Grade – 4.5 stars out of 5
This is the newest addition to the Excellence group chain of resorts, the Excellence Oyster Bay is another fantastic offering and their first resort in Jamaica. Located in the Oyster Bay Peninsula in the Coopers pen area of Jamaica this resort is perfectly located to make the most of the Caribbean climate and laid-back vibes.
The hotel only opened a couple of years ago, so the resort almost feels like it opened last week. There were a few rough edges we noticed after staying for a few days, but overall the resort was well done and in pretty good knick. The resort has a Victorian-style design aesthetic and there really is a feeling of luxury and class as you walk through the resort.
As with all Excellence resorts, there is a great level of service, the standard of food on offer is up there with some of the best all-inclusive around. When we visited in 2019 we stayed in a junior suite with the Excellence Club.
- Bring the mosquito spray – when we visited the mosquitoes were rampant. I’m not sure if it was the time of year that we went, but they were everywhere. So, come prepared.
- If you’re a beach lover and like nothing more than shaking up on the beach for the day, make sure that you get a lounger near the bar. As the beach area is narrow but long, the service can be hit and miss. So, if you find a spot next to the bar a fresh drink will only be a few steps away.
- If you’re visiting for a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary, be sure to mention that to the staff on arrival. They are fantastic at organizing some treats to make the occasion that bit more special.
- For optimal sea views request a Seaview room in buildings 1 to 4. They all have great views of the ocean. You will pay a slight premium for an ocean view room, but it’s well worth it.
- If you’re booking a massage try to book in just before sunset. The massages take place in beachfront cabanas, so it really is a special thing to be getting a massage as the sunsets.
Like all of the Excellence and Finest chain of resorts. The check-in process and theatrics are something really special. When you arrive at the resort you are greeted by a bell-hop who will whisk your bags away and you are given a glass of prosecco/ rum punch and a cold towel on your arrival.
The check-in process was very smooth. In literally 2 minutes we were done. Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, so we did have to wait around an hour, but considering our flight arrived quite early we were expecting this. To kill the time we grabbed our glasses of prosecco and took a well-deserved seat in the reception area until our room was ready.
Jamaica is a lovely country to visit and the location of this resort is pretty much perfect. Located on a peninsula you are treated to stunning views of the ocean throughout the resort. The resort is also well spread out, so there is that feeling of privacy and that there are not too many people in the resort which is nice.
Located a short 30-minute drive from the Sangster International airport, it’s a very handy location. The Excellence does offer collection from the airport, but there is a surcharge for this. If you are booking through a larger travel agent they will typically include transfers in the price of the booking, so double-check this before booking. If you’re opting for a Taxi it will cost between $35- $45.
Is the Resort Child Friendly
The Excellence Oyster is an adults-only resort. So, if you were planning on bringing the kids this is not the spot for you. If you’re looking for the Excellence experience, but want to bring the kids we suggest checking out the Finest Playa Mujeres.
The gym facilities were probably the best facilities we have ever experienced in a hotel. There is a wide range of equipment and what was so great was the volume of cardio machines that they had.
There are free weights, machine weights, and ample space for doing core work. Water and towels are available too and if you really want to push the boat there are personal trainers available at an additional cost. We visited pre-covid, but anytime that we went to the gym, it was very quiet and we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
The entertainment team put on a serious show with dozens of different activities on offer each day. Some of our favorites were the Yoga classes where the instructor was a legit yoga teacher and the sushi making class, which was very educational and of course delicious.
There are also a number of activities that you can do around the resort such as water activities (paddle boarding, kayaking, and surfboards), tennis courts, ping pong tables, so there is always something to do.
Although there is not a course on the resort there are a number of options within a 30-minute drive of the resort. The Rose hall golf complex is your best choice. With two courses in this complex, there are varied challenges if you plan on golfing on multiple days. The White Witch Course is the better course. It was immaculately maintained and was a great challenge. This Par 71 course designed by Robert von Hagge and Rick Baril lives up to its name and is a wicked challenge.
