The Sandals brand really lives up to the name of Caribbean luxury at their flagship hotel in Montego Bay. From the moment you step into the lobby, you know you have arrived somewhere special. The chic, modern furnishings and friendly smiles which greeted us with “welcome home” put smiles on our faces immediately.
We were walked around to the concierge room, where we went through the formalities of the check in process with a welcome cocktail in hand. Check in is at 3pm but we arrived early after we had already sent an email advising of our transfer time from Ocho Rios. We decided to split our 10 day holiday into two. Our first 5 nights were spent at Sandals Ochi and the following 5 at Sandals Montego Bay. We really wanted to make the most of the holiday and hoped for a swift check in. However, our room wasn’t ready when we arrived at 12.15pm, which in all fairness was earlier than we initially anticipated. But we didn’t have to wait around for too long; it was just long enough to have lunch.
THE ROOMS – Sandals Montego Bay
The room we were first allocated to was beautiful but the view was not what I was expecting. When booking with Sandals UK I was advised that we would have a beach front room. My confirmation states “Beachfront Grande Luxe Club Level Junior Suite w/Balcony Tranquility Soaking Tub GBT.” It was a beachfront room but the view was of Mariner’s diner and was somewhat disappointing. This room was in the Palms block. I expressed my disappointment and we were thankfully moved to the next block across; the Poinciana Building, which was much better. I would really urge you to research which block your room will be in, as the views can vary considerably.
Our room was magnificent. Light and airy, with contemporary decor and hues of blue and green throughout. It really brought the ocean directly into our room. The luxurious touches with the soaking tub on the spacious balcony, where you can sit with a glass of bubbly and watch the beautiful sunset. The attention to detail; the cards left on the bed with lovely little quotes at turndown service. These are the things that made our holiday special.
BEACH & POOLS – Sandals Montego Bay
There are plenty of sun loungers both across the spectacular stretch of beach, as well as at the poolsides. The largest pool here is smaller in comparison to that at Sandals Ochi, however, Montego Bay has the advantage of a bigger beach. There are also free poolside cabanas, so if you get there early enough and want to sit in the shade, these are perfect!
RESTAURANTS & BARS – Sandals Montego Bay
There is a good mix of restaurants. The buffet breakfast at Bayside Restaurant is lovely, you can dine indoors or outdoors, overlooking the ocean. I believe there is also an a la carte menu served at Cucina Romana, but we didn’t dine there.
Lunch is also served at Bayside as a buffet, which varies from day to day. We had BBQ chicken one day and an Indian buffet lunch another. The pizzas at Dino’s are very good and also very popular so expect to wait up to 20 minutes when it’s particularly busy. The Mariner Seaside Bar & Grill serves burgers, chips, salads etc. The Greek salad was my favourite. Often, there is a live band playing reggae tunes to really remind you that you are in Jamaica!
A short walk along the beach and you’ll come to the Jerk Shack, where you can have a deliciously spicy jerk chicken, with a real authentic taste. If you can’t handle your spice then you can ask for the milder version. No trip to Jamaica would be complete without trying the signature Jerk marinated meats!
At 4pm The Cricketers Pub opens it’s door. This is an English style pub with a real “Queen Vic” feel to it (reference to the pub in Eastenders, a famous English soap). They have a large screen TV, where you can watch sports. You must also try the fish and chips here; it is wonderful! A nice little meal to tide you over for a few hours if you’re planning on having a few drinks in the evening before a late dinner.
Our favourite restaurant was Butch’s steakhouse. This is one of the two reservation restaurants, with the other being Cucina Romana, the Italian restaurant. Please make your bookings as soon as you get there because they are often fully booked for up to 3 days. Luckily, we managed to get 2 sittings, whilst we were there.
Robert was our server the first time and he was brilliant! He advised us of all the best dishes and in fact gave us a taste of a couple of extras. I had the New York strip steak and I also asked for the lobster tail with this, which usually comes as part of the surf and turf dish (filet steak). The lamb chops are also delicious! I can’t write this review without mentioning the “apple slice” on the desert menu; it is phenomenal!
Cucina Romana is lovely as well. The lasagne is the signature dish, which I had and would definitely recommend. Soy, the sushi restaurant is another great dining option. There are many other restaurants that we didn’t get to try. “Oleander Room,” serves refined Jamaican cuisine. Stewfish is the beachfront Caribbean restaurant and Tokyo Jo’s, the over water picturesque restaurant. It’s just an excuse to go back one day!
There are bars located in every corner of this Sandals resort but undoubtedly the most stunning of them all is “Latitudes.” Set over the ocean with 360 degree views of the crystal clear Caribbean Sea, there is nothing more beautiful. We visited the bar most days to have cocktail, whilst lounging in the over water hammocks. I really felt most relaxed whilst I was here, lying in a hammock, soaking in the sunshine and listening to the sound of the soothing ocean surrounding me. This place takes Luxe to another level!
ACTIVITIES – Sandals Montego Bay
For us it was all about relaxation, however if you’re more of an active person and are looking for a range of things to do then there’s plenty on offer. Water sports including snorkelling, kayaking, waterskiing, tubing, just to name a few, are all part of the all inclusive package. If you’re not into water sports then there’s lots to do on land; beach volleyball, table tennis, basketball, amongst many more activities. I really enjoyed the Aquacise class in the main pool but it’s a shame it wasn’t running every day.
After experiencing it first hand, I really don’t feel that Jamaica gets the credit it deserves. We had the most amazing 5 nights staying at Sandals Monetego Bay. Jamaica is a truly magical part of the world and one that you should definitely have on your bucket list, you won’t be disappointed!
- If you are doing a two part trip like ours, ensure transfers etc are booked correctly and you liaise with the hotels to make check in as swift as possible. As I booked the whole trip via Sandals UK, I would have expected them to have made the arrangements with regards to timings of transfers etc but this wasn’t the case.
- The hotel lobby has some form of entertainment most nights from around 8.30pm. The Steel Band were particularly good!
- “Footprints” is the Sandals newspaper. It is left in your room every night at turndown and tells you exactly whats going on at the resort the following day; from morning to night.
Other places to go:
- Pier 1 is a great club to visit, which is also very safe to go to. We went on a Friday night and got there for around 10.30pm which was about the right time. There’s a mix of tourists and also some locals, who highly recommend this as the party place to be on a Friday night. Arrange a taxi with the hotel reception and make arrangements with your driver regarding collection time and exact location for pick up.
- They accept US dollars everywhere – the taxis, the clubs, the hotel.
The word that springs to mind when I think of Sandals Montego Bay is “breathtaking.” The rooms are stunning, the beach is beautiful, the food and drink is plentiful and most importantly the service is fantastic. The staff cannot do enough to give you the most relaxing and memorable stay imaginable. For us there is one person who really stood out, the hotel manager, Christopher. He went above and beyond to ensure every part of our stay was perfect.
This is a holiday we will never forget. I definitely left a little piece of my heart in Jamaica.