Old Reviews – Sandals Royal Caribbean

Sandals Royal Caribbean – Montego Bay Craig & Carolyn ~ Ottawa, Canada

July 2009

Arrival: Jun 24 – Jul 1
We are recently married (second marriage for both) couple in our 50’s. This trip was our honeymoon. We travel a fair bit to the Caribbean, this being our first time in the summer, we normally go south to escape the Canadian winters. This was our first time at a SANDALS although we have been to Beaches Turks and Caicos. This was one of the best if not the best resorts we have stayed at.For comparison purposes we have stayed at DIVI SOUTHWINDS and ALMOND in Barbados, CLUB ST LUCIA in ST LUCIA, JOLLY HARBOUR in Antigua, BREEZES in Curacao and LA CABANA in Aruba. We loved the fact that this was a smaller resort and not a huge "party crowd" The younger party crowd seemed to stay at SANDALS Montego Bay. Our arrival was handled very efficiently. Customs and immigration went quite quickly and once we had our luggage we were met by a SANDALS rep who organized our luggage and transport to the resort. There is a SANDALS lounge at the airport where you can get a beer or fruit juice while you wait. The driver does not work for SANDALS so a tip is appropriate. One of the reasons we chose the SANDALS ROYAL CARIBBEAN (RC) is that it is a short 20 min bus ride to the resort rather than 90 minutes or so to Negril or Ocho Rios.

As a returning SANDALS SELECT guest (because we had been to BEACHES) our room was upgraded two levels from a premium to a jacuzzi suite for free ( ask about this if you have been to a SANDALS property before. Our room was 410, it had a large nicely decorated bedroom and jacuzzi bathroom. The room was about 5 minutes from the beach and was situated near a small pool and hotub. The room was not fancy and had no beach view but was very nice and we were happy with it. The River Suites are quite nice if you really want to spoil yourself.Yyvonne our room attendant was very good and did special room decorations when she found out it was our honeymoon. Our small room fridge was stocked daily with juice/coke and water.

Restaurants and Bars: ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. The choices are many and varied especially with SANDALS MONTEGO BAY and SANDALS INN nearby and readily available by the free SANDALS shuttle. We love dining and our favourites at the RC were the Royal Thai on the island(the ambiance is great, soup is very spicy)and Le Jardiniere French).Oleanders and Tokyo Joes at SANDALS MONTEGO BAY were also wonderful. We were not as fond of the Italian at SANDALS MONTEGO BAY. We won a dinner package at one of the games and tried MARGUERITES SEAFOOD on the Bay in Montego Bay and had a wonderful dinner experience. We made reservations for the whole week shortly after arrival and highly reccommend doing this to get the choice of restaurant you want and your preferred dining time. We had lunches at the beach grill, the Regency and the private island and all were adequate with varied light fare. We enjoyed all our breakfasts at the REGENCY overlooking the water and private island.The servers were well trained and very attentive. The swim up bar and beach bar were fun and served many varied drinks during the day. Waits were not long and the bartenders were good. The air conditioned bar near the entertainment was fantastic in the evenings. Two of the bartenders in particular were amazing, Sigourd and Adrian, they mixed an excellent dry martini. They also served good quality scotch, champagne and white (pinot grigio) and red (cabernet sauvignon) wine. The restaurants were great and we like the opportunity to dress up a little and many others did as well. All in all, excellent!!!!

The grounds are beautiful and well maintained, lots of pretty flowers.Four peacocks roam around the property.They fog for mosquitoes nightly at @ 530 and my wife was biten several times. There are 4 pools and you can either go to the busy main swim up bar pool where all the activity is or you can use a quiet pool with hot tub near your room. The pools nearest the rooms are also nice to use at night while gazing at the stars. The main beach is ok, very short, so if you want to walk for miles along the beach like you can do in Varadero or Aruba this is not the place for you. We liked goiing to the private island and using the baech there. The dragon boat provides transportation on demand throughout the day and we never had to wait long for a ride over or back. It is easy to spend a good part of the day on the island as there is a pool, hot tub, beach and you can get lunch over there as well. The far side of the island has a clothing optional beach which we wanted to try while on our honeymoon. It is well marked so if the sight of a naked body offends you or you are prudish dont go there. Some people seem surprised that people actually remove their swimsuits! Most often there were 6 or 7 couples on the beach but at times you had the whole beach to yourself especially later in the day which was very enjoyable.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
We thought the activities and nightly entertainment were good, so you can either keep to yourself and relax or be very social and mingle. We found the staff to be vert polite and friendly. There were a few couples from Canada and Britian, however most of the guests were from the States. We did the Dunns River falls tour and the Martha Brae river rafting. Both were excellent but entirely different. You also get to see a bit of the country as you head for the tours. Dunns River Falls is a must to see but if you have any physical handicap climbing them would be difficult. The Martha Brae tour was romantic and very relaxing and fun to to do. We went shopping to the Old Fort Market in Montego Bay but be forwarned the vendors are very aggresive and it is best to be accompanied by a taxi driver who will wait for you and shielded you from the vendors.

Other Comments:
We found the Jamaican people to be warm, friendly and easygoing especially if you try and learn the local Patois. They can be assertive but if you are polite and smile there is never any problems. Mondays is the Managers wine and cheese and this is where the different chefs have a small competition. We wish we had known about this beforehand. Wednesday is the returning guest dinner with the management team and this was truly enjoyable and a great meal in addition.Rick the hotel manager happaned to be seated with us and he is very friendly, approachable and helpful. The staff in general are very professional and well trained but in particular in addition to those we already mentioned we found, Nevyia one of the servers who also did the daily English tea which my wife enjoyed to be very professional Craig at water sports was friendly and very good as were the photographers Devon and Levor. Finally we found Leighton the guest services manager and Oakley the night manager to be very helpful and friendly All in all a great vacation spot and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED The staff are profess

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Sandals Royal Caribbean – Montego Bay Karen ~ Canada

May 2009

Back, from an absolutely fabulous time at the Royal Caribbean!
This was our 3rd stay at the RC, and our 4th Sandal resort. To compare with other all inclusive resorts in Mexico, DR and Cuba, Sandals really is a much better bargain for your money. For paying the same price in another resort same star level you wont get all that Sandals can provide, and if you become a Signature guest (loyalty program) member (for free) you get a ton of bonuses, like after 70 paid nights – you get a free week at any Sandals, who else will give you a rewards program like that? We booked this vacation to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, and we were both very extremely happy with our 10 night stay. Although we chose butler level this time, I’ve included comments on the other category levels we previously stayed in.

Airport – Travel to resort
We have always found the wait for the buses to the resort to be either none at all, or approx. 15 – 20 min max., most of this is waiting for other passengers to clear customs and get to the Sandals lounge area to sign in. If there is a wait, great time for a glass of beer (in the lounge) and/or a quick smoke. Don’t forget to tip the driver as he does not work for Sandals and is not part of the “no tipping policy”. The short ride (15 min) to Sandals Montego Bay (for other guests staying there) and then on to the Royal Caribbean gives you a quick glance at the local scenery. One of my favourite views is the mountain side of the area, especially at night.

