfers to and from Montego Bay Sangster International Airport, butler service in all accommodations, a kids club and teen lounge, beach and poolside concierge service, the fitness center and nonmotorized sports. Additional amenities include private beachfront cabanas, private transfers to and from the airport, motorized water sports and scuba diving, personal trainers, babysitting and golf at the nearby White Witch and Cinnamon Hill Golf Courses. 

The Jewel Grande is one of the many in the crown of Playa Hotels & Resorts, which earlier this year announced a partnership with Hilton. Hilton and Playa have begun renovating and reflagging hotels in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, with plans to cover up to eight more all-inclusive by 2025. The two are aligned already at Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa, next door to the Jewel Grande: Under the partnership, Playa will maintain the Hilton Rose Hall as a Hilton hotel, which is set to undergo extensive renovations. Playa also plans to open a Panama Jack resort in Jamaica by 2020.

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