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“The Worst Vacation ever”

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Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa
Ranked #9 of 80 Hotels in Negril
Certificate of Excellence
A TripAdvisor Member
Long Island, NY
Reviewed April 20, 2005

The following is a letter my wife and I sent to our travel agent descriping our vacation. Please feel free to email me if you have further questions at anguswhittaker@yahoo.com

Dear Tami:

As you know we recently returned from our vacation in Negril, Jamaica at the Sandals “Ultra All-Inclusive” resort. Our travel dates were April 10th through the 16th. The following summarizes our unforgettable experience.

We arrived at the airport in Jamaica at 1:00 p.m., with the expectation our bus would be waiting to pick us up and we would continue on our one and one-half hour journey to the resort. (Apparently this additional travel time would “be worth it,” as Negril is Sandals premier resort.) Instead, we waited an hour in the sun, with our luggage and temperatures in the nineties, for our bus to even arrive at the airport. While this was uncomfortable, our aggravation was mostly a result of not one employee, despite the many hanging around, offered us any information about when our bus would arrive.

Upon arrival at the resort, we were escorted to the concierge upstairs for check-in, despite the fact that we had a pre-check in arranged by our travel agent. Nevertheless, we were happy our day at the beach was about to begin. Unfortunately, the concierge interrupted our check-in to make dinner reservations for an inebriated guest that burst into the office. So, we waited for the concierge to turn his attention back to us, only to be told our room was not ready. We were told we should have lunch at the buffet while we waited for our room. This was our first encounter with Sandals cuisine and it only confirmed our experience until this point – unprofessional, unsophisticated and sloppy.

When we finally got to our room (only after going back to the concierge to inquire about when our room would be ready – they never sought us out) we were thrilled, finally we could go to the beach. We were ready to turn this experience around – but Sandals was not going to let that happen. It was another thirty minutes until our luggage made it to our room. Despite our disappointment, we remained optimistic. At least we were in our room and finally we could use a private toilet (remember, we have been traveling since 4 a.m. eastern time, at this point it is 3 p.m. central). Much to our dismay, we soon discovered our bathroom was filthier than the public facilities we used all day. So, we cleaned the bathroom while we waited for our luggage.

It was very apparent, by 4 p.m. central time, the service at Sandals would be difficult to endure. What we had not anticipated at this point, was that every single meal would be absolute torture.

The food was terrible, even inedible. The following are a few choice examples: the salad at the “white glove” restaurant is shredded lettuce on a plate – it is also the same lettuce served as a garnish with the burger; the burgers are not even edible if you smother it in ketchup; the bread is stale and damp; the desserts are strangely familiar – they are something you would pull off of a school cafeteria line; the ice cream is too airy, too sweet and frost bitten. One restaurant is worse than the next. Likewise, room service food was disgusting. We ordered three dishes and not even half of what we ordered was edible. Needless to say, a “suite” with room service was a complete and total waste.

Every afternoon and evening, when our bellies growled, we looked to each other for the motivation to begin the hunt for edible, albeit unsatisfying food. We set out to each and every restaurant each night in attempts to piece together some semblance of meal. By Tuesday evening we found a couple of things to eat: mangos, pita bread, hummus and a chicken and couscous dish at the Four Cs restaurant. Unfortunately, on Wednesday when we set out to repeat our meal – we discovered they had “run out” of our staple selections, namely Mangos. It is surprising to say the least that it is possible to run out of mango in Jamaica.

In addition to the food, the drinks were disgusting. There was not a decent glass of wine to be found. Apparently, the staff believes chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are the same and they were perfectly happy to tell me they serve a “mixture” of these two wines. The frozen drinks are equally as repulsive; too sweet, too watered down and prepared with little to no knowledge of the chemistry of bartending. The staff was even incapable of adding the appropriate amount of rum to a daiquiri prepared by a machine.

Perhaps this seems a bit harsh, but the drink problem had many layers. Maybe the actually beverage was ok, and the problem was only that the plastic cups they are served in are not properly washed. Therefore, every drink tastes like the previous beverage it contained. It is also very possible that they have rum in the soda gun behind the bar and they never clean the lines. Therefore, every drink (soda, coke, ginger ale) tastes like rum. We will never know and I will never return to find out.

