Are you looking for a great family vacation? Recently my family had the opportunity to visit the Moon Palace Jamaica Resort in Ocho Rios Jamaica.
We have never taken a big family trip outside of the United States before, so when we were presented with the opportunity to visit a Moon Palace Resort we jumped on it! My children are older now, 12,8,7, and 4 years old to be exact, so we were excited to take them all on this wonderful adventure.
Palace Resorts has a promotion where kids stay free! You also get a free airport transfer and $1,500 in resort credit. The resort credit can be used towards excursions, spa treatments, private dinners and more.
I know that you all have enjoyed my other travel reviews, so I thought I would share with you some of my favorite things about this resort and why we prefer to travel with our family to all-inclusive resorts.
First – why Jamaica? We LOVE Jamaica. We love the people, the culture, and the weather. Jamaican people are some of the kindest people you will meet, we keep going back for this reason.
We also love that arriving in Jamaica is easy. The flights are relatively inexpensive and it doesn't take too long from our home in New York.
One tip about traveling to Jamaica is to purchase a Club Mobay pass. This is especially important when traveling with young children who don't like to wait in the long lines at customs. Club Mobay is a pass that expedites you to the front of the lines for immigration and customs. You get a private host that meets you after you get off your plane and then walks you through customs and immigration. Within 30 minutes of deboarding, we were sitting in a lounge, waiting for our transportation to the resort. The kids each got a snack and a bottle of water, and there are also drinks available if you drink alcohol (we don't drink.)
The pass costs $50 per person for arrival or $80 per person for both arrival and departure. This time I chose to pay for arrival and departure, as I wasn't sure how my kids would do waiting in long lines.
This Moon Palace Resort is located in Ocho Rios Jamaica. One of the downfalls of staying in Ocho Rios is that you have a 90-minute ride to get there from the Montego Bay Airport. We had a wonderful driver who taught us so much about Jamaican culture, so the 90 minutes went very quickly. Two of my children actually fell asleep while on our bus, so it was a plus for us 🙂
As you can imagine, traveling with a large family of 4 kids + 2 adults can be very expensive. We find that All Inclusive resorts help us budget more efficiently, and give us a relaxing time where we don't have to plan out meals and other expenses. We can truly go on vacation and relax instead of stressing over the planning and extra expenses.
I booked four nights at the resort with money that I have put away in my Smarty Pig savings account. We didn't go through a travel agency, I actually worked directly with the PR company that books media for trips. It was easy and pain-free!
When arriving at the Moon Palace Jamaica Resort we were presented with cold towels and a red carnation. It was a nice touch and made us feel very welcome. We entered into the lobby where we were promptly checked in and given our room keys.
Each of us was then given a bracelet that we were to wear the entire time we stayed. It had a code on it which helped with security (if one of our kids got lost), and also was used to check into some of the restaurants.
We stayed in the Family Deluxe Suite, which basically was two conjoined rooms with doors connecting. The rooms were bright and clean, with balconies overlooking the water. One bedroom had a king bed, while the second bedroom had 2 queen beds.
There were only stand up showers in the bathrooms, so there were no bathtubs. Most of our kids take showers anyways, it wasn't a huge deal for us but is a good thing to note if you are traveling with smaller children.
Our room was equipt with a mini fridge that had a variety of soda, beers, wine, and bottled waters. There was also a fully stocked mini bar right inside the room as well as unlimited red wine. Mark and I don't drink, so we didn't take advantage of these perks, but I think it is a selling point for those who do. It is restocked daily.
There were mini bathrobes and slippers for each kid as well, which made them really happy. The room with the two queen beds also has an Xbox Game system, perfect for rainy days.
There are 7 restaurants on the property. Since it is an all-inclusive resort, all food and drinks are included. This makes it easy for us to budget since we don't have to worry about food expenses.
Here are the 7 restaurant options:
Momo is a fine dining Hibachi restaurant. This was our kids first experience at a Hibachi grill, and it was so fun watching them experience it. You have to make reservations for this restaurant and there is a dress code for men. Men have to wear long pants and closed toed shoes. They serve Hibachi style food made fresh in front of you with your own personal cook. It was a really fun time and the food was great!
It is open up for dinner from 6 pm – 11 pm.
Gondola is a fine dining Italian restaurant. We did not eat here, not because we didn't want to but because we didn't want to bring 4 overtired kids to a place where they had to be proper and sit down quietly. (Mom's I know you understand). You also need to make reservations at this restaurant, and it also has the same dress code as Momo.
To make reservations for both Momo and LaGondola you need to call from the phone in your room between specific hours, usually between 9 am to 3 pm. It is open up for dinner from 6 pm – 11 pm.
This bake shop/cafe is open 24/7. We stopped by here frequently to get coffee and snacks. They have a variety of sandwiches and fruits, but our favorite part was the treats. There was ice cream, crepes, and baked goods galore! Even for gluten-free folks like me, there were plenty of treats to eat.
This is a full-service buffet restaurant. You are seated by a hostess and then are welcome to get up and get whatever food you desire. We ate most of our meals at this restaurant, everyone found something that they liked so it made dining easier for us. Especially with tired children for dinner.
