This summer Brendan and I celebrated our anniversary at Excellence Oyster Bay (EOB), the newest from the Excellence Resorts Collection. We started our love for the Excellence brand during our Honeymoon in 2011 when we stayed at the Excellence Playa Mujeres (EPM). The Excellence Resorts boasts of All-Inclusive, Adults Only Luxury and you will not want for anything while you are on property. These resorts are not what you might think of when you hear all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean where you have cheap rail drinks, 1 or two types of beers, and horrible buffet food, with maybe 1 restaurant. When you step foot at an Excellence Resort, you will be transported to ultimate luxury and relaxation. We loved our first stay some much that we vowed to return to another property for our 5-year anniversary. One year late (thank you twins and deployment), we celebrated our 6th anniversary at the Excellence El Carman (EEC) in the Dominican Republic in 2017.
A few pics from our Honeymoon Visit to Excellence Playa Mujeres
A few pictures from our Excellence El Carmen trip
When we found out that they were soon to open another location in Jamaica, we patiently waited for the right time to visit, AKA for the price to drop cause’ you know I’m not paying full price for anything. Fast forward to 2018 at 11 pm at night, the night of our actual anniversary, and I was reflecting on making my own dinner, wiping multiple butts, and NOT having a pool anymore when Facebook suddenly violated my privacy, listened to my inner thoughts, and gave me the gift of a Labor Day sale that discounted the new EOB at 50%. Honestly Facebook, you can listen to my thoughts everyday if you’re going to deliver gifts like this to me.
We’ve found that for us, the perfect stay is 5 days and 4 nights. This helps with kiddo coverage and allows you to still get in some great time in paradise. The first two times we visited, we splurged for the premium rooms; staying in a roof top pool room our first visit and a swim up pool the second visit. We typically spend the majority of our day at the beach where the drink service never stops, and the beach-front food huts are never too far away. For this visit, we decided to just do the cheapest room they had.
EPM roof top pool. We legit used this rooftop pool maybe 1 time
EEC- This swim up room was more usable because you could easily walk to the bar or get served by the staff
A Detailed Review of Excellence Oyster Bay: from a veteran Excellence go-er
Here’s our price breakdown for the trip:
- 4 Night accommodations: $1,596
- Non-Stop airfare: $136 + 17,940 Southwest points
- Private Transfer: $245 round trip (this hotel was about 45 mins away from the airport)
- $200 for professional pictures
- $280 for Spa Services
- $200 for Tips
- Total: $2,657
Oyster Bay is a lite version of the experience when comparing it to the others. It’s situated on a private peninsula which makes the grounds smaller in comparison with fewer restaurants and amenities than the other, larger sites. This property is perfect for people who have experienced the Excellence brand before, are only visiting for a shorter time, or are looking for an intimate setting that is completely closed off to the public. While the beach isn’t technically “closed off”, the resort is so secluded that the pesky beach hagglers aren’t walking up and down, whistling, trying to sell you crap or making you pet their monkey.
The description on their website immediately brings me back to the soft breezes, amazing amenities, and beautiful sunsets:
“In the pristine, tropical paradise surrounding Montego Bay, a breathtaking landscape of turquoise, Caribbean waters and mangrove lagoons is home to our very own private peninsula of all-inclusive luxury: Excellence Oyster Bay. Featuring all-suite accommodations, a variety of upscale restaurants and bars, a world-class spa and impeccable service, this adults-only, Victorian-style waterfront resort redefines luxury standards. Two miles of secluded, virgin, white-sanded beaches, lined by lush tropical vegetation set a romantic atmosphere, perfect for enjoying the most beautiful sunsets in the Caribbean. Discover Jamaica’s natural beauty, enjoy its friendly hospitality and experience the ultimate all-inclusive, adults-only, luxury at Excellence Oyster Bay.”
