Historical Traveller Reviews of Sandals Montego Bay Hotel
relax and have fun
My husband and I were married on the beach and spent our honeymoon at Sandals. We had a fabulous time and can't wait to return for our anniversary. If you are planning to vacation there, please take all of the bad reviews with a grain of salt. It is in fact, Jamaica...not Paris or Venice, and the resort and people reflect this. We found it difficult to complain about the quality of the buffet food while surrounded by such beautiful water and warm people who have so little. Any request or problem that we had was quickly taken care of. I suspect that their willingness to help has a lot to do with the attitude of the tourist. Trust me, if you show the Jamaicans kindness, they will return it. The rooms were clean and adequate, though it didn't really matter because we were only in there to sleep and watch the Spurs play. The food was delicous at the Oleander Room and Tokyo Joes. The buffet food was...buffet food. What can you really expect? There was always something to do, or you could just choose to relax for a week. Our only complaint was the weak drinks, but I can see why they wouldn't want a bunch of drunks around all of that water. Ask the bartender for extra rum and they will always kindly oblige. Jamaica is a place to enjoy the beautiful outdoors and to meet some truly wonderful people. The planes are loud, but we had fun and waved welcome and farewell as they took off...it is all what you make of it. Have fun on your vacation, with the right attitude you will have a vacation of a lifetime.
from A TripAdvisor Member
My girlfriend and I stayed at the all-inclusive resortand while we found Jamaica to be beautiful . . . our resort was surrounded by very adamant drug dealers and we didn'tfeel safe going out of the complex even in the day. The hotel finally posted a security guard right outside of our room because our balconyfaced the outside perimeter wall of the hotel and there were drugdealers throwing eight-balls of coke over onto the walkway to our room. Unbelievable! I guess when you take away education and the only income-deriving sourceof work is travelers, you end up with a third-world country surviving onthe drug funds of the money-carrying tourists. We had a hurrican which killed two people across the island, howeverSandals was unwilling to give us our hurricane voucher which is statedon their website and gave us "rain day" vouchers instead. Wefound the entire visit to be something that we will stay away from in the future.Kelli Lowery
Jamaica great, resort ok
from A TripAdvisor Member
We stayed at Sandals Mobay in March of 2003. We were married at the resort. First warning....Unique Vacations in Miami sets up the weddings and they are an abosolute nightmare to work with. We would e-mail them with simple ?'s and it took weeks to get a reply. Their staff is incompetent, unfriendly, and very lazy. I am lucky that there were no problems with my wedding but I could definitely see how they could ruin someone's wedding. They are so disorganized and act as if you are bugging them when you call with ?'s. When you are planning a wedding, who doesn't have ?'s!! This was the worst part, dealing with Unique.As for Montego Bay, we really liked it. The people in Jamaica are so warm and friendly. They go out of their way to make you feel welcome. The ocean water is breathtaking and the mountains in the distance are beautiful. A really beautiful country. We went to Jimmy Buffet's margaritaville restaurant and really enjoyed that!! We liked the Sandals resort but I guess after looking at all those glossy catalog photos, it just didn't measure up. Our room was a luxury room, but it was very small. The first 3 days our hot water did not work, and like some of the other reviews said....they were always out of something at the bar.....limes were almost always out, bananas half the time they were out, cherry's they were out, vodka they were out of. If they have stocking problems with these items, they need to remember how much the customer's paid to get onto this "first" class resort. A resort like this should never run out of something for more than 3 days in my opinion. The drinks were served in plastic "Pizza Hut" type glasses which also ruined the atmosphere as we were thinking it was a luxury resort like the catalog says/shows. The food was good, but again not as good as we would expect. We thought our cheap Carnival cruise to the Bahamas had food 10 times better than this resort did. The resort is alot older and worn looking than the pictures show and the nightlife is non-exthat opens at night and that's it. We did enjoy our trip but there were definite dissapointments. Some of the great things about this resort....Snorkeling-AWESOME... The underwater view of Jamaica is amazing. My husband and I did this twice. Definitely try it out. We also enjoyed the other water sports. The staff on the resort were also GREAT!!! They are so friendly and cheerful. It was nice getting to know them and listen to them speak in their Jamaican accents. Montego Bay is a beautiful place and we would like to go back someday, just don't know if its worth paying to stay at Sandals? Hope this helps.
