Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Beach & Villa Resort Hotel

, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
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Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Beach & Villa Resort Hotel

4 star

Rooms: 529

P.o. Box 771 - Ocho Rios - Jamaica Hotel Website | 876-974-5691
2859 Traveller

Reviews - Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Beach & Villa Resort Hotel

1/10
I will never go back
Submitted by: Racquel in 12/03/08
  • Age Group: 41 - 50
  • From: United States
  • Traveller type: Young Couple
Old run down buildings. The food was gross. Way over priced. Small crowded beach. Tacky, gimmicky, over-rated. Over priced excusions. Will not go back.
10/10
Butler service comes to Sandals Ocho Rios
Submitted by: HerbTravelGuy in 01/07/07
  • Age Group:
  • From:
  • Traveller type: Business Traveller
This fabulous and famous resort known as a top wedding spot now has a new feature: a unique Butler Service that is being offered in their Concierge Suites.

I recently had an opportunity to experience first hand this new service. Arriving at Sandals, Ocho Rios one is immediately taken by the lush vegetation and the manicured grounds…this fine property goes from white sand ocean front to hills overlooking the coastline, a rise of over 600'.

Upon checking in, my butler, Franklyn, met me at reception, streamlined the checking in process, and had my bags delivered to my rooms. Upon my arrival I discovered that all my clothes had been expertly put away. Franklyn then sat down with me and explained the many options I had for my stay. Then I was handed a cell phone with a direct connection to him, so I could call whenever he was needed “I will make your dinner reservations for you and escort you to dinner to make sure all is in order, I will take your drink or wine order and get you settled in, if you ever need me, just call on the cell”.

This Butler program has been in effect for a year now and it is very successful. Each candidate is trained by The Guild of Professional English Butlers of London, England. David Roper, General Manager, told me “The success of our program is proven by how many butlers get hired away by guests, it shows how well we train them”. So successful that Sandals is now implementing this service in other properties.

Since weddings are one of the main attractions at Sandals Ocho Rios, the butler service has become very much in demand. Anyone who has been thru planning a wedding knows that there are a multitude of last minute things to do and decide. Having someone right by your side that knows everything and everyone at the resort can greatly help all go smoothly.

I came in before sunset from sailing only to discover that the slacks that I had planned on wearing for dinner were wrinkled, now where is that cell phone? Called Franklyn, he came up, took my pants and shirt away and returned 15 minutes later with them pressed to perfection.

Having someone to arrange all your activities, making sure you get to them on time, press your clothes, serve you coffee or meals in your room and then the absolute best, having Franklyn pack my bags. I am the world's worst packer, so I just let Franklyn do it all and guess what? I had space left over in the same suitcase that I brought in stuffed. Have to learn to fold like that.

Franklyn was also very familiar with Ocho Rios and was able to supply me with tourist tips and little known facts. During my stay, the service, the assistance and the insider information that Franklyn provided transformed my vacation experience.

I felt as if I had been transported to a magical realm of luxury and opulence, where kind and courteous service had been developed into an art.

Ahhhhh, thank you, Franklyn, for providing for me a taste of the good life.

Sandals Ocho Rios has always been famous for its' service but this new butler service takes it to GREATER heights.
10/10
The Dolphin Master of Half Moon Bay
Submitted by: HerbTravelGuy in 29/06/07
  • Age Group:
  • From:
  • Traveller type: Business Traveller
It's early morning and the sky, still streaked with pink, is reflected in the crystal clear waters of Half Moon Bay Resort. This famous resort, favorite of royalty and presidents, sits on 400 acres of the most beautiful beachfront in Jamaica, perhaps the Caribbean. Luxury villas line the beach, each with its own private bay. Here you can ride horses right out into the ocean and swim with them, you can play golf on their championship course and you can interact with Dolphins. That is what I am off to do this beautiful morning.

As I arrive at the lagoon where the Dolphins live, I can hear them clicking. They have swum up to the beach and are clicking for food. What a cool sound, Dolphins make over 200 distinct sounds, all out of their blow holes.

I am enthusiastically greeted by Oneil. He is an enthusiastic young man who openly shares his story with me. He tells me that when he was a little boy, he lived in a middle class neighborhood of Montego Bay. His aunt, on his 4th birthday gave him a stuffed animal, later in life Oneil would look back at that moment as a turning point in his life.

Oneil studied hard and took his classes seriously but he excelled at soccer. He was on his high schools' winning team and later went on to play professional soccer with a major Jamaican club.

However 25 is a little old in the soccer world and Oneil was looking for something else that would perhaps have a more promising future. He heard about a company that was looking for people to learn to train Dolphins. He couldn't believe his good fortune, he had read everything he could find and had studied these noble creatures for years. He applied and was immediately hired.

He started his studies at the Educational Center for the Marine and Terrestrial Wild Life Animals in Kingston and then went on to work at Dolphin Cove at Ocho Rios and then eventually here at Half Moon Bay Resort. Jamaica law is very strict concerning the keeping of Dolphins. They have adopted the USA laws concerning their care and handling.

He is the one who now greets me and begins the orientation. The two Dolphins are Bruno, 8 years old and Miguel 7 years old. Both came from Cuba and Oneil makes the highly questionable statement that they only understand Spanish, right. Other interesting Dolphin facts are: they can go 3 days out of water (of course they need to be regularly hosed down, this is how they transport them), they can live up to 3 times longer in captivity 50 – 60 years! They nurse their young for 18 months and they can glide thru the turquoise waters of the Caribbean at 22 miles per hour.

