Holiday Inn MoBay: 4 Star Resort with 5 Star Jerk Chicken

What can I say about jerk chicken.

I guess when you think of Jamaica and what defines it from a tourist’s perspective, you think of jerk chicken. Okay, it may not be the first thing you think of – I’m guessing Bob Marley, the beaches, and the laid-back-yeah-mon-everyting-irie vibe top the list – but I would say jerk chicken is in the top five (I’m sure Red Stripe is in there somewhere!). I know this because when I was preparing for my first trip to Jamaica several years back, a friend, who had been there several times, said “don’t forget to try the jerk chicken.”

So I put “try jerk chicken” on my to-do list. It turned out that putting it on a to-do list was unnecessary, because the first thing your shuttle bus driver will tell you when you’re leaving the airport is to make sure you try the jerk chicken. When you get to your resort, the staff will ask you if you’ve tried the jerk chicken yet. People you meet will ask you if you’ve had the jerk chicken.

I seriously thought to myself, “Wow, what’s the big deal about this stuff?”

So of course, one of the first meals I had in Jamaica was … a plate of jerk chicken.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Right away, I knew what the big deal was. It was spicy but it was sweet. It was charred (even looked like it had spent too much time over the heat) yet it was juicy and succulent. It was a flavor I had never experienced before, so I couldn’t quite describe the herbs, spices, and juices that made up this incredible dish, but all I knew was I wanted more!

I’ve been to Jamaica several times, and needless to say I’ve tried jerk chicken at several restaurants and on several resorts. It’s typically the first meal I have upon arriving and the last meal I have before departing. And even though there’s never a doubt that I’m eating authentic jerk chicken, I find that typically the flavor differs at each establishment. It’s spicier at some restaurants, while sweeter at others. Some will pour jerk sauce right over the chicken, and others with serve it with a side of hot pepper jelly (and the spice level of that can even vary between establishments).

And don’t get me wrong, I’ve never had a bad plate of jerk chicken, but I do know that it is better at some places than it is at others. And to my surprise, one of the best places to have jerk chicken in Jamaica is at the Holiday Inn Sunspree in Montego Bay.

A couple of years back, we stayed at the Holiday Inn in Montego Bay for a couple of nights. It was a last-minute decision to stop in and check the place out. It’s close to the airport and it was reasonably priced at the time. I had read some reviews of the place, and while many commented on the quality of the food overall, I don’t recall one reviewer commenting on the jerk chicken. So, I went there without any expectations. I definitely didn’t expect to experience such a masterpiece.

It was very spicy, which is what authentic jerk seasoning is supposed to be (several scotch bonnet peppers will do that!) and yet it was still sweet. The hot pepper jelly on the side was insanely spicy and even the homemade bread that came with it was amazing. And the ice cold Red Stripe was a perfect pairing to this dish!

I was completely blown away that of all the places I’ve stopped to try this Jamaican staple, it was an all-inclusive Holiday Inn resort that proved to have the most authentic, flavor-bursting jerk chicken that I had ever tasted to this point. We had it a couple of times over our two-day stay here. Whenever I think of that resort, I think of that incredible jerk chicken. And whenever I think of jerk chicken, I think of the Holiday Inn Sunspree. Go figure!

I loved it so much that on my most recent visit to Jamaica, I added a couple of extra nights so that I could visit the Holiday Inn again, mostly for the jerk chicken! And again, it didn’t disappoint. It was everything I remembered. We’d stand around waiting for the jerk hut to open at noon, and we’d make another run before it closed at 6. Yep, it was that good.

The Holiday Inn Sunspree Jerk Hut

The Holiday Inn Sunspree Jerk Hut

It was so good that I thought it actually came from Scotchies, a place known to have the best jerk chicken in Jamaica. And since Scotchies is just up the road from the Holiday Inn, I really thought for sure, without a doubt, that Scotchies prepares it and sells it to the Holiday Inn. Yes, that’s just how authentic and amazing the jerk chicken is at the Holiday Inn Sunspree – good enough to think it came from Scotchies.

Recently, I wrote to Uncommon Caribbean, a duo of Caribbean travel bloggers who really know their Caribbean food and know the Holiday Inn Sunspree well. They confirmed, with 100% certainty, that the Holiday Inn’s jerk chicken does not come from Scotchies and that the hotel is not affiliated with Scotchies whatsoever.

My response:

Kudos to the Holiday Inn Sunspree!

As they say in Jamaica, once you go, you know.

One Love.
Jody, The Tropical Tourist

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