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“A New Yorker's Review of The Royal Plantation”

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Sandals Royal Plantation
Ranked #2 of 35 Hotels in Ocho Rios
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 10, 2006

Over Thanksgiving week we traveled to the all-inclusive resort in Ocho Rios called the Royal Plantation for our belated honeymoon trip. While Mark and I enjoyed each other's company immensely, I promised myself that I would write a review of the "Plantation" from a New Yorker's point of view because the knowledge I now have might help many "city" couples make their travel decisions in the future.

Out of our 8 days there, we counted a total of 4 hours of sunshine. The persistent downpours ruined any chance of enjoying the beach, watersports, the casual grill and the Jacuzzi. I don't blame the hotel for the rain, but I would think that they could weatherproof their bar and grille down by the beach so we could have had more options for food. That grill was closed every night we were there.

The only other options for food were the main glorified cafeteria (Royal Grill) where a meal for two easily cost $150 or their formal French restaurant where a jacket was required. Considering that my husband (who is also a musician) got turned away one night at the cafeteria for improper dress, you can assume that we never made it to La Papillon. The food we had was tasty, although looking at the same menu every single day was a bummer. They also seemed to have an issue with running out of things, like soups, blueberry muffins, etc.

The hotel itself was lovely - not as lovely as the website and brochures portray, but it's nice. The lobby and common area is quite relaxing with nice service (Owane was an excellent host/server). I was however, very disappointed to realize that the hotel had no beach real estate. I was looking forward to morning jogs on the sand, but here, I could literally jog about 10 strides before I hit a wall dividing hotel properties.

Our hotel room was my favorite part of the resort. We had a great view, an awesome sitting area and a wide selection of movie channels (not to mention free DVD rentals) and turndown service. On our second night there, we were delighted to find a bottle of chilled champagne, chocolates and a $50 gift certificate on our night stand as a honeymoon gift from the management team. My husband loved the big canopy bed and slept well (I never sleep well away from home, so you can take is word for it).

Nightlife at The Plantation is non-existent. After 11 the place is silent. We thought on several occasions that we must have been missing something because it was dead at such an early hour, but that's just how it is there. Considering a cab ride to Ocho Rios is $25 for a 5 minute ride, not too many people were heading out.

Speaking of Ocho Rios... if you are a city person, you will definitely not appreciate downtown Ocho Rios. It's basically a port for Cruise Ships, so they've dedicated a block to a shopping area for those folks that includes a tacky Magaritaville Bar and Grill. Outside of the shopping area, it's pretty seedy with cheap tourist shops... not somewhere I'd want to go after night fall.

The Freebies! Yes... we took advantage of all the free perks. Every day we were entitled to a free mango mimosa in the morning and free afternoon tea with snacks! We also participated in the Monday manager's cocktail hour and Martini night a couple days later.

The Royal Plantation is a spa resort, but considering that we were trying to do 8 days for 4K, the $200 massage treatments didn't fit in the budget. I spent a lot of time at their modest fitness center (2 elliptical machines, 3 treadmills, 1 stationary bike) due to the rain and lack of real estate in which to run.

The day we left was quite pleasant. We were presented with an accurate bill of itemized charges (European plan) and a private car with refreshments to take us to the airport. We felt that the place was intimate enough that we knew each of the managers and they all made an effort to say thank you and farewell.

  • Stayed: November 2006, traveled as a couple
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11  Thank exit8nyc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,461 - 2,467 of 2,664 reviews