Not only do tourists and nature lovers enjoy these Dolphins, Bruno and Miguel have played host to children from the Make A Wish Foundation who come to frolic with the boys. They have also interacted with Autistic children and children with special needs who all seem to create a special bond with these majestic creatures. The trainers tell me that the Dolphins seem to sense when there is a child with special needs and they seem to make an extra effort to communicate.

Then we gather our group of 10 (never more) and float out into the lagoon. We swim out and line up and the dolphins shoot by and jump up, what power, how graceful they are…and these guys weigh in at around 500 pounds. Now they do their tricks. Miguel swims up and lays his cute Dolphin head against my cheek; he lets me run my hand down him…so smooth. Then I am positioned in the middle of the lagoon and Bruno and Miguel swim up on either side of me and I am instructed to hold on to their fins…wow what a ride, they pull me for about 50 feet and really fast.. I felt like Poseidon being pulled by his band of sea horses.

Well the boys were getting tired and so was I. We headed in to shore and out of the hot sun that was reminding me I was in the tropics. I had one more chance to thank Oneil and all the guys. Oneil, “I asked”, “so what was the toy your aunt gave you back then”? “Oh yeah, mon, it was a Dolphin. Now I am the Dolphin Master of Half Moon Bay”. Somehow I knew that was coming but it still gave me a chill.
His aunt had given him a gift that opened up his world. Now Oneil gives that gift to others as he has given it to me. Tonight I will sleep peacefully in my bed while I dream of Dolphins.
2/10
Great staff, best dive. Bad food, rats and ants in rooms. Too noisy to sleep.
Submitted by: Joey in 16/02/06
  • Age Group: 26 - 30
  • From: United States
  • Traveller type: Young Couple
When reading this review, please take into consideration that
1. We stayed at the Oceanfront rooms on the Riviera side
2. I have been travelling all over Asia with my self-proclaimed food critic of a father since I could walk. From age 22, I have been cruising with my very generous in-laws twice a year. So at age 26, I am rather spoiled and have high expectations of food and services.

Bottom line:
Sandals Ocho Rios is not worth the money you'd have to pay, for the same price we pay for each Ocean View Suite for 12 days with all the airfare from California, we could have each bought a 20 day balcony room on most cruise lines and drink as much alcohol as one can reasonably consume – 4 drinks a day each, for two.

Pros:
Extremely personable and friendly staff (Best of housekeeping: Hamulia).
Patient and professional diving instructors (Best Instructor: Trusty).
Bird songs between sunrise and sunset.

Cons:
Shady with bills.
Entire resort has a run down feel to it, nothing is ever quite clean.
Bad food, very little options as to what you can eat. Restaurants and bars are always closed.
Tries to “upgrade” guests into villas without ocean view.
Rooms have rats, bugs of various types (including a very tenacious ant colony), and the furniture is old and smells of mildew.


Dive Shop
My fiancé and I both got certified in the dive shop. The staff was friendly and helpful. Our instructor Trusty was an extremely good teacher, very patient, knowledgeable, and professional. He was goofy and friendly when we were out of lessons, but very serious during. There was no faulty equipment during our total of 12 dives - staff check and double and triple check all equipment before renting them out. We were extremely impressed!
The SCUBA was the best part of this entire experiences, reef was interesting, full of lives and colourful fishes, huge variety of hard and soft corals, a wrack-dive site near the resort, it was wonderful!

The Resort Itself
The resort is separated into a Riviera side and a Manor side by the main street of the Island. To go from one side to the other, wait for the bus. If you do not see yourself doing so, please expect only half as much amenities as promised.

How we got there:
Reception in airport was wonderful; staff members from both resort and airport are extremely personable and friendly.
Bus ride to the resort (approximately 2 hour 15 minutes) was good, roomy and comfortable even on the dirt road. However, the ride back from the resort to the airport was HORRID: cramped, dirty, bumpy, luggage insecurely piled [see photo #1].

Reception/reservations at the resort: Shady!
They made mistakes in our room reservations, claimed that the room we paid for (Ocean View Suites with balconies) were no longer available, as well as any ocean view rooms, so they would “upgrade” us to one of the villas that were situated right by busy paths, and couldn't see the ocean at all. Upon our refusal, there were suddenly 3 ocean view rooms without balcony available, and we were to check the availabilities of balcony rooms the next day... shady. So it went. At the end, we moved into what we paid for—we paid for 12 days, and stayed in the ocean-view w/balconies for 10 days, after 1-2 moves.

Our rooms:
Our family of 3 couples stayed in a total of 8 different rooms, of 3 different floors, with or without balconies, all are Grande Luxe Oceanfront (code: GO), and all had ocean views and ants, and the most expensive ones had no privacy and a lot of noises.

Noise:
The Oceanfront rooms we had were situated 2 and 3 floors above the Bayside restaurant—which had a large outdoor under-our-balcony eating veranda—the Riviera bar which had another huge drinking veranda with drunken people at any given time. Do not delude yourselves that 3 floors would mask the noise, because it didn't: live music until either 9pm or 10pm, bar open until midnight, drunken guests having fun until whenever they wish (we called management at 4am to asked them to please request the guests to quiet down a little since we had to fly home the next day, and the noise subsided for 10 minutes and returned until sunrise.)

