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“Sand, Sun and Fun”

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Sandals Ochi Beach Resort
Ranked #6 of 36 Hotels in Ocho Rios
A TripAdvisor Member
“Sand, Sun and Fun”
Reviewed March 17, 2005

My husband and I (both in our early 30's) spent March 9th - March 16 at Sandals Ocho Rios. We were celebrating our aniversary.

I would first like to say that if you are expecting American standards, stay in America. Jamaica is a poor country and you will not be dining at the Ritz but I am sure the 5 pounds I gained while I was there will tell you that I was not malnourished.

I would like to respectively disagree with some of the opinions of the previous post.

The bus ride to Ocho Rios from the Airport was long but doing any research prior to leaving home should prepare you for that. A quick look at a map of Jamaica should give you a pretty quick clue. We did admit that this was not one of the best features of the resort but hey, we did choose to go there. We certainly could have chosen Sandals Montego Bay if we wanted to avoid this part.

When we did arrive, we were greeted warmly and handed a glass of champagne, a cool towel, and a bag filled with lotion, shampoo, conditioner and the ever important aloe. I thought it was a nice touch...especially the aloe which we did need. We were escorted to our room promptly and our room (on the manor side) was more than adequate. (cool, clean and comfortable)

On our anniversary, two Sandals T-shirts were delivered to our room with a note wishing us a Happy Anniversary. They do pay attention to details.

My husband SCUBA dived and said he saw really interesting marine life. The diving instructors seemed very capable.

We ate at the Manor restaurant, Orchids, the various Grilles, and the Italian restaurant at the beach club twice. We ate at the bufet for breakfast and once for lunch. All the food was good, some better than others but I think that a lot of that had to do with our tastes. Staff at the restaurants were friendly and helpful and since we were on vacation, we were not in a hurry. I did, however, witness many people being rude to the staff. It made me ashamed. Our waitress told us that they make approximately 5200.00 per year. It seems like too little money to be putting up nasty guests.

The beach was well groomed. It was not huge. I am not a big "beach person" and would rather spend my time near the pool but I did lounge on the peer with the breeze blowing reading my book one day and thought it was fantastic. (This is where the aloe came in handy)

I did feel that since the resort was now very large, there were activities that happened on the "other side" that I might have enjoyed and was a bit too lazy to get on the quick bus ride to attend. That, however was my choice.

In summary, a vacation is what you make of it. I cannot imaging being fortunate enough to get to go for free and then have the gall to complain.

As for our shuttle back to the airport, we did take a bit of the responsibility on ourselves and we asked Michael (really great guy) at the front desk the day before we left to make sure we were all set.

The bus arrived on time and they actually gave us the option to stop and take a break/get a drink and we said no. The airport was not a problem and at least it is enclosed (unlike the Dominican Republic where you wait outside to be checked in).

We had a fantastic time. We would highly recommend it!

  • Stayed March 2005
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19 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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London
Level Contributor
26 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
Reviewed March 12, 2005

We just returned from a trip to this resort and had a great time. However, this was not until after an initial room allocation in the Riviera side of the property which I would describe as an eighties nightmare and wholly out of sorts with the whole image that Sandals portrays. For example, the resort offers a "rose petals scattered in the bath tub and on the bed" deal. I would not have dreamt of allowing my wife to bathe in the bath that was on offer in the room. Not only was it ant infested, the bath was yellow and the taps crusty. The sink was also cracked. Not good, and in dire need of renovation. The TV was in a wooden case (last seen at my grandpa's house when I was 10) and I had to climb the "wardrobe" ie a wooden frame in order to work the air conditioning unit. "All you Need is Love" say Sandals. "All you need is a Refurb" I say.

That said, we were moved the following day over to the Manor side and located into a villa. We subsequently heard similar stories from others and even members of staff agreed that the guest accommodation down on the Riviera needed sorting out. The difference on both sides is incredible and we still find it hard to see how Sandals can offer such variance in standards of accommodation in the now one property. They should have closed both sides when refurbishing the Manor property.

