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“Great vacation” 5 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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$305 Spa or Tour Credit!
Ranked #7 of 40 Hotels in Ocho Rios
Vineland, Canada
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Great vacation”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 22, 2013

We have gotten back from a wonderful time at this resort.
Housekeeping was wonderful, especially Sandra
Staff at resort were very friendly and welcoming.
Food was generally good and we had no problems getting into the restaurants except for Kelly's.
Diving was really good and convenient . Boats leave from the resort and most dive sites are only five to ten minutes away. The dive team are great and a special thanks to Kevin who was my instructor for open water certification.
We would not hesitate to go back to this resort.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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5,365 reviews from our community

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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 (1,568)
Date | Rating
  • English first
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  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Wayland, Michigan
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 22, 2013

The reviews we read prior to our trip were incredibly helpful therefore I’ve been very excited to reciprocate with our own review to help others to have a successful trip. My husband and I traveled for our honeymoon (Feb. 13- Feb. 20).

ARRIVAL: Upon arrival to Montego Bay Airport, the process through customs seemed mostly effortless with minimal lines. When complete we were immediately greeted by Sandals staffed and escorted to the Sandals waiting area where they tagged our luggage for transport. We were able to grab a quick drink but the wait wasn’t very long. My husband and I grabbed a couple of beers for the road, they didn’t have any issues with this. Representative from Sandals escorted us and an airport worker brought our luggage to a waiting van for the drive to the hotel. Note, both expected a tip.

TRANSPORT TO HOTEL: If you have not figured out through other reviews there is a substantial drive to the hotel that can take 1.5 to 2hrs. We did not find the drive to be horrible though, the road is along the coastline so the view is breathtaking and there is much to observe culturally as well. Upon arrival to the hotel it was a little confusing as to where we were going but the Sandals representative easily looked that up for us on her ipad.

PROPERTY: We found the property to be incredibly beautiful and romantic. My husband and I agree that beachside had a lot more options for scenic walks but both are nice. While the division of the property is spoken about many times through out the reviews it’s very difficult to envision what other visitors are referencing until you see it yourself, even pictures don’t do it justice. There is a pretty significant distance between the properties that isn’t really walker friendly. While it seemed to be a minor inconvenience at times, for the most part buses were readily available and rarely filled up. One thing to note, we were under the impression that the buses run 24/7 but this is not true. The buses stop traveling between beachside and manorside at midnight, so if you’re enjoying yourself at Jamies mind your curfew! 

ACCOMADATIONS: We stayed manorside in a butler villa. From the outside we did not find the villa to be very impressive but don’t judge a book by its cover because our room was amazing. We had living room with flat screen tv, kitchenette with a refrigerator fully stocked with whatever we wanted daily. Including the cheese/crackers/fruit platter when the need of a snack arose. The bedroom had a four post king size bed with the most comfortable pillows I’ve ever rested my head on. The bathroom was spacious with a whirlpool tub. Note, if you have a problem turning on your lights a key card is needed by the slot by the door. After a couple of days the staff put in a card so we didn’t need to use our room key. Manor side is definitely more quiet with exception to our villa neighbors who were singing 80s songs like they were front row at a concert and partying like rockstars….which led to an incident that security was called while we were out for dinner. Rather than be annoyed, we were slightly entertained by the change of vibe. Party on villa neighbors!!! We never had issues with the cleanliness of the room, they were almost begging to clean our room and bring towels.

BUTLER SERVICE: It seems that everyone raves about their butlers so I’m not sure if you can go wrong. That said we’ve become a more than partial to ours, Necia and Dacia. Dacia was injured on the job while we were there so the majority of our time was spent with Necia. She is seriously the nicest person that we met on our trip and did everything within her means to ensure our honeymoon was special. From baths being made for, to flowers on the bed, cute little notes and just making sure everything was taken care of. She’s a gem within this resort and we’re now happy to call her a friend. We only were able to benefit one day from the butler service of reserving a chair by the pool/beach as this has been discontinued. At first we thought finding a chair without the help of our butler would be a nightmare but it really wasn’t that bad, it probably was an enhancement to the overall customer experience at the resort. I’m incredibly happy to have had a butler to arrange everything for dinner, we got in everywhere we wanted and while I’m sorry to those that didn’t have butler service so dinner reservations were more difficult…this made us feel as the priority that we paid for. In the future it would be difficult for us not to have butler service, its an element that completes the experience. We tipped each butler at the end of our stay and had no regrets about spending more money considering the exceptional service.