Pests:
We had to battle with ants (because one of us is allergic to ant bites) through out our 12-day stay, and 2 of the nights we had rat visits—that guy was approximately... big. We spoke with management, and guess what? They “granted” us a free breakfast in this all-inclusive resort! Sigh... haven't we already paid for all-inclusive vacation already?

General room conditions
Entire room smelled of mildew. Walls were dirty, carpet sticky. Furniture was old and made of some kind of resin that was then spray-painted to look like stone (the attempt failed miserably); insides of drawers were just raw wood that splinters, and smelled of mildew. Décor was of poor taste. Air conditioning didn't work reliably, and remote control didn't work at all, and apparently no one knew how to fix it... Maid cleaned randomly throughout our stay.


Food
There were close to no options: please choose amongst this extremely-greasy-but-taste-like-cardboard-food and that extremely-fatty-food-that-taste-like-cardboard. Diet was unbalanced, you'd feel like crap if you are used to paying attention to what you stuff yourselves with. When I got home, I put on 8 lbs and felt like I had been eating fast food for 5 weeks.
There was pepper in every entrée, side dishes, and even in my freaking desert once. Sigh... Those who have hypersensitive bitterness receptors please be warned. There was usually the option between pasta with pepper, rice with pepper, meat with pepper, all with 3 times more grease than necessary to unleash the lipo-soluble tastes. All vegetables except peppers were wilted and unappetizing. All beef entrées were tough with no moisture at all. All pork smelled of goat (!?). 3 out of the 6 of us got mild food-poisoning, 1 of us got it bad.

Restaurants and Bars
There were 8 restaurants and some 10 bars in the entire resort, but for most time of day, most days of the week only 2 out of the 8 restaurants and 2 out of the 10 bars were open at a time—1 in the Manor, 1 in the Riviera . If your sleeping and eating schedule does not happen to fall in the same schedule as the restaurants, then you are SOL—you can choose from French fries and hotdogs (maybe) or starve until the restaurants open again. It was not unusual to see guests walking all over the resort grounds trying to find a bar that was open. To give a better idea of their service schedule: it was a BIG deal that FIVE of their restaurants would be open at the same time in the celebration of the Christmas!!!
Tip: All dinner restaurants were too dark for any one to read a menu, bring your own key chain flashlights.

New Year Celebration
On New Year's Eve, they had the guts to close EVERY SINGLE ONE of their restaurants so the guests who wished to eat at all had to go to the Manor and eat on the lawn... Dress code was formal, so it was really fun to watch ladies in their best dresses, and their high-heel shoes digging deep into the lawn as they walked; not so fun when I had to do so myself and made the bottom of my white dress a fresh grass juice colour.

Shady Billing:
30 minutes before we left the resort, as we checked out, they told us that we still had some $200 credit amongst us. So we shopped the gift shop and used up the money on stupid frivolous but fun things we never would have otherwise bought. Then they delayed the bus from driving away by saying, “oops, never mind that, there is no credit.” So if we didn't want everyone on the bus to wait for us digging out the items that we picked out and already tucked away into the luggage pile, we had to pay for them, and we did.

Historical Traveller Reviews of Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Beach & Villa Resort Hotel

This Place is the Best

from davez3
We just returned from the Grand Sport about a week ago June 23-30. We highly recommend the Grand Sport to the vacationer who loves the sun and water. My wife and I have traveled around the world, and have lived overseas for 6 years in the South Pacific and Europe, and now vacation exclusively in the Caribbean. We may look at vacations differently that others look for a place where the people are friendly, food is good, lots of sun and close to the water. We like to enjoy the local culture and enjoy some night life but now big party people. We enjoy a resort with an atmosphere and lots of things to do. We have been to 7 all-inclusive resorts in Aruba, Mexico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and have visited much of the Caribbean on our 5 cruises. I tell you this only to say we have see the good and great places to stay, and this is one of the best.

The staff are wonderful, friendly, and helpful; they truly want your vacation to be the best you have ever experienced. Yes the bus ride is rough, but if you did not want to see the country side you can fly from the airport to Ocho Rios for about $65.00 a person each way, your choice. You saw bugs, lizards (geckos) what did you expect you are in the tropics. If you want NY City go to New York, not a tropical island.
All tropical islands have bugs, geckos are natures insect repellent, they get ride of mosquitoes.

You want your fellow vacationers to be understanding of the culture and locals, like you, get a life. Grow up.

If you are looking for a great resort, great food, super staff, and lots to do, this is it. We got the discount package, room with run of the house. We were in a villa with two rooms, one small and one larger.
Our room was 18 x 18 and a bathroom 7 x 18 feet. The place next to us had a living room and a kitchen. The kitchens were built when this was not an all inclusive and families saved money by cooking their meals, it does not mean you have too. We stayed in our room only to change clothes and sleep, which we did very well. So if you got a kitchen you were upgraded, the room next to ours was an upgrade and no one was in it all week, yet we did not ask to be upgraded to it, because we were seldom in our room.

I must admit we did use our simi-private pool, good thing no one was in the next room, because we enjoyed the pool and its privacy provided by the lush vegetation surrounding it.

