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Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and Private Island
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Reviewed December 28, 2005

We stayed at the Royal Caribbean from Dec. 14 to 21 this year for our 15th anniversary and never wanted to leave. All things from check-in to rooms to restaurants to bars to pools to all activities were above and beyond our expectations. Thanks to the players, Chad, Jason, Anna Kay, and Paulette for all the fun activities everyday around the pool and every evening on stage. The food was fabulous. With all the choices, we did not eat at the same restaurant twice. We tried all at the RC plus the Italian at Montego Bay Sandals and they were all spectacular. My favorite, by far, was the Italian restaurant at MoBay. Try the lasagna - it's to die for. Weather was perfect - just as a bonus. I would love to return soon as possible.

Bob & Judy, Kitchener, Ontario

  • Stayed: December 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
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8  Thank shaw4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 26, 2005

During our most recent trip to Jamaica, we stayed for two nights at the Ritz Carlton Rose Hall (for a wedding) and an additional five nights at Sandals Royal Caribbean (for some alone time). We were really looking forward to Sandals, but were a bit disappointed and would not return.

This is our second trip to Jamaica and our fifth trip to the Caribbean in the last four years. To give some perspective on our comments below, we stayed at the following all inclusive resorts during our recent trips: Grand Lido San Soucci in Jamaica; Secrets Excellence in Punta Cana, and the Divi Divi in Aruba. If I had to quickly rank the resorts, I would do so as follows: San Soucci (#1 head and shoulders above the others); Secrets Excellence (a solid #2); Sandals Royal (#3); and the Divi Divi (a close #4).

Surfboard Vendors – I can honestly say that I will NEVER return to Sandals Royal (or Sandals Montego Bay where I heard they are just as bad) for one primary reason, the surfboard vendors who were extremely intrusive. We would consider another Sandals resort because of some of the pluses mentioned below, but never stay again at this one. From reading other reviews, I thought that the vendors were at the edges of the resort or perhaps would paddle by occasionally, which would not be that unusual or intrusive. This is far from the case. They dock their rafts on every jetty, pavilion, pier, etc. on the resort, set up camp, and yell constantly at the guests (if not too high to function at all). Imagine stoned, loud, used car salesmen on surfboards 20 feet away from you for your entire vacation (day and night) and you have an image of these wretches. Anyone who said that they were not a big deal is misleading you ... they were a huge nuisance ... unless you wanted to buy some weed then I guess they were pretty convenient … many guests did buy their smoke from them ... I guess the venders toking up obviously in broad day light was part of their marketing. To make matters worse, they seemed to accepted by security who were asleep half the time and hanging out with the vendors the other half.

Food – The food at Sandals Royal was average to above average.

Dinner - When able to visit the restaurants for dinner (we visited the Royal Tai, Tokyo Joe’s at Sandals Montego Bay, and the Pavilion); the food was generally above average, not outstanding by any measure, but okay. We were forced to eat at dinner buffets two nights (essentially all other restaurants were closed) and the food was just plain bad. I can only describe it as greasy, over-cooked slop.

Lunch – The lunch buffet was actually better than the dinner buffet with a few scattered good choices among more greasy slop including the jerk chicken which was very good. As an alternative to the buffet was the Beach Grill, which while it had a very limited menu, the food was generally good, but not outstanding. The one exception was the burgers, which were odd.

Breakfast – Breakfast was once again a mediocre buffet, but there was an omelet / egg station, which generally good. This combined with fresh fruits made for an adequate meal.

Room Service – We opted to upgrade our room to concierge level, and had room service. The room service menu was extremely limited (basically the beach grill menu) and was generally inadequate for anything other than a snack. It was embarrassingly limited if compared to higher caliber all inclusive such as Grand Lido San Soucci.

