This older resort, spruced up to compete with its glittering neighbors, still offers top values for your vacation dollars.
Though the Holiday Inn brand may not jibe with your image of a tropical resort, at this Holiday Inn MOntego Bay (888/HOLIDAY, 876/953-2485) property, families will find a great beachfront setting, a casual ambience, bountiful buffets, strains of reggae, and an easy-going no problem staff. The recently renovated and very family-welcoming resort dates to an era when cut Jamaican limestone, a striking exterior waterfall and space to roam were the hallmarks of a true “Caribbean” getaway so you’ll really know you are someplace else.
The Holiday Inn’s basic premise is to keep people busy, feed them a lot, and all ages will have fun. Kids’ activities and resort-wide games and shows center around the bustling, winding, lagoon-style pool where, it seems, most parents prefer to splash around with their kids rather than send them off to camp.
However, there is a drop-in Kidspree Vacation Club, and you can easily get away from other peoples’ children at the long stretch of gold sand beach. Granny’s Nursery supervises children 6 months-3 years, the main facility accepts Adventurers ages 4-7, The Wonder Years is a program for ages 8-12 (open 9am-9pm), and the Teen Scene video game room is open to all.
Scheduled activities for children include face painting, volleyball, sand castle building, and excursions, plus supervised theme nights if parents want to go out. The main buffet can get a little raucous because of the activity surrounding the pint-sized children’s only buffet table. If you are traveling with little ones, private nannies are available for $25/day for up to two kids and $5 for each additional child.
For the standard rate, there are 524 Formica-trimmed and sensibly-designed spacious rooms that can adjoin to accommodate larger families. There are also 26 large, one-bedroom family suites featuring a bedroom with king bed, and master bath with whirlpool tub and a separate glass-enclosed shower. In the main living area, there is a pullout double sofa, coffee table, and activity table with chairs. Both rooms have televisions and all the rest of the standard amenities (hair dryer, personal safe, coffee maker, iron and board, some with minifridge). There’s even a guest Laundry Room.
The Holiday Inn caters to the mobility impaired with seven handicap accessible, ground floor rooms. There are convenient elevators in the four-story room blocks and broad pathways curve that through the attractive grounds. We especially like the fact that several well-shaded restaurants offer a pool or beach view, as well as a dock with gazebo, so that elders can be active or relaxed, and always part of the action. The resort’s outdoor activities include tennis, miniature golf, and an oceanfront whirlpool but the pretty MoBay beach is the real draw.
Sore Point: The Gaming Parlor with slot machines is right next to the Pizza Bar with big-screen TV, though it’s technically off limits to under-18s.
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