My friend and I just returned from a trip to Montego Bay and it was wonderful! When we first arrived there, I wasn't all that impressed; however, after entering the resort and seeing the property and facilities, I was more than pleased. From the welcome reception to the food and service, everything was done with class and a personal touch. The people working at the resort were very friendly and more than accommodating. We were quite impressed when after registering, we found that our room had been upgraded from a premium to a honeymoon suite (we were not getting married). We were never told why. The room was quite nice; we spent a few evenings on the patio. The only drawback to this was that the room was close to the stage area and disco, so if we were trying to rest and relax, it was noisy. We had also read some of the reviews on this site before going and the one thing that was nerve racking were the planes going over practically all day. Sometimes it felt like they were right on top of the resort. It didn't bother us at all that we needed to make dinner reservations; we were disappointed when we couldn't get reservations to the Royal Thai Restaurant at the Royal Caribbean. If you are going to need to make phone calls, you should probably check the type of international service you need to have. It was somewhat of a problem to use the cell phone, and even if you do, there is a connection charge through the operator of $4.00 per call. You can get a phone card there to use which is $15.00 per card for 22 minutes, but there is still a connection charge and sometimes you couldn't get through to the operator. Luckily, we didn't need to make that many calls. There were plenty of activities to do on the resort; however, we ventured out in town and to the city 2 or 3 times during our stay, and I would recommend anyone going visiting Montego Bay to get out away from the resort and experience the people and culture of the country they have chosen to visit. It is such an intriguing and beautiful country. Tlusive package - you just can't beat it!! It is well worth paying the money to not have the hassle or worry of paying to eat and drink, gratuities, etc. We had a great time; I could have stayed another week, and I will go back--
A nice place for a short hop
Our 4 days were fun filled, lots of good food and drink. The staff at Mobay is hardworking and pleasant. The pools were clean but a bit small - thank goodness the resort was not full! There are great bartenders - like Curtis at the main bar (try his Blue Hawaiian) - Terry-Ann and her Vacation Memory will leave you wanting to drink more of them.... or Kevin at the swim up bar who makes a wonderful Whisper in the Dark, these are non frozen but shaken drinks:) yum! There's much to do - the snorkeling was great - watch out for captain Gilligan and first mate. If you like Thai food, you must try the Royal Thai at SRC, the boat ride over is lots of fun. Enjoy Mobay - we sure did!
Fun for what it is
from A TripAdvisor Member
(I know this is a very long review, but I think I have some good tips for you.)Back from our first trip to Jamaica and our first experience with the Sandals chain. It sort of met my expectations, but it wasn't quite as nice as I expected. I read as many reviews as I good before we arrived so I knew about the planes flying overhead. Overall, they weren't so bad. Certain days and certain times of the day seemed to be busier than others, but most of the planes flying were just prop planes so they weren't bad at all. The big jets almost scrape the top of the Almonds block, so if you've got a room there, they probably bother you a lot more. And unlike some of the other reviewers the planes bothered me more after several days rather than less. One thing that did bother me was not being able to be flexible in reservations. I called ahead of time to ask if we needed to make dinner reservations and activity reservations ahead of time because I work in the hospitality industry and so often I see people waste half their vacation trying to plan it while they're there. But I was told, "no problem" we could do that when we arrived. So right after we arrived I stopped by the Guest Relations desk to make reservations. We were only there for five nights and wanted to eat at three reservation-only restaurants (the two on property and the Royal Thai). The restaurants were all sold out for the first two nights and the last night all the restaurants were closed for the "Beach Party". So we ate at the Italian restuarant and the Royal Thai at the Royal Caribbean. My reviews of the restaurants are:-Bayside--Buffet, so-so. There was pretty good selection, but it was only what you would expect from mass produced buffet food.-Oleander--Decent, could have been a lot better with a little more effort. The food quality was actually better than the buffet, but the ambience makes you expect more.-La Cucina Romana--Food was pretty good but the restaurant was very hot! It is upstairs and even thoard to enjoy the meal when you are sunburnt and overheated.-Royal Thai--definitely the best of the bunch. The ambience on the island was romantic and classy. I'm not an expert on Thai food, but I thought it was all very good.Also, all the restaurants have very small portions so feel free to sample four or five courses.As for the activity reservations, most of the lessons are offered twice a day and no reservations are needed. The things you do need to sign up for are the snorkeling (the day of) and the resort SCUBA course (as soon as you arrive if not earlier) and the SCUBA diving. With the resort course, you take the class and then dive the next day. But you can't dive within 24hrs of when you depart, so if the course isn't available until too late...I guess your out of luck. I was able to fit it in, but since I couldn't dive until the day before I left I could only do one 30 minute dive. But hey, it was free. By the way, the course isn't offered on Saturday. We didn't have any difficulty being able to use the kayaks, etc. I don't know if we were there with particularly unactive bunch