We told ourselves it was just “an island thing.” Perhaps it was us, we were not adapting – but then we took the bus to Margarita Ville. Good food is possible in Jamaica. However, it will not be included in your ultra all-inclusive vacation. Margarita Ville was our oasis in the desert. Finally, a good drink and a decent meal. We decided we would take the free bus to Margarita Ville every night, we were that hungry. Unfortunately, the free bus was only available on Tuesday nights. If we wanted to eat at Margarita Ville, the concierge said we had to take a cab down the road for $10 a person one way. So much for all-inclusive. We toyed with the idea of spending $100 a night for dinner and 3 frozen margaritas – but decided we would wait and celebrate at home.

With all hope lost for a decent drink and a satisfying meal, I made a spa appointment for manicure and a pedicure. I arrived on time, only to have to wait until the technician set up her station (I was the first appointment, 9 a.m., and the technicians were hanging out at the reception desk when I arrived). I sat down and the technician began to file my fingernails. I informed I had on nail polish, she may want to remove it before filing. When she returned to filing my nails, she took the regular nail file (not a buffer) and began filing the top of my fingernails. I asked her to please not do that on my nails. So, she began filing my nails straight across when one of her co-workers began talking to her and rather then stop filing, she filed the flesh on my fingertip until I yanked it away in pain. I proceeded to get up, tell her not to worry about the rest of the manicure and to please cancel my pedicure. I thought it wiser to relax on the beach.

At first I thought the beach was going to be saving grace of this vacation experience, until we realized for the next six days, every day, while we sat on the beach trying to relax, we would be solicited for drugs, sex, braids and crafts. I could forgive the braid ladies and the craft guys, but Sandals should keep drug dealers off their property. It was not relaxing at all to be approached several times daily with marijuana and cocaine.

As if this was not bad enough, on the third day the craft fair set up shop on property, on the path to our room. The stands were there for the next three days. If we chose to walk to and from our room along the beach, we would also have to endure the “calls” from the crafters. Needless to say, we went around the front of the resort for the next three days.

Overall, this was by far my worst vacation experience. Frankly, not even the beach redeemed Sandals. The beach is narrow and the resort is right on top of the water. In addition, every day there was garbage floating in the water (plastic plates and paper cups).

I will never recommend any Sandals resort, nor will I ever return to any of their properties. They should be embarrassed by their shoddy service, lack of sophistication and less than mediocre quality cuisine. It is almost impossible for me to fully communicate my disappointment. It was outrageously unpleasant. We are extremely hard-working people and our vacations are very special to us. I am devastated we wasted our money, $4,500 for a six night stay, and our time at Sandals.

Very truly yours,
Angus Whittaker

  • Stayed: April 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
29  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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5,079 - 5,085 of 5,365 reviews

Reviewed April 18, 2005

We visited Sandals Negril on several occasions while staying at Beaches Sanday Bay, which is next door, with our children. Since we had full exchange privledges, we sent our kids to Kids Kamp and headed down the beach for some rest and relaxation.

Beach - The beach is perfect. Beautiful soft sand, kept immaculately clean, warm water with gentle waves and the perfect Carribean color. My husband and I completely enjoyed our beach chairs and floating and swimming in the sea.

Lunch - We ate lunch at Barefoot on the Beach and enjoyed a delicious salad, tasty chicken wrap and good wine. We were literally barefoot on the beach and less than fifteen feet from the sea. It has a wonderful atmosphere with teak tables and chairs and nautical memorabilla hanging from the ceiling. We also lunched at the Beach Grill which was fun and lively. The Jerk Chicken Quesidillas are tremendous.

Dinner - We ate dinner at the main restaurant and the food there was average with slow service but the entertainment was great!! Jen Meyers sang that night and she is a real performer, Celine Dion watch out!! Don't miss her if she is performing when you are at Sandals.

Bars - We hung out at the Piano bar and were entertained by a friendly guy named Andre who even had an "Andre special" drink. He is a star on the resort, we also saw him at the pool bar and he has a loyal following!! The Piano bar is a wonderful place with large romantic swings and cushy wicker conversation areas. The pool bar is fun and we enjoyed swimming to our drinks!

There were lots of honeymooners and young couples but also quite a few older couples and groups. My husband and I are in our 30's and we were a bit of an oddity but probably because most couples our age have small children that can't be left at home!