The beach was just across the street from the property, about a 15 minute walk from the great house. We never walked to it because a bus took you from the great house to the beach and made the trip every 15 minutes like clockwork. You could set you watch by the bus schedule.

There are 4 restaurants and only one has a buffet, the others are la carte and all serve great food, including local dishes. There are bars everywhere, if you have problems getting a drink, you are not looking very well.

We do not return to the same resort for a second trip as a rule, there are too many great places to go and visit. We will make an exception for this resort and both of us look forward to returning and enjoying another wonderful vacation.

Dave & Bonnie

Hated it.....

from jamaicaholic
Synopsis - Beautiful grounds, absolutely wonderful food, sweet staff, but trip virtually ruined by the antiseptic feel of the resort, the plethora of boorish, drunk guests who felt that traveling to Jamaica meant treating the Jamaican staff like slaves and who complained regularly about the spicy food (why come to Jamaica?), no nightlife to speak of and a waterbug (giant roach) problem in my "villa." I felt compelled to write this review because I know that many of us who visit this site come from different backgrounds and have different expectations for our vacations - thus, the varying reviews of certain places. I think people like me need to know the other side of this resort. I am an African-American woman who has fallen in love with this beautiful island and its people. My paternal grandmother was from Jamaica. When I was a child, she always spoke lovingly about the beauty of her country. When I come to Jamaica, I enjoy meeting the people and go out of my way to meet the locals. I say this because I've noticed some reviewers have actually written that they view exposure to the Jamaican people as a negative. I do not. And in fact, I view a resort's treatment of its employees as one of the factors in making my vacation pleasant. If I see Jamaicans are treated badly, it hurts me. And I am not comfortable in treating them like my slaves. I guess its that African ancestry. Or maybe just common decency. I should mention too that I view diversity among the guests as a plus, unlike some others who have posted on this site. I also am a typical traveler. I like cleanliness. I don't like waterbugs. And when I am paying top dollar for a well-deserved vacation (especially one that I've struggled to save for), I expect certain standards. All that said, I can see how someone with views different from mine might enjoy Beaches Grande Sport, but I won't be back. I returned from my vacation more stressed than when I arrived. To start off, the airport transfer bus waited for enough passengers to fill its seats, then, en route, it broke down, so I arrived at the hotel four hours later than planned. When I arrived, I saw that the grounds and the lobby were absolutely lovely. The staff was very friendly too. They greeted you with a hot towel, a cool drink and a bag of toiletries. I was then informed that I had been "upgraded" to a villa. I was happy about this at first, but a little concerned when I saw that this villa was in a secluded corner of the property. I was traveling alone and hadn't come for privacy with a new husband or anything. I was there to party, meet people and have fun in the sun and the sea. I was so pooped from my all-day trip that I put off unpacking for a few minutes and plopped down on the bed. No sooner had my vacation mode started to settle in than a big fat waterbug comes sashaying into my room. I should mention here that I'll probably sound like an ugly American and a whiner here, but I have a deep-seated phobia of waterbugs. Who knows - maybe something from childhood - but I would rather be trapped in a room with a ferocious tiger than a waterbug. Not only are they disgusting, but they fly and they crunch when you step on them. Don't laugh, but I got on the phone and called the front desk for help. I was frozen with fear on the bed. The woman on the other end was actually sympathetic and said she would send someone to kill it, but a half hour later I was still there, frozen on the bed, watching this thing crawl all over my luggage. The luggage tags moved up and down, this thing was so huge. I called the front desk again and was transferred to housekeeping. The woman on the other end said, "Oh, is this the lady with the bug?" I apologized for being such a baby but said I needed someone to come kill the behemoth bug. The woman sighed and said she'd be there. And I have to give this to Beaches - the woman at the front desk talked to me to keep me calm while I waited. Ten minutes later, the housekeeping attendant and her assistant arrived and they killed the bug for me. But here's the clincher. I know this is the tropics and there are waterbugs, and I've heard that you tend to have that problem when you are in a garden area. My secluded villa was surrounded by trees and plants. I told the staff that I might be better off if they could move me to the main building, but no matter how much I asked, they told me they had nothing available. (I later met a guest who somehow was able to be moved.) By the way, have I mentioned that I'm a journalist? After some digging, I learned that the villa upgrade is really somewhat of a joke. This property is made up primarily of these villas and there are few rooms in the main building, which is where a roach-o-phobe like me needed to be. Virtually everyone is "upgraded" to a villa. I felt like I'd been suckered by that upgrade song and dance. I finally got housekeeping to bring me a can of Raid and I sprayed every inch of the inside and outside of the building. Thank God, because every morning when I opened the front door, I was greeted by the sight of a dead waterbug, one that would have joined me had I not sprayed. After speaking with some other guests, I learned that this was a chronic problem in the villas. I know it's the tropics, but other places somehow manage to keep this problem under control. But enough of the bugs. The villa was attractive I have to say, and it was equipped with a full kitchen and even had bottled water, seltzer and Jamaican soft drinks in the refridgerator. If I had been traveling with a husband and kids, this might have been nice (though, I'm sorry, I don't go on vacation to cook). The cleanliness of the room was not sparkling, but more than adequate. My