Reviewed November 26, 2006

We spent last week at the Royal Plantation and had a lovely time except for persistent rain storms that ruined our enjoyment of the beach, but that certainly wasn't the hotels fault.
After a harrassing time getting to Jamaica thanks to crazyness that i've never seen before at Providence airport (very odd its usually the easiest airport to fly through) i knew that everything was going to be ok the second i sat in the car and was offered a red stripe. We immediately relaxed and stayed that way until today which is our first day back at work.
I was worried about long lines and lost luggage at Montego Bay airport- no need very easy both arrivals and departures.
The hotel is beautiful - room was great with a fab view, we enjoyed the little beaches - yes they may be small but the people who stay at the royal plantation are quiet and you don't need to be as far away from your neighbours as possible- but if you still insist on that then go to the other beach where the watersports go from - no one ever sits down there and is very quiet with lovely hammocks plus you can still get beach service.
The service as promised was good - we found that the concierge was a little reluctant about giving information on other restaurants in the area - probably because they want you to eat on the property.
Now, the Royal Plan is the only reason i haven't given this hotel 5 out of 5 - we thought at $175 PER PERSON PER DAY that this was way over priced, basically the only way i could figure out that this was worth the money was if you're someone who has 3 course lunch with wine and a 4 course dinner with wine, plus at least 4 more alcholic drinks each per day plus then drinks liquor from your mini bar. We were on the Royal Plan for 4 days and had fun trying everything but then realised that it simply wasn't worth it for us - so switched off it for the remainder of the stay - we were spending less than $250 a day on food (huge breakfast $40, 1 course lunch with soda $40, 3 course meal with drinks $140 plus a couple of alcholic drinks through the day) not the $350 you pay on the RP, bear in mind that every day they give you a free mango mimosa in the morning on the beach and free afternoon tea! In the end it worked out that the balance of our bill was $1100 which INCLUDED 3 couples spa treatments - which would have been what we would have payed for 3 more nights on the Royal Plan!! Soon i think it will be even easier to eat in the evening for a lower price as they are going to be opening the royal grill on an evening as well as for lunch.
We thought the food was great - but after 1 week i was ready to see something new on the menu.
Plus we really loved the spa - the hot stone couples massage was the best massage i've ever had - so much so we had another one on the last day, plus the scrub a dub dub two in a tub treatment was lovely and unusual!
I think we'll be back one day and hopefully have a few less rainstorms next time!

  • Stayed: November 2006, traveled as a couple
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10  Thank puppyjake
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 23, 2006

The Royal Plantation is truly a fantastic resort.

First the high points:

The Honemoon Grand Lux suite was very nicely decorated and spacious with a great bed.
Large bathroom with a jacuzzi tub and seperate shower.
The balcony was huge with a seperate dining area as well as a wet bar.
The evening turn down service was flawless.
The property is very well manicured( beutiful, gardens,fountains etc).
We loved the size of the property with only 77 rooms.
The beach was on the small side but more than adaquate.
The service was pretty much 5 star from beginning to end.
The bars were great, all serving top shelf liqour.

Now for the ONLY low point but unfortunately a serious issue:
The food was certainly not 5 star.
Here are just a few examples.
The buffets were typical of most buffets-ie. large selcetion of medicore food.
All the soups seemed to taste the same(bland) with the shrimp bisque full of shrimp shells.
None of the beef tasted like high quality, aged beef you would expect at a 5 star resort.
I don't understand for the life of me how they could run out out of espresso at La Papillon there "most elegant" restaurant.
One would think the server could have located espresso from another restaurant or bar.
The food at the royal cafe however was great for afternoon snacks(crab cakes, fried oysters and ribs).
All in all this is a fantastic resort, quite possibly the nicest I've been to. unfortunately the dining just did not match the rest of the resorts excellence.

  • Stayed: October 2006, traveled as a couple
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11  Thank msonnn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 17, 2006

The Royal Plantation is simply PERFECT! After landing in Montego Bay we quickly found our driver. We had been warned about the two hour drive, and I can't say that it wasn't long, but after a few Red Stripes provided by our driver, we decided to simply enjoy the country side, and the view of the Caribbean sea. However, when I go back, I will charter a flight from Timair for $600.00 round trip for two. If money is not an issue, I believe the charter flight would make your trip even better. It's only a 20 minute flight to Ocho Rios, and another 20 minutes to the hotel.

