My Wife and I recently returned from a holiday at Sandals Negril (3rd – 17th July 2013) which we enjoyed. We were met at Montego Bay Airport by Keuron the local Virgin representative, who was excellent, both at the airport and during several checks he made on us while at the resort.
As usual the trip from the airport (1½ hours) was uncomfortable due to the poor standard of maintenance of the vehicle and the erratic nature of the driving. It appears that the hotel chooses the transport contractors on price alone. I would gladly pay a premium for a comfortable seat in a well maintained, well driven vehicle.
When we arrived at the hotel we had a warm reception before being escorted to the concierge office where the formalities were completed. We were then taken to our room (Honeymoon beachfront walk out concierge room 5112) which was fine. The bathrooms and air conditioning system were however in need of updating, a process that has already started. The room was as described beach front and was within twenty steps of the fantastic beach but unfortunately the covered access corridor at the rear of the room was noisy for up to twenty hours a day. In our view serious thought should be given to fitting a noise reducing floor covering or using trolleys with pneumatic tyres during the periods when guests are likely to be sleeping. We would also have preferred a room further away from the main restaurant and entertainment area. During our stay we had exception service from Kebar who kept our room spotless and Donavan who ensured that our mini bar was well stocked.
The five restaurants served a wide variety of good quality food and with the exception of Kimonos were ideally situated offering wonderful views of the beach and bay, the service at each was invariably first class. Reservations are required for both Kimonos (Japanese) and Cucina Romano (Italian). As my Wife is vegetarian we were disappointed to find that there was no vegetarian option at Kimonos as all the food is prepared in front of the guests on a large communal hotplate. Our waiter Nicholas was very professional though, not only did he apologise profusely but he made it his business to escort us to the Sundowner restaurant where he explained the situation to his brother Oshane, who was also excellent, arranging for us to have one of the best tables and ensured through his professionalism that we had a wonderful evening.
As we had already made two further reservations at Kimonos I visited the Concierge Office to explain the situation and to cancel these reservations, I was obviously expecting some form of follow up action but was disappointed to find there was none. Shortly following this incident we were asked by Nana Shandraseka (Food and Beverage Director) how we were enjoying our holiday, we explained to him that with the exception of our short visit to Kimonos and the fact that there are limited vegetarian options at other restaurants, it was a most enjoyable experience. He was most concerned and immediately arrange for us to meet all the Chefs, he explained the situation to each of them and asked if they could devise special individual meals for her. Each of the Chefs (Damian, Steve and Kevin) were first class, subsequently preparing a series of excellent vegetarian meals for her. In addition to constantly monitoring the situation, Nana arranged for a vegetarian option to be added to the menu at Kimonos. Normally at this restaurant guests are seated at tables of eight, each table having an assigned Chef, but Nana arranged a special meal for just the two of us which was the highlight of our holiday. Napoleon our Chef was a mixture of Master Chef, comedian, singer and juggler, who in addition to keeping us entertained the whole evening prepared one of the best vegetarian meals my Wife has ever tasted.
Nana is a consummate professional who changed our holiday from good to excellent and is the main reason we will be returning to Sandals Negril.
It is my view that the heads of other departments, who were conspicuous by their absence, could learn a great deal from the exceptional level of customer service Nana provides.
If like us you enjoy, good food and service in a quiet intimate beach front location then I would highly recommend Cucina Romanos, Sundowners and Barefoot by the Beach restaurants. We also enjoyed the food at the Bayside restaurant, but here it can get a little noisy particularly if you have a table near the stage. We had the last dinner of our holiday at Cucina Romanos, where we were very well looked after by Norman, as there was no vegetarian soup on the menu that evening Norman sourced some from one of the other restaurants, this is just one example of the standard of service.
The buffet breakfasts and lunches at the Bayside restaurant were also very good, if you could not find what you liked at the buffet Steve the Chef would prepare whatever you required. (Given a little notice) we were particularly well looked after at breakfast and lunch by Pauline, Ashman (waiters) and Denese the lovely lady who prepared the fresh orange juice, fruit and salad.
I went diving every day and found the dive team very professional. While they we all good two member really stood out, Josh a dive leader and Captain Hopeton Mackintosh. I have been diving in the Caribbean for almost thirty years, during which time I have never sailed with a better captain, his combination of boat manoeuvring skills together with his attention to detail in regard to safety health and welfare inspired high levels of confidence among the divers.
While most guests seemed to enjoy the cabaret it was far too noisy for us, maybe an age thing! One particular evening we were very much looking forward to the steel band which we thought would play the warm, soft, melodic music we associate with the Caribbean. Unfortunately for us the exact opposite was the case, while the drummers were obviously very talented the music was loud, high pitched, harsh and frantic. This was made even worse by the inclusion of a drummer with a traditional drum kit. Again though we were in the minority as most of the rest of the audience seemed to enjoy the performance. Personally we preferred the performers on the beach to any of the cabaret at the resort. (Particularly the ‘Big Bamboo’ man)
Unlike other similar resorts however there are quiet areas where guests who do not enjoy the cabaret can escape; I would particularly recommend the bar and surrounding area close to the Sundowner restaurant, where you can sit quietly under the stars with only the sound of the Caribbean lapping the beach, fantastic.
The return journey to the airport was equally as traumatic as the outward journey, this time with no air conditioning. While we are used to drivers using mobile phones while driving we were horrified to find that this driver was actually playing with his Ipad, which caused him to swerve violently on at least two occasions. I finally had to ask him if he would please keep his eyes on the road. We were all very pleased when we eventually arrived at the airport. Hopefully it will not take a serious accident to make the resorts improve this situation.
I have tried to give a balanced account of our holiday to Negril and hope that readers will find it useful.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located on Negril's pristine 7-mile white sand beach•Phenomenal bedroom oceanfront suites set upon a relaxing crystal lagoon•Ultra luxurious one-bedroom millionaire honeymoon suites with private plunge pool•Seven exquisite dining options•Voted Sandals “World's Leading All-Inclusive Company” 16 years in a row•Voted “Caribbean's Leading Hotel Brand” 18 years in a row•Voted Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa “Jamaica's Leading Hotel” (2nd consecutive year)•Five Star Diamond Resort, American Academy of Hospitality Science ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sandals Negril Beach Hotel Negril
- Sandals Negril Beach Resort And Spa
- Sandals Jamaica
- Sandals Negril Jamaica
- Sandals Resort