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“Another Great Week At SGR!”

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Sandals Ochi Beach Resort
Ranked #6 of 35 Hotels in Ocho Rios
Reviewed July 21, 2013

About Us:
We are a married couple early 40's/50's. This was our 12th trip to Jamaica, 4th to Sandals Grande Riviera. We are Diamond tier Sandals Select members.

Arrival/Departure:
We pre-booked a private transfer from Montego Bay airport to Ocho Rios with Daina Taxi & Tours. We were met at the airport by a Daina representative and we were on our way just a few minutes after stepping outside the airport. Traffic was a bit heavier than we are used to seeing but our driver, Chef, did a great job getting us to the resort as quickly and safely as possible. See separate review on Daina Taxi for more details. We used Daina for the return trip as well which allowed us to leave almost an hour later than the Sandals bus. This gave us the opportunity to spend a bit more time next to our villa pool and have one last pizza from Dino’s before heading out. Overall, no issues with arrival or departure.

Accommodations:
Originally, we had booked in a Honeymoon Bougainvillea Hideaway Concierge Poolside Suite but between the time we booked and the time we traveled, Sandals upgraded all of the villa rooms to include butler service. When we arrived, we were upgraded to a Tropical Paradise Estate Poolside One Bedroom Butler Suite (Room 7302). We liked this room category very much. These rooms are located in the one-story villa buildings and this category has access to the patio from both the living room and the bedroom. This came in handy when we were lounging by our villa pool. The room was recently renovated along with the rest of the resort and we found nothing to complain about. We enjoyed the villa pool and used it several times during our one week stay. It is worthwhile to note that Sandals has once again changed all of their room category names for the villas so I cannot say for sure which of the new room categories these now equate to. Looking at the Sandals website, it looks like the category we stayed in is now called the Butler Village One Bedroom Poolside Villa Estate Suite – G1.

Food/Beverage:
We know that food is very subjective so please understand that these comments are simply our opinion. In general, we thought the quality of the food was very good. For dinner, we particularly enjoyed the ribs at the Manor House Restaurant, the steaks and festival bread at the Reef Terrace Restaurant, and EVERYTHING at China Doll (seriously…just order a small portion of anything that looks good on the menu – they are happy to accommodate). The food at Kelly’s Dockside was good but not as hot as we would have preferred and Valentino's was not as good as we had remembered it being. We were disappointed that we did not get the chef we had requested at Kimono’s due to a mix-up between our butler and the restaurant manager. It was the wife’s birthday and they had agreed to seat us at Tex’s table but by the time we realized there was a mistake, we were already through the first two courses so we decided to stay there for the rest of the meal. The chef we had was fun and the food he cooked was very good, we just would have had more fun if we had gotten Tex as our chef. Breakfast at China Doll (for butler categories only) was good but the service was very slow. Not a good idea if you have somewhere to be like a tour. The buffet breakfast was quite good so we never went back to China Doll for breakfast. Lunches were very good especially the pizza from Dino’s and coconut shrimp from Mariner’s Grill. Also, the self-serve ice cream at Mariner’s Grill was very good, not like the ice-milk type stuff you get sometimes on cruise ships or other places. Drinks were well made and the bartenders have no problem with special requests so just ask for what you like and they’ll take care of you. Unlike some previous Sandals visits, we didn’t seem to have to wait very long for drinks ordered at the restaurants. Donovan and Kenroy at the Reef Terrace Restaurant are a lot of fun.

Activities/Entertainment:
The only activity we attended was the weekly returning guest dinner. It was held in the ballroom on the Manor side of the resort and there were around 200 guests. They kept things moving and didn’t let the awards portion of the event drag on, which we appreciated. We found it interesting that they’ve scheduled the returning guest dinner on the same night as the chocolate buffet which means no dessert with dinner. Instead, you go outside to the chocolate buffet after dinner. It wasn’t too crowded when we got there and the various chocolate treats were very good so, in the end, we didn’t really mind that it was set up this way.
Red Lane Spa - We enjoyed a hot stone couple’s massage in addition to our complimentary 30 minute couple’s massage that comes with our Diamond status. The wife’s hot stone massage was very good but hubby’s was a bit lacking. It seemed his therapist was just learning the technique. She dropped the stones three times and didn’t really seem to know how to use them properly. However, hubby had the same therapist for his regular massage and she was very good. You can use the dry & moist saunas along with the plunge pools for free any time the spa is open.
Fitness Center – In the past, we have not used these facilities but, lately, we have been trying to improve our health. The weight room is split from the cardio room and both have all new equipment. Be aware, the air conditioning was not always on in the cardio room. During one of our visits, the heat was unbearable. We learned that there are wall switches on each end of the row of treadmills that turn the units on. That made the last visit much more comfortable.