Let’s start off by saying that visually the beach is stunning. It’s expansive, but the narrow, and the beach circles a large portion of the resort.
When we visited the beach area was probably the part of the resort which we were most disappointed with. Although the beach surrounds the majority of the property it is a very narrow beach, so there is not a huge amount of room in the areas closest to the resort. This resulted in the service on the beach being a little bit spotty as the beach is quite long, so the distance needed to be covered by the bar staff was considerable. On a few occasions, we didn’t see any staff for 30-40 minutes, so we walked to the bar ourselves.
The other issue we ran into on the beach was the seagrass. This won’t stop you from swimming, but once you get in above your knees there is a good bit of seagrass to contend with.
The Mile spa is located on the resort and is the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate. There is a wide range of treatments available as well as hydrotherapy pools. We went for a massage one of the days and ours took place in one of the beachfront cabanas. This was such a lovely experience. The doors were open and we could feel the sea breeze as we were getting a massage. We also made sure to use the hydrotherapy pools before our massage.
Everything here was done with a smile and no request ever felt like a chore. We really cannot fault the service at the Oyster Bay. We pretty much set up shop for the week in a specific area of the pool and by day 2 the waiter in this area, Dwanye knew our drinks order and had a refill for us before we had reached the bottom of our drinks.
This level of service continued throughout the resort. All of the restaurants we visited the people were so friendly and it really added to elevating our experience at the Excellence.
The resort was impeccably clean. No matter where we went the surfaces were shined and there was no rubbish or empty glasses to be seen. The only thing that we can call out in this category is that we went for lunch one of the days one of our wine glasses had a faint mark of lipstick on it, but we are really nitpicking here.
Our room was cleaned twice a day with a deeper clean in the morning and more of a turndown service in the afternoon. Housekeeping was super efficient when cleaning the rooms. They were in and out in about 15 minutes, which was great.
Booking During COVID
Although we stayed pre-COVID, as we mentioned the resort was exceptionally clean. From what we have read from the reviews the Excellence has really stepped up its game in creating a clean and safe environment in these uncertain times.
There are a range of precautions that the Excellence chain of resorts have put in place and if you would like to review these they can be found here.
Price Range + Packages
The Excellence Oyster Bay is definitely on the more expensive side when you’re comparing it to offerings in Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Cuba. Jamaica commands a premium and there is something really special about the place. In our opinion, it is definitely worth the premium. All of the rooms in the resort are very large, so no matter what room you book you will get the luxury experience.
What’s included in the all-inclusive package?
All food and the majority of drinks on offer are included in your package. From the food side, that’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, Ice creams, and room service. You will not go hungry on this trip.
The drinks offered here are very extensive. From local beers such as dragon stout and red stripe to the American staples, there is a wide selection of beers. There is also a good range of top-shelf liquor on offer. From Johnny Walker, Hendriks, and Hennessy they had it all on offer in the bars. If you are part of the Excellence club there is an extended premium liquor offering that is available in the lounges that include the likes of Grey Goose and Johnny Walker Black.
Included in all room types is also a very well-stocked mini-bar with all the liquid and sweet treats that you could ever ask for. From a selection of beers, soft drinks, M&M’s, Snickers, and even chocolate milk. The mini bar selection is vast. It’s also restocked on a daily basis. Also in your room, there will be a selection of liquor bottles (Gordons Gin, Appleton Jamaica
The only element you may have to pay for is the wine options in some of the restaurants. Bottles of house wine are available for free, but there is a wine list available so if you want to treat yourself to a specific bottle of wine you can.
There are a number of activities and amenities included in your packages. This includes the class and events organized by the resort. Use of the Gym, tennis courts, and non-motorized water sports.
Is the Excellence Club Worth it?