only somewhat negative comment about the interior was that the bathroom was so-so, more on the scale of a Motel 6. I expected a Four Seasons bathroom for what I was paying. Outside, there was a small private pool which I never used, but it was a nice touch. I did discover that the light outside my villa was broken, which meant that to go to dinner or anything at night, I had to walk outside in pitch darkness down two long paths and some steps - a little creepy if you're alone. One windy night when it got a little too scary for me, I called the front desk to see if someone could come to walk me to the main building, but after an hour - and two more calls to the front desk - no one arrived. I finally ventured out because I would have missed dinner if I'd waited too much longer. The food in the restaurants was absolutely wonderful and they served Jamaican food at breakfast, which, for me, is a treat. Have any of you tried festival or callaloo with saltfish? There also was a spa on the grounds. I treated myself to a pedicure and to an aromatherapy massage. The spa is beautiful and relaxing and I recommend it if you're going to stay there. The resort wasn't on the beach, which wasn't that bad (my problem here was mainly with my travel agent, who told me that it was). The resort had regular shuttles to the beach and you could walk it in 20 minutes. It would have been nice to be able to see the sea from my window, but the grounds made up for it. The beach was small, but that's generally not something that bothers me. I just need enough room to lounge and to swim. But here's the crux of my problem -- this was my third of four trips to Jamaica. Three of those trips I've taken by myself (and no, it was not to have a "Stella" experience, thank you very much). I love traveling and meeting people, especially those who are curious about the world and enjoy meeting people as I do. In my trips to Jamaica, I've made friends from Montreal, London, South Carolina, rural Virginia, Jamaica of course, and even right here in my area (metro DC). These were people of all backgrounds. But that didn't happen at Beaches. I could count the number of African-American guests on one hand. This would not have been a problem except for the fact that the other guests clearly were not interested in mingling with someone like me. They were rude and unfriendly and I had the impression these were people who felt some sort of grim satisfaction in ordering the Jamaican employees around. They truly talked to them like dirt. And they didn't tip (I don't care if its an all-inclusive that says no tips, these people earn next to nothing). I have not seen guests behave as badly at other nice resorts. I apologize if this offends anyone, but I have to be truthful. After all, reviewers who feel differently than me have been brutally honest too. One night, the resort had a gathering on the beach with a buffet and live entertainment. While on line for food, one guest seemed to make a point of shoving me as he walked by, without excusing himself. This kind of behavior actually was typical of my stay. I commented to someone next to me that some vacationers insist on bringing their ugly ways with them. The man next to me joked that we should all make sure not to go where the shover was from. The buffet offered a mix of Jamaican and American food and I noticed the other guests were avoiding the Jamaican food, and even complained about it. Let me say here that all the food was prepared well - it was fresh and beautifully presented. The complaints had to do with the dishes themselves. One adventurous couple decided to follow my lead and asked me to educate them on each of the Jamaican dishes. They were very cute. After I explained what each dish was, they would place a little bit on their plates. I give them lots of points for trying. I sat down at a table and began to introduce myself to two women, also apparently alone, who were there, but as I smiled at them they frowned and looked away. These are troubled people, I thought. I also wasn't too thrilled that the stresses that I encounter in my daily life - the very stresses that make it necessary for me to take a vacation - had followed me. A fourth woman sat at the table and struck up a conversation with my table mates, who suddenly developed manners. The trio then began to complain about jerk and spices and all things Jamaican and one of the women said she couldn't wait to go into town to try to find a nice Italian restaurant. I thought to myself that it would have been nice if she'd vacationed in Italy instead. They had a grand time, introducing themselves to one another and sharing anecdotes. They didn't seem to find it odd or wrong that they'd behaved so badly. I'd had enough. I got up and began talking to one of the employees. We had a nice conversation and laughed about the ways of confused people. Some of you won't understand the point here. Others of you will. I also need to mention one other experience. One day, I took a cruise to Dunn's River Falls, which I absolutely love. The bus to the boat picked up people from other resorts and the mood was festive. I mean for God's sake, we were on vacation! I felt like I'd escaped from Beaches Grande Sport and lucked up on some normal people. I had a blast, made two friends from Montreal, who I partied with and climbed up the falls with, learned how to do the butterly (a dance) and had such a good time that I fell in the bed when I got back to my villa. I'm not sure why this resort is the way it is, but I'm guessing that Beaches only markets to certain people or in certain geographic areas, because I've never had an experience like this in Jamaica. I guess all in all - and this is certainly a personal choice - I have some issues about a resort that calls its main building the "Great House" and uses the word "plantation" in the names of its other properties. These words are scary ones for African Americans. In fact, it seemed to me that Beaches Grande Sport had struggled to construct a property with a plantation feel to it. But again, this is a personal choice. And I also want to say that I do recognize that not all travelers are like the ones I encountered during my Beaches trip, and certainly there were a handful of nice Beaches guest. So, all in all, if the atmosphere doesn't bother you, Beaches Grande Sport can be a very nice place. But if you care about Jamaican people and travel to meet people - and especially, if you hate waterbugs - don't go.

