Tuesday, April 12, 2011
SANDALS Resorts, JAMAICA
We recently had the pleasant opportunity to visit several Sandals resorts in Jamaica. No other resorts in the world include the combination of quality, choices and romantic settings that Sandals provides. They bill themselves as a Luxury Included Vacation and from our experience that is certainly true.
As far as the Sandals properties we visited are concerned, the Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego is a favourite. It is a fairly small with 197 rooms in 13 categories and has a British Colonial charm in a Caribbean setting that was very appealing. The main lobby, although not a large, soaring space, is very welcoming and tastefully decorated. It includes a refurbished piano bar and a concierge lounge.
The beach wasn’t very big but this is offset by the beach surrounding their private island which is located just offshore. A small boat ferries guests from the mainland to the island. The trip takes about 1 minute. The island contains its own pool, bar, restaurant and a clothing optional beach section on the back side of the island.
All of the rooms feature the mahogany furniture that Sandals is known for and are very tasteful and roomy. Regular rooms (not butler or concierge class) do not stock alcoholic beverages in room fridge. Only soft drinks, water and juices. The Royal Caribbean has recently completed swim-up river suites (they are gorgeous by the way) and has recently refurbished the lobby and concierge lounge and piano bar.
There are several dining options available on resort. Five restaurants, including the spectacular Thai restaurant on the private island offering something for everyone. The property also has 7 pools, two of which are swim up. Guests at Sandals Royal Caribbean are entitled t o full exchange privileges with Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Inn, both close by, that offer an additional 7 restaurants. Transfers are provided between resorts.
Overall Impressions: we really liked this resort. It is a quaint, intimate resort that has a very friendly, cozy feel. The rooms were quite large and comfortable with that signature carved mahogany furniture once expects at Sandals resorts. There are lots of little nooks and crannies if you want to get away from it all and open, public places if you want to be in the thick of things. The private island is quite lovely – an oasis of calm. The beach was quite small but there is the beach around the island and several pools on property.
Moving on to the next stop, we had the good fortune to visit the newest Sandals resort, Sandals Whitehouse European Village & Spa. It’s a long transfer from the airport but the first impressions of the Whitehouse was WOW!! This is a gorgeous property. Upon arrival you are greeted with a face cloth to freshen up and a welcome cocktail. You are then escorted into the main lobby where the check in process is done. Here you are asked to fill in a registration paper and from there you are given your room information and keys. For (upscale) concierge rooms you are taken into a Suite Center for check in and a welcome cocktail. There is also a concierge Center that is open daily to assist with booking tours, car rentals or dinner reservations for those booked in a concierge room category.
We had the pleasure of having a butler suite. I highly recommend you experience this level of service. With this option you are looked after from the moment you arrive. We were pleasantly greeted by our butler in the lobby and was chauffeured to our room. The butler is basically there to take care of all of your needs, whether you need drinks, towels, a plate of nachos while you are on the beach, a dinner reservation, a drive, your clothes pressed or washed, you name it they are there to do it for you. The guests are provided with a cell phone with their butler programmed into it in case they need anything at anytime. They are on duty from 7:00am until 10:00pm. These suites offer 24 hour rooms service as well.
The Sandals Whitehouse is broken up into three “villages”. There is the Italian, Dutch and French Villages, each village has their own pool and all rooms at this property are beachfront. The Italian Village is the closest to the main lobby area and the main courtyard where the restaurants and theatre are. The Dutch Village is the quietest village onsite and the French Village is where the action is with daily activities at this pool. Also all entry level rooms are located in the French Village.
For dining there are 7 options: Italian, Asian, Caribbean, International, Tex Mex, a European Patisserie with delicious coffees and pastries and two beach club dining options that are resort casual. There are also 6 bars onsite including pool bars, piano bar, theatre bar and a beach bar. Also onsite there is a Business Center with internet access, telephone service. There is also a large conference rooms for private functions or meetings.