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“Great food, service not so much.” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort

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Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort
5.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Ocho Rios, Jamaica   |  
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Ranked #7 of 39 hotels in Ocho Rios
Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Great food, service not so much.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 13, 2013

My husband and I booked our first vacations to a Sandals resort after hearing so many wonderful things about these resorts. We travel lots and have done numerous trips to the Caribbean in previous years. We finally decided to try a Sandals resort. We stayed at the Sandals Grand Riviera in Ocho Rios.

As in someone else's review, it is true that the internet fails to make it clear that the resort is split into TWO parts. ONE part is down by the beach, the OTHER part is separated by a road and is a ways from the beach. However, prior to booking, we knew enough that we specifically chose to book down on the beach area. We specifically booked a "Luxury Cottage", right by the beach so that we did NOT have to take the bus down each day.

We first arrived and they said they "Upgraded" us to a room - which happened to be up on the hill, so now that meant we had to take the bus every day to the beach. We spoke with the manager and she said that was an "upgraded room" Perhaps it was, but now I was miles away from the beach. I specifically told her why we booked the other room. Long story short, our room that we had booked was unavailable until the next night. This was absolutely unacceptable. And we were very surprised that this was something that happens at a Sandals. I expect this maybe at a 2-star resort, NOT Sandals.

Besides that experience, here are the pros:
- Food - great at all the restaurants. Valentinos, Kimonos and Manor are three fav's
- Beach - not a long walking beach, but for just relaxing and sun basking, it was great
- Water - warm as bath water, clear and clean
- Service - expected much better for a few reasons. I had to call down to reception THREE times, two days in a row to ask for more water in the room.... Coffee at breakfast was slow to be served.... and of course the whole "upgrade" situation.
- People - friendly
- Water Sports - great! Lots of snorkeling!

Not rushing back to a Sandals just yet.. There are plenty of other amazing resorts out there, often less expensive and you don't get "upgrade" to a room up on the hill, a mile away from the beach!

Room Tip: Book at room on the BEACH side of the resort!
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 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
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (1,425)
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English first
Acushnet, Massachusetts
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 11, 2013

My husband and I visited SGR January 25th-February 1st and wanted to share our amazing vacation experience. We have been to several all inclusive resorts throughout the carribean and Mexico, however this one tops them all. We like to try different places and have been to Sandals Whitehouse, Sandals Grand Antigua, Sandals La Toc, Sandals Grand St. Lucian and last but not least Sandals Grand Riviera. SGR is the only resort we have returned back to. We originally went in June 2012 to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary and had such an amazing time we just had to return. My husband took me back to SGR 6 months after our anniversary now to celebrate my 30th Birthday. I had the best Birthday that was just beyond my dreams. All the staff members remembered us which was nice and really made us feel good. Jason, Marva and Lennox on the Conceirge team were all great and so friendly with any request we had. Any time we needed something and simple call to one of them and within 5 minutes they would be at our door with our request. As soon as we arrived they had asked if there was anything we needed. Having been to the resort before I knew I wanted to go to Kelly Dockside for my Birthday which was only the very next day and thought my chances were slim as Kellys books up so quickly. Sure enough Kellys was completely booked however Marva told me to give her a little to work some magic for me. An hour later she called to let us know she got us the reservation for Kellys on my Birthday. On our 2nd day we were upgraded to the beachfront conceirge penthouse suite. On my Birthday the conceirge team delivered a Birthday card and plate of assorted fruit with chocolate sauce for dipping. Everything was just as amazing as it was 6 months ago, from the staff, restaurants, pools, bars, entertainment...SGR is just that perfect romantic getaway that we all dream of. This time we tried some restaurants that we didn't get a chance at last time. The reef terrace, bayside, kimonos and kellys are definately our favorites. Unfornately, the weather didn't corporate too well with us but that is beyond Sandals control. There was a tropical front that had moved in on our first day and stayed for 4 days. Wind, rain and rough seas made the first part of our stay challenging however the playmakers always had something going on to keep you busy when the weather would take over. One of the days they even turned Jamies Nightclub into a day club to keep us out of the rain and the fun going. Saturday and Tuesday nights were the best nights at Jamies nightclub. The other nights would be 70's, 80's and regae.The pools were very cold, however it rained the first 4 days we were there which didn't help. We did find the ocean much warmer and would spend more time by the ocean than the pool which is different for us as we are usually the opposite. Finally by the end of our stay the weather improved and the pools started to warm up. Definately attend the beach party, chocolate buffet and couple's game show as all are a lot of fun. Sgr really is the best vacation and is now our primary vacation spot for all our vacations (our home away from home).

