Experiencing Excellence Oyster Bay – TravelPulse

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A trip to Excellence Oyster Bay in Jamaica was jump-started by a cold towel and a glass of champagne upon arrival. Conroy, the hotel representative, then said, “Welcome home.”
Oftentimes, it’s not what you say but how you say it. Conroy’s words were genuine and convincing, more of a selling point than your best car salesman.
With Conroy’s words, Jamaica felt like home. It took less than 30 seconds.
For all interested in taking a trip to the beautiful island, know that there are very few choices among Jamaica’s 14 parishes that would be considered a bad pick. And if you’re looking for a vacation spot that may resemble “Fantasy Island” in your mind, look no further than Excellence Oyster Bay.
A look out the airplane window entering Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay is a view of views. From the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean to the overall scenery surrounding Saint James Parish, calling Montego Bay “aesthetically pleasing” is an understatement. Adding Excellence Oyster Bay — an all-inclusive private peninsula located roughly 30 minutes away, near the cruise port of Falmouth — to that scenery is a proverbial cherry on top that some may not be ready for.
Think of Excellence as a tropical getaway minus the college frat boy shenanigans. You won’t find eyesores like unnecessary trash in areas or alcohol cans or bottles thrown in the grass. The property takes pride in being clean and, while not officially classified as “upscale,” very upscale. It’s a resort that gives you the respectable Caribbean experience without the entitled natures of those who are unappreciative of cleanliness.
Excellence Oyster Bay is one of five Excellence resorts. There are two resorts in Mexico and two more in the Dominican Republic. Run by general manager Antonio Madrid, Excellence Oyster Bay has rebounded well from a time period where COVID-19 played a significant role in its overall growth.
“We opened here in 2018,” Madrid said. “We tried to adapt the culture of the company to the country to develop our idea here in Jamaica. Then suddenly, COVID hit. We were closed 15 months, and we didn’t know what was going to happen, if we were going to lose everything.
“But we came back stronger than ever. We have a great occupancy and a good rate. All of this is working, and we have a future in Jamaica. The country’s willing to keep growing and building on the hotel.”


Described as a “Victorian-style paradise,” Excellence Oyster Bay features world-class accommodations and luxury at a high level. The rooms are cozy yet relaxing. Each bottom-floor junior suite includes its own hot tub, infinity pool and day bed.
The rooms come with king-sized beds and fully stocked mini-fridges. Because it’s an all-inclusive stay, everything in the refrigerator is free. The alcohol that sits above the refrigerator — Jamaican rum and vodka during my stay — also is yours to keep if you choose.
There are 315 suites on the property. There are also beach villas that can be acquired. Guests are offered 24-hour room service on food items. And speaking of food …

When you think of Jamaica, you think of exotic food. Perfectly seasoned jerk chicken. Curried goat. Oxtails. Pork ribs. A Red Stripe beer to wash it all down. And, of course, the finest Jamaican rums — the key ingredient of arguably the best rum punch in the world.
Excellence didn’t disappoint with its menu variety. If anything, the resort exceeded expectations. Excellence features 10 restaurants at the property, including Caribbean Grove (authentic Jamaican food and rum), The Lobster House (classy seafood spot) and Spice (Asian teppanyaki).
As mentioned above, Excellence offers 24-hour room service. You can order anything off the menu at any time and have it at your door in a matter of minutes — usually accompanied with a smile from a restaurant attendant.
Those who visit Excellence Oyster Bay are more than willing to venture off the property. Those who choose to stay at Excellence, however, will be treated to a fabulous show of some sort every day. During my stay, Monday included an international gala featuring 10 dancers doing routines from multiple countries across the world. Tuesday was a Bob Marley tribute, and Wednesday was a Michael Jackson tribute. Wednesday also featured a silent party, where three DJs played music for partygoers wearing headphones and selecting which DJ they wanted to listen to.
Daily activities for guests include beach yoga, a cooking class and beach games in the morning, and aqua games and beach volleyball in the afternoon. Hydrotherapy and spa treatments also are available if you’re in the mood for pampering yourself. The hydrotherapy — which features cold-tub plunges incorporated with sauna trips — is an experience everyone should have at least once. The masseuses on staff are some of the best I’ve had.
There also are several excursion opportunities available with Excellence. I took a bicycle ride in and around the property (roughly a two-mile trek). I also visited the captivating “Luminous Lagoon,” a nighttime boat ride that will have you in love with what nature can provide without explanation. A tour with Glistening Waters takes you out to a lagoon that is, per the website, “home to microscopic organisms that emit a bio-luminescent light when agitated.” In short, the water glows at night, as the organisms illuminate the surroundings. It’s something that is mesmerizing — and addictive — to watch.

The People
With everything I experienced at Excellence Oyster Bay, none of it would have been memorable without the individuals who worked on the property and who drove me to and from the property. My first driver, Sloane, was the first to admit that Jamaicans are kind and welcoming, yet brutally honest with their verbiage. In many ways, that combination is why Jamaicans are some of the greatest people on the planet.
As I prepared to leave the property, I had one final rum punch. The bartender gathered everyone — perfect strangers — together for a toast. It was as sincere and as bona fide a toast as I’ve ever heard, one that made it really hard for me to leave the island.
It’s easy to fall in love with the good nature of the Jamaican culture. The warmth exuded from the members of the staff is something you just don’t get in other places around the world. Very hard to explain in full, but something of an “a-ha!” moment when you experience it in person. It’s an inviting vibe that makes you guarantee a return trip to the spot.
Excellence Oyster Bay was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. For a relatively new resort, it has built a quality reputation in a short time.
There’s a level of classiness and professionalism that perfectly meshes with good-natured ribbing from the attendants. The executives were welcoming and listened to every question. It was a first-class experience from start to finish.
“Jamaican people realize how important tourism is. They are really excited and really put value on our customers,” Madrid said. “They are really willing to enjoy the customers and our guests. I invite everybody to come and enjoy Jamaica and the culture.
“Here, it’s a different vibe than the rest of the Caribbean.”
Damon Sayles has written for a variety of media outlets, including ESPN, Bleacher Report, The Dallas Morning News and…

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