Jamaica is a prime destination for vacationers escaping the cold, taking time with their children on break, or just trying to get away. There are all-inclusive resorts interspersed throughout the small island, making choosing just one a huge task. Breezes Resort & Spa is located in Negril, Jamaica, and claims to be paradise in a quiet cove on Negril beach. But is this really the case? What can someone expect if they are booking an all-inclusive vacation at this resort?
Let's start with the resort
If you take a resort from the airport to the resort, you're likely going to stop at a lot of other places along the way. All of these have a similar "wow" factor as guest are dropped off at an enormous lobby made up almost completely of granite that overlooks the ocean. It really sets a high expectation for what one should expect when they get to a resort.
However, Breezes does not have this same feel. When you arrive you are dropped off at a random opening at the resort and walk down a pathway of marble overlooking a nice waterway spattered with fountains that have seen better days. The check-in is behind a wall and consists of you filling out a form that includes when you are arriving and when you will be leaving.
After filling out the paperwork, there is a tour of the grounds which culminates with you ending up at your room. The rooms themselves are quite large depending on the type of suite you booked. They may include AC, flatscreen TV, sitting area, and/or a jacuzzi ... Unfortunately, they also have many outdated features, with the linens and drapes that are worn and have holes. Upon first glance there were also 3 things you would not expect to see at a resort such as this: mold, rust and duct tape.
While the resort itself may not completely impress, the beach that it sits upon is in a great location at the end of a string of resorts and far away from Jamaica's public beaches. The water is pristine and as clear as any that you will see in the world (we've looked).
How is the food
The food at Breezes is pretty good, depending on your incoming expectation. To level-set, breakfast and lunch are served buffet style in the main entertainment area, and there are 5 restaurants you are able to choose from for dinner.
Two of those restaurants require reservations beforehand (they are referred to as "Japanese" and "French") and based on experience, you should try to plan a few days ahead for these.
There is also a buffet served for dinner on Fridays and Mondays. The Japanese and French restaurants are closed on these days.
Our rankings of the food choices would be as follows:
1) Japanese (hibachi) - one of the tastiest things you'll have all week, the hibachi meal includes multiple appetizers - cucumber and noodle salad, miso soup, vegetable and fish tempura, and a couple California / Philadelphia sushi rolls to split around the table. Each of these appetizers are tasty in their own right and the sheer number if them ensure that picky eaters should be able to enjoy something before the main course.
The main course gives one the option of choosing between steak, chicken, shrimp or sea bass for the meats to go along with either fried or steamed rice.
While the chefs do not pull out all of the tricks your might expect at a hibachi restaurant in the US, the end product is quite delicious and will have you making multiple reservations.
2) Dinner buffets - While only served twice a week, they go all out with the buffets giving a ton of great choices. Smoked chicken, Cajun shrimp, pig roast, vegetable table, salad table.... The choices go on and on and are a great way to start or end the week.
3) Japanese (sushi) - Unbeknownst to most (and not advertised) the Japanese restaurant also takes reservations for their sushi bar, which includes all of the appetizers from their hibachi, as well as platters of delicious fish. A must-go-to at some point during the week
4) French - The 'fanciest' restaurant (pants and closed toe shoes are required) of the group, you will find more delicacies, smaller portion sizes, and longer wait times. The food was pretty good (minus the fish sampler which seemed like it had been out and cooking all night), and it's worth going to once during your stay.
5) The Grand Cafe - The nicest restaurant that does not require a reservation, The Grand Cafe keeps the same menu day over day, but with this gives many great options to choose from. The soup of the day was great the times we had it, and the main courses were very good.
