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Reviewed 13 August 2006

This was my 4th trip to Jamaica and this hotel. This time I went as my best friend was getting married and we all stopped at Club Ambiance. As soon as I checked in I was greeted with the warmest welcome, they always remember your name. My friend got married at Shaw Park Gardens in Ocho Rios but she had the reception at the hotel and the staff and Manager were more than happy to accomodate her wishes and even helped with transport to the wedding.
Well now to praise some people:
Mr Blackwood the Resort Manager is a wonderful man, he makes you feel at home as soon as you arrive till you leave, he is always happy and seems to love what he does. He makes each guest feel special.
All the reception staff are lovely and can't do enough to help you.
The kitchen staff do a wonderful job and there is always alot of choice on the menu, they also have a grill bar during the day where you can get burgers and toasted sandwiches etc.
The waiting staff in the restaurant are wonderful, especially Orlando, he knows what a faddy eater I am and would always make sure that there was something I ate, and is just the sweetest person.
The entertainment staff are great, on this trip they were a bit short staffed but Damien and especially Lemeica did a very good job of getting the guests involved in the activities. I even found myself joining in alot of them, even the fashion show!!
And now for the place I spent alot of my time, the bar, the staff are wonderful and it was nice to see Faith and Barney again. Rayon was still there also I met him on my last visit and he makes a great purple rain and he is a laugh. Phillip makes the best pink lady and he is such a sweet guy. And the newest bartender Andrew is lovely also, and makes every guest feel special, he also made me laugh alot.
I think that is all I have to say, I can't wait till my next trip back!! And I highly recommend this hotel, the atmosphere is warm and friendly and it has everything you need for a fab holiday.

Stayed: July 2006
8  Thank Michelle-AKA-pixie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 August 2006

My boyfriend and i have not long returned from a fabulous two weeks at Club Ambiance. Hopefully this review will do the place justice! WHERE DO I START??
Our check in was very swift by the attentitive reception staff and the welcome drink was much welcomed! We had a room which overlooked the pool and the ocean. The bathroom was a little tired, I did mention this to our rep, the lovely Elva, who made sure reception showed us another room, which they very kindly did. This room had been recently refurbished, however i then remembered our drive in from sangster airport and thought about the dire poverty that the locals live their very happy lives in and i felt terrible for complaining about a tired looking bathroom so we stayed put in our original room which at the end of the day had all the comforts we needed, that is water pressure better than back home, fridge, iron, huuge bed!! and the AC (which i had to turn off some times as it was too cold!) And whats more it was spotless thanks to our maid Monica who happily sang her way through her work! We spent time at both the beach, which was very relaxing, and the pool, where Omar and Aaron would entertain us in between working tiredlessly to keep the pool/beach areas clean. We went on the bike ride to the Green Grotto Caves, opting not to go into the caves( I don't think we missed much) Aaron from the pool took charge of the bike ride which was well worth it and on the way back we stopped and spent some time with the locals who were catching fish and cooking them straight away on the grill. We tried some parrott fish which was nice, the locals were delighted we stopped and didn't look for tips, neither did Aaron. We enjoyed going out of the resort and meeting the locals, particularly taking ziggy for a warm guinness at the Blue Pearl next door! During our stay we also went to Nine mile, Dunns falls, Horseriding, Shopping in Ochio Rios and to a local football match, I recommend them all. Two of the entertainment team, Dave and Opheal were relieved of their duties on our second week which did not impact too much on the guests as Damion almost singlehandedly took care of the Entertainment programme, come rain or shine. Lamika looked a little lost. The MAN DAVE RICKETTS AND THE FOUR REAL BOYS were a pleasure to listen too and the nightly entertainment was varied and of good quality, finishing at 11PM, but don't worry DJ Rymes carries on in the Fantasia night club, a good way to dance off the midnight snack!!. One Downside about the holiday is the excess weight we have piled on, I blame Roderick, it was such a delight being greeted by him in the morning that it was so har to resist the freshly cooked eggs and pancakes! I did hear a couple of moans about the food but i noticed the complainants still managed to pile their plates up or go for seconds!! My favourites had to be the jamaican night outside on the terrace, with a sweet potato pudding to die for, and the fillet from the grill. The burgers during the day are delicious, we had a problem one day at the grill where service was slow with one particular member of staff but this was dealt with at the time and certainly did not spoil our holiday. On a whole it was the staff who made our holiday. They were so hardworking from those behind the scene to the management who would always say morning. Gilbert Blackwood introduced all of his team one night and then had dinner with them which i though was a nice gesture. It is a shame to single anyone out but Kayon at Legends Bar is a Legend herself with her beautiful smile, stories and dirty jokes!! Barney, Philip, Faith, Andrew AND Bathia also deserve a mention. CLUB AMBIANCE is what it says, casual and charming a break from the mega resorts, it was so personal, staff all knew our name it was like leaving family behind!. I hope they keep up the hardwork and hold on to the staff, because it was NICE AND WE WILL DO IT TWICE!

