Historical Traveller Reviews of Sandals Dunns River Golf Resort & Spa Hotel
s Resorts are Way Over-rated!
from A TripAdvisor Member
After travel agents and other people speaking so highly of Sandal's resorts, my husband and I decided to take a 4 night, 5 day getaway to the Sandals' Dunn's River Resort in Jamaica. We wanted the experience to be really nice, since this was our first big trip since our honeymoon three years ago. Let me start by saying that the brochures are very misleading, showing such pictures and giving such ratings.
This hotel was supposedly a 9 and 1/2 out of a possible 10 in the book; you would think it would be a great place to stay, and the pictures make eveything look so perfect. Not true. For our honeymoon we stayed at the Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico, and I'll tell you it was 100 times nicer. The ride from Montego Bay airport to Sandal's Dunn's River is a very, very, very long, bumpy, bumpy ride, in which you'd be very suprised to even get their in one piece. The greeting at the hotel is very welcoming and the workers there are very nice, but that's one of the few good things I can say about this resort. Originally we only had a regular deluxe room booked, but we were promised we would be upgraded as long as they had a room available, and so they did and we were supposedly upgraded 2 categories to a Honeymoon Grande Luxe, and we thought, Oh, this is terrific, until the lady showed us to our room. I mean, surely she had to be kidding when she said this was the Honeymoon Grande Luxe. It was defininitely a lot smaller than we expected, the furniture is outdated and the cushions on the chairs in the room feel like they were stuffed with garbage bags. The bathrooms are very small and old looking and showering was not fun; the water was either freezing cold or scalding hot- take your pick. The carpets are not the greatest either. The hotel is not real new like they try to tell you, and appears run-down and needs redecorating. Besides the room, there was the lobby, gym, elevators, public bathrooms, and Tree Bar that are not air-conditioned. As you sat at the Tree Bar trying to enjoy your drink you had to inhale the smell of rotting garbage everyday probably due to the hot temperatures from no air-conditioning. The food was just average. We did enjoy the breakfast buffet and the Italian restaurant.
Kimono's made our stomach's turn. The portions were so small, they do not give you a choice, and the steak was undercooked. I definitely thought the food selction could have been much better. Trying to relax by the pool or beach sometime seemed impossible. I could still hear in my sleep, "Hey, lady, Let me braid your hair!" They don't leave you alone. They even go to the extent of making a passerby give you a card that says she wants to braid your hair. You dreaded going into the ocean, only because you'd be haggled by the voltures on the other side of the fence. If they saw you in the water, they would actually swim over to you and keep pressuring you to buy beads, or drugs, or whatever. They don't take no for an answer. Unfortuneately because they do this in the water there is nothing they could do about it, only if they come on to land and would bother you. Tell me this makes sense...
you absolutely have to wear a shirt or girls could wear a bathing suit top with shorts over to play tennis, but you could walk aroung the whole resort or lay out on the beach topless and no one says a word. We still had a nice time getting away for 5 days, enjoying the beach, the pools, and the sun, but we would not stay at a Sandal's again. I wished since we got there that we would have stayed at a Beaches instead, since I heard alot of people saying it was much nicer. Bottom line: Jamaica can be beautiful, but the resort will not be unless it gets renovated.
