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Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and Private Island
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Reviewed May 8, 2013

We visited Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and Private Island from April 28 – May 5, 2013.

Before I get to the Sandals specific part of this review…here’s one piece of advice/knowledge for all who may be new to this international travel deal…check your US passport expiration date. I’m the very experienced international traveler and shame on me for NOT checking Mrs. SRCFan’s passport expiration date until 24 hours before departure for Jamaica. I discovered it had expired 3 days before…I was now a dead man. We have been planning this trip for a year…and now it appeared it wasn’t going to happen due to my screw up. Well after frantic web searching on the US State Department’s web site I discovered there are about a dozen locations called US Regional Passport agencies, where you can get a same day US passport. Luckily one of those is in Buffalo, New York, about 60 miles from our home. Using an automated phone appointment system, I was able to get an appointment later that morning. We drove to Buffalo, and the staff at the agency were very helpful, courteous, and professional in getting Mrs. SRCFan a US passport. I could now at least see the door of the dog house I was currently in. On to the review…

This was our 11th visit to this property. Spread over the last several years, averaging 1 or 2 visits per year. As always we stayed in a Butler level room on the second floor of the Clarence block. This review will be a mix of reinforcing the ‘old’ and discussing the ‘newer’ since our last review of April 2012.

Our long time friends and Butlers, Ellis and Hughill, took very good care of us during this stay. It was Mrs. SRCFan’s birthday and they both planned numerous small special things for her that day to make her day just wonderful. This visit was the back end of a split stay in Jamaica that began with a short 3 night stay at Sandals Whitehouse resort. That review has been composed and posted.

This stay’s review begins with our efficient but SLOW ground transfer from Sandals Whitehouse. The transfer was planned without flaw, left right on time, but took 2 hours through no fault of Sandals or the ground transfer driver. We just got stuck behind some very slow moving big trucks several times on the narrow mountain pass roads that are used to move between these two properties. We credit the driver for not taking chances to pass unless he felt it was safe. On some of the roads, for long stretches, they just aren’t amenable to passing safely. So we just plodded along at very slow speeds. The driver was very polite and courteous and he commented often on the small villages or local sites that we passed to share information on Jamaica. So finally, after two hours, we arrived ‘home’ at SRC. I think a more normal transfer time is maybe 1.5 hours based on our transfer time from Sangster to SWH.

Daytime, we split our days between the Balmoral beach and the clothing optional beach on the Private Island. We much prefer the quiet beaches at SRC vs. the main activity beach. For us it’s about being together, in a serene setting just chilling. We used a bit of a different strategy this time wrt to daily beach selection and we think it worked well. We avoided the Balmoral beach on Friday, Saturday and Sunday since they had numerous weddings scheduled for those days and that location is popular for weddings. Guests are asked to vacate the Balmoral beach for wedding set up, celebration and post wedding picture taking time. So we headed over to the c/o beach and it was like Balmoral…quiet, hardly anyone there, no distractions, just real chill. Never had to wait more than a minute or two for the transit boat (all of maybe two minute ride). On one day, we were literally the only couple out there from 9:30 until 2:30 in the afternoon. Lately there have been a few comments/complaints in reviews of gawkers, people who didn’t disrobe or rowdy folks out there. Not during our week. All couples, no gawkers or singles, virtually all guests were topless/nude. Talk about peace and quiet!

