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Sandals Ochi Beach Resort
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Reviewed June 16, 2010

This was our first all-inclusive holiday and I was a little sceptical at first. The Grand at Ocho Rios is not the finest or the best hotel that we have stayed in, but the employees made us feel like part of the family. We were told that is was about a 45 minute bus ride from the aiport to the hotel and in fact it was about 90 minutes, so we started off on the wrong foot. When we got to the hotel we were greeted by the staff and shown in to a nice air-conditioned room and most of the other guests stayed in the lobby. We had upgraded our room to concierge and it was the best move we could have made. We were treat like royalty and it was great to have a "go to" person instead of trying to chase different people down. The staff at the hotel were amazingly friendly and they made our tenth wedding anniversary very special. Georgia our concierge, Raindeer the chef at the Manor, Alvin on the room cleaning staff, Indiana at the terrace grill and Bishop and the guys in Jamies Bar, made us feel like we were at home and went above and beyond our expectations. We will be back as the service makes this good destination great.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank sparki75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 15, 2010

Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Beach Villa and Resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica is one of the most incredible, amazing, relaxing, pampering, adventurous vacations I have ever been on. In fact I went there for my honeymoon and returned the next year. You can not go wrong with Sandals, they treat you like royalty and make you feel special in every way. The have it all, food, fine dining, beach sport activities, entertainment, excursions, a spa, etc. and the best part, is that it is all inclusive. I love it, I can't say one negative thing about it, and I intend to return from here on out.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank spratweed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 15, 2010

My wife and I went to Sandals Grande Ocho Rios for our honeymoon from June 7th-13th. I will post this chronologically to help make things easier to understand.

We arrived at the Montego Bay Airport at 5pm CST. I think it's primarily due to being on a late incoming flight but customs was a breeze, I even had a prescription narcotic (Xanax - I hate flying) on me that I claimed with no issues. There were practically no lines and the entire process took no more then 20 minutes.

After the customs area we were directed to the Sandals lounge to use the facilities and grab a quick beer. We were only there for about 2 minutes before telling us our bus was ready. Outside the lounge was one of the red hat guys with our bags on a dolly. He made sure to mention that he's only payed in tips and he would take "real good care" of our bags. This is before he tried to but us on the wrong bus and then tossed our bags on the wet ground for the bus driver to load. I still tipped him a few US dollars though.

I've read from other reviews that most of the time the bus isn't really ready and you end up just waiting for 30 minutes. This was not the case for us. We were only on the bus for about 5 minutes before it took off.

Driving in Jamaica is more like a sport then a mode of transportation. Here in the US the horn is rarely used and saved only for emergencies and the occasional pissed off driver. In Jamaica the horn is used to say "Hi", "Bye", "I'm gonna pass you", "I just passed you", "Hey you drive a bus also!", and occasionally for flirting. I'm pretty sure there is a national law that you must use your horn, at least once per mile, just to make sure it's still in good working order.

Passing going up hills, around corners, in the turning lane, and just about any other way you can think of to pass is perfectly acceptable. The roads have large shoulders and if any oncoming traffic looks as if it will hit you, the shoulder is used instead. This made for a somewhat exciting trip for us.

We stopped at the tourist trap area for a restroom break and more beer. We were only there for about 20 minutes. Two Red Stripes and a bottle of Ginger Ale, that my wife said was made with real ginger, was exactly $10 USD. We then continued on our way. The bus made an additional stop at Dunn's River to drop off some passengers before heading over to Ocho Rios. The entire trip from airport to Sandals Ocho Rios was 2 hours 10 minutes.

The driver from the airport to Sandals was far from professional. We stopped twice, once to pick up his friend and again so he could deliver a yellow box about the size of a phone book to someone stopped along the side of the road. I don't know what was in the box, and he did get us to Sandals safely, so I tipped him $7 USD.

