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“Overal Good Experience with some disappointments” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and Private Island

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Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and Private Island
5.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Mahoe Bay, Montego Bay 167, Jamaica   |  
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Ranked #8 of 63 Hotels in Montego Bay
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Corvallis
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
“Overal Good Experience with some disappointments”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 20, 2008

We were extremely excited for our honeymoon and were hoping for the time of our life. Instead, we got great service and not so high quality of rooms and facilities. I would stay at Montego Bay instead of here if I decide to go again.

We arrived after a few flight delays around 3:00pm and were quickly whisked away to our room by Joseph (amazing person). We loved Joseph he was always available and willing to do whatever we needed. We were upgraded to a Beachfront Concierge in the Kensington building. We had hoped for a Royal Lux semi private pool room because the rooms were new as of January 1st. The rooms we got had a great view except the furnishings were outdated. We never dared to use the jacuzzi as it was old and dingy. All we used was the shower.

My first disappointment came when we tried to find food and had to settle with the beach grill which served great jerk chicken but nothing else good. The burgers and fries were worse than McDonald's and we won't even eat at there.

Our disappointment's- rooms need renovated, the quality of the restaurants here are poor (at Sandals Montego Bay you must try the Oleander Room and Bayside), The private Island was boring (Thai restaurant was a bad Chinese Restaurant served family style, the beach was small at the private island, and you can only take the boat on the hour so your stuck there). The water sports were not good here (One Hobie Cat, One windsail, no jet skis-no wakeboarding-no parasailing), The beach is really small and the seaweed lines most of the ground under water. Do the Rose Hall shopping tour not the City Centre (only 5 shops and each posed fake Tag Heuer watches and Rolex for $10,000 U.S. money)

Our likings- Joseph (Bellman) and Dwayne in the Cricketeer's Pub and Regency restaurant, The pools were adequate, the activities and entertainment were fun. We enjoyed snorkeling and the Piranha reef was beautiful. The sunsets are amazing here.

  • Liked — Service
  • Disliked — Room decor and cleanliness
  • Stayed July 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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New Jersey
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2008

My husband and I got married on resort property and I have to say that they treated us like royalty! It turned out to be the perfect day, the perfect week and a vacation full of fabulous memories! There are a couple of things that should be kept in mind when traveling to Sandals: they do not have an ATM machine on property, even though it doesn't seem safe, bring mostly cash with you. We had to walk off resort property to get cash from an ATM, and it was the most uncomfortable 30 minutes of my life! (scary)! We also brought travelers checks, but the only way we could use them was to credit them to our room and we could charge items to our room, but again, we couldn't use them as cash. A note about the gift shop, it is expensive, for example cigarettes cost $10 American dollars a pack. We asked the workers at the counter how much they were and one woman said $9 then the other said " Why did you say that, they cost $10", and then when we called the front desk to check they said they were $9, but the rest of the week the people in the gift shop charged $10. There were a couple of times that we felt as if people were ripping us off. Our cell phones did not work on the island, and we were unable to use international calling cards, so we had to make collect calls home ( a little bit of an inconvenience!) We also were given Visa international gift cards for our wedding shower and we were unable to use them to book excursions, they could only be used in the gift shop. Another reason you should have cash with you is because there are local merchants every where selling carved wood sculptures, shells, necklaces or other souvenier types of items and they obviously only accept cash. The merchants who paddle up on surf boards in the ocean can be a little annoying, so you have to set the tone immediately that you aren't interested. Within 30 minutes of being on resort property a local resident tried selling my husband marijauna, and literally put drugs in my husbands pocket, telling him to pay later. When you tell them you aren't interested, some get very upset and tell you that you aren't showing them respect. Again, these are not people who are affiliated with Sandals, but they come right up to the beach, and Sandals should discourage this a little more than they do. The Sandals experience, minus the little inconveniences, was great and we look forward to visiting again in the future. We only went on two tours, Dunns River Falls and the Martha Brae River Tour, both worth the money! Keep in mind that Dunns River Falls is amazing, but a little challenging physically and make sure you bring water shoes (they rent them there, but I don't recommend that). Don't underestimate the power of water pressure. We recommend buying the DVD from Dunns River Falls, we have watched it numerous times with family members and friends since we've been home. Bring a water proof camera to Dunns River Falls, you get soaking wet! When you are in Jamaica, you don't have to be a good photographer, it is so easy to take beautiful pictures there. Oh, side note, we were unaware that the private island had a nude beach, so don't be alarmed when traveling to the private island and you see naked people coming from the water.
There are 5 restaurants on resort property, but most of them you need reservations for, so I recommend making reservations the day you get there. If you are vegetarian, don't worry, they have plenty of vegetarian friendly meals! There is also a dress code for the restaurants, so make sure you bring dress clothes and nice shoes. The tours have the same situation. Some tours only run on certain days, so again, make your reservations the day you get there to be sure they fit in your schedule ( or before you get there by phone). Good Luck and have fun.

