We have just returned from our honeymoon. We had a great time and really enjoyed Jamaica and Sandals. I had read a lot of reviews before going on our trip, so I had a good idea of what to expect. So hopefully, my review can help others.
Ride to resort: The ride is about 1hr and 45 minutes. It really is not that bad. I enjoyed seeing the country side and the local people. The ride back to the airport took two hours and at that point you have seen it all, so it does feel like forever. Anyway, we stopped at a pretty shady rest stop on the way there. My husband and I were starving so we got some over priced snacks, but it really didn't matter. The plantation chips were really good. There were several people on our bus, who got some other snacks (if you know what I mean)
Anyway, when we got to the resort, you check in on the Manor side. Don't forget to tip your driver, they will tell you it is customary. So we were greeted w/cold towels and champagne, which was nice. Then we got on another bus to get to the Rivera side. We were greeted there as well and went to our cottage.
Room: Right away we were disappointed in our lux cottage room. It is not lux it is an average standard room. We had anticipated a refrigerator and the room stunk of smoke. Plus, you could tell it needed some remodeling. By reading all the reviews before going on this trip I had anticipated this. Several people had said don't be afraid to ask for an upgrade. So, right away we went to the front desk and asked for an upgrade. For $100 more a night, we got a pent house suite w/concierge service over looking the gardens. The room was awesome! We had a fully stocked fridge and stocked bar above the fridge. Every morning there were breakfast items in the lobby on our level and before dinner there were tea sandwiches and snacks. The concierges were there to answer any questions we had, to book tours, make dinner reservations etc. We used them as much as we could. We recommended the upgrade to another couple and they did the same thing the very next day.
Food: Be prepared to eat, even when you aren't hungry. For breakfast we ate mostly at the buffet at Bayside. It was really good, and they had a variety of food every morning. Plus the view is so relaxing. We did eat breakfast one day at Valentinos, which was a nice change. Our favorite restaurants were Valentinos, Orchards, and Arizona. Reef Terrace and Bayside would come next. Our least favorite was San Gennaro, we were a bit disappointed. The antipasto bar they had was great, but the dinner portions were way too small, and the menu was deceiving. Plus, I am Italian and grew up in NY so I do have high standards when it comes to Italian food. We did also eat at Kimonos at the Sandals Dunn River resort, which was a really good meal and very entertaining. The portions were the biggest than any other restaurant. We met some other couples that stayed at that resort and they walked us. It is a nice resort a lot smaller, but definitely a bit fancier. There was an older crowd there as well.
Entertainment: This is deffinitely a honeymoon resort. Almost everyone there got married the same day we did or was marrying or got married at the resort that week. With this in mind, you need to take full advantage of what is going on at the resort. The piano bar every night has a sing along. Some of the songs get old, especially the song from Grease. The amphitheater on the Rivera side had entertainment every night pretty much. We enjoyed the bingo night and the couples game show. The talent show was pretty fun too. The Jamaica day party on Friday was nicely done and a lot of fun. Loved the fire guy! We never made it to Nicole's disco on the manor side. Get involved in as much as you can. There is a point system and different events where you win prices. My husband won a bottle of rum playing in a tennis tournament.
Pools and Beach: The best pools by far are on the Manor side. We spent two days up there at the pools. We loved the slide. The pools on the Riveria side don't compare. The Riveria main pool wasn't what I thought it would be. The one by the beach we spent a lot of time in because it had the bar. The beach is good, I knew that it would be small, but it didn't feel overly small. Just know you can't take long walk the beach. The color of the water is amazing though, so clear!! We probably saw about 4 weddings a day either on the beach or on the piers, but they are super fast.
Tours: We went on the booze cruise and had a blast. Climbing the falls was a lot of fun. It had some tough parts, but is definitely worth it. Make sure you bring your own water shoes, or you will have to rent them for $5 each. Plus get a water camera there a lot of photo ops. Also bring a couple of dollars to tip your tour guide, they will ask for it. The snorkeling wasn't what I thought it would be. This was my husbands first time and he enjoyed it, but after snorkeling in the Florida Keys, I was a bit disappointed. There weren't the many colors and fish that I thought we would see. The rest of the booze cruise you drink! My husband took full advantage of that and got quite tipsy off the rum!
Spa: Definitely get a couples massage! It is worth it. You are treated like royalty when you get there and they make you feel very comfortable. It was very relaxing. We tipped our masseuse, but I am not sure if you are supposed.
People: The staff was so friendly and very helpful. They learned our names quickly, especially the concierges. We became friends w/Garfield and Veta Ann. There job was to just circulate the resort and get involved with the guest activities. Don't be afraid to ask questions and say hello, it will make your experience so much better.
- 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