This is not your average buffet, there were literally 40 + choices of what to eat.
Breakfast had a variety of egg dishes, pancakes, waffles, fruits, yogurt, bread, and pastries. There really is something for everyone.
Lunch and Dinner served freshly cooked hot dogs and hamburgers, sandwiches, sushi, pizza, salads, and many other local dishes. There were so many different choices and we always found something that someone loved (a huge plus when traveling with children).
Pier 8 is a seafood restaurant right on the edge of the ocean. We went there the last night and it did not disappoint. They have a fantastic kids menu on top of their regular dinner menu. The menu serves a variety of seafood, steaks, and salads. Everything was delicious!
It is open for all 3 meals.
There is 24-hour room service. You order it by calling from your room and the menu is listed on the TV. We did this a few times, the kids thought it was one of the best parts of the vacation 🙂 They had a large menu with the usual items: Pizza, Burgers, Waffles, Eggs, Steak etc.
This is across the hall from the Boulangerie Coffee Shop. They have sushi, pizza, and paninis. It is a casual restaurant where you just walk up and place your order, much like you would in a pizza place. It is open from 11 am – 11 pm.
Sundeck Grill & Bar:
This is a beautiful restaurant overlooking the ocean. We ate here the first night and everyone was able to get something they liked. They have pizza, soups, steaks, salads, and pasta. They even had a gluten free penne pasta for me!
The snack bar is located next to the pool where the water slide is. They have hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos and much more! It is a casual place where you can eat in your bathing suits. We ate there one afternoon and the food was good, it just took a long time to get it. Thankfully the kids could just swim until it was ready.
They do have 3 different adult only spaces, which we did not check out. There is the Piano Bar, Loud Bar, and the Noir Dance club.
What to do with kids:
There is so much to do with children, this was one of the main attractions of this all-inclusive. Here is a rundown of everything you can do with your kids.
1.) Unlimited Virgin Strawberry Daiquiris and Pina Coladas. The kids thought this was one of the best things EVER! This is a typical part of an all-inclusive so it's not unique to Moon Palace Resorts, but worth saying because my kids thought it was pretty awesome.
2.) Pools and Water Slide. One of the main pools has a huge waterslide. We spent around 85% of our days in the pool with the waterslide. It is called the Activity Pool, and there are people who provide entertainment there during the day. They do trivia, announce beach volleyball and bocci ball, plus much more. Most of the people in this pool were traveling with kids, and there was very little alcohol consumption. I don't really love for my kids to be exposed to excessive drunkenness during our vacations. This pool was very relaxing and family oriented.
3.) Quiet beach. The beach was quiet, the water was shallow without any waves. It was a great beach for small children! The water in Jamaica is so amazing, clear and blue and warm!
4.) Water Activities. We went sailing one day, kayaking another, and they had water bikes and paddleboards as well. These activities are included in your stay.
5.) Flow Rider – This is a simulated surfing experience. We had a lot of fun trying it out. Mark and Andrew were able to surf, while Hannah and I just tried on our stomachs. It was harder than it looks, but it was really fun!
6.) Wired Lounge – The Wired Lounge is for all ages, but you can drop your kids off there and they have a great staff to play games with them. There is a snack bar inside which serves ice cream, popcorn pizza, sodas, and frozen slushies. There are video games, air hockey, a movie room, and music. We didn't leave the kids there but did spend an hour there with the kids playing games and had a great time!
7.) Splash Park – This is perfect for the younger kids. It is a small splash pad that you have to enter by going to the Playroom kids club. I took my 4-year-old there and she enjoyed it for a few minutes. It is probably best suited for kids ages 1-4.
Here are some other features this resort offers:
The Playroom: This is childcare for kids 4-12. It has daily activities planned, which you can find in the Palace Resorts App. You can drop your kids off and go have a special romantic dinner or head to the gym.
Fitness Center: Open from 6 am to 10 pm. It was a full gym with everything you expect from your local gym back home.
Excursions: They have staff on hand just for excursion planning. There is a dolphin swim session that you can do right at the resort, but we opted to go to Dolphin Cove and spend some extra money on that.
The Awe Spa: Want an amazing spa experience? Then check out their amazing Spa. I didn't pay for any of their services because the prices were pretty high in my opinion, however, you can use your resort credits to pay for any of their services.
Nightly Entertainment: They have live shows every night which start at 9 pm. I didn't watch any of them because my kids were already in bed, but Mark went to watch one and said it was very entertaining.
Do you Tip?
Depending on who you talk to, you may get a different answer. I did bring a few hundred in American cash because I like to tip as much as I can. I like to give a few dollars to the busboy, or a tip to our sailboat driver. It is not necessary or expected, but I think that they really appreciate it. They like American money, so you don't have to exchange it for Jamaican money.
I would definitely go back! The food was amazing, the staff was friendly, and the property was perfectly maintained.
Make sure that you download the Palace Resorts App while you are staying there, it makes it so much easier to know what is going on. You can see all of the menus from the restaurants ahead of time, and see the schedule for all activities.
Thank you Palace Resorts for hosting us for the 5 days and 4 nights! It was a dream vacation for us!