This was our fourth trip to Jamaica and we still love it. This was our second trip to a Sandals. Our first one was Negril and it was fantastic. This trip was for our 25th wedding anniversary and we were a little disappointed in the accommodations. We stayed on the beach side in the Riviera building which is beach front with an ocean view. We had a concierge level room on the 5th floor. The concierge staff was great and fulfilled our needs. This review is mostly around staying in the Riviera building and the beach side. We did visit the hillside a couple of times but that was to a restaurant and the Chocolate buffet. The shuttle drops you off at the main building and you can't see any of the accommodations from there so I can't comment on them.
The Riviera building definitely needs updating. It didn't ruin our trip but all the little things add up which will cause us not to return. They have done a lot of renovations on the hillside and they are now all butler suites. But we are beach people and wanted to stay on the beach side so I hope they start doing some updating there.
We had booked an "Ocean's Edge Honeymoon Beachfront Concierge Room" and was upgraded to the "Ocean's Edge Penthouse Beachfront Concierge Room". I am not sure there was any difference in the room other than we were on the 5th floor instead of maybe a lower floor. The room was kind of small with the furniture. Two people couldn't walk by between the bed and the cabinet that contained the flat screen TV and the drawers for your belongings. The TV had sliding wooden doors which didn't open up far enough to clear the whole TV so the screen appeared smaller than it really was. The lighting in the room was not very good especially the bathroom. It was very dismal lighting in the bathroom which made it hard to put make up on and do your hair. The water pressure in the shower was not very good. On the day we were leaving we had to get up early so I took a shower about 6:30 in the morning and I could tell the pressure was even worse. My husband went to take his about 7:00 and there was only a trickle of water coming out of the shower head. So he couldn't even take a shower which didn't start his day off right. We normally took showers after we came up from the beach in late afternoon so never had tried a morning one. The building must not be able to handle a busy time of water consumption. The beds sit up very high and that made it difficult for a shorter person to get in and out of bed without scraping the back of your legs jumping down to the floor. The balconies are kind of small so you have to be careful when opening the French doors so you don't hit the table. The doors are warped probably from the humidity so there very hard to close which makes it noisy to go in and out especially if your spouse is still sleeping. I like to sit out there in the morning and drink my coffee.
I know these are a lot of little things and you don't spend a lot of time in your room but for the money you spend staying at a Sandals I expected better. Isn't that one of the reasons you stay at a Sandals.
Now on to the beaches. As other reviewers have mentioned the beaches are small. They are broke up into 3 beach areas. The one end is down by where the water sports are and is nestled in the trees so it is very shady and very small. The middle section which I think is the nicest and probably has the biggest area. It has the pier/dock around the water which helps make the water a little warmer and is also rock free stepping out into it. The last section at the other end is where the beach club is with the pool. It also has a small beach area but is very rocky trying to walk out in the water. A lot of people turn back because of this. We had brought our water shoes so we would put them on to walk out into the water. But after a couple days we started using the middle section of the beach.
As other reviewers have mentioned this resort has a lot of stairs and isn't really handicap accessible. It reminds me of the Las Vegas strip where you walk up stairs to cross the street and then walk down stairs to get back on the sidewalk. The beach area is like this. When you come down from your room you walk down three flights of stairs to get to the middle beach. If you want to go to the beach pool from the middle beach you walk up 3 flights of stairs and walk back down to get to this beach.
The resort grounds are nice and well taken care of. The food is average and above depending on where you eat. The only place we didn't like was the pizza from Bella Napoli. It was all crust and wasn't even real pepperoni on it. I think it was some kind of sausage instead. We never tried Dino's pizza on the hillside maybe it was better. For the beach party on Friday night it was a buffet and was very good food and a lot of variety. As I mentioned above there was a chocolate buffet one night which was on the hillside and it was great. We didn't eat at the two restaurants that require evening attire (Valentino's and Kimonos) since were more casual people while we are on vacation. We did eat at Kelly's Dockside which requires reservations and the food was very good. The portions are small but there are several courses to the meal so you don't leave there hungry. Other reviews have mentioned that Kelly's is now only for people with butler rooms but they do have some times reserved for the concierge rooms also. You just make the reservations through the concierge staff. I would advise doing that upon arrival because they do fill up fast.
We had a good time and it was nice and relaxing and the staff is great but we will probably not return to this resort for the above reasons.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- •Situated on over 100 acres of lush hillside gardens overlooking the Caribbean Sea•529 villas, luxury rooms and suites with fantastic mountain and ocean views•94 pools (7 large public pools), 22 whirlpools•16 dining options including room service for butler serviced suites•2 luxurious Red Lane Spas•Complimentary golf at Jamaica’s most elite and popular golf course, the Sandals Golf & Country Club (Transfers to the golf course are included)•Over 5,000 sq. feet of first class meeting and conference facilities•Recently completed US$60 million renovation/refurbishing exercise•Voted Sandals Resorts “World’s Leading All-Inclusive Company” 16 years in a row•Voted Sandals Resorts “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand”, 18 years in a row•Voted Sandals Grande Riviera ‘Jamaica’s Leading Resort’ ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Hotel Ocho Rios
- Sandals Grande Riviera Beach And Villa Golf Resort
- Sandals Ocho Rios
- Ciboney Ocho Rios
- Sandals Ochi Beach Resort Jamaica/Ocho Rios