Review:
Secrets Wild Orchid
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Preferred Club Level 2018, Feb. 7 - 16

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Secrets Wild Orchid is a luxurious adult-only all inclusive resort. It offers a theater, water sports, dive center, a shopping area and a casino. Secrets Wild Orchid shares space with St. James, and it's almost impossible to tell where one stops and the other begins. However, all the restaurants are on the Wild Orchid side.

After talking with our travel agent Amy McHugh, Dream Makers Vacations and reading online reviews, we decided to give this resort a try. We booked a groubd floor swim-up suite for 9 nights.

SWIM-UP SUITE (review) - The room was perfect! I loved grabbing a floatie and paddling from one end to the other in this private area of beautiful clear water. We've been going to all-inclusive resorts every year since 1997, and we've never enjoyed a room as much as this one. There was plenty of storage space for everything we brought, including twin sinks, closed-door shower and closed-door toilet and plenty of shampoo, conditioner, soap, face wipes, q-tips, hand cream, shave cream, extra toothbrushes, etc.) Room service visited our room twice a day. Our only problem was with the refrigerator. Even after calling for maintenance more than once it never stayed cold.

BUTLERS - (review) The room we booked included a concierge, so it was a surprise when we checked in and discovered that instead of the concierge, we had 2 butlers, Garey and Garfield. We immediately fell in love with both these guys who's only complaint was that we did not ask them to do anything. Actually this was not quite true. On the day we arrived, Garfield asked us to pick a location where we would like our chairs to be throughout our 9-night vacation. After we picked, we got up every morning to see "our" chairs draped with towels (orange, signifying Preferred), one of which formed a heart. We never worried about someone coming along to take our spaces. We were presented with what looked like looked like a tiny phone, about the size of a business card. We used this device each time we needed to contact a butler each time we had a question or request. They could also contact us the same way.

TECHNOLOGY (review) - Secrets Wild Orchid is on top of the latest technology. They offer a handy app that you can download when you get to the resort. It provided us with "unlimited connectivity." Wow! This worked flawlessly! The app allowed us to connect to wi-fi on our iPhones and we never had a problem. The room also offered many ports. We always travel with 2 Apple Watches, 2 laptops, and 2 iPhones. It was easy to find all the plug-ins we needed. We also loved the tiny phone through which we were able to contact and talk with our butler. (Mentioned above.)

PREFERRED CLUB LOUNGE (review) The lounge for the Preferred Club is beautiful. There was an area containing various liquor bottles and drinks, plus an excellent mini buffet of various food choices whether you wanted breakfast, lunch, or a late-night snack. A very large TV screen was against the wall with daily newspapers on a nearby coffee table. There was also a huge coffee maker alongside the "regular " and "decaf" carafes. It was about the size of a Boeing 777 and required a Master's degree in Coffee101 to operate. But if you sort it out (or ask for help) you could choose latte, cappuccino, espresso ad other coffee varieties.

RESTAURANTS (review) The restaurants are all located in the Secrets Wild Orchid resort area, and there are none in St. James. We enjoyed the French Restaurant, Brodeaux, twice. Long pants are required at this location, and it was , in our opinion the best of the bunch. All other restaurants are casual and there was nothing outstanding about the menus or food. The only restaurant requiring reservations is the Japanese, due to timed interval seatings. This was the weakest restaurant, in our opinion and one visit was plenty. We couldn't wait to get finished and back outside. The "chef" did not know how to use habachi knives and he had no clue as to how these restaurants should present themselves. I don't believe he had any training before stepping into this position. He kept screaming throughout the entire dinner, making noises sounding very much like the peacocks that roam around Secrets. The chicken and veggies were OK, but the steak was tough and not worth eating. Here is my short YouTube, while we were seated for dinner. Japanese Restaurant YouTube.

Stage Shows (review) We attended a few stage shows by local talent whih we enjoyed. The theater is large and modern with good acoustics. The talent was totally upbeat and the local stff members working hard to please and entertain their audience...which they did. I don't think anyone can watch these shows without getting big smile on their face.

Every evening upon entering our bed was turned down and a copy of the "Sundial" was waiting for our bedtime reading. The Sundial contained information about the next day's events and activities for both Wild Orchid and St. James as well as the newest newest addition, Breathless.

We ate at all the restaurants except Blue Mountain, the Jamaica cuisine. (No particular reason for missing this one....we just ran out of time.) Wed. is Seafood night and we thought this was one of the best meals at the resort. (Loved the lobster!) Lucky us...we were there for two Wednesdays and enjoyed it it twice. Do NOT miss this special food evening.

One evening we had dinner at Breathless Resort (just up the hill) and had an excellent meal on the open air rooftop overlooking Montego Bay. We also enjoyed chatting with the bartender at Breathless. Since the bar wasn't busy, we asked him about his specialty drink (all bartenders have their own) and his was simply delicious! And pink! We loved it!

Tipping is allowed, although no one ever asked for a tip. Although we did a lot of tipping, the service was always good, tip or not.

One thing that really impressed us about SWO was how every employee greeted us or even stopped to ask how our vacation was going. Even the Gardeners (as well as all employees doing dily chores) would greet us without fail. Well done, SWO!

VALENTINE'S DAY - We planned out vacation dates to include this holiday, and we were were not disappointed. The Food and Beverage Manager saw to it that each and every female guest on the property was presented with a fresh long-stemmed rose. All the restaurants had a Valentine's theme, and our Butlers...well you'll see what they did for us in my photos. (BTW, our Butlertold us Valentine Dinners on the beach were selling for $600. for that night - and we saw a lot of them.

