7 things to know before booking a stay at Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay in Jamaica

Jun 17, 2022

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Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay is an all-inclusive adults-only resort with 350 rooms and nearly a mile of beach along Montego Bay in Jamaica. It’s rare that I say a hotel stay was a disaster, but this place deserves the label. It was terrible.

The sunset views were spectacular and the food was decent but the service was awful, and the lack of surprise at or apologies for a cockroach in my room preclude me from recommending this resort.

Here are seven things you should know before you book.

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In This Post

Cost

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Secrets isn’t cheap and after my stay, I think it should be much less expensive. I booked the resort through my company’s travel booking engine and the total for two nights came to $1,195.36 for double occupancy. I got the base-level room, and if you want a nicer room, you’ll pay as much as $748 a night. In fact, I couldn’t find a single night for less than $490 for the next six months.

The Secrets brand was acquired by Hyatt back in 2021 as part of a deal for 100 all-inclusive properties. That’s good news for World of Hyatt members, but it didn’t do me any good as a World of Hyatt Globalist since the brands weren’t yet integrated. You can now book this property through World of Hyatt starting at 25,000 points per night for garden-view rooms and 29,000 points for ocean views.

(Screenshot from booking.amrcollection.com)

Pros

  • Multiple pools and beach areas for guests to enjoy.
  • Room service food was surprisingly good.
  • A party-friendly atmosphere with gathering spots that never got too crowded.
  • Nice gym facilities.
  • 20 minutes from Sangster International Airport (MBJ).
  • The internet was awesome with no issues streaming videos or getting work done.

Cons

  • A cockroach and other bugs in the halls of the property.
  • Grumpy service workers.
  • Terrible check-in and checkout procedures.
  • Long lines for everything from coffee to breakfast to ice cream.
  • Paper-thin walls made for poor sleep quality.

Going in I had my doubts about Secrets, and my expectations were pretty low.  But Secrets Wild Orchid managed to set the bar even lower.

I was woken up several times on my first morning at the resort to the sounds of service carts being wheeled around the halls. I finally gave up on sleep and got out of bed at 8 a.m. to find a clearly dying cockroach on its back between the two beds of my room.

The worst part is that after I called to report said bug, the woman on the phone told me someone would take care of it. More than an hour later, there was still no sign of maintenance.

My “morning” coffee arrived more than an hour after I asked for it, and the waiter graciously offered to get the roach for me (which was still alive and kicking … literally). He didn’t seem surprised to see the bug at all which made me think this wasn’t an isolated incident.

Check-in at the resort was also painful. I purposely arrived late since the listed check-in time is 3 p.m. I arrived around 3:40 p.m. and waited in one line for the bellmen, then another to reach a check-in desk, where I was told I should come back at 4:20 p.m. when my room would be ready and then sent to another line to get $200 in “coupons” for the resort and a hard sell on add-ons. I took a walk around the property, came back at 4:35 p.m. and was told my room wasn’t ready, but I should wait in the lobby. There, I sat for almost an hour waiting.

It did give me time to hear the horrific story of a couple of British tourists who’d booked a two-week stay at Secrets. They told me they’d been trying to get a new room for five days with constant runaround. They said their room was disgusting with broken fixtures, peeling paint and other issues. One of the women actually started crying in frustration. Someone finally did come over to help them, but the manager who’d told them he would make everything right couldn’t be bothered to show up despite telling them he would be there to meet them.

My room was finally ready around 5:20 p.m. and I got my key. Then I had to go back to the bellman for my bag. He was supposed to escort me to my room with my bags, but then he saw a couple getting their bags at the same time, so he switched gears and told me he’d meet me at my room with my bag later, and pointed in a vague direction to where I could find my room. His directions were unhelpful and I ended up having to ask a random worker for better directions to the room.

Vibe: Middle-aged couple party retreat

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

I definitely felt like the odd man out at Secrets. It was mostly middle-aged couples and groups of friends who chose the hotel for partying in a laid-back, easy environment.

There were a few families, but I was definitely one of the only single people at the resort.

That said, people were generally friendly and seemed like they were having a lot of fun enjoying activities by the pool like games of “Name That Tune” and cornhole … and lots and lots of drinking.

Guests at Wild Orchid also get access to the facilities of the next-door Secrets St. James so you really are getting two resorts for the price of one, including additional pool facilities and swim-up bars. I never saw any of the several swimming pools or hot tubs get too crowded to enjoy and there were plenty of lounge chairs available either at the pools or at the beaches.

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Room

My ground-floor room had two beds with a view of the beach, a small living room area and a large bathroom with a double vanity. The room was a bit rough around the edges but otherwise nice enough.

I’d describe the decor as ’90’s condo living at its finest with lots of beige and dark-wood accents and pops of jungle patterns thrown in for good measure.

The bed was comfortable, though the tiled hallways, thin walls and loud food carts meant poor sleep during service hours.

I did like the large soaking tub and there was a great terrace with a rack for drying wet swimsuits.

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

There was a small fridge with free beverages limited to water, Coke products, Red Stripe beers and Bigga orange sodas.

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Dining and drinking

In addition to the free drinks in the fridge, there were lots of room service options.

Since I was dining alone, that’s mostly what I stuck to during my stay. The quality of the food was surprisingly good even if the service was spotty. I enjoyed the lean barbecue pork chops and an island-style grilled chicken breast was moist, if a little bland. The Black Forest dessert I tried was a bit dry and the house salad with mango vinaigrette was forgettable.

Despite that, I love being able to order whatever I want and knowing there won’t be a bill for it. One of the beautiful things about all-inclusives.

Note that you order room service via a touchpad. You can also call, though I found calls weren’t always picked up quickly — if at all.

There is also a “Secrets Box” where room service can be delivered to a sort of a dumbwaiter for contactless service, but I didn’t see them actually get used aside from storing beverages.

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

There are also 10 sit-down dining options on the sprawling property, including the Jamaican restaurant Blue Mountain, a French-inspired restaurant called Bordeaux, a Mexican restaurant called El Patio and a hibachi restaurant. I ate breakfast twice during my stay at the World Cafe buffet. The food selection was large, but the quality was poor.

 

There was also a food stand selling burgers and other grill specialties, though quality was again an issue.

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Activities

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

There’s no shortage of activities at Secrets Wild Orchid or Secrets St. James. There were daily, scheduled activities at both properties that you could show up for as well as a long list of add-on activities for extra money including bicycle tours, tennis, guided snorkeling, paddleboarding, scuba diving and catamaran rides.

I was much more into relaxing at the pool and beach, so I didn’t partake in anything though I did stop by a sunset yoga session which looked nice.

There was also a large gym at the next-door St. James property that was abandoned the few times I poked my head in. It had a ton of quality equipment and a separate space for aerobic workouts. The spa offers around 15,000 square feet of space and treatments for an additional cost ranging from mango-passion wraps and chocolate wraps to standards like facials, massages, manicures and pedicures. 

Recommendation

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay has a lot going for it including good amenities, lovely terraces and glorious sunsets. I like the mix of pools, hot tubs and beaches for an endless variety of lounging options.

There are even more options if you are a so-called “Preferred Club” guest, which comes with a higher price tag, separate rooms, an exclusive pool and a separate beach. Some of the rooms in this area have their own pools.

Sadly though, I can’t recommend a stay at this Jamaican all-inclusive.

Now that Hyatt has taken ownership, hopefully things will improve but terrible service, grumpy and occasionally unhelpful staff members, bugs and other issues mean the property has a lot of work to do.

Featured photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.

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