Best Sandals Resort in Jamaica: 2014 Ranking of the Jamaican Resorts

Last Updated: January 11, 2014

Of the 15 Sandals resorts in the Caribbean, 7 of them are in Jamaica.  In our rankings of the best sandals resort overall, the top 3 are all in Jamaica and the bottom 3 are also in Jamaica.  So which is the best Sandals resort in Jamaica?

The Best Sandals in Jamaica:

1.  Sandals Whitehouse – Jamaica

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On the untouched South Coast of Jamaica, Sandals Whitehouse European Village & Spa is a 50-acre seaside resort within a 500-acre reserve. It is in a rather isolated location and so your vacation will be primarily limited to the expansive resort grounds. It is the newest of the Sandals resorts, and is the very best Sandals has to offer.

Sandals Whitehouse

Sandals Whitehouse 2

What guest like about Sandals Whitehouse:

  • It is a new resort with excellent facilities
  • The whitehouse resort has an excellent and beach that is notably private
  • Great selection of pools
  • Spectacular views

The common complaints about Sandals Whitehouse:

  • The resort is secluded and the drive is long
  • There isn’t much to do nearby the resort
  • There can be very long waits at the restaurant
  • Too much upselling for spa services
  • Service is not to expectations of many guests
  • The resort is large and you may have to walk quite a bit, especially from the French Village
  • The snorkeling is average at best

Features that received mixed reviews (some positive, some negative):

  • Most feel the rooms are excellent, but not all rooms have the same quality view, and some guests are expecting larger rooms
  • The resort is not noted for its entertainment, and some guests feel it is a little sedate

2.  Sandals Royal Plantation- Jamaica

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Formerly part of the Royal Plantation brand, this luxury resort is now part of the Sandals family.  It has been recognized by Conde Naste Traveler as one of the top 10 resorts in the entire Caribbean.  It also was on the 2010 top luxury resorts list for the TripAdvisor readers choice awards.

From Sandals:

For the ultimate in exclusivity and indulgent pampering, escape to Sandals Royal Plantation, the only all-butler, all-suite boutique resort in the Sandals collection. Nestled within a magnificent coral bluff on Jamaica’s lush north coast, this intimate resort of just 74 ocean view suites is renowned for its impeccable service.

Sandals Royal Plantation   Sandals Royal Plantation 2

Traveler Reviews – Sandals Royal Plantation

What people love about Sandals Royal Plantation

  • Great staff and service – This is an all butler resort and most of the butlers are very good
  • Small and quiet hotel (compared to other Sandals resorts)
  • Wonderful views (all rooms have ocean views) and grounds.  Beautiful beaches, though small.
  • The rooms and beds are noted by most guests
  • Good food – most guests enjoy the food.  Only 2 restaurants
  • Access to neighboring (walking distance) Sandals resort (Sandals Grande Riviera) – Note: Grande  Riviera guests cannot visit Royal Plantation.
  • Golf – Nearby course that is well maintained
  • Pool is heated in winter – not common at most resorts
  • Nice Spa
Common complaints about Sandals Royal Plantation
  • Slow Service – Though the service is very good, the food service can be very slow.
  • Lots of shade on the beaches in the winter months
  • The resort is small compared to other Sandals resorts – again, the pictures show the resort size
    • Small beaches and small pool – look at the pictures above for a sense of the size of the resort.  As you can see there are two separated beaches.
    • Only 2 restaurants
  • It can be a long time from the time you land to the time you get to your room.  Long wait for luggage, then a wait in the Sandals lounge for the shuttle, a 90 minute drive to the hotel, and sometimes a wait for your room at the hotel
  • Too quiet  - compared to other Sandals resorts
  • Lots of walking up and down stairs – especially if  you are not on the main resort level.
3. Sandals Negril – Jamaica
Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa

One of the most popular of Sandals resorts, Sandals Negril is set on one of the longest and best stretch of Negril’s famous Seven-Mile Beach. Sandals Negril Resort is close to shopping and lies in the midst of great night life and tourist attractions like Rick’s Cafe and Margaritaville.

Sandals Negril   Sandals Negril 2

The Best Attributes of  Sandals Negril:

  • Very nice and large beach
  • Good diving excursions
  • Good snorkeling
  • The staff is very friendly and helpful
  • The facilities at the resort are outstanding from the pools to the gardens to the exercise room

The common complaints about Sandals Negril:

  • Lots of drug peddling on the beach
  • The resort is a long drive from the airport
  • The resort staffers are constantly upselling features like the spa
  • The pool area can be very loud
  • The nightly entertainment does not meet the expectations of some guests
  • Some guests complain about the advantages or lack thereof of not having a butler

Features that received mixed reviews (some positive, some negative):

  • Rooms – mostly guests like their rooms, but some guests feel they are a little dated and run down.  It depends on where your room is.

