TRAVEL REVIEW: Sandals Resort, Jamaica

This month my boyfriend and I went to Jamaica, mon. It was our first time at an all-inclusive resort and our first time in Jamaica. We stayed at Sandals in Montego Bay for an extended weekend from Friday until Tuesday afternoon.

I booked the trip with my own Internet skills instead of utilizing a travel agent. I chose Montego Bay because that was where we were flying into and figured the drive to and from the airport would be rather quick. We arrived in Jamaica around 11:30 a.m. and were immediately escorted into a private lounge for Sandals guests complete with bathrooms, couches, cold water and the ever-important component of vacation, booze. Soon after arriving in the lounge we boarded a bus and took the 10-minute drive to the resort where we were greeted with cold lemongrass cloths for our faces and cocktails. We had booked a beachfront balcony suite which got us Club Sandals status. This allowed us to be taken to another area in which we were immediately checked in and escorted to our room. Many of the other couples that were getting in when we did weren’t able to check in until 2 or 3 p.m. but our room was available early, which we were told was unusual.

The room had a breath-taking view of green-blue waters and white sandy beaches, a king size bed and a stocked refrigerator full of Red Stripe, wine, soda and liquor. Room service was available 7:30 a.m.–10 p.m. with a wait time of about an hour, and housekeeping came to the room two times a day, once to clean and stock the bar in the morning and then in the evening to clean and turn down the bed. The resort had six restaurants with varying opening times. One large pool, one pool bar, a nighttime piano bar, a disco dance floor in the Irish pub themed bar and nightly entertainment. One of the restaurants required reservations and closed-toe shoes, which we were not told prior to arrival and thus we could not eat there (Who brings dressy closed-toe shoes to Jamaica?).

Overall, the food was amazing. Breakfast was a large buffet with an assortment of food. For lunch you could get all-American type food, brick oven style pizza (my favorite) or a large buffet lunch with a varying selection of food to choose from. For dinner you could head to the Irish Pub, Italian restaurant, fine dining restaurant or order room service and watch the sunset from your balcony. The drinks flowed quickly and bars are scattered throughout the resort to make drinking easy and convenient.

During the day you could lounge by the pool, play beach volleyball, swim in the beautiful ocean, use various water sport equipment, sign up for the glass-bottom boat or go offsite on a number of different excursions. Things like paddle boarding, water skiing, kayaking, tubing, and snorkeling are included in your room fee, whereas things like scuba diving, swimming with the dolphins, island tours and zip-lining are not included and range anywhere from $90–$300.

The first day we got there we were all about the party. The drinks were never-ending and we were excited, we wore out quickly considering our day started at 3 a.m. and ended the night laughing and eating room service on the balcony. The second morning it was safe to say I felt about as lovely as someone who got hit in the face with a baseball. (Note to self: champagne, Red Stripe, bay breezes and more Red Stripe make for a painful morning.) I sluggishly forced myself to the beach and cured my headache with pizza, water and sunshine. Sadly, I made one fatal mistake.

I am extremely serious about sun safety. Sunburns suck and tans are unhealthy. Well, as I do at home, I was applying my spray SPF often and in an abundance knowing that I was possibly the palest gal on the beach and that sunburns are no fun. I did not realize that every time I sprayed myself nothing was actually hitting my skin because the wind was taking it away before it had the chance to cover me. This resulted in the worst sunburn of my life occurring on the second day of my vacation in paradise. It is OK, though, I pushed through.

The third day we went scuba diving. This seemed like a fabulous idea because my boyfriend used to be a Navy diver and has talked about his scuba adventures for the past four years, plus I couldn’t wear pants or be in the sun anymore due to my sunburn and this is the only way I could swim in a shirt and not look like the dummy who gets sunburned my first day on vacation. We went through a short scuba course and then went out to sea. It was at this point that the panic set in. 40ft under the crystal blue water, I was doing all that I could not enter into a full blown panic attack when our instructor had us do our two underwater tests; removing our mouthpiece and finding it then letting a little water into our masks and getting rid of it. Well that went to hell in a handbasket quickly and before I knew it my mask was completely full of water, I felt like I was drowning and I was in complete hyperventilation mode. The instructor took me to the top, pretty much told me to get a grip and I mustered every ounce of courage I had and went back underwater. The beauty of the sea was unbelievable, we swam in schools of fish, saw huge stingrays and gorgeous coral reef.

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laughing friends having fun on picnic

The third day we went zip-lining in the jungle, Tarzan-and-Jane style. This excursion was a blast, on the way to the mountains our bus driver gave us the history of Jamaica and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the country.

The final night the resort put on a beach party, tables and food were brought on the sand and we all ate dinner while watching fire throwers and acrobats. The band ended the night playing old love songs and most couples danced barefoot in the sand where the water reaches the shore. It was a perfect end to a wonderful trip.

Overall, I learned that if you want to stay in the most beautiful part of Jamaica, stay at a resort in Negril. It was nice to have a short ride from the airport to the resort but the 20 planes going in and out over the resort everyday got old. Sandals was fabulous but I found the staff to either be extremely outgoing and kind or completely rude and cold. You had to hunt down water bottles because they seemed to always be out of them and unless you drink copious amounts of Jack Daniels every night and eat tons of food, you feel like you aren’t getting your money’s worth. I loved the country and would highly recommend people to visit Jamaica, the water is beautiful, the breeze is warm and there are no problems in Jamaica, only situations, mon.

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