Best Sandals Resort in Jamaica: 2016 (UPDATED) Resort Reviews

Last Updated: October 1, 2016

Of the 15 Sandals resorts in the Caribbean, 7 of them are in Jamaica.  In our rankings of the best sandals resort overall, three of the top 4 are in Jamaica, but the bottom 3 are also in Jamaica.  So which is the best Sandals resort in Jamaica?

The Best Sandals in Jamaica:

  1. Sandals Whitehouse
  2. Sandals Royal Plantation
  3. Sandals Negril
  4. Sandals Ochi Beach Resort
  5. Sandals Montego Bay
  6. Sandals Royal Caribbean
  7. Sandals Carlyle

What’s new: The new over the water bungalows at the Sandals Royal Caribbean are simply stunning.

sandals-royal-caribbean-over-the-water

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:

  • The whitehouse resort has an excellent and beach that is notably private
  • Great selection of pools
  • Spectacular views
  • The Food is delicious! There are seven different restaurants to choose from. All are top notch. An example is, Café de Paris, it being a favorite, serves great desserts, crepes, pasties, ice cream, coffee, and drinks, with the menu changing 2 to 3 times a day.
  • The Staff are awesome! Everyone goes out of their way to greet you and to ensure that you are having a great time.
  • The Rooms are well appointed, clean, and the beds are comfy. All of the rooms have an ocean view.
  • There are three pools. The French Pool is the most active, volley ball, etc. The Italian pool is the largest with floats you can lounge on. There is also a swim up bar that is a lot of fun.
  • The Beach is beautiful. You can walk either direction without seeing anyone.
  • There are plenty of beach and pool lounge chairs available.
  • The water sports are a lot of fun with a very helpful water sports team at your service. Kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, snorkeling, big tube floats are all available.
  • The Red Lane Spa is incredible. The spa offers several different services. There is a complimentary steam room, sauna, hot tub, plunge pool, and refreshments. The spa facility is beautiful and relaxing.
  • The gym and fitness center is top notch.Nightly entertainment is amazing. The variety shows, talent shows and games are very enjoyable. There is something different every night.
  • Fire pits and seating in the bayside area is awesome.
  • The Grounds are immaculate and beautifully maintained. The garden tour is phenomenal.
  • No tipping policy is great.

The common complaints about Sandals Whitehouse:

  • There isn’t much to do nearby the resort
  • The resort is large and you may have to walk quite a bit, especially from the French Village
  • The snorkeling is average at best
  • The ride from the airport takes approximately 90 minutes. The roads are curvy and bumpy at times. If you have a tendency to get motion sickness, or, you  do not wish to experience the 90 minute ride from the airport, the Island Hopper is available.  For an additional fee a helicopter can take you to and from the resort.
  • Food portion sizes are small, many guests order 2 entrees.
  • Dining come become a two hour affair. You are on island time.
  • Seaweed is excessive at times. The beaches are raked and cleaned daily.
  • The ocean floor is rocky and has a lot of seaweed in places.  It is easy to step on rocks, or, the sea urchins hiding in the seaweed.   Wear water shoes.
  • The no-see-ums and mosquitos come out toward the evening. Bring bug spray.
  • The gift shop is a bit over prized for simple things.
  • Wi Fi can be hit or miss.

Other considerations and reviews:

  • 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
  • Sandals has an arrival lounge at the airport. Their goal is that you will not wait in the lounge for more than 15-20 minutes before being taken to the resort. However, there is no departure lounge for Sandals. Quests recommend Club Mo Bay, $80.00/person. You are fast tracked through immigration, and their guest lounge is available to you with food and drinks provided.
  • Guests recommend upgrading to club level or butler service. The amenities are well worth the extra money.
  • There is a newsletter every night of what activities are going on the next day so you can plan your day accordingly.
  • The resort’s location is remote. If you are looking to party and shop with the locals. This may not be the place for you. It basically sits alone on a beautiful quiet beach. You will not hear any traffic or planes overhead.
  • Review the resort map before you decide which area to stay in. Close to the large pool or small pool, close to the dining, etc.
  • The Italian Village is going through renovations and is not currently open to guests until December 2016.
  • If you are looking for a relaxing, beautiful island atmosphere with something for everyone, this may be the place for you.