  • Liked — All inclusive
  • Disliked — the annoying peddlers who hung out in the water on surf boards
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Essex Junction, Vermont
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 14, 2008

We recently stayed the Royal Caribbean and we absolutely loved it!!! The room was clean, beautiful, and spacious, as was the rest of the property. The grounds were well-kept and romantic, especially with the wild peacocks roaming around. The staff were fabulous and were always friendly. They clearly enjoyed their jobs and it showed. We highly recommend this resort to anyone looking to relax and have a romantic vacation.

  • Liked — Friendly staff made us feel at home
  • Disliked — Needs more theme nights.
  • Stayed July 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Marietta
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 13, 2008

Instead of writing a review of this resort, I decided to simply attach the letter that we wrote to Sandals after our awful experience at this resort. As you can see by the letter, we were on the first flight out the morning after we arrived. This was by far the worst experience we have had given the money we spent on this vacation, and our purpose in both writing the letter to Sandals and posting this review is to discourage anyone from either wasting money on Sandals, or even visiting Jamaica for that matter. If you haven't booked your vacation yet and are considering this hotel, all I can say is don't believe all the other reviews, I don't know where these people were or they just didn't care that the food was disgusting, the rooms were filthy, and the staff was very rude and unhelpful.

To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing you this letter in regards to the above referenced booking at Sandals Royal Caribbean for the specified dates. My husband and I booked this vacation after doing much research and reading numerous reviews of this property. We are experienced travelers, having traveled to many other all-inclusive resorts along with ski resorts and cruises, the best of the all-inclusive resorts being Secrets Excellence Riviera Maya and the worst being Couples Ocho Rios. Having had such a bad experience in Jamaica previously, we were a bit leery to ever return, but we had confidence that Sandals, being such a well-known and reputable company, would not let us down. I have also stayed at Beaches Turks and Caicos and felt sure, based on my experience with the accommodations, staff, and food there, that we would not be let down by the parent company, Sandals. Unfortunately, it turned into the worst experience we have had yet with an all-inclusive resort that we have vowed never to return to Jamaica, nor will we be spending the kind of money that we did on a stay at Sandals. Here is what happened during our stay, which ended after one night with us paying almost $1K to return home.
The staff at the airport lounge was very impersonal and wouldn’t even make eye contact with us when telling us ‘Welcome Back’ upon our arrival. We were quickly shoved into the lounge before we could even make sure our luggage would be properly handled, only to barely sit down with a beverage before telling us it was time to leave. Once we were in the shuttle van, we proceeded to wait 15-20min while apparently waiting on another couple to arrive. The couples that we were waiting with complained that we could have been waiting comfortably in the lounge with our beverages instead of sitting in the van, and we agreed.
Upon our arrival to the property, we stood outside while we tried to figure out if anyone was coming to greet us, get our bags, and also if and when our rooms would be ready. We were finally greeted by a bellhop who appeared tired and uninterested in assisting us. He was very short with us and simply handed us our check-in paperwork (which I had already completed online), half-heartedly asked us if we would like a drink, and then we waited another 20-30min in the open-air lobby. He finally returned with our luggage and said to follow him, then proceeded to lead us to our room and pointed out things at the resort as we quickly passed by. The building we were put in was apparently the Windsor building, although he never told us what building it was. He lead us into the rooms, dropped out bags, opened up the balcony and said ‘there’s the beach’ and left.
We booked a Royal Grand Luxe Oceanfront room and apparently, according to the paperwork that we received the following morning (no one told us this when we first arrived, nor we were escorted to the concierge lounge upon check-in), we were upgraded to a concierge level room but we have no idea which category this was. We had an idea it was an upgrade only because of the in-room mini-bar, but the room itself left much to be desired- so much so that we were on the first flight out the following morning. The room we were assigned to (#76) was filthy, as you can see by the numerous pictures we took of the dirty baseboards, mold on the window sills, dirty tile where we actually rubbed our finger on it to see what it was and it came clean, and circles from where a previous guest had left their drink and apparently no one even wiped the end table down. Not to mention that the room was small and ill-appointed, as was also the case with the bathroom. In addition, the closet smelled of a foul odor.
