Grade 3.7 out of 5 Stars
This 5-star adults-only all-inclusive resort is located on a lovely little peninsula in Montego Bay Jamaica. One of our favorite all-inclusive locations you really feel like you are on island time when you’re at this resort.
With superb service, a wealth of amenities, and a mile of private beach this resort has it all. This resort in theory should be one of Montego Bay’s premier offerings, but as we will delve into the review you’ll see there is more to uncover under the surface.
With all resorts in Jamaica, there is a premium for vacationing here compared to the likes of the Dominican Republic and Mexico, but this resort, in particular, is a very strong offering and we will be diving into whether or not it is worth the premium or not. We visited this resort in 2018 and our review is based on our stay.
Located on a peninsula in the Montego Bay region of Jamaica, it’s an incredibly stunning location. When you visit Jamaica the one thing you’re guaranteed is great beaches and the Secrets Wild Orchid does not disappoint. It’s just 3 miles from the airport so it really is a convenient location to get to.
There are three resorts in this complex and no matter which resort you stay at you will have access to the other restaurants and amenities at them. With 350 rooms in the Secrets Wild Orchid, it’s definitely on the bigger side.
- One of the best things about Secrets resorts, Is the Sip, Saviour, See benefit that is available when there are sister resorts nearby (which there always is). Effectively it allows anyone from the sister resorts in the same complex to eat and drink and make use of the amenities in any of the resorts. Typically there are only two resorts in a complex but at the Montego Bay location, there are three resorts. The Secrets Montego Bay, Secrets St.James, and the Breathless. What naturally happens in this situation is that the guests will flock to the premium option in the complex. From our point of view that is the Secrets Montego Bay, so this meant that the resort felt quite busy when we visited and there was more of a party atmosphere than we would have liked.
- We have read that the Secrets St.James has been closed the last number of months, while the Secrets Wild Orchid has been open. We presume this is because of Covid, but if you plan on wanting to make the most of the amenities at the St.James. Its worth double checking it will be open when you visit.
- With Covid, a lot of elements have understandably been removed or had their hours shortened. The biggest thing that impacted our trip was the reduced hours of Room Service. It ran from around 8 am – 10 pm and the wait times were sometimes quite long. We didn’t mind this too much as we can understand that there are potential people eating most of their meals in their rooms, but it is something to consider.
- The restaurant reservation system is a little bit weird here. It seemed like you had to be a preferred guest to actually make reservations and you have to get your Butler to make the reservation. If you didn’t have a preferred suite then it was basically walk up and wait which was a little strange. We did hear that the wait time for some of the more popular restaurants could be up to 2 hours, so keep that in mind if you’re planning on booking a non-preferred suite.
- Although this location is quite close to Montego bay, there’s nothing really within walking distance of the resort.
- We highly recommend bringing your own reusable cup and straw. The staff will happily make drinks for you in the reusable cup. This reduces the amount of waste as the drinks are usually served in plastic cups. The straws the resort provides are made of paper, which is positive to see, but if you’re drinking a frozen drink. It can be a little bit messy. So bring your own accouterments.
The process was relatively smooth. Once we arrived we were greeted with a glass of bubbly and a cold towel. Our bags were taken from us and we were brought to reception. We had to wait a few minutes for a check-in desk to open up, but once we got up there we were checked in, in a matter of minutes.
The lobby area where you check-in isn’t the biggest area, so if you arrive at the same time as a busload of people it may be a little cramped. Once we got to a desk the staff was great at explaining the layout of the resort as well as the benefits that we had as preferred guests. One of which was a private check-in area.
Is this a child-friendly resort?
The Secrets Wild Orchid is an adults-only resort. Typically with Secrets resorts, they will have an adjoining property that caters to families, but with this complex of resorts, it doesn’t seem to be the case. The two other resorts on the complex are also adult-only offerings. If you’re looking for a family option in the Montego Bay area we suggest checking out the Jewel Grande Montego Bay.
The facilities here are quite good. The resort has a number of pools, a well-sized gym which we will delve into in a bit, a spa, a small casino, basketball/tennis courts. You name it and they will probably have it.
There are really only two pools at the Secrets Wild Orchid and given the size of the resort. This isn’t enough in our opinion. Of those two pools, one of them is exclusively for preferred guests only. So, if you’re not in a Preferred suite you really only have one option. Guests of the Wild Orchid can have access to the pool in the Secrets St.James too, but considering guests at the St.James can do the same and the Wild Orchid is the premium option of the two. The main pools can get very busy.
