Azul Beach Resort Negril, Jamaica hotel review

Expect only a short walk from room to beach  (Karisma Hotels and Resorts)
Expect only a short walk from room to beach (Karisma Hotels and Resorts)

This beach resort is a slice of natural Caribbean paradise, where staff tell you to slow down, adopt a Jamaican pace and enjoy the view.


Negril is a rural town just over an hour from Montego Bay airport by car, a journey that glimpses colourful local markets, grand former sugar plantations and holiday homes of the rich and famous. Azul is in the middle of Jamaica’s Seven-Mile Beach, a 10-minute boat ride from the resort’s private shoreline to a bountiful reef, where sea turtles make frequent appearances.

If you’re looking for a party, a 20-minute drive away – or better still, a quick catamaran boat party away – is the popular Rick’s Cafe, where an Ibiza beach club meets the Caribbean.


Tempting blue waters are just moments from the rooms (Ella Duggan)
Tempting blue waters are just moments from the rooms (Ella Duggan)

Azul is surrounded by long, pristine stretches of white sand, between shallow turquoise waters and vast lush green plains. Wildlife is inescapable, with dolphins, sea turtle and pelicans, and you may even spot a crab the size of a dinner plate attempting an escape via your balcony. The hotel displays a consistent contemporary minimalist look, coated in white cool tones with the occasional pop of coral blue. The resort is made up of a scattering of uniformly bright white buildings, each housing around 20 rooms per block. They look out over the ocean as they line the beachfront, broken up by the occasional cluster of palm trees and swim-up bars. The buildings are individual enough to feel an element of privacy but the resort is small enough to harbour a sense of community.

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The service

An open feel brings the outside in (Karisma Hotels and Resorts)
An open feel brings the outside in (Karisma Hotels and Resorts)

That renowned “island time” is in full swing at Azul; you’re explicitly told by staff to “stop walking on London time”. And while you can expect some staff to be friendly, you should not always expect speed or enthusiasm. It felt as though some staff did not always want to engage in chit chat, and rather seemed to prefer to read off a predetermined script to minimise their guest interactions, giving the impression they were simply a bit bored.

Housekeeping is a little troublesome, with rooms often cleaned at inconvenient times, differing every day. Mini fridges, however, were diligently stocked with soft drinks and the local delicacy: Red Stripe lager.

Bed and bath

While the resort lists multiple room types, the main difference comes between the ‘prestige’ and ‘standard’, with the only other differentiating factor being whether you preferred a beachfront view or swim-up room. The prestige and standard rooms share an uncanny resemblance; with identical interiors the prestige simply felt like a stretched-out version with a sitting area. Both are kitted out with simple yet modern beige interiors, enormous soft beds, cool clean marble surfaces and contemporary mirrors. Each balcony and outdoor space also comes with large sun beds, perfect for relaxing in private or for a pre-dinner drink. While the rooms are certainly more spacious the upgrade to prestige is only really worth the additional charge for the beach butler service, private concierge and private pools as opposed to a drastic room change.

Rooms are simple but modern (Karisma Hotels and Resorts)
Rooms are simple but modern (Karisma Hotels and Resorts)

Water pressure in the rain showers (which feature in all the rooms) and the balcony locks could do with an upgrade – the loose plastic sliding lock felt less than secure. But the rooms certainly don’t lack amenities, with even an umbrella for the occasional tropical shower. The beds are wider than most are long, getting a seal of approval for their supportive yet soft mattresses and thick pillows. Among the 283 rooms are ‘family lofts’, ideal for those travelling with children or for a fun-filled group holiday, featuring multiple rooms over two floors – the spaces would be better named the ‘beach house’.

Food and drink

All nine bars have an impressively long cocktail list, featuring a vast collection of local rums and some Jamaica speacials, such as the Bob Marley frozen cocktail. Bartenders are happy to make off-menu drinks as well. Beware, the dirty martinis are served filthy.

Food options, and their quality, is somewhat lacking. The resort has six restaurants: two buffet-style spots serving lots of Western home comforts such as the pasta and salad bars, as well as Jamaican must-haves like jerk chicken and fried seafood, open for three meals a day. The other restaurants consist of one serving pan-Asian cuisine, an Italian, beach barbecue offering moor-ish smoked meats, and a Jamaican restaurant. While breakfast is great across the two buffet options, especially the omelettes made fresh to order, the resort could benefit from some updates to the menus. With each offering only around six or seven main courses, those staying on longer trips could end up repeating themselves often. The options they do offer lack creativity as well. At the pan-Asian restaurant expect tasty but predictable chow mein and sushi, and the Italian’s tomato based pastas were nothing we could not whip up at home.

Among the resort’s places to eat is an Italian restaurant (Karisma Hotels and Resorts)
Among the resort’s places to eat is an Italian restaurant (Karisma Hotels and Resorts)

The Jamaican restaurant Ackee, named after the national fruit of Jamaica, is a highlight, offering some flavourful dishes and more unique options to help push you out of your food comfort zones and explore the local delicacies. Staff here are happy to help recommend dishes, and expect lots of spice and slow-cooked meat. The ackee and saltfish starter is a salty, zesty delight that complements the starchy potato dumpling, while the curried goat melts off the bone.


The resort has seven pools, most of which double as swim-up bars, and on occasion even feature live music. The spa and gym are simple compared to similarly priced all-inclusive beach resorts in the Caribbean. Treatments were also on the pricier side, with the cheapest facial costing around $80. Access to spa facilities was an additional $40 (£31.50). To really push the boat out you can pay a little more and opt to have your massage in a private gazebo on the beach during sunset. Access to kayaks, paddle boards and catamaran boats comes at no extra charge, but for a fee you can parasail, snorkel, scuba dive and more.

Disability access

There are many accessible ground-floor rooms as well as multiple ramps around the resort but no adapted rooms.

Pet policy

Service animals are allowed if accompanied with the correct paperwork.


Check-in at 3pm, check-out at 12pm.


Little ones will enjoy the creche, miniature water park, basketball court and evening entertainment. The resort is also just across the road from a Cool Running-themed water park.

At a glance

Best thing: The prime beach location. After using a stopwatch, we can confirm it takes 48 seconds to get from the hotel room to the shore.

Perfect for: Group holidays. The cocktails, plentiful loungers and scenery will entice those seeking a flop-and-drop break, and the fact that many of the best excursions start right from Azul’s beach will satisfy adventure seekers. At the end of the night, everyone can gather together at the beachfront bar for a game of cards overlooking the sunset.

Not right for: Vegans or vegetarians. Jamaicans love their meat and fish – and they do it well – but finding dishes that don’t feature either proved tricky.

Instagram from: Your kayak, on the clearest waters the Caribbean Sea has to offer – just don’t drop your phone.

Address: Norman Manley Boulevard, Negril, Jamaica

Phone: +1 866 527 4762