Best Sandals Resort: Which Sandals Resort is the Best? Reviews and Rankings

Last Updated: October 25, 2014

Looking for the best Sandals resort? While no single Sandals resort is right for everyone, we have compiled a list that will help you make the right decision about which resort to visit.  Each Sandals resort has attributes that will appeal to different people and personalities. What may be the best resort for one person may not be the best for others.

Although we have ranked each resort, we recognize that this is not a science and each couple is looking for something different from their Sandals vacation. So, to make this list beneficial to everyone, we have listed the pros and cons of every resort. Hopefully, based on this information you can find the Sandals resort that suits you best.

It should be noted that a couple things are common to every resort in this list.  First, some people like the food, some people do not.  The food is usually good, but it is not 5* restaurant quality, so you shouldn’t expect that.  Second, the speed of service is not what many guests (especially Americans) are used to.

Sandals owns 15 resorts in the Caribbean, but Sandals Barbados is currently undergoing a $65 million facelift.  All 280 rooms are being renovated.  You can book this resort for stays after January 28, 2015.

Here is the quick ranked list.  If you want the details on the pros and cons of each resort, just keep scrolling down.

  1. Sandals Whitehouse – Jamaica
  2. Sandals LaSource – Grenada
  3. Sandals Royal Plantation – Jamaica
  4. Sandals Negril – Jamaica
  5. Sandals Emerald Bay – Bahamas
  6. Sandals Royal Bahamian
  7. Sandals Grande St. Lucian
  8. Sandals Grande Antigua
  9. Sandals Halcyon Beach – St. Lucia
  10. Sandals Grande Riviera – Jamaica
  11. Sandals Regency La Toc – St. Lucia
  12. Sandals Montego Bay – Jamaica
  13. Sandals Royal Caribbean – Jamaica
  14. Sandals Carlyle

The Best Sandals Resort (Updated for 2014):

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

Traveler Reviews – Sandals Whitehouse

What people love about Sandals Whitehouse:

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

The common complaints about Sandals Whitehouse:

  • The resort is secluded and the drive from the airport is long
  • There isn’t much to do nearby the resort
  • There can be very long waits at the restaurants
  • 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 LaSource – Grenada

Opened in December 2013, the resort has been rebuilt from the ground up.  The original LaSource 100 room resort (now known as Pink Gin) has been completely renovated and an additional 125 rooms have been added.  In addition to Pink Gin, there are 2 additional “villages” – South Seas and Italian Village.  The resort is best known for the immaculate grounds, the crystal clear water and the many pool-equipped rooms.  This is not one of the biggest Sandals resorts, but it is certainly one of the best.

Sandals Grenada Beach Sandals Grenada Skypool Sandals Grenada

 

What visitors says about Sandals LaSource Grenada:

  • Extremely friendly staff and people in Grenada
  • Almost everyone mentions the quality of the food – better than most Sandals
  • The beach is a little small and is man made, but very nice
  • The water is crystal clear
  • There are no beach vendors which most people love.  It does also mean that there are no jet skis, parasailing and other beach activities provided by vendors
  • The diving in Grenada is excellent – maybe the best available in the Sandals chain
  • The Pink Gin building is right on the beach if that is what you want
  • The grounds are beautiful and immaculate
  • The resort is on the small side for a Sandals property (225 rooms)
  • The travel to Grenada can be lengthy, but the airport is very close by – 5 minutes
  • Like most Sandals resorts the main pool has loud music
  • Some travelers mention that there is limited evening entertainment compared with other Sandals resorts
  • Grenada is in the southern Caribbean so it is warmer than the resorts in the Bahamas and Jamaica in winter

3. Sandals Royal Plantation- Jamaica

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. This resort is unlike most other Sandals resorts in terms of size and activities.  It is a small and quiet resort.  There is only one small pool and the beaches are also small.  It only has 2 restaurants.  The resort is ideal for those looking for a quiet vacation with exceptional service.

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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.

4. 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

Traveler Reviews – Sandals Negril

What people love about 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.

 

5. Sandals Emerald Bay

Sandals Emerald Bay is the newest resort in the Sandals portfolio.

“Secluded within 500 tropical acres along a pristine, mile-long beach, civilized pleasure coexist with exotic adventures, from three impressive pools —including a half-acre, zero-entry pool with dramatic fire pit in the middle — to five exceptional restaurants. Play championship golf on a Greg Norman-designed course, voted one of the Caribbean’s Best by Travel & Leisure Golf. Relax in the first-ever 29,000 sq. ft. Red Lane® Dermalogica concept spa. Explore impossibly beautiful turquoise waters renowned for their boating, fishing and diving. A unique blend of seclusion and sophistication, this exotic private escape is so easy to get to, so close to home.”