The gym here is one of the better gyms we have experienced at an all-inclusive. There is a range of cardio equipment (Ellipticals, treadmills, and spin bikes). A free and machine weights area. There’s a large class area, which is the perfect spot for a bit of core work. The gym was never too busy and we always got a good workout when we visited.
While there is no golf course located directly on the complex there are a number of courses that are close by. The best nearby course is the White Witch Golf Course. It’s a really well-maintained course and quite challenging. Throughout the course, there are some stunning views of the mountains and ocean. During peak season you will be paying $200 USD for a round, so it’s on the pricier side, but you’re on vacation. Treat yourself.
Things to do during the day
The entertainment staff made such a strong effort to keep us entertained throughout our stay. There are loads of classes and events that are going on throughout the day. From Yoga, cooking classes, water aerobics, windsurfing, kayaking, and a host of other things. Our pick of the bunch was the nature walk, which took place around the local vegetation and was very educational.
Things to do during the night
We actually quite enjoyed the evening entertainment, particularly the local Jamaican music and dancing. As with most all-inclusive resorts, there was a huge slate of entertainment in the evenings and the Secrets is no different.
To see what’s on each night, there are a number of built-in boards throughout the resort. The information is also on the in-room tablet. Another one of our favorites was the Secrets Got Talent evening, which was basically a guest talent show. Let’s just say people do some hilarious stuff after a few appletinis. There is actually a nightclub area here too, which is a great spot to go to after a few drinks.
The beach area is really nice at the Secrets Wild Orchid. It’s on the smaller side, but the waters are lovely and turquoise. The sand is fine and white. As it’s on the smaller side at times we did find it a little difficult to find a sun lounger. Especially if you’re going down around midday.
Due to its location on a peninsula, the beach does feel very secluded and private from the other resorts. It’s a great spot to take a dip in. The waters are more than calm enough to make the most of the non-motorized water activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding.
There is a nice spa at this resort with a full spa menu and a nice hydrotherapy run. If you’re staying in a Preferred room you can access the hydrotherapy pools for free throughout your stay. You can also book to use the spa facilities if you’re not a preferred guest. It only cost around $20 and it’s well worth the price.
We went for a 60-minute Swedish massage when we visited and honestly, it was one of the better massages we had at an all-inclusive resort. It cost us around $120 for the massage and was super relaxing. We always recommend getting a massage early on in the vacation to put you in a state of relaxation for the days ahead.
From the moment we arrived in the resort to the moment we left. The service was top-notch. We really felt like the staff was doing everything they could in order to make our stay as enjoyable as it could be. From the bar staff to housekeeping, restaurant staff, the concierge, and everyone else working in the resort.
They were all top-notch. There were a few staff members that were particularly helpful that we had to call out. Neisha, who served us every day at the Preferred pool, was super friendly and so helpful. By the end of day one, she had our drinks order down and had a refill before we ever found the end of our glasses. At InspoVacay, this is our litmus test for the quality of service at a resort.
Kudos have to go to the staff here. The resort was really clean, from the communal areas to the rooms there wasn’t a spec of dirt throughout. The staff was really on it in regards to collecting empty glasses and dishes once you were finished.
We had one issue with the housekeeping not coming a few of the afternoons, but other than that we found the resort was super clean. When housekeeping did come they were through with their cleaning.
Booking during Covid
Although we did stay prior to the Covid19 pandemic given the superb level of cleanliness we experienced we can only imagine the lengths they are going to keep to guests safe.
At the Secrets Wild Orchid, they have really taken all of the precautions necessary to make sure that you have a safe and enjoyable vacation. There is a range of benefits and precautions in place to give you peace of mind when you travel in these uncertain times.
- Free Onsite Testing
Before you depart your vacation if you need to get an antigen for your arrival back into your country. You can avail of a free antigen testing before you depart.
- Quarantine Reassurance
If for any reason you contract COVID-19 and need to quarantine for a time period. You will be able to do so at the resort for no extra cost. This is available for up to 14 days if needed.
- Enhanced Cleaning
At AM Resorts, which the Secret’s chain is a part of. They have the CleanComplete Verification™. This is a fancy way of saying they have increased measures to make sure everything is kept sanitized throughout the resort.
The average room size at the Secrets Wild Orchid is definitely on the smaller side. Although they are more than big enough compared to your typical hotel rooms when you compare them against other rooms in an all-inclusive resort’s they are on the smaller side.
