I'm tired of reading reviews by people who criticize this place. It's not Monte Carlo or the Plaza in New York, but it's pretty darn good.
Sandals at the airport: not a bad lounge, you aren't going to be there long (a good thing because you want to get to the resort). Get a draft Red Stripe (or two) and relax.....take a couple of Red Strips with you on the bus.
The infamous ride: people who complain mustn't be well traveled, especially in developing countries. The ride to Whitehouse is part of the adventure, is conducted by professional drivers, gives you a chance to relax and enjoy the countryside. The living conditions you see on the way aren't that bad, either....remember not to judge based on American or Canadian values....it looked like middle class Jamaica to me. The ride is not that big a deal, many people are probably freaked out by the driving on the the left side. It isn't dangerous, twisty, or rough ride. I've been on worse roads in Hawaii. People should get out more and see how the rest of the world lives. Our drivers both ways were quite informative and one of them (Dee or Vee) was a hoot, very comical. Tip these guys well, they are not Sandals employees and are doing a lot of hard driving so that you can relax.
Size of resort: It isn't really that big, and it's laid out well. The "villages" are basically continuous, and the walk from the furthest one (French) isn't that big a deal, maybe 5 minutes through beautifully landscaped gardens and lawns (note: garden tour for 2 hours in the mornings is a must...very beautiful and informative). Is it a coincidence that the people who complain about how far the walk is from the French village also rave about the pastry shop? Maybe they should plop themselves in a room and just order room service the whole time or go on a cruise instead and just take the elevator up and down from all-you-can-eat buffet to all-you-can-eat buffet. It never felt crowded at Whitehouse the whole time we were there, despite near full occupancy, not at the pools, not at the beach, not in the restaurants.
Complaints about people with Butler Service: give me a break, people who paid for the service are entitled to enjoy it. Anyone can arrange for that if they are willing to book it and pay. Our butlers, Ainsley and Keen were terrific, attentive without being pushy, informative and engaging. If people want someone to reserve their spots on the beach, bring them beverages and lunch on the beach, make reservations for them and meet them at dinner, arrange free wifi and room service, put liquor in their rooms, keep their refrigerators stocked with beer/juice/wine/water, bring snacks and folded towel animal sculptures to their room, and basically do whatever they request, then they should pony up the dough for that. They'll also get a 1-bedroom suite that has plenty of room and a large balcony. Otherwise, they should just keep quiet. The resort can certainly be enjoyed without the butlers, but if you choose not to get one, why criticize those who do?
Bugs: Yes, there are mosquitoes and sand fleas. It's the tropics. I am usually a bug-magnet, but I used bug spray religiously here and didn't get even one bite. Only put the stuff on my arms, legs, and face (not on the trunk of my body). Put the 12-hour stuff (Ultrathon by 3M) on first thing in the morning, sunscreen over it all day, and sprayed some Deep Woods Off on in the evening. My wife got a few bites the first day, none after she adopted my protocol. Once again, just be prepared and use your head. (I did see some people with a lot of bites on their ankles and feet).
Room Decor: in a butler suite, all was fine. Once again, pay the piper if you want top-notch accommodations. And don't complain if you don't. You get what you pay for.
Food: Fine and plentiful at all restaurants, but best at Eleanor's. Good choice of Jamaican foods (some of them HOT!) Ate in all the restaurants, all were at least OK (Neptune's our least favorite). Some nights we each ordered two appetizers and one entree, some nights one appetizer and two entrees. Pastry shop is always crowded (see comments above about "long walks" from room to restaurants.) Beach party buffet food was terrible...skip it, go to a restaurant, then head to the beach party for dessert. Only had lunch in a restaurant once (Bluefields) and it was really good. Other days our butler brought us lunch (always without us asking, always really good, always great variety...enough to bridge us from big breakfast to nice dinner). (Don't be a hater.)