or if it's usually not a problem. The only uncoopertive element was the weather. (Often it was too choppy for waterskiing but too calm for sailing)I wasn't too impressed with our room, but we did book with Expedia and I think we got the worst one. I noticed it wasn't even listed on the map. I was tucked away by the tennis courts and the road. I didn't mind the location, even though we didn't have an ocean view, but I did expect the rooms to be a little nicer. The furnishings were minimal and the carpet was very shabby. There was a closet (with not many hangars) but no dresser or desk. It did have a nice four-poster bed that was pretty comfortable and enough pillows. I didn't look at any of the other rooms, but glancing inside they at least look freshly painted. Our room number by the way was 1020.The main disappointment was the drinks. Someone said the drinks were very strong and I was looking forward to that. But I do understand the reasoning. Everyone is drinking all day and sitting in the sun...and who wants to clean up vomit all day. And unfortunately, the wine was barely drinkable.But enough complaining. In spite of all this I still had a great time and you really can't beat the all-inclusiveness. It is so great to not have to count the money you've got left after every dinner or activity. And as for the food quality, it's really not so different from your average US beach resort. Plus the service is heads and shoulders above the states. Everyone was very friendly and actually working and having a good time. There were tons of activities to chose from and we even found things to do when it was raining. Jamaica was beautiful and I hope to return for a longer stay. I don't know if I'll stay at this resort again, but I might try the one in Negril.As for recommending the resort, the best analogy my boyfriend and I came up with was Vegas. A lot of the guests are like the people you'll see in Vegas, there is lots of drinking, and lots of weddings. (Landscape, of course, doesn't even compare) I would recommend this resort for people just looking to have a good time in the sun, wanting to save money, wanting decent nightlife in a safe environment, people who like to choreographed games, and want a lot of activites. I wouldn't recommend it for people who are used to staying in five star hotels or people looking for a very romantic secluded getaway.
Our first trip
from A TripAdvisor Member
We went to Sandal Mobay Feb 1, 2003 for our very first vacation. In spite of all the negatives we still has a great time. Our complaints being, our rooms were not that great, considering ours did not have any place to put our clothes. I took all the hangers so my husband had to live out of his suitcase. We had over 20 people in our group and some of the rooms had no hot water...all week. Others had to call housekeeping everyday. Our biggest complaint..they ran out of vodka, bananas, and straws the first few days. All-inclusive resorts just should not let that happen. If you didn't make dinner reservations day one..you may not get any. We had to eat dinner at the same place 3 nights. Lucky for us our waiter "West" was great and he was always working. The planes flying over didn't really bother me as much as not being able to eat where i wanted when i wanted. I feel the resort was extemely understaffed. I hope this is due to the renovations taking place. Food should be available 24/7 at all-inclusive. On departure day I called down for my luggage to be picked up. Was told to leave it outside my door, someone would be right up. My friends did the same a few doors down. I kind of wanted to be sure it was picked up, so I waited, and waited for 45 minutes, even pulled it to the steps, thought i would be nice. They never came so I pulled it all back and went in search of my friends. A little while later I found them and they said it had been picked up. They saw theirs. I went to the pool to wait for my checkout and when it was my turn. No luggage. It sat in the hall for over 4 hours. Unattended. The "boozecruise" was great. Love those foot masssages. Over all I had a great time due to the friends I went with. The food was okay...not great. Breakfast is by far the best. Would I go back to Mobay. Probably not, unless they gave me a great deal. Not when there are so many other places to check out. The staff is really great. The Jamacian people are really nice. all need that once in a while.
Beautiful Wedding Setting
from A TripAdvisor Member
Well when we first arrived in Jamaica we were impressed with the friendly natives. The customs line was long but we had put our shorts on in Atlanta and were dressed for the heat. We easily found the Sandals desk in the airport and they loaded our bags (NO EASY TASK, LOL) and wisked us out to the bus area and within 5 minutes we were in a private cab and on the way to the Sandals Inn. When we arrived we were very impressed by the service. (We have several countries stamped in our passports and have never received such an easy check in to a hotel) We were shown to our room after receiving our Champagne and lotion bag. That is where it started to go bad. We noticed that our bag that contained our digital still and video cameras and portable DVD was missing. I went to the office and they went on a search and had taken it to another guests room. We got it back in a few minutes and went back to the room to start unpacking. That is when we realized that our room had no noise control or personal privacy. We were stuffed in a room with the front facing the noicy pool area, you could actually hear the phone ring in the office and our bathroom was on the service hallway and with the shutter system we could see and hear the staff in the hallway and them us. Well back to the office I marched and the little gal behind the counter admitted that our room was to be on the second floor in the back (quiet) but somene was ill and could not check out until after 5PM. So we did not unpack and waited. It was an easy wait, we explored the grounds and found even more friendly staff and guests. After dinner we went back