Drinks – I like to drink on vacation ... early and often. The drinks were fine, no real complaints, other than inconsistency in the choices from bar to bar. (The pool bar on the island, especially, had a very limited selection). The bartenders were great, especially Sonia at the Beach Bar, who seemed to memorize the drink of choice for all the guests. Ask for top shelf (not really top shelf but not rail drinks either) and the bartenders were more than happy to oblige.

Room – Our room was on the third floor of the Kensington building and it was very nice (actually arguably nicer than the one at the Ritz). Very modern, nicely decorated with nice touches like the Jacuzzi and mini-bar. I would highly recommend to the Kensington Building. The only downsides to the building were the noise in the rooms (the tile floors throughout the building seemed to amplify noises such as door closings, etc) and the relatively long walk to the nearest bar. There was a quiet pool, hot tub, and beach right in front of the building, which were nice but then again a hike to the nearest bar.

Beaches / Pools / Island - The pools were very clean and the beaches were small but well maintained. The only complaint here is the vendors on the beaches were terrible (see above).

Check In / Out – Very smooth, one of the better experiences that I have had at any resort. The concierge check-in had its own check-in which was very nice, but regular check in appeared to be just as painless.

Activities – The playmakers seemed fun, but we like to drink and chill on vacation, not play games. The playmakers stayed around the Main Pool, which we avoided because of them. Although we did not take advantage of it, there were plenty of water sports for the active types.

Construction - There was major construction on the lobby during our stay, which would not have been that bad execpt they never stopped, day and night. The saws and hammering ruined every outdoor meal and even continued through the nightly outside entertainment. Very inconsiderate of management to allow this.

Bugs - As others have mentioned there are bugs in Jamaica, so bring spray. Sandals trys to minimize them, but they are still there. (We went offsite for the wedding and the bugs were much, much worse.)

Cats - We saw two cats at the resort, but they seemed very tame, almost like resort pets. If the cats were the only intruders at the resort, we would have been very happy.

Fellow Guests - I was pleasantly surprised with the manners of the other guests at the resort. I must admit that I am a bit of a redneck, but I have been shocked at the behavior of some fellow Americans while visting other countries. (The guests at Secrets in Punta Cana were particularly bad.) There were a mix of social classes, but besides for the sometimes not so discreet drug deals with the vendors, everyone was generally well behaved and respectful of their fellow guests.

Staff - I saved the best until last. The staff at this resort are incredible. Every employee at the resort was friendly and helpful. It was a difficult decision for us nominate our employee of the month, but finally we decided on Kirk, a well mannered waiter who always seemed to be working. We could have easily listed a dozen others who were equally as qualified. They must treat their employees very well at Sandals because they have the cream of the crop!

Again, the Sandals concept is great, but there are downsides to this resort that outweight the pluses. Please think very carefully before spending your hard earned money on this resort. The vendors are BAD, please listen to me on this one.

  • Stayed: December 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
26  Thank newtomd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 21, 2005

We have just returned from my first vacation out of the United States and my first flight. The Royal Caribbean Sandals was all that I hoped it would be and more. Normally I am overly organized on a trip and uptight about schedules and events. Not this trip. I didn't even unpack our suitcase until the third night!

Monica in the Gift Shop, go see her right away when you get there. Then you will understand how wonderful this place is. She hugs you and welcomes you and you feel like you've been there a million times. Also, Chad the Playmaker was very friendly and has WAY too much energy! Everyone makes you feel so comfortable and welcome.

We had a beachfront concierge room which was in the Kensington Block, Room 122. It could not have been more perfect. Literally four steps aways from our patio door on the first floor was the sand and the ocean. Crabs and Peacocks came around our porch as well as a visit from one of the resort kitty cats. I love cats so this did not bother me one bit. They are very clean and friendly and I only saw two of them. One of them is very old, deaf and has arthritis in its legs, poor thing. I even watched the little orange and white one catching fish in the morning on the beach in front of our room.

