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“Our 7th Sandals trip and the best one to date!!!”

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Sandals Ochi Beach Resort
Ranked #6 of 35 Hotels in Ocho Rios
Level 5 Contributor
63 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
“Our 7th Sandals trip and the best one to date!!!”
Reviewed August 14, 2014

We had the pleasure of staying at the Grande Riviera from July 26 - August 2 (not nearly long enough) on the Butler Villa side. Despite this being our 7th Sandals trip, and 7th time to Jamaica, this was, quite honestly our best experience yet. To break it down in sections:

First, the food in general was by far the very best we've had of all our trips. Our last visit to the Grande was prior to the extensive additions, so we were impressed at the expanded selection of restaurants. The breakfast and lunch selection were all excellently prepared, and the variety was great. Just about every dinner we had was delicious and we were thrilled to hear that we made it to Sabrina's during lobster season.
Soy? Wow! Fantastic sushi (and considering it is not to the Jamaican taste we were impressed with the quality!)
The returning guest dinner was also the best we've had (and since we don't eat meat we were very excited that it was a fish dinner!) In addition to the food,the entertainment was great and the energy at the dinner was really high which added to the evening.
The only dinner that wasn't up to par was surprisingly at Kelly's! I hear from our friends that travelled with us, the filet mignon was excellent, but my husband and I were not impressed with our dishes and the waiter was probably the first Sandals employee to tell me not to get what I ordered (in fact he made a face when I asked for it), and tell my husband he couldn't have a salad and an appetizer! He was not attentive either and we were without wine refills for some time.

As always, the steel drum band and talent show were a blast, and the chocolate buffet never disappoints. I was saddened to see the lack of other entertainment hosted on the Villa side though; this may have been based on occupancy and it being the off-season maybe? We missed a good bit of the daytime and evening activities and entertainment though since we didn't feel like travelling to the beach side. Don't get me wrong though -- this did not impact our overall trip in any way! Just something I wanted to mention.

The management team here is impressive. They are always present, quick to respond, personable, and very guest-focused. In particular, Caren and Tamon, who we've known from prior trips always ensure a positive experience and are one of the reasons we chose to come back to the Grande this year! Tamon even made it a point to seek us out on our arrival day to be sure to welcome us back in person, despite his crazy schedule. That definitely started our trip out "right." Mr. Roper is approachable and always visible throughout the property. His leadership really shines bright at the Grande.

The staff is absolutely, positively amazing. Some definitely rose above the crowd and I hope that they are appropriately recognized for their outstanding service.

Butlers Marvin and Ricardo - there is no way I can put into words how fantastic they were. We do not utilize the butler service as heavily as many do, and these guys found just the right balance with us to be helpful but not "in our face." They really learned our preferences and desires within the first day of our trip, frequently surprising us with a delicious lunch treat that we didn't even know we wanted! They were prompt to respond, always available, and their personalities are amazing. We had so much fun getting to know them, and them us, and just chatting and laughing with them. To be honest, I fully believe that they made our trip everything that it was and I don't think it would have been the same without them (still amazing, but not our #1!) In addition, Melissa, who is training to be a butler accompanied them some nights, after she'd worked all day at the Beach Club! Upon my first interaction with her I knew she was a great fit to be a butler! Her personality is exactly right, in addition to her willingness to help and her ability to also get to know my likes/dislikes as quickly and willingly as she did. I sincerely hope that she is able to successfully finish her butler training and move into this role as I know she will make a great addition to the butler team under Tamon.

Playmakers Romario and Jason - again, I can't put into words how fantastic they were. I wish we'd met them both earlier in the week, but we were thrilled to be entertained by them for our last 4 days. They made all the pool activities incredibly fun and entertaining, encouraged participation, and got to know us really well. They were somehow able to spend the day with the tons of other guests at the Great House pool area, but still make us feel like we were the only ones they were entertaining - talk about talent! I know the Playmakers work long hours, and have to deal with some crazy guests and their requests, but these two had a smile on their face no matter what time of day it was, and always came through on the planned activities. Again, these two made our trip the #1 that it was.