  • Stayed: July 2006, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
21  Thank calypsochris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 August 2006

Like a previous reviewer I had been tracking Club Ambiance on Trip Advisor for some months and am delighted to say that the generally excellent reviews are an honest reflection of this property.
Having stayed at several other Carribean Islands in 4 or 5 star hotels it is my opinion that pound for pound CA is up there with the best.
If huge sandy beaches and 5star luxury is what you expect from a holiday then this may not be for you. However if good food, a clean, relaxing environment and the friendliest, hard working staff floats your boat then this is right up your street.
The only negatives to report during our two weeks in July were the occasional water shortage in the shower, gaining half a stone in weight from the yummy food and puds, and having to come home. The latter really was a wrench.
As previous postings have mentioned the staff really do create the "ambiance". From the moment you check in any cares you may have in the outside world are swiftly swept away.
It seems unfair to single out any member of staff but I do feel that Orlando, Leon and Roderick in the Dining Room are stars as are Kayon, Bethia, Faith, Philip and of course Barnie at the bars. Not forgetting Omar and Aaron the hard working Pool Attendants.
There are numerous others who work away quietly and efficiently behind the scenes from Maids to Gardeners and Cooks who rarely get a mention but are all valuable members of the team.
The entertainment most nights could have came direct from Caesars Palace. With the Sunday pier karaoke coming direct from Caesar Salad!!
The resident house band Four Real Boys with their lead singer Dancing Dave Rickets are "highly" versatile and will play music to suit all tastes.
Legends bar is a cooling oasis and a great gathering place at the end of a hard day on the lounger, to watch the sun go down while having a laugh and a chat with fellow guests accompanied by the dulcit tones of Bob Marley.
Do try to venture out and meet Ziggy he is a really friendly local character who is only too willing to tell you tales about the local culture. You will be made most welcome at the Blue Pearl next door. Give it a try for a nice cold bottle of beer.
We did the Dunnes River Falls and the Bob Marley trip to Nine Mile. Both offered good value for money.
Roderick the breakfast chef took us to see a soccer match one Sunday which was an experience I shall never forget. Local culture at its finest. Although the half time oranges had a pungent smell! Come to think of it they must use the same oranges at Bob Marleys place!!!!
We met lots of nice friends from the U.K. Holland and the USA
If your reading this Katherine, Da Man Dave, Jamie and partner Michael, Julie, Timmy, Bonnie, Maureen, Don, Karon, King Barry White, Pam, Dawn, Scary Mary, Lou, Andy, and of course Brian and his Texan entourage with the insulated barrels. Thanks for making us laugh.
Shall we return? YEA MON. See you next year!

  • Stayed: July 2006, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
11  Thank bigpetemon2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 August 2006

We just got back from our vacation yesterday and both of us wish we were still there. This resort is perfect for a relaxing getaway. We had the best time.

The standard room was spacious and clean, the food was delicous, drinks were great and the bartenders were friendly and helpful, there was always something to do and there were plenty of places to soak up the sun. I will admit the shower situation is a little tricky but nothing to get worked up about. All it takes is a positive attitude and you will completely enjoy yourself.

If you want a laid back atmosphere with no crowds and a chance to get away from it all with great value for the money, go stay at Club Ambiance. We are already looking forward to next year. And this time we will be staying for at least a full week instead of only 5 nights.