Tours:
We did not do any tours on this trip but we were invited to lunch by the General Manager, Brian Roper, one day. He drove us and three other guests to Scotchies for jerk chicken and pork. In all our trips to Jamaica, this was our first time eating at Scotchies and we loved it. We’re very glad we got the opportunity to go with Brian, Megan, and Kareema.

General Comments:
The mosquitoes around our villa pool were very bad so bring mosquito repellant if you book a villa room and plan to sit out by your pool. We did not notice any significant saving of seats at the Manor pool but people were definitely hoarding floaties. We didn’t want one bad enough for it to matter all that much to us but we thought we would pass on the observation. And, lastly, we were disappointed in the degradation of butler services as a direct result of Sandals’ decision to upgrade all of the villas to include butlers. In the past, butlers were able to save seats at the pool or on the beach for their guests but, apparently, they can no longer do that because there are so many butler category rooms now. They also used to offer any unrented pool cabanas to butler guests for no charge but this is also no longer allowed. I am pretty sure that other Sandals resorts still allow the practice of saving seats so it is just disappointing that a decision by Sandals management has reduced the level of service the butlers can provide their guests at this resort. And, I get the feeling that it may affect the tips received by the butlers as well, which is unfortunate.

Overall, we once again enjoyed our stay and will surely be returning in the future. Sandals Grande Riviera has made its way near the top of our list of Sandals properties in Jamaica. Brian Roper does a fantastic job as General Manager and Kareema is a great Loyalty Manager.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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9  Thank sandylovnsandals
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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4,634 - 4,640 of 8,554 reviews

Reviewed July 21, 2013

Positives

Overall good experience. This resort emphasizes customer service. I have never had better customer service anywhere. Our butler villa was clean and had a lot of space. We were treated like we were special everywhere.

Negatives

The people who work on the boat for the Catamaran Cruise, drivers from the airport and one individual in the nail salon like to beg for tips too much. This is an all-inclusive resort. The idea is that everything is included. In addition, in the Spa you are charged a fee for service each time that you go. Therefore, no one should be asking or indirectly asking for tips.

Food

The food was mediocre. I only got fried plantains one day and I could not get any Jamaican soft drinks the entire time. Only one restaurant was open between 2:00-5:00pm. Which was awful. They should have more food choices during this time. I know that this resort is catering to a certain clientele, but it is also important to embrace Jamaican culture because after all you are in Jamaica. Jamaican food should be available all the time. Also, the fruit punch was watered down and did not have much color or flavor to it (although I found one place that got it right which I believe was the Caribbean Restaurant).

The best restaurant is Kelly's. All the food tastes great. The worst restaurant is the Caribbean Restaurant.

Butlers

I loved Stanford. He made my husband and I feel so special and apologized when Joseph messed up on something. However, Joseph was a bit more defensive and placed blame on other people for his mistake.

Maids

They kept the room clean but never left us a copy of the daily news. We had no idea what activities were going on. We didn't find out about this daily news thing until another couple told us on our last night there.

Room Tip: Stay on the beach side because you will have to take a shuttle back and forth which is time consumin...
See more room tips
  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Shara34227
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 21, 2013

The Sandals Grande Riveriera was an anniversary trip Jyly, 2013. The resort grounds were beautiful, but for a Sandals, it wasn't up to par! The hotel is older, the views are spectacular and the staff was courteous. Shuttles were great, and we did spend alot of time on the Villa side. We stayed in the Riveria building on the 4th floor. It was a smaller room, but we paid for the view! The food was okay, drinks were unlimitede and there was no reservations required. USE sunscreen! hahaha. We did the Mystic Mountain tour and it was great. Close to Sandals and was well worth it! Beautiful reviews.

Room Tip: If you want an ocean view, we stayed in the Riveria Building, 4th Floor!
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank chatawhyl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 20, 2013

For anyone going to Jamaica in June, bring 2 bottles of sunscreen as it is HOT everyday. My wife and I went to Sandals Grand Riviera from June 24-30. We stayed in a room in the Great House and the only con to it was it was the first room as you entered the hallway and was very loud as you could hear everything going on in the lobby. Other than that, the trip was amazing. Love everything that is included, and loved all the excursions that we went on as well. Everyone who works there makes sure you are taken care of and you get where you need to go. Definitely recommend getting a butler room, because if you don't you're on your own trying to get around and getting recommendations of what to do and where to eat.

Room Tip: stay away from any rooms that are close to the stairs or the lobby, it's loud.
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  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Brett O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 20, 2013

This is our fourth Sandals experience: La Toc in St. Lucia, Grand Antigua, Montego Bay and now the Grand In Ocho Rios. Despite the island or location, Sandals lives up to it commitment of luxury all inclusive. Yes, we read some reviews that do no align with our experiences, but are among the 85% that feel we received true value and a wonderful experience.