Bartender Kirk - Great House pool - very infrequently do we come across a Sandals bartender that truly carries the Sandals spirit of service. Kirk is the exception. We were drawn to him our first day and requested drinks specifically from him because of not only the better quality, but also his creative twists in ingredients and more importantly the personable service he provides -- always smiling, getting to know the guests, etc.

By the end of the week, we considered these 5 employees "friends." They made lasting impressions on us that we'll keep close forever and reminded us of why we love Sandals so much.

Chef Arturo - Soy - the entire Soy experience was great and we loved being able to watch Arturo make our order fresh (which as I mentioned was delicious). In addition, we loved being able to talk with him and he was more than happy to discuss his creations with us and take a few minutes to converse between orders.

Interns - Sara Minott and Toni Lewis - I didn't realize how many interns Sandals employs but we were fortunate enough to get to know these 2 young interns, ripe for a future career with Sandals. They were so willing to tell us about what brought them to Sandals, get to know us at the SSG dinner, and then after only spending a couple hours with us that one night, recognize us in the following days, remember our names and what we chatted about, and spend some more time with us.

This vacation was truly an amazing experience from beginning to end and I cannot recommend this resort enough. From the delicious food, to the beautiful grounds, and to the truly spectacular staff you will be blown away. We are already counting down the days until our return trip next year!!!

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2 Thank krazykevy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
Reviewed August 13, 2014 via mobile

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. ;)

General Property
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...

Fun entertainment
Friendly staff
Beautiful property
Various free activities
All Inclusive

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. >_<!

Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
2 Thank paperie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed August 13, 2014

I loved this place a lot! The grounds were gorgeous and the food was the best I have ever had in a resort and there was not one single dish that wasn't perfection. The staff wore costumes that matched the nationality of the food and every dish was clever, well done and unique. there were butlers who came around the pools with coffees on silver trays, angels with feather wings that offered, beer, and the fabulous turquoise ocean. Certainly a class act in so many ways and the staff were alway so nice to us.

the airport access was a two hour trip. sigh. customs in Jamaica is slow slow!! we were exhausted when we arrived. I also found that the bus drivers got upset that I didn't tip them (it was included and I never thought that through. Then, only had travellers cheques and they were snarly about that. These are not Sandals staff as such. Note to self, bring simple dollar bills next time). I had to run and fight to get my bag away from a guy who was rolling it to his bus and I didn't know who he was. he was doing it for the tip after I had brought it a long long way already, he wanted to get the last 100 feet in. he twisted to keep me from reaching for my baggage and I didn't know who he was. Be prepared to be firm. it's not a sandals thing but Jamaica in general.

Using the bus to get to the second half of the resort was a big pain as it didn't come regularly and sometimes was a good 25 mins wait. The grounds are large which would be hard if you had mobility issues. You could be a half hour getting back to your unit if you were not he other side. But everything is beautiful and it didn't pour on us so I never minded. The shops were better appointed than most resorts and the items were interesting enough to make me actually want to buy something.

The cat situation was just awful awful awful and the staff got quite aggressive if you threw scraps to them. They need to be spayed/culled or else damn well fed and taken care of. They are blind, covered in sores, pitifully thin, they come crying to you and you can tell they are really hurting. Fights are in the bushes all the time in the night near the restaurants, and no wonder. The hideous state of the cats was enough to weigh in my mind as large as the otherwise wonderful time.

And it was the best resort i have ever been to, indeed.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with family
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3 Thank Heather M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed August 13, 2014 via mobile

Most beautiful, exciting, exhilarating, adventurous, romantic- I can't say enough about this resort!! There are so many emotions I have in my body and I've been back home 3 days now!! I'm still feeling blown away by the beauty...The attention to detail....The feel....The smells...The people...The culture! Just go see for yourself!! I don't know what else to say...I was there 6 days and hated to leave. Love, Love, Love this place! Thank you for my beautiful ceremony.

Stayed August 2014, traveled as a couple
7 Thank Trena D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Markham, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed August 13, 2014

This is a couples resort for that quiet getaway. We stayed in a Riviera Honeymoon Beachfront Club Level room facing the ocean. Everything in the building and room was really clean. No bugs and not even any mosquitoes to be found anywhere on the grounds or in the rooms. I'm not used to staying at such a quiet resort. It seemed like there was more staff than guests. The service was great and I especially like the Sandals no tipping policy as it makes everything easier.