to the office and still no room change and the hotel was full. We went out the front of the hotel to see the beach across the street. It was small and very full. There must have been 100 local kids and family on a postage stamp sized beach. Then the local drug lords approached us to start a relationship. They took no for an answer and we went back into the hotel grounds. (we did meet another couple there d on them, so be careful) We decided to hop a Sandals bus to see the other hotels to upgrade to. It so happens that our bus took us to the Royal. Well, when my sweetie saw that place she wanted to know why I had not booked there? It had a beach and was more to her liking. We returned to the Sandals Inn and had some company and drinks and food from the little late snack bar and went for a late night swim in the nice pool there. The next morning the terrible noise out side our room prompted a quick trip to the office to see about our room change. The new person at the front desk knew nothing about our room change so I headed to the manager's office. I complimented him on his staff, they really were better then great, and explained that were to be married here and that the wedding setting was not what my lady had invisioned. I said please move us to the Royal. Well it took 36 hours, but they came to us and said that they were moving us to the Montego Bay. (we were willing to pay for the change but they did not ask, so we did not pay, lol) I started packing and my sweetie had seconds thoughts about moving becasue she had met such nice fun people she was getting comfortable there. However, we did move and when we got to the Montego Bay hotel we went through the check in again and had the champagne and this time a cool cloth and with in a few minutes they brought us another lotion bag and a room key. Our room was just over the activity pool and on the 2nd floor. It was noisey too, but we decided at that point to unpack and make the best of it. We are glad we got moved there, insted of the Royal. The beach was great. We had a beautiful wedding there, and if you get married there be sure to get the video they make. It was quite professional as were the photos they took. We elected for the private lobster wedding dinner out in one of the gazebos, made my new wife SMILE. Then next morning they brought us breakfast in bed with Champagne, woo hoo. However we had to rush the food down and forego the wine becasue we were headeopen water diving with Renee and Big "D" and the rest of the guys. They guys have some great names, like "Fastcar", Fabian, Lotoya, Johnnie B Good and Terry-Ann, Denton, Hecto, B.B and all the rest. Great Staff. The room was not special, the ground were not as colorful as we were used to from our trips to the Dominican Republic and the price was more then we usually pay but we had a wonderful time and met some great people.(If you are a diver, you get a free tank of air per day and that is worth a lot) We will probably go back in the future just becasue of the people and to celerbrate an annivesary. So to sum things up, if you want to have a small friendly atmosphere and met great friend like Dan and Mary, go to the Sandals Inn. The food there was also very very good. If you want to snorkle and dive and play with all the water toys go to Montego Bay Sandals.(younger crowd) The planes are loud but you do get used to them. They tell you to wave and kiss your partner when they go over, we got in a lot of kiss'in. But you know when our 12 days were up we were hoping that when our plane went over that everyone would wave to us.
Poor neglected flagship resort
Sad to watch the decline - the only feature that remains highest quality is the staff at Sandals MoBay, always helpful and friendly. The rooms are poorly cleaned and maintained, carpets are very gritty and stained. Evening entertainment has been scaled back from nightly dance and floor show to art auctions 3 of your 7 nights. We had 14 vacations at this resort, many return visits were a reunion with couples we met at MoBay. We will not be going back.
from A TripAdvisor Member
We stayed at Sandals the week of Feb.22, 2003. We Loved the place. Everything was great. The food, the Playmakers, the bar, the entainment, the shows, the beach, the rooms. I can't say enough!! We will absoultly go back again. I miss it every day.
Top Local Tips for Montego Bay
Sandals, Sandals, Sandals...
Since the entire grounds of all the Jamaica Sandals are gorgeous, go for a lesser (cheaper) category. Upgrades are plentiful anyway and you tend not to spend much time in the room anyway. Make full use of the shuttles to play at each resort amd try the different restaurants. Given the quality/quantity of the food, drink, water sports, entertainment, and other leisure activities this vacation goes from a little pricey to very cost-effective. Can't wait to return next year.
Wait for DUTY FREE at the AIRPORT
Although there are duty free shops for things like jewellrey, etc in Montego Bay - wait to buy until you get to the airport, UNLESS you know for sure that you can't get it anywhere else like a woodcarved cane or artwork. But if you are looking for a ring, alcohol, etc, get it at the airport before you head home. And be very firm with people selling hand crafted items - if you don't want it, say NO THANK YOU or I DON'T WANT ANY - otherwise they will keep bugging you. And remember to barter - don't just accept the price they give you, tell them what you want to pay and be willing to say I will go get a better deal elsewhere - most hand crafted items like jewellrey can be purchased from anyone as they all pretty much sell the same items.
Elderly folks may want to stay at the Sandals Inn as they will find more seniors staying there and it is a quieter location. Montego Bay Sandals is for the active and may from the other Sandals nearby often take the inter resort bus (free) to this location. Visit the other two Sandals for a free mini tour as you are accepted there as if you were at the hotel where you are staying. Use SP 40 sun screen that is water resistant at a miniumum.