What We Love
- Endless on-site recreation options, including horseback riding, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, and croquet
- The stretch of beach here is among the prettiest in Montego Bay
- The property’s immense size means it never feels crowded
- Private balconies with comfortable outdoor furniture
- The Cedar Bar, right on the oceanfront, is a great spot for a sundowner
What To Know
- Getting to some of the resort’s restaurants (which are on the pricey side) involves taking the shuttle
- There's a Robert Trent Jones Sr. golf course on-site
- WiFi is included in the resort fee
- Child and additional adult policy varies by season
- Free WiFi
- Golf Course
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
Half Moon exudes old-school charm on one of the prettiest beaches in Montego Bay. The 400-acre property is like a miniature village composed of two-story buildings surrounded by lush foliage. The lobby, with its marble floors and black-and-white photos of notable past guests (such luminaries as Prince Rainier of Monaco and Queen Elizabeth II have stayed here), is a welcoming space that opens onto a large oceanfront terrace restaurant and bar. Nearly 180 rooms, suites, and villas front a long sweep of sugary sand, featuring large balconies with comfortable furniture and ceiling fans to keep the tropical air in motion. Marble floors, kingsize beds, and living areas with coffee tables and minibars make the rooms feel more like apartments. For all the relaxation to be found on the beach, Half Moon also offers more recreational activities than you can count. There’s the 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., 11 lighted tennis courts, and 54 swimming pools (one is Olympic-size), not to mention the resort’s equestrian center and water sports program (scuba diving, windsurfing, wakeboarding). Start with drinks at Cedar’s Bar to watch the sunset, then head over to the Sugar Mill for a memorable meal. And if you overindulge, work off your guilt at the fitness center.
In the Area
While the Half Moon has its own course with ocean views, consider playing a round at nearby Cinnamon Hill Golf Course; the back nine overlooks Johnny and June Cash’s former home. Looking to head out for dinner? Right next to touristy Margaritaville in Montego Bay’s Hip Strip entertainment district, Marguerites offers a refined dining experience with flavorful flambée and seafood dishes. Opt for a table on the oceanfront patio and listen to the waves crash under you while you eat. You can’t leave Jamaica without trying the spicy, sweet and savory jerked meats. Hit the Pork Pit (27 Gloucester Avenue, near Aquasol beach) for Montego Bay’s best. For some wildlife viewing, drive inland 20 minutes from Montego Bay to the town of Anchovy to experience nature at the Rocklands Bird Feeding Station and Sanctuary; here you can hand-feed birds and spot some of Jamaica’s 20 native species.
How to Get There
My wife and I stayed for five nights in mid-February. Built originally in the 1950's, the resort has maintained its colonial charm and elegance. We've traveled extensively, staying at many top hotels, and the service at Half Moon is the best we've ever experienced. This was our second year here and each stay was wonderful. The beachfront rooms are literally beachfront - twelve steps to the sandy beach. We opted for the all inclusive plan - breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks - and the food is superb. For breakfast and lunch, you can opt for menu service or an extensive buffet and dinner is offered at three different top-notch restaurants. But as great as the rooms, food, and beach are, it's the resort employees who really make this place exceptional. The level of personal service and friendliness is unparalleled.
It is hard to find better and more attentive overall service in the Caribbean a comparable luxury resort. The beachfront room we stayed in in the Hibiscus area was impeccable and spacious. Unfortunately there are serious flaws with a stay in this property and here are what I consider the major ones:
1. We tried all restaurants; except for breakfast, all of the food was mediocre and overpriced. twice we returned fish entries as overcooked and inedible. Waiter finally admitted it was frozen fish. Hello? No fresh fish in Montego Bay??? We tried to switch to a meal plan to try to find some value but the hotel indicated it had to be done at time of reservation and went they finally agreed, there was no savings.
2. You are essentially locked-in the property and not necessarily the fault of the Hotel. Taxi fares are set by the Union and are outrageously expensive as are tours to other attractions.
3. Mixed drinks at the hotel bars were short on the alcohol - almost at the level of a juice or fruit punch. It seems the hotel gets twice the drinks from a bottle of liquor than the norm.