s River - Look Elsewhere
from A TripAdvisor Member
We just recently returned from a trip to Jamaica's Sandals Dunn's River 6/15/03 -6/19/03. We cannot begin to tell you how disappointed we were with the resort. We had looked forward to our vacation with great anticipation, expecting a real world-class experience. However, it was so disappointing that our vacation at Dunn's river was the equivalent of a dressed up motel six. The resort was such a far cry from the brochures, that we feel we were utterly cheated out of a wonderful vacation opportunity, if not, infact, defrauded. Our vacation was unique, indeed. Unfortunately, it was not the type of experience we would wish for anyone else. The Dunn's river resort at first appeared absolutely breathtaking. Upon closer inspection, it was rather run down. The hotel lobby furniture was disgustingly dirty, in dire need of a steam cleaning. The lobby ceiling had stains from water leaking through the roof when it rained. The carpet in the indoor game room was torn in several places and presented a real tripping hazard. Our room accommodations were fair, but a shower was practically out of the question. The water was either as ice cold as the Dunn's River Falls, or scalding hot. Maid service left us high and not so dry, with a lack of toilet paper and a toilet that needed babysitting. The so-called international dining was Shoney's quality at best. Don't believe the sample menus offered on the website. We're from the great state of Louisiana, which is home of some of the finest food in the world. All food at the Dunn's River "Resort" was quite disappointing. All breads and cakes appeared several weeks old; they were staled and hard. Don't order the veal picatta at the Italian restaurant, unless you're fond of chicken-fried steak. The cook at the outdoor grill had no problem serving up a few flies in the breakfast orange juice. To top off one particularly bad dining experience in the international restaurant, we hysterically found the waitress earnestly incompetent. She sincerely did not know the difference between strawberries and blueberries. My husband requested blueberry cheesecake, and the waitress checked with the chef to see if it was available. She returned to say it was not, so my husband ordered plain cheesecake. The waitress returned with our orders: a plain cheesecake for him, and a lovely blueberry-glazed cheesecake for me! On a scale of 1 (worst) - 10 (best), one meal was a true 3, with all others together totaling a 0. The beach at Dunns river was really beautiful. Too bad you couldn't enjoy it! You could not go for a swim in the ocean, lest you be haggled in the water by someone waiting to sell you some trinket or dope. We asked the hotel staff to have the hagglers removed, but we were told that "...they are just trying to make a living." Of course the dope-sellers got to enjoy the water while the paying customers of the resort did not. The resort also boasts its non-motorized water sports. This is true.... there are several hobie cats lined up on the beach. But we waited for two days to use one, because there was only one hobie cat attendant, and he would only put one boat in the water at a time. To sum it all up in the nicest way possible, the best part of our experience was our airplane landing back home in the United States! Never again will we stay there!Sincerely Disgusted
It was OK but cruising is better
My husband and I went to Sandals Dunn's River June 2-9, 2003. We forked out a lot of dough for the honeymoon concierge level and actually got bumped up to the penthouse level (top floor of Genoa Bldg). This started us out on a good foot but it when downhill from there. All in all it was a good vacation but I am used to cruises so I was constantly comparing the resort to a cruise. After the 2 hour drive from the airport we arrived and were given ice cold wash clothes that smelled like roses and a glass of champagne (very impressive). And, like I said, got bumped up a room level. Our room was very nice, and it did look like the brochures but we had to change rooms and go down one floor on the 3rd day because our room was sooooo hot. We complained the first and second day but it took till the third day to get someone to listen. Turns out the air filter had not been cleaned/changed in who knows when and the air was not circulating. We smothered the first 2 nights. As a matter of fact, the whole place is hot. They do not air condition the hallways, service areas, lobby, elevators, etc. of the hotel. Only guest rooms have air conditioners (if they work). And all the hype about your own bar and refrigerator in the concierge rooms that is supposed to be stocked each day is not what it's cracked up to be. They never had what we asked for. The first day we had diet Pepsi's then they started bringing regular Pepsi (yuck). I kept leaving notes and they said they were out of Diet Pepsi (although I saw it at the bars). I asked for orange juice, they kept telling me they were out. As for alcohol, they had Appleton's rum (Jamaican brand but it is the best there is) in there but the rest was rot gut stuff you never heard of. They claim the drinks at the bars are top shelf liquor and you saw a few name brand bottles sitting around but you had to "specifically" request the name brands and then you had to watch and make sure they actually gave it to you. I