POOLS/BEACH: I ditto other reviews that the temperature of the pools are on the cooler side. It was bearable on a sunny day but on an overcast or rainy day I just couldn’t do it. We pictured ourselves propped up at the pool bar more than reality provided due to this. The ocean water was warm though but like many people have commented, the beach is small. To me, this is something that you can read about before you travel and if its something that bothers you perhaps you should consider another one of the many Sandals resorts vs. making yourself and the people around you miserable by listening to your complaints. Drinks by the pool were definitely on the slower side of service but its Jamaica mon, things are just slower.

FOOD: We’re not foodies therefore were pleased with the selection and quality of food presented. I can see how a foodie may be disappointed at this resort but to us it was excellent. Our favorite restaurants were Bayside and Valentinos. The view at Kelly’s was amazing but the food left a little to be desired. Soy was really good, I think my husband could of gone there everyday for an appetizer. China Doll and the Marketplace were okay. While there was a lot of hype about Kimonos this was our least favorite. The experience with the Chef’s is fun but very typical of a Japanese restaurant like this. Perhaps we’re spoiled by the options we have at home but they were a far cry from the Japanese restaurants that I love. Service was incredibly slow as well. Like many others, we found the pizza to be really good and a hamburger/fries was welcome change. My husband would also like me to note that dessert isn’t that good. He has a sweet tooth and he did not find any of the desserts to be very enjoyable especially the ice cream offered by room service.

ACTIVITIES: We went to the steel drum night at the amphitheater, it was awesome!! They played recent music and there was people dancing/flipping everywhere. The beach party was cancelled due to weather. The white party wasn’t as fun as I was expecting it could have been because we were so tired from travel since that was our first night there. We went on the catamaran to Dunns River Falls, this was incredible. It was a pretty priceless experience and a lot of fun. There is a hard push from the staff at Dunns River for tips, beware.

Overall we loved our experience, to all of you negative reviewers….we were talking about you on the beach and had a difficult time relating to your comments. For some of the complaints we felt that with some research you could avoid this particular resort and find something better suited for your individual preferences. For those with legit mishaps, I’m sorry for your luck. Its unfortunate that your experience in such a beautiful place was ruined. We will travel Sandals again, we may want to check out other resorts but would love to visit this particular resort again. We consider ourselves fortunate to afford ourselves with a little bit of indulgence for a week.

Room Tip: Bulter villa....really worth the extra money.
See more room tips
  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North Brunswick, New Jersey
2 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 22, 2013

The customer service is excellent!!! My husband and I got married at this resort in October and our wedding date was originally supposed to be on a Wednesday. However, that was when we had a category 1 hurricane (Sandy) and in the eye of the storm. The wedding planners, management and concierge all went above and beyond...they even gave us an option to move to another Sandals location on the island since we had to push our wedding to the end of the trip. Loving the hotel and the staff, we didn't mind waiting. So we did and it was picture perfect. Literally...our photographs are stunning and you couldn't tell how much devastation was done to the island. I highly recommend a wedding here, they even attended ours because when all was said and done, we felt like friends we've known a lifetime.

I've never seen such a hardworking staff, as I said before about hurricane Sandy, Jamaica saw devastation everywhere, across their island. They had such positive attitudes..."hey mon it happens" and smiles on their faces at all times.

We stayed in the villas on the hillside, absolutely beautiful!! Clean, plenty of room and a pool to share with 3 other villas. Jitneys run constantly and IF you are waiting, there are phones located at the stops for you to call them.

Food was terrific, there are so many places to eat that even if restaurants book up with reservations, there are a ton of other options that are so romantic with delicious 3 course meals.