The fresh cool damp towels, with champagne or a refreshing drink waiting upon your arrival is one of the delights of the Sandals chain that we’ve come to enjoy. The front desk staff are always smiling and have been very helpful to us every visit. A short wait and we were whisked off to the air conditioned Concierge room to wait for our Butler, Hughill to arrive.

Rooms Royal Honeymoon Swim-Up 1 Bdr. River Suite with Private Entrance.

We had booked the Beachfront Royal suite, and were upgraded us to one of the brand-new ground-floor River suites. These new suites are absolutely stunning, thank you, thank you Leighton! These rooms are expanded in size with dark wood furniture, beautifully decorated with tons of closet space and a huge superior bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub for two. A separate living area, two plasma TV’s a, gorgeous huge bed; I could go on and on. The large outdoor sitting area has a built-for-two sofa that we are thinking of buying for our backyard because we loved it so much. We would sit by the main pool till after lunch then head back to our room to enjoy the lazy river. Hubby would take one of his afternoon naps, and when I heard Mario call out, `Pool volleyball` I would pour myself a glass of champagne and sit on the patio sofa thinking life can’t get too much better than this ;-). The room was cleaned every day before 10:00, and every night turned down with our robes laid out. One of the butlers would always check to make sure we had enough of everything.

Royal Grande Luxe Semi-private Pool view (ground floor)
We loved these rooms as they were nice and quite in the afternoon if you wanted to just get away & have some great chit chats with others or just read a book or soak up some rays. Our room was steps away from the pool, and we brought our ice bucket out and filled it with ice, beer and water. Nice sized rooms.

Royal Grande Luxe This was the first room we stayed in, and we lucked in as the room we got was 125 and was set amongst the foliage and our large patio backed on to a wooded garden forest type area, that no one ever used. All the rooms at the RC (except for the new River suites) contain basically the same you would find at any other all inclusive resort – except these come with a mini fridge replenished with at least water and pop at the min. Champagne, beer and a bar in the Concierge and Butler category. All of the rooms are clean, well maintained, (yes some of the older ones look older, but same can be said for any Caribbean resort). The cleaning staff is super, never a problem with towels or getting more water in our fridge.

Our butlers Hughill and Ellis (and for a few times Adia) were amazing in taking care of us. We asked for a plate of cheese and crackers one day and every afternoon there was always a treat waiting for us. We had an amazing romantic dinner on our patio, you can choose anything from any of the restaurants (excl. any that are closed & the Island as it’s pretty hard to get a course over on boat lol), we switched the night we were going to have our dinner as the French restaurant wasn’t open and I really wanted the escargot, so check with your butler early to determine the schedule for the nights the restaurants are open etc. so you get to enjoy your private dinner – Ellis did a wonderful job and was so discreet when he served us our dishes that we hardly saw the time go by and we were chatting so much that it was after 9pm…we, started at 6 lol. The butlers really do add a special touch and we are very glad we chose to spend the extra to have this service during our stay.

The resort overall
We love the fact that this is not a huge resort, or that it’s not a `party crowd`, however the drinking games at the main pool bar are a lot of fun to watch. “The rum is good all the time- all the time the rum is good! “ Verna and her team are always smiling and chatting while mixing our drinks. If you don’t know what to try ask Verna to make you something, she always comes up with a delicious concoction.The grounds are well manicured and beautiful landscaping with statues, flowers, pathways etc., and the ground and maintenance people really do a super job. The Playmakers are always active, getting us lazy sun worshipers out of our chairs ha ha. Consisting of a great team, to name a few; Marlon, Mario, Antonio and Julienne.Kudos’ to the staff working the Piano bar, after dinner the place gets hopping. The drinks are flowing and very tasty. Another great place to hang out after during and or for dinner is the Cricketer’s pub.

Friday’s is beach party night. They have a local marching children’s band come (they start at the front of the resort and work their way to the beach) and these kids are great to watch and hear. After dinner there is; a steel band, fire dancer and dancing, definitely a must. Wednesday is the returning guest dinner with the Management team, one or two people we ran into were not aware that if you stayed at any Sandals resort previously, you are invited to join. If you don’t receive an invite by Tuesday afternoon, talk to Leighton or David K. the loyalty manager or any one of the Managers you see and they will ensure your set.

Mondays, is the Managers Wine and Cheese Party. It is wonderful to see the pride the staff here has in what they do. Various local performing artists play at the Almond terrace in the evenings. The RC has done new updates since our last visit, namely the new pool chairs by the pools – nice. Wish they had left the Cricketer’s open for lunch though. The beach is a great place to soak up some rays, but be mindful that it’s not a huge long walking one, so don’t be surprised.

Wow, with Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Inn a short shuttle bus ride away the dinning selection is more than you could possible need or want during a 7 or 14 night stay. Our favourites are; Thai, Le Jardinière (French), Regency, – at Montego, Tokyo Joe’s, and OK Corral. We have not dined at the Inn yet – still on the to do list ha ha. We always found that the buffet selections for breakfast and lunch along with the beach grill are perfect. If you get a bit hungry before dinner the beach grill is great place to get some snacks as well. The added a refreshment cooler at the main pool – contains water with fresh fruits and ice, great for when you’re looking to quench your thirst. Also and here’s a tip, when dinning at the Regency I asked for a different appetizer than what was on the menu – one from the Pavilion – shrimp tempura, and it was no problem.

On a final note, If you’re looking for; great food, drinks, meeting great people, pampering and a well deserved vacation, the Royal Caribbean is it. RC always makes you feel like family. The team at the RC is the main reason we return again and again.

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Sandals Royal Caribbean – Montego Bay Brenda

March 2008

Scoring: 1(Poor) to 10 (Perfection)

About Us: It’s important to understand the perspective of the reporter, so here is a bit of information about us. We are a heterosexual couple from western Canada in our early 50’s – no kids. This is our 8th all-inclusive resort, all being 4 ½ – 5 star. We travel one year on our own and the next with a group of 8 – 12. We find the needs for group travel significantly different than when traveling as a couple. We generally like to “do our homework” before choosing a destination or resort and rely upon the experience of others primarily through vacation destination reports and feedback, and the knowledge of an experienced travel agent.

This is our first venture to Jamaica and our first time with Sandals.

Overall Impression of Jamaica: Scoring: 9

ABSOLUTELY LOVED it! We read and heard much about Jamaica and their people and had come to the conclusion we would either love it or hate it. We are definitely part of the former group! Information gathered seemed to suggest Jamaica has a very active drug culture; and the people aggressive, particularly the beach vendors.

The drug culture does seem to be flourishing but no more so than in most Caribbean countries where unemployment is high. Jamaica seems to be taking somewhat of a different approach to addressing it: rather than ignoring or hiding the issue, it attempts to educate its visitors and provide very sound advice – a position we applaud.

The Jamaican people are warm, friendly and easygoing. We found them to be assertive, always respectful, demanding respect in return. In our travels, we have often witnessed tourists being rude and condescending to the locals and resort staff. We did not have this experience anywhere in Jamaica. We felt they appreciated our desire to learn about their country and their culture. When they say “no problem, mon”, they actually mean it!

