(Closed) My Personal Review: Secrets St. James/Wild Orchid – Montego Bay, Jamaica (LONG)

posted 6 years ago in Honeymoons
Post # 17
2324 posts
Buzzing bee

Sorry to hear that it wasn’t as planned. You may have to go on an amazing trip for your anniversary to make up for it πŸ™‚

Post # 18
9951 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

First and foremost… I am happy to hear that you are married.  CONGRATULATIONS

I am sorry to hear that the Resort & your Honeymoon didn’t turn out as you planned / expected… that makes me truly sad… cause a Honeymoon should be memorable in a good way.

I haven’t used Secrets, but we have had Friends & Family Members who have… and they all had a good time (mind you it wasn’t these resorts or Jamaica)

Jamaica “currently” is a country that Mr TTR & I are giving a miss to.  We have friends who have had good vacations there (including Montego Bay, Negril & Ocho Rios) but even they have commented that it wasn’t PERFECT for the money they shelled out for AIs, Timeshares & Fancy Condo Resorts.

My hard earned Vacation Dollars and time off is too important to me to risk… so we have a “short list” of countries that we’ve been disappointed in that we won’t go back to… and an even shorter list of countries we won’t go to because of Political or Economic situations (Jamaica sadly is on BOTH those lists)

So we won’t be visiting again for quite awhile I am afraid… for the same money as an AI I am more prone to take a cruise or skip the whole AI thing and go to a better level of Island and do a Hotel / Resort / Condo vacation.

Out of curiosity, I went over to TripAdvisor to read the Reviews for both these locations… St James & Wild Orchid… BOTH have glowing comments… whatever that is worth.

Perhaps others being on vacation have lower expectations ?  Or perhaps they didn’t dish out for the top of the line comforts you did on your Honeymoon (Preferred Club).

But ya, I’d be more than just a little annoyed.

You might want to share a Review with others on TripAdvisor… so at least there is a more balanced viewpoint on what these Resorts can truly be like for Americans / Canadians coming from abroad.


Post # 21
9951 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

To @Coral99:  you said:

The reason I haven’t put a Trip Advisor review on there (I put a wonderful one for the one in Mexico) is b/c we are waiting to see the outcome of us contacing their corporate office, who I just spoke with last week. Before I left the review, I wanted it to be closed, so I could leave a complete one. πŸ™‚

This is wise reasoning !!


(a) You’ll be able to do a Review on the ENTIRE process beginning to end (case closed)

and also,

(b) As far as I know, I don’t think you can write an UPDATE Review or really alter one once you’ve submitted it to TripAdvisor… so best that you have the whole experience (how good or bad it is) BEFORE you actually document it.

You will most definitely doing others a favour… infact I’d put in everything from beginning to end… even those bits about the photos being retouched etc… cause that is stuff people want to know when they are looking for a place to spend their vacation.  (Lol, and there is no word max on TA for a Review, so you don’t have to worry about that being an issue)

Hopefully… your next Vacation (1st Anniversary ??) will be a far better one !!  And help to erase some of these bad memories from your Honeymoon.

Post # 22
8882 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

I’m sorry you had a bad experience.

I have to say I am shocked about this. Darling Husband and I honeymooned at Secrets Wild Orchid in August 2012 and had an amazing time. Everything was perfect and the staff was amazing. I’m not sure why the drastic change.

Post # 23
176 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

This is so frightening to me, because we did end up booking Seacrets MB.  We sprung for the Preferred Club and are staying on the Wild Orchid side.  Our honeymoon ended up costing us like 6k so if we have this horrible of an experience I think I will just be so devastated.  Scared now πŸ™ 

Post # 26
1987 posts
Buzzing bee

@Coral99:  I am very sorry about the problems that you experienced and don’t think that rudeness or indifference are OK in hospitality situations.  However, please don’t think that the reality of work conditions are particularly favorable to their workers.  I would imagine that management was trying to use that excuse to shift blame, which casts them in an even poorer light and confirms some of your other impressions about the property in general.  Watchdog organizations receive many reports of companies flouting whatever laws are on the books, and as Polly Pattullo, who is affiliated with the Guardian, wrote, in many cases “the reality [is] seasonal work, low wages, poor conditions, and scant security” (Last Resorts: The Cost of Tourism in the Caribbean, 54).

edited for dumb spelling errors–mea culpa!

