We want to share with you the rather lengthy review we posted on TripAdvisor today about our trip to Sandals Montego Bay. Believe us, we cut back on the size, even though it meant not getting in as many of the very positive things we wanted to say. It’s still probably much longer than TA would like, but too bad! Rest assured, all the areas asking for good, bad, etc., were marked EXCELLENT!
We wanted it known how great our experience was and the wonderful people we encountered, but certainly wanted to mention some by name specifically. And there was one more that didn’t get mentioned because, well, because we’re kinda old and couldn’t remember her name. But she was the lady from whom Lois got a massage the day of our anniversary, December 19th, and she did a phenomenal job!
(BEGIN REVIEW) Outstanding experience! Our sixth Sandals over a 15-year period, fourth in the last 5 years. And this was the best yet! We believe this Sandals exemplifies all that we expect from their resorts and staff–and even what it means to go above those expectations!
The resort was undergoing construction (which our travel agent had made us aware of) around the lobby area and on an existing building and its grounds, so it was a bit noisy at times, and a bit awkward getting to a couple of locations, but the staff and workmen did their very best to prevent any inconvenience. Part of that construction created swim up lagoon butler rooms at that building, which were worth the inconvenience!
This was our third visit to different Sandals properties in Jamaica, and it greatly reinforced one of our significant reasons for wanting to go back–the people of Jamaica are the friendliest in the Caribbean! The entire staff were attentive and very responsive, not just taking care of us and our wishes, but making us feel at home.
We really liked our room, which was very spacious and in excellent condition, with an amazing bathroom sporting a huge walk-in shower with two shower heads. We had an awesome young lady, Shandel, making sure everything was clean and neat, plus leaving us special arrangements of towels and flowers daily.
The bulk of our meals were at Bayside, and they were all outstanding experiences. Great buffets with a large variety of food, cooked very well and very tasty. We had some excellent food at Cricketeers Pub, but also at Cucina Romana (both breakfast and dinner) and Oleander (dinner). If you order a steak at Cucina Romana, be prepared to overeat! It’s huge and delicious! Even though we considered The Mariner a “fast food” kind of place, it proved to have really good food, and not just burgers and pizza.
It turned out almost every night we capped off our meal with a visit to Cafe de Paris. The huge selection of pastries and crepes coupled with a Cafe Jamaica (coffee) were all just too good to pass up. Of course they also had an amazing selection of ice cream, with some of the flavors changing daily!
Of course, food and beverages are included at Sandals, but some of the staff we interacted with are worth mentioning because they stood out as going above and beyond normal expectations and made us feel very special. A supervisor Melissea, bartenders Ceylon and Samantha (who was only two weeks into her training, and who we hope will be permanent staff when we return!), wait staff Gerdeen and Jahmelia (also still in training and always brought smiles to our faces), and chefs Dionne and Dwight, all need to be mentioned as special people in their jobs.
We had a great time with Carla in Sales from our third day when she approached us and remembered our names from the first day. She worked very patiently with us as we planned our next return Sandals trip, and provided many fun conversations. We had great times every time we were able to get together with her!
We had several occasions to speak with Naseema in Club Sandals/Front Desk/Concierge Lounge. She was not just very professional, but a treat to talk with. We hope she returns to Sandals after graduating college.
Satchwell was a ball of tireless energy throughout the resort and at check-in and check-out. And while handling several guests simultaneously, he maintained a great, positive attitude and displayed a glowing smile. Â What a great way for guests to be greeted!
Of course, any Sandals would not be complete without an array of young folks providing the daily games and activities for guests, and showing off their awesome personal skills in nightly entertainment venues. We were fortunate enough to get to know Candice, Scion and Ramone of that great group, and loved their attitudes as well as their talents. And Scion not only displays physical talents, but is a terrific artist. We got to see several of his works…wow! (Note: he does sell his artwork, and we will be purchasing some on our next trip there in 2018!)
Special compliments to…
Carl Beviere, the General Manager, who just happened to greet us as we were wandering around our second day there and treated us to a tour of the areas under construction, explaining what they would look like on completion. We chatted several more times over coffee and a couple of meals, with updates on construction and just fun chats.
Dawn Smith, the Resort Manager, who we met as Carl was giving the first tour. Dawn combined top elements of professionalism and charm with a personality that made us feel like we were part of her family. We loved being around her and she was great to us our entire visit.
Nicky Feanny, the Project Manager, who treated us like old friends from our first encounter. He was a treat to talk with, and, as with Carl and Dawn, was always willing to discuss the construction, or just general topics.
Carl and Dawn were doing all they could to ensure Sandals Montego Bay was going to be the crown jewel in the Sandals family when all the construction is finished…as it should be since it was the first! But in the midst of all their responsibilities doing that, they managed to make us feel like not just like very special guests, but family…to be welcomed back again and again! What a treat! The other thing that was clearly evident with both of them is that they took care of all their employees and were well respected in return. The old adage, “if you take care of your people, your people will take care of your business” definitely applies here!
Sandals Montego Bay is a great location that allows several options for off-resort fun. To begin with, it’s about a 5-minute ride from the airport. (Yes, the departing planes fly over the resort, but instead of it being a bad thing, the staff – and yes, the guests – would wave goodbye! No, the folks in the planes couldn’t see them, but we knew shortly after our plane lifted from the tarmac, all our new-found friends were waving so long and saying “soon come back…yah mon!”) The town of Montego Bay is about a 15-minute taxi ride and allows for shopping, eating or drinking options, if you are so inclined. There are several off-resort excursions available (through Island Routes in the lobby) that mean a 30- to 90-minute bus/shuttle ride. Zip lines, dolphins, forest bobsled, tubing, kayaking, Luminous Lagoon are all fun, although all cost extra. And from the resort there are catamaran trips, scuba trips and snorkeling trips–all free. You can also ride a Sandals shuttle to Sandals Royal Caribbean (worth the trip) and Sandals Carlyle (probably NOT worth the trip, but a great place to stay the night before your departure if you are coming from Ocho or SoCo (formerly Whitehouse) as those are longer drives!).
There is a resort store, and outside vendors are on property 3 days a week with a wide assortment of local crafts and clothing. They have some pretty awesome stuff. One of the pluses of this resort is that the beach is private so there are no vendors hitting on guests. Plenty of shady spots and plenty of sunny areas along the beach.
The “main” pool is adjacent to Bayside restaurant and not particularly big. The only pool/swim up bar (currently) is closer to the middle of the resort property, and it is not a large pool. As we did at Whitehouse 10 years prior, we enjoyed a candlelight dinner on one of the piers…we were attended to very ably by Jermaine, and the meal was delicious!
To be honest, some of the rooms here are pretty small, so a recommendation is that anyone considering staying here talk to a travel agent who has actually been to the resort and is familiar with all the rooms. Our travel agent, Molly Sumption, Molly’s Caribbean, in Seattle WA, is perfect for that help!
-Harv & Lois
by Molly Sumption, Caribbean Honeymoon / Sandals Expert, Seattle & Portland / subscribe to RSS feed