Restaurants - great variety, always fresh. Valentinos - what is the booking system all about? Queue at 5.30pm for a table the night you want to eat. Why can't you just call from your room? The food was okay but I think it's the image of the queue every day that perpetuates the popularilty of this place more than the food itself ie Italians would cringe at the thought of spaghetti bolognese served with snapper which was the suggestion when I didn't want rice!! Anyway, this is just me being picky, my apologies. I just don't rate it "world class" as Sandals do, that's all, but then I wasn't eating in Italy.

We loved The Manor, great Jamaican/Carribean food, which is what we went for. Cooked well by people who know what they're cooking.

The huge pool by the Manor was popular and a great addition to the Manor side of the property compared to when it was the Ciboney hotel beforehand and you had to go to the beach club. We only wished they could have changed the music at the swim up bar a bit. The same tunes and reggae Britney does your head in a little after a day or two. Oh, and people reserving sun loungers at 7am - come on you British and Americans, this is what we avoid European resorts for!

Anyway, these are just contructive comments and minor. We read the reviews too, and were a bit worried, but as long as you avoid being accomodated in the Riviera until it's done up, this is a great place and great value. Enjoy!

  • Stayed March 2005
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Helpful?
11 Thank Jamma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed March 10, 2005

We arrived in Montego Bay at noon on Monday Feb. 28. We breezed through Customs in 10-15 minutes and made our way to the Sandals Lounge, where you can get a beer, mixed drink or pop. Our bus was ready to go after about a 15 minute wait. Our bus was new and modern with very comfortable seats. We enjoyed the 2 hour trip as it gave you a good snapshot of the country. They are building a new highway between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios so you are on new highway at some points and on bumpy narrow roads in between. We stopped for 20 minutes at Yow's rest stop. The rest rooms very very clean and modern. They had a small bar and a nice gift shop. It was very picturesque, right on the beach.
We booked a room in the Manor House but we were upgraded to a villa.
The villa had four self contained units. It was totally renovated with new tiles and very nice expensive looking furniture. We had our own pool that was shared between the 4 units. The fridge was stocked with pop on a daily basis.
The food was very good. The ala cart restaurants served small portions, but if you had an appetizer, main course and dessert, you won't leave hungry. We ate at most of the restaurants, but we liked the Market Place the best. It is buffet style with a very good selection for Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We spent a day in the town of Ocho Rios. The people were very nice and we enjoyed shopping for souvenirs. Two cruise ships were in town that day, and the town was busy. Would highly recommend going into town and spending the day there. We also spent a Day at Sandals Dunn's River. It has a very nice beach, and we spend some time water tryking. Food at restaurant was not as good as at Sandals Grande.
Service and staff are top notch. If you called the front desk for something, it would be there in 5 minutes. We went with two other couples . They stayed on the Riveriera side. We liked the Manor much better because everything is brand new. The new pool is fantastic.
We had a great time and would highly recommend Sandals Grande Ocho rios. We will come back again.

  • Stayed March 2005
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
18 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed February 15, 2005

My wife and I visited on January 14-21 2005. Trust me, I read every review and decided to see for myself. The resort is awesome, the employees are awesome, and the island is awesome. This was the most laid back and relaxing vacation I've ever been on. I am planning a return trip next year, and can hardly wait.

Please don't listen to the bad reviews, as they have been written by anal, old folks who can't have any fun (or at least smoke something to get over it! ---come on, its vacation!!)

Our Manor House Villa Suite was all brand new and in perfect shape, and we had a view (although distant) of the ocean. The food was good (not great), unless you went to any of the nice sit-down spots.

You must upgrade to the concierge level, this is a must. Just fork out the $500, you will not be disappointed. Tell Jody that Nathan said “High”.