Upon our arrival we were promptly met with a cocktail, an ice cold towel, and great service. The entire staff of the Royal Plantation is amazing! We did not encounter one single staff person that wasn't over the top!

We stayed in the Prime Minister Suite. This is a great room, with an incredible view, two large balconies, one full master bath, and a half bath. It is available with a second bedroom. If you can afford it, this room or the Govenor's suite are amazing.

The Royal Plan is the only way to go. It makes the two hundred dollar dinner bills very enjoyable instead of painful. The food was actually extremely good to absolutely wonderful. Room service was fantastic. The bars all have top shelf liquor, great coffee, and superior service.

The two beaches were the cleanest that I have ever seen. The service at the beach was simply outstanding. There was never a wait for anything. The fact that the hotel only has 77 rooms allows them to service the guests beyond anything that I have ever experienced at a Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Trump, etc.

Although the pool is relatively small, it was perfect for our needs. The hot tub was good size and a fun place to socialize. We were surprised to find drink service at the hot tub until long after dark. I believe that they would have kept serving us drinks all night in the hot tub had we stayed that long.

The Dunns River Falls tour, and a couples massage by the ocean are two can't miss experiences.

Here are a few facts that I would have liked to have known before arriving: 1. All plugs in the room are standard US 110 plugs. I brought along an adapter. 2. On the Royal Plan tipping is included. However, when you are presented with each check
there is a line to write in a tip. For the first few days, until we found out the reality, we were including an extra tip. None of the staff was willing to discuss the tip situation. Due to the great service, I wanted to tip. A guest that had stayed there many times informed us that when you write the tip in on the check it actually goes into a community tip pool. If you want to tip these great people, it is best to give them cash. 3. There is only one computer available and it costs .60 per minute to use the internet. The computer was not very reliable and I would not suggest that you rely on it if you need to be online. The room has data ports but the service is only dial-up. 4. As I said earlier, the plane charter from Montego Bay is probably the way to go. We were only there from Monday to Friday. The plane charter would have given us extra beach time! 5. If you do take the car service, request "Cool Dave" as your driver. He made the trip back to the airport enjoyable. He is a great driver!

If you are looking to be pampered, relax, and enjoy the good life this is the best place that I have ever experienced. If you are looking for an incredible night life, a place with big crowds, a party atmosphere, or lots of excitement, this is not the place for you!

Don't bother going next door to the Sandal's resort unless you simply want to see how much nicer the Royal Plantation is. We walked over to check it out and we were shocked at what a run down trashy place it was. Crossing over from the RP to the Sandals reminded me of going from San Diego to Tijuana, Mexico. If you like white trash, and a Motel Six atmosphere, you will be right at home at the Sandal's Ocho Rios.

I hope this review helps. In summary, the RP is awesome!

  • Stayed: November 2006, traveled as a couple
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16  Thank pickemtowin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 15, 2006

My husband and I spent 8 nights at the Royal Plantation for our honeymoon in September and just fell in love with it! Our room was spacious and had beautiful views of the water. The two beaches are so well kept and there is plenty of room to find a spot to relax. Most notably, the staff there was fantastic! We truly enjoyed getting to know the staff that was always ready and willing to ensure we had anything we wanted. The resaurants offer a nice selection and the food was alway delicious. You must try the chocolate lava cake! Even the Monday night buffet is great--make sure to get the banana's foster-Amazing!! We thought we'd venture out one night and try dinner at the Sandals next door- after fifteen minutes of walking around we decided to go back "home"- the two places cannot even be compared!! This is not a party hotel, but as a young couple we had a great time and enjoyed getting to know the other guests. It is smaller, intimate and more relaxed--but definietly not boring. Jamaica is a beautiful place and we hope to have a chance to get back someday. I would not even think of staying anywhere but the Royal Plantation--we have been spoiled. I don't think any other hotel could live up to the service and luxury of the Royal Plantation. You must stay here if you are going to Ocho Rios!!