once saw a bartender pick up a bottle of Appleton'suse it when the guy who ordered the drink wasn't looking. My husband always requested Appleton's Estate brand and even though we watched the bartender make the drinks my husband said he never even got a "buzz" in 7 days and, believe me, he as many drinks as he had every day at the pool bar he should have been blitzed!!! And for the record, the Tree Bar near the lobby smelled like a dumpster every single day!!! Never could figure out why....Just like the last post, we too went diving. It was the worst dive I've ever been on. Small reef with very little fish around it. Boring for the most part. And the watersports people have crappy attitudes. I noted this on my comment card before I left. For example, you would ask, "Where are we diving?" They would answer, "In the ocean." We said, "Duh, where in the ocean?" They said, "You wouldn't know if we told you." How cocky is that???? One thing we did do that I totally enjoyed was go down to Chukka Cove and rode horses in the ocean ($65 per person). That was kinda a life long dream to me. My husband didn't like it though. I had a blast even though we rode the last 30 minutes back to the barn in the pouring down rain.The food was OK but food on a cruise ship is much better. The best place we ate was the Internationale the last night. We ate at Kimonos twice. Heard it was hard to get a reservation but we ate there twice with no problem. We went down to Sandals Ocho Rios one night and ate at Arizona's. Food was OK but the atmoshere was soooo romantic. We were there during sunset and the tables were at the waters edge on the ocean with candles, etc. I liked our resort better. Ocho Rios is more plush with foliage but you can't see the ocean from any of their pools and the property is very narrow. Dunn's River is more open and spreadout.Oh my gosh, the fence people!! They were on both sides of the fence yelling at you all day trying to braid your hair and sell you stuff (drugs included). There were even 2 guys who swam around thet in to swim they would approach you and pull baggies out of the water trying to sell you necklaces!! They have to post guards on each side. I have been to Jamaica twice before on cruises and knew they were a little pushy so I was not totally shocked by this but this was more than I had anticipated. Once when I was outside the resort a woman came down street and before I knew it she had put a braid in my hair. I called it a "hit and run" braid!!!!The playmakers were great but nobody really wanted to participate in anything. The pool was crowded during the day so you know there were lots of folks there but at night hardly nobody goes to the shows (cheesy as they are). The disco starts at 11pm and there are no more than 6 people dancing and they all leave by 11:30. The only thing to do is play ping pong or chess on the giantic yard chess board.All in all: Everyone there is really nice, particularly the concierge people, Florence & Joy, but not the watersports people. The food is Average, the alcohol situation is VERY misleading if you don't stay on top of what is happening when you order. Hint, even though you are not supposed to tip if you slip the bartender a buck you will get better drinks. The entertainment at night is slim to none. Day time pool entertainment is better (water aerobics, name that tune, volleyball, etc.) Watch out for the "fence people". I wouldn't say I had a bad time, I had a good time but I think 7 days was too much. I got bored at the end and I think we spent too much money for what we got. We could have taken ourselves and our 3 kids on a 7 day cruise and had a better time than what it cost just the 2 of us to stay at Sandals for 7 days. It was fun but I think I'm going back to cruising.
Not for serious SCUBA divers
from A TripAdvisor Member
We stayed at Sandals Dunns River June 5-9, 2003. We had never stayed at a Sandals, and were excited to try one. We had previsouly stayed at the Wyndham, Rose Hall in Jamaica. Also Melia Turquesa in Cancun. Overall, Sandals did not live up to our expectations. It definitely does not look like the pictures on their website, or in their brochures. Do not go to this resort especting to dive twice a day! That is a joke! They do 1 scuba dive at 9 AM (or 9:30, whenever, mon, no problem) They have 1 boat, and they have to use it also for the snorkeler's. Also, the dive sites they advertise on their website- joke's on you- you will never be taken to those sites. The site they use (the same one every day) is not worth $1.00. Oh, then the boat broke down so it was not running at all 2 days. We ried to take the shuttle to Sandals Ocho Rios, and that dive was all booked! It just seemed like we were getting the run around, big time. The "water sports" staff did not seem to care at all. It was like, "no big deal, happens all the time." It was just very disappointing to go there expecting to get in 2 dives a day. We picked Sandals becasue they advertise "2 dives a day" included (except Sunday's) We kept hearing the same story from other couples. We met a couple from England and a couple from Germany. They were equally as disapoined as us. Oh well, live & learn. An expensive lesson was learned. Sandals is NOT for serious divers! I hope this helps you in your decision. Other than that- everything else was OK. We had a bad view from our room.