  • Stayed January 2005
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank discohouse45
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lakeville
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed February 10, 2005

My wife and I had a great time on our honeymoon at SOR, jan 12-19. Here's some advice that could make your stay better.

First of all, if you have no patience, cannot go with the flow (their culture is to go with the flow), and let small inconveniences irritate you, Don't Go to SOR! I read too many reviews of people that complained about this place. We know 2 couples that are materialistic and high-strung and for them, we told them not to go. But for everyone else, we recommended Sandals!

Now, if you can relax and not get all worked up about a few problems, (i.e. a four hour busride to the hotel), you'll have a great time. Due to the merger of the two resorts, they still have some construction and organizational issues. Advice here is to ask 3 people the same question and hopefully get two of the same answers. Be proactive and polite and you'll get what you want.

Our checkin was terrible but we decided to put that behind us, along with the busride, and from then on we had a fabulous vacation.

We stayed in the Riveria building in the Luxury room, at the bottom of the room categories, but it was much nicer than others that were much more $$. The room was comparable to an avg holiday inn room. Remember, you're not at a 5 star hotel in the US. I wouldn't spend the money on a top level room, you only sleep and shower there.

Get to know the staff, sit and talk for a while. Couples with highest level rooms get first class treatment. For those of us who can't afford this and don't want a butler following us around, getting to know the staff is the way to go. Especially the bartenders. They've got some good advice. They'll also make your frozen drinks from scratch if you ask. If you want your drink strong, then ask. Shots, ask. We met many other couple while we were there, so one night we all got together at one of the hot tubs and the bartender gave us a few bottles of champagne and glasses. Oh yeh, if you've got an appetite, order a couple appetizers and a couple entrees for yourself.

I'd go to Valentino's early on in your stay so you figure out how to get in. That way you don't go on your last night and it just happens to "be full tonight."

If you go off the resort, don't give your name to any vender, they'll carve your name on something and try to make you buy it. A simple "no thank you" and walking away works well with many of the vendors.

We'll definitely go back to Sandals but will probably try Montego Bay for the larger beach and short bus ride. Feel free to email me with questions, I'd be happy to help.

Helpful?
14 Thank BossHog17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jersey shore
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed February 10, 2005

My husband and I just returned from Sandals Grande Ocho Rios. I was really worried about all the negative reviews, but I went with an open mind. We were there Feb 3-10. I will write about our experience:

We got through the airport with no problems at all. The bus ride was fine. We actually enjoyed the scenery and had fun talking to other couples we had met on the bus. We were greeted by the hotel staff, all very friendly and we were pleasntly surprised to have a two level upgrade! We had booked grand lux oceanfront and were upgraded to the fourth floor oceanfront with concierge service. Our room was very nice but not as luxurious as I thought it might be. The view was awesome. The ocean was beautiful. The only drawback was the construction of the pier. Some mornings I heard them start around 7:00 am! The maid service was great, we had fresh towels two times a day and a turn down service at night. I also left a note to see if I could have Red Stripe light and a bottle of chardonnay left in my fridge and it was there when I returned. Most of the staff were very friendly, we did encounter a few who were not. At one restaurant we were told that he had six kids and he did not want to be there. We all felt a little uncomfortable with his comments and his service. We were also told at a different bar that we must all be rich to be there and that he was not. We told him technically we were not rich, we had saved to go on this trip. But I can understand where he was coming from, after seeing how some Jamaicans live. Comments like this made us feel badly about having these people wait on us even though this is what we paid for. The restaurants were so so. Sometimes we had a pretty good meal, but were surprised how small the portions were. We finally figured out to order more, but we were questioned about it. My husband is not a big man and he usually left hungry. The quality of the food was not the greatest and believe me I am not used to fancy restaurants. We were not happy with the drink selections, the wine was not very good. We jokingly said; go to sandals and lose weight! Between the food quality and the stairs I know we didn't gain any. That was probably the worst part of the trip. On a happier note, we met some great couples. Hi Glen , Darcy, Jeanette, and Frank! We had a lot of fun with them. We also did the catamaran trip to Dunns River Falls. If you have time I highly recommend it. Sit in the net on the catamaran, we got a little wet but the water was beautiful! They stopped and let us jump in to snorkel on the way there . Climbing the falls was awesome, we had so much fun! On the way back we all jumped in for a swim and returned to the dock dancing and drinking rum punch. We also did the horseback ride to the beach through Hooves. I was a little nervous riding a horse, but the trip was awesome. The people there were so nice and informative I was riding a horse, no problem! At the beach we rested a little and then our group rode the horses in the ocean. The ride back up the mountain was so nice. I wore a bathing suit and board shorts and flip flops, next time I would wear tevas or something like that and I would also bring a towel to drape over the saddle. My legs were rubbing on the strap, bearable but a little uncomfortable. The talent show was also great. The playmakers are all so talented! So were some of the guests!
All in all we made it a great vacation. We thought the pools were a little too cold and the hot tubs were too hot. The ocean was beautiful, that is were we spent most of our time. We especially liked the Beach Club. The fast food there was good and we enjoyed sitting at San Gennaros during lunch with a beautiful ocean view. All in all we had a great vacation, not because of the food or the room, but because we were so relaxed and enjoyed each others company. The people of Ochos Rios were mostly friendly and were glad to share their knowledge of their country. I would love to return to Jamaica but maybe try Negril next time. I was not sold on Sandals properties, I think I would like to try something else next time.

