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“Amazing Vacation- Beautiful and wonderful staff!!!” 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
NJ
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Amazing Vacation- Beautiful and wonderful staff!!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 13, 2013

This review is better late than never- Last August, 2012, my husband and I went for 6n, 7d to this beautiful resort. We stayed in the Riverera Butler villa and even though we could not walk to the beach, we never found that to be a problem. All ammenities are located on both sides of the property. Our room was beauitful, my husband loved the bathroom and we walked out to our semiprivate pool and patio which was shared with the neighbors next door but we never saw them. We could either walk to our room or take a jitney. When it poured, the jitney driver would come to our room with a huge umbrella so we wouldn't get wet. If you stay in the Rivera Villas just do your husband/boyfriend/sig other a favor and make sure you pack all that you need for a day at the beach so he doesnt have to go back by bus a bunch of times :)

We are fans of traveling concierge. It is worth the little extra. The staff at that desk are all wonderful and always helpful, especially when this new mom couldn't figure out how to get onto the wifi to talk to her kids and started to panic. All were patient and sympathetic. The playmakers were great;Natallia, Karah, Joel, Analisa, Josie and Kemar were so energetic and fun to be around. Anthaneil the bartender always took care of us and Marsha behind the adventure desk was very helpful. We even had a chance to meet some of the big wigs: Clive Miller, Hotel manager, Suelin Simpson, Director of Sales & Brian Roper, GM. Everyone is so approachable and friendly!!! Food was great. Definatly try the italian restaurant, Valentinos and Kellys dockside on nights with a good sunset. # beach areas to sit. For quiet, go to the Ochi Beach club, more activity is in the middle and the water spots are on the other end. Almost to many good things to write. We are going back to Jamaica next year. We have been to almost all the Sandals on this wonderful island!!!

Room Tip: The villas higher up on the mountain, ocean side, have a great view but the ones lower are closer to...
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  • Stayed August 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 2
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, May 15, 2013
We're so delighted to read that you had a wonderful stay with us at Sandals Grande Riviera. It was a pleasure hosting you and we are happy to hear that you enjoyed our great property and the true hospitality of our friendly staff.

Thank you for your review. We can't wait to welcome you back next year!


Sincerely,
Cassie C.
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5,367 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 (1,570)
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English first
Oklahoma City
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 13, 2013

First, we had a very nice 7 day vacation at this resort. However, we have stayed at a lot of all-inclusive places, and this one does not make the top of the list. There were a couple of things that we really enjoyed though.

Pros- This is a large resort with many isolated areas. There are 3 separate beach areas, countless pools, hidden hot tubs, and plenty of bars. The resort was only at 60% capacity during our stay, so sometimes we were the only people in any given pool area. We never had trouble finding beach/pool chairs, which was a nice change for us. We found a new wonderful nook to lounge in every day. We loved the water sports they offered, and took advantage of them on several days on a whim without any prior reservations or waiting lists. This resort had more activities to offer than many resorts we have stayed at. There were nightly shows, dancing, and group water/sports activities. They give you a daily flyer in your room with everything detailed so you make plans to attend the things you like. If you get a choice, stay on the Riveria (beach) side of the resort. You are closer to the beach, two big pools, and most of the places to eat. It’s less overall walking. We really didn’t spend very much time on the manor side of the resort because we had all the same or better options on our side. The beaches are not huge, but plenty big enough and very clean of rocks for swimming. It was nice having a bar and restrooms literally steps from the water in front of Jamie’s. The sunsets were beautiful. We liked the many fire pits scattered around the Riviera side at night. Also, we are certified divers and took advantage of the free diving, but that also leads me to some of the negative things about the resort.

Cons- We have both dove within the last year and have our log books with us. ALL certified divers must do an orientation course in the pool before you can go out to prove you know what you are doing. They only schedule this twice a day. We showed up with a couple who was doing the refresher course, and they basically made us do the refresher course too which took over an hour to show we could do the most mundane diving techniques. I understand they want to ensure safety, but that was over the top. Plus, they schedule the course at the same time as the dive, so you can’t do both in the same setting. You cannot take anything on the boat with you, not even your sandals (and no bag for personal items). Then, on the dive they rush you to assemble all your gear together (in the less than 2 mins boat ride to the dive site), usher you off the boat in a big hurry, and then only dive for 30 mins at 45ft. The dive guide had no interest in showing us around on the dive, and as others have said, the reef is not as good in this area as it is other parts of the Caribbean. You can only do one-tank dives at a time, unless you pay the extra charge to go on a two tank dive ($80-150 per person). What a waste of time dragging my equipment around with me to and from the room. The wreck dive is the only one worth the time and effort.