Unemployment is very high but Jamaicans seem to truly understand the concept of taking care of their own. Homes are often generational. The “haves” share with the “have nots” and only seniors who are not being properly cared for end up in what are called “poor homes”. Churches of every denomination are everywhere (usually right next to a bar). We found facilities throughout Jamaica to be clean, even when humble. Drinking water is safe and we heard no incidents of the typical traveller’s woes.

Jamaica is also very intolerant of homosexuality. While the majority of locals we met had spouses and children, none that we asked were married. 50% of all weddings in Jamaica are apparently for tourists.

We did the Chukka Canopy, and the Black River Safari and YS Falls Tours. We had wonderful guides and drivers who did their best to entertain and educate. We LOVED the canopy tour in the hills but discovered a second tour at YS Falls that looked incredible as the zipline follows the falls. There is also a sunset canopy tour. We were somewhat disappointed in the Black River Safari, though we did see a number of crocodiles and egrets. We really enjoyed the opportunity to see some of the country during the 2-hour drive.

In other Caribbean countries we have witnessed the poor condition of livestock. We even declined horseback riding when one individual got on a horse which literally folded to its knees. They are often malnourished, diseased, unhappy animals. In Jamaica, we were impressed with health of the livestock and were told all livestock and produce is grown naturally (organically). A couple of the locals told us this is the reason why Jamaicans are so healthy.

We enjoy traveling to areas which challenge our foreign language skills and were a little disappointed that we would not be learning aspects of a foreign language. Our fears were unfounded; while the official language may be English, the language of choice is (Jamaican) Patois.

Overall Impression of Sandals: Scoring: 8

We have been to some very nice exclusive resorts, however, there are a few things at Sandals Resorts we have yet experienced at others. In each of the rooms there is a book about the history and culture of Jamaica as well as one about the history of the Sandals chain – both well worth the read.

At Sandals we found not only beer, pop and water in our bar fridge, but an assortment of fruit juices; a selection of hard liquors, white and red wine and champagne. We also enjoyed turn-down service. We didn’t experience butler service; I’m not sure we would enjoy this but some people really soaked up the attention.

The staff are well trained professionals and all seemed happy, suggesting a very healthy corporate culture — not something we have found at all resorts. They showed no fear of management and were committed to the philosophy that good work would be rewarded by better positions. There seemed to be a certain amount of longevity in the staff. Sandals supports a medical plan for staff and family and any staff we talked to was not only pleased to be working for Sandals but VERY proud. We were given the solid impression Sandals cares about and for its employees.

We thought it was a very nice touch that a number of the staff, including the general manager, gave us a bit of a send-off, including a drink and snack “for the road” as we left for the airport.

Sandals Resorts Visited:

Sandals Inn: Very small and quaint. There is no beach with the property but there is a small public beach across the street. We met people who were very disappointed and left the Inn every morning, spending all their time at either SRC and SMB. We also met those who absolutely loved it as it was small, intimate and quiet but just one block off the “Hip Strip” where there is lots of action.

Sandals Montego Bay (SMB): Immediately adjacent the Sangster International Airport, the plane traffic is VERY loud. The beach, though somewhat better than SRC, is limited. We met many people who stayed there to party but came to SRC to eat. We ate at Tokyo Joes and really enjoyed it. We were also told the Italian Restaurant was very good.

Sandals Whitehouse: Located approximately 1 ½ hours from the Sangster Airport, it looked stunning. The beach was lovely, the lobby and pools very nice and the accommodation appeared well designed. The few people we talked to indicated accommodations and food were very good. Not everybody likes the long drive but we would consider it in a future return visit to Jamaica. These photos do NOT do the facility justice.

We were told Whitehouse also has a higher caliber of entertainment than other Sandals resorts. This may have to do with its remote, rural location. There was to be an art auction after our visit which we thought was unique. The little bit of art we saw in Jamaica was of poor quality but the examples for the auction were very well done.

Overall Impression of Sandals Royal Caribbean (SRC) Scoring: 6.5

Sandals RC is about 25 years old. This resort is compact, well designed and never feels crowded. We found all of the public areas well maintained. A combination of the friendliness of the staff and design, from the pool areas to the pub, encourages meeting and making new friends. For a couple traveling alone, it was a great opportunity to meet a variety of people. Located 10 minutes from the Sangster airport makes for easy access, however, it is also located within a flightpath. Some found it annoying while others thought it was no big deal.

We were impressed to see a great number of management staff walking through, stopping to pick up an empty glass or plate, saying hello to visitors and staff alike. It made for a very comfortable atmosphere – again, a sign of healthy corporate culture.

We found the age of the resort creeping in which, unfortunately, can not be modified without extensive renovation. The halls and walkways are very narrow. If you happen to meet a housekeeping or beverage cart, it is a tight squeeze by. This is a minor comment, as we found buildings, facilities and grounds to be clean and very well maintained.

From our research before the trip, we were aware the beach is very small. Photos in promotional material is somewhat deceptive. We found comments from private individuals on travel websites to be more accurate. If the beach is important to you, this may not be a choice location. It points to the need to DO YOUR HOMEWORK before you book the trip. If you like to snorkel, you need to go by boat to the reef, which also cushions SRC from any wave action. The sea is so calm, on most mornings it is like glass.

While the private island is capitalized upon in the promotional material, it is not particularly user friendly. Transportation runs on the hour; you are not allowed to take kayaks from the resort; and there is no food available. A few snacks and better connections to the main land (a 2-minute boat ride) would go a long way to enhancing its use.

One component of the beach is “clothing optional”, located on what we considered the best swimming area of the resort. The area is very well marked if the sight of a naked body offends you, however, we heard many comments from other guests who apparently needed to have a “look-see” to have something to guffaw about. If nudity is your thing, you would be better served at a resort that caters specifically to this alternative.

A couple of other areas which are underutilized is the lobby and the piano bar. We only saw someone playing the piano a couple of times and there was absolutely nothing going on. Most of the people seemed to get drinks from the bar and take them to the terrace or hang out in Cricketers Pub, where the music is loud and the staff are charming.

If the quality of the food were better, we would definitely recommend SRC, particularly couples 40+. As food is such an important component of an all-inclusive resort, we feel it took the resort from an easy 8/10 to a 6.5/10.

While we met lots of people in the 20’s and 30’s, we see this facility suiting couples looking for a resort providing long lingering dinners, lazy days beside the pool, and early nights. It does not cater to partiers. It is relatively wheelchair friendly and would certainly be a good choice for anyone with limited mobility.

There were several weddings a day, supporting everything from a couple alone, to groups of 30-40. All that we talked to felt SRC met or exceeded their expectations.

Accommodation: Scoring: 8

There is a huge variety of room options. We try to say away from ground floor rooms but, in the Kensington Building at least, ground floor would have been very nice. Suites 116, 216 and 316 are corner suites and much larger. We were in a Royal Honeymoon Luxury Beachfront Concierge Room and were happy. It appears the bathroom has been retrofitted with a Jacuzzi which is a bit of a squeeze for two – but we made it! We found the balcony very small in comparison to other experiences, but it was adequate.

We (again) recommend you do your homework about the type of room you request. While some of the rooms are right on the beach, they are also in very high traffic areas with constant activity. If you like your privacy, most of the beachfront rooms (ground level) would not be appropriate, however, we met some who loved all the action.