Yeah, mon!

from TideTraveler
We stayed at Beaches Grande Resort and Spa June 20 - 27. We had a great week. Workers were exceptionally friendly and helpful. Their attitude is they are there for you. Orchids was delicious for dinner. Be sure to get the chocolate mango cake, yum, yum!!! We had a great breakfast daily at the market place buffet, except for one morning when we tried Orchids for breakfast, and we were very disappointed that morning. If you are a couple (male/female) you can go to Sandals Ocho Rios and Sandals Dunn's River. We ate at Kimonos at Dunn's River. This was very interesting and fun because the chef cooked the food at the table. We had great food and met nice people. We also water skied at Dunn's River and also enjoyed their pool which had a nice waterfall. We ate at Valentino's at Sandals Ocho Rios. It was some of the best food we had.
Guys have to wear pants at Orchids and Valentino's so be sure to take some. The concierge at Beaches can make these reservations for you but be sure to make them days in advance. Also be aware that you have to sign up the day before you want to go snorkeling and if you don't know how you will need a lesson. If you want to scuba dive you will have to answer a medical questionaire which can be found on the Beaches web site. If yes applies to any question you need your doctor to sign this questionaire and say that you CAN scuba. Make sure he does not say you MAY scuba. There is a nature walk on Wed. and Sat. at 8:00. It last about an hour and is well worth the time. Be sure to take a sack to hold all the flowers that Mr. Robinson will give you. I made two lovely bouquets that I enjoyed for a couple of days. We enjoyed our villa and our own semi-private pool. However, it was at times difficult to sit in the living due to air-conditioning being only in the bedroom. In the mornings it was nice as you could open the shutters and get a breeze going. When we left we would close our bedroom to keep it cool so we could sleep well at night. We did sleep very well. The first villa we were in had a lovely view of the ocean but it was beside a housekeeping zone, so I could not get to sleep due to noise. I asked to be moved and they moved me to the mountain area. It was very peaceful and quiet.
Donna Lee even called the next day to see if I slept well. I thought that was so nice. It is not hard to get to the villas, just get on the jitney and tell him where you want to go. It is also not hard to get to the beach. The bus runs every 15 minutes. We enjoyed the beach, pool, food, entertainment, and meeting people. The worse thing was the 2.5 hour bus ride from the airport. They don't drive like we do in Georgia.
The roads are very small and rough. You also will see very poor areas but it is the way most of the people there live. I would recommend this resort to anyone wanting to enjoy a great vacation. There are enough activities and interest to met most people's needs.

Good Times at Beaches Grande Sport!

from travelgurl79
I went to Beaches Grande Sport last year and really can't complain much about it. The staff makes you feel welcome the very minute you step onto the resort. We had to wait a little bit for our rooms to be ready so they brough us hot towels to wipe our hands and face with and then gave us complimentary rum punch. The resort is not right on the beach, but there is a beach club that a shuttle runs too. The beach is small, but clean and you are free from anyone bothering you and trying to sell you stuff. There are tons of watersports and the staff that runs the water sports are always enthusiastic about helping you out with them. There is also a pool at the beach club with a swim-up bar. The bartenders there were great! They always invented new frozen drinks for us to try. Our room was decent sized. No bugs, we only found one little lizard on our balcony, but he didn't bother us. The maids cleaned our rooms every day and there were always plenty of towels. Nothing was ever stolen from the rooms. The resort is surrounded by barb wire fence to keep out any trespassers. I never once felt unsafe on the resort. The ground are beautiful with all type of flowers. The food was OK, not the greatest, but certainly not the worst. San Gennaro, the italian place, was OK, but the food came in very small portions. The oriental restaurant was very good. The buffet was usually good as well. As for tours, don't miss out on Dunn's River falls. Take the one with the booze cruise included. It was a blast. Check out that spa at Beaches as well. It is a wonderful place to relax. Overall, I would say that resort is 4 out of 5 stars. The staff was very courteous. The resort itself was gorgeous. Had the food been a little better and the resort been directly on the beach, it would been perfect. I would probably return.

what a ripoff

from carynWorcester
My wife and I just returned from a week at sandals and after reading some other reviews I am shocked,I found the staff to be slow and rude,the room I stayed in had cigarette burns all over the furniture, the shower overflowed onto the floor every time I used it, the food was barely edible and I actually got food poisoning,I have to say that I expected an older more refined crowd but what I did find was two people having intercourse at 8:00 p.m. in the bar pool.The beach was a lot smaller than the airbrushed brochure showed,I found the dive facillity great the staff was kind,smart and always helpfull.The sandals resort of ocho rios is for a younger crowd that does not care what they eat how the room looks or how long they stand in line for a lousy red stripe beer. Do not go do not waste your money go elsewhere.

Wonderful Vacation!