Other Cons- Although they boast about 12 restaurants, you only get buffet for breakfast (or the china doll which was highly discouraged by other patrons). And only buffet, burgers or pizza for lunch. They duplicated all the lunch & breakfast options between the Manor side and Riviera side. There are a total of 3 beach/pool grills, 2 buffets, and 2 pizza places, each with the same menu as its counterpart on the other side of the resort. They advertise these as many options, but really it is just 3. The buffet is very limited and repetitive compared to other places we’ve stayed. At least there was an omelet station at breakfast. Although all the buffet food looked really good, it lacked flavor or was overcooked. It was basically the continental breakfast you get at a Hilton, but with issues. Unless you come at opening time, the milk is completely warm. The service at breakfast was poor. They take your drink order when you walk in, you wait in line for an omelet, then get some buffet, then sit and eat half your breakfast before anyone even comes by with water, let alone the coffee or tea. That was not once, but an every morning routine for us. It would be different if they were packed, but there were staff just standing around talking to each other most days. Plus, the coffee they rave about (and try to sell you) is like gut-rot. I would not recommend it.
For lunch, you can again do the buffet (limited salad bar or choose from 6 hot dishes), pizza place, or burgers/fried food. That is it. Out of all of the places to eat, not a single sit down restaurant is open for lunch. It’s actually hard to try all the restaurants unless you stay 10 days because you can only eat at them for dinner. They could have offered the sushi bar for lunch, or the Italian place for some pasta dishes. That was a big disappointment for us compared to other resorts. We would however highly recommend the coconut shrimp on the Mariners lunch menu. That and some of the pizza options were the only things we enjoyed for lunch.
For dinner, they are serious about their dress code and turned several people away while we waited for our tables. Our favorite meal was at Valentinos. Although we tried all of the other places and ordered a lot of food, it was nothing to write home about (not terrible, but not 5-star resort food either). I would have eaten the sushi again had we not run out of time.

We had a hard time finding some of the areas for activities, and the staff was not very knowledgeable in helping us. We called the front desk 4 different times for assistance and it just rang without answer. Our room was in need of remodeling. It had cracks in the walls, broken tiles, chipping paint. Nothing extreme, but also not a 5-star resort quality. Most of the bar drinks were good, but I could of used more beer options than just Red Stripe all week. Forget about mojitos, not a single bar had mint. Some rooms are not stocked with booze/beer, and tipping your room service lady well only got us 3 beers for the whole week in the fridge. All week we could hear a car alarm going off from the staff parking lot at 7 AM. Most guests with butlers complained about them either being too clingy all week or non-existent.The staff were friendly, but had no sense of urgency to do much in the way of service and stood around talking “patwa” (native language) with other staff most of the time. Forget about sending off the lanterns in the night skies on Friday nights anymore. They almost burned down their neighbor resort a couple weeks ago and have cancelled the activity indefinitely.
Overall, we found ways to enjoy ourselves, but from other experiences we would rate this resort a 3.5, not a 5 star. Try the Royal in Playa Del Carmen, MX. That is a 5 star resort all the way around and less expensive.

Room Tip: Riviera side is much closer to the beach and food.
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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.
Rialto, California
1 review
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 13, 2013

My family and I have been traveling to Jamaica since 2000 and I have always stayed with Sandals or Beaches. I have not yet visited Sandals Whitehouse but plan to in July 2014. The first resort my family and I visited was Sandals Grande Riviera and it remains our favorite resort. It’s not our favorite because the other resorts lack service or quality in anyway. I believe it is our favorite resort because it was the first resort we visited. It always amazes me when I read the negative reviews because I truly believe you cannot go wrong with any of the Sandals/Beaches resorts. The main purpose of any vacation is that you relax and take time to spend with family not find a million little petty things to complain about. Take time to experience the culture and remember you are in a country where poverty is prevalent. The people there are very friendly and will try their best to accommodate you. The rooms are nice, the food is great, the water is wonderful, and the drinks are very refreshing. The best way to choose a resort is by choosing the resort that has what you are looking for in a vacation. Negril is known for beaches, Montego Bay is known for parties, and Ochio is known for relaxation. Don’t let negative reviews ruin the choice in your Sandals/Beaches vacation. If you do not have fun with Sandals/Beaches the fault is your own. Jamaica is a beautiful country and the Sandals/Beaches resort gives you exactly what you are looking for memorable vacation. Sandals/Beaches resorts is absolutely the way to go when visiting the Caribbean.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 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 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 13, 2013