Post # 28
1987 posts
Buzzing bee

@Coral99:  I clearly stated that I did not feel that rudeness and indifference were acceptable.  However, I believe that we do have a duty to ensure that we are doing our best to patronize places where worker and environmental protections are better than they are not.  No vacation will be perfect in this regard, but to be willfully unaware of what we are doing by maintaining fictions about the worker experience does not ever seem to be justifiable, in my opinion.

As for what you were told–you are a person of privilege and thus in the position of dominator vis-a-vis any worker (this will be amplified if you are white and the worker is not) and thus the people that you are conversing with have been socialized to speak with you in a certain way and to tell you what you wish to hear.  I don’t know how much familiarity you have with the work of post-colonialists like Frantz Fanon (The Wretched of the Earth, etc.), Gayatri Spivak (famous for, among other works, “Can the Subaltern Speak?”), and Edward Said (Orientalism, etc.), but they show how the colonized and oppressed develop coping methods of dealing with the colonizers or oppressors, and while I do not mean to name you as a colonizer or oppressor, as someone with wealth and an American identity, you position yourself powerfully over the worker and may trigger some of the same coping mechanisms, which often include lying or excuse-making in order to try and get on the side of the colonizer/oppressor/figure of power.  As V.S. Naipaul wrote, “Every poor country accepts tourism as an unavoidable degradation. None of these has gone so far as some of these West Indian islands which, in the name of tourism, have sold themselves into a new slavery” (quoted in Pattullo, p. 65).  In other words, people have every incentive to lie to Western tourists, to make them think that any disenchantment among workers is due to those workers being lazy (which is easy, as they can easily play into racist stereotypes that Westerners have and that you come dangerously close to invoking in your response to me), because these islands are so dependent on tourism to solve problems of unemployment (tourism has damanged organic economies–Gmelch (Behind the Smile, 2012, p.9) argues that declines in other sectors of Jamaica’s economy forced a greater reliance on tourism–and threatened environmental stability in these nations) that they cannot risk truths being released that would cause conscience-minded tourists to stay away.

For more on worker conditions in Jamaica and across the Caribbean, in addition to the work cited in my previous response and the work cited in this post, please see the work of Hilary Beckles; the thesis of C. Hertel, “Motivational Job Satisfaction of Small Hotel Employees in Kingston, Jamaica,” the literature review of which shows that many workers do not feel satisfied; D. Dodman’s 2009 article in Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, which finds that ” However, existing patterns of national economic development – including the expansion of the tourism industry – have failed to alleviate the social and environmental problems faced by relatively powerless members of the Jamaican society;” Sommer and Carrier, “Tourism and its Others: Tourists, Traders, and Fishers in Jamaica” in the book Tourism, Power and Culture (2010); Kingsbury, Paul.  “Sociospatial Sublimation: The Human Resources of Love in Sandals Resorts International, Jamaica,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers (101.3), which discusses the commodification of workers.  I quote from the abstract: “I explore two ways through which sublimation, a place- and value-making activity par excellence, informs the commodified interactions between Sandals service workers and tourists: first, how management discourses ‘elevate’ workers to the ‘place of the Thing’—a place that radiates sublime enjoyment; second, how workers avoid the dangers of overwhelming guests with too much enjoyment by following the practices of ‘love-sublimation’ codified in the fantasies of ‘Guest Courtesy’ and ‘The Sandals Customer Service Checklist.'”

Again, to repeat the first sentence from my first response, you are entitled to the service that you paid for–however, I think that by accepting the narrative that this is the workers’ fault because of the protections they have or their attitude you may perhaps not direct your justified ire at the management and other people in positions of power at the property that you stayed at and, in doing so, might close yourself off to other travel opportunities in the region that you might genuinely enjoy.  Once again, to be very clear: I am very sorry that your experience was so poor, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.  I think that the property’s willingness to blame its workers is indicative of something even deeper, and that you may have more success in future trips if you keep this property’s behavior in that respect in mind.

Post # 30
335 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

Im so sorry you had such a shitty time. I just wanted to say that we honeymooned at Couples San Souci in Ochos Rios and we had nothing but extremely helpfull do anything for you staff at our hotel. We also dud a ton of trips off resort with tours and private taxis and everyone was wonderful! I dont think its Jamaica as a whole, perhaps your bad luck at choosing a hotel coupled with bad timing in catching the wrong mamager or staff being particularilly unmotivated at the resort? We would go back time and time again!

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