We normally do not stay at big chain resorts, but stayed for a friend's wedding. Bonus is they provide transportation and a waiting area at the airport with refreshments. The resort itself is over an hour away from the airport so make sure to pee before you leave! Halfway there, they stop at some random jerk chicken place... Not sure why they stopped bc it really wasn't a good tourist stop but at least you could go to the restroom.
The property is beautiful, and they had various entertainment throughout the week. As expected in Jamaica, the service can be slow and rooms were good. The big thing was I felt it was not as good as it should be for the amount of money we paid, especially with Sandals prices. However, most of my friends thought it was fantastic (so go figure)!
There were some hiccups with booking with the other guests (wrong rooms, wrong side of the resort), but I think it was more the travel agent's fault not the Sandals staff. At least the staff attempted to do what they could to resolve it. ^_^;
We booked the ocean front room, and we got a view of the ocean alright.. But I didn't realize it would also overlook the buffet restaurant below.... Some nights they played loud clubbing music down below until 1-2am.. so If you plan on sleeping early, don't book a room near the restaurants. Luckily we brought my handy sleep noise cancellation machine and that drowned most of it out. :) For it being "newly upgraded" there sure were a lot of unfinished touches like exposed light switches and outlets, and holes in the wall. We did not get a balcony... I guess you had to upgrade to a butler suite for that. However, the room was clean and met our needs. The AC was a bit tricky to figure out.. you have to use the little remote and not the AC panel on the wall to get it to turn up/down. My friends didn't know that and had apparently been sweating for a couple nights until I told them. ;)
The hotel grounds are pretty nice. The main thing I did not like is the fact that the resort is broken up into 2 sides. It can be a real long walk from one side of the resort to the other, which makes coordinating and meeting with your other friends a hassle if they stay on the other side. A road LITERALLY cuts between the 2 properties. This place is not handicap friendly at all so if you have trouble walking, There are a lot of stairs you need to go thru to get from one side of the resort to the other.
Also special note that the beach itself is pretty small.. One part is enclosed with the pier. So if you're looking for large beaches, this is not it. However, the water itself is good for snorkeling, you can see tons of fish and anemones. The water sports (kayak, paddle board) are free. One of they days they closed the entire side of the beach for a pay-event ("Blue"). It was a fundraiser for kids, and there were kids all over the beach. For a resort toting adults only, there were a lot of kids that day. I have no problems with kids or fundraising for kids, but don't alienate your other guests by kicking them off the beach and saying you need to pay to enter.. :( so basically you closed half of the beach for the regular guests...
Various free activities
Food was ok, but service can be real slow-don't be in a hurry!
Hard to navigate around the resort
Not handicap or sr citizen friendly
The wedding was beautiful but there were some hiccups:
1) they totally played the wrong music when the bride came down the aisle (pier). Doh.
2) bride purchased the video package with guest well wishes... They did not film everyone and the final video was not done completely.. Important parts were missing including the best man and MOH speech, even though we saw them film it, parts were mixed up.
3) the dance music was pretty hard core (felt like it was the DJ's preference).. I feel like they should at least mixed it up and stuck to the brides genre (she provided a playlist). No slow songs were played.
4) one of the staff accidentally stepped on and broke the grooms sunglasses (saw it happen) and did not let them know.. I feel like they should have at least told them. =\
The good thing about the wedding was the pier dinner was enjoyable and it looked very beautiful. The Sandals photos turned out nice.
Overall I had a fun time. Not a bad resort, but I can't justify paying that much to go back...but my friends disagree! despite their booking/wedding issues. I don't know.. maybe I've become a hotel snob. >_<!
- 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