  • Stayed: September 2006, traveled as a couple
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13  Thank Kpetz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 8, 2006

My wife and I recently made our fifth visit to RP and we will be going back. The property is simply beautiful. All rooms are spacious, well appointed, and have ocean views. You’ll sleep like a baby on the wonderful bedding.

There are two places to eat lunch and both feature excellent made-to-order dishes. Your dinner choices are an upstairs, white-glove setting, or on the veranda. Both dinner locations have gourmet food. The nightly entertainment enhances the dining to produce memorable evenings.

Peter Fraser, the GM, and Suzanne Millwood, the Hotel Manager, are both very visible and will personally see to any details concerning your visit.

Do yourself a favor and get to know the staff (Ian, Latoya, Cibonney, Terry-Ann, Craig, Gary, Natelie). They are professional in manner and are representatives of Jamaica’s best asset; its people. Go make some friends.

As one reviewer pointed out, this is not a party resort. You will, however, tend to find a well-to-do, friendly and engaging clientele. We have been fortunate to meet people on each of our visits who have become friends that we keep in touch with.

RP is a magical place on a magical island.

Jack and Di

  • Stayed: July 2006, traveled as a couple
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9  Thank Jack_and_Di
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2006

My husband and I have just returned from a two-week holiday at RP. Having read the reviews on this site it is fair to say that we went there with high expectations, and we were not disappointed. It is simply the best hotel we have ever stayed in.

We stayed in a luxury ocean front junior suite which was as spacious as it was elegant – the bed was the most comfortable I have ever slept in. The view over the beach was stunning.

From the minute we arrived, right until we left, the service was nothing short of exceptional – nothing is too much trouble for the gracious, friendly staff at RP. In my mind, it is their attention to detail that sets this place apart from the rest, and we genuinely miss their warmth and generosity now that we’re back home.

Our package was the Royal Plan, which I would recommend as it’s nice to be able to eat and drink exactly what you want without having to worry about a bill at the end of the stay. It’s a very comprehensive package and even includes brand name spirits in the room and a huge selection of house wines with dinner. The restaurants were excellent, portions plenty big enough for us, and we were fortunate to experience the six course chef’s table dinner one night, hosted by the hotel manager, chef and sommelier. The evenings were very pleasant and relaxing – this is not a party hotel, (we wouldn’t have gone if it had been) – a relaxing dinner, often under the stars, and music.

The gardens and grounds to the hotel are very attractive and beautifully kept. The beaches are on the small side, but kept pristine and never seemed crowded. There is plenty do with tennis, gym, water sports etc, all of which are well organised. Other options include a nature walk with the ground staff, an opportunity to cook in the kitchens and various demonstrations and talks.

We just loved everything about this place, and are already trying to plan our return there. A huge thank you to all the staff there, and to the reviewers on this site who convinced us this was the place for us. We shall be forever in your debt!

  • Stayed: September 2006, traveled as a couple
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15  Thank wendyjm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sandals Royal Plantation

Address: Main Street, 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:
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Ocho Rios
#2 Spa Hotel in Ocho Rios
#2 Luxury Hotel in Ocho Rios
#2 Romantic Hotel in Ocho Rios
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Ocho Rios
Price Range: $581 - $1,646 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Sandals Royal Plantation 5*
Number of rooms: 74
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
•All suite resort and all are serviced by butlers trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers•2 private beaches with beach butler service•The Caribbean’s only Champagne and Caviar Bar•Exquisite International, Mediterranean, Caribbean and French cuisine•24 hour in suite dining•Complimentary transfers from this resort to all Sandals Resorts•Voted Sandals Resorts “World Leading All-Inclusive Company” 16 years in a row•Voted Sandals Resorts “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand” 18 years in a row•Five Star Diamond Award - American Academy of Hospitality Sciences ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sandals Royal Plantation Hotel Ocho Rios
Royal Plantation Ocho Rios
Royal Plantation Jamaica
Sandals Royal Plantation Jamaica/Ocho Rios

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