Recommend May 2016 - (Page 26)

Beachside at Moon Palace Jamaica Grande. Moon Palace Jamaica Grande onsitereview Ed Wetschler Two questions guided my recent stay at Palace Resorts' first foothold in Jamaica, the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande: 1. How was Mexican-owned Palace Resorts adapting to the land of alright? 2. How could it stand out on an island that already has dozens of all-inclusive brands? When Palace Resorts bought the Sunset Jamaica Grande in 2014, it invested $80 million to create a family-friendly "Awe-Inclusive" resort on the largest beach in Ocho Rios. It officially opened in December, and with more than 700 rooms, it's still smaller than its Cancun cousin, but like that megaresort, the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande aims to please parents and couples as well as kids. The sleek, contemporary lobby conveys all this with a vast glass wall that faces Ocho Rios harbor. It's a reminder that you're in Jamaica, not Mexico. Beyond that "wall," evening bonfires float on pools near 26 may 2016 banquettes. Like the swanky lobby bar, this area is a magnet for couples. Adults are also drawn to La Boulangerie, a 24-hour snack bar that serves cappucinos and macchiatos, and the nearby sushi and thin-crust pizza snack bars. In the evenings, people dance to DJ music at Club Noir or to a rockin' reggae band at the Loud Bar, which also features televised sports. My own favorite haunt, the Martini Bar, has chintz couches and a man at a grand piano who can play anything. Big-Name Concerts My trip coincided with a concert by Omi, a rising Jamaican reggae-pop star (google "Cheerleader"). Regularly hosting hitmakers is one way the Moon Palace resorts separate themselves from their competitors. The newer Jamaica resort also distinguishes itself with 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Its restaurants, too, cater to adult as well as "family" needs. La Gondola offers sophisticated Italian dishes such as branzino with capers, tomatoes, and olives; I only wish the waiters served red wine in appropriate glasses. The table service at pan-Asian Momo is even more urbane, with carefully constructed small plates like beef gyu tataki. Momo's teppanyaki stations offer a radically different experience: They're entertainment centers where chef/ MCs flip knives, joke, juggle eggs, and dole out hunks of fish, meat, and shrimp; both kids and adults enjoy it. Outdoors, Pier 8 and the Snack Bar serve family-friendly fare, too. An employee told me that the resort may open a steakhouse, and I hope that fifth restaurant does materialize. Finally, the Buccaneers Reef buffet options range from hot dogs for kids to Jamaican dishes such as jerk pork, goat, and ackee and saltfish. As sales director Guillermo Oliva told me, "We are a Mexican-owned resort with a Jamaican tone."

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend May 2016

Editor’s Notes
Hotel Desk: On the Waterfront
Tour Talk: A Peek at Our Peaks
All-Inclusives: Raising the Bar
Onsite Review: Puerto Vallarta’s Hotel Scene
Onsite Review: Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya
Onsite Review: Iberostar Playa Mita
Onsite Review: Moon Palace Jamaica Grande
Hotel and Experience Pairings
New Properties Beckon
Onsite Review: Cambodia
Southern Africa’s New Enticements
Onsite Review: Rail Europe
New Frontiers in Travel
Innovation on the High Seas
Mountain Resort Vacations
What’s New in Orlando
Onsite Review: Escape to Discovery Cove
Official Florida Travel Industry Education Program–Family Course

Recommend May 2016