When you break down the additions of the Excellence club vs what you get without there is a marginal difference for the price you pay. The additional benefits that we think add the most valuable are the below.
- Private check-in & check-out / Late check-out & early check-in (subject to availability)
- Access to two private Excellence Club lounges (7:00 am to 11:00 pm) with concierge service and smart buffets plus bar service
- Access to two exclusive Excellence Club restaurants and three bars
- Access to two private pool areas
- Access to private beach areas
- Upgraded minibar
- Upgraded room service menu
- Upgraded in-suite premium liquor selection
One of the best benefits we’ve experienced at other Excellence resorts was the private beach area with access to cabanas and a very private vibe. At the Oyster bay, because the beach is on the smaller side, this benefit is reduced a little.
The bottom line is that at the Oyster bay resort we think the additional benefits don’t outweigh the additional cost. Typically you’re paying about $50-70 extra a day for an Excellence club room Over the course of a week’s trip, that could be an additional $500 for the trip.
Food + Restaurant Options
With 9 restaurants available to all guests and a further two restaurants available to Excellence club members there is a huge amount of choice. From Tapas to French flavors and local tastes of the Caribbean no matter what your platelet there will be something for you. The one element that we were a little disappointed in was the lack of local cuisine on offer. Caribbean Grove and the Jerk hut were the only places that really had a local offering, so we would have liked to have seen a larger showcase of Jamaican tastes.
Overall, the food on offer was very good for an all-inclusive and we would rank the Excellence Oyster Bay up there with some of the best food offerings from our extensive experience.
Ranking the Restaurants
Without a shadow of a doubt, this was our favorite spot. We went here on three occasions during our stay. An Asian cuisine restaurant it has a wide range of Asian dishes. From Sushi to Udon, curries to beef bulgogi and it has everything under the sun when it comes to Asian cuisine.
There are two parts of this restaurant, the main restaurant area and individual rooms that specialize in a hibachi experience. The Hibachi grill was a part show, part delicious food. To get a spot at the Hibachi grill you’ll need to book a table the morning of. Be sure to ask reception when you can book as spaces always fill up quickly.
In terms of the favorite dishes, the star of the show here was really the sushi, the Tuna sashimi that melts in your mouth. Yaki Udon was also the winner.
2. Chez Isabelle
Think traditional French cuisine, white linen tables, and a nice glass of Malbec. Everything a classic French restaurant should have. The food here is pretty good. Like all French food, the dishes we had were very rich.
The one thing we would call out is that the portion sizes are very small, so we would suggest ordering multiple dishes. The duck confit was top class. They also have a separate vegetarian menu that has some nice choices. A special shout out to David that was working in Chez Isabelle when we visited. His service was second to none.
3. The Kitchen Table
This is the main buffet in the resort and will most likely be the restaurant that you visit most frequently. On offer is an expansive range of food and with most all inclusive resorts the buffet is basically a combination of all of the other restaurants in the resort. We at InspoVacay always love the buffets as you can try a bit of everything. We had breakfast all but two days and by the end of the trip the staff knew our favourite table which was a nice touch.
4. Caribbean Grove
We had high expectations for this restaurant and they definitely met them. We were a bit surprised at the lack of local flavours that were on offer in the resort. Caribbean grove and the Jerk hut were pretty much the only restaurants that had Jamaican and Caribbean food on offer. In the buffet, there were only a handful of local offerings which we were disappointed with. Our favourite dish was the Mahi Mahi. It was perfectly cooked and paired with great sweet flavours.
5. Jerk Hut – The Jamaican Barbeque
This lunch spot is ideal for grabbing a mid-tanning meal. The jerk chicken burger is a solid option and was our go-to for lunch. The hut is located right next to the beach, so it’s perfect for a quick midday bite.
6. The Lobster House
Located just over the pool this is a lovely spot for dinner, with the sounds of the lapping waves and the beautiful ocean view there isn’t a more scenic spot in the resort. The food there was pretty good too, the lobster risotto was delicate and perfectly cooked. The surf and turf were top quality too and ironically the flank steak we got here was probably the best steak we had at the resort.