We really enjoyed the resort, dining experiences, and the staff. All the staff were very friendly and willing to help. Every dinner we had was delicious, there wasn't bad meal had. We were able to eat somewhere new all 7 nights we were there. Our excursions were also wonderful. We definitely recommend the catamaran to the dunn's river falls and the zipline canopy tour at mystic mountain. On both excursions the drivers and tour guides were kind, courteous, and entertaining. As a side note, mystic mountain is only 15 min from the resort and dunn's river falls is maybe 20 min. We also went to the sandals golf course in Ocho rios which was in good shape and a solid course. We love to golf and found the course challenging and fun. The staff was very friendly and courteous. The evening entertainment was also wonderful. Our only negative, which really was not a big deal for us, was you had to get a shuttle to the beach if you stayed in the great house or the villas. But as I said it didn't really bother us. I highly recommend the resort and recommend getting butlers if able since they make your stay much more memorable and make it easy to get around. Finally I recommend going in April or beginning of May if possible as this is the start of their slower season and we had our choice of seating on the beach, pools, bars, ect.

Room Tip: Rooms in the villas are very quiet if you are looking for that, rooms down in the hotel at the beach...
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  • Stayed April 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 5
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, May 15, 2013
Thank you for your review of Sandals Grande Riviera. We're glad to hear that you enjoyed your stay with us. It's great that you were quite pleased with our dining options and our exciting activities and excursions.

We look forward to welcoming you back for another amazing vacation in the near future.


Sincerely,
Cassie C.
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1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 13, 2013 via mobile

I can't say enough about how much my husband and I enjoyed it here! The people were wonderful! Very helpful, friendly, and funny! The food was amazing! They do give you smaller portion sizes in most of the restaurants, but as this is an all inclusive resort you can order as much of it as you want and it costs you nothing extra!! Even roomservice is free and delicious! Definitely take along some spending money though, because if you're like us, you're going to want to take bits of the culture home!
My husband and I stayed in the bougainvillea honeymoon villas. These rooms come with 2 butlers! We had Kevin and Shannea, they were awesome! They're there to do anything at all for you that is within their power! The resort gives you a cell phone so that you are able to keep in contact with them. So if you're out on the beach or by the pool and you want a pizza and some drinks all you have to do is call them up and they'll bring it out to you! Mind you this isn't instant service ( as few things are) there is about a half hour wait time but the time goes fast! You do have to understand that these poor butlers are assisting 5 or 6 other rooms besides your own! But I will say they handle it really well! Kevin inparticular was quite fabulous! He did quite a few things to really stand out, but I'll mention the 2 that really WOWED us. First my husband and wanted to go off property to go to the Harley Davidson store we saw in town. As I'm sure you can understand we were a bit hesitant to leave the resort. We've heard some stories as I'm sure everyone has and didn't want to be adding to that list with our own. Anyways here comes Kevin to our rescue, we had asked him how we went about this and he took over and set the whole thing up! Not only did he arrange for our transport but he even came with us, OFF THE CLOCK. And even off the clock and off the resort he still acted as our butler, taking care of us and doing all the talking for us. And I must say I'm pretty sure we would have gotten left there had it not been for him! The second thing that really stood out was on our last night there, he surprised us by having the chef make this delicious and beautiful dessert for us to celebrate the last day of our honeymoon!! We were so touched!!
Overall this was the best honeymoon! We couldn't have imagined it any better! On this trip we swam with the dolphins (I rate this a 10 a must do!!) went horseback riding and rode the horses into the ocean (10) did the Jamaican swamp safari (8 only do this if you love animals, James Bond, and don't mind walking) we did the skyline, zip line and bobsled tour (10) and took a catamaran cruise to the dunn's river falls and climbed the waterfall (10 this is another must!! Soo much fun and great guides! And you are actually climbing the waterfall so make sure to buy or bring aqua shoes we used them for everything we did!)

  • Stayed May 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 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.
Cassie C, Sandals & Beaches Review Coordinator at Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort, responded to this review, May 15, 2013
We're thrilled to read that you had such a wonderful honeymoon with us at Sandals Grande Riviera. It makes us so proud to know that Kevin really went above and beyond to make your stay such an amazing experience. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your feedback.

We look forward to seeing you again for an even better trip!


Sincerely,
Cassie C.
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Northwest Territories
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 11, 2013