Drinks: Always good and reasonable quality. Saw some really drunk youngins a couple of nights, you know, amateur hour. California wines (house) were just fine, anyone who says otherwise is a wine snob, in my opinion. Wait staff by the pools were fun, would bring surprise drinks and refills without being asked.
Entertainment: good individual acts on the piazza, good reggae band on the beach, but the acts in the cabaret were weak, including the Silver Birds Steel Band (too much noise, not enough music, dancing was not a bonus). Entertainment staff tried hard, but failed every night. "Talent show" was a bust....more of a fashion show and only hilarious by how bad it was. They need help here.
Pools and Beach: As other have said, Dutch beach/pool is quietest, French most rowdy and crowded, Italian in-between (with some people hogging the stools at the swim up bar all day long). Nice feature is that the beach curves around, with the Dutch/French sides getting a nice breeze in the afternoon, Italian side staying hot. Water sports guys were very helpful, water sport equipment was fine, didn't have to wait long to use it.
Excursions: Only went out on the Island Routes catamaran to the Pelican Bar, it was a hoot. Highly recommended. Try the lobster/fish dishes out there.
Shopping: They have what you need in the resort shops and prices are very reasonable. Artisans who come on site a couple of times during the week are not the nicest, but will negotiate. I hate doing that, so I just bought things in the resort shops. Hey, after spending so many thousands of dollars on the trip, do I really need to haggle over some trinkets to save $25?
Staff and management: Almost everyone was really friendly and seemed to enjoy both their jobs and the guests (a few exceptions.) Mr. G. has a lot of energy and looks like real commitment to the staff and the resort...he seemed to be everywhere and working hard, even clearing dirty dishes and glasses from tables around the piazza (instead of just ordering one of his staff to do it.)
Sandals had been in the business a long time, and they "get it." This resort is all it's cracked up to be....it can be very quiet, very romantic, and very relaxing, but if you want late-night partying action, you can find that also.
Highly recommend that you give this a try. Armed with a little information and knowledge, you can prepare like you should and ignore the haters. You'll have a great time.....
- Also Known As:
- Sandals Whitehouse European Village Hotel Whitehouse
- Sandals Whitehouse
- Sandals Whitehouse European Village Hotel
- Whitehouse Sandals
- Sandals Whitehouse Jamaica
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Discover the undiscovered. Journey to a forgotten Jamaica where the natural beauty is simply unforgettable. Within a 500-acre wilderness preserve, blue mountains, lush palm groves, pristine coastlines and shimmering turquoise waters create an unbelievable backdrop for a monumental resort. Sandals Whitehouse Europe Village & Spa perfectly blends the exotic allure of the Caribbean with the refined elegance of Europe.Charming Italian piazzas and fountains are surrounded by gardens resplendent with fragrant foliage, while three European-inspired villages – Italian, French and Dutch – are home to luxuriously-appointed, all oceanfront rooms and suites. Each one offers magnificent views overlooking the two-mile long beach, and top tier suites come with Sandals’ legendary Butler Service. Seven restaurants serve mouthwatering gourmet cuisine from around the world, and entertainment ranges from a sophisticated piano bar to bonfire beach parties and a chic nightclub. This resort is truly a world unto itself, where time is all but forgotten and the only moment is now.World Travel Awards:Sandals Resorts “World’s Leading All – Inclusive Company”, 16 years in a row.Sandals Resorts “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand,” 18 years in a row.Sandals Whitehouse “Jamaica’s Leading Spa Resort”Five Star Diamond Award, American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. We’re so very pleased to announce that Sandals Whitehouse European Villages & Spa has been named in Condé Nast Traveler’s Voted 2012 Readers' Choice Awards “Top 15 Hotels & Resorts in the Caribbean,” coming in at No. 10 and “Top 30 Resorts in the Caribbean,” coming in at No.4 as part of the annual “Best in the World” poll. Presented Certificate of Excellence for 2012 and Travelers' Choice Hotel for 2012 ... more less
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