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Sandals Ochi Beach Resort
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8,714 - 8,719 of 9,032 reviews
Reviewed March 12, 2007

When I first decided that we were going to go to Sandals Grande Ocho Rios we had seen a lot of good and bad reviews of the resort. Some of the bad reviews seemed a little petty with their complaints, they complained about the little things that wouldn’t make or break a vacation. Nothing is perfect. When I walked into the resort I was shocked that people wrote bad reviews about this place. The resort was absolutely beautiful.

Our vacation dates were Jan. 16, 2007 through Jan. 26, 2007. We stayed on the Manor Side in a Plantation Villa 1 Bedroom Suite w/ pool. I would recommend staying on the Manor side it’s much quieter and nicer. It doesn’t have a beach area on that side but I was happy that I stayed on that side. The other side is where a lot of the parties and the action are happening. They are also doing some remodeling on the other side which I heard they start working early.

The drive to the resort is as long as everyone says it is. Actually people said it was about two hours but our trip was actually a little long especially since you had to wait on the bus for about 45 minutes. We arrived at the airport around 3:30 pm and didn’t get to the resort until 7 pm. Although the ride was long it was nice to see the beautiful landscape. When we go there we were given a cold towel and a glass of champagne. We had a concierge room so checking in was quite quick and easy. We had a little cart that brought us up to our room. They wouldn’t even let us carry our bags. Once we got to our room it was very nice and clean. The only complaint I have about the room is that they didn’t have TVs in the living room area only in the bedroom. That really didn’t bother me though. We had a fridge in our room and they made sure that was stocked daily.

Our wedding date was on Jan. 18, 2007. They did a wonderful job with the wedding. The pictures they took were great as well. Before we left for the resort I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend a lot of money on the pictures I’m sure glad I did though because they were worth it. By the way our photographer was Kevin White, he did a really great job. I would also recommend upgrading the flowers from the ones they give you. I got the white orchards; those were beautiful as well. I also bought the wedding extravaganza spa package, which was well worth the money. The thing I liked the most is that I got a trial hair and makeup the day before and then the day of I got my hair and makeup done. All the people in the spa were so friendly and they all did a great job.

Everything about the resort was great. They have so many pools it is unbelievable. My favorite pool was the Manor pool. They actually had three pools in that area one with a small slide. I didn’t go in the pool that much because the pools were freezing cold all the time. The food was also a little different from what I’m used to but it was all very good. We did have two issues with the food. Two different nights and two different restaurants we had to wait over an hour and a half after we ordered for our food. Small minor set backs nothing really to complain about too much. When going to get meals especially if the resort is packed I recommended getting there early or you might have a wait for food. I really could go on forever about how great this resort was and how wonderful and friendly everyone is. I think what I wrote gives you a good idea of the resort is.

  • Stayed: January 2007, traveled as a couple
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
10  Thank ilovejamaica2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 7, 2007

My wife and I are becoming somewhat seasoned in all-inclusive travel. We have been to resorts in Mexico, Costa Rica, Bahamas, and Jamaica. We returned from Sandals Grand Ocho Rios in March after a 7 night stay. I hope you find this review helpful. In summary, our experience was mixed, but mostly positive. Overall a B+

Arrival (Grade B): Flying into Montego Bay was very easy. We cleared immigration very quickly. Sandals meets you outside the terminal and directs you to the transfer bus. Some people have reported a rather unreasonable wait while buses filled up. We were the only two people going to Sandals though so after about 45min of waiting we were off. The ride is about 2 hours in duration with a 10 minute ‘rest stop’ on the way. There is tons of road construction and traffic is sometimes a little scary. Transfer driver was very informative and pointed out spots of interest on the way. Especially interesting were the huge hotels the Spanish companies have under construction. Upon arrival, we were greeted with the traditional glass of champagne and our check in process began

Room (Grade D/B+): We were informed that we had been ‘upgraded’ to a honeymoon cottage. Beware. We were originally booked into a Bamboo Grove room. The first room was disgusting- Run down and foul with old dirty furniture. The bathroom was in disrepair with broken tile and a dirty mirror. This room was a cheap motel room at best. After one night, we complained and asked that we be given the room we originally booked. The next room was acceptable. It was good size with a 4 post king bed, nice sized bathroom, and a balcony. Compared with Sandals Grand Bahamian this room was not as nice. I missed the stocked mini fridge. Overall, the room was fine since all we did was sleep there.

