Everything about Jamaica’s tourist culture, the beauty of the island, and it’s one love philosophy made it the perfect destination for our 25th wedding “anniversarymoon”. Even though the Sandals brand is well established, it can be tough to decide between their nine resort locations in Jamaica. This review of Sandals Royal Caribbean is unsolicited, sincere, and practical!
Choosing a resort is all about what you want to get out of the experience. We chose Sandals Royal Caribbean because we wanted to be close to the airport (fifteen minutes) and we wanted a relaxing and luxurious honeymoon vibe.
You get what you pay for, -except when you don’t. What a nightmare it would be to pay top price for a less than stellar resort stay! Since Sandals books up pretty quickly, we conducted our research months in advance. Armed with information, we sent the required deposit to reserve our spot in paradise.The biggest debate regarding which Sandals to visit in Jamaica involves airport transfer. The further you drive from the airport, the earlier you have to leave on departure day to make your flight back home!
Some view the bus travel to the resorts further into Jamaica as an added bonus. It becomes a tour to see more of authentic Jamaican landscape and culture. We wanted to get right to the action in order to maximize our time on holiday. Our decision then became which of the “close to the airport” resorts to select. I agree with all of the couples who prefer the chill of Sandals Royal Caribbean for relaxation and rest, -and here’s why…
Sandals Montego Bay is a short shuttle ride just a few minutes from the airport, and transfers are included. The Montego Bay resort has a Miami resort feel and has a more lively, exciting atmosphere. –But we didn’t want lively to stay in the resort room next to us when we were trying to rest. Royal Caribbean gives you total relaxation -and when you want a party, you can shuttle over to the Montego Bay resort and then come back to the zen of your upscale vacation “home away from home”.
The roar of the planes taking off and landing is more profound at Montego Bay, but since they keep the party going, most people get used to it quickly. You can still hear plane sounds at Royal Carribean, but it wasn’t a distraction from…THE VIEW!Once we arrived from the airport shuttle with a champagne toast, we were quickly whisked off to our rooms. Rooms are the second question that many people have about Sandals. Is it worth the increased cost to pay thousands more for the highest end rooms, some over water with see-through floors, and to have butler service?
If you are honeymooning and will spend much more time in the room, go for a mid to high tier with or without butler service. The butler service is like having a personal assistant make your dinner reservations, reserve your beach chair, and prep your clothes, -simply a matter of preference. If you are meeting up with other couples and plan many activities, a lower tier room will give you the same access to all amenities and all inclusive meals, so you really can’t go wrong either way. If you choose from the lower tier, pay a bit more for the balcony room so you can eat outside..after all, this is Jamaica!The nightlife at Royal Carribean is almost non-existent, but you will be surrounded by beauty from every view point. The resort is full of restaurants with bars, private pools, a private island, a spa, water-sports, and that wonderful dragon boat that takes you to their renowned Thai restaurant. All of that without leaving the property!So here are The Lady’s practical recommendations so that you may plan ahead and maximize your stay…
- Use an experienced travel agent who is also a Sandals specialist rather than booking online through the resort. You will have increased options on airfare, travel insurance, and personalized service without sales pressure.
- At the airport, if you purchase Club Mobay you may still wait in line. You are essentially paying for a shorter wait, like a fast pass. Sandals has an airport lounge, so without the additional cost of Club Mobay, you are still well taken care of.
- Travel with couple friends if you can. This allows you to take each other’s pictures, saving you the added expense of the resort photographer. This also allows for girls and guys only brunch, spa or sports bar outings, depending on how long you stay.
- Make your restaurant reservations as soon as you check into your room, -some require a day of advance notice. The Thai and French restaurants are must visits for Royal Caribbean!
- The internet wifi only connected in the main lobby, which caused our phones to become cameras. And bring pens. There were note pads, but no writing utensils in the rooms for some reason.
- A Yeti tumbler is perfect to keep icy drinks cold on the beach, and does double duty to keep drinks hot on your late night stops at the latte machine. There they also serve the most delicious chocolate chip cookies!
- Bring outdoor insect repellent! They call them “no see ’ems” for exactly that reason. We didn’t notice them when we laid out on the beach under the stars at midnight, but the super itchy insect bites were a souvenir that we could have done without!
- Try new foods! Jamaican Callaloo is a wonderful green leafy vegetable that is served with breakfast or dinner. It is in the kale, spinach, and collard family and it is divine! All of the resort food is delicious and there are plenty of nutritious, whole food options.
- The weed-man (cannabis) rows the length of the ocean water outside of floating boundaries established by the private beach. He is not selling the souvenirs that he advertises from the boat. All of the vendors are pretty easy to ignore, and they did not detract from our rest.
- Try a water sport and go off the property at least once. The short ride to the Montego Bay resort or other Sandals resorts to try their restaurants, shopping, and night life are no additional cost. Arranging to travel further inland to Dunns River Falls will allow you to experience more of Jamaica.
Now that you have tips, -just go!
We are now honorary J’Americans and will definitely soon be back! Yeah mon, Irie!
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