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

What People Love About The Sandals Negril Beach Resort And Spa
  • The Staff are friendly and accommodating.  They provide everything you need to make sure your stay is memorable.
  • The Food is delicious and of a high quality.  Kimonos is a favorite.
  • The Rooms are gorgeous, clean and comfortable.  The beds are comfortable and the bed linens are very nice.  The mini frig is restocked daily.  The views are breathtaking.
  • The Swim up Suites are amazing.
  • Many guests highly recommend the Butler service.
  • The pools are nice.  Guest can swim around the clock.  The main pool always has some fun activity going on.  There is not a problem finding lounge chairs.
  • The Hot Tub is great.
  • The Beach is beautiful.  The staff are always working to keep it in perfect condition.  Guests are able to take long walks along the legendary seven mile beach, or, relax on the floating islands and rafts.
  • The Water Sports and team are great.  Kayaks, paddle boarding and aqua trikes, etc. are available for the guests enjoyment.
  • There are plenty of daily activities to keep you entertained throughout the day, trivia, volleyball, pool parties, ping pong, corn hole, etc..
  • The nightly entertainment is a lot of fun.  The staff is very good at getting spectators involved and energized.
  • Photographers continuously roam the property taking pictures of the guests.  They are professional and fun.
  • The Spa is nice.  The couples massage is very relaxing.
  • The Captain and Dive team are first class.  The boat is  immaculately clean and well maintained.  There is great attention to detail in regard to safety and welfare.
  • The Gym is clean and well equipped. The Fitness coordinator is great.  Classes range from yoga to circuit training.
  • The bars are fun.  The drinks served are top shelf.
  • The gift shop has a lot to choose from.
  • The property and grounds are beautiful and well maintained.
What People Do Not Love As Much About The Sandals Negril Beach Resort And Spa
  • There is construction and renovations going on at the resort at this time.
  • There are sections in the water which have lots of sea grass.
  • Many cats roam the property.
  • There are a few guests that did not believe the butler service was worth the extra money.
  • Guests leave their towels on the beach loungers and chairs, which tie them up all day.
  • Wi Fi connection is sporadic.
Other Things to Note
  • This is not a huge resort.  Guests are able to find their way around quickly.
  • Local crafters set up their goods along the sidewalk by the beach.   They are not pushy.  Most have good prices, some, you may want to haggle with.
  • Locals peddle their wares along the beach.  The security guards follow them at all times.  But, don’t be surprised if someone offers to sell you drugs everyday.
  • Security continuously patrols the beach to make sure guests feel comfortable.
  • The intimate feel of Sandals Negril with it’s numerous activities and areas of relaxation appeal to a multitude of couples.

4. Sandals Ochi Beach Resort  (Formally Sandals Grande Riviera)

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

What people love about Sandals Ochi Beach Resort:

  • The Resort has recently been renovated.  Everything is updated and new.
  • The property is beautiful and the grounds are meticulous.  The staff are always working to make it picture perfect.
  • The Staff are friendly and very accommodating.
  • There are several restaurants to choose from.  The food is good to very delicious.  The service is good.  You can spend a week at the resort and not eat at every restaurant.
  • The Rooms are beautifully decorated, clean and comfortable. Beds and pillows are comfortable. The fridge is restocked daily.
  • There are several pools.  They are clean and are as beautiful as they appear in the pictures.  Some pools are more active than others.  There is a pool to fit every mood.
  • Chairs and umbrellas are plentiful.
  • The beach is small but beautiful. There are floats with cup holders in the water to lounge on.
  • There are plenty of beach chairs available.
  • The Water Sports and the Water Sports Team are great.  Paddle boarding, snorkeling, kayaking, hobie cats, etc. are available.
  • Entertainment is good.  There is something to look forward to every evening.
  • The Rabbit Hole is a favorite.  You need a secret password to enter.
  • The piano bar is a lot of fun.  There are singing books available so everyone can join in.
  • Entertainment is always going on during the day.  You wish you could be two places at one time.
  • The Bars are nice.  The bartenders are generous with the rum.
  • The White Chocolate Party is a must.
  • The Spa is excellent.  The massages are amazing.
  • The Gym is nice, clean, and has great equipment.
  • Movies are played outside almost every night.  They put out large bean bag chairs and lounge chairs. Popcorn and nachos are served.
  • There are so many activities at the Ochi Resort that you do not need to leave the property.  There is a shuffleboard area, tennis courts, a life size chess board, ping pong, pool tables, etc., or, there are  hammocks, and lazy swings assorted throughout the resort.  There is something for everyone.

The common complaints about Sandals Ochi Beach Resort:

  • Long ride from the airport (2 hours)
  • Although there is golf, it is not free when you consider the caddy and other charges.
  •  It is approximately a 90 minute ride to and from the airport.
  • The Resort is Huge.  There are a lot of stars and walking.  If you have mobility problems this may not be the resort for you.
  • The Butler service can be hit or miss. Some guests rave about the butler service, and, some guest say, do not waste your money.
  • The beach is small so do not expect long walks along the beach.
  • The resort has a no tipping policy.  Some guests felt that tipping was expected, and, that if you do, you are definitely taken care of.

Other things to note:

  • Again, the Resort is huge!
  • There are two sections to this resort, split by a semi-busy road.  The ocean side is where most of the action and activities are.  Some of the rooms close to the entertainment can be noisy.
  • The Butler Village side is more relaxing and quiet.  Make sure you know what your preferences are before booking a room.
  • The Hop takes you to and from either side of the resort and circulates every 10 minutes.
  • There are Cabanas available all over the resort.  There is an extra charge to use them.
  • By the beach is a new addition called the Treehouse.  It is an awesome way to find some shade, privacy, and, it has a fantastic view.
  • If you are looking for a resort that is more upbeat and want to have some fun, that is couples focused, with numerous dining and entertainment options, has good food, good drinks and a good staff, this may be the resort for you.

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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