6) Reggae Cafe - More of a snack bar than a restaurant, the Reggae Cafe offers some of the food you may typically expect to find in Jamaica: beef patties, jerk pork and burgers. The beef patties were absolutely delicious, but the restaurant only offers them for a few hours a day, and even then you should not expect them to be available. The jerk pork was a part of the pig I was not familiar with (although the sauce itself was great). The fries were decent the few times we went, but for more taste go with the seasoned fries
7) Italian - The most disappointing restaurant, this meal's high was the toasted garlic bread that came out before our meal. While not great food, it was still better than the 'worst' restaurants I've had in other all-inclusive resorts (albeit not in Jamaica)
What is the Entertainment / Excursions like
Although the resort puts out a noteworthy effort to have entertain,net each night, the truth is that there isn't much of a nightlife at Breezes. Depending on the act of the night, you could find 10-20 couples watching the festivities or joining into dance, but you're just as liable to see the same number of couples on their patios enjoying a 'smoke' on the walk back to your room.
Atlantis is billed as the 'after hours' spot, but we found that it either wasn't open or didn't have anyone in it the few times we tried to check it out.
Excursion offerings are pretty thorough - there are ones that are free through the resort such as glass bottomed boat rides, snorkeling or sailing, as well as a variety that can be paid for such as para-sailing, horseback riding and trips to the city.
While most of these are pretty good options, it really depends on what you are looking for. The horseback riding is absolutely amazing in that you ride the horses up and down hills, through water and to top it off get to swim with them - your body floating in parallel to the horse! $70 plus tip (per person) seemed very reasonable for this multi-hour ride. Para-sailing is a once in a lifetime experience that also seemed relatively reasonable at $100 per couple.
Something like the glass bottomed boat ride is a little more low key, much shorter, and depends on which guide goes out with you for the level of entertainment you will receive.
How is the staff
Overall the staff does a fairly good job making your stay as enjoyable as possible. The cooks and wait staff do a great job attending to visitors in a timely and friendly manner and the cleaning staff does wonders making the run-down rooms inhabitable on a day-to-day basis.
The one major soft spot we found was at the front desk. Things that are considered normal tasks in other resorts we've been to turned into ordeals almost every time the front desk was involved. A few examples include:
- Need change for a $20? "Sorry, we can't do that" (this happened on multiple occasions)
- 7 am wake-up call never arrives (although ironically, we received 2 separate wake-up calls the next day)
- You haven't been able to get a towel for a day and a half? "We'll see if we can send someone" (no one shows)
To top it off, the door key stopped working twice during our stay, and it took almost and hour for them to send someone - after lying straight to our face that the call for help came only a few minutes prior. Bottom line is if you're staying at Breezes, do not expect much from the front desk and hopefully nothing will go too wrong during your stay.
As mentioned previously, Breezes is located right on the beach in Negril, and if you overlook the hour bus ride from the airport, is pretty close to the center of town and excursion locations that are not run by the resort. The only other thing of note is that you are located next to Hedonism II, which is a swinger resort. An older lady told us a story about being on a boat ride, not knowing that it was run by Hedonism, with couples doing the deed on-board. Be careful when booking anything that is not exclusively run by Breezes!
To wrap it up, there are many factors to consider when booking a resort, and the more you are aware of what to expect, the better chance you'll have if being satisfied. With that said, here are some of the top pros and cons of booking at Breezes Resort & Spa:
- Reasonably priced (the entire trip was booked through Orbitz for a little over $3600 for 8 nights for a couple)
- Centrally location right on the beach
- Diverse and tasty food selection
- The alcohol, while not completely high end, had a lot of name brand options
- Many options for entertainment during the day
- An hour drive from the airport
- The rooms are worn and in great need for renovation
- There is not a lot of nightlife
- Beach towels are a commodity
- There are certain things that just won't 'work' - ie. Room key - and help does not come as easily as one might expect
- Warm water is an issue in that your room might not get much of it - this was confirmed by many couples during the week
Hopefully this review helps others in their quest for relaxation and provides information that allows for an informed booking decision. Jamaica is a beautiful destination with many options for resorts. The more homework you do beforehand, the better time you should have.
Let me know if there are any additional questions or comments below!