There is some ongoing construction of additional river suites. We can’t comment on the rooms but they are located in a very central (busy) area of the resort. The river is small and narrow and, although still under construction, it doesn’t appear to eventually tie into the main pool.

Food & Beverage: Scoring 5

As food is such an integral part of an all-inclusive resort expience, we have given this component more weight. Most of us can manage quite comfortably without perfect sunsets, a poorly equipped gym, a few less activities. But let’s face it – most of us expect to eat very well! The one consistent complaint we heard was the quality of the food and the limited options. During the evening, all dining facilities are a la carte. The menus in each of the restaurants does not vary from day to day. While many loved the hot spicy food and atmosphere of the Thai Restaurant, anyone with a seafood allergy is limited to a single dish from the entire menu, including appetizers and main courses. We and others experienced times when the already limited choice was no longer available because they had run out. To get the variety, you must use the two other Sandals Resorts at Montego Bay. There was also a question of attire. We were advised long pants and dress shoes for the men but found this rule to be largely ignored. As we are “casual” people, we were happy but we spoke to others who were disappointed. We hate to make a complaint without suggesting a solution:

(1) include at buffet at each resort in one of the restaurants in the evening. We talked to a number of people who really missed it. Buffets give guests an opportunity to choose what they will eat and when they eat as not everyone enjoys spending 2 ½ hours over their meal every evening; or
(2) Shake up the menu a bit, even if its rotating menus on a weekly basis.

We had a bit of trouble with room service when we received a wrong order. When we tried to phone and correct it, nobody answered the phone. We phoned the front desk and were advised they would contact the kitchen or a manager immediately. We never did hear from anyone and ended up waiting until the beach bar opened at 10pm to get our supper which was originally ordered around 8:30 pm. We used the breakfast option a couple times and it was fine.

We liked having premium alcohols available and took full advantage of it. The tequila however is of very poor quality and should be avoided at all costs. Jamaica is “rum country”.

Activities: Scoring: 7

Okay – we admit it – we were VERY lazy. We began our days early and ended them early, spending 90% of our time in a lounge chair by the pool. If not in our lounger we were off-resort. In the event you wish to be active, you certainly can be. There is music, games and other activities around the main pool; beach volleyball; kayaking; snorkeling; windsurfing; scuba diving; a fully equipped gym; and spa facilities. You don’t have to be a beach potato . . . we just wanted to be.

The entertainment was mediocre, which has been our experience at other all-inclusives. We thought the best was the west African drummers and enjoyed the beach party. A local school band plays prior to the beach party. While it’s great Sandals is supporting local arts and culture, we expected a bit higher caliber.

Management & Staff: Scoring: A VERY Solid 10

It would be impossible to over-praise the management and staff at SRC. Sandals seems to have a solidly established reputation as a very good employment opportunity. The staff are happy and appear to work very well with management. We formed bonds with a few which left us feeling sad to say goodbye to them. Knowing we were at a resort that takes care of its people gives us great comfort and makes it worth considering a visit back, just to see them again.

Sandals Resorts obviously does many things right and has some very strong supporters, as can be witnessed on the “Walls of Fame” in some of the resorts. Visitors make the Wall upon their 5th return visit; one couple celebrated a 100th visit – that’s 3 visits a year for 33 years! There are special privileges for “signature” guests” which also sounded like lots of fun. While we didn’t find many first-timers terribly excited about SRC, we found return visitors to be absolutely committed to SRC and/or Sandals Chain.

Would recommend SRC? The quality of the food is the only reason we would hesitate to recommend this resort, to friends and family. The staff would be our only reason for returning to SRC. Would we go back to a Sandals? Maybe but we would have to carefully research before we spent two weeks at one again. We loved the look of the Whitehouse beach and facilities and may research that resort as well as Negril and Dunn’s River. Sandals has some very stiff competition, such as the new RIU and Palladium Resorts. We still need to be convinced the extra cost equates to extra value.

Would we go back to Jamaica? Absolutely Mon!

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Sandals Royal Caribbean – Montego Bay Bob and Gail ~ Canada

December 2006

My wife and I are in our mid fifties and have vacationed in Cuba, DR and both coasts of Mexico staying in 4+ star all inclusive resorts. This was our first Sandals Resort Arrival in Montego bay was Dec. 2, 2006 Sandals has their own lounge on the arrivals level where you can have a libation prior to boarding your air conditioned minibus for a 10 minute drive to the resort. It was this short journey that brought to our attention that driving is on the left side of road. The condition of the roads here must make owners of muffler and shock absorber shops very rich men.

Our check in went remarkably fast and we were on the beach with in 1 hour of touch down.

The resort is 2 miles off the departure end of the runway at Sangstra Airport so the departing jets pass over head. Saturday and Sunday are the noisiest days of the week.

We were in a premium room which overlooked a pool and the lobby. It was very nice. A small fridge was stocked daily with water, cokes and sprite. The water from the taps was drinkable also.

The property is the home to 4 peacocks, a pair of cats and nunerous small salamanders.

Those who wish to walk miles of beach like Varadeo or Punta Cana will be disapipointed as the beach here is only as long as the hotel.

Most resorts we have frequented require an early visit to reserve a chaise lounge on the beach. Not so here. Sleep in there are plenty of chairs.

The food was varied and plentiful. A visit to the island ""Thai" restaurant is a must. Spice will tickle your palate at every meal.

We both agree that the staff make this vacation destination different than every other spot we have been to. Sandal’s founder Mr Stewart and his management team have hired the friendliest most helpful employees we have ever encountered in any resort not just in the Caribbean but throughout our stays in Canada and the U.S. Special kudos to Sharren at the tours desk and Patrick in water sports. They are his employees but they are our friends.

Tours that we took included a a trip to Negril to visit a Sandals/Beaches complex and tour that beach destination. Dalton our tour guide was worth the trip. He kept a running commentary on Jamacian politics. history and his prowess as a crooner all the while pointing out sites along the way. The return ride was highlighted by his quiz of everything he said on the journey out. He is one of a kind The other recommended tour was inland to the Hilton High Day Plantation. The ride was worth the day. The Jamacians have their own way to squeeze cars into a space that is unbelievable.

The third tour was rafting at Martha Brae. This trip was disappointing as we learned next to nothing during our ride to and fro and absolutely nothing on the short float down the river.

We will vacation at Sandals again

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Sandals Royal Caribbean – Montego Bay Andrea & Dave ~ London Ontario

November 2006

This was our second time to this resort. We went four years ago for our honeymoon and stayed in the Kensington Block. They have made major renovations around the resort. The Kensington Block renovations are complete. The rooms are now upgraded with jacuzzi tubs with shower and also new furniture and decor. It was so nice to see the upgrades. The view from our room 222 was really nice, you can see the pool and the ocean. The mini bar was stocked fully every day with beer, wine, champagne, sodas, juice, bottled water.

Our trip to SRC from the Toronto airport went very well. Customs has upgraded to using computer systems at Sangster, and they have more officers working, so you get through very quickly. We were at the resort in less than an hour from our arrival. Concierge check in was the usual wet towel and champagne, very quick and we were in our room in no time. (we love Joseph the bellman that yells "Beep Beep!" to everyone). We walked around the resort to look at all the changes, and although some areas were still under construction, it didn’t bother us the entire trip. The work is being done very discreetly and the workers are very respectful towards guests.