One of the nice aspects of these rooms is that the bathrooms are separate from the main bedroom area. This gives a nice level of privacy. For some reason a lot of all-inclusive resorts love having the bathroom in full view of the bedroom, so we appreciate this aspect of the Secrets room design.
The rooms are broken down into three categories
- Junior Suites
- Master Suites
- Presidential Suites
If you are staying in the master or the presidential suites they come with preferred club access. While the junior suite is offered with and without preferred club access.
What’s included in the all-inclusive package
All drinks, food and entertainment, activities, tips, and taxes will be included in the all-inclusive package. There is a pretty solid range of top-shelf and local beers and liquors available at this resort. If you are staying in a Preferred suite you will also have access to the Preferred bars, which offer an upgraded list of top-shelf liquor. So the likes of Johnny Walker Black, Ciroc, Absolut, and Hendricks gin are available to you.
Food + Restaurant Options
If you have been to a Secrets resort before you will be familiar with the food offering. The restaurants are pretty much standard across all of their resorts. Overall the food quality wasn’t great. The volume of restaurants is fairly limited especially when the resort only opened three restaurants per night. We would have liked to have seen more availability.
With all Secrets resorts you can avail of the Sip, Savour, See feature that enables you to eat and drink at any of the sister restaurants that are located in the complex. There are 9 restaurants across the two resorts.
Every night after the entertainment as well as around lunchtime there would be a Jerk Chicken Cart that served up some delicious local eats. This was actually one of our favorite places to eat at the resort. The evening drinks potentially biased our review of the food, but it was a perfect snack to end the night on.
Ranking the Restaurants
The Asian offering at the Secrets. For all of the Secrets resorts, we have been to this is always our favorite spot. Serving up a wide range of Asian favorites with Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai dishes to name a few. The sushi here was definitely our highlight. The Tuna sashimi was really fresh and literally melted in your mouth. The pad thai was also pretty authentic.
One of the handy things that they do for some of the outdoor spots has a light-up menu, as the lighting is on the darker side to set an ambiance. It’s a small thing but shows the Secrets has put a lot of thought and effort into the resort.
This was one of the standout restaurants for us. This French-style offering served up some delicious dishes and the atmosphere here was that of a fine dining experience. The fillet steak here was top quality and the service was great too.
- Barefoot Grill
A poolside lunch offering this spot serves up all of your holiday favorites. From burgers, Jamaican Patties, and grilled fish this is the perfect place to grab a midday meal. The jerk chicken here was very tasty and actually one of the better dishes we had in this resort.
Another wonderfully located spot. Oceana is overlooking the pool and ocean and was another great spot for breakfast and lunch. The seafood here is really good. They always had some fresh fish that was offered. The mussels which we cooked in butter and garlic were super fresh and couple it with some fresh bread and you’re in heaven.
- World Café (Main Buffet)
You will probably eat most of your breakfasts and lunches here if you’re staying in a standard. It has a huge range of choices and the food here was actually pretty good. We find that buffets at all-inclusive are always hit or miss and the World Café was definitely on the good side.
The pasta station was our favorite area. You can see that the pasta was freshly made by hand and they cook the pasta in a sauce of your choice at the station. There was always a bit of a queue here, but the food was well worth the wait. The main negative about the World Café is that it can get very busy at peak times and the queues for each of the stations can belong.
- El Patio
This Mexican restaurant was quite disappointing. The food was ok, we had the empanadas and the fajitas. They tasted a little bit processed in our opinion. Our biggest issue with El Patio was the wait times that we had in between courses. Between our starter and mains, we waited at least an hour, which is not acceptable. It wasn’t necessarily a busy night either, so there must have been some melt-down in the kitchen.
- Castaways (Preferred Club Guests Only)
Overlooking the pool and beach this is a great spot for a bite to eat. The setting here is picture-perfect. We really like coming here for breakfast. We found that the World Cafe got very busy in the mornings, so Castaways was the perfect spot for a more relaxed breakfast or lunch.
This was probably the most disappointing food that we had during our stay. We decided to eat in the room one night. You can place your order via the tablet that is in the room. From ordering the food to the food being delivered we were waiting two hours, which was just unacceptable.
When the food did arrive the dishes were very bad. They were slapped onto the plates and looked like they had been sitting in the box for hours. We spoke to some other guests in the resort and they also experienced similar delays and poor quality food.
Bars and Drinks Offering
There are loads of bars throughout the resort. We counted 9 in total throughout the resort and that doesn’t include the bar at the premium lounge. Our favorite spot was definitely Barracuda which is an open-air bar that is located right beside the beach. It’s the perfect place to take in the sunset with a cocktail.