  • Stayed: July 2006, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
7  Thank canwegonow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 August 2006

My mother and I just returned from Club Ambiance. We stayed there from Fri July 27th thru Mon July 31th. This was my mother’s first time in Jamaica and although she’s not a drinker she can throw down at the dinner table so an all-inclusive resort was a must, so I picked this hotel because of the price but would definitely go back even if the price was higher.

PRICE:
As an airline employee, I was able to get an unbeatable rate of $65 per person per night thru id90.com. The rate even included roundtrip airport transfer (a big plus since the taxi fare alone would have been about $80 each way). Booking directly with the hotel would have only been an extra $20 per person per night (a down right steal compared to other all-inclusive hotels). There weren’t any hidden charges such as resort fees. It’s a tip-free hotel (meaning you don’t have to tip) but the staff only make the equivalent of $1.75/hr so a few of two dollar tips go along way (the equivalent to $130 in Jamaican dollars).

LOCATION:
It took about 1½ hrs to get to the hotel but only 1hr to get back to the airport. This was probably due to the time of day rather than the speed of the driver. We arrived in Jamaica at around 11:30am and didn’t get to the hotel until 2:30pm. We left the hotel at 3pm and was checking in for our flight by 4pm. There's road construction going on and although the city government has finally decided to widen the road from two lanes to four, driving during the “in-between” stage is not only time-consuming but very scary, so be prepared. Although, we were the firs people in line at customs (literally) and the wait for our luggage was longer than ideal, the airport transfer time was done right ridiculous. Our transfer was thru Tropical Tours but I would definitely opt for Jamaica Tours if at all possible….three of the Jamaica Tour "greyhound-style" buses left before our family-sized minivan even attempted to leave. We actually had to get out the vehicle to go fetch our driver so that we could get going. Not his fault of course, he was just following orders, but I think Tropical Tours likes to fill ever seat before taking off unlike Jamaica Tours, or so it seemed.

CHECK-IN:
When the van pulled up to the hotel, I immediately thought “HELL TO THE NAW”, but felt much better after I actually went in. The lobby wasn’t that impressive, but the front desk staff were flawless in their welcoming. We were checked in by Na-kee-ah (not sure how it’s spelled, but that’s how it sounded). She was pleasant, perky and down-to-earth. She made us feel like family rather than paying guests. Even the front office manager, Na-tri-shah (again with the spelling), came out to greet us and even gave my mom a big hug. While we were checking in, one of the food service staff hand-delivered an ice cold tropical fruit drink. It was delicious! Freshly squeezed and everything. The doorman/bellhop not only carried our luggage to our room but showed us which light switch did what, how to work the balcony door lock, and even turned down our beds. I tipped him $200 Jamaican dollars (equivalent to $3US) but his appreciation was evident as everytime we saw him he thanked us again.

ROOMS:
Although we didn’t request it, we got a room with a view. We could see both th ocean and the pool without craning our necks. The AC was already on full blast and I actually had to turn it down because it was so cold. The bathroom was really small but extremely clean. Water pressure was surprisingly high, so much so that I had to play around with the shower head because it was a little to much for my personal tastes. The beds were hard and somewhat uncomfortable, but the pillows were great. Television channel selection was very limited but I don’t think we even turned it on except to check the weather (by the way, local channels are 9 and 10).

FOOD:
On the wall outside the dining area, right across from the 24-hr coffee station, there is an outline of the menu items that will be served on each day of the week. An authentic Jamaican entrée is prepared at every meal, even during breakfast, and it’s different each day. I’ve had Jamaican cuisine before, but I never knew it could taste so good. They also have a made-to-order station (for thinks like omelets, pancakes, pasta, and grilled meats - also depending on the day). And the buffet offeres one European/American option at each meal. We would start our meals out with a “sampling” of the native food but found ourselves going back for seconds and thirds without even touching the foods that we recognized. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays there have ala carte dining but is reservation only. The cut off time is 3pm but if you arrive after that get in touch with the Restaurant Manager to see if there's enough food for more people. It costs an additional $20US but is well worth it. Choices are lobster, shrimp, and filet mignon. Saturday is barbecue night and features chicken, ribs and sirloin steak. The steak and baked potatoes were so good that we scheduled the rest of our evening around making it back before 9:30pm just so that we could have another serving before the dining area closed up. A late night snack is offered every night from 11pm-12am, but we were so full that we never got the chance to try it. The beach grill had the best hand-packed burgers I have ever had in my life, seriously.

