My husband & I just returned from the Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, where we stayed 8 nights Sept. 21st-29th. We are a scuba diving couple in our mid 50’s from California. We are Sandals Platinum Members and began our Sandals/Beaches adventure at this resort in 2006 to celebrate our 25th anniversary, and returned this year to celebrate our 31st. We have been to Beaches Turks & Caicos, Beaches Negril, Sandals Royal Bahamian, and twice here at the SRC. We like to travel in September which is the Caribbean’s low season, resorts are not full, and less children at the family resorts.
In 2010 we achieved platinum level at Beaches Negril. Each new level comes with perks, so be sure and sign up for the Sandals Select Members. At Negril we were given a complimentary couple’s romantic bubble bath. This year at SRC we were given a complimentary couples massage. We are 19 nights from our free week!! (To newbie’s: after 70 nights with Beaches/Sandals you receive a free week at any of their resorts.)
With each visit to Beaches/ Sandals we have been given a room upgrade free of charge. This year I booked the lowest category room, anticipating an upgrade, and also….it was what we could afford this year. When we checked in we were told we had received an upgrade and escorted to our room. I have to admit that I was disappointed. The ‘upgraded’ room was farthest back from the beach in the building by the driveway entrance. The room was very nice with a Jacuzzi tub. Now, I don’t want to sound arrogant, but with 51 nights with Beaches/Sandals I expected more. But, we didn’t complain and said ‘thank you’, just happy to be on vacation and be pampered & spoiled. After all, ‘anything’ would be an upgrade to what I actually booked. The lady who escorted us to the room noticed water leaking from the mini refrigerator and that it would need to be fixed. My husband asked if there were any other upgrades available, and off they went. We were moved to the Sandringham building, 2nd floor with a balcony and a view of the beach and private island. Okay! This is what I expected!
Since “Eat, dive, eat, float in the ocean, float in the pool, eat, watch the night sky, sleep” was pretty much our daily routine, instead of a daily review, I will comment on different aspects of our stay.
Security Staff: always visible but in the background which provides a very safe and comfortable stay.
Airport Shuttle drivers: not employees of Sandals, so tip them a buck or two per bag.
Our room: Nice comfortable bed and pillows, black-out curtains, A/C worked well, and mini refrigerator stocked with bottled water, beer, juice, and soda. Bathroom counter was too small to hold all of our toiletries, but we managed with the ledge under the window. Good size fluffy towels. Room taken care of twice a day, including turn down service and cute towel arrangements left on bed.
Beach: it is small, just like the pictures. No long walks on the beach…if that’s your thing, hop a ride on the shuttle and go over to Sandals MoBay. We found the beach sufficient for floating around and cooling off. They do have beach/pool drink service now which was conducted very efficiently, this service was added after 2006. We saw guys out a couple of times a day raking the beach.
The island: I had read positive things on TA about the island, but have to say I was disappointed. The area were TA contributors had said had good snorkeling, we found it to be a very small area and saw nothing more than sea grass, some small fish, small yellow-tail snappers, and a few file fish. Pool was small, and had a very small stretch of sandy beach. Surrounding most of the island is a retainer wall. The jerk pork and chicken on the island was very good as was the service. Boat services runs so often there is rarely a wait to go in either direction. We found we like the main resort better. To each their own. Another important fact about the island: the island can be rented out in the evening to groups not staying at Sandals. Twice during the week, the island was lit up and very loud, fast dance music could be heard at the main resort, including every word the MC was saying. Now….if I had paid almost $200 for a private romantic candle lit dinner on the pier in the gazebo, I’d be pretty disappointed in the ‘romantic music’. So….if you plan on booking this romantic evening, just make sure there isn’t an island party going on that night.
Pools: swim-up bar at the main resort is in the activities pool. When these activities were going on, you had to wade around the players to get to the bar. As you sat on a stool, your back was up against someone participating in the activity. We used this pool only once since it was so crowded. We preferred the east pool which is very quiet. We’d get in the pool after our ocean time was done for the day, and before heading to our room to get ready for dinner.
