White Sands is a basic, clean, hotel right in the middle of the fabulous Seven Mile Beach in Negril - a perfect set-up for the ideal chill, laid back, relaxed beach vacation.
My husband and I are the type that like a little adventure on our vacations and like to soak in the local culture. We knew going in that this hotel wasn't going to be full of amenities, but were hoping it would be a good location for experiencing Jamaica. It really was. This was the kind of place that you could bum around in your suit all day, grab a drink at the bar, grab food from beach vendors, and rub shoulders (at least a little) with locals. This was the place that had locals coming by to play their heated games of dominoes most afternoons, and even showed my husband the ropes, allowing him to get in on a few games. The NBA playoffs were happening the week we were there, and we were able to watch the games sitting at the bar with locals and tourists alike - everyone having a great time. This was a great location that allowed us to check out reggae bands, street food, and yummy restaurants within walking distance - always feeling safe. This is a great place for independent travelers who don't mind giving up some luxuries in order to wander to their hearts content.
Location: You really can't beat this location. There are eateries within walking distance all along the beach (although taxis are also readily available at the hotel entrance). An ATM is a bit down the road at the Times Square shopping center, but makes for a lovely beach walk. (And you can pull out US currency at this particular ATM.) The beach is just steps away from your room. My husband and I joked that you could sit on a beach chair and get everything you needed from vendors walking by. We bought fresh squeezed fruit juice every morning from the same guy. We bought chicken and beef patties from a vendor for lunch. We bought fresh lobster from a beach vendor. We could have purchased water or souvenirs from beach vendors but didn't. The hotel has a nice little bar right on the beach so you didn't have to go far for your red stripes or drink specials. Great location!
The Beach: What can I say? It is gorgeous with clear, calm, blue waters. No rocks to deal with, just a beautiful sandy bottom with a visit from the occasional sting ray, crab, or school of small fishes. So lovely to float around all day in. While the beach area at the hotel is relatively small, there were plenty of beach chairs that could be moved around to find your perfect spot. There is also an empty lot next door should things get too crowded at White Sands. (Not a lot of shady areas though, an umbrella might be nice to bring.) Also, and I can't believe I missed this in the other reviews, THERE ARE NO BEACH TOWELS provided by the hotel. (You are not to take your room towels to the beach.) We were somewhat miffed to find this out at first, but I had packed two sarongs, and after using those for one day, we decided we really didn't even need towels. The sarongs dried out much faster than a thick towel would have, and the sun dried our bodies out just fine. Just be warned. But the sunsets...those sunsets are just glorious. Take in as many as you can!!
The Room: We stayed in a deluxe room because it was all that was available beach-side when we booked. I was really glad to be on the beach side considering that the road we would have had to cross was a bit busy, and a little further away than we would have wanted. As it was, we were steps from the bar and the beach, as well as the breakfast/lunch area. (The office was across the road from us though, which is where the safes are located. Consequently we never used the safe and never visited the office.) Our room was large but the deluxe doesn't mean there are really more amenities. There's just a lot of floor space. We had a mini fridge, a double bed, and a single bed. We did have a large walk-in closet. The air conditioner worked great and we were thankful for it! Our room was cleaned spotless every day. The beds were fine (although pillows are thin). The balcony was large, but has no ocean view (unless you stand all the way at the end and peek over the side) but had a long railing that was handy for hanging wet suits and sarongs. We didn't miss having a TV. The walls are quite thin. The family next to us had a baby that woke up quite consistently and cried from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. It sounded like the baby was in our room. Just pack your earplugs (an unusual oversight on my part!) and you should be fine. The walk-in shower was lovely. We generally didn't have a problem with water pressure, although it was never very consistent and you had to wait on hot water sometimes. The only time I had trouble was the morning we left for the airport, when I soaped up the water completely stopped coming out! But we talked to another couple that stayed in an expensive all inclusive and they had the same issues there. It's not unique to White Sands.
The Staff: As I said, our room was beautifully cleaned each day. Miss Jenny at the restaurant was wonderful serving us our breakfasts and lunch and telling us everything we wanted to know about in a pleasant and friendly manner. Kerry Ann at the front desk was cheerful and Henry and the security guys were a pleasant presence. I was really glad that there was security sitting on the beach. As laid back as they were, I believe it keeps the peddlers to a minimum, and what ones that do come around aren't going to hang around and harass you a long time because of the hotel security presence. My only complaint in the staff department would be the bartenders. While they serve up the drinks, and quickly, they are the opposite of friendly. Generally not making eye contact, certainly no smiles, and no friendly or even polite chit-chat. They sort of grew on me by the end of the week, but considering they are who most visitors will have the most contact with, I was surprised by their cold attitudes. (A tip does improve this, but not by miles.) Overall, I would say the staff were great.
White Sands isn't for everyone. But for the price you pay and the beach you are steps away from, you really can't do any better in Negril. Respect.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.