All-Inclusive, Adults-Only Luxury
Special welcome cocktail and cool towel
Daily breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks: 8 à la carte options for dinner, 2 à la carte lunch options, 1 buffet, takeaway wood oven pizza
10 bars & lounges
Unlimited natural fruit juices and soft drinks
Unlimited international premium and domestic alcoholic beverages
24 hour room service
Pool and beach waiter service
3 swimming pools & 4 outdoor hot water jacuzzis
Non-motorized water sports (sailing, sea kayaking, paddle board, snorkeling gear, introductory scuba lesson)
Daily activities / Nightly shows
Fully equipped, state-of-the- art fitness center
Free wireless internet
All taxes and gratuities
Sounds magical and luxurious, right? Can’t you just see yourself sitting in the beach lounger, sipping a fruity tropical purple drink, posing for Instagram like the hottest #DadInfluencer ?
Here’s a quick tour of our arrival, the room, and the resort
Allow me to share a few of our favorite parts of the resort.
First and foremost, No Children
As a parent in the crazy years, I don’t care if you’re 8 or 18, I don’t want your kid lips (which I’m sure are sticky AF) breathing the same air as I am within a 1-mile radius. NOT.GONNA.HAVE.IT. This is a must have when we are on a kid free vacation. I didn’t see anyone that even appeared younger than 25. I enjoyed the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach, the reggae playing in the back ground, and not 1 damn child peep for 5 blissful days.
The Delicious, Amazing Food
The restaurants are one of our favorite aspects of the trip(s) and cover the spectrum of cuisine type. All restaurants do not require a reservation, although you can make them if you’d like. We visit on the off-season, so we never have to wait for a table. The restaurants have a stricter dress code for dinner so shorts are not allowed (Brendan learned that the hard way during our first visit which came at a cost of $75 at the gift shop). Overall, I’d say that the food experience at EOB ranked third in line of the other properties. The food and service here just weren’t as good as at the others (all the resorts have the same restaurants- the others actually have more). The food and service here is still better than a ton of restaurants we’ve been to stateside and in other countries. Having been spoiled at the other properties, this one still has some work to do to catch up to the Excellence brand.
The Lobster House – Serves Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
Our Rating: A. The view at this restaurant automatically makes the food taste better. We visited this place only for breakfast and lunch. I’m not a huge lobster fan, so this one wasn’t on our dinner list given we only have 4 nights.
The Kitchen Table – Serves Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
Our Rating: A+. Solid place for great breakfast and lunch options. This is great for when you want the speedier meal to make your quick entry/return to the beach or the pool. If you want to try any local cuisines, this is the place for it! We got our fair share or Jamaican favorites here. The outdoor seating came with an absolutely stunning view.
Chez Isabelle – Serves Dinner.
Our Rating: B+. This restaurant was a lot better at the other locations (actually my #1 fav in Playa Mujeres). It was still tasty. The desserts were the best here!
The Grill – Serves Dinner.
Our Rating: A++ This was our favorite place for dinner. You cannot beat a delicious steak! We loved the selection of appetizers and sides too.
The Flavor Market – Serves Dinner.
Our Rating: B-. This place had the slowest service of all the restaurants. We ended up only ordering appetizers and made our way to another restaurant for dinner.
Spice – Serves Dinner
Our Rating: A+. Surprisingly, this was our second favorite meal of the trip. They have a hibachi experience that you do have to book an appointment for.
Oregano – Serves Lunch and Dinner.
Our Rating: A+. We visited this place for lunch and dinner. The pasta was SO GOOD and the pizzas were delicious! This dinning area is over the pool and has great views of the ocean.
Sports Bar – Serves Dinner/late night munchies
Our Rating: We didn’t visit this place as we didn’t realize it was an option until the last day.
The Jerk Hut – Serves Lunch
Our Rating: When we were there, the actual hut didn’t exist, they just served food from the pool bar. We were spoiled by the beach food huts at the El Carmen and Playa Mujeres resorts and really missed that here. The food at the bar provided a great opportunity to not have to get off the beach to eat lunch or grab a snack, but only came with limited options to pick from.