The air-conditioning was also a problem, as we would be sweating one minute and cold the next. It wasn’t until the following morning that we found the remote for the air conditioning unit on the floor and figured out what it was. It would have been nice if the bellhop would have told us this, but he was too busy dropping our bags and leaving.
Another major issue we had was with the food. Even though we spent less than 24hrs at your resort, both my husband and I were very sick after the bad food we ate while there. Since we arrived just after lunch on Friday, the only option for food was the beach grill, where my husband put bad mayonnaise on his sandwich that had been out in the sun too long. For dinner, our only option was the beach party buffet, most of which was sub-par at best. When we called the front desk to ask about restaurants at the other resorts, she informed us that the shuttle ran ever hour on the hour, except between 7-9pm (it was already 6:30 and we didn’t have enough time to catch the 7pm but didn’t want to wait until 9pm for dinner). In the end, it didn’t matter since all the restaurants there were also booked, along with the only other restaurant at the Royal, which was the French restaurant. We also went to Cricketeers to see if perhaps the food there was any good, but my husband got fish and chips where the fish still had the skin on it. At that point, we just went back to our room so we could hopefully get some sleep and wake up the next day to go home. Not the case unfortunately.
Since it was July 4th, this resort had a celebration that evening where there was a marching band and a loud sound system right outside our room for much of the evening. Even when the party moved around to the pool, it was still very hard not to hear the loud festivities going on. I realize that some people go on vacation to party, and that is fine, but we should be able to go back to our rooms in order to avoid this. Again, not the case.
Finally, I took the time a few weeks prior to our trip to email Joseph Leighton, the director of guest services at this property, to see if we could book a few restaurants in advance seeing as how our stay would be short and knew they booked up quickly. He was very nice and prompt in responding, and booked us for the Thai on Sat. at 8pm and the French restaurant for Sun. at 8pm. Moreover, having such a bad experience, I decided to just make sure that my reservations were made shortly after arrival on Friday, and to my expected dismay, neither reservation had been made per Mr. Leighton’s email. This was very disheartening, and the girl at the front desk tried to make an excuse about a party- at this point, I didn’t want excuses, just answers.
Probably the final straw for my husband and I was the lack of care or concern that the staff at this property had for our situation. After requesting numerous times to be moved to another room because of the issues we had and getting no response except that they were booked and maybe, just maybe, there would be a better room for us tomorrow, we told them that we wanted a full refund and that we would be checking out tomorrow. They tried to tell us that ALL other Sandals resorts in Jamaica were booked that weekend except possibly for Dunn’s River, which wasn’t a definite because the girl wouldn’t ‘promise’ us anything, and we weren’t interested in that option because it was a 2hr drive that we didn’t want to endure on a ‘possibility’ that there would be a room (and who’s to say it would have been better?). I think I at least expected someone to act like they cared instead of acting insulted that we were unhappy with our room, perhaps offer to have someone come up and clean it, but we got nothing, not even a ‘sorry’. That is poor customer service.
The bottom line is that my husband and I will NOT be returning to Jamaica, ever, and probably never return to a Sandals resort unless we are convinced otherwise. We were very close to returning to Secrets in the Riviera Maya but at the last minute decided to give Sandals a try. Secrets outdid Sandals so bad that it’s actually really sad that people are paying the kind of money that they are to stay at your resorts, when they could stay elsewhere for a lot less and much better quality. I hate to be rude but when you pay good money for a vacation, you expect to get what you pay for. We also vacation in Breckenridge, CO in the winter for skiing and our accommodations are always perfect, and we actually spend less to go there than we did for this vacation. Please understand that my purpose of this letter wasn’t to insult your company, it was actually in the hopes that you do something about this situation so that other people like us aren’t duped into spending a lot of money on something that is so over-rated. We have since been credited back for the hotel portion of our stay, although we are still out the $1,700 total in airfare (including our cost to return early). Please either improve the quality of your resorts and staff, or charge less for your resorts.