Overall, the property is very lush and beautiful, the rooms we saw were gorgeous and close to the sea. The staff was curteous and sometimes very friendly. The beach is outstanding. We would consider this among our first choices for a kid free vacation, when that time comes.

  • Stayed: April 2005
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
10  Thank coldinrochester
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 18, 2005

We just returned last night from 5 days at Sandals Negril. We had a great trip. Based on a few reviews I expects to see a resort that was in terrible shape but of course that wasn't the case. The bus ride wasn't very fun but it was nice to see Jamaica. It lasted about two hours and was about like you would expect a two hour bus ride to be. We took the plane back. It was only a 15 minute ride and cost 140.00 per couple and it was small. The food was great as was the staff. They were doing some construction by our room but we made the best of it. I think the resorts all have the same delima. Everyone wants the resort to look brand new but no one wants any maintainace done while they are there. We could have complianed but we took the opportunity to meet 4 great guys from Jamaica. They told us money was very short in Jamaica. They made about 10 dollars a day and only had work about 1/2 of the year so we took them supper from the grill every night and some Red Stripe from the bar. The last day we were there one on the guys brought us a frame that he had made while in school. We learned alot about the real Jamaica. If you have an opportunity find Sheldon and tell him you heard he makes the best Conac (sp?) and Sprite on the island. I never had it before and after one night of drinking many shots with Sheldon I never need to have it again. He was great fun and made our trip very enjoyable. We brought long pants to wear to Kimonos becase the dress code said this was necessary. We were the only ones that were dressed this way. We saw people in jean shorts and t-shirts. You will be fine with nice shorts and a nice shirt anywhere. Sorry for the randon thoughts but it was some info that I thought would be helpful.

  • Stayed: April 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
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7  Thank MikeBart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 4, 2005

Had a great experience from beginning to end. Arrived in MB on Sunday, March 27, waiting approx. 30 minutes to get through everything, then was off in a bus (approx. 75 minutes bus trip) to Negril. Was greeted right when we arrived at Sandals. NO PROBLEMS AT ALL.

Staff - Excellent. About 99.9% of the staff was perfect. No complaints. Maybe at times we were ask too many times if we needed anything. That would be about it.

Resort - Awesome. Great rooms. Great beach. Very clean.

Pools/hottubs - again no complaints.

Food - Portions at time we very small, but we would just order two entrees, and that would fill you up. Buffetts were awesome breakfast through dinner. Beach grill was great. Try the chicken quesidias. Ate about 100 of them while I was there.

Drinks - Great, at times it would get a little busy at a bar, and take a few extras minutes to get a drink, but still no complaints. If you wanted an extra shot, "no problem man".

Rooms - nice, little small, but, still no complaints. didn't spend much time in the room except to change and sleep. Cleaned every day, and bed turned downed every night.

Overall - Excellent trip. Would recommened this resort to anyone, and defienatly plan on returnning.

  • Stayed: March 2005
    • Value
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15  Thank gundo13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 4, 2005

Went for 4 days and 3 nights to Sandals Negril in March 2005.
Overall, average across the board in terms of food quality, service and accomodations.
Negril itself is beautiful and the beaches are great. We had no problems with towels, chairs or water floats.

However, the resort itself was a disapointment.

Worst of all we were put off by the wait staff on more than one occasion. When I asked for a drink made with Absolut, the bartender scoffed and said something under her breath.
Another bartender outright refused to make me a specific drink I asked him about that he had made for another guest.
When I went for the tennis lessons that were "scheduled" for 8:30am according to the activities list and guest services, the single "pro" asked me my level. When I responded "intermediate" he replied "those lessons are at 7:30, this lesson is for beginners". When I told him no-one was there and the desk told me lessons were at 8:30 he reluctantly hit balls to me for 20 minutes with little input on my game.

The resort appeared to be constantly out of the small things that make or break your experience (lemons, olives, ice cream, dinner items, etc).

Do yourself a favor and head to Couples Swept Away (we went there 2 years ago) for a higher level of service.

p.s. we decided on SN because we went with 2 other couples and we expected a more festive and fun place, but found it less "alive" than CSA.

