We went to Jamaica for our honeymoon and decided to take a few nights at Banana Shout. I wish we knew better..
The woman who greeted us on arrival was nice and friendly, but we very dissapointed with our bungalow. Very dusty, it hadnt been cleaned under the bed for a long time. No wifi in the room our in the common areas - only close to the cliffs where you can get signal from the hotel next door (the staff at Banana Shout actually passed on the password from the next door hotel - maybe you should pay for better connection at your own place instead)
1) The "private" bathroom was downstairs, and no water most of the time. And even when they said it was water, it was not pressure enough to take a shower.
2) A lot of trash and garbage around the garden/common areas - see pictures.
3) The room is extremely noisy and should be better isolated.
The curtains are also very simple and its gets very much light in the room. This, in addition to the noise, makes the sleeping comfort a very low standard.
4) At booking.com where we booked the stay, we where told that the room was with kitchen, iron and cd-player + an extra bed. Our room had non of these.
5) The night manager offered us weed. I dont think that is so charming.
6) The breakfast was one of the simplest we have ever seen (see pictures), and we almost couldn’t believe it when we discovered that we where served orange juice that was so old it had fermented! Luckily we didn’t get sick of it.
After obe TERRIBLE night we decided we just could not stay any longer. They offered us another cottage (Red Rooster), but it was just as light in the room, and same noise from the Street.
We went over to the beautiful hotel next door - you can get a nice, quiet room with sea view for the same cost as at Banana Shout = CRAZY!
Off course it was a shame to pay for a new hotel since we already had paid a high cost at BH, but we are so glad we did. Wrote an email to the owner Milo, but the only thing he wanted to offer was a free night at one of the better cottages. No thanks, my life is to short to ever stay there again!
We chose your hotel because we wanted something else that the all inclusive resort, but we dont like to be fooled! A night at your place is so far from worth 200 USD.
Forget the 7 mile beach (it's a scam) and head for the cliffs! This hotel is next to the infamous Rick's Cafe where 400+ people gather everyday to see the sunset. At Banana Shout, you'll have the same scenic view, except you'll be a handful of people watching. The setting is amazing! Reefs are 2 feet away from the shoreline which is accessible from a rustic ladder.
There's only 5 cabins so it's pretty quiet. Being close to Rick's means their music is your soundtrack for a few hours, but since it's a few hundred feet away, it's not too loud and actually nice, even if the selection is mostly top 40. Anyway, if you want a good time with your lover, or fun with friends, this is the place!!
Staff is very friendly and very accomodating.
I normally don't write reviews, but I wanted others to have as much information as possible regarding Banana Shout so that they can make a fully informed decision about whether or not to book with them.
First off, the good:
1) The staff is very friendly and helpful. Nad, who was the general manager (I guess that's her title, more or less) was great. She was informative, friendly, and helped us get settled quickly. Even before arriving she was always quick to respond to email inquiries. She made sure to check on us every morning to see how we were doing, and to do the same throughout the day and in the evenings before she left. Plug, the all-around man who gets things done, was similarly friendly and helpful. He took care of anything we needed. Same with Velma, the housekeeper while we were there. We briefly met Garfield and another woman as well who were very friendly, but we didn't have much interaction with them simply because of the timing. So, staff gets an A+ for sure.
2) The view from the property is stunning. Perfectly situated to catch every Jamaican sunset. The water below has pretty good snorkeling considering that Jamaica isn't the best destination for snorkeling and diving. There is a long cave you can explore (it's actually underneath the edge of Rick's property, next door), and plenty of large coral heads where tropical fish like to hang out. Tons of different types of urchins as well. The water is clear and was calm when we were there.
3) The location is great (with one potential caveat; see point 1 immediately below). There is easy access to a mini-mart and several good restaurants. Cool Vybes Jerk Centre is a minute's walk away, and has the best jerk chicken. Nice owner and staff there, and reasonable prices.
The "neutral" (might be good, might be bad depending on what you like):
1) Banana Shout is right next door to Rick's. So, you get the same stunning sunsets that everyone there sees, but no crowds. It means that you will have to deal with the hordes of people who start arriving by boat and bus around 3:00 pm every day, though. The DJ at Rick's will play the same terrible American pop/dance music every single day. Then the live band starts and the music is much better, even though they pretty much do the same set every day as well. If you are looking for peace and quiet all day, every day, Banana Shout isn't your place. If you don't mind the music for a few hours every afternoon into the early evening, it's fine. The crowds thin out as soon as the sun sets, and the music ends by around 8:30 or so.
2) This is the West End, not Seven Mile Beach. The vibe is totally different. We chose the West End specifically because we wanted a more relaxed, looser feel, and we are glad that we did. Also, this is Jamaica. Expect taxi drivers, ganja dealers, and shop-keeps to try to sell you their goods and services as you walk by. We didn't find it bothersome, and everyone we encountered moved along when we politely told them we weren't interested.
3) It's Jamaica, and like almost every other place in the tropics you will hear stray dogs barking and roosters crowing. If that bothers you, then the West End isn't for you. You'll be better served staying in an all-inclusive mega-resort on Seven Mile Beach, or even on MoBay.
1) Banana Shout looks tired and worn. Everything looks like it either has been repainted too many times, or too few. The furniture looks like hand-me-downs from a variety of sources. The concrete lining the paths and steps to the water is badly chipped and cracked. In some spots it's gone altogether, exposing the rocky steps underneath. They are murder on bare feet. There is a little pool, or maybe it's supposed to be a pond, or maybe even a hot tub or something. It was empty and looked like a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. The fridge in our room was ancient and didn't seal properly, meaning it never really got that cold. The place needs a major overhaul and renovation.
