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The Grand Palladium & lady Hamilton Resort Lucea/Montego Bay Jamaica sits on an expansive 200 acre of land, 30 minutes west of Montego Bay and just outside of the historical seaside city of Lucea. The brilliant white domes of the Greek themed open air style lobby rises majestically over the stunning and scenic view of the turquoise ocean and the original Bamboo Bay cove. You are greeted with a welcome cocktail as you check in at the pristine and elegant lobby complete with a sweeping grand entry stairway.
Over a dozen or more buildings are scattered around this sprawling all inclusive resort and designed as plantation style villas with open balconies and inner courtyards that display bubbling fountains and exotic manicured gardens and grounds. As large as it is, Palladium provides free shuttle service between the buildings and the lobby.
Each of the rooms were spacious, with a modern, cool tiled sitting area or stylishly furnished living room with mini bar refrigerator, cold complimentary refreshments, flat screen TV that boasts several channels including premium channels, and ample closets. The bedrooms were decorated with relaxation in mind, sheer curtains draped luxuriously over the headboard, robes and slippers laid out for your pleasure. The bathrooms come equipped with marble enclosed Jacuzzi style tubs and separate large showers. Keep in mind that the buildings do not have elevators and your power or A/C must be turned on by using your door key.
The resort offers over seven a la carte restaurants and at least four buffet style restaurants with an all-inclusive array of tastes, drinks, and cuisine that should please any picky eaters’ palate. An impressive and regal five star spa was the highlight of our stay, which offered extensive selections of treatments, private saunas, baths, Jacuzzis, lazy pool and state of the art gym. However, the main attraction is the massive azure blue wading and diving pool with swim up bar, in water lounge chairs and view of the beaches on the edge of the pristine clear bay. In addition are the four different beaches and pools, each offering its own spectacular views and seclusion. At the cove there is complimentary access to water sport equipment including paddle boats, catamaran sailing, kayaking and snorkeling.
Not all paradise
For the unsuspecting readers who believe that they will receive a vacation of a lifetime complete with five-star VIP status, experience and treatment – be warned. Don’t get me wrong, the location is prime, the view magnificent and the grounds and facility lavish. However once inside the gilded cage, you start to see the cracks, holes and deterioration of the Grand Palladium, & Lady Hamilton Resort.
It does not help that the establishment is on its third General Manager in three and half years. No wonder the lack of motivation among its disgruntled staff which leaves you baffled. Grand Palladium & Lady Hamilton suffers from poor customer service, non-responsive housekeeping, lack of communication, cheap equipment and machinery, non-existent WIFI, lack luster food, theft and maintenance plagued buildings/rooms, and mediocre or boring activities.
Several requests for towels, pillows, robes and wash cloths over a period of six hours either went unheeded or given the excuse that they were short or ran out. Messages, emails or requests to management or front desks often went unanswered or failed to be delivered at all. Based on feedback from other guests, theft occurred frequently, and much to their chagrin, several people (including family of my own) had to be moved to other rooms when their room ceilings collapse from water damage and poor repairs. The food, although plentiful, lacked presentation and were bland in taste, similar to something you may receive at a cafeteria.
There is no free WIFI access in the rooms. It is only available in the lobbies or you may pay an absurd fee for a specific amount of access minutes using their internet computers, consisting of two computers with a printer on desks situated in the corner of the lobby. It was equally interesting to watch over a dozen guests in the lobby contort themselves in ridiculous poses, just to get a viable internet connection, which did not last long, as you were booted off as soon as a rain cloud passed by.
The shuttle trams, although available and easily accessible, were possibly cheap surplus acquisitions as evidenced by the on board warning signs that spoke in Chinese.
It was obvious through observation and good old fashion eavesdropping that staff are underpaid and dissatisfied. It speaks volumes when you realize that there are no opportunities for local professional growth, employee recognition or development, if you apparently do not speak Spanish. The Palladium is owned by the Spain-based Fiesta Hotel group, and almost all promotions are given to Spanish speaking staff or imports from other countries. Here’s a corporate leadership tip: If your staff are unhappy, so will be your customers.
Lastly, the activities available were infrequent and boring. Although they had nightly Las Vegas style shows and a couple of “disco” bars, the productions were high-schoolish at best and lacked the colorful energy of the culture of Jamaica. You would think such a grand display of refinery would take advantage of revitalizing a once popular tourism and celebrity haunt that was the city of Lucea, just a ten minute ride from the resort. Perhaps there could have been more prospects for activities there. Perhaps that would be too generous.
There were a few employees that outshone their compatriots and are worth mentioning. Oshane, a maintenance tech, seemed over-worked and yet dove into his task with a professional and respectful demeanor. In addition is Mr. Barry Dodd, Security Director, who went far and beyond his call of duty, by acting as our own personal tour guide of some old ruins and relocated graveyard. He even braved nettles, bramble bushes and dense foliage to get a close up photo of one of the grave headstones. Turns out that some of those graves belonged to ancestors of my family, who had lived and grown up on the very spot that the Grand Palladium & Lady Hamilton now stands.
To say the least I was more than disappointed with my stay. Will I return? Probably not. My recommendation is to take the extra 40 minutes and stay at some of the other more reputable inclusive resorts, such as Sandals, RIU and Couples all within miles of the Grand Palladium in Montego Bay or Negril. I am sure they will be more worthy of your hard earned money.
Photo Courtesy of Gewel Maker