Room Tip: Most activities, restaurants, and nightlife on the beachside. If you are looking for quite and seclu...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cape May Court House, NJ
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 11, 2013

Based on my other Sandals trips, this one was a let down. The internet fails to tell you that the resort is separated into two and you have to take a bus daily to get to the beach and most of the main restaurants.

We were there with a group and they messed up just about everyone's room. Some people in our group were compensated with upgrades or massages. We got nothing. We had checked in online like we were told, only to have to re-do everything on paper once we got there. The concierge told us online check in "doesnt matter." Then whats the point? They also did not pay attention to our special request to have rooms close to the others in our party. That took about an hour to work out upon arrival.

Finally once in our room, there were no amenities and no nice flowers or cool towel designs on the bed like there usually are. It took us four phone calls and a trip to the concierge to finally get our room stocked with toiletries and liquors.... the next day!

The food was not good either, small in portion, bland and the fish was really fishy tasting. We found ourselves eating at the late night burger spots instead. The pizzas are excellent though!

There were two days that the maid and turndown service did not come. One of the nights the turndown service came at 10:30 when we were already in bed watching television.

The staff overall did not go out of their way to meet any of our needs. My friend had called prior to the vacation to make a dinner reservation which he told was on the books and was supposed to be at 6:30 on the first night we arrived. When we got to the restaurant we were told there was not one. Whoever he talked to totally ignored his request. This resort wasnt worth the two hour bus ride. There were no night time activities and the few that happened in the theater are not worth going to.

Lets just say I can cross this one off my list.

Room Tip: Dont upgrade like they suggest. It only adds concierge which is a joke.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
lawrence, ks
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 10, 2013

My wife and i just got back last night, and wanted to share what a good place this is. we would give this property a 7 out of 10 overall. We have a lot of experience in travelling, and i would say Sandals really goes above and beyond on customer service. Here is how i would rate the major catagories at this resort, on a scale of 1 thru 10. Without exception, all of the staff, especially Tanisha and Shena, in the customer service office, are the best i have ever encountered. Kudos to them for making our trip special.

BUS RIDE FROM AIRPORT TO THE RESORT. LONG AND DISORGANIZED-5
FIRST IMPRESSION AFTER ARRIVAL AT RESORT-7
CUSTOMER SERVICE AFTER RECEIVING THE WRONG ROOM ON ARRIVAL-10
GARDENS, POOLS, GROUNDS, BEACH-10
QUALITY OF FOOD AT THE MAIN SIT DOWN RESTAURANTS-9
QUALITY OF FOOD AT BAR AND GRILL AREAS-6
WAITSTAFF, WATERSPORT STAFF, MANAGEMENT, MAIDS ETC.- ALL 10
ACTIVITIES IN THE EVENINGS ARE LAME OR NON EXISTANT-2
ROOM CLEANLINESS AND ATTENTION TO DETAILS-9
CONCEIRGE SERVICE ON 5TH FLOOR OF THE BEACH SIDE RESORT IS NOT WORTH THE MONEY-3
POOLS, BEACHES-10
GIFT SHOPS-9
THE VIEWS OF THE BEACH, MOUNTAINS AND GROUNDS-10
SURROUNDING VIEWS OF THE OCHO RIOS AREA IS QUITE POOR-5
WAITERS, CHEFS, BUSBOYS, BARTENDERS ETC. -10

Our only other comment to improve this location, would be to have pool staff supervise the use of the beach and pool chairs. People would come early in the morning, drop a book or towel on the pool chairs, and maybe not return for hours. None of the staff would intervene to ensure that all persons would have somewhere to sit. They either need more chairs, or better supervision.