When we arrived at Sandals we were greeted with the typical cool cloth and drinks. I had already checked in online so all we did was sign the form and get a credit card on record for our excursions. No upgrades for us, but all they could have upgraded us to was a butler room so I wasn't really expecting one. We had the Honeymoon Plantation Villa One Bedroom Suite with Pool.

The room itself was very large and nice. Tile flooring, full kitchen, front room, bedroom, and a large bathroom. The room did show it's age a little, some of the tiles were faded and the grouting had seen better days but definitely a strong 4 star room. The room was stocked with a bottle of gin, appleton rum, scotch wiskey, and vodka. The fridge had Carib beer, sodas, bottled water, and juice. These were all replenished daily. The pool we shared with the other 3 rooms was in great shape. We were the only ones we ever saw actually using it, so I was kinda like a private pool.

Monday's is a street jamboree put on by the staff and a large buffet in the Manor building. We both really liked the buffet and I got to try jerk chicken finally (VERY good!!). We watched a little of the jamboree but were pretty exhausted from traveling and called it a day.

Tuesday we ate breakfast & lunch at the manor and reserved a cabana. We joined the Playmakers in 2 events: Jamaica Trivia and Jamaican Dancing lessons. If you do the Playmaker events as a couple they are worth 20 points each. If you win the event you still get 20 points plus a random item. You redeem the points your last night at the resort for a prize (we had enough points before we left for a $50 bottle of liquor).

We pretty much chilled at the manor pool the whole day. The swim up bar is nice. We thought that the drinks would be a little watered down since it was an all-inclusive resort, but trust me, that is NOT the case. We ate at San Something or other on the beach side that night. The food and service were great, but the misquotes were bad and I couldn't wait to get out of there.

Wednesday we chilled at the pool some more. We didn't bother with a cabana this time. This is when I learned that "wee bit of extra rum" translates into "please fill it half full with rum" in Jamaican. I honestly can't recall most of the afternoon, although my wife tells me I had fun!

Thursday was our first excursion. We booked the "party boat" trip to Dunn's River Falls. This is ABSOLUTELY a must do excursion!!!!!!! I was a little worried at first when 50 people showed up, but the boat is huge and fit everyone with no issue. It only takes about 15 minutes via water to get from Sandals to the falls. At the falls they split you into groups of about 10 and you're assigned a guide. Our guide was Sosa he was awesome. He doesn't believe in the human chain method and instead took us all up an alternative route safely. We stopped at several spots for photo ops. If you don't have a waterproof camera you can hand your digital camera to your guide so it will stay dry, he also takes the pics for you. There is also a guy assigned to your group with a digital camcorder and you can purchase a DVD of your climb for $40 USD (I saw very few people buying them, if you do don't forget to negotiate down first!!). The climb is not for the timid! I'm in my early 30's and my calves were pretty soar the next day!

After the falls the boat goes to a place for people to snorkel. They also give new people a quick "how to snorkel" class. This is also when they open the bar! There is a VERY good reason they do not open the bar until all the events are done, your drink never gets less then half full before they bring you another! Most of the time they had me double-fisting beers! The DJ was awesome and played music easy to party too. Then some young short crew member grabbed a bottle of vodka and started running around the boat pouring shots directly into people's mouths! The whole thing was a blast and we made a lot of friends!

Most of us made our way from the boat to the beach bar where Bishop is the MAN, the master of mixers, and a g-d among bartenders!! If you do nothing else here, take the party boat cruise and visit Bishop at the beach bar.

We ate at Arizona's on the pier that night. The service was horrible (20 mins for a WARM beer??), but the food was okay. My general advise on eating in Jamaica: Avoid beef! Do you see any cows in Jamaica? Nope! All the beef is shipped in, so stick to chicken and fish. I made the mistake of trying the steak at Arizona's. It was seasoned well, but that's because the steak was tough and they need to hide that fact. Plus I ordered it medium and it came out very well.

