My husband and I have just returned from an 11 day stay at Sandals Inn. The holiday started perfectly – a great flight from Gatwick with Virgin – complete with complimentary champagne and cakes/fruit – a lovely surprise from the flight attendants who discovered we were honeymooning . Let’s say we’re not typical ‘honeymooners’, being in the ‘mellow’ age group, but we were really touched by the gesture, and it was a brilliant start to what became a fabulous holiday! Can’t say the same for the flight home, but that’s not part of this review! The negative comments will definitely be addressed to Virgin! Anyway, I digress.....
I emailed the hotel before we arrived to say how much we were looking forward to visiting Jamaica, our first Sandals experience, and our first ‘Jamaican smile’. On arrival we were checked in by Dalton – he didn’t ask if we would like a drink, instead he had arranged for two Jamaican Smile cocktails for us – obviously had read my email! Lovely personal touch and I just knew we were going to have a great time!
The room: We booked a ‘deluxe’ room and were thrilled to find we had been upgraded to a ‘premium’ room on the second floor with a balcony – room 203. The room was spotless, beautiful ‘kissing swans’ in towel art on the bed...the first of many – an elephant, a frog, a stingray, a shell, hearts....the list goes on, and all decorated with flowers from the garden, and we had a ‘turn down’ service every night. The curtains are ‘blackout’ so early light doesn’t intrude if you want to sleep on. There’s a full length mirror and another over the dresser. Hey, that’s an important detail!! Lol. We had room service breakfast on our balcony every day....there was a great choice, and always delivered on time. Even a complimentary honeymoon breakfast 3 times during our stay....champagne plus extra items not on the usual breakfast menu. Very romantic and appreciated. Room service was great, delivered quickly (usually!) and always with a smile. No-one EVER hung about waiting for a tip, though it would have been the ideal opportunity to ‘hint’. We honestly never felt pressured into tipping, and didn’t witness any other guests doing so. We got to know a lot of the staff quite well, though not nearly all of them as there are 72 staff members. Not a bad staff/guest ratio considering there can only ever be 104 guests if the hotel is at full capacity! The bathroom was dated, though perfectly clean, lovely soft brilliant white towels, and plenty of them. We had no problems with the water temperature or pressure though i know some guests did on occasion have a cooler than expected shower! Maid service daily and our room always smelled fresh, no hint of mouldiness as has been said. Fabulous 6’ comfortable bed.
The Food: Great breakfasts and plenty of choice. Lovely lunches and dinners at the Bay Window.....the menu changed every day and always included soup, appetisers and salads, and several entrees. Great jerk chicken, patties, fajitas, nachos, sandwiches, burgers and fries at ‘Nibbles’ snack bar. A couple of times a week the bay window serves ‘buffet style’. Again beautifully fresh salads with homemade coleslaw and potato salad, mains like goat ‘stew’ (curry), pasta and meat sauce, a fish dish, honeyed ham, bbq chicken, fried rice, steamed vegetables and the like. Not a huge choice by other resort standards,but remember this is a hotel with only 52 bedrooms, not hundreds of rooms like larger resorts. And you always have the option to eat at some of the restaurants in the other Sandals properties. We thoroughly recommend ‘Le Jardiniere’and the Royal Thai at the Royal Caribbean, and the Bayside at Mo Bay. I heard good reports about most of the restaurants, just didn’t have the time (or the capacity!) to try them all. Next time..
The food at the Carlyle restaurant at the Inn is delicious We waited until our last night to eat there, and I had a delicious appetiser of chicken and melba toast, and the best (and most tender) Steak Dianne. This was the only time I was disappointed in the service. Our server was a trainee and not at all friendly or gracious, though she did keep our glasses topped up! Dessert was flambéed ice cream and fruits....everybody else had blue flames when theirs was served, but our server just said “no blue flame, sorry” and walked away. We were the last in the restaurant and it was obvious they just wanted to finish up.