The one issue we had with the Lobster house was that on the evening we visited the service was very slow. Although we were in no rush, so we can’t complain too much.
7. The Grill
Any steakhouse that we have stayed at in an all-inclusive restaurant has always been a little bit disappointing and for us the Excellence Oyster Bay didnt buck the trend. A good steakhouse is reliant on the produce that they use and the quality of meat on offer here wasn’t great. When we ate here we went for two different cuts, a ribeye and fillet and there was a marginal difference between the two. They were both chewy and not cooked to our specifications. Again the portion sizes here were quite small. It’s a running theme for a number of the restaurants, butthe great thing about an all inclusive is that you can always order more.
8. Sports Bar
The perfect spot for a casual meal. If there are games on, this place will be buzzing. Serving the typical bar food favorites, such as Burger and Fries, Pizza, Nachos, and Tacos it’s the perfect pairing to an ice-cold beer. They have a decent selection of beers with local staples such as Red Stripe, Red Dragon Stout, and imports such Budweiser, Corona, Guinness, etc.
We actually had difficulty getting a reservation here, it definitely seemed to be the most popular restaurant when we stayed. The place was brimming with atmosphere and the food was delectable too.
An Italian restaurant with all of the traditional dishes you would expect. Honestly, we didn’t really get the hype for this restaurant. The pizzas, which you would expect to be good in an Italian restaurant, weren’t great. The dough was undercooked, which was disappointing. The pasta dishes were tasty, but it was clear that it wasn’t freshly made pasta and it was bought in, but the flavors and the sauces were delicious. Overall, we wouldn’t be running back there the next time we visit.
Excellence Club Only Restaurants
Magna (Excellence Club Members Restaurant)
Open for breakfast and lunch Magna has an array of dishes. There isn’t a specific theme here, it’s just good food. Located by the pool this is a lovely outdoor location. This was another restaurant where the service left a little bit to be desired.
The tuna steak here was fantastic. We also ordered the lobster here and it wasn’t great. When we had the lobster in the Lobster house restaurant it was very good and it was pretty much the same dish.
Zenith (Excellence Club Members Restaurant)
Open for breakfast and dinner this up-scale establishment met the bill. There was a lovely variety of choices on the menu. On offer is a selection of dishes. From steak, lobster thermidor to slow-braised beef. Our favorite was the pumpkin risotto, which was delicious.
Bars and Drinks Offering
The drink range at all Excellence resorts is really strong, with a solid range of liqueur, beers, and wines on offer. The element that distinguishes it from many other all-inclusive resorts is the top-shelf liqueur that is available. Although you won’t find the likes of Grey Goose and Johnny Walker Black in the non excellence bars, there is a great selection of other premium favorites like Hendricks Gin, Johnny Walker Red Label, Circo, etc.
With 5 bars on-site with a further additional few bars and lounges that are available to Excellence club guests, you are never too far from a drink. Our favorite bar was the Martini bar in the main lobby. The staff there was great fun and there was a perfect atmosphere.
Aroma is the coffee shop in the resort and serves up all of the hot and cold usuals that you would expect from your local Starbucks. What we always love to do at all-inclusive resorts is to start the day off right with an Irish coffee. What better way to start your day than whiskey and coffee. There are also sandwiches, desserts, and an ice cream area.
There are a wide variety of room options available at the Excellence Oyster Bay. With 315 rooms in the resort, it is a nice size. The one part of the Excellence resorts that I don’t particularly like is the selection of room options. The range of choice is a little overwhelming.
Like all of the Excellence resorts, you have the choice to add the Excellence club to your stay which comes with a number of benefits. Such as exclusive restaurants, a club lounge, reserved areas at the beaches, and top-shelf liquor in your minibar.