BAR:
There are three bars: one on the main terrace, one overlooking the ocean, and one by the pool (not a swim-up bar). We spent most of our time out by the main terrace bar. They have a menu board detailing all the ingredients in their signature drinks but they can make anything you want. My favorite was the banana daiquiri made with one whole banana. OMG, they were sooo good. I tipped $50 Jamaican dollars (only about 75cents), every time I got another drink and but as a show of appreciation, they started topping my drink of with a splash of Curaco Spiced Rum…Mmm, Mmm Good. The bar out by the ocean (named the Legends Bar in honor of Bob Marley) has the most incredible ocean breeze, so be sure to spend sometime out there.

BEACH:
We aren’t really into the beach scene because neither of us are swimmers, so I can’t really give a worthy review as far as this goes. The hotel doesn’t have along stretch on beach in front, but rather two separate mini-beaches due to the man-made rock barriers that serve as a sort of embankment on either side of the Legends Bar. It served as a good filter for seaweed, but the seashell hunting in the early morning offered slim pickings. It was pretty to look at though.

ENTERTAINMENT:
Most of the activities took place near the terrace bar. Each day around 1pm, there is some sort of “win-a-prize” game. It varied from trivia to horse-shoe tossing. They also had pool activities, but being that we aren’t swimmers we didn’t get too involved with those. A band performs every night and the lead singer is alternated depending on what day it is. They put a reggae-twist on everything which is interesting to listen to. Most of the songs they perform tend to be of the R&B or Pop genre, but they take requests. They did a rendition of a country western song that was really neat. There is also a nightclub/disco on site that opens at 11pm but the music selection was limited – either R&B, Pop, Rap or Reggae….not much for the slow-dancing couples.

THINGS TO DO:
Although we had a list of the things we wanted to do in Jamaica, we enjoyed the hotel so much that we didn’t get a chance to venture out. They offer a $10 shuttle to Ocho Rios twice a day (10am or 2:30pm). You can choose to go to either Dunn’s River Falls or the Craft Market for shopping. The shuttle waits two hours before heading back. If that’s not enough time, you can opt for the $45 day-trip tour which combines both Dunns River Falls and shopping. The price includes your admission to Dunns River Falls, leaves at 8am and doesn’t come back until 3pm. They also offer other tours such as visiting Bob Marley’s birthplace and the viewing the Rose Hall Great House (allegedly haunted), but we weren’t very interested in those. Instead, we opted to stay onsite and still didn’t have time to do everything we wanted to do. We got massages out by the ocean and at only $50 for a 1½ hour service, we did that twice. We took advantage of the free non-motorized water sports such as kayaking and peddle-boats. There are several glass bottom boats right there at the hotel that you can arrange thru the pool staff, for a nominal fee of course.

STAFF:
Extremely friendly, very polite, never without a smile and always, ALWAYS cleaning. The pool staff put on scuba gear to scrub the bottom of the pool with a little bitty Cinderalla-type bruse, the grounds staff were sweeping the sand constantly (still not sure what that was about), and once I even I saw someone wiping down the plants with a wet rag. I don’t know if it’s because jobs are hard to come by in Jamaica or if they just take pride in their work but either way, it seems like they generally enjoy their jobs. They work 45 hours a week and every day is a split shift. Some of them come in a 6am, leave during lunch and come back at 6pm to work the dinner service. Others start at 11am, at dinnertime and come back at 10pm to starting cleaning for the next day. I don’t know about anyone else, but after working those kinda hours and only making $80/week - I wouldn’t be smiling. But without fail, every single time we saw them they were pleasant, jolly and attentive to our needs.

FINAL COMMENTS:
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Club Ambiance and can’t wait to go back. If you’re looking for an affordably priced all-inclusive hotel and you’re not too fussy about star-ratings, gourmet cuisine, marble floors or pillow-top mattresses.....I would highly recommend this hotel. We’ve only been back two days and are already making reservations to return before the year is out. If you do decide to try this hotel.......tell Richard that “mommy & princess” said hi.

  • Stayed: July 2006, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
23  Thank dtownjbrown
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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