Room Tip: If you want the better beach view, make sure to chose the beachfront units. The larger pool howerver...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nebraska
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 10, 2013

Traveled with my wife in January-February to attend a friends wedding. The bus ride from the airport in Montego Bay to Ocho Rios takes about 1.5 hours. It's not too bad, but we'll stay in Montego Bay if we go back.

We arrived at the resort and were told the room we booked was not available so they selected us for an upgrade. We booked a "GO" room by the beach. Our "upgrade" was a suite in a 4-plex of units on the farthest corner of the property. The view from the bedroom was a concrete wall with razor wire. I called the manager we spoke with and asked to be moved to the beach side the next day. She said they would move us.

We got settled in our room around 3:00pm the next day. While checking in to the new room I noticed a log on the desk of people with requests to move rooms. This, along with comments from the staff and the fact that three other couples in our group moved rooms as well, leads me to believe this is a regular occurrence. In the end we got the room we booked with the beautiful view of the ocean we had in mind.

The resort is quite large, with many pools, restaurants, and bars. The Ochi Beach club was by far my favorite beach/pool spot. One downside was the size of the beaches though. They were very small. The largest was at the Ochi Beach club. It was about the size of 1/4 of an American Football field by my estimation.

The beach in the center by the pier was a bit longer, but very narrow since it backed right up to the main building. The end of that beach was where all of the water sports equipment was stored/rented so space there was limited as well. If a long walk on the beach is what you desire, this is not the place for you. Also, be prepared to get to the beach before 11am if you want to get a chair, or you can call and reserve a daybed/cabana for an additional fee.

My biggest disappointment was the food. All of the food was pretty bad. Your only option for breakfast is a buffet. The made to order omelets were pretty good, and the pastries were average. The fruit was terrible...which was a bit surprising. It's of the same quality you'd get from the breakfast at a Holiday Inn Express.

Two exceptions to the bad food were the pizza place by the pool and the Japanese restaurant. We relied on the pizza joint for lunch most of the time. The pizza was good. The Japanese restaurant was also good.

Last but not least...the drinks. The drinks were great, watered down at times, but mostly very good. I've concluded that it's a good thing they water down some of the drinks...for the safety of their guests. Drinking stiff rum drinks all day in the sun and until the wee hours of the morning would undoubtedly create some problems. Tip: for the best drinks go to the bar out on the pier at Kelly's Dockside. They're open during the day and have top shelf liquors out there.

All in all it was a good trip. But due to the sub par food and beaches we are going to book a different resort for our next trip.

Room Tip: The rooms on the Riviera side in the main building facing the beach can be noisy...since the nightcl...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
2 reviews
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 9, 2013