from bec060874
My husband and I went to Sandals from May 9-15 to get married. We booked the concierge level room (mountainview) and with our package, we received free airfare from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios. The price for the trip was excellent. The room was very nice and the view was beautiful. The bathroom was a little outdated, but very clean so we were happy with it. The room included a wet bar, which was stocked everyday. The furniture was beautiful--much nicer than the lower level rooms from what we could see. The one thing that was a little inconvenient was housekeeping--everything runs on a late schedule down there, so housekeeping often didn't come until 2 or 3 PM. The wedding was wonderful--I wouldn't do it any differently. The staff was amazingly friendly and helpful--you essentially just showed up for the wedding and everything was perfect. The pictures turned out very nicely as did the flowers, location, etc. The food at Sandals was good--we didn't get a chance to eat at the Italian and Tex-mex restaurant...a little disappointed, but it was our choice. Each night they set up the tables on the beach for Arizona's restaurant...very romantic! The beach was a little small, but still nice. There was plenty of room for everyone to sit and enjoy themselves (and the resort was full when we were there). Watersports were fun--we went snorkeling and kayaking. There is always some sort of activity going on (we did water volleyball, tennis lessons, shopping tour and the Dunn's River Falls trip). The property itself is beautiful and there always seemed to be someone out working on the landscaping.The few things I would change if I could...meals were served somewhat late (breakfast starts at 7:30 and dinner starts at 6 and 6:30). This was only a problem for us because we're early risers. We were up at 6AM the first morning (time change was a problem, too). After a couple days it wasn't such a big deal--we got into a schedule that allowed us to sleep in. Housekeeping came very late. I'd love to have room service, butp. We did have a continental breakfast set up outside our door every morning (on concierge levels only). On our return trip, Air Jamaica express cancelled the flight from Ocho to Montego Bay so we had to take the 2.5 hour bus ride. I was a little annoyed with this--part of the reason we booked the higher level room was to get the free airfare. But it wasn't due to any fault of Sandals.Overall, we had a fabulous time and would definitely go again. The "few things I would change" weren't really a big deal in the scheme of things...we enjoyed ourselves and would definitely recommend the property to anyone who is interested in a trip to Ocho Rios.

We loved it.....

from dadhanney
My wife and I celebrated our 25th year of marriage at Beaches and we were blown away by everything. As you all know there are some people that even God can't please so ignore the whiney butts that complain about Beaches. The villas are great if you want privacy, your own pool and beautiful surroundings. The rides to anywhere were No problem, mon. The beach shuttle was every 15 minutes not 30. We even walked when our destination was downhill, the scenery was great. Service was beyond compare. I will share one experience. Upon arrival at our villa I noticed no beer in the frig. I called to have some beer delivered and waited about 10 minutes but we just got there so we decided to look around. Well, 2 hours later we returned to find one of the staff still waiting at our door with the beer. He had been there the whole time! The pools, bars(which I know well now), beach, gardens, service, etc., etc., were outstanding. Hey, if you are getting married make sure you are marrying the right person and everything will be fine. Don't b-tch.

Just returned from 8 days trip

from mooselips
Just returned Monday night. This was our second trip to Sandals Ocho Rios, after 10 years. The food is still wonderful, the staff absolutely great. The only problem we had, was we were not upgraded as we were suppose to be, there was a terrible rumbling noise above our room, perhaps the elevator, and the marine life is definitely on its way out. We were very disappointed in the snorkeling trips. Every morning I would see multiple LOCAL boats out in the reefs, collecting all they could, to sell on shore. What a shame this isn't patrolled by the coast guards. We did do the all day Blue Mt. trip, biking down, with brunch and lunch and had a wonderful time! Only disappointment is the marine life is on decline, most likely from population.

Sandals is Beyond Amazing!

from A TripAdvisor Member
Sandals Ocho Rios was one of the most amazing vacation I've ever had (only competition being OTHER Sandals resorts such as the Royal Bahamian and St. Lucia). I have recommended Sandals to many of my friends and family and all have MORE than enjoyed their stays. I have been to 3 different Sandals now and can't wait to keep going back, and will be going back for my honeymoon this Fall. The very best thing about Sandals is their amazing customer service. The people that work there truely love their jobs and it shows! They are the most friendly people you could hope to meet. Sandals ALWAYS makes sure you are happy and are having fun. The last two times we visited a Sandals resort, we received complementary upgrades thanks to our Sandals Signature Membership (like a frequent guest program). We even received complementary couples swedish massages! Oh my loordy! How heavenly! A MUST do! The rooms are spectacular (even the Deluxe- most inexpensive ones), the resorts and beaches are impeccably clean. The food is wonderful, delicious and varied. They have many different restaurants to chose from! It's so wonderful not to have to worry about carrying money around for anything. Tipping is forbidden and included in your vacation price. You don't have to spend another dime once at the Resort unless you want to buy souveniers! Another WONDERFUL thing about Sandals is that all their activities are INCLUDED such as Scuba Diving. You won't find that anywhere else. Their divemasters are friendly and knowledgable and are always interested in making sure you get want you want out of your dives. They also have an onsite tour desk in case you want to plan any off-resort excusions, such as shopping trips or Dunn's River Falls tours. The prices are fair, the shopping is fun and the waterfalls are amazing! There are so many other fun (free) activities that are planned throughout the day on the resort- EVERY DAY. Sand volleyball, water volleyball, games, pool, ping pong, shuffleboard, dancing lessons, water balloon toss, entertainment, DJ dancing, bands, fire breathers, karioke nights, and SO MUCH MORE. Never a dull moment unless you WANT there to be.And in that case, you can relax out on the beach or by the amazing pool and sip on your favorite premium liquor drink or have complete solitude in the privacy of your room. I honestly can't think of ONE thing to complain about when it comes to Sandals. If you don't believe me that I Love Sandals Ocho Rios trip, then check out my photo album on my personal website. http://www.planet-k.com/photos/trips/0701jamaica/Is the scenery not STUNNING? Are the people not WONDERFUL?! Trust me, take my word on this and you will have an amazing vacation! HAVE FUN!

