I arrived at Secrets Wild Orchid at night.
I could tell the Jamaican property was expansive, with the lighting tracing the sidewalks that wound past the buildings and out of sight, but I had no sense of direction. When I encountered a bartender on my way to the beach, he mixed up a strong drink, comfortably and easily. Humidity hung in the air but wasn’t so sticky that it strangled me. Even in the dark I could tell Secrets was large and impressive but subtle and elegant.
But there was one thing missing …
It’s the ocean. It’s flirty laughter. It’s soft reggae music coming from the beach.
It is not the sound of children shrieking, their feet smacking against the sidewalk as they race around the pool. It is not the sound of high strung, high energy vacationing.
When I stay at all-inclusive resorts, I usually pay particular attention to the things I get as part of the package price. Which is why I was surprised to realize that it was something that wasn’t included that really made this resort stand out for me.
If you don’t already know, I’m not really a kid person. I don’t mind them necessarily, but I’d much rather spend time with other adults. So it was a welcome relief to discover that Secrets Wild Orchid, one of the company’s two properties in Montego Bay, Jamaica, is an adults-only, all-inclusive resort.
I was also excited to discover that this resort really is all-inclusive. All meals at all on-site restaurants are included for guests as are all the colorful, fruity alcoholic beverages they can squeeze into their stay. (I drank my first Bob Marley at the beachside bar, a red, yellow and green rum-splashed delight.) On-site activities are, for the most part, included in this rate, and though I wasn’t able to get my hands on snorkel gear, a colleague and I took a two-person kayak out for a leisurely paddle.
There is even complimentary sunscreen in the bathroom. I can get behind a resort that wants to prolong my stay at the pool.
In sunlight, I finally had the chance to walk the winding sidewalks, which, as I expected, wound between buildings and around pools with large, cushioned lounge chairs. Guests can use the pools at both of the neighboring Secrets properties, and a long stretch of beach is shared between the two as well. The resorts sit on several acres of land; in fact, walking to the spa feels inconvenient and out of the way. I found an area with several pool and ping pong tables, a coffee shop with few drinks sans alcohol on the menu, overpriced novelty shops and two gazebos overlooking the ocean, where yoga classes are held in the morning.
The two resorts on this site are Secrets Wild Orchid and Secrets St. James, both of which opened in the spring of 2010. While I’m stoked to be among the first to sleep in the cozy bed in my junior suite (with a fab ocean view), I did encounter a few rough areas that are worth noting:
- I had to have my key reprogrammed five times. As my room was on the fourth floor and at the very end of a long hallway, it became a bit tedious to make the walk back and forth more times than necessary.
- My toilet paper holder fell off the wall. Days one through three were fine, and then the fourth day I almost lost a toe when I touched the toilet paper. (No worries, my toe is intact, though my toenail polish did chip.)
- The showers were beautiful and massive, and the water pressure and temperature were perfect. However, the shower head was one of those handheld devices that sat in a little holder on the wall. The holder in my shower was barely attached to the wall, so every time there was a change in water pressure, the shower head shot across the shower. It nearly cracked me in the head the first few times I turned on the shower, but I had devised a strategy for safer showering by the time I left.
- There was a large moth in the hallway outside my door. No problems there, except that it was dead, and housekeeping proceeded to run over it with the cart the entire time I was there without ever cleaning it up. By day four, I had to step over the carnage.
I think that, as time goes by, the mattress will become a bit more bouncy and the towels will lose their new towel smell, but Secrets will also learn to smooth out the edges of Wild Orchid so that keys work, bathroom components stay on the wall and vacations are, for the most part, seamless.
For the remainder of 2010, guests can stay in an ocean view junior suite at Secrets Wild Orchid starting at $315.00 per person per night. Beginning in 2011, rates will start at $331.00 per person per night during the low season.
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I left Secrets during the day.
Before I left, I laid on the beach. Just me, my towel, a magazine, my complimentary sunscreen, a lapping ocean … and no kids.
So what’s the secret behind Secrets?
Vacations are not just about what you get. They’re also about what you leave behind.
My stay at Secrets Wild Orchid was sponsored by AMResorts and the Jamaica Tourist Board but all opinions contained in this entry are my own.