Grounds (Grade B+): The resort is divided into two sections which are separated by a busy main road. Bus service takes you between the two lobbies. The ride takes about 2 minutes and the wait for the buses is not bad. I experienced none of the long waits that have been described in other reviews. The divided nature of the resort was really not as big a deal as I thought it would be. The grounds themselves were very pretty. Plenty of tropical plants, koi ponds, flowers. Make sure to say high to “Skippy”, the blue gold macaw, who lives in one of the gardens. There are some areas that are in need of remodel, especially on the Riviera side.

Food / Alcohol (Grade A-): This would have been a slam dunk grade A except for one meal. There are 6 or 8 restaurants for dinner plus 3 snack bars and 2 lunch buffets. No reservations are needed at SGOR. At Dunn’s River, you need reservations for the Japanese steak house. We had breakfast and lunch buffets daily. These were quite good- tons of fresh fruit. Plenty of fish, sandwich and pasta bar. Especially good was the curried chicken. Dinners were usually quite excellent. Portion sizes were reasonable. The Italian restaurant and the Caribbean were the best. I would avoid Arizona (southwest). I waited for ribs but was disappointed to find them to be nothing but fat. No real prob though. I just had a little snack later that night. There were two big parties- one on Friday and one on Monday. The food and entertainment were excellent with lots of jerk and curry. Yummy. Drinks were wonderful and readily available.

Sandals Dunns River (Grade B): It looks very nice. You get free transfer between here and the SGOR. The pool there is ok. The resort is smaller and there doesn’t seem to be too much going on. It seems like a little more luxurious than our resort and underwent a renovation pretty recently. I would advise that you research both places very closely before deciding where you want to go. The beach here is larger, but there is no beachfront snorkeling. The Japanese restaurant is very good. This was our best meal of the stay. Make reservations early, or just walk up and ask about no-shows and cancellations like we did.

Pool / Beach (Grade A): The main pool is located on the Manor side across the street from the beach. The pool looks great. There is a swim up bar for those who are into that. The pool itself is large and there is plenty of room to spread out. Beach chairs are easily available, although the resort was only 60% full. There is, however, very little shade and no beach umbrellas. Cabanas are available for rent at $75 daily- not worth it. The hot tubs were very nice and clean as well. The beach was pretty nice, although somewhat small. Ocean water was very warm and clean.

Diving (Grade B+): I am PADI OW. My wife does not dive. I did a total of 8 dives over 6 days. There are 2 daily dives- 9 AM and 2PM. AM dives are the deep dives (60-80ft) and afternoon are shallow dives. I dove four different sites with the longest boat ride being about 20 minutes. Middle Reef is about 2 minutes from dock and 40 ft deep with a fair amount of life. Ochos Wall is 60ft deep and drops off to >100ft. Again a fair amount of life. Barracuda Reef is 50ft deep and unfortunately the current was so strong that I barely saw the reef at all. Wreck is the best dive at 40ft. There is a sunken tug with plenty of open spaces. TONS of fish, stingrays, invertebrates . You are not allowed to penetrate the wreck, nor would it be worth it anyway. The second half of this dive is a spectacular swim through caverns and coral.

Activities (grade A): Snorkeling boat left 4 times daily and was fair. Not as good as the Bahamas. There is a small area worth snorkeling off the beach. This was pretty cool. Easy to miss the good stuff here, but if you pay attention it is better than the boat trips. There were eel, stingrays, and stonefish to be seen. We did some windsurfing and by the end of the week we had a pretty good handle on it.

Tour: We booked a tour at the time we booked our vacation. Don’t do this. Wait till you get there and decide what you want to do. Our tour took us to rafting on Martha Brae and Dunns River. The rafting was strange. I was expecting white water but got a bamboo raft ride slowly down the river with a guide. There were people selling things along the shore. I would have skipped this if it were up to me. Dunns River Falls is really fun. Climbing the falls is a bit crowded and is worse in the morning when the cruise ship folk are there. Nonetheless, this is not to be missed and does require some athletic skill.