For dinners we ate at Eleanor’s (great Jamaican specialties), the Regency (outdoors and returning guest dinner), La Jardinere twice, and over at Sandals Mo’ Bay, Cucina Romana, and Stewfish. The highlight was the addition of duck to the the La Jardinere menu (so we had to go twice since Sharon loves duck…and the rack of lamb is the best she’s ever had, bar none.) All of our servers were polite, professional, and never missed a beat. The only ‘complaint’ (very, very minor) was, and get ready for this, we felt, and it was just a feeling that the dinner pace at Stewfish was TOO fast. It’s such a lovely setting at night, right on the beach, and it seemed like dinner courses arrived with too little time in between to savor the moments. Not that they were rushing us…just would have loved to have it be a tad slower. We ate lunches at either the Regency (wife loves the salad bar…tries to keep her bikini bod best she can during these visits), the Bamboo Shack (we both love the jerk our there) on the Private Island, or the Mariner’s Grill. Had one of the pizzas one day and it was yummy too. See pics of the new (about a year old now…) pizza oven station (next to the Mariner’s Grill).

Staff as always greeted us throughout the week as we were old friends…Neville who takes care of the pool in front of Clarence, Michael the gardener extraordinaire, or Owen out on the Private Island, Simone of watersports, or Albert behind the bar…the list goes on and on. We caught up for a few minutes with Janice, our favorite server. One disappointment was about 4 days into our stay, we noticed that Sygurd wasn’t tending bar during our visit. Mystery solved…on departure, we stopped in the Club Mo’ Bay lounge to chill before boarding our flight. And lo and behold, there was Siggy tending bar. He saw us and came right over to us and welcomed us just like we were at SRC. He is a wonderful cheerful person.

Back to SRC. A few minor maintenance issues with our room at check in; a blown light bulb in the closet. Mentioned to our Butler (the light bulb issue) and it was fixed next time we got back to our room. Second was a modest smokiness odor to the room as though someone had been smoking in the room prior our visit. We discovered likely root cause. The guests next door to us were smoking (cigarettes) fiends. And any time we were on our patios at the same time, and if the wind was blowing just right, their second hand smoke wafted into our patio/balcony and some of it ended up in our room just through proximity. We just were diligent about minimizing the amount of time we left our balcony door open and the smokiness dissipated within a day.
Grounds as always, immaculately clean, bright and cheerful. We used the fitness center pretty much daily for exercise and running on the treadmills. There are six of ‘em. We arrived between 6:30am and 7:00am and never had to wait for equipment to be available. All in good shape, a/c working fine, stationary bikes, stairmasters, ellipticals, weight machines, and free weights. Nice touch to mount the clean up spray bottles right on the equipment now.

Mrs. SRCFan purchased a few items of jewelry and art during beach vendor day (Thursday)…and Rory Frankson (Who just like I planned it? Right? Performed on Sharon’s birthday (Monday), so we couldn’t miss him) has a CD for sale in the gift shop. A bit pricey, but 40% of the proceeds goes to music education programs conducted by the Sandals Foundation, so the price is high because of that I’m sure…and if you’ve ever heard Rory sing, well you know he’s worth the extra price indeed.

In summation, a wonderful visit. Sharon cried all the way to Sangster as she usually does…so to Ellis and Hughill and the entire SRC team, job well done. See you in March, 2014…or if we catch a break or two, Sooner Come Back!

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank SRCFan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2013

We went for my husbands 50th BD and we were not disappointed. Accommodation fab, carefully tended and all of our needs e.g. towels, toiletries ect provided for by Lily. We were overlooking a pool which was cleaned daily and was always spotless. Surrounding grounds immaculately kept. FOOD, BIG thanks to ALL chefs and waiters/ waitresses... we love our food and again we were never disappointed. Highlights for us, Eleanor"s which serves traditional Jamaican food, Le Jardiniere-French, The Bamboo shack on the island for great selection for lunch and the best Jerk chicken ever and the Mariners bar for burgers, chips, wraps and coleslaw YUM. Activities we spent the morning doing water sports, BIG THANKS toTamara and team Valentine-best snorkel host, Tramaine- best Hobie Cat sailor, Davion- best sailor and getting the fish to meet you, to name just a few. Bars well stocked and all staff attentive and excellent at topping up YEA MAN:0)). Entertainment, we dipped in and out, mainly singalong at the piano hosted by Hollywood and Chico ......very entertaining a good laugh was had by all. Thanks also to Storm and rest of entertainment team who work very hard to make sure everyone is catered for. All staff on the resort work exceptionally hard to ensure that your holiday is the best.