In general, we mixed it up when we stayed at the Excellence resorts. On this occasion, we did stay in an Excellence club room, but honestly, it’s not worth the additional cost. Unless you drink a lot of top-shelf liquor.
There are three categories of room types available
- Excellence club room
- Excellence rooms
- Beach Villas
The Excellence club rooms and the Excellence rooms have the same offering. The only difference it’s the benefits that we talked about above with the addition of the excellence club to your room. The rooms overall are of a really high standard, so you can’t really go wrong with any choice.
We stayed in an Excellence club junior suite when we stayed. Although these are the most basic rooms in the resort. We can honestly say there is no need to go for any other room. This suite has more than enough space for two people and it really is very practically designed. There is a sleeping area that is sectioned off from a couch and a TV area by a lovely designed partition. Off the lounge area is a stunning balcony with a hot tub and a quaint cabana-style area. At 800 square feet, these are huge rooms.
Junior Suite with Private Pool
This has the exact same layout as the Junior Suite, the only real difference here is the private pool. Although we were not staying in this suite we did have a swim in one of the private pools as we got friendly with a couple staying in one. The pool is not heated, so it’s not very practical and not worth the additional cost.
Rooftop Terrance Suite with Plunge Pool
These suites are relatively similar in size to the junior suites at 950f ² with the biggest difference being the plunge pool on the terrace. Although the plunge pool is undoubtedly nice to have I would call out that we heard these pools were not heated, so depending on which way the sun was facing going for a dip may be a bit chilly.
Imperial Suite Rooftop Terrace with Plunge Pool
These rooms look stunning, they have all of the amenities that you get in the lower grade suites as well as a living room In-suite barman service and a private beach dinner.
Beach Villa with Private Pool
These villas are really spectacular. As we walked along the beach we took a look at these villas and they really are stunning. With panoramic ocean views, your own deck, jacuzzi, pool, and even beach area in front of the villa it is a very special place to stay. You will pay a pretty price for these, but they do look very special.
The newest addition to the Excellence group range of resorts is a gem. We wouldn’t categorize it as their marquee resort, but it’s a really strong offering in the beautiful destination that is Jamaica. For that, you definitely do pay a premium for the location when you’re comparing it to the Excellence group Cancun resort offers, so it’s really dependent on what you’re looking for in a holiday when choosing where to book.
There is a lovely aesthetic throughout the resort, the rooms are contemporarily designed and the complex has a colonial feel about it. The one downside is that there was a bit of wear and tear in the rooms. Our shower leaked a little and the cupboard in the bedroom was a bit wonky, which you wouldn’t expect from a resort that opened so recently.
The service, food and overall experience were top class. Some of the produce being used wasnt of the highest standard. Specifically the steaks throughout the resort, but honestly we at InspoVacay have yet to have been to a resort that can deliver on this.
If you’ve never been to Jamaica and are looking to explore a new location, then this is the spot for you. If you are a seasoned all-inclusive traveler and want to maximize your value for money then we suggest checking out the Beloved in Cancun. It’s a superior offering and you get more bang for your buck there.
Q. Does the Excellence Oyster Bay offer a shuttle service from the Airport
A. Yes, a shuttle service from the airport can be requested. They do advise that you ring before your trip to check availability.
Q. Is parking available at the resort
A. Yes, parking is available for guest and it is complimentary
Q. Is Wi-Fi included
A. Free Wi-Fi is included throughout the resort and we found that the speeds were very good. We took one or two video calls when we visited and the quality was perfect, so you should not have any issue streaming videos or taking calls throughout the resort.
Q. What local attractions are there?
A. Our top tip for local attractions are the green grotto caves which are located a 30 minute drive away. These natural rock formations are a great day out. The maze of walkways wind through the caves that have taken millions of years to form. Admission to the caves is $20 for adults. For more on the Caves check out the Jamaica tourism website here. For more on things in the area, check out this great article