A Jamaica all-inclusive resort with enough vibes for locals? Yes, it does exist, and it’s called Moon Palace Jamaica! In this article I’ll cover the Covid-19 testing and visa requirements, the accommodations, the dining, the beach, the pool, the kids club, the arcade, the spa, the entertainment, the excursions. And I’ll explain why this resort is just as popular among local guests as international travelers. Many thanks to Moon Palace Jamaica for hosting us!
Covid-19 Testing and Visa Requirements
This trip took place in mid-February, and the first thing we had to do was take a Covid test within 10 days of our departing flight. Jamaica accepts either a PCR test or a rapid test, but just to be on the safe side we did a PCR test. Kids under 12 don’t need to be tested.
One thing that’s important to know, is that Jamaica requires that you get your test done at a facility that has something called a CLIA registration. There’s a page on the CDC website where you can find a lab near you with this registration. We live in New York City, for example, where there’s a chain of urgent care clinics called CityMD, and the location near us is CLIA-certified, so that’s where we had our tests done.
Since our trip, Jamaica updated their requirements so that the test now has to be taken within three days of your departure. Travel requirements change very quickly these days, so if you have plans to visit Jamaica, be sure to check the official tourism board website at VisitJamaica.com to find out what the latest restrictions are.
Once you have your negative test, you should apply online for your Travel Authorization, and this can be done anytime within 5 days of your departure. One thing to keep in mind is that you need to apply for a separate Travel Authorization for every member of the family. It’s a bit tedious, because on each individual Travel Authorization application you also have to list the details of every family member you’re traveling with, so definitely give yourself enough time to go through this process.
As part of the Travel Authorization, you have to sign a quarantine order agreeing to stay within what Jamaica is calling the “resilient corridor, “ which is made up essentially of the regions that cater to tourists.
To be clear, this does not mean that you have to quarantine upon arrival. All it means is that you agree to either stay on-property at your resort, or to visit only the approved attractions within the resilient corridor. You can’t just roam all around the island right now. This is Jamaica’s way of reopening for tourism, while keeping locals in more vulnerable communities safe.
So when you check in for your flight at the airport, each traveler who’s 12 or older will need to show four things:
- Your passport
- Your negative Covid test results
- Your travel authorization
- And your signed quarantine order
When we arrived at Moon Palace Jamaica, we had our temperatures taken, we sanitized our shoes, and they gave us a welcome drink and a flower. We checked in and got our wristbands, and went to check out our room.
We stayed at a Family Deluxe Suite. You can see a full tour of the suite in the video below:
Our family first visited Jamaica back in 2017, and we stayed then at Moon Palace Jamaica as well. During that trip I tried ackee and saltfish for the very first time and absolutely fell in love with the dish. But I had no idea then that ackee is actually one of the most poisonous fruits in the world. When we came back to Jamaica this year, I wanted to find out more about the fruit’s history and its importance to Jamaican culture. I interviewed Chef Sherman Gordon to learn more about the fruit, and actually made a whole video about it:
The breakfast buffet can be found at the restaurant Buccaneer’s Reef. For Covid safety, it’s not self-serve anymore, all the food is served by the staff. The buffet has all the usual breakfast foods you’d expect, but my favorite part is their wide selection of local dishes like ackee and saltfish, mackerel rundown, escovitch fish, boiled banana, fried bammy and much more.
The resort in general does a great job of incorporating the local cuisine into its restaurants, so it’s not surprising that the resort is just as popular among local guests as international travelers. During our stay we met a good number of Jamaicans vacationing here — even a chart-topping dancehall artist who’s quite the local celebrity! And many of our Jamaican friends in New York like to stay at Moon Palace when they go home to visit family.
There’s only one restaurant at Moon Palace Jamaica that requires reservations currently, and that’s the Asian restaurant Momo, but only if you’re looking to do the hibachi dinner.
Hibachi dinners are always a lot of fun, so I’d definitely recommend that you go at least once during your stay! The chef you get can really make or break your experience, so here’s an insider tip: Try to request Christopher. He has serious hibachi skills, but also he has such great energy and an endless supply of dad jokes, so he made our dinner so much fun! Momo also offers a la carte dining, and for that you don’t need a reservation.
The Jerk Hut
If you’re a fan of Jamaican food, you definitely don’t want to miss out on The Jerk Hut.
It’s located near the Pier 8 restaurant, so you can walk over to order food in person.
But if you’re hanging out by the pool, you can also place an order with the poolside servers, and they’ll bring it over to you. You’ll find a great selection of jerk chicken, roasted pork, corn, festival bread and more.