We stayed in one of the "Panoramic View Villas" which included butler service. Our particular villa was one of the furthest from the main pool area and a bit further from the beach, but honestly the quiet evenings and the hilltop view of the sea was worth the walk to the pool. The balcony and the villa's private pool and pool deck had absolutely fantastic views and privacy. The room itself consisted of a kitchenette area, balcony, sitting/TV room, bedroom and complete bathroom. All well maintained and the daily maid service was timely and excellent.

While we mention the walk (about 10 minutes) to the main pool, our butlers would gladly pick us up and drive us there via a golf cart whenever we asked. The wait was a mere 1 to 2 minutes.

The restaurants were all nice and most were outdoors or indoors, but opened to the outdoors. On occasions it was warm, but that is the Caribbean. In every instance, the food was nicely presented and very good. We're not big fans of French cuisine, but that dining experience was fine as well. The Soy Sushi bar was fabulous, followed by China Doll and Kelly's Dockside as favorites. The Italian restaurants were very good as well!

We've used the butler experience for each of our trips. With each, the experience improves. Perhaps we are better learning how to leverage our butler team as well. Kenesha and Devin, our team here were absolutely the very best of the 4 Sandals trips yet.

The main pool and pool bar were great. Lloyd the bar tender was one of the hardest working gentlemen of the trip. Loved those dirty banana drinks and red strip beer chasers!

If you are hesitant, do not worry! This resport is top notch!

Room Tip: The Panoramic View Villas offer quiet locations and the best views in the entire resort.
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank jmk5033
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 20, 2013

Got married on july 1st,decided to use sandals ocho rios for our honey moon.This is an amazing place to be no kids so its total peace of mind.as a business operator I train my staff,which am sure sandals do.I had a shocking encounter while at dinner,with a waiter and the supervisor in the presence of us guest,the supervisor was very rude and disrespectful to the staff.I was moved by this so I went and got his name kevon wright,I wanted to speak with him in person but after dinner he was already gone,I am not impress with the inhumane treatment of staffs.

  • Stayed: July 2013
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1  Thank nicnmike17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 19, 2013

Home Away from Home
My husband and I had the pleasure for the 7th time of staying at SGOR. We travelled with another couple who have stayed there now for their 3rd time. SGOR has become our home away from home, but not because we have been given the same villa for the past 5 years, but because of the staff at SGOR. Seeing alot of familiar faces from year to year in the staff, having taken the time to get to know them, along with their amazing way they remember you each time you return, has made us feel like we are family, not just guests of the resort. The warm friendly smiles and sometimes the welcome home hugs, from each staff member you come across, just makes everything IRIE! Caren Simpson Kerr and her concierge staff go above and beyond! During a (non resort medical issue) but a personal medical issue of a travelling companion, Caren and the resort staff pulled together surpassing any possible expectation in aiding our companion. Caren was on her way home when the resort gave her the message of our companions medical issue. Before we knew it, she had turned around, and was beside our friend, phone in one hand calling the doctor, and a two way radio in the other organizing our friends move to the clinic on site. AMAZING!!! Without going into too much detail, the compassionate and caring and medical aid given to our friend was OUTSTANDING!! We keep returning to SGOR simply because of the staff like Caren, are more like family. Having been there 7 times and with an abundant of friends who come with us and keep coming back as well has to speak for itself. There is simply nothing negative to say about this resort! Adrianna, the nurse, Sheena with security, Fabian Parris with the jitney service, Dr. Baker, and Mark one of the hotel managers...awesome people! On another note, Winston, the captain of the dive boat, Ricardo Henry the bartender at the Piano lounge, Natoya-hostess of the Manor/Market place restaurant, Leoni our maid in room 7560, Carry Ann who served us on the beach, Lemar our room drink stocker, Shadine and Chekera our Soon Come Back gals...all reasons we keep going back! The staff at Sandals Grande in Ocho Rios stand above and beyond any place we have travelled in the past...and SGOR is the only place we desire to go back to!! In conclusion, your trip is what you make it to be..DON'T WORRY BE HAPPY!!, All will be IRIE!! EXSPECIALLY AT SGOR!!

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Brenda F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sandals Ochi Beach Resort

Address: Main Street | P.O. Box 771, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint Ann Parish > Ocho Rios
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#3 Family Hotel in Ocho Rios
#4 Top resorts Hotel in Ocho Rios
#5 Romantic Hotel in Ocho Rios
#6 Luxury Hotel in Ocho Rios
#6 On the Beach Hotel in Ocho Rios
#6 Spa Hotel in Ocho Rios
Price Range: $102 - $1,026 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Sandals Ochi Beach Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 529
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

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