Beaches Grande Sport

from A TripAdvisor Member
Read the reviews and just have to submit my own because of the negative ones- I di not love everything at Grande Sport, byt then again, you cannot please absolutely everyone's every whim!
I was at Grande Sport in Dec 2001 with my husband and totally loved the experience! The staff was ultranice - we did not tip anybody since it was included and everyone was still so friendly, when asked about this, staff only said: Remember to mention my name when giving feedback to the hotel if you think the service was good. I guess they get a bonus or something if a lot of people remember them. It may also have had an effect that we were something exotic to the staff as well - coming from Finland (though lived in Canada at the time).

We got upgraded to a villa suite with a semiprivate pool not too far from the main building. I really enjoyed taking a little dip in the morning, and late at night! The suite in itself was not that amazing but the fridge was stocked with soft drinks, and it was kept clean, with sufficient towels (beach towels separate, and not limited to one per person).

The resort grounds are beatiful, lush gardens all over the place and if you would be in a villa further away, just a quick call to the reception and a golf cart hastens to your door to take you to the main building. There are also several pools and hot tubs all around, a big one that no one seemed to use but us close to our villa, but surrounded by trees - almost felt like it was just the stars and us.

The beach - well, the name of the resort isn't meant to be read grande beaches - sports are I guess it what grandness can be associated with!
The beach is tiny and the swimming area is even tinier with boats close by. Anyway, water's warm and the waves not too big and there's a lot of sun shine to the beach, which isn't true in the neighbouring Sandals Ocho Rios ( the folks there huddle together on a little strand of sand where you can get some sun after 12, too...) But the shuttle takes you to the beach from the main house - it's not a bad walk either. There is a pool and a hot tub (big one) on the beach, beach volley ball, a restaurant and a bar. Snorkling is nice for beginners like me but I suppose the fish and the coral however stunning to my eyes, would be quite boring to someone who has seen proper corals! There are hobie cats, canoes etc. iwth staff to help you.

The food: it is available continuosly! The main house pool grill serves you good fries and nachos and burgers all night. Fruit is on the menu but not too often available... For early morning golfers, no breakfast but from the pool grill, which wasn't that great for cereal and yoghurt eaters like us... But at least we got something, in some places nothing would have been available!
For gourmet food, you might want to stay put in your hometown and eat in the fancy bistros, but the food here was quite good, if not remarkable. The restaurants are open on a weird schedule, closed on various days, but you can always get something to eat. The beach restaurant is not that amazing in quality but it is a nice "trip" with the shuttle and eating by the ocean! STick to the pastas ans you'll have a lovely meal!
The main house restaurants are nice, not very remarkable though. I think Orchids was best in quality and variety! Did not get sick and did not hear of anyone who did except possibly from drinking too much... ;-)
The breakfasts were possibly the very best - food stations. French toast, omelettes etc. either in a buffet or a la carte in Orchids. And lots of fruit, all fresh.

The bars - we're not drinking types but enjoyed wine with meals and an occasional cold drink on the beach, you could get good non-alcoholics too and not all of them came out of a machine. The main house bar had brand name drinks so if you're not of the experimental type, you could have your Baileys even though more exciting stuff was available too.

Sports - I liked the rock-climbing wall... THere would have been instructed classes in Pilates and what have you, but we mainly stuck to water sports and GOLF! The Sandals Golf course was immaculate! It was quiet when we were there so you could get your tee times any time you wanted. Once we played with my husband early in the morning, we were first players to walk in the misty fairways and there was no one else on the course for almost two hours but us... Wow. And it was fast too, obviously I know it is in the interest of the caddies to get more rounds in during the day but it is in my interest too - get your golf and beach and shopping all in one day!

When we were there, the Dunns River tour was still included, but that was ot be discontinued as of Jan 2002. At least my travel operator mentioned this quite clearly in the brochure! It was actually not that amazing so never mind you did not get there (btw, there are tours still I'm sure... they jsut cost you money...).

To sum up, Beaches Grande Sport is a real all-inclusive where you really do not pay for extras! Only caddies, spa services and souvenirs cost you money and is anyone really expecting them to provide you with a I love Jamaica bag to go as well? I'd rather get my included drinks, good food, sports etc. The overall experience was absolutely what I ws expecting when booking the trip!
I like to enjoy myself and that was easy at Grande Sport...

Top Local Tips for Ocho Rios

TAKE 1'S AND 5'S WITH YOU We took 20's and 50's on our trip and found it hard to get change. I recommend taking a lot of 1's and 5's with you so that tipping is easier. Granted, this resort has a "No Tipping" policy, but taxi's, bus drivers, tour guides, and airport bag handlers do get tips. We also would tip a couple of dollars here and there on the resort, to show our appreciation. Also, butler's do accept tips! So, if you have one, we tipped here and there throughout the trip and then a nice large tip on our last day.

Golf Don't forget your golf clubs. It is included!!!!

Day Trips Be sure you bring cash to tip the people on the day trips off the resort because they EXPECT it from you!

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Other names for Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Beach & Villa Resort Hotel

  • sandals ocho rios reviews
  • sandals ocho rios
  • sandals grande ocho rios
  • ciboney ocho rios
  • Address: P.o. Box 771 - Ocho Rios - Jamaica
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