2) Have you ever been to another hotel or resort? Notice how they all provide soap, shampoo, and conditioner, and maybe even lotion? Even the cheapest of low-budget motels do this. Not Banana Shout. You get a two tiny bars of soap and that's it. Feel like cooking in the "kitchenette" in your room? That's nice. No paper towels, no dish soap, no sponge. Luckily the mini-mart is nearby and sells small bottles of the toiletries and other supplies you might need.
3) The plumbing. If you are one of those people who expect water to come out of a faucet every time you turn it on, stay somewhere else. For reasons I couldn't quite understand, there is some sort of storage tank and pump situation that requires municipal water to be pumped into a holding tank and then from there pumped to the rooms. Or maybe it just gets pumped right from the municipal service line. I don't know. All I know is that at least two to three times a day we had to go and find Plug and ask him to get us our water back. He always did (except once, overnight, when the pump wasn't working properly; it was back and running in the late morning though). I later heard that they turn off the pump at night because it is located near one of the bungalows and makes a noise and they don't want to disturb the guests. I don't know if that's true or not. If it is, then it seems that the simple solution would be to install the pump in a location further from the bungalow. It's super annoying not having regular running water. This is the 21st century and I'm on vacation. I'm not an 18th century pioneer.
4) No ladder down to the water when we were there. Nad said the ladder had just rusted off its moorings that day and that she hoped it would be replaced by the next day or perhaps the day after. It wasn't. It took several days for the job to be started, and it never got finished by the time we left. Now, I understand that we're dealing with salt water and the harsh tropical elements, and that metal rusts and corrodes. But I highly doubt you'd run into this issue at another resort. At the very least there should be two ladders at Banana Shout, so if one needs to be replaced the other is still there for guests to use. For me, not having a ladder wasn't a major problem. I simply donned my snorkel gear and jumped off the cliffs into the water. To get out, I used a rope they set up to haul myself up the coral and rocky edge. Fortunately, though, I brought 2mm neoprene socks with me to wear with my fins. If I hadn't, then I would have been stuck snorkeling with my water shoes on and no fins, or I wouldn't have been able to get out without cutting my feet up on the rocks (I still had to watch out for the small urchins). My wife isn't as agile, strong, or confident, though, and as a result she only got in the water once because she didn't like having to haul herself out via a rope. Unacceptable.
5) Every day we were at Banana Shout the owner, Milo, arrived with some personal guests and they promptly set about sunbathing on the chaise lounges overlooking the cliff. We found this very off-putting. I don't necessarily expect the proprietor to be there every day, especially if he has a quality staff in place. But if on the premises, I would expect that he's working to keep his guests happy, the grounds clean and clear, the water running, etc., and not lounging in the sun while the ladder goes un-repaired, for example. Maybe Milo shouldn't have purchased that new Audi he drives around and instead invested some of that money into sprucing up the place. Also, entertain personal guests at your own house. We got the sense that Milo bought Banana Shout because he wanted a house on the cliffs but wanted to make a little cash from it as well. That's what AirBnB is for, not a fully-fledged resort/hotel.
6) Remember what I said about being next door to Rick's? Well, the Dolphin View bungalow we were in is the one that's immediately adjacent to the wall separating the properties. On the other side of that wall must be where Rick's stores its garbage cans, because for the first couple of days we caught frequent whiffs of stinky, fishy smelling garbage. For that reason alone I wouldn't recommend Dolphin View. Dolphin Bay is probably better because it's on the other side of the small property.
Overall, we enjoyed our time in Jamaica and at Banana Shout, despite the issues. We just won't be returning to the property. Instead, we'll stay at Catch a Falling Star or one of the other nearby places. If Banana Shout charged a lot less, I wouldn't have had any issues with it, figuring that you get what you pay for. But I don't want to feel like I'm one step above rustic camping when I'm paying that much per night. We're used to roughing it, and we aren't high-maintenance people by any means; we just want to feel like we're getting our money's worth. And at Banana Shout, we didn't feel that way at all. We suddenly felt like we were fresh-out-of-college backpackers touring the world and trying to stretch our dollars, except paying a lot more than the accommodations are actually worth.
You often get what you pay for. Sometimes, you get a lot less.
Great place to relax, soak up rays of sunshine, and snorkel the reefs that are at your feet. Diving off the cliffs into clear blue water, watching your footing to avoid sea urchins and other creatures. If you need a private getaway, this is the place for you.
Great staff, everything and anything you need. Garfield is a great cook and host for Negril. Saw some great music, traveling on the back of the motorcycle through town, felt safe all the way. Not to mention a lot of what I said in the first sentence. If you are looking for the hotel crowds and lots of people, this is not the place for you! Banana shout is for people who want a quiet getaway and aren't afraid to explore on their own.
Our fifth trip to the cliffs of Negril and it never disappoints. There are always interesting and friendly guests who share our love for travel. The weather is impeccable and the sunsets as seen from Milo's charming gardens always breathtaking. The highlight of this latest adventure was the addition of Rasta Chef Muta. If one chooses, private meals can be prepared on site by this culinary genius. The freshest ingredients , carefully prepared to be both healthy and beautiful are the chef's signature. He is often assisted by Chef Purple, also a creative foodie. I cannot say enough about the greens, lentils, and local favorites. Thank you Banana Shout, for the opportunity .
Just a bit more attention to maintenance on the property would boost my rating to 5 stars. Wear and tear on the ladders, handrails, and bathrooms are taking a toll on this gorgeous property.