Our vacation at Sandals Whitehouse from March 31 to April 7 was our first Sandals experience and definitely won't be our last. From the moment we arrived at the Sandals lounge at the airport until we were back on the plane coming home we were impressed with almost every aspect of our trip.
ROOM: We booked the most inexpensive class of room - beachfront patio - and were upgraded to a luxury beachfront on the third floor of the Dutch village with a gorgeous view and more space than the patio room. We loved the location - it was just steps to our preferred pool and beach area and about a 2-3 minute walk to the piazza and restaurants. The only things we missed compared with other resorts we've been to were bath robes, slippers and beer/liquor in the mini bar. However, we knew that since we didn't pay extra for a concierge level room that these items would not be included so it wasn't a disappointment. Next time we will book a concierge level room for all of the extra perks!
FOOD: We really enjoyed the food at Sandals Whitehouse and likened it more to restaurant or cruise ship dining than typical resort food. I emailed guest services the week before we left to ask which restaurants would be the best options for us since I am vegetarian and my husband is vegan. When we arrived, they had someone from food services meet with us to discuss our dietary needs and preferences. The next day, someone called to ask where we'd like to eat and at what time. We selected Jasmine's and when we arrived the chef came out to talk to us and said he would pretty much make us anything we wanted. This was definitely going above and beyond since there was a vegetarian option on every menu at the resort. Needless to say, we ate extremely well and particularly enjoyed the veg pad thai (with tofu!) at Jasmine's and the bean succotash with veggie fritters at Eleanor's. They are very flexible and accommodating, all you need to do is ask. For example, my husband couldn't have the soup or appetizers on the Eleanor's menu, so they brought him hummus from Bayside and minestrone from Giuseppe's.
We typically went for dinner between 7:30 and 8:30 and our wait times varied from immediate seating to 45 minutes, with most being around 20 minutes. I'm not sure why people complain about the wait, make an evening of it and sit in the piazza or the martini bar and have a drink while you wait.
We ate breakfast every day at Bayside and buffet lunch at Bayside or a la carte Arizona's (which had a garden burger). We didn't eat at Bluefield's since the only veggie option was salad, but heard other people say it was excellent. One day we ordered a pizza to go from Giuseppe's for lunch. It was really tasty but took 45 minutes (they told us 20), this was the only restaurant where the wait times were usually double what they told you.
The coffee, tea and treats from Cafe de Paris are delicious and I looked forward to them every day.
RESORT IN GENERAL: The grounds were immaculate with many different types of trees and flowers (and four pretty peacocks). We loved the European feel, especially at night in the piazza. Everything was well-maintained and pleasant to look at.
POOLS: We only strayed from the Dutch Village pool a couple of times. The other pools were nice, but we preferred the quietness of the Dutch pool. There were a lot of reserved chairs, but if you are out there by about 10 am you can still snag a couple of loungers.
BEACH: The beach was beautiful and perfect for lounging, walking or jogging. The sand was soft and clean and every day we saw workers raking it and burying sea weed. On the less windy days, when the water was clear, we saw several star fish. We saw lots of people taking them out of the water and placing them on the sand for extended periods of time to take photos and a couple of them died. It's okay to take photos, but don't take them out of the water for more than a few seconds!
ACTIVITIES (ON SITE): You could basically be as active or as lazy as you wanted at Sandals Whitehouse. There were lots of activities at the other pools, plus basketball, tennis courts, scuba lessons and shuffleboard, but we pretty much just relaxed. We went on the snorkeling boat once - the reef is nice with a lot of small, colorful fish and interesting plants.
ACTIVITIES (OFF SITE): We booked independently with Patrick Grandison, Esperanza Tours, to go to Negril for the day on a customized tour. For US$120 he picked us up at 10 am and drove us to Negril telling us about the towns along the way. We stopped at an outdoor market to do some shopping, then headed to Sandals Negril for a couple of hours to check out the resort and have some lunch. Just show your Sandals ID card at the door and they will let you use all of the facilities. It was a really nice resort, but after seeing how cramped they are for space and how close they are to other resorts, we were really happy we chose Whitehouse. After lunch, we headed to Rick's Cafe for some drinks and to watch the cliff divers. On the way back Patrick stopped so I could take some photos at a fishing village I had seen on the way out. He was a great guide and told us a lot about the island and went out of his way to make sure we had a fantastic day. We highly recommend him and would book with him again.
We also left the resort for a short trip one morning to head into the town of Whitehouse (on the hill overlooking the resort) to bring books and other school supplies to a primary school. We co-ordinated the visit through the resort (it is one of the many projects that the Sandals Foundation supports) and they arranged the transportation for us. There was a bit of confusion as to who would pay for the taxi (one person said it would be us, but then another told us right before we left that the resort would take care of it since we were bringing donations and they were sending a camera with the driver to take photos for the Foundation) and in the end we were on the hook for the US$30 fare. If we had known it would cost so much with their driver, we would have arranged our own because I doubt the fare would have been so high for a drive of less than five minutes each way. But, we really should have had this clarified before we left, and next time we'll make sure that the fare is set/negotiated before we go.
BUS RIDE: Going to and from the resort it was just the two of us in a van and both drivers seemed really cautious and didn't take any risks with passing. Yes, it is hilly and bumpy, but we loved the resort so much that it was worth it (and I'm a very nervous passenger). The drivers pretty much gave us a guided tour both ways and we learned a lot about the island and many of the little villages we went through.
AIRLINE: We flew on Sunwing Airlines and found it to be comfortable with great service. We sat in an exit row and had lots of extra legroom. We were pleasantly surprised with the complimentary welcome champagne, hot towels, hot meal, wine with dinner, free headphones etc., and would definitely fly with them again.
OVERALL: Jamaica is a beautiful island with really friendly people. Sandals Whitehouse was gorgeous, the food excellent and service outstanding and we'd love to go back.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Discover the undiscovered. Journey to a forgotten Jamaica where the natural beauty is simply unforgettable. Within a 500-acre wilderness preserve, blue mountains, lush palm groves, pristine coastlines and shimmering turquoise waters create an unbelievable backdrop for a monumental resort. Sandals Whitehouse Europe Village & Spa perfectly blends the exotic allure of the Caribbean with the refined elegance of Europe. Charming Italian piazzas and fountains are surrounded by gardens resplendent with fragrant foliage, while three European-inspired villages – Italian, French and Dutch – are home to luxuriously-appointed, all oceanfront rooms and suites. Each one offers magnificent views overlooking the two-mile long beach, and top tier suites come with Sandals’ legendary Butler Service. Seven restaurants serve mouthwatering gourmet cuisine from around the world, and entertainment ranges from a sophisticated piano bar to bonfire beach parties and a chic nightclub. This resort is truly a world unto itself, where time is all but forgotten and the only moment is now. World Travel Awards: Sandals Resorts “World’s Leading All – Inclusive Company,” 16 years in a row. Sandals Resorts “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand,” 18 years in a row. Sandals Whitehouse “Jamaica’s Leading Spa Resort” Five Star Diamond Award, American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. We’re so very pleased to announce that Sandals Whitehouse European Villages & Spa has been named in Condé Nast Traveler’s Voted 2012 Readers' Choice Awards “Top 15 Hotels & Resorts in the Caribbean,” coming in at No. 10 and “Top 30 Resorts in the Caribbean,” coming in at No. 4 as part of the annual “Best in the World” poll. Presented Certificate of Excellence for 2012 and Travelers' Choice Hotel for 2012. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sandals Whitehouse European Village Hotel Whitehouse
- Whitehouse Sandals
- Sandals Whitehouse Jamaica