Over the next week, I’ll be writing about the experience that Adelle and I had over the 4 night / 5 day vacation we had in Jamaica. I chose to split it up into a three part review starting out with the overall Resort Experience, Casual and Formal Dining and Amenities. Below is the narrative. We landed at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica after a quick 2.5 hour flight from Atlanta, Ga. Making our way towards customs, we thought that our processing would go by rather quickly, but instead we endured a long one hour wait which included some entertainment particularly a fight between two older women about letting their families cut in line. It went on for a good 10 minutes before the locals separated them but it was definitely close to escalating into a slap fight.
When we excited the baggage and customs area, we entered a lobby where the resorts had taken up shop creating a welcoming experience for their guests. It basically consisted for a lounge where Red Stripe Beer was free flowing; our bags were taken care of by the airport valet (gratuity not included, and it was totally unnecessary); other colas were available and some fresh fruits on the table if you got their early enough before the other tourists ravaged the tray. Our bus arrived quickly and to our surprise, the Sandals Resort at Montego Bay was relatively close. A 10 minute drive was nothing compared to what the others were talking about. Some of the other Sandals resorts were as far out as 1.5 hours in a van, but I was glad that ours consisted of 10 minutes of driving on the left hand side of the road. As a side note, the booking agent made sure that we knew that all gratuities on the resort were included as it was dubbed an All Inclusive Resort but all the little things such as the van ride to the hotel, valet baggage service and the little knick knacks here and there are NOT Included and they make sure to tell you that they work on tips. Not that I spent too much, but I was a little surprised.
Our bags were taken from us and put aside while we were escorted to another lounge within the resort where they gave us a lemongrass cold face towels, some champagne and a “membership card” along with our “upgraded room” packages. They make it seem that we were special and got the upgraded accommodations, but it really just seems all like a little thing to spruce up your enjoyment from the get go. The card that they gave us had Deluxe upgraded to Honeymoon Waters Edge printed on it. We were definitely grateful for it as our room included a jetted tub, mini bar (which was included) a king size bed and a view of the ocean from out small balcony. Sandals makes it a point that everything gets billed to your room so that your don’t have to carry too much around which is a nice detail but then again, without the exchange of cash or cards, you can easily end up spending a lot more than your initial vacation budget. Housekeeping surprised us by cleaning out our room twice a day and we only caught them once! I guess it makes sense that they would tidy up the place that often due to the frequent showers and swims at the beach but it became a game to guess when they would come because they really were good at keeping out of sight.
We got to the resort around 1400 and were excited to hit the beach and explore so we did. Walking around the main lobby, there was an activities board that was updated daily, a spa desk for the expensive massages that couples get (we opted out) tourism desk (also for expensive tours that we were advised against) three different restaurants and a pool that was always closer to the freezing readout. I taught Adelle how to swim two days in row so that she could pass the swim test prior to the scuba dive, so we had a lot of time in the pool. I can’t say that I ever warmed up.
Once on the sand, there is a hut that provides an assortment of blended cocktails and drinks on one side and a grill aptly named “Irie Grille” on the opposite side. More on that later. Along the beach, there are Hobbie Cats (quick little sail boats), paddle boats, one wind surfing board, 4 2-seat kayaks, a designated swim area, glass bottom boat that gives hourly tours, the scuba boat that goes out twice a day and a large catamaran (not included). There are plenty of white beach lounge chairs some under huts and some not, a couple of “exclusive” mattresses that couple can rent out, and a piano-pool side bar on the far east end of the resort. There’s also a basketball court, beach and pool volleyball, an oversized chess piece set on a smaller than standard board, shuffle board and a little bench swing. More to come soon!