We fell in love with Sandals, Dunns River
This place was just so much fun and relaxing. We can't wait to go back. If you can't enjoy yourself here, than you could not enjoy yourself anywhere. This place has it all. You can relax by or in the most beautiful pool we have ever seen, (which looks just like the brochure) or you can participate in events which were way fun. The age groups were diverse, but a good majority were between 28-38. The staff is awesome. The playmakers were outrageous. We miss them! They remember everyones names. By the time we left, we felt like we were leaving our long lost friends. The entertainment was enjoyable. The Italian place here was not my favorite(New York, Italian family--enough said). However, we made reservations at Valentinos italian restaurant @ Sandles Ocho rios, took a shuttle, and loved that food and view. The other restaurants at Dunn's were great- very enjoyable. We loved the breakfast buffet in the terrace. The Blue mountain coffee is delicious. Bring watershoes ( you will need to pay $5 to rent them if you don't) that is if you do the Dunn's river falls excursion. That is a must do. You can rent huge lockers for cheap when you get there. We will be going back to this resort. We loved the snorkeling, If you bring bread with you, the fish will eat it right from your hand. We cannot say enough good about this place. The basic rooms were average, but all had balconies. The pina coladas were our favorites. The Jamaican Appleton rum is delicious. The whole setting is just very romantic. We had so much fun here thanks to the Playmakers.
Just got back from the most amazing seven day vacationof my life. We got married on the beach at sandals and it was truelyamazing. The people at sandals have this down to an exact science. They provide everything and make it very romantic and special. Ourwedding coordinater, nadine, was wonderful and took care of everything. Why have a big wedding with all of the worries when you can everythingtaken care of for you. the reception, flowers, pictures, video, dinnerserved by a white gloved waiter, champange breakfast set up on thebalcony......it was beautiful . And the grounds were justspectacular. but the best thing were the people. everyone is just sofriendly and just want to make sure that you are having a great time. Vidal at the watersport center took us for a great hobbie cat ridecomplete with pictures. Lance at the piano bar, playmakers kerri andniko......what wonderful great people. we will definately goback!!!!
Awesome, Awesome, Awesome
My wife and I just returned from Sandals Dunn River after staying for 7 days (May 03-10). It was the best vacation we've ever been on. Just for a little background we're both 28, been married for 2 years, work in the financial field, and like to party. The Montego Bay Airport was very chaotic but after reading a few reviews that mentioned hitting the far left immigration line we took the advice and it was actually faster. After that there are two lines; non-declaring and declaring to get through customs. By dumb luck we thought we had to declare our cigarettes, perfume, and cologne but it turns out personal use items don't need to be declared. Fake it anyways because the people in the non-declare line waited 45 minutes as opposed to our 5 minutes. After getting through customs, we were directed to the Sandals desk. They took our bags, confirmed our room, and showed us to the bus; they were very organized. The bus ride wasn't as bad as you hear. Sure its bumpy but not jarring and it is air conditioned well. The bus makes a beer/bathroom stop after about an hour where you'll be asked to buy crafts, necklaces, t-shirts, and yes drugs. A simple no does fine and it isn't bothersome. 15 minutes later you're back on your way. Once arriving at Dunns River the men identify the luggage as the women start filling out the registration. You get a cold towel to freshen up and a cold glass of champagne. After a day of traveling, a couple of Red Stripes, and a glass of champagne we're doing just fine by now. The bags were taken to our room, which was upgraded two levels to our surprise from the Deluxe to the Honeymoon Grand Lux. Checked out our room it was fine, a little musty smell but we didn't even notice after 15 minutes. The air conditioning worked great, enough hot water for both my wife (classic long shower for the lady) and myself every night, TV had US stations, and the room was promptly cleaned everyday. No complaints at all on the room. The pools are outstanding, very big and the perfect temperature ta a lot more of a party atmosphere because of the large pool bar and playmakers playing music and organizing events (beer drinking contest, pool bingo, pool Olympics, etc). The other pool surrounding the piano bar is more laid back and seemed to attract the older guests. The pool bars were well staffed and we never