Drinks are not watered down, if you feel they are, the bartenders will fix you right up! I have pictures of my husband to prove it. Lopez is the man on the beach side!!

Honestly, there is so much to do and see including excursions...everything is within minutes of this hotel. The initial trip from the airport to the hotel is about an hour, but totally worth it because you're about 5 minutes from the dolphins excursion and dunn's river falls. We're already booked to go back in August, this time on the beach side to try something different.

  • Stayed October 2012, 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Detroit, Michigan
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2013

First some background. We travelled with 3 other couples on an annual trip. We are either approaching 50 or just arrived at 50 years of age, and we are active on our vacations, meaning we work and play hard. We are also well travelled from both business and pleasure. We had agreed as a group that we were going to look for premium resort for this trip, choosing to spend more money than last year for a more upscale experience and heard great things about Sandals. Our stay was from feb 13 to 20.

Accomodations: The check in was smooth, the ride to the resort from the airport fine. Our room was fantastic, room 4420 if you want to request, on the Riviera side. We opted for Concierge service and a balcony room overlooking the gardens. We were upgraded to ocean view and that was really nice. The room was clean, the bar fully stocked, 2 bath robes, plenty of towels, comfortable bed, everything was great. However, some days we didn't have as many towels, by day 2 we only had one bathrobe. The number of glasses in the bar varied, sometimes no wine glasses, etc. A quick request to the Concierge fixed each of those issues quickly.

Beach: The beaches were nice and had plenty of chairs. We took a small sailboat out a couple times and it was great. The water was warm, the beaches well cared for and clean.

Food: This was a major problem area for this resort. Firstly, the rules for reservations, waiting lists, and walk-in service varies with each restaurant. We also found that the rules varied without notice and did not seem clear. What we were told at the restaurants, and between the various couples, were all different. The first night even the butler of one couple could not get us in to eat anywhere! We were finally accepted at the French restaurant after more than an hour looking around the resort on our first day. Valentino's is the Italian restaurant and we were never able to eat there. It didn't accept reservations, would have a wait list if you lined up prior to 5:30, though others seemed to walk right in. The maitre'd at the podium on our second last night was rude, as was the one at the French restaurant on our first night. As for the rules, apparently Kelly's Dockside is now only for people with butler service, a rule change that happened while we were there.

The food itself was hit or miss. We ate at the Kimono's, the Japanese restaurant, twice. They took reservations was one reason, so we knew we could get dinner, and the first meal was great. The second time the chef was clearly a rookie, and the grill lost gas while he was preparing it. This meant we ate some that was cooked, waited and later ate the rest of the meal. The French food was terrible. My filet mignon was 3 ounces tops, and not very good. Others around the table thought it was terrible as well. Kelly's dockside was really nice, the food good, but again hard to get a clear reservation depending on who we asked.

On the manor side there are cats everywhere there is food. These are stray cats, some sporting some obvious injuries, dirty, and who knows what else. I thought it was gross to be sitting in a nice dining room/patio area eating my dinner at the manor house and having these cats watching me and moving under the table. Perhaps others wouldn't mind, but to me it was disgusting.

Drinks: The drinks were top quality, everything from the beer (Red Stripe in can or on tap), wine (California), and all top quality liquor and cocktails. Again, the service is where it fell down. For example Jamie's bar was packed for a disco and 80's music hours, only one bartender. Pool bars on a hot day with just one or 2 bartenders. Some pools had a waitress going around getting drink orders, but again just one for the whole pool. Curiously she collected the empty glasses most of the time, but other dirty dishes from people eating at the pool were left to stack up and attracted birds.

Pools: Like other reviewers have indicated the temperature of every pool I sampled was cool, not unbearable but could use about 5 degrees added. The hot tubs were all very comfortable.

Excursion: We did the the horse back riding on the beach and in the water. My wife enjoyed it more than I did. It was well arranged, our 2 guides were very attentive and it was obvious in the care they took with everyone to ensure their safety. The horses were well fed and well behaved. However the beach location was not great with garbage everywhere. No one took any care to keep the beach clean where this excursion travelled. I am sure no cruise line would have sanctioned this excursion like Sandals had because their reputation is riding on it as well.