LOBSTER NIGHT - Wow...just WOW! We were able to enjoy this seafood event twice due to the length of our stay. It wa delicious.

MARDI GRAS - CHOCOLATE NIGHT - Earlier in the day there was a parade throughout the resort by staff members giving out hats, masks and beads (see photos.) The evening event met and exceeded any similar event we've experienced at other all-inclusive resorts. Yes, there was a lot of chocolate and other delicious desserts, but there were also various appetizers including shrimp dishes. Masks were handed out which gave out an atmosphere of mystery. Live music, too! What a fun night!

BARS and DRINKS (review) Our nearest bar was just steps from our room and one or two bartenders came by on a regular basis to take drink orders. They have a drink menu at the bar, but if you have another choice, the bartenders are happy to take requests. It has been our tradition every year that our first drink at an all-inclusive is a Mudslide, which is a decadent mix of vodka, Kahlua and Bailey's Irish Cream. However, after the first sip we realized our mudslides were made with a pre-mixed chocolate formula without Bailey's Irish Cream which we soon learned was not available at most bars. For the most part we were disappointed in the bar drinks. We love a good Chocolate Martini, which requires Godiva which requires Chocolate liqueur and a good White Chocolate Martini. Bailey's Bristol Creme and Vanilla Vodka are essential ingredients. We found Bailey's only at the piano bar and the Preferred Club bar, but nowhere else. Even at the Piano Bar we had to tell the bartender how to make this drink. We are by no means what anyone would would consider heavy drinkers, but we like certain drinks and we know how they should be made.

THE DREADED SALES PRESENTATION (review) :

This is very important. We knew ahead of time that the resort was going to try and talk us into attending a sales presentation, connected to a tour of the resort or some other way. We also knew we were not going to be interested. We paid a bunch of money for the resort and did not want to waste any time listening to a sales pitch. So before we left home, I found a couple reviews on TripAdvisor where people complained vehemently about being snookered into these "presentations." I printed them, then slid them into my carry-on. At the Secrets check in desk, I presented the 2 typed pages to the rep saying were not interested and I hoped we would not be bulldozed into a sales presentation such as these people reported. She kept looking around like the proverbial deer in the headlights, probably wishing another stff member would come to her aid.

We quickly learned that the salespeople all wore yellow/gold jackets, so we avoided them. However, I was not prepared to be verbally assaulted by 2 men on Segways. One day I was reading and relaxing in my beach chair when suddenly these two men pulled up in my space. The one closest to me said "Hi, how are you?" And being the polite southern gal I was raised to be, and in spite of them looking like hooligans, I replied "I'm fine. And you?" He said "I'm not doing well, but you can help." Suddenly he got diarrhea of the mouth and began talking so fast I couldn't understand a word he said. I love the Jamaican lilt, and could listen to it all day long, but this guy was stringing words together way too fast for my brain to translate. Finally, I said "STOP! You are frightening me." And they were. Two big guys were right in my face while I was reading by the pool! I was getting ready to scream (southern women do this quite well. We practice on spiders and cockroaches.) At that point, both these guys backed up their Segways and moved on. I contacted our butler and complained. He said he would take care of it, and he did. We did not see them again.

BOATS (review) - We were disappointed to learn that at this "all-inclusive" resort, a snorkeling boat was not included without paying extra. There was also an extra fee for the he glass bottom boat, and a Catamaran was also available... for a price. We thought that at an "all inclusive resort" these things would be included...especially since we had booked their most expensive Preferred Club level.

BREATHLESS is a new all-inclusive resort which I believe opened past March. It's a short walk from Secrets, or you can hitch a ride back and forth on the golf cart that seems to come and go on a regular basis. You'll see some photos in my photo gallery. At 3 P.M. daily they make "foam" and the balls float slowly over Breathless, Secrets and St. James. You can view photos from the photo gallery linked near the top of this page. The restaurant and bar on the roof offer spectacular views of the surrounding atnosphere and twinkling lights of Montego Bay. We had dinner there one night, and it was one of the best meals we experienced.

Wrapping it up....
Atmosphere - excellent
Location: excellent
Staff - excellent
Technologny - excellent
Bars - OK, except for the bar at Breathless and the piano bar at Wild Orchid...both were excellent.
Restaurants - average to very good

All-inclusive concept - and this is very important. There are way too many things that should have been included but were not. Even if you booked Preferred Level as we did, it did not matter. No snorkling boat. No Catamaran ride. No included glass bottom boat, no non-motorized water equipment, and more. If you want to rent these items at your own expense, they are available. But you will find the cost is excessively high for what you get. This resort should not be advertised as "all inclusive" because it is not...even for people like us who paid a lot more to book the Preferrred Level

We enjoyed this beautiful resort. After 10 Sandals vacations (where we are Diamond Level members) plus a few other all inclusive resorts, we wanted to try something different. While we enjoyed the experience, we would not go back to a Secrets Resort. The term "all inclusive" simply does not apply to them, and there are way too many people trying to sell "timeshares."

Secrets does an excellent job of keeping in touch with their guets, and it's a gorgeous resort that offers exceptional up to date technology. One big advantage of Secrets is that the Breathless Resort is located next door, within walking distance and is extremely impressive. We also loved Secret's Mardi Gras night...a combination of chocolate night, live music, and a believable Mardi Gras theme, complete with beautiful Mardi Gras masks. (see my photos.)

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Feel feel free to contact me with questions. Patricia Blackstock

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