My wife and I had a very nice week at SGR,our first Sandals experience. Rating and comments of the key points to us as follows:
1. food / restaurants= 8.5/10. There was a variety of restaurants, the food was of good quality, and the service was excellent at all restaurants we visited (kellys dockside, kimonos, bayside, china doll, & breakfast buffets). The negatives were breakfast buffet didn't open until 7-710am(710 as a few mornings saw late opening for breakfast). This affected golfers who want to take the first golf shuttle that leaves at 720am. I played three games at the golf course and breakfast was forced to be eaten quickly (5 min). Second area for improvement - noticed baysides lineup for dinner was very long a few nights( 1-2 hours ) - obviously this restaurant more popular than other non-reservation ones, as beautiful views ( beach/water) and nice food - should consider expanding or making it reservation only so people aren't losing their evening waiting in line.
2. Room quality/ cleanliness/service= 9.5/10. The housekeeping service was excellent, rooms were very clean and comfortable with everything you need
3. Entertainment = 8.5/10 - there were numerous activities and shows were of good quality. We thoroughly enjoyed the silver birds percussion and dance band.
4. Resort facilities = 8 /10 - an inconvenience of the resort layout ( to us) was the separation on the top( manor) side and bottom (riviera) side,requiring we wait for and take shuttles to different resort areas. In addition, some of the rooms on the manor side are so far from main building they require you wait/take another shuttle called a jitney once you get off the main shuttle at main building, as would otherwise take you 20-30 min to walk to your room one way. This prompted us to move into another room closer to the main building as our first day saw us spend 2 hours waiting for and taking shuttles, jitneys. The resort did have a nice variety of things to do - we played tennis , exercise rooms were excellent , pools, hot tubs/ bars , golf course, beach activities ( sialboats, kayaks, sebikes, scuba) all were excellent. The resort was very clean and well maintained.

Tips:
1. Golfers - Play golf early (720am shuttle was the earliest as the course gets busy) by leaving early we finished our rounds in 3 hours 45 min, otherwise would be 5 hours plus if take later shuttles. In addition rental of clubs and shoes expensive ($80) so if you aren't charged much by your airline to bring your clubs/ shoes do so.
2. Restaurants that require reservations - book early, the day you arrive so you don't miss out- kellys docksidwadding have opening for first 5 days of our trip and if we didn't book first day may have missed out.
3. Tours - we enjoyed he zip line and river tubing - the zip lining was most exciting part( too many tours to try them all).

Look forward to booking another Sandals resort in the near future.

Room Tip: If you want peace and quiet - go manor side as riviera side is louder
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Ontario Canada
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 9, 2013

Will go back. Spent 2 weeks Jan 10 to 24 at this resort. Would like to thank the following people for excellent, friendly service. Tex & Junior @ Kimono's, Kenroy (who seemed to be everywhere)
Wayne at Bayside, Vanessa @ Bayside, Lori Anne @ pizza bar, Bishop & Andre @ pool bar.
Sandra who looked after our room was special as well.
This is a very large resort, but once you pick your favorite spots to spend time it is great.
We are Senior's & the one thing I would like to point out THIS IS NOT A DISABILITY FRIENDLY RESORT.
When your bus driver stops at a pit stop on way to Resort, be aware a mixed drink cost $8.00
& beer was pricey as well.

Dee & Ken from Ontario Canada

Room Tip: We stayed in a Garden of Eden Room, not far from anything & quiet in the evenings.
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort

Address: Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint Ann Parish > Ocho Rios
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:
#1 Business Hotel in Ocho Rios
#3 Family Hotel in Ocho Rios
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Ocho Rios
#6 Romantic Hotel in Ocho Rios
#7 On the Beach Hotel in Ocho Rios
#7 Spa Hotel in Ocho Rios
#7 Luxury Hotel in Ocho Rios
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort 5*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
•Situated on over 100 acres of lush hillside gardens overlooking the Caribbean Sea•529 villas, luxury rooms and suites with fantastic mountain and ocean views•94 pools (7 large public pools), 22 whirlpools•16 dining options including room service for butler serviced suites•2 luxurious Red Lane Spas•Complimentary golf at Jamaica’s most elite and popular golf course, the Sandals Golf & Country Club (Transfers to the golf course are included)•Over 5,000 sq. feet of first class meeting and conference facilities•Recently completed US$60 million renovation/refurbishing exercise•Voted Sandals Resorts “World’s Leading All-Inclusive Company” 16 years in a row•Voted Sandals Resorts “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand”, 18 years in a row•Voted Sandals Grande Riviera ‘Jamaica’s Leading Resort’ ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sandals Grande Riviera Beach And Villa Golf Resort
Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Hotel Ocho Rios
Sandals Ocho Rios
Ciboney Ocho Rios
Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort Jamaica/Ocho Rios

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