The gardens and trees are kept beautiful just like I remembered from our last visit. Twice a week now they fog for mosquitos but I still got alot of bites. I found something that works to ward off bugs is by using Palmers Cocoa Butter for moisturizer. The bugs don’t seem to like it, and its good for your sun kissed skin!

The only restaurant that requires reservations now is the Thai restaurant on the Sandals Cay. (The little island at the resort). The food at the Thai was wonderful! The food at the Courtyard was excellent as well, and the a la carte pasta at The Regency was really good. One night we had the private dinner for two set up in the gazebo near the Kensington Block and we both had the lobster…really really good! I think its worth the extra money to have the private dinner one night. We also participated in a Sandals Signature Guest dinner with the GM Jeremy Mutton. He is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. That night we had a surf and turf dinner that was delicious.

On the Friday night we went on the SSG sunset cruise and it was such a nice touch to the whole vacation.

For rum and coffee purchases, we always find it cheaper to buy at the airport on the way home. Unless you like going out to the craft markets/flea markets type of thing, which is something I’m not into. I find the prices at the airport way better than at the resort gift shop!

Sandals Montego Bay was hopping. We went over on the shuttle one day. I really like their gift shop compared to SRC. Younger crowd (twentysomethings) at Sandals Montego Bay, I prefer SRC because of the size (smaller and more cozy), and the age groups of the other guests (more 30’s and up). We are counting down until our visit to SRC next year!!!

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Sandals Royal Caribbean – Montego Bay Ian ~ UK

November 2005

Just returned from Jamaica, stayed at the Royal Caribbean but only for 5 days, the complex is under construction. One whole part of the complex is out of bounds due to the fact that it is being rebuilt. The reception has just been finished but was under construction whilst we were there. The jaquzzi was being dug up whilst we were sunbathing at the pool, the noise was awful. We asked to be relocated and eventually we were moved to the Whitehouse (much better place), along with another two couples. Half of the restaurants were not in use and the whole place looked very run down, it is definately not the 4.5 stars as discribed in the brochure and on line it only comes up to about a 3 star. The staff by the way are brilliant and a credit to the hotel, but the place is very run down and not a lot going on as it is now so small with half the complex being dug up. Go somewhere else!

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Sandals Royal Caribbean – Montego Bay Jim and Linda ~ Canada

April 2005

We just got back from a one week vacation at the Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort in Jamaica and we loved it! It was our first time travelling to Jamaica and we had done allot of research before leaving. When we arrived we were greeted with a glass of beer/wine for a few minutes until the shuttle to our resort arrived. At first they gave us a room overlooking the swimming pool when we had requested a beachfront room. We immediately went to the front desk and was then given the proper room. I have to say that everything we read about this resort was true. Everyone was so warm and friendly, the food was excellent, drinks were plentiful and the surroundings second to none. We both would highly recommend this resort 100% and then some. We hope to return in the future – it was that good!!!!!!

A footnote here: During our visit we took a shuttle over to the Montego Bay Sandals Resort and quickly decided to return to our own resort as it did not compare to the Royal Carribean – in every way!!

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Sandals Royal Caribbean – Montego Bay Robin

November 2004

I visited Sandals Royal Carribean in December 2003 for my Honeymoon for 6 nights. I loved it so much, I am looking into going to their new resort (in construction) in Jamaica for my 2’nd anniversary (Dec. 2005).

*Transfers to the other Jamaican Sandals. We visited Sandals Montego Bay one evening. It was a lot of fun. This is a big plus in my opinion.

*Extremely friendly staff. We asked the Manager (I think that was his title) how much it would cost to upgrade our room (more on that later). He gave it to us at no extra cost! The Playmakers (the entertainers) were very entertaining and friendly. The baggage porter was especially friendly. We spoke with him quite a bit. The bartenders were quick and cheerful. The service was way better than I expected it to be. It is just as Sandals describes it.

*Our first night, there was a beach luau with local entertainers that was very entertaining and the food was great.

*Ask for a hummingbird at the bar. It is one of the best drinks I’ve ever had.

*The private island. One of my favorite things to do was kayak to the island. I’m not an adventurous person in the least. I can barely swim and I’m afraid of water. However, the water most of the way to the island is just a few inches deep. There is a pool and a swim-up bar on the island. On the far side of the island there is a nude beach. When I went there, there was just one topless woman there, but there were two clothed redneck men lounging,gawking, and smoking joints. I have heard Jamaican penalties for marijuana use are severe.

*I really adored the food. There was a large selection and the food looked beautiful. My favorite was the lunch buffet line. I loved eating the breakfast buffet outside on the terrace with the ocean right beside me. The snack bar is decent between meals, but I didn’t like the "patty." My husband and I threw ours away. I’m not a picky eater. There were also pizza, hamburgers, etc. at the snack bar. The outdoor restaurant was romantic. The food was delicious but I wouldn’t recommend getting all the courses (e.g. appetizer, soup) because the service was very slow. That was okay because we were happily chatting, but the dessert took so long we finally just left. The service at the other restaurants was not slow.

.*Tennis lessons-I took a few tennis lessons with my husband. I did really bad, but the teacher was patient.

*Glass bottom boat rides are free. It was interesting.

*Sandals gave us free passes to go river rafting.

*I liked the opportunity to dress up a little. I brought 2 kind of fancy little party dresses and some platform shoes to wear at dinner. You didn’t have to dress up, but there were plenty of people who did.

*Other guests are very friendly. There are chances to be social if you wish.

*The weather. We went in Dec. when it was about 30 degrees C at home. It was so wonderful to walk off the plane into 88 degree weather.

*There were some fun activities. I enjoyed playing "name that song" at the pool. There was a raggae dance contest, a swimming race, etc.

*Craft sellers who approach you on the beach in makeshift boats or surfboards. I know they make their living this way and for this reason, I wouldn’t want the hotel to force them away. However, they can keep you from walking around the beach. They call every woman "Princess" which is kind of irritating. My husband bought a Bob Marley walking stick from one of them.

*We didn’t get the cheapest room, but one of the cheaper ones. The room interior was fine but the area outside the room was poorly lit and kind of run down looking. There were lots of plants that looked in need of grooming. There were unfriendly looking workmen frequently walking in that area to do some work on the building nearby. It made us slightly nervous. As mentioned before, we asked for a room upgrade (without mentioning any complaints) and got it for free. The new room was lovely.

*The beach was too short. One of my favorite things to do at the beach is walk for miles. At Sandals (and probably all other Jamaican resorts) there are barriers that keep you from leaving the resort. I suppose it’s just as well for your personal safety.

If anyone wants to discuss anything about Sandals Royal Carribean, feel free to e-mail me at geldof@europe.com

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Sandals Royal Caribbean – Montego Bay Alvin

October 2004

We just returned from the Sandals RC in Montego Bay. Overall we had a great time. The resort is pretty good but like most resorts it has its shortcomings.