Le Jardinier – The entrees of beef tenderloin, rack of lamb and Caribbean Lobster were delicious. All dishes we tried were excellent. House wine, Stone Cellars (of Beringer), cabernet sauvignon was outstanding. Chef’s prepared a special appetizer not on the menu, and we were offered a cherry sorbet palate cleanser before the entrée. We liked this menu/food so much we ate here 3 times out of the 8 nights we were there. Janice was an outstanding hostess, and Samantha was a very friendly server.
Mariner’s grill: burgers, fries, wraps, Panini, bar, self-serve soda machine, self-serve ice cream, and self serve nachos. The Bartender Randle very entertaining. Tables/chairs with umbrellas and picnic tables under palapas offer direct views of the ocean just steps away. Rockisha was a wonderful, fun, and friendly server, who served us lunch every day. She’s the model of outstanding customer interaction. We did bring our own insulated mugs which the bartenders would fill. This kept the ice from melting as fast and our drink stayed colder longer.
Cricketers – good fish and chips
Piano bar – went there a couple of times for before-dinner drinks. Kevin was very personable and loved to discuss sports, which my husband particularly enjoyed.
Buffet – it’s your typical resort buffet. Everyone would be able to find something they like. Michael made my omelet each morning. He was very friendly, which was a great start to my day. Good pastry chef.
Friday Beach BBQ: Both Fridays it was moved into the Regency due to rain. Buffet with lots of choices.
The Pavilion: Great upscale outdoor dining.
Stewfish: at Sandals MoBay. Took the shuttle over on our last night. Every course was delicious and the mussels were cooked perfectly.
Diving: Due to previous storm damage, overfishing, and ignorance, the reef and sea life was a disappointment. Beaches/Sandals does partner with the government to help educate the local population about ocean conservation. But to some, fishing is their only source of income. Shaq, David, Paul, Greg, Andrew, are outstanding Dive Masters. Shaq lead the night dive that my husband went on and enjoyed the dive. But the real boss is Miss Tamara - she keeps the water sports desk fun and orderly. The boat Captain who’s name was pronounced “Saw” (do not remember the correct spelling) ran an excellent boat. All in all Beaches/Sandals run a very professional PADI certified safe operation. We were able to get in 14 dives. The micro life was fun to look for.
Our nighttime entertainment: We did enjoy the Silver Birds steel drum band – very entertaining. The rest of the entertainment for us, the good Lord provided:) Spent all other evenings laying in loungers on the beach/piers and gazed at the stars while my husband smoked a cigar. You are not allowed to go into the ocean at night because some poisonous fish come up into the shallows at night time. We took the dive light out to the piers and looked around. Saw lionfish (poisonous), sea worms, sea cucumbers, misc small fish, and a pastel colored octopus.
Return Guest Dinner: Lovely pool-side setting with gifts and delicious food. A bottle of Appleton Rum for the men, and a red rose bouquet for the ladies. The menu that night included an appetizer, salad, surf 'n turf, and a medley of desserts. Because our stay coincided with Reunion Week, one couple at this dinner was awarded for their 200th night! A raffle was for all in attendance with a prize of a 5 night vacation at Sandals....no we didn't win:(
Maintenance: Someone was always working maintaining the property everywhere you went. It wasn’t a distraction, but encouraging knowing the resort was being kept up. Eric, (aka. Mr. Fix it) was very visible and approachable, always willing and able to address any need brought to his attention by a quest.
Staff: All the employees, from reception to gardeners, were very friendly with smiles and asking how your vacation was going. The resorts are very nice, but it’s the staff, (either at
Beach/Sandals) that keep us loyal and wanting to come back.
As we were on the shuttle bus ready for departure to the airport, the general manager and top staff members sang us a farewell “soon come back” song.
Don’t hesitate, book today!
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.