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Sandals South Coast
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Reviewed December 31, 2012

I want to start with the review with the disclaimer that my wife and myself are generally not picky people. We are fairly easy to please and not easily annoyed. We do however, expect to get what we pay for and when we are on vacation we like to have relatively few hassles to deal with. With that being said, here we go.

On our previous visit to Sandals Grand Bahamian my wife and I were afforded the opportunity to return to Sandals for a discounted rate, so we decided to take advantage of the offer and this time opted to visit Sandals Whitehouse, in Jamaica.

The quiet seclusion of Sandals Whitehouse was quite alluring, and for the first few days after our arrival that is just what we got. Of course, the seclusion didn't come without a cost, and that cost was a 120 minute shuttle ride from the airport to our final destination. I have seen several complaints about the ride to Whitehouse, and while it did get pretty bumpy at times, I saw it as a great opportunity to see some smaller Jamaican towns and to learn a little about the quality of life for some Jamaicans.

CHECK IN

We arrived to what seemed to be an almost deserted resort. We checked-in 4 days ahead of time (we learned the hard way from our previous Sandals visit) expecting a faster check-in this time, however I was a bit disappointed after being hassled about my military identification; I never travel outside of the country with my photo military ID, rather I opt to bring an official copy of my military discharge papers to qualify for my military discount, something which Sandals is supposed to accept and that we've had no problem with at our previous visit. This time however, after having to wait for an employee to make a copy of my paperwork on our initial check-in, I received a phone call the next day and had to return to the front desk again having to explain why I chose to bring my discharge papers instead of my photo ID. A minor inconvenience, but an inconvenience nonetheless.

THE ROOM

We opted to upgrade to the walkout beachfront suite in the Italian Village. The room was not quite as nice as our room in the Grand Bahamian, however it was certainly not the worst room that we've ever had and it was very close to all of the restaurants and the beach, which was very convenient. Our shower leaked a bit, and evidence of this problem was visible on one of the floor trim panels as it showed some signs of wood rot. The shower head was a bit too harsh for our liking as well; the water sprayed from it pretty hard and fast and stung a little bit. (This was much worse a few days later after having acquired a bit of a sunburn) The worst part of the room (at least for me) was that we had many Antillean or Whistling Tree Frogs near by. For those who are unfamiliar with the frogs, their mating call is a rather high pitched "shrill" which they emit constantly at all hours of the night. Some find this sound relaxing. My brain could not dismiss the sound as background noise however, and it made for a few nights of pretty unrestful sleep. Here is a youtube clip of the frog and their sound: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLL1l3o-ZGc
Despite these complaints, the beds were very comfortable, the refrigerators were constantly stocked and the room service was on time and very thorough.

THE BEACH

We were a little disappointed in the beach overall. There were plenty of places to lie, including many umbrellas to shade ourselves from the sun. The water was warm, however there were quite a few rocks and a lot of peat moss in the shallow water. There was also a lot of clay. Snorkeling from the beach was not that great either; however I ventured out a bit past the peat moss and found a couple of starfish, sand dollars, urchin, some conch and a small variety of fish. On a few of our days at the beach it was so windy that water sports were shut down and the water was far too cloudy to snorkel. The most disappointing part about the beach however, were the sand fleas. It didn't matter if we were at the beach for 5 hours or 5 minutes, each of us left with several bites every time.

DINING

Compared to the Grand Bahamian, the service was excellent. At least for the first few days. Our 4th day at the resort we decided to visit the Italian restaurant. After being seated we waited 25 minutes for a server to visit our table, and still not having had been served we got up and left. We were approached by several people as we were walking out insisting on us to stay, but we refused and left. The next night we decided to try it again, thinking that it might have just been a fluke. Immediately upon entering we were recognized as the "couple who walked out last night" and were promised more attention this time around. We were seated, and a waiter visited our table after about 10-15 minutes this time. Not great, but acceptable. After placing our order and receiving our drinks we waited, and waited and waited. After ONE HOUR, our food had still not arrived so we got up and walked out again. This time we visited the resort manager, who seemed eager to resolve the problem. We never heard from him again.

Those incidents aside, the service and the food selection were generally quite good. Many of the servers were extremely friendly, outgoing and personable. The ones who weren't kept to themselves. The best thing about the food at Sandals Whitehouse was that there were NO FLIES! It sounds silly, but the Grand Bahamian was overrun with them. Overall, a good experience.

NIGHTLIFE

The nightlife was great for us; live music on the beach, a couple fun shows at The Caberet and a fun Christmas Eve party. Nothing seemed to get too wild or out of control which might be a turn-off for some younger couples. My wife and I are fairly young, but we like to keep it low-key. It was perfect for us.

GENERAL

Overall we had a pleasant and relaxing getaway. It was a mostly good experience, but it is doubtful that we will visit Sandals Whitehouse again, or any Sandals for that matter. I hope that some of you find this review helpful!

Room Tip: Avoid bottom floor walkout rooms; you don't really want to leave your room unlocked by exiting via the patio doors, and the bottom floors are noisy!
  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Chris N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 31, 2012

A year has gone by since our last Whitehouse vacation during Christmas. We look (and hope) for improvements from year to year and some things are better, other's unfortunately just stay the same. Service has definitely improved at most restaurants; a sore point is the Bayside Cafe for breakfast and lunch. Since one has to be seated by a hostess, that can take time because the hostesses are not very attentive and when entering the restaurant not very often is one immediately greeted with a welcoming smile. We don't mind waiting but like to be acknowledged instead of the wait staff walking by and letting us (and other vacationers) just stand there like we are intruding.