The Good:
1. The people. The waiters and staff in general are very friendly and except for some of the receptionists, one cant really ask for more. Praveen, Isaac, Kirk, Linford at the bar. They were great.

2. The entertainment. We thought the nightly entertainment was great. The "playmakers" also did a great job. You can basically keep to yourself and chill at the RC, or be very social and there is lots to do.

3. The food. The variety and selection of food is excellent. Breakfast was a bit unimaginative, but the choice of restaurants is more than adequate especially since Sandals MB is next door and you can go to their restaurants. The beach bar was excellent. Make sure you try their special sandwiches and jamaican patty’s. Excellent.

4. The water. There are 4 pools and you can eith! er go to the busy main pool with the swim up bar or you can normally get a quiet pool near your room. The sea water was wonderful. Clean, bluey green water and just the right temp. And the vendors selling stuff in the sea were so funny and humorous .

The Bad:
1. The Rooms. Dont get me wrong, they werent horrible, but were simple and a bit run down. Considering you have to pay extra for Sandals, compared to Riu or other resorts, this was disappointing. The first day we didnt have hot water, but this was quickly fixed. The TV was also tempremental, but that was also fixed.

2. I didnt like the fact that Sandals makes you pay extra to stay in the room on your check out date. If you travel on Sky service from Toronto, you dont get into the hotel until about 8pm. Hence, your flight out to Toronto is also at 8pm, but Sandals makes you pay $60 US (negotiable!!) if you want to stay in your room until check out time (5pm). Thats not fair to me, considering you didnt g! et in until 8pm and also checking out early basically curtails your final day there (if you like to shower after swimming or chilling by the sea). Either the tour operator or the hotels need to get it right.

3. And finally, but this is being quite picky, the beach was a bit short, and you get a few planes that pass directly over you. But its not that bad, you can normally find a place to relax

Hope this helps.

Respect and love to the people of Jamaica. Ya Mon!

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Sandals Royal Caribbean – Montego Bay  

August 2004

Top Rate 5 Stars

Hello All,
I’m back from my honeymoon in Jamaica at Sandals Royal Caribbean, and after reading all of the negative reviews, I just had to put up a good one. My husband and I really enjoyed our vacation! We got there and left just before Charley hit (Tues Aug 3 to Tues Aug 10).

We flew Air Jamaica, which I recommend if you are planning this trip. Honestly speaking I wasn’t so impressed with Air Jamaica’s "gourmet breakfast and dinner". But hey, it was airplane food. The reason however I would suggest Air Jamaica if you are staying at a Sandals in Mo Bay is that the same guy owns them both , so they make check-out super easy and painless. Tell ya about it later.

On Tues. we got in Jamaica and through customs and to the resort in about 30-45 minutes. Not Bad at all. Once we got to Sandals we registered with 2 other couples from our flight, were served drinks and told to got to the beach grill get something to eat and our room will be ready by 3:00. Well by this time it was about 12:30. So cool.. I can hang on the beach and eat and drink, and drink and drink. But that didn’t happen. By the time our order came up at the beach grill our room was ready. 20 minutes tops.

Our Room was a Grande Luxe Beachfront. It was in the Sandringham block #87. Let me start by saying that the room was small, however, it was very nice. A four poster King Sized bed, nice size tv over 20 in.. like that matters… and 2 vanities. Not a grand, fabulous room but nice. And we were literally 5 steps to the beach. We could see the sunset from our room (well before it disappeared into the clouds halfway down the sky.) I hear the sunset is better in Negril.

While my husband chose to relax on the beach with a stripe, I took advantage of all the water sports. I went snorkeling twice (Make sure you reserve a spot about 2 days in advance.) We both took the glass bottom boat ( First come first serve Twice a day). And I also tried wind surfing, well I took lessons which are offered twice a day. So are Hobie Cat lessons but I didn’t get to that. Next time!!

The breakfast buffet at the Regency was nice. I would have preferred to have more than a buffet style breakfast every morning. They do serve an a la carte menu after 10 am but it seemed to be the same as what was in the buffet, except it took longer.

The lunch was also a buffet at the Regency. It was pretty decent. Less predictable than breakfast. The beach grill was also good from time to time, but not for everyday.

Dinner – We had dinner twice at the Pavilion, My husband had the Jerk Platter and loved it however his stomach didn’t love it as much ( a word of caution, if spicy food is hard to take stay away from jerk). I had plenty of Jerk ;)! I had the Ackee and Callalou(sp). I loved it! The second night we went we had oxtails. Also very good. I loved the fact that they brought you soft warm CoCo Bread. If you know like I know, have them bring a little more with dinner.

Here is Sandals’ best kept secret (and they like to keep it this way): On your first day, go to the reservation desk for dinner and request A Lobster Dinner. My husband and I had heard about it and we requested it but found that almost no one even knew about it. I told every couple I saw. Remember that you have to request it 2 days in advance. As for the dinner that night it was fabulous, we had it grilled in garlic butter. Yummy! And everyone was looking like hey I didnt see lobster on the menu…lol. Our dinner was set for the Courtyard but due to rain it was in the regency. To re-emphasize the secret part. When we made our reservation the woman looked around to make sure no one heard…..lol… and when we showed up for our reservation we said we were told to come here instead of the courtyard for our lobster dinner, and the man actually looked around and said "not so loud"… Don’t know what that’s about?

Although we didn’t eat at the Thai restaurant, we decided to go to Tokyo Joe’s at the Sandals MoBay resort. Very Nice delicious!

Now one of the complaints I heard a lot was about the service in the restaurants. I will admit that by US standards it was a bit slow. However, don’t we go on vacation to get away from the rush?? Hmmm?? My husband and I enjoyed talking between courses drinking our drinks and smoking our cigarettes, just giggling and being flirty!When the food came we were ready but I appreciated the slow pace, I mean really, where did I have to hurry off to? A cocktail waiter/waitress came for our drink orders within about 10 minutes of our arrival and came back again to check on us throughout, filling water glasses. We averaged about 2 drinks at dinner every night. That was all we wanted.

As for late entertainment. We werent really concerned with the resort ideas. We had personal honeymoon time. Once or twice we stayed a short while for the festivities but the mosquitoes always chased me away. They seemed ok. We were there for Jamaican Independence Day which was pretty fun except it got rained out but the show was fun, for the few minutes we stayed….lol.

The Playmakers were nice and friendly and helpful and if you wanted to participate in the games they made it look and sound fun. We just wanted to reston the beach and honeymoon so we did not participate.

Upon leaving I was terribly sad I mean I was completely spoiled but it was great and Sandals and Air Jamaica make checkout easy you get (what my husband called) an "eviction notice". It tells you the details of checkout and departure as well as your remaining bill.. BTW Don’t use the phone lol..it costs to much. 1 call ended up costing us $55US because my MCI calling card wasnt accepted and I couldn’t even make a collect call. Give your family your itinerary and tell them you will see them when you get back ;). SO anyway -checkout- you checkout, you meet an Air Jamaica rep on the sandals property. They give you your boarding passes and you will be taken to the airport an hour b4 your flight. We were at the resort until dinner time practically. We were even able to shower in the fitness center before leaving.