We had a great time and our realistic expectations were met. Please feel free to email me anytime if you have questions about the resort or want some specifics. My address is seediph@gmail.com

  • Stayed: March 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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18  Thank SeeDiph
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 6, 2007

Sandals Grande Ocho Rios - Steve & Betty, Jerry & Nancy 02/25/07 – 03/03/07

Flight and arrival
We flew USAir out of Philadelphia. We left on time and arrived a little early. The walk from our arrival gate to Immigration was a bit long and there was no A.C. but the passage through Immigration was a breeze. I was expecting more of a delay.
We got to the baggage claim before the luggage. Betty’s primary suitcase with all her clothes never showed up so we were delayed at baggage claim for about 45 min filling out a form and looking all over for it. The suitcase was never loaded on the plane in Philly. Betty was not a happy camper! Nancy and Jerry thought they had lost one also but someone else picked theirs up by mistake and apparently got through customs before they realized it so they just left it in the hall outside customs. Eventually someone found it for us and through customs we went. Just like immigration, customs went very smooth.

Transfer to SGOR
We made our way to the Sandals lounge. I had just enough time to grab a drink when they came for us to board the bus. We sat on the bus for about 5 min and away we went. The first part of the road from the MoBay airport is under construction. As of 03/03/07 it is unpaved and a little rough. I would estimate it to be about 1/3 of the trip. About half way to Ocho Rios we made a 10 min pit stop at Yows. There were bathrooms, food and beverages available.
The shuttle stopped at SDR first to let off people then continued on to SGOR. I am sorry to say the stop at SDR to and from the airport is all we saw of SDR on this trip. It looked beautiful! It is on my list to visit next time.
The trip from SDR to SGOR was about 10 min.

Check in at SGOR
The shuttle stopped at the Manor first where we were checked in and drinks were handed out. I missed the drink while I was in the restroom. Check in was quick. We were given our package which included a room upgrade, left a credit card impression, then away we went.

The room & maid
We stayed on the Riveira side in Honeymoon Luxury Cottage #2019. Our traveling companions were in 2014. These cottages were the in the first group of cottages on the left between the main reception area and the Riveira building. The rooms were nice but not luxurious. Our companions room was a little nicer than ours and their A.C. was much quieter and worked better but it was nothing we felt we needed to complain about.
Our room had a huge four poster bed, an armoire with only one small and one average size drawer for clothes, two night stands, a couple lamps, a TV, and a small closet with a shoe rack.
Our only complaints Betty and I had were with the limited drawer space, the AC could have worked better, and the lighting could have been better. In our opinion these were very minor and really did not take away from our experience. They were hardly worth mentioning but I did. Over all we liked the accommodations. They were clean and we saw no sign of bugs of any kind other people have mentioned. I went prepared with a can of Raid but did not need it so we left it with the maid when we left.
Our maid Kerry Ann was a real sweetheart. She did an excellent job keeping our room clean. In doing so she picked up odds and ends we left laying around and folded them or put them in place for us. She made a heart decoration out of towels and adorned it with flower petals. I can not give her enough praise.

The grounds
There grounds were lovely with assorted flowers and plants along the buildings and walkways. The ground staff kept them well maintained without being obtrusive.

The food
We ate breakfast and some lunches at Bayside. Breakfast was buffet with an omelet / egg cooking station. The buffet had a good selection of sausage, bacon, scrambled and poached eggs, hash browns, fruit, cereal, etc… all were very good. We had no trouble finding good food and plenty of it. The same was true of the lunch buffet. We had diner at the Reef Terrace, Arizona, San Generos, and Valentinos. The Reef terrace high over the beach on the east end of the Riveira building and Arizona eating out on the pier were very beautiful. My favorite meal was at San Generos. I do not remember the name but it was a very tender and tasty beef dish in sauce. Betty’s was at Valentinos. She had a gorgonzola cheese stuffed filet. I sampled it and it was very good. I wish I would have gotten it instead of the veal.
Before our trip I had read numerous reviews of the resort some good some bad. Bad food, small portions, poor service, etc. For what it’s worth, in our opinion, the food and service in the restaurants was excellent. As for the portions they were a bit on the smaller side but we never left hungry. We made a multiple course meal out of all our dinners by ordering appetizers, soup, and salad.
Some meals stood out above the others as did some of the servers. One in particular was Racquel and another girl in Valentino’s. They were terrific. They were pleasant, attentive, and fun to visit with. As soon as I finished a course my plate or bowl was taken away. When I finished my beverage another one was there before I asked for it. A+++ to them.
All in all I give the food and service in the restaurants high marks. Big up to restaurant manager Laurel and his staff.