The food was the best resort food that I've ever had although it's still a notch below food from a cruise. There were 15 a la carte restaurants to choose from and all of them were pretty good. My only gripe about the food is that it's geared towards North American palates. I don't blame them but personally I'd rather have authentic food. The jerk looked authentic but it didn't taste authentic.

With regards to activities, there's really not too much going on in the resort. The Beach was nice but pretty small. Unlimited water sports is great to stay active. There were schedules for activities such as beach volleyball or the rock climbing wall but no one was ever there, which is unfortunate since I love my sports.

Location-wise, it's a little too far from the airport for my liking. Almost a 2 hour drive to and from Montego Bay. This cuts significantly into the resort time. However, it is closer to tourist haunts like Dunn's River Falls so that could be a plus if taking excursions.

Still these are some small cons as overall it was a really relaxing experience and gave us time to reconnect as a couple.

Room Tip: If you like activity, choose the Riviera Beachfront side. Everything pretty much goes on in that si...
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  • Stayed August 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
6 Thank Mang L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Creedmoor, North Carolina
Level 4 Contributor
20 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed August 13, 2014

My husband and I spent a week at Sandals Grande Riviera 7/25 - 8/1/14. The resort is divided into 3 parts, all easily accessible. The Manor side has the large manor pool, 4 restaurants and a Red Lane Spa. This side of the resort has the hillside villas, where we stayed. We booked the 1 bedroom suite with shared pool and were very happy with our choice. Our suite came with butler service, free wifi, and room service. The suite was very nice, including a living room, kitchette and bedroom. The bathroom was a little dated as was the rest of the suite but clean and comfortable. We were on the 1st floor of the 2 story villa with a veranda. Just 3 steps down to our shared pool. Our butlers were Ray and Denton, both of whom were great. Always ready to pick us up with their golf cart and very helpful. The other parts of the resort are the Riviera and Ochi Beach Club. They were across a main road, which you could walk to or use the shuttle. The shuttle ran about every 10 minutes. We never waited longer than that. The Ochi Beach club has a pool, beach and 5 restaurants. The Riviera area included a beach, more restaurants, another Red Lane Spa, water sports, the Amphitheater and pool. Make sure to see the Silver Birds perform, they are awesome. The grounds are very pretty, well maintained and very relaxing. A fantastic staff, friendly and helpful. We rented a cabana one day at the Manor pool. It was a fun day with Odean and Odave serving us all day. I was celebrating my birthday and can't say enough about the great service we received. Our favorite restaurants were Reef Terrace and Bayside. All the food was fresh and presented beautifully. We loved the coconut shrimp from the beach grill. Never made it to 4 of the restaurants, planning our next visit to SGR to include the ones we missed. Manor pool is very large, lots of loungers, great pool bar. Ochi Beach Club pool is smaller and was more of a party atmosphere. We also enjoyed the Amphitheater pool, close to water sports. Snorkeling was good, included with your stay at SGR. The glass bottom boat tour, Captain Tim was very informative. A great vacation overall. Only negative is the 90 minute drive from the airport. We also used Club Mobay for arrival and departure and highly recommend both. We have already booked next year's vacation at SGR!

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Service
3 Thank savannah03
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Belcourt, North Dakota
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed August 13, 2014

We traveled with a group of ten people including couples, family, and friends! It was truely a breathtaking experience! We stayed in the Villa Butler Suites and had our own private pool. We met two amazing Butlers who treated us like family. The people at the resort we energetic, fun, and hospitable! I loved everything about SGR and Jamaica! I can't wait to soon come back!! My 30th bday will leave lasting memories!

Room Tip: I would definitely upgarde to the Butler Villa's. Can't go wrong with that option.
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  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with friends
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
1 Thank JPeltier
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

Property: Sandals Ochi Beach Resort
Address: Main Street | P.O. Box 771, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint Ann Parish > Ocho Rios
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 On the Beach Hotel in Ocho Rios
#6 Luxury Hotel in Ocho Rios
#6 Spa Hotel in Ocho Rios
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
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 & 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

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