Room Tip: You get what you pay for, you can upgrade at a cost, all rooms even basic will be great.
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank foode65
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2013

My girlfriend and I stayed here in January and I have to say it was really great. Food was consistently good and the various dinner places added some nice variety on site. We just wanted a break from the rat race and this was definitely the place. There is also a free shuttle to the other Sandal resorts to check out but I was more than happy to stay put, except to visit the waterfall which was amazing but not for the fainthearted !

Our room did not have any of the fancy views but the way I look at it, I am barely in the room anyway so no biggie really. In fact the Sandals Royal Caribbean island is really the ultimate for those who desire a reclusive type of existence of sun, sand and of course pina-colada sustenance! Topless bathing is an option on the island and there is security always present.

No kids on this resort so its true adult type hanging out and drinking for those into that.

If its a getaway you need, I strongly recommend here, its not 4-star per se but location, location, location.

Room Tip: Rooms booked with the garden view are definitely more peaceful!
  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank TRINIONDSCENE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 6, 2013

The hospitality and service at Sandals Royal Caribbean is among the best in the world!!! We went on a honeymoon/babymoon looking for an escape from NYC and found we landed in an adult version of disneyland as there was constant commotion and activities with top 40 music everywhere. We will say it did not look like disneyland though. Eventually we relocated to a lovely suite and found a much quieter part of the resort at the far end away from all the restaurants and music. This led to a very restful second half of our vacation, but for those of you looking for paradise in a serene setting, this may not be for you. In some ways it reminded us of a cruise ship with all the activities.

We would really like to commend the following staff for their endless smiles, Jamaican charm and for making us feel like we are part of a wonderful family in Montego Bay: Sheldon and Okley from the front desk/concierge; kenroy from the bar; theodore from hospitality; osbourne and Kiva from the pizza counter;and the incredible ladies that cleaned our suite (5108) but who's names I did not catch.

Room Tip: Try to get a room away from the entrance of the resort and the restaurants. It is much quieter on the far north end of the property.
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank om22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 6, 2013

I would like to thank the complete staff at Sandals Royal Caribbean for the most memorable vacation EVER!!! Went there for my Honeymoon and was just totally blown away by the way we were treated. We have been to Jamaica before and had a great experience and had doubts that the experience could be duplicated. To my surprise whole Sandals Staff at Royal Caribbean were better than expected. The Entertainment Staff, "Chico" Ladon, "Richy Rich" Rich, Theodore, "Storm" Tobian, "Dora The Explorer" Karalie, and "Hollywood" Jolan. you all were just simply the BEST!!! The way that each of them interacted with each and every guest was unbelievable. You all made everyone feel like they were a part of everything going on. The activities that you all put on for the guest were all memorable. I would like to say thank you to all of you for making this trip the BEST EVER!!!!
To the staff, from the front desk to the servers you also did just an outstanding job making everything just perfect!!!
To the Bar Tenders, you all work so hard and make it look easy, Albert and Sonia, at the swim up bar... you both were just fabulous. Adrian and Kenroy at the beach bar and grill thank you for making us feel right at home from the first moment we arrived!!! To the waiters and bar staff at the Cricketers Pub, Micha and to "BigBird" Kevin you guys were just out of this world. You two made "the Pub" the place to be at night after the great shows the Entertainment Staff put on for all of the guest!!! To Courtney,and Kirkland, in the Piano Bar, both of you were great!!! and made us feel like we were at home at our own local pub!!
We are now Sandals believers and we are already looking to book our next vacation at Royal Caribbean!!!! In closing Sandals should be proud to have all these employes working at their Resort!!! Thank You for making our Honeymoon the BEST!!!

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank soccerbill99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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