The drinks offered here were a little disappointing. Like most all-inclusive resorts it was advertised as having top-shelf liquor and while they did have some premium offerings in some of the bars in the resort. We found that they would run out of some of the bottles very quickly each night. The beer offering at the resort is also quite limited, they only stocked the local Red Stripe beer.
There is also a small coffee shop in the resort where you can get all of your pick-me-up favorites. They do frappuccinos, boozy coffees and have a selection of sweet treats. This was our first stop each morning.
Is the Preferred Status Worth it?
With all of the premium club offerings at all-inclusive resorts, it can be hit and miss whether the premium clubs are worth the additional cost. The majority of the rooms on this resort are available as both Preferred and non-preferred rooms. The preferred rooms typically run around 30% more than the non-preferred rooms and at this resort, we believe it’s worth the premium, and here is why.
One of the best benefits to the preferred club is the privacy that the club offers you. With private pools, beach area, restaurants, bars, and check-in, there is definitely an exclusive feel to the Preferred status. When we visited it seemed like the occupancy of preferred guests was relatively low, so we basically had the run of the place. As the resort is on the larger side, having the feeling of privacy is worth the premium.
- Butler Service
Typically in each of the three resorts in the complex, there are only three restaurants open on any given night. Due to the Sip, Saviour, See option, if there is a particularly good restaurant it can be difficult to get a table without pre-booking. With the Butler service, your personal butler can plan out your week and book you into restaurants for the whole week. Which saves you doing it and pretty much guarantees that you will get a table.
- Access to the Breathless Resort
Typically with Secrets resorts, you can access any of the sister resorts in the complex no matter what standard of room that you have. At the Montego bay Secrets, you have to be in a preferred room in order to use the facilities at the Breathless resort.
It’s customary to tip at all-inclusive resorts and we wholeheartedly believe that you should bake in the cost of tips into the overall cost of your vacation. The staff at the Secrets Wild Orchid are top-notch and really do everything in their power to make your stay as smooth as possible.
In terms of how much to tip, we typically do $1- $2 per drink and $5 – $10 per meal. The amount for a meal will depend on the meal, whether it was buffet style or sit down and the mealtime. We also typically leave $5 a day to the housekeeping staff.
Secrets Wild Orchid vs Secrets St.James
Both of these adult-only all-inclusive resorts are located in the same complex and guests from each of the resorts can use the facilities, bars, and restaurants across both resorts. The food, service, amenities, and the beach were pretty consistent throughout both of the resorts. The one area that stood out for the Secrets Wild Orchid was that during the day the resort was a little bit quieter than St.James. The pool area and beach are a little bit nicer in the St.James and some of the guests from the Wild Orchid, flocked to St.James.That made for a more secluded experience in the Wild Orchid which we really liked.
Having stayed on both resorts we felt that the experience we had at the Wild Orchid was better than that of the St.James. Due to the more laid-back vibes.
Overall the Secrets Wild Orchid was a little disappointing. Our biggest bug bearer was definitely the volume of guests from the sister resorts that choose to eat and drink at the Wild Orchid in the evenings. The restaurants at the Wild Orchid were a little bit better than that of the St.James So, the restaurants were very busy in the evenings. It just made the resort feel a lot busier and took away from an exclusive feel that you could have had if the additional guests weren’t there.
For that reason, we would definitely recommend you getting a Preferred room if you plan on vacationing here. Having the personal butler to book the restaurants and also have a private pool and beach area will really make your stay a lot better.
The service was relatively good and the food is what you would expect of a solid all-inclusive offering. The resort felt very crowded. The housekeeping was a little bit inconsistent and overall we didn’t feel like we had a luxury experience.
Q. Does the Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay offer a shuttle service from the Airport
A. There is a shuttle and private transfers that are available to and from the airport. These do come at an additional cost and can be booked through the Secrets site, or by calling them directly.
Q. Is parking available at the resort
A. Yes, parking is available for guests and it is complimentary
Q. Is Wi-Fi included
A. Yes, Wi-Fi is available to you in your suite as well as throughout the resort. We found the Wi-Fi to be quite inconsistent throughout though. In the main areas of the lobby and by the main pool, the connection was pretty good, but in our room, the signal was quite poor. We struggled to stream Netflix without dropping the connection.
Q. What local attractions are there?
A. There is a lot to see and do around Montego Bay. For a great overview of things to do check out this great overview by Planetd.com