Sandals Emerald Bay   Sandals Emerald Bay 2

Traveler Reviews – Sandals Emerald Bay

What people love about Sandals Emerald Bay:
  • Incredible resort grounds – It is a beautiful place
  • Lots of ocean view rooms available
  • The beach and the water are stunning
  • There are really no vendors on the beach – you don’t get harassed as you can at some other Sandals resorts.
  • Nearby access to the golf course is a big plus – if you play golf.
  • Nice to have two pools – one quiet and one with a little more noise and activity
  • The staff is generally very friendly and helpful

The common complaints about Sandals Emerald Bay:

  • Getting a chair by the pool can be difficult.  They go fast, so you have to reserve them early in the morning.  This is especially true if you go during peak season.
  • It is a very quiet resort.  There’s not much entertainment after 10pm.
  • The resort and beaches are frequently very windy, which can cause the watersports activities to be shut down.
  • Butler service is inconsistent.  Sometimes they are attentive, sometimes they aren’t.
  • The resort is secluded, so there are very limited activities available off resort.
  • Only 4 restaurants at the resort which many find limiting.
  • Like many Sandals, and Caribbean resorts in general, the service can be slow.
  • There can be lots of bugs in the afternoons (sand fleas)
  • If you go in the winter, the water will likely be chilly.

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

  • Service – some people think it is great others are greatly underwhelmed.  Depends on lots of factors like how busy the resort is, and which butlers you get.

 

6. Sandals Royal Bahamian

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Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island is just 40 minutes from Miami.  This Sandals resort is often touted as the best in the Sandals chain.  It features two separate buildings.  The newer Balmoral Tower and the older Windsor building.  There is definitely a visual difference between these two buildings both inside and out.  If you want the experience of the newer building, you should book accordingly. Here’s what Sandals says about the resort:

If you’re looking for a regal retreat that lets you vacation at two resorts in one trip: a sophisticated European resort that is steeped in history, and the adventure of an exotic offshore island that includes every amenity imaginable, Sandals Royal Bahamian is for you.

In addition to the two buildings each with large pools with swim up bars, this resort offers the unique experience of an offshore island.  The island is about a mile off shore and there are hourly trips to and from the island.  The island is not entirely owned by Sandals, but you can hardly notice that once you arrive.  It also has a small pool with a swim-up bar.  If you want a quiet and secluded experience, the island is not to be missed.

Sandals Royal Bahamian   Sandals Royal Bahamian 2

Traveler Reviews – Sandals Royal Bahamian

What people love about Sandals Royal Bahamian:

  • Great Pools
  • Nice beach, but a little small
  • Lots of watersports
  • Access to the nearby private island is an excellent perk at this resort
  • Friendly staff

The common complaints about Sandals Royal Bahamian:

  • Because this resort is in the Bahamas, the pools can be cold in winter
  • When full, the resort can be very crowded
  • It can be difficult to get a dinner reservation if you don’t book well in advance
  • There are sand fleas on the beach which can be quite bothersome to some guests
  • Big difference between butler and non-butler service

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

  • Not all buildings at this resort are the same age, and there are occasional complaints about the quality of the rooms in the older buildings
  • Some guests liked the entertainment offerings while others considered it to be lacking
  • Some guest feel the resort is a little quiet and lacking in activities

7. Sandals Grande St. Lucian

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Set on its own spectacular peninsula, this resort provides panoramic views in every direction.  Situated on some of calmest waters in St. Lucia, its sheltered beach offers views of both nearby Ft. Rodney, and a scenic harbor.

Sandals Grande St. Lucian   Sandals Grande St. Lucian 2

Traveler Reviews – Sandals Grande St. Lucian

What people love about Sandals Grande St. Lucian:

  • Great pools
  • The beach is beautiful although it is a little small
  • The resort is in a very scenic location
  • The Simon Says tour is excellent
  • Very good selection of watersports
  • The spa is excellent, but pricey

The common complaints about Sandals Grande St. Lucian:

  • Too many pesky peddlers on the beach
  • Many guests expect more amenities and features to be included (like room service)
  • Many guests are surprised to find out the resort is not new (it is a refurbished older hotel)
  • The resort often hosts conference guests which was is an unexpected drawback to vacationers
  • The drive from the airport is long, and bumpy
  • There are rocks in the water at the beach (not always soft sand below your feet)
  • When the resort is full it feels crowded
  • Extras are expensive (e.g. spa, internet, bottles of wine in your room, resort shop)

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

  • Some rooms have good views while others have poor ones, like facing a construction site.
  • Some guests expect more from the rooms at this resort.
  • The entertainment is enjoyed by some while others find it to be a little lacking.

8. Sandals Grande Antigua

Sandals Grande Antigua is considered to be one of the most romantic resorts in the Sandals chain.  It is situated on one of the best beaches in Antigua, Dickenson Bay.  The newly added Mediterranean Village is first class.

Sandals Grande Antigua   Sandals Grande Antigua 2

Traveler Reviews – Sandals Grande Antigua

What people love about Sandals Grande Antigua:

  • The rooms and the general accommodations on Mediterranean side are outstanding
  • The nightlife and entertainment at this resort is very good
  • The resort landscaping and grounds are excellent
  • The diving expeditions are very good

The common complaints about Sandals Grande Antigua:

  • Two different buildings – the Mediteraranean is new while the other is older.  Some guests on the older side are a little disappointed
  • Finding an umbrella and a chair is a chore that requires waking up early and reserving
  • Their are frequent cruise ship guests on the resort beach which turns off some vacationers
  • The internet service is very inconsistent
  • Several guests have complained about theft on the resort

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

  • Very nice beach, but it is public
  • Nice spa, but a little pricey
  • Some guest think the staff is not as friendly as they are at other Sandals resorts.