It was a great trip. I recommend it and we will be going back to Sandals Somewhere! We want to try them all!! We are also thinking about Beaches for my 10yr old to join us.

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Sandals Royal Caribbean – Montego Bay Chrissy — USA

May 2004

Instead of writing a review, I think this will give you my pros & cons of the resort. I did get a response from Sandals, which I will post at the end of the letter.

The following is a copy of my letter sent to SRC in Jamaica

Dear———, I emailed you with a request about our upcoming visit 3/18-3/23/04, with a group of our friends. I received a response from you that same day, which I appreciated.

I am writing this letter for several reasons. First, I would like to tell you about my favorable experiences with your staff.

I would like to commend ——– in sales. I understand she is the liaison for your resort. I also emailed her with requests. I met her upon arrival. She is such a nice & friendly person. I was impressed with her kindness. I (along with the entire group) was extremely happy with our accommodations. We were in the newly refurbished Kensington Block! I thought last years accommodations at Sandals Royal Bahamian were fantastic and not to be topped. But Sandals Royal Caribbean proved me wrong. We thank you and —— for that. I also appreciate the email I received from her today; it was thoughtful of her.

I would also like to commend ——&——-in the bar area. They went out of their way to make sure we had fresh drinks! They were very attentive our entire stay.

—— was a wonderful room attendant. We were in room 121. She did not let us down with her friendly attitude and made sure our room was taken care of.

—— was also attentive and friendly whenever we saw him.

I spoke with —— on the phone and she answered the questions I needed. I would have liked to meet her in person but it was our last day and we were leaving.

I actually had seen you twice. Both times you were in the Regency area. I wanted to personally speak to you but you were busy each time and I did not want to interrupt.

Unfortunately, I am also writing for another reason. I encountered two incidents with your staff that I found to be totally unacceptable. I am enclosing a photo of what I was wearing, in regards to the first matter. On 3/20/04 our group decided to go listen to the singer. It was a beautiful woman with a great voice. I started to dance with my friends. I was dancing for approximately 30-60 seconds when a member of your staff approached me. He informed me that my skirt was to short for dancing. I actually thought he was joking but he wasn’t. Needless to say, I was shock, embarrassed and appalled by this! I got very upset. My husband went to talk with him and inquire why he said this, it was very insulting. I had total strangers hear what he said to me and came up to let me know that I looked fine and that I should report him. We all just left. We go back to our rooms. Later on, we got hungry and decided to have some nachos. When we got to the Beach Grill, no one was behind the counter. There was a man sitting at a table, in a Sandals uniform, eating. Some proceeded to get nachos. I stood there a little waiting to get a slice of pizza. When that man did not help me, I walked to the back and reached around and got a slice of pizza. Well, he started yelling at me that this was not self serve and I must wait for the chef, who did I think I was……….that was my breaking point! I told him that I have had it with the way the staff was treating me. I paid a lot of money for this vacation and have been insulted and mistreated not once but twice in the same day and I am sick of it. I have been treated better at a Holiday Inn!. My husband tried to calm me down and tell . — I meant no harm and just wanted a slice of pizza. By now I seen red and am ready to leave the resort. . — could have nice & politely informed me that I needed to wait for the chef and I would have. Perhaps he could have offered to help get the pizza for me. He seemed more interested in eating his food then helping us. But he had no problem getting up from the table to yell at me in front of people! My friends calmed me down and I then went back to the room.

I called and spoke to —-. I asked for the names of the staff members. Because I was so mad that night, I did not get their names. —- apologized for their actions and said she would get me their names. It was then on my last day that I called —— and she was not in. ——- then called me back and said she would have the names when I checked out.

This treatment was unacceptable and insulting. I travel approximately 4 to 5 times a year to the Caribbean. This was my third Sandals vacation. It was also my first to your resort and to Jamaica. It is also my last visit to your resort. I have stayed at the Ritz Carleton in St. Thomas. If I would have been treated like that, I would not have just received an apology from a sales associate. Those staff members would be apologizing to me. I then would have been compensated for my entire stay. While I appreciate—– apology, I feel this was not sufficient. Do you not have a policy in regards to guests who are unhappy or a system on how to resolve any issues? I feel you should have been made aware of what happened and talked to me personally. I also feel —- and ——should apologize for their insulting, demeaning, unprofessional and appalling attitude towards me. I could list all the other places I have stayed at over the past 10 years but I don’t see where that would benefit anyone. I mentioned the Ritz Carleton because I am sure you are aware of their high standards and treatment to their guests. I didn’t expect the Ritz but I did expect respect from your staff. I have never been spoken to that way at any resort or hotel. I have had better treatment from staff members at a Holiday Inn that cost $70.00 a night! To top this off, I kept thinking of all the topless women that were at the pool and beach. They were not sunbathing at the island where it was allowed. Those women did it right by the pool and little beaches. I only seen one staff member approach one lady and discreetly tell her something and then she put her top back on. Yet, here I am wearing clothing and get told about my attire!

Even with those horrible moments, I refused to let it ruin my vacation with my friends. I brought small gifts for staff members to show my appreciation. We also tipped several people. I know it is included, but we like to show our appreciation. However, I must admit, the tips were taken at your resort but refused at the SRB last year. While Sandals is an all inclusive, the beer selection was only of Red Stripe. I understand that you cannot please everybody and have every selection of beer. It would have been nice to serve at lease one American beer. The SRB did have coors light. I guess that is one of the differences with a 9 rating versus a 10 rating at your resorts.

I am not a big complainer. I treat everyone with respect. Whether it is at a grocery store, restaurant or a resort…….. in or out of the county. I also expect the same treatment. I spent a year planning this trip for everyone and it is just upsetting to think that I was treated that way. We paid over $15,000.00 to your resort. We were planning to make Sandals an annual vacation. Our goal was to visit each one. We would still like to come back to a Sandals but I must honestly say, I will also look at other resorts. Where last year after coming home from SRB, the group wanted to return there. I encouraged everyone to try another location, just to try somewhere else.

I wanted to make sure this was brought to your attention. Will —–&——-receive any disciplinary actions for their mistreatment to a guest? I also plan to write —— a letter in a couple of days. I would like to hear a response from you before I address these issues with him. I will also be posting this on my review of your resort on tripadvisor.com and debbiescaribbeanresortreviews.com. I posted a review last year in regards to SRB. Can you believe I still get emails (a year later) asking me about that resort? I also have people asking me to compare the different Sandals resorts. Feel free to read my review about Sandals Royal Bahamian 3/03 on those web sites.

I appreciate if you would look into this matter and respond to it. I feel the staff members I commended are an asset to your resort. Thank you for your time.

I actually was more upset by their response. We have video tape of the so called "revealing" outfit I was wearing along with my dancing. I am shown dancing for less than 2 minutes and not one person came up to the staff member (since he is in the background of the video) and said anything that we can see. In fact you her the lady telling me I should report him for his insults. On my attire…….they stated people were going to go back to their rooms if I continued to dance. How can one walk around all day long in a bikini, then be clothed at night, but that is considered revealing. Not to mention, the women who deliberately sun bathed topless in areas that were not permitted to do so! This blows my mind! I was truly appalled that they did not even try to rectify what happened to me. Just the opposite, insulted me even more. I asked them if I was in the wrong, why would I call management the next day to report what happened? Why didn’t —– bring it to managements attention? What are the procedures for this type of thing? I received no answers for those questions. They did tell me they would investigate the other matter (in which I was yelled at for getting a slice of pizza) and apologized for that type of attitude. I heard nothing else from that incident that was to be investigated.