waited more than a minute for a drink. All top shelf liquor (Jack Daniels, Absolute, Cuervo, Jim Beam, Seagrams VO, Dewars, etc.). You're screwed if you are a beer drinker and don't like Red Strip because that is all they have although you could buy Heinekens and Guinness in the gift shop but if you're going to do that why go all inclusive. The food was great. For breakfast they had a buffet every morning from 7:30 to 10:00 at the Terrace and a sit down order restaurant in the International open a little later. Both were good, not spectacular, but its breakfast so you can't go too wrong. The French toast was great. Lunch was also served as a buffet at the Terrace from 11:00 to 2:30 or you could always get food at pool grill 23 1/2 hours a day (cheeseburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, etc.) that didnt have everything dowsed in jerk spices as you may have read. Dinner was excellent in my opinion. All four restaurants were great with Kimonos (Japanese restaurant) taking the cake. Kimonos is the only restaurant requiring a reservation. Make sure youre aware of the events going on at night because certain days they organize buffets on the beach/pool and some of the restaurants are closed. Ate once at Ochos Rios (Bay View Restaurant) and it was equally wonderful. We wanted to eat at the Arizona but it was a 1-hour wait, BOO! The grounds have pool tables, ping-pong tables, a pitch/putt 9-hole course, and 8-quarter slot machines. I won close to $150 on the slot machines and won almost every time I sat down for longer than 5 minutes, just make sure you go the full amount of money each pull. I think they are rigged to pay out lot more than regular slot machines. Either way it paid for a lot of souvenirs. The We didnt do any water sports but if we wanted to Im sure it would be no problem mon. The nightlife is pretty dead because everyone drinks themselves out during the day but they do have live entertainment in the disco almost every night that is on par with cheesy cruise ship entertainment but they are talented. Your nights will be what you make them so try to hook up with some other couples and have a good time. We met some great people and took the free shuttle bus to Margiritville at night and partied something fierce, very good time. The 2:00 am bus ride back was very rowdy, I dont know how the driver put up with us. The piano bar got rowdy a few nights we were there but after awhile you can only hear the Piano Man and Sweet Caroline so many times but the guy can play anything. I played golf on the Sandals course twice and have to say I enjoyed it quite a bit (83 and 85 on the par 71 course). The greens were fast, true, and fair. Plus the caddie makes every read for you and trust me he was right every time. The few times I didnt take his advice on either a shot selection or putting line I was in trouble. The front nine is much harder than the back. The golf is free but you have to pay $15 for the caddie (18 holes) and I tipped him $10. If you want to ride in a cart you still have to pay for the caddie and its $38 for the cart (18 holes). I walked it in the Jamaican sun hung over and didnt have a problem. Drink lots of fluids and try to play in the morning because its hot out there. If you play more than once you get the same caddie, which is cool. My wife went to the spa when I played golf and loved it although it is also extra money. She did mention the messages are a bit different than in the States whereas youre naked and they pretty much message everywhere. She was a little taken back at first. We also did the booze cruise to Margiritaville ($90 per couple), which was a blast. They take you on a catamaran from the Sandals beach towards the Ochos Rios harbor all while serving you rum punch the whole time. Siocean is rough and it bounces you around a lot but its a blast. You then snorkel in Ochos Rios (all right snorkeling) and then you go to the Island Village, which has Jimmy Buffets Margiritaville restaurant. It has a pool bar, hot tub, and a waterslide. Its a blast. The topper on the vacation was swimming with the dolphins. It was magical but very expensive ($175 per person) if you wanted to actual swim with them but they have cheaper activities too. They let you ride two dolphins dorsal fins, one on each side, and they have two dolphins push each one of your feet to push you out of the water along with singing, dancing, and petting the dolphins. So cool! We never did the Dunns River Falls tour because we had explored waterfalls in Hawaii for our honeymoon and decided to skip it. Everyone said it was great although regardless of what your vacation package says its not included with your stay at Sandals. All in all, I would recommend Sandals Dunn River to anyone and everyone. What a great vacation I cant wait to experience a different Sandals next time.maybe St. Lucia.
Great! Great! Great!