  • Stayed: January 2005
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6  Thank pmonsen99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed April 4, 2005

My wife and I went to Sandals Negril Beach Resort for a Valentine Day holiday (Feb 11 to 15th). We had never been to Jamaica nor to a Sandals resort. While at Sandals, we didn't leave the resort. Upon our return to the USA, my wife became ill. Initially, we thought it was a case of "travellers disease". Four days after our return from Sandals, my wife was hospitalized due to severe diarrhea and dehydration (Feb 20th). She was in the hospital for four days. She was diagnosed with Salmonella food poisoning. It took a full week after she left the hospital to return to work and another week to begin a normal life. For the benefit of anyone who is not familiar with Salmonella, it is a life threatening illness unless treated quickly!

I spoke with the General Manager at Negril, Mr. Junior Gordon, on March 4th...describing what happened. He listened politely and offered to follow up at the resort if I could give him some information as to the restaurants we visited while at Sandals. I provided that info via e-mail on March 7th. In addition, I asked for his help to assure we recieved a booking refund that was owed us for a room change. I received no reponse from Mr. Gordon or the Resort so I faxed another request to Mr. Gordon on March 29th......still no response!

Still no explanation or apology. Still no booking refund. My advice...stay away from Sandals Negril Beach and Jamaica!

15  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 2, 2005

We have just returned from an 8-day vacation at Sandals, Negril. We really had an awesome time! We were treated like royalty from beginning to end of our trip - the staff are very friendly, attentive, and work very hard to please all the guests. We were upgraded to a premium room when we arrived and it was lovely but faced the road. We asked if we could move and they said yes! We were given a lovely beachfront room! We mostly ate at the buffet and found the food to be delicious with lots of variety. We ate at the 4 C's twice and really enjoyed the food there very much. We only ate at the Sundowner once and it was pretty good also. The beach grill was a fav for lunch - friendly service and great snacks. We tried to get a reservation at Beaches (the Italian restaurant) but were never able to get one. The beach is the best we have ever seen - nice white sand, beautiful warm water, lots of lounge chairs (except "certain" people hogged the floaties by keeping them on their lounge chairs even when they weren't around. We were there for Reunion Week and I must say, the staff really went all out for returning guests - we received such a warm welcome and also had little gifts put in our rooms each day, we were treated to an off-property excursion and some wonderful meals and entertainment. We met some wonderful staff who really went out of their way to make our trip special: playmakers - Kennile and Gavin, Owen at the bar, and our room attendant, Jacqueline was awesome! the captain of the boat who took us snorkeling and drives the glass bottom boat - can't remember his name but he was really great, and a really nice fellow who works in the kitchen - his name is Andrew. All the staff are wonderful but these particular people really took the time to make us so welcome. We met some really nice guests there as well - notably: Kathy & Barry - we really enjoyed hanging out with you and I know we will keep in touch!
We took a side-trip one day - we hired a taxi - driven by Junior who was an awesome guide and he took us to Sandals White House for a few hours. It was a really nice drive there and we got to see the new resort - it is HUGE! Very beautiful - has an enormous main pool - they are still working on the landscaping and it looks like it will be very beautiful.
We do have one complaint and it is a biggie: The very long wait at the airport in Jamaica was brutal! We had to line up for almost an hour when we arrived - with no air conditioning, there are not enough employees processing the travellers and the process is way too long. We encountered the same thing on our way home -- there were literally hundreds of people standing in long lines in the heat - we saw one lady faint.
The vacation at Sandals Negril was absolutely fantastic but I doubt I would return because of the way the airport in Montego Bay handles the travellers - the first and last day of our vacation were terrible because of the long line-ups in the heat. We talked to many people in the lines who said the same kind of thing. I hope they rectify this! But we highly recommend Sandals, Negril to everyone for an awesome vacation!!

  • Stayed: March 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
14  Thank Sandy181754
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa

Address: Norman Manley Boulevard, Negril 167, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Jamaica > Westmoreland Parish > Negril
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:
#2 Business Hotel in Negril
#5 On the Beach Hotel in Negril
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Negril
#8 Spa Hotel in Negril
#8 Luxury Hotel in Negril
#10 Family Hotel in Negril
#13 Romantic Hotel in Negril
Price Range: $465 - $1,113 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 223
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

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