We really enjoyed our stay at Sandals Grand Riviera in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We were prepared for the hour and a half bus ride from the air port to the resort. The staff at the airport was very accomodating and allowed us to take quite a few beverages per person onto the bus for the ride. We also had a pit stop for bathroom and to purchase more beverages if people wanted. So, we made the most of the trip with the people on the bus and watching the scenery.
When we got to the resort, check in was easy. We were greeted with champagne and warm smiles! We were even able to make a reservation at Kelly's Dockside for dinner one evening which is supposed to be for Butler guests only.
Our room was on the beach side of the property and was quite nice. It was one of the bungalow rooms rather than a room in what looked like the big hotel like building. Our bungalow had a nice tropical view and everything in it we could want. We even asked to have a couple of beers put in the fridge for the next day and they accomodated. The one downer was that the AC was not working when we got in. We called the desk and they were quick to get someone up there to fix it and it was cool in a matter of a couple of hours. The fix lasted until our last day when we noticed the AC wasn't working very well again. So, slight bummer there, but for most of our stay the AC was wonderful in our room.
Our first night we enjoyed the candlelight dinner on the beach. It was so worth the money to have the memory of that beautiful evening, the impecable service, and the wonderful food. We had a photographer do a sunset photo shoot with us on the beach and he got tons of great shots (Thanks Ralston!).
For the most part, we started each day at the breakfast buffet at the Bayside with the made to order omelettes and a ton of other food. I was even craving a steak for breakfast one morning and the waiter actually had one made up for me special.
We spent most of our days hanging out at the Ochi Beach Club either on the beach or at the pool where there is a swim up pool bar. The staff at the beach club was great...and accomodating as was the theme at the whole resort. They learned your name and your drink and made you feel like you were home!
We had lunch at the Bayside once and at the Mariner the other days. Both were good. We had dinner at the Bayside, the Reef Terrace, Neptune's, Kelly's Dockside, and Soy. The Reef Terrace and Kelly's Dockside were awesome. We really enjoyed the food and the view. Neptune's and Bayside were fair...maybe I just didn't order the right thing, but my husband enjoyed them. Soy was the absolute BEST!!! We could have eaten there every night...and actually did go there for appetizers before hitting dinner elsewhere a couple times. The wait staff at Soy was so much fun and always remembered us! Absolutely LOVED that place!
We did the Dunn's River Falls catamaran excursion and it was a blast! It was overcast and rainy for the snorkeling so that wasn't my favorite part, but the hike up the falls and the booze cruise back was super fun! We also did the River Tubing and Ziplining excursion. We have never been ziplining so it was a good first time. The tubing was beautiful and relaxing. If you get cold easily, bring a long sleeve rashguard or something a little thicker. I was chilly...husband was not.
We did the complimentary 15 minute photo shoot and got tons of great picutres. They will work with you on the packages. It was hard for us to exclude any of the pictures from our stay!
Note...there are LOTS of stairs and we did a lot of walking everyday to and from the room. I saw older notes about slippery pavement and they are working on getting all the sidewalks re-done so they have some traction. We didn't have any problems.
Another note...we did NOT do the butler service. If you do the butler thing your suite is on the entire other side of an actual road...not just a road that's within the Sandals property. There is a guard gate and everything...and you have to get a shuttle or your butler to bring you to and from the beach side. Yuck. We met people who stayed in the butler rooms and they said they wouldn't have paid the extra money to do it had they really understood how it was set up. Also, it seemed like the Riviera (beach) side of the property was the fun, happening, young side. So, if you are looking for that kind of vacation...the Riviera side is for you...and you don't need a butler. If you want to hole up in your suite with your private pool...and play golf...then you may really enjoy the butler service and the other side of the property.
Check out was as easy as checking in. The bus ride back to the airport wasn't nearly as fun as the ride to the resort...but that's to be expected at the end of a trip.
We had a great time and will definitely be returning to a Sandals resort again. It was a little pricy so we won't necessarily be going every year, but maybe every 5. We also have a little one so we like to vacation with him...and would think about maybe doing a Beaches resort with him when he's a bit older.
1) Soy should be open for lunch and dinner! We would have eaten sushi for lunch and dinner every day!
2) Add a few other wine choices to the house menu. Maybe a white zinfandel and/or a moscato. There wasn't anything sweet on the house menu.
3) Check AC in rooms the morning that people are checking in to ensure they are working and cooling.
4) Have the option of butler rooms on the Riviera Side.
- 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 And Villa Golf Resort
- Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Hotel Ocho Rios
- Sandals Ocho Rios
- Ciboney Ocho Rios
- Sandals Ochi Beach Resort Jamaica/Ocho Rios