4. We tried the Surf and Turf tour at the Equestrian Center (see separate review) and were dissapointed at the fact that the description at the brochure and the encouragement to take it by the hotel's concierge are seriously overstated.
First, know that this is a beautiful resort with a phenomenal staff. Despite it not being a very good value, we are likely to return.
Next, since there is NO information about restaurant prices or meal plan options on Half Moon's website, I hope this will be helpful to prospective guests:
At the start of 2019, Half Moon started offering a complimentary breakfast buffet at Seagrape. It's delicious and large, with considerable variety.
Also at the start of the year, Half Moon dropped all meal plans except their Premium Plan. This plan covers the cost, service charge, and tax on all three meals and beverages. The cost of the Premium Plan for an adult is $206 a day; this includes tax and their service charge. For children 12 and younger, the plan is half the price.
The service charge that the hotel adds to just about everything is pooled and given to all hotel employees. Thus, many guests still leave a tip for their server(s) despite already paying the service charge.
Here are some of our family's dining bills from February 2019:
$40 - Burger, fries, and soda for 1 (room service)
$93 - Buffet lunch for 2 (Seagrape)
$124 - 1 buffet lunch, 2 a la carte lunches (Seagrape)
$235 - Dinner for 3 (Il Giardino)
$183 - Dinner for 2 (Sugar Mill)
$172 - Dinner for 2 (Seagrape)
Though expensive, the food's delicious!
For an older property, it is well maintained. Hibiscus rooms have nice ocean-view. Rooms are clean. The decor is colonial. No convenient electrical outlets near the beds, and I had to ask for a make up mirror, which was installed a day later. Lobby is open and happy hour is pleasant with 3 lovely local musicians. Service was inconsistent. Bellman was wonderful. Front Desk inconsistent, the young intern was the best one. Some of the waitresses seemed tired of tourists. Others were great. I did experience bugs in the bathroom daily. Especially by the sink. I even got bit in the bathroom by a small black bug. Had a very nice pilates instructor at the spa. It was a good stay, but not great.
This was our first time at Half Moon and it was exactly perfect. Taking family with two little ones could have been challenging, but the staff made every moment memorable. Our only challenge was the booking with a travel agent. We booked in August, but last minute it did not translate to what we expected. While not their issue the reservation personnel said, not to worry, it will be made right. They worked miracles and we arrived knowing the details were all taken care of. At every moment during the week everyone anticipated our needs even before we knew what we wanted. The staff was so kind, it was like they knew us all forever. We stayed in the Hibiscus Suites and if you stay here you will not be disappointed. As I said, the agent did not get it right, but at check-in we were guided, and at breakfast Basil not only answered my remaining question he took care of every detail. Attention to detail is what we saw with every interaction. Bertrand at breakfast made sure our individual needs were always met. The beach and lunch teams looked out for us and the little ones would have stayed with them forever. On the beach we did not need to ask about activities, the water team offered suggestions. That never happens in my travels. Dinner at the Italian restaurant was my favorite. But all the venues were excellent and each of us had our favorites. A wonderful meal was had thanks to Chef Christopher at the Sugar Mill. The five year old is still talking about him. I do need to say not only was the food excellent at every turn, but the drinks were equally amazing and consistently so. When a cocktail is made right, (and I am seriously picky) one will do just fine. We savored every drink, took the staff recommendations along the way, and all was perfect. Now I wish had not worried. Coming from 2 different cities, and learning that Half Moon did not have most of our details caused panic. Yet, as they said, don't worry and they were right. My other advice is don't miss out on the spa. I almost didn't go and like everything it was personalized. I would say it was because of Carl, but I must add, everyone saw to perfection. Andrew in the fitness center, the tennis, etc. The equestrian center was phenomenal. They couldn't have done more for us. We never made it to the golf course, but next time we will. We will make this a yearly event for our families. Thank you everyone for caring and being so supportive. I believe that this culture comes from the top and the kindness we experienced must be embedded in the everyday actions. There is so much more good to say, but simply thank you for an unforgettable vacation.