The room was absolutely perfect. The decoration of the room and the quality of the linens and towels were wonderful. The bed was so comfortable that we didn't even want to wake up. We even took naps during the day because it was so comfortable.

There are so many choices for food that you will never want for a thing. The food that we had was like eating at a four star restaurant. Because we had the concierge room we were able to have room service delivered to our room whenever we wanted it. We had New York Strips delivered to our room at least three times while we were there and breakfast was delivered every morning as long as we filled out our order and put it on the door the night before.

My boyfriend and I did not do any of the activities but there was a lot to do. We just wanted to relax, especially me as I had just finished college and needed to rest. But they would play outburst by the pool in the afternoon and do waterarobics. They had volleyball, glass bottom boat rides and snorkeling and windsurfing and it was all included. We plan to do more the next time we go.

The fitness facilites were wonderful as well, my boyfriend and I used them twice while we were there to get rid of some of the calories we were loading up on. The Fitness instructor was always around if you needed anything and their machines and weights were very clean.

We are all ready saving for a trip there next year. We want to try and get the same room because it was just perfect. But from what I have heard from the other guests they have other rooms that are bigger and you can get your own personal butler. One couple that we met said they could almost play basketball in their bathroom! If anyone recognizes us and would like to contact us please do. We met two nice couples there, Jack and Diane from Oregon and Jessie and Cheri from Decatur but did not exchange information with them and I wish that we had. Maybe we will see them again next year when we go.

Relax and do not stress about negative reviews from before. Those people must have been extremely unhappy and unable to enjoy themselves. Ya Mon!

Also, the vendors can get annoying but they are not so bad if you just ignore them after awhile they will not bother you as much. One of them sang a song while swimming by that cracked us up, "My sweetheart and my wife should never be friends." They are great people and also friendly. Another one said to me a little poem, "In the land of Irie, we are all family."

  • Stayed: December 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
13  Thank akwjac1205
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Laurel Springs, NJ
14
Reviewed December 21, 2005

Sandals Royal Caribbean
Montego Bay, Jamaica

Lush and intimate-we are always pleased to come to our "home away from home." It seems there are always improvements happening at the Royal-making each stay more comfortable than before. I was impressed with the new spa amenities, and pleased to see the upgrading of some of the older room blocks and the highly anticipated new photo center. Construction in the main foyer area was a little noisy, but will be worth the outcome.

The lobster dishes were really succulent. As always, the staff remains pleasant, courteous, and eager to assist. You forget you are just visiting-you feel welcomed like family.

I can't wait to go back!

4  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
NEW JERSEY
12
Reviewed December 21, 2005

We have just returned from a trip to Sandals Royal Carribean =dates dec. 1 to dec. 13. We had the best time ever because the staff at this resort is beyond just friendly,from the general manager, Randal Wilkie to the assistant managers Simon Azan and Audrey Crooks to sales manager Leighton Josephs, we liked to thank them as well asMarina,Narda,(Restaurants)Donovan,Robinson(robby),Janice,Garfield,Tracey Ann,(Maintainance)Ruddy,Sloley,Raffael,IN F&B-VERNA SONYA, ALBERT, AND THE REST OF THE BARTENDERS,POOL ATTEND. NEVIL,Entertainment dept. Evrod,Garfield,Paulette,Anna Kay,Jason,Chad,and so many I don't have the time. It's like being with all your best friends and family but they are all waiting on you, serving your every need and whim.We din't want to leave. The food was fabulous. The quality of the food was incredible and the quantity beyond compare. This property HAS A 4PM TEA TIME, where tea and coffee are served along with sandwiches,fruits,delicious cookies, cakes. We didn't miss one AFTERNOON TEA.This property is so nicely layed out, easy to get from one end to the other.there are multiple pools,the main pool with a walk up pool bar.I could go on and on.

THANK YOU ALL AND A "BIG UP" to all the staff for a wonderful and unforgetable time.
AL AND DENISE CHRISTINZIO

2  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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