from A TripAdvisor Member
My wife and I along with another couple spent 7 awesome days at Dunns River. Contrary to some of the other Ney sayers this is a great time. The food was fantastic at all four restaurants and the drinks were ever flowing with supreme service from the resort staff. Ah, the resort staff. I have never and I mean never met a more professional staff of hospitality service workers. My special thanks to Nick, Craig and Dwayne along with the entire playmakers, great job. The hotel was immaculate with the neatly manicured lawns and very clean beach. Many of the reviews mention the locals on the other side of the gate hawking their goods and being very irritated, I say to them that is Jamaica and their people. I spent a considerable amount of time spending money and talking with them. As a result I gained a great insight into their culture. The locals were very nice and your right they too are trying to make buck. I recommend anyone who has the chance to go through the gate and see for them selves. If you dont have a great time at this resort it is your own fault. For my money all was IRIE Sincerely, "George squared"
t go wrong with Sandals
from A TripAdvisor Member
My wife and I recently returned from Sandals Dunn's River on April 19, 2003. We had an absolutely wonderful time. Upon arrival we received a glass of champagne and word that our room had been upgraded to a Honeymoon suite with an awesome view overlooking the pool and ocean. The room was spacious and very clean. The furniture was a bit run-down but nothing that I haven't encountered with any above average hotel chain in the States. The service was always top-notch. The playmakers did a wonderful job of providing entertainment if you wanted to take part. St. Nick and Jonathon were awesome. And there was no feeling of pressure if you just wanted to relax by the pool instead of joining in on the activities. All of the playmakers did a wonderful job of keeping us entertained the afternoon that we encountered some rain. Overall, the meals were excellent with a good amount of options to choose from. At times, the appetizers were small in portion, but all you had to do was order more and you would receive a No problem mon from the servers. Contrary to other reviews that I have read, they do serve premium brand liquor including Absolute, Bacardi, and Southern Comfort to name a few. And believe me, the drinks are not watered down. Garth and Faye were fantastic bartenders. As long as you treat the people with respect, they will repay your gratitude three-fold. I was approached a couple times by people in the water offering necklaces, to ride Jet Skis or parasail, but with a simple No thanks they didnt bother you again. One word of caution, if you do cross the fence to the Native Center, go with a small group so you dont get mauled by the people. They have some nice things and most are identical to what you can get in the gift shop for about half the price. The price you pay may be a bit more than if you went to resort where you pay as you go. However, it more than makes up for it not having to bring much money or worry about paying as everything is provided once youre on the property. My wiRiver, riding Jet Skis, and buying souvenirs we still came home with $180. Jamaica is a poor country, however, once you get to the resort its a complete difference as everything is well maintained and kept. Parts of the property were a bit run down, but you had to hunt to find them. Overall it was a fantastic trip and we cant wait to try out Sandals Negril next time!P.S. My wife and I also honeymooned at Sandals Antigua in January 2002. Again, everything was top-notch. The beach at Antigua was probably better, however unlike at Dunns River, the beach was public so you were approached numerous times during the day. The main pool at Dunns River was much better than the one at Antigua. Antigua was a great place to honeymoon, as it was more secluded and private. However, Dunns River is the place to go if you want more nightlife and a party atmosphere.
Great place: Beach okay watch out for the fence!!
from A TripAdvisor Member
This was my 1st trip to Jamaica and Sandals. I was able to get input from other vacationers on other Sandals resorts, as well as myself as we went to scout it out for future travel. Sandals Dunns River is by far the nicest out of Sandals in Ochio Rios, Montego Bay and Sandals Inn. I liked Sandals Royal Carribean location as the atmosphere is quiet, layed back & little smallerHave not been to Negril so I can't offer an opinion. Hotel in Dunns is big, beautiful & clean. Broken into 3 -4 bulidings. Dunn's gives you the option to relax at one section or party it up by the pool. It reminds me of a mesh of Sandals Montego bay atmosphere (wild & crazy) with Royal Carribean (calm). Rooms> spacious and most have balconies. I wouldn't recommend the special suite rooms. They may offer more but its not worth the money and the rooms are smaller. Don't recommend ocean view because the pool lights and partying on some nights kept me up). Food> Awesome, can't complain with the different resteraunta. Try the Japanese reteraunt. Very good (reservation req at this resteraunt) Beach> very clean but not as wide as I thought. about 1- 1/2 New york City blocks wide. Your enclosed with Rock on one side and "Fence" by the other side. This is the only bumming thing. I love long clean beaches but it was fine..(FYI) FENCE keeps out Jamaican folks that want to sell. (some make their way by water- You'll see what I mean but they are very nice) You can go over past the fence and buy stuff at the huts. There are about 8-12 wooden huts that they sell T shirts, pants, etc..... BUT BE FORWARNED, once you cross the fence they grab you and push you to shop at "thier" tent.. They dragged me in one direction and my husband another. I almost cried but held my composure. Its an experience you'll never forget... Scary but funny afterwards. I suggest you go with a group of people and you get pestered just say- "I will visit each of your huts" just give me some time. weren't so hard up about it. Sal and I stayed in the resort and didn't do any of the exscursions which was fine by me. We met a great couple from England. "HI EMMA JONES" Have fun folks.