Back at the bar the assistant manager, Lisa, asked if we enjoyed our meal so I told her about dessert. Next thing we knew, she had Elvis bring me another dessert, poured Sambuca on and set alight to it!! What can I say....what service! And though I was full, I had to eat it....lol.
The Staff: Amazing people. Elvis, Omar and Antoinette at the Bay Window.....and Orlando who delivered crackers and cheese and glasses of champagne to our room after discovering I loved cheese. Narda and Guion, the ‘playmakers’, though sadly Guion has now left. Roy who maintained the pool and thrashed us at volleyball (he cheats!!! – lol) Kevin the gardener who cut off bits of aloe vera to ease our sunburn....the great guys at the bar – Dacre, Omar, the ‘Wolfman’ (Kenneth), and Jonathan...bad, bad man....his B52’s ensured a sound sleep on our last night! La Toya at the reservations desk, our housekeeper Desmine, The lovely management staff – Lisa, Mark, and of course Ms Cheryl Brown, the lady who keeps it all together. Numerous others whose names escape me, but as I said, there are 72 of them! You all deserve credit and I apologise for those i can’t remember! Blame it on the bartenders.....lol. Oh, and definitely no watering down of the drinks!
Entertainment: Varied......an Elvis impersonator with a great personality, a pretty good magician, the house band, great singers, including Jamaicas ‘Neil Diamond’ ???? Well, he sang Sweet Caroline...and was pretty good actually! Lol. Sounds a bit ‘cheesy’ but you had to be there! On our last night we were totally enthralled by ‘Silver Bird’, a fantastic steel band. There were 16, all people in their late teens or twenties. They were unbelievable...amazing energy, brilliant impromptu dance routines – both in front of and behind the drums! Catch a show with them if you can......wait til you hear ‘Suicidal’ or ‘Bleeding Love’ played in steel.....astonishing!
Every brochure I’ve seen points out that the Inn DOES NOT have a private beach, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Contrary to some reviews though, the beach is perfectly clean and safe. A little on the small side but never crowded. Local people bring their children to learn to swim. A couple of vendors but they’re only trying to make a living and we witnessed no aggressive behaviour from them or anyone else on the beach. The only irritating thing was the people who had to show off their latest car alarm.....several times! It did disturb us but thankfully was really bad only on one Saturday/Sunday night. And we had the whole of the next day to recover! Sometimes loud music from the cars, and occasional drilled out exhausts! But certainly didn’t go on 24/7 as stated in some reviews. This is out of the Inn’s control though, and it must be just as irritating for the local families on the beach. The road outside is a ‘dead end’ so the only people using it are the beach visitors and other guests! Also, again contrary to another reviewer, there are 40 rooms facing the pool/beach area, so another 12 overlook the gardens and would not be subject to the beach/road noise or music. Your choice, but it wasn’t an issue for us at all.
My husband says i can talk for Scotland, and given the length of this review he has a point! So thanks to everyone, the Staff, other guests we met – from America, Malta, England and Scotland - we feel like we’ve made a host of new friends and have already booked to return in December!
Am happy to answer any questions – just remember....we had a great time.....and I can talk!!! lol
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- •A romantic, intimate atmosphere with personalized service.•The real Jamaican experience; Jamaican smiles and attentive service to make you feel at home instantly.•Small in size yet big on charm and large in value.•Close proximity to Montego Bay 'Hip Strip', where you will find duty free shopping, restaurants, bars and clubs.•24 hour room service for all room levels.•Butler service available for our newly renovated, top category room, the Carlyle Club Ocean View Penthouse.•Complimentary shuttle bus to Sandals Royal Caribbean and Sandals Montego Bay “Stay at one play at three”, where you can enjoy eighteen dining experiences.•Voted Sandals “World's Leading All-Inclusive Company” 16 years in a row.•Voted “Caribbean's Leading Hotel Brand” 18 years in a row. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sandals Carlyle Hotel Montego Bay
- Sandals Hotel Montego Bay
- Sandals Inn Jamaica
- Sandals Jamaica
- Sandals Montego Bay
- Sandals Inn Montego Bay