Leaving: Check out was painless, we had a credit card on file to pay for the Internet. I never found any fre wifi in the common areas, which I thought I read, but it was only $42 for the whole week and it was a good high speed connection so no problem to talk with those at home with video on FaceTime or Skype. The bus ride back to the airport was painless except for passing other resorts and thinking that we chose the wrong one.

In summary, we were disappointed with the Sandals experience. Placed alongside a cruise ( Carnival, RC, Princess) or any other resort experience we have had this one fell short. I think the basics are there with a beautiful location, some great staff, but there isn't enough people or customer service experience to compete with the other options out there. I spoke with numerous other guests who were equally displeased with the food and dining experience. Given my other experiences and knowledge of what is out there for my travel dollars, I wouldn't book and couldn't recommend a Sandals vacation, even if it was the same price.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 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
    • 2 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.
Miami, Florida, United States
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2013

Great Vacation..We are Retired Military Officers, and vacation all over the world..The Sandals resorts are great, and you get the essence of Jamaica..Staff are very warm, and friendly, even though from time to time I am embarrassed, and reminded how rude some of us American guests can be, and utterly degrading to the staff..However, it was returned with a big SMILE, and "OK MAN, NO PROBLEM"..Food was great, Many choices, Drinks were endless, atmosphere was pleasant and relaxed. Pools everywhere, activities and especially the piano bar. We stayed on the hillside, and on the beach..The Tours were awesome, and very professionally run. Try the Blue Mountain bike ride, Dunns River, and the others for sure..We loved the people in the countryside, and visited schools..Sandals is truly an experience..Wife had every Spa treatment possible, and she loved the facilities..Better than some of the best in Asia. We have been doing sandals for 8 years, and Jamaica for 19 years..We love Jamaica so much, we are purchasing our own Villa on the water..Sorry Sandals now we have our own paradise..Hope this helps..Regards..

Room Tip: Hillside with private pool is huge and in a botanical garden setting, Beachside is also great and on...
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  • Stayed February 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Haven, Connecticut
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2013

Went here for our HM for 9 days - ended up having to stay for Hurricane Sandy on our last day (October 2012) - the staff was very friendly and accommodating throughout our stay and during the storm. We had the concierge package and it was perfect! Went off the resort twice for Dunn's River Falls and horse-back riding - both excellent! We also felt extremely safe using Island Routes. Be sure to bring a lot of $1's & $5's to tip for the excursion guides and the drivers that bring you there. The rooms were clean, the spa was great, the pools were fun and clean, and the beach was beautiful - surrounded by the reef. The food was excellent - loved Kelly's Dockside! Would love to go back for a milestone anniversary!

Room Tip: Stay in the Villas on the Manor side! It's beautiful and peaceful!
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  • Stayed October 2012, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 20, 2013

My husband got Salmonella at this resort. It was our 25th anniversary and he was sick the last 4 days of our 10 day trip. When we got home he was tested and that's how we found out. We filled out the proper paperwork and sent the lab report. The resort lost our report. I have tried to contact them and they have not responded. This is very disappointing.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cassie C, Sandals & Beaches Review Coordinator at Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort, responded to this review, February 25, 2013
Thank you for your review. While we have not had similar complaints regarding food illnesses, we are respectful of the opinions you have expressed and recognize that one person’s specific experience can only be judged by that individual. The safety and security of our guests and staff are of the greatest importance to us and we continue to make every effort to ensure all practices and standards are in line with strict food safety and sanitation regulations.

I look forward to making contact with you regarding this matter so that it will be resolved quickly and efficiently.


Sincerely,
Cassie C.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative 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
#4 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*
Number of rooms: 529
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 & Villa Golf Hotel Ocho Rios
Sandals Grande Riviera Beach And Villa Golf Resort
Sandals Ocho Rios
Ciboney Ocho Rios
Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort Jamaica/Ocho Rios

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