Friday, no hangover, but pretty soar from the climb! We chilled on the manor side all day and just relaxed. We ate at the Manor Restaurant that night. I had some awesome jerk tilapia I really recommend! Afterward we headed to the beach party on the other side. One thing I can say about the beach party: "HOT" and not in a good way. Hot as in 90F and 90% humidity and NO breeze! The pork ribs and drinks were pretty good but it was so hot we didn't stay long.

Saturday was our last full day. My wife chilled by the pool while I watched the US vs England world cup game. The manor bar was pretty hopping but the bartender, Derrick, never let my beer get close to empty. We ate at one of the only two air conditioned restaurants that night, Orchids. We both really liked Orchids. Both the service and food were excellent! We then attended the steel drum band concert which my wife really enjoyed.

Sunday our bus back headed out at 8:15 so we had time for a quick breakfast buffet. The driver on the return trip was much more professional. It took less then 90 minutes to get to the airport. Again he made sure to use his horn at least once per mile, usually much more.

Customs and security leaving was much more crowded then it was when we were arriving it took about 40 mins to get through it all. For all those wondering on how to do the duty free alcohol. When flying from Jamaica to the US it CAN be placed in your carry on luggage. The store will even put it in a nice little box with handles for you. Don't worry about liters and such. The only thing the US custom's agent asked us in Ft Lauderdale was how many bottles we had. We told him "4" and he said split between the two of us that's fine, he didn't even ask to see them.

A few general issues I should point out. We went in early June and it was HOT in Jamaica, about 85-90F every single day we were there, and almost no breeze. We're from Kansas so 90F isn't that hot to us, we have a few weeks every summer were it's over 100F every day, but it is HUMID in Jamaica!! When you step out of your room it's like walking into a wall of water! Add this to the fact that there are only two air conditioned restaurants and they are only open for supper, and it can make for a hot uncomfortable meal! Most of the time I was even sweating at breakfast!

Breakfast and most lunches are buffet style. The theme changes daily, but it's always some kind of buffet. Your only other option is to go to one of the pool or beach side grills for a burger, nachos, ect..

Service is really hit or miss. Sometimes it takes forever to get a glass of water, but other times they already have it filled before you get back from the buffet. It just depends on your server and how busy they are.

Overall it was a great trip, but if I had it all to do over again, I would prolly go for someplace cooler. That humid heat just drains your body. Email me if you have any questions: dday530 at yahoo dot com.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Flying_is_evil
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 15, 2010

This place is so overpriced, it is riduculous. Oceanfront Penthouse Honeymoon Suite... hardly. Small room, awful bathroom, tiny balcony, and barely a view. The airconditioner was so filthy, I got sick. That wasn't all that was filthy. The "main pool" on the Riveria side was so murky and cloudy you couldn't see your feet in 3 ft of water! Concierge service? Oh, they dumped us off in the lobby, and told us to take the elevator up!

Food is pretty good, not fabulous. Service was very good, and the people very nice. If that's all that matters. Go, have fun. If you're looking for a pool that isn't filthy, and don't want to get sick from dirt and mold on your airconditioner, go someplace else. (Also, don't expect to take any long walks on the beach. Can't do that here.)

Also, remember when flying in and out, there is a MORE THAN 2 hour bus ride to the resort. Getting in, we sat on the bus for more than an hour before we even started the trip!

Won't be going back.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled with friends
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2  Thank whensthenexttrip127
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 14, 2010

We recently returned from our honeymoon at Sandals Grande. We had such a wonderful experience at this resort. We enjoyed visiting the island and staying at this adult hotel. There were so many things to offer during our stay. We sailed, scuba dived, snorkled, played volleyball, climbed waterfalls, and much more. The staff and playmakers we very helpful and entertaining. (Nastassia the playmaker was our favorite staff member). We highly recommend this resort to everyone honeymooning!

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Thank DeedraBryan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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