4. Sandals Grande Riviera – Jamaica

Recently renovated, this resort offers two resort experiences in one, spanning the lush foothills of the St. Ann Mountains on the Manor side, down to Jamaica’s most sought-after stretch of coastline on the Caribbean Riviera side. It is closer to the sea than any other resort in the area.

Sandals Grande Riviera 1   Sandals Grande Riviera 2

The Best Attributes of Sandals Grande Ocho Rios:

  • The resort has lots of activities throughout the day
  • The staff at this resort is notably friendly
  • Guests note the very nice selection of pools
  • The resort is well manicured and the landscaping is very attractive
  • Access to nearby Sandals Dunn’s River is a plus for many guests

The common complaints about Sandals Grande Ocho Rios:

  • Long ride from the airport
  • Although there is golf, it is not free when you consider the caddy and other charges.
  • Getting a reservation to the restaurants without a butler is difficult or impossible at some restaurants

Features that received mixed reviews (some positive, some negative):

  • Nice beach, but a little small
  • Very large resort that may require using shuttles depending on where you are staying
  • Some guests like the quality of the rooms, others don’t
  • The golf is adequate but not outstanding

5. Sandals Montego Bay – Jamaica

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The original Sandals, this resort is set on Jamaica’s longest private white-sand beach. Originally the Bay Roc Hotel, it was designed by Edward Durrell Stone, one of America’s most famous architects and creator of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Today, it offers a lively, upbeat scene where the party doesn’t stop until you do.

Sandals Montego Bay 1 Sandals Montego Bay 2

The Best Attributes of Sandals Montego Bay:

  • Nightly entertainment is noted by many guests at this resort
  • This resort is noted for its party atmosphere, which most guests liked, while some others did not
  • Very friendly staff
  • Great beach
  • Many guests note the benefits of the multi-resort privilages

The common complaints about Sandals Montego Bay:

  • The resort is close to the airport and so plane noise is an issue for some guests
  • Because this resort seems to attract a party croud, running out of alchohol is a problem noted by many vacationers
  • The problem of drug peddlers is noted by many guests

Features that received mixed reviews (some positive, some negative):

  • Some guests note that the rooms are dated
  • The pools are a little small and can be chilly in winter

6. Sandals Royal Caribbean – Jamaica

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Situated just outside Montego Bay, Sandals Royal Caribbean is an active Sandals destination with plentiful activities.  It is known for it’s private island just a short boat ride away.

Sandals Royal Caribbean 1 Sandals Royal Caribbean 2

The Best Attributes of Sandals Royal Caribbean:

  • Many guests comment on the excellent entertainment at this resort
  • This resort has lots of activities throughout the day
  • The staff is very friendly
  • There is a nearby private island which many guests enjoy

The common complaints about Sandals Royal Caribbean:

  • Mosquitoes in rooms
  • Noise from the nearby airport
  • Too many pool activities – not peaceful enough
  • Many guests complain of the peddlers on kayaks in the water
  • The pools can be cold in winter

Features that received mixed reviews (some positive, some negative):

  • Some guests feel the rooms are dated
  • Good beach, but a little small

The latest deals at Sandals Royal Caribbean here:

7. Sandals Carlyle- Jamaica

Located in Montego Bay, Sandals Carlyle is the smallest of the Sandals resorts with only 52 rooms.  This resort is a good way to get the Sandals experience without the big price tag – especially if you utilize the nearby Sandals resorts.

Sandals Carlyle

The Best Attributes of Sandals Carlyle:

  • Most guest note the very friendly staff at this resort
  • Because this is one of the cheaper Sandals resorts, many guest like the ability to utilize the facilities at the other nearby Sandals resorts

The common complaints about Sandals Carlyle:

  • The resort is on a very busy street that can be noisy into the night – room selection will impact this as well.
  • The beach is very small and is across a small road from the resort – it is also public and sometimes crowded with locals
  • There is less entertainment at this resort than most guest expect

Features that received mixed reviews (some positive, some negative):

  • The rooms are hit or miss for many guests

CLOSED – Sandals Dunn’s River Villaggio – Jamaica

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