I went to Sandals Grande in Ocho Rios with my husband for a romantic and relaxing vacation and it was everything I'd hoped for and more. I was there during reunion week with a group of four other couples. This group was put together by my amazing travel agent, Ruth DeMuth of Tripguy Travel, who went above and beyond to make sure we had a vacation to remember. Based on Ruth’s recommendations we had purchased Club Mobay for our arrival and we were glad we did. I can’t say enough about this service, it is worth every cent to skip by the long line ups and I would highly recommend it for the arrival and departure. Ruth also set us up with a private transfer company, Raggae Tours, for our drive to Ocho Rios. I was glad we choose to use a private transfer as it is a 90 min drive. I would also recommend Raggae Tours. The vehicle was clean and comfortable and the diver was egger to share information about Jamaica and answer any question we had.
Checking into the resort was quick and simple. If you’ve booked a butler room you get to check-in in the Butler Lounge which is very nice and your butler will meet you there and take you to your room. Our Butlers were Jackie and Olivia and the vacation wouldn’t have been the same without them, they did everything from make reservation at restaurants, to ironing our clothes, to coming up to the hidden hot tub at 10pm when we couldn’t get it working. We stayed in a one bedroom villa on the manor side with a semi-private pool. The villa was beautiful with plenty of space and a well stocked bar. I know some people say they don’t use their pool but we used our everyday at least once.
The food was great. I would definitely recommend Kelly’s Dockside and Valentinos, both were standout dinners for us, and the Reef Terrace has the most beautiful scenery you will ever see. The only restaurant we ate at that I didn’t enjoy was China Doll for breakfast, I was very surprised because all the other meals we had at the resort were great. The only think I would mention is the portions are small so I would recommend ordering at least two or three courses.
Overall this resort is far superior to other non-Sandals resorts I’ve stayed at and I will be returning here as soon as I can. In closing I wanted to thank our travel agent Ruth DeMuth of tripguy.com, she arranged events like a private group champagne sunset cruise and BBQ right at our villa, making our vacations something we will never forget.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
St. John's, Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 11, 2013

Sandals, Grande Ocho Rios was our first experience with an all inclusive and it set one amazing standard.
I went in April 2010 for a week with my husband and another couple, our friends. My husband and my friend's husband are more of the indoor type but they loved the resort. They swam and drank and looked forward to excursions as much as us which was a wonderful experience.
It was so nice not to worry about money. Sandals includes tips in their price so if the employees are caught getting tipped they could get fired so there was no awkwardness or pushiness with that. We still managed to tip a couple great ones discreetly. :)
Once you landed in Jamaica the Sandals lounge where you wait for the bus to arrive is beautiful with their delicious Red Stripe beer on tap.
Afterwards you take the bus to your resort which was about a 90 minute ride. It was long and hot but still enjoyable as you view much of Jamaica and the driver was a great tour guide. There is a half way stop where you take a bathroom break and you could pay for something to eat or drink if you like.
When we arrived they had cool towels and then they upgraded us from the manor (which is like a large hotel) to our own villa! The villas are a private building with rooms for 3 couples and they have their own private pool. I strongly recommend the villas, we spent so much time in that pool!
The food was incredible! There was such a great selection from their large variety of food and drinks. I really can't handle spicy food so I was afraid I'd starve but I'm sure I gained. They had lots of Jamaican cuisine (the jerk chicken is a must!) but they also had some for my picky friend: grilled cheese, hot dogs, fries... lots of choices! The drinks were fabulous and generous, no watering down or ice here! I especially liked the dirty banana, a milk shake with alcohol! They had a snack bar too that was open til 12am and Nicole's dance bar which is open til late.
The large resort is split into 2 parts: the villas and the beach. The villa has a large beautiful pool with a swim up bar and a smaller pool with a hot tub that's next to a snack bar. The resort is very large but jitneys (small trucks with canopied backs) drive you all around the villas to wherever you want to go. To get to the beach side of the resort you must take a bus back and forth but they run frequently, ever 10 mins. The beach front has more great restaurants, several pools, one with a swim up bar and you're right on the beach.
The staff were always pleasant and smiling and seemed to really enjoy their jobs. Many went out of their way to make us enjoy ourselves. One of the jitney drivers, Michael, was especially hilarious!
There was always something to do. We spent much of our time relaxing in the pools and drinking but they had other activities. They have a spa, gym and a rock wall which was great. We tried the water bikes and there was a glass bottom boat tour. Each night they have some sort of event, either a show or games. One night they had locals come in with their goods and you could purchase some beautiful things. Good luck haggling, I sucked at it. They also have tours that you can extra for an arrange.
Tours are a must. My only regret is that we didn't do more tours. We did the catamaran cruise which was incredible. It started off with a beautiful catamaran boat ride across the water that brings you to the famous Dunn's River Falls. I thought they had a stairway that you climb up the side and observe but oh no, our 3 tour guides took 20 of us up that waterfall! It was beautiful, the cooler water was refreshing and our tour guides were hilarious (especially Papa). Bring tips for these guys! We felt completely safe, they knew that waterfall so well. Afterwards it's back to the boat where they take you snorkeling and on the way back it's a party with more food, drinks and music.
Sandals was a fabulous experience and I look forward to going again.

Room Tip: Doesn't matter, you're never in your room!
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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
#4 Family Hotel in Ocho Rios
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Ocho Rios
#6 Romantic Hotel in Ocho Rios
#7 Spa Hotel in Ocho Rios
#7 On the Beach 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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