  • Liked — The private island
  • Disliked — The rooms and food!
  • Stayed July 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colorado
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2008

This was the worst vacation I have ever been on. I went with my boyfriend and we were able to salvage as much fun as possible on this trip. Fortunately it wasn't my honeymoon, but I felt so sad for all the couples who were there on their honeymoons. The service was consistently HORRIBLE! The servers at every one of their restaurants were rude and slow (slower than just being on Jamaica time). Not to mention, the food was often inedible. We ended up having to eat at the casual restaurant because it was literally the only edible food. So while we expected a wide variety of cuisine as advertised, we were stuck eating hamburgers and fries all week. Also, the drinks were watered down and disgusting, the beer was usually flat and warm. The watersports people were very rude and not accomodating at all. We kept getting bad vibes from the hotel staff, as if they were plotting something bad (this sounds paranoid, but I've never felt this way in another country, and I've been to about 10 foriegn countries--I even lived in Mexico). Also, the hotel is very close to the Montego Bay airport and so you are constantly hearing jets land and take off. The only good thing about this resort was the rooms which are large, clean, and beautiful. So if you plan on losing weight, spending your time in a hotel room, and listening to planes take off, this is the place for you.

  • Stayed May 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Florida
Top Contributor
209 reviews 209 reviews
78 hotel reviews
Reviews in 75 cities Reviews in 75 cities
194 helpful votes 194 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2008

Fabulous. Spectacular. Truly everything they advertised. Staff -- who will not take a tip -- bent over backwards. Seems too good to be true, but it really is all inclusive. They get it. They really do get it.

  • Liked — Superior, world class service
  • Disliked — Room was about due for a makeover (but clean, tidy, and well appointed)
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Arizona
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2008

My husband and I traveled to Jamaica with 10 friends to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We loved all of the people at the Royal Carribean, everyone was so friendly and eager to please. Our room in the Kensington building was in a great location and we were all a few rooms away from eachother. The best meal was at the Thai Restaraunt on the island and the jerk chicken at the beach grill was always good for lunch. The pool was right outside our room as was the beach, which we did not have to fight for a lounge any day of our trip. We pretty much had the pool to ourselves everyday. We wish we could go back today but will have to wait until next year. I know for a fact this will not be our only trip to the Sandals Royal Carribean.

  • Liked — location
  • Disliked — not as pictured on web
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and Private Island

Address: Mahoe Bay, Montego Bay 167, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint James Parish > Montego Bay
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#3 Spa Hotel in Montego Bay
#5 Romantic Hotel in Montego Bay
#6 Family Hotel in Montego Bay
#7 On the Beach Hotel in Montego Bay
#7 Top resorts Hotel in Montego Bay
#8 Luxury Hotel in Montego Bay
#9 Business Hotel in Montego Bay
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and Private Island 5*
Number of rooms: 197
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
•7 exquisite dining options, with world-class culinary cuisines.•Only Jamaican resort with a private offshore island, housing an authentic Thai restaurant.•Magnificent, swim-up crystal lagoon suites.•24 hour room service as a part of our concierge service.•English pub offering an authentic pub dining experience.•Voted Sandals “World's Leading All-Inclusive Company” 16 years in a row.•Voted “Caribbean's Leading Hotel Brand” 18 years in a row. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sandals Royal Caribbean Hotel Montego Bay
Sandals Royal Caribbean Montego Bay
Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort Jamaica
Sandal Royal Caribbean

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