I offered to get a copy of the video to Sandals, if they would like to cover that expense and the cost to mail it. I feel I wasted enough time and energy addressing this matter. We will continue to travel but it will not be to a Sandals resort. This is a shame, for the other resorts were all positives to us. Even though there were more positives than negatives, because of ——insulting reply to my letter, I prefer to visit other resorts that will treat us as guests. After all, we are paying them for our time to relax and have a vacation. Why would I pay someone to treat me in the manner I was treated. If you have additional questions about other concerns or resorts, please feel free to email me.

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Sandals Royal Caribbean – Montego Bay Jason and Melissa — Ontario. Canada

November 2003

This was our first trip to a tropical all inclusive resort and it was very special for us because we got married on the resort as well. It was an outstanding experience and we will definitely return the first chance that we can! I’m afraid that this vacation may spoil any further trips as it was so memorable!

Our flight to and from Jamaica from Toronto was a horrible nightmare. We were delayed for two hours going and our plane had broke down for the return flight so they had to split the passengers into two smaller flights – a delay of four hours. We definitely were miserable throughout the flights, but once we got to Jamaica, our troubles disappeared.

We were greeted at the resort with cold drinks and clothes, and while we sat on the sofas, our paperwork was prepared. We were two hours early for check-in so we ate lunch and toured the resort. My husband and I “splurged” and reserved an oceanfront room. It was less than 20 feet from the water and the view was spectacular; however, I wouldn’t bother paying the extra $1000 each Canadian again – I also hear that return guests get free upgrades and many around us had paid for the standard room and got the oceanfront upgrade for free – but it was a special day for us, so we didn’t care. One bonus was that our room was in front of the beach volleyball court. At first, I thought it would be too rowdy, but my husband, a volleyball enthusiast, played every day while I, a volleyball spaz, drank red-stripe and watched.

We did not travel alone – my sister and my husband’s best friend accompanied us to be best man and bridesmaid. They were great considering that they were not a couple and had to share a king-sized bed (a couples resort specializing in “love” would certainly not offer twin beds!). The place can be as laid back or as romantic as you want it to be. We met a tonne of wonderful people and we were surprised with how many Brits made the long flight! The playmakers were outstanding and we spent a lot of time kidding around and having fun with them – Garfield, Dre and Saki were all amazing!

Other than volleyball, we did not partake in many of the water activities that the resort had to offer (water skiing, catamarans, paddleboats). We went snorkeling a couple of times and we loved it! It was like swimming in a tropical fish tank! I had my scuba license, so I went on one dive and regretted it only because I have a bad time equalizing and I ended up getting a bad rash from the coral on the dive line. It took about two days for the rash and my ears to clear up L

The food was outstanding – I was never disappointed with any of the meals. Breakfast was great – buffet and you could eat outside next to the water (ahh the blue sparkling water of the Caribbean!) — and the coffee was potent! I’m not much of a lunch person but there were many snacks to choose from including jerk chicken, nachos, etc. Dinner was the real special part. I really liked being able to dress up, because you had to here, and making it into a leisurely evening. Drinks were awesome – especially the hummingbirds. I was surprised that the sun set about 6:00 pm, so the nightlife began quickly. It seemed as though as soon as the daily 4:00 volleyball game was over, all the guests would retreat to their rooms, shower, freshen up, and then meet at the piano bar for drinks before dinner. I dined outdoors every single night! It was awesome! A highlight was the Royal Thai restaurant that was located on the off-shore island. By day, it is a clothing optional beach – we went over briefly one afternoon (the men were hoping for a “glimpse”) but, luckily (says prudish me) nothing materialized. The thai restaurant at night is amazing – definitely make a later reservation as you can get an amazing view of the shoreline with all the lights. Beware of the rum punch that they serve when you come in, it’s quite potent (especially after a couple of glasses of wine at the piano bar).

The piano bar was a great place to meet people. The resort hires a pianist to play, but guests often hijack the piano and begin sing-a-longs – we had a great Christmas Eve singing “Winter Wonderland” and laughing at all of the Canucks who were undoubtedly shoveling back home! The service for drinks were amazing – we never had to wait long, the bartenders knew what you were ordering and often had them ready, and throughout dinner, our wine glasses were never empty – wonderful treatment!

Our only complaint was that we made the mistake of taking the bus to the Montego Bay Sandals to eat at Tokyo Rose’s. DO NOT STAY AT MONTEGO BAY UNLESS THE RUMBLE OF PLANES OVERHEAD IS YOUR IDEA OF A FUN TIME!!! You are literally five minutes from the airport and the noise is unbelievable! Somehow, our reservations were miscommunicated and they refused to seat us at the oriental restaurant. We ended up eating at the Italian restaurant instead and, perhaps mixed with disappointment, the food was boring. The service, the atmosphere, everything was inferior – the waiter even heaped cheese onto my pasta dish without asking if I wanted any! We came back to The Royal Caribbean asap!

THE WEDDING – 1:00 pm
It rained the morning of the wedding (I was in an absolute panic) but things cleared up by 11:00. I saw a lot of ceremonies at the resort throughout the week and I was surprised how diverse they were! One couple had a steel drum quartet play for their ceremony – but at $250 US, we opted for a CD! They were really great about planning everything for you. I was not picky about flowers, cakes, details, so whatever they had to offer was fine for me. If you are more detail-oriented, they have plenty of upgrades. I got my hair done at the salon and they did a great up-do and I even got them to put some flowers in. We had to spend about an hour with the wedding planner picking out details from flowers to cakes to dinners when we first got to the resort. We were originally going to get married on the beach, but we were getting our ceremony videotaped to show at our reception (and the tape was professionally done and very well- choreographed) and the wind from the sea would have muffled the sound so we got married in the garden with the sea in the background – very beautiful! Please choose your attire accordingly! I wore a short white dress, my husband wore light pants and a short-sleeved dress shirt and we were boiling!!! The ceremony was short but sweet – we had to go ahead of time for marriage counseling which terrified us since we aren’t religious, but it was more like a comedy act about the philosophy of marriage by Reverend Gordon and the time flew by! After the ceremony, the resort threw us a champagne reception with hors d’oeuvres and wedding cake (all videotaped and choreographed), speeches and the signing of the marriage certificates. The people at our reception in March were just amazed by the video – it was like they were there with us! Later on that evening, the resort set up a dinner for two at the restaurant – there were only the other two couples that got married that day in the restaurant with us – and the resort served us a five-course champagne, steak and shrimp meal. Yum! The next morning, the resort brought us breakfast in bed with champagne as well. Considering that we did not pay for any of these special features (except for the photographer and video) I think that the resort went above and beyond my expectations. I don’t think that I’d change a single thing if I had to do it all over again – it was perfect!!!

In SUMMARY… Sorry for this long-winded review, but I hope you can get a better idea about how great this resort was. Everything exceeded our expectations!!!

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