Room Service – Serves Serves food 24/7
Our Rating: B+. We only ordered 1 time and they forgot a part of our order, once we got our food, it was good.
Aroma – Serves all day
Our Rating: A++. We loved stopping here for a morning coffee, afternoon ice cream, or a late-night sweet craving. The iced coffees were my favorite. Brendan loved the cappuccinos. Our favorite beach spot was just steps from Aroma.
Tasty Tropical Drinks with Excellent Service
You will be hard pressed to not find a drink you love at this resort. Liquor, Beer, Wine, Champagne, or mixed drinks- they have it all! The room even comes with its own liquor and drink stash and the resort will replenish your stash every night if you want. The various bars have different menus depending on the themes- fruity, slushie drinks by the pool or martinis at the Martini Bar. One thing we noticed missing when comparing to El Carmen was the Juice Bar where you could get fresh juice concoctions or smoothies. We’re still on a mission to find another Excellence Property that has the same amazing sangria we found at Playa Mujeres. It is seriously the BEST sangria I have ever had in my life. While you don’t have to, if you tip the beach/pool bad servers, you’ll be the first stop every time for a drink refill. The random downside is that they ran out of straws while we were there.
The Nightly Entertainment
The nightly entertainment was top notch. There’s always some preshow music. While we were there, they had a few bands, DJs, and the last night, a silent disco! The shows themselves were very good too. They have all the usual favorites- Michael Jackson Night, Broadway Night, Today’s Hits, and Mo-Town Night. The best night was when The Silver Birds Steel Band played. Not only did they play amazing music on the steel drums, but half of their show was dancing and acrobatics. It was honestly the best resort show I have ever seen. I’m always impressed by the talent the resorts bring in for the nightly shows.
While I know the photographers on property aren’t likely to win an artsy award, they get the job done! As busy working parents, we never have time for professional pictures, let alone pictures of just us. We make it a point to fork out the resort cash and memorialize our trip and the phase of life we’re in together. They take you around to some of the most beautiful spots on the resort property and capture some great shots in little time. I budget $200 and haggle my way into 10-15 pics, depending on the person. They edit them within the day and I’ve got them posted to social media within hours, a true Millennial’s dream.
The Mile Spa
I saved my favorite part of the resort for last, the spa, and it is heaven on earth. Every night for the turn down services (another simple pleasure I love) they always provide a spa service at a discounted rate for the next day. The best part about the Spa isn’t even the service itself. It’s a whole damn experience. Before every service, you go through the hydrotherapy circuit. If you’ve never experienced one, it’s essentially 5-10 stations that you cycle through- steam room, sauna, ice mist, ice shower, tropical rain shower (hot and cold), foot massage, just to name a few. The best/worst one is a huge bucket of ice water that you (or your partner) pull over top your head. Second best is the ice station where you can put ice down each other’s pants (we are totally adults). After your treatment(s) are finished you get to tucked into a bed that rocks back and forth and it’s perfect to continue your post massage nap. The Spa at the other locations was larger and grander, but like other things at EOB, it’s a smaller version but still squeezes all the things you love about the experience.
Overall Recommendation: Worth the Visit!
We very much enjoyed our time at Excellence Oyster Bay, the beach, the views, and the location were above our expectations. The service and food could use a little more of the Excellence finesse given the higher price you pay over El Carmen. We were pleasantly surprised by our free room upgrade (a plunge pool room), and a sweet gift from the resort for visiting an Excellence resort multiple times while celebrating our Anniversary.
We’d recommend this location to any Excellence Resort lover looking to explore the full collection, like us. If you’ve never stayed at an Excellence Resort, we recommend Excellence El Carmen for a first time experience. The Excellence Playa Mujeres location is the cream of the crop, but El Carmen is cheaper and still packs the same luxurious punch, for half the cost.
Our next big decision: for our 10 year wedding anniversary (2021), where do we go?! Any recommendations are welcomed.