If you’re a wine lover, this will be your favorite restaurant at the resort, since it has the most extensive wine list. A good number of them are included as part of your all-inclusive stay, but you can also pay extra if you want access to better bottles. My favorite entree here was the lasagna, so definitely don’t miss out on that. If you like seafood, the salmon entree and the tuna tartare appetizer are worth checking out too.
Pier 8 is a seafood restaurant with a lot of Caribbean dishes. It’s covered, but completely outdoors.
One area where Moon Palace Jamaica really shines is in its nightly entertainment line-up.
The night shows take place in an indoor-outdoor space. It’s not quite as swanky as the theater at The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun, where we stayed a few months ago, but since it’s so well ventilated, it actually feels particularly safe. We caught a few different night shows while we were there, but our favorite was definitely the last show we saw.
@topflightfamilyNew rule: Every resort should have its own fire breather! 🔥 ##hosted ##MoonPalaceJamaica ##21resortsin2021 ##familytravel ##travelwithkids♬ Jzuz tarhini i still got my money – @jzuz
First up was The Balancing Man, who was able to balance everything on his head, from heavy objects like chairs and tables, to feather-light objects like a baseball cap! Then came The Fire Man, who put on a pretty incredible show of fire breathing. And finally, a steel drums band called the Silver Birds Steel Orchestra came on, and they were absolutely amazing. Not only are they really talented musicians and arrangers, playing everything from top 40 pop songs to dancehall classics, but they had some serious dance and acrobatics skills as well!
One thing Moon Palace resorts are really known for are their spas. We tried out the spa at The Grand in Moon Palace Cancun a few months back, and it was amazing, so we were excited to revisit the spa here in Jamaica as well!
At 38,000 square feet, the Awe Spa is one of the largest luxury spas on the island. One thing to know though, is that the current Covid regulations for gyms and spas are a bit different in Jamaica than in Cancun. In Cancun, the gym was open, but in Jamaica, it’s completely closed. Also, in Cancun we were able to experience the entire Water Journey pre-treatment process at the spa, including the sauna, the ice room, and the steam room. But at Moon Palace Jamaica, all of those rooms are currently closed due to Covid. However, you’re still able to access the co-ed hydrotherapy pool area before your treatment. The main sensory pool has different water jets that massage different parts of your body. There’s also a cold plunge pool, but the hot tub was closed off when we were there.
We booked a couple’s massage, and we got the Holistic Massage, which is similar to a Swedish massage. You’re able to choose between a verbena-scented or a rosemary-scented massage oil. The therapists’ technique was on point, so we were super relaxed. We kept our masks on throughout the massage, and of course the therapists had masks on too, so it all felt very safe.
The Kids Club
The kids club is known as The Playroom. Though it’s not a huge space, it’s well-designed so that there are different zones for different types of play. There’s a LEGO wall and arcade games, there’s a karaoke and performance stage, there’s a kitchen and grocery store play area, complete with tiny shopping carts, there’s a gaming station, and best of all, there’s a 2-story play area with slides and a ball pit!
The Playroom is open every day from 10 am to 10 pm. Kids under the age of 4 have to be accompanied by an adult, but kids who are 4 and up can be dropped off. Our girls also loved the Wired Lounge next door, which is the gaming center and arcade.
Every room comes with a sanitation kit that includes masks, hand sanitizer and wipes. If you order room service or ask for your mini-fridge to be restocked, the staff is not currently allowed to enter your room. Instead, you’ll grab the tray from them and bring it in yourself. The property requires guests to wear masks in all public areas, except at the pools and beaches as long as you’re socially distanced. And mask adherence among guests and staff was really good. All the lounge chairs at the pools and beaches are distanced, plus they are sanitized daily with electrostatic sprayers.
Indoor dining also felt very safe. Not only are you required to sanitize your hands before entering the restaurant, they even give you disinfecting wipes so you can clean your electronic devices too. All restaurants offer QR codes so you don’t have to handle a physical menu and of course, all the tables are distanced.
Moon Palace Jamaica also offers on-site Covid testing. Rapid tests are free for up to 2 guests per room, and if you need any additional tests, they cost $36 per person. If you’re traveling back to a country that requires PCR tests instead of rapid tests, the resort can arrange for on-site PCR tests through a third party, but fees will apply.
About Carmen Sognonvi
Carmen Sognonvi is a luxury family travel content creator at Top Flight Family, named a top 10 family travel Instagram account by Time Out New York and Brit + Co. Her insights on travel have been featured in The Washington Post, INSIDER, Huffington Post, Wanderlust Travel Magazine, TravelPulse, HOTELS Magazine, and more. Carmen firmly believes that you can (and should) travel with your kids from a young age. She offers families practical solutions for travel, as well as tips on how to travel in luxury for less. She lives in New York City with her multiracial and multicultural family of four. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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