Helpful?
10 Thank KristinG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed February 10, 2005

I just got back two days ago (Feb 8) and I had the time of my life there. When we arrived at the airport we were taken to the Sandals lounge and offered Red Stripe and only had to wait about 10 minutes for a bus. The bus ride was not that bad. I enjoyed it because you can see a lot of the country and people. Yes, it is bumpy and people do drive crazy there, but it just adds to the adventure. If you are not up to that, take a plane or hire a limo. We booked the cheapest room on the resort on the Riviera side (not an ocean view) off of the internet. When we arrived, it only took about 15 minutes to check in and we were whisked away promptly by a cart to our room which turned out to be a villa with semi-private pool on the Manor side. It was gorgeous!!! The grounds are gorgeous and very well maintained. The staff is very friendly and helpful. I loved the walk to and from the main Manor house to the villa each day. You could take a cart going by or call for one with no problem. From the villa you could see the ocean and there is lush plant life around and has nice smells and sounds. We both thought the food was great! Some people were complaining about it but I think they wanted just fatty, processed American food. This food was varied and delicious and HEALTHY!!! There was something new to try all the time. The steak at the Manor House was the best I have ever had. It was a small portion but it was fine. We ate at some of the Riviera restaurants, and they were ok too. The pool is fabulous, it takes your breath away. On the Riviera side I wasn't as impressed as with the Manor side, but the grounds were also beautiful. The beaches there were small, but nice. The pools weren't that big. The watersports were great. There was still some construction going on the docks, they are still building a dining area. It isn't the best view from one of the beaches there to see the construction, but the other two had spectacular views. The shuttle buses were always running, we never had to wait more than 5-10 minutes. The playmakers were great at their job and boy, can those girls dance!! We took one tour - a jeep safari up into the mountains, it was wonderful to see the countryside and be so high up and see the beautiful shoreline from above. We also drove through fern gully and went on a large farm. Dennis (the guide) taught us about fruits and local folklore. We ended the tour at Dunns River Falls. It was a five hour tour and it included some off-roading, so if you didn't like the bus ride, don't do this, but it was the highlight of my trip! I fell in love with Jamaica and it's people. A vacation a lot of the time is what you make of it. Remember, some people you just can't please.

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18 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
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
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 On the Beach Hotel in Ocho Rios
#6 Spa Hotel in Ocho Rios
#6 Luxury 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 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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