Aug
27
2010

Secrets Resort

Set on an idyllic white-sand peninsula, Jamaica's Secrets Resorts offers two different properties to suit your style: Secrets St. James and Secrets Wild Orchid.

Secrets Resorts made its first entry into Jamaica in spring 2010 with its $180-million, adults-only Secrets Wild Orchid and Secrets St. James, side-by-side beauties of 351 suites each on a t-shape peninsula in Montego Bay, sharing a long stretch of white-sandy beach.

There are nine restaurants and nine bars, mostly in a shared promenade which includes a string of shops and recreation area.

Sweet Suites, Stunning Views

I stayed on the Wild Orchid side, my suite big, airy, and perfectly sized for a single traveller like me. Suites have a balcony with ocean and/or pool view and my fourth-floor suite had both, with the azure Caribbean to my left, and the huge pool area below.

Even at times of raucous pool-bar gatherings (It’s an all-inclusive, so complimentary drinks flow freely), once I closed my slider, there was nary an audible hint of ruckus below.

The living area was roomy, the king bed superbly comfortable. Immediately adjacent is the bathroom, most unusually separated from the living area by a billowy brown curtain, giving a gauzy feel to the bathroom behind it, which boasts a stand-alone whirlpool tub, his-and-her vanity and dark-stone shower and toilet, both hidden by elegant frosted doors.

A nice, but scary, touch: Each bathroom has a scale. With the food here, I steered clear of weighty reminders of how good it is.

Loads of Grub

There are nine restaurants, but by far, I most enjoyed the luxury of Bordeaux, a French restaurant that serves an amazing array of outstanding food.

There is a dress code for all restaurant—no shorts, men, sorry—but when a couple of us showed up in them, they were gracious about setting us up outside, which is a glorious al fresco way to enjoy remarkable cuisine.

We tried nearly everything, starting with mussel sautéed in a creamy white wine sauce with apple brandy, followed by bouillabaisse, then some goat cheese baked in crispy filo, sweet French onion soup and a most fork-tender filet with Madeira sauce.

Dessert was a native sour sop cheesecake, the most unusual variation I’ve ever ravenously sampled.

For breakfast, hit the World Café buffet which includes Jamaican saltfish and ackee, boiled green bananas and calalo. Go on, eat like a native.

Best bar in the place was the Barracuda, right on the beach with swing seats and sofas all around.

Spa-tacular

The Secrets spa is a place of watery elegance, with Zen fountains all around, a layout of hydrotherapy most sublime. Treatments are extra, but for $55, Secrets guests can use this portion of the spa (Preferred Suites members get it free). 

Here is a large pool, at one end of which are steel-roller chaises underwater, bubbles raging beneath, a watery massage unto itself.

There are various standing stations to get soothed by warm froth, and there is also a series of powerful jets—one straight on, the other a fan-shaped blast—that pound your upper body into glorious submission as you stand beneath them.

From there, take a dip into an ice-cold plunge pool, or walk the footbath, first hot, then cold, or veg in the giant heated Jacuzzi.

And all that watery wondrousness is perfect prelude to a massage. Treatments are varied, I went with the basic 50-minute Swedish massage for $130 that left me as relaxed as I’d been in ages, wandering back to my room to relax—and avoid the damn scale.

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Paul Kandarian

Paul E. Kandarian is a Boston-based freelance travel writer and photographer whose work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Air in-flight magazine, Upscale Living magazine, Go Caribbean and many others. He prefers warm-weather climes but will go wherever the fun…err work, is.

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