Service at Elenor's was good on two visits; the third one was not so good because apparently there was a wedding table at the restaurant and the noise level was comparable with a PUB. One could not even hear the waiters talking when ordering. We complained to the Maitre'De and received an apology but were basically told that the wedding celebration just was loud. Since Eleanor's is the "Signature" Restaurant at the Whitehouse, being advertised as fine dining with white gloved servers, Pub atmosphere is not what we are looking for when eating there. I think weddings should be celebrated in a private room (which are available at the resort for a fee).

Otherwise, our dining experiences were good to very good. Staff and management are friendly and some staff members go above and beyond to please the guests. Kudo's to the Cafe De Paris staff (Sherree is tops!!!!), and Keesha, who is a restaurant supervisor (she can be found everywhere when help is needed) and she is the friendliest and sunniest person we met.

We always book a concierge level room and for the last 3 years had and requested Sheldon as our concierge. He is efficient, friendly and his afternoon treats (cheese platters or some small sweets) are appreciated and welcomed. Check-in/out with the concierge office is quick.As Diamond guests we should have in-room check in but don't know how that works because it was never offered to us.

My husband is a certified scuba diver and the dive shop is great. The dive masters/instructors are doing an excellent job. Our favorite is Carlton and everybody loves Alton, the boat captain. And lets not forget Jackie who runs the office and dive bookings very efficiently.

Can't comment on the entertainment staff because we usually spend our time at the quiet Dutch pool. Evening entertainment is also not a big thing for us because we get up early and stay active all day long. But the music that's offered in the evening around the piazza and in front of the restaurants is nice. Another reviewer commented on the new walk way and seating areas; I wholeheartedly agree, that is a great improvement.

My husband and I have booked two Sandals vacations for next year, but will skip the Whitehouse for Christmas 2013. Maybe stepping back for a year will give us a better perspective of the improvements and updates that should be forthcoming during the next year.

The trip from the airport to the Whitehouse takes 1 1/2 hours and yes, the roads have pot holes. But looking out of the window and observing Jamaica and its people makes the trip go by fast.

In summation, the Whitehouse is a delightful resort, the grounds are beautiful and one can walk and explore or just sit and watch sunsets or the ocean waves. The rooms are okay, nothing fancy and we heard that updates are planned for the near future. The food is fine, not first class, but good. I ate some wonderful dishes and especially enjoyed the smoked salmon every morning. For readers who have never been at the Whitehouse, don't get discouraged by negative remarks or reviews. Try the resort and see for yourself. You might like what other people don't.

Room Tip: All rooms have ocean view. We prefer either the Dutch or Italian village but it is more lively at the French village.
  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Beachlover888
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 31, 2012

We were there from Nov. 29 to Dec. 9th, stayed in the Italian village. The ride from the airport was very unpleasant, we had an old bus and the road is very bumpy, i was almost sick by the time we got to the hotel. Check-in and greeting as you arrive is first class. Room was nothing special could use freshening up, a renovated bathroom perhaps and we had the unfortunate luck of having someone that liked to walk in her heels at all hours on top of us. The rooms are not soundproof. The staff was amazing, friendly, polite and always looking to make your stay better. Loved the Jerk Pit chicken for lunch, although they ran out of chicken quite a few times.
Food was good but service very inconsistent, sometimes great and sometimes not. Their system for serving cocktails at the restaurants could improve, takes too long.

The grounds, pools, beach are beautiful. The outdoor living rooms and seating areas with the fire pits were very romantic at night and a great place to read a book during the day.The resort is kept very clean. We were in need of a restful vacation and that is what we got! Would go back on a good deal,not full price!

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank marchwow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 31, 2012

My wife and i just returned from SWH for our Christmas retreat and once again our expectations were exceeded. Rooms are clean and well kept, staff is over the top for service and hospitality and the upgrades made since our last visit just added to the enjoyment. Yes, the portions at dinner could be small, but you can always order more so it's nothing to complain about. During our soon come back dinner we had the pleasure of conversing with Jeffrey the director of sales and he told us of a few of the improvements coming to SWH.
Our only issue was not with the the resort, but some of the guests. Pool and chair etiquette is something people need to learn. There are plenty of chairs around the pools and the beach, but the pool floaties are few. Many times we watched as people would grab the floatie, drag it to the swim up bar and sit on the stool at the bar holding it hostage from others who would like to enjoy them. There are those who have spent extra money to have butlers and these butlers would reserve their guest's poolside seating with towels, a cooler and reading materials. We watched on more than one occasion as people would take these towels instead of walking the 15-20 feet to grab their own.
Regardless, the ignorance of others aside, we enjoyed our trip, the resort, the staff and the food and look forward to returning again. A big shout out to Darren at Guisseppies for a great and rewarding dining experience.

Room Tip: If you have mobility problems try to book the Italian village.
  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank markcarla
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 31, 2012

If you are looking for a laid back, relaxing and romantic all inclusive in Jamaica this is a great place. The sunsets are totaly beautiful with colors changing by the minute. A butler package is available and well worth the pampering that comes along with it. The food is average, and the staff is great and very freindly and personable. The ride from the airport is about an hour and a half and across the mountain. Where the road can only be duplicated by an amusement park ride. The infastructure is just not a common thing in the island. No children at this resort so it is quiet and relaxing. The beach is beautiful and well kept. This is our third trip to Jamaica and found it to be an excellent place to stay.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank welltraveled_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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