9. Sandals Halcyon Beach – St. Lucia

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Sandals Halcyon St. Lucia boasts classic Caribbean architecture and tropical gardens. Three restaurants are highlighted by the legendary Pier Restaurant, the island’s most impressive dining experience set directly on the sea.  This resort caters to a slightly older crowd.

Sandals Halcyon Beach   Sandals Halcyon Beach 2

Traveler Reviews – Sandals Halcyon Beach

What people love about Sandals Halcyon Beach:

  • The resort is in a good location and the island views from the resort are excellent.
  • The resort is quiet and peaceful, which was a plus for most of the visitors, a minus fora few.
  • Most visitors appreciated the well maintained landscaping and gardening at this resort

The common complaints about Sandals Halcyon Beach:

  • The resort buildings and rooms are dated
  • Too many stray cats on the premises
  • This resort typically attracts an older crowd, and the entertainment is limited.
  • Some rooms are situated near a road that runs by the property which can be noisy
  • Younger visitors often complain there are not many visitors of a similar age, and the resort is very quiet

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

  • Resort is not situated on a spectacular beach.  Some liked the beach while others did not.
  • Some positive and negative reports on the overall friendliness of the staff – mainly positive.
  • Some people comment on the limited watersports while others enjoy the options provided

10. Sandals Grande Riviera (Formerly Grande Ocho Rios) – Jamaica

Newly remodeled, 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.  This resort is really 3 resorts in one and the views and amenities are different depending on where your room is – you can be very close to the beach or across the street from it. From Sandals: Following a $60 million upgrade project, the newest resort in Jamaica and the largest resort in the portfolio now features three resorts in one with the Riviera Great House, Riviera Villas and the Riviera Seaside. At the brand-new Riviera Beach Club, guests can experience poolside butler service, a grotto pool, fire pits, expansive lounge areas, over-the-sand decks and much more

  • Two resort vacations in one – mountainside and beachside
  • Riviera Villas suites with private pools
  • Surrounded by tropical gardens and ocean views
  • Complimentary golf at Sandals’ own private club
  • Butler service and 24-hour room service in select categories
  • Unlimited gourmet dining at 15 restaurants
  • Unlimited premium brand drinks and Beringer® wines
  • Five full-service bars including our signature swim-up pool bar
  • Unlimited land and water sports including scuba diving
  • Red Lane® Spa (services extra)
  • Seven pools and 22 whirlpools, plus a separate scuba pool

Sandals Grande Riviera 1   Sandals Grande Riviera 2

Traveler Reviews – Sandals Grande Riviera

What people love about Sandals Grande Riviera:

  • 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 Riviera:

  • Long ride from the airport (2 hours)
  • 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
  • Lots of bees around – especially at the bar areas
  • Part of the resort is not on the beach and requires a shuttle across the street

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

11. Sandals Regency La Toc – St. Lucia

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Set within the 210-acre La Toc Estate, Sandals Regency La Toc is located on a secluded half-mile beach and a breathtaking bluff. Unique among Caribbean beaches, the water is emerald-green due to its depth- hence the resort’s nickname the “Emerald of the Caribbean.”

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Traveler Reviews – Sandals Regency La Toc

What people love about Sandals Regency La Toc:

  • Friendly staff at this resort
  • Very good on-site entertainment provided by Cowboy Eddie
  • Great Island views from the resort
  • The ability to visit and dine at the other two Sandals resorts in St. Lucia

The common complaints about Sandals Regency La Toc:

  • The drive from the airport is long, windy, and bumpy
  • Not a lot of  young people (this may actually be a plus depending on your perspective)
  • The lobby area of this resort is dated
  • The age of the resort is apparent
  • Lots of mosquitoes
  • Lots of cats wondering the premises

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

  • The rooms rooms are a little run down and dated
  • It’s not the biggest or best beach you will find among Sandals resorts.
  • The landscaping and condition of the resort grounds appeals to some an not others.
  • The 9 hole golf course is not a place for avid golfers, but nice as a recreational activity
  • Spa
  • Food – like most Sandals resorts some liked the food while others didn’t.
  • Snorkeling

12. 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

Traveler Reviews – Sandals Montego Bay

What people love about 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

13. 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

Traveler Reviews – Sandals Royal Caribbean

What people love about 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

14. Sandals Carlyle- Jamaica

Located in Montego Bay, Sandals Inn 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

Traveler Reviews – Sandals Carlyle

What people love about 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

Common Questions:

People often ask, which Sandals is the best for Kids?  Well, Sandals resorts do not allow kids, but Beaches Resorts (by Sandals) is a family focused resort.

Update:

CLOSED – Sandals Dunn’s River Villaggio – Jamaica