The staff
As I mentioned the staff in general was polite, friendly and helpful. Some were much more so than others and really stood out. Once in a while you would come across one who did not seem as friendly but not once were we treated rudely.
I wish I would have written down the names of those who went out of their way to make our stay so enjoyable. I would like to acknowledge each of them in stead of a couple.

Entertainment
Unfortunately we did not get to all the events we hoped. We did go to the returning guest dinner and enjoyed the evening. They had a band that played through the event and dancers performed. If you get a chance go to the returning guest dinner.
We saw the all girl steel band at the Manor one night and also enjoyed it. Some how they got a picture of Betty and I dancing to the steel band which Bet bought to commerate the event.
We attended the Beach party our last night there. We left before all the festivities were over to pack our bags for the return home but still from what I saw I highly recommend the Beach party.
A Mento band and a jazz band performed at various places through the week and they also were enjoyable.

The beach
As many others have written, the beach is not that spectacular. It is somewhat small but it is kept clean and I could always find a lounge chair. Some people did not like the pier that enclosed a portion of the beach. I liked it. We ate on it at Arizona’s one evening and I went out early in the morning and watched the sun rise, listened to the waves, and watched cruise ships and cargo vessels out at sea. Very relaxing!
We as a group are not huge beach people nor do we do a lot of swimming, and as far as walks on the beach I prefer to walk through gardens so the beach did not mean as much to me as it may someone else.

The golf course
I played three rounds at the Sandals golf course. I enjoyed it immensely. The course is rather wide open with little for hazards. There are plenty of trees so you can get in trouble but you should not loose many balls. I thought it was in excellent condition. The caddies were fun and knowledgeable.

The guests
We met and visited with many terrific people. Most were more than willing to engage in conversation and get acquainted. One couple in particular, Mike and Melissa, were exceptionally nice. Betty and Nancy got close with Melissa over several days. The first time they met her they commented about how lovely her necklace was. She took it off and gave it to them. I am sorry I missed the piano bar performance but Jerry and Nancy tell me Mike is quite the singer.
Jake from Chicago, the first person we met when we got off the bus at the manor and his wife Erica. I played golf with Jake the second day there and enjoyed his company.
There are too many others to name.

Off site tour
We hired a Juta driver through the front desk. Our driver was Maurice and he was very good. We went up through Fern Gulley and back down. We stopped at a wood carver on the way up through. We bought some beautiful pieces at a little better price than the ones offered near the Beach at the resort and it was very interesting to visit with the artist.
After Fern Gulley we went through Coyaba Gardens and took the tour then stopped in town for some shopping. While both of these tours were nice I think in hind sight based on reviews and pictures I've seen here I would rather have gone to Cranbrook Flower Forest.

Travel agent
I have to give props to our travel agent. Debbie at TTO. There were no surprises, everything went off without a hitch, except for the missing luggage which is not her fault.

I give the resort high marks. Would I go back? You bet I would!
Steve

  • Stayed: February 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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6  Thank lsh14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 4, 2007

My husband and I went to Jamaica for our honeymoon. Give or take our private pool to our villa was not clean the first night we were there, it was taking care of before we woke our first day there. The service was great. Our butlers Marvin Gooden and Denton Christie did an excellent job and worked well together to take care of me and my husband. They even surprised us one night when we came home to a candle lite and rose petal bedroom.

  • Stayed: October 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Jamila C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 4, 2007

This property is so big, a shuttle service takes you from one end to the other. I would have preferred a smaller property. The food was good, and the drinks were endless. If you go, search out the quiet "hidden pools" and less used bars and restaurants. We did get an upgrade to a villa with a pool, so overall it was a good vacation. Skip the shopping tour- it's boring!

Stayed: February 2007
4  Thank tropicalfan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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