Thursday, October 6, 2016

Sandals & Beaches Jamaica: Oh, WOW!

I recently returned from a 6-night FAM (familiarization) trip to the Sandals & Beaches properties in Jamaica. Since arriving home, I've had several people ask questions about those resorts, which I thought I'd answer here, in case anyone else is wondering the same thing!

* What's the difference between Sandals & Beaches?
Sandals properties are adults-only, and Beaches are family-friendly. Both are amazing brands. You might think that Sandals is the better choice for a wedding, but many brides choose to get married at Beaches, especially if anyone in their wedding party is traveling with children. Both have beautiful locations for weddings or vow renewals.
Beautiful wedding gazebo at Beaches Negril

* Why so many in Jamaica, and where are the other properties?
The chairman of the Sandals/Beaches brand, Butch Stewart, is originally from Jamaica. There are 10 properties in Jamaica (2 of those are Beaches properties), as well as one Beaches in Turks & Caicos, 2 Sandals properties in the Bahamas, 3 in St. Lucia, and one each in Antigua, Grenada, and Barbados. Once you stay at one, you'll have to try the others. They're not at all "cookie cutter" types of resorts. Each of the 10 in Jamaica is unique. Just one more thing to love about the Sandals & Beaches brand!

The lobby at Sandals Ochi vs. the lobby at Sandals Whitehouse

* What all-inclusive amenities are included?
Sandals and Beaches resorts are known as the extreme all-inclusive resorts. I mean, seriously: where else can you get the unlimited scuba included??  at PADI certified dive centers. Snorkeling, of course, also included. I snorkeled in Negril, & saw great coral and beautiful fish. Motorized watersports like wakeboarding, waterskiing, windsurfing, aqua trikes, yep! Included. I can get you a brochure if you want the full rundown.
I'm not going to go through everything, but Sandals & Beaches have a variety of other activities onsite: tennis, beach volleyball, croquet, lawn chess, basketball, beach soccer, darts, mini golf.... You get it. Tons to do.
For kids, the most impressive thing for me was that they take care of little ones starting at age ZERO. Yep, even newborns get amazing care at these Beaches resorts! Talking to the travelers with children, the parents all raved about the child care. Nannies, activities, fun fun fun.
Food: fabulous. Great choices. Lots of variety.

Dive center sign, sea kayaking, the teen hangout (Trenchtown) at Beaches Negril, a restaurant setup, and getting ready to be entertained at the Tepanyaki Japanese restaurant, Kimonos.

* Are they all really expensive?
Nope. It's one of those "you get what you pay for" types of things. With all of the inclusions they have, I'm surprised it doesn't cost more! Talk about VALUE for your MONEY--it's all right here. However, if you want to include the BUTLER, or the OVERWATER BUNGALOWS in your stay, I'm just saying... Now, THAT's a vacation!

These first two are at Sandals Montego Bay, looking out towards the private island and showing the overwater bungalows in progress (to be completed November 2016). The third is a room all made up welcoming the anniversary couple, and the fourth is the waterpark at Beaches Negril.

* When is the best time to go?
Now, next week, next month, six months from now! You get the idea. Just plan it and go! The weather is beautiful, as are the resorts! A little insider info, if you wanted to put a group together: If you're traveling January through August, the 12th room is free. But if you travel September through December 6, the 6th room is free. So if you have fewer rooms in your group, think FALL! Other than that, anytime is the best time to go!

* What were your favorite things?
A few of my faves:
- The promise of overwater bungalows in the Caribbean. For years I've been sending everyone around the world to the South Pacific. Tahiti is amazing, don't get me wrong! But these all-inclusive beauties are MUCH closer!
- The beautiful 7-Mile Beach along the Negril coast. Not all seven miles are in front of the Sandals Resorts, but it's still gorgeous.
- All of the different offers when you book weddings, vow renewals, honeymoons, and anniversaries. Tons of free and included stuff. You can even do a pre-honeymoon trip, called a "honeymoon sneak peek," for a great rate. It's a great idea, 'cause then you can really shop around and see everything before you make up your mind.

Can you tell these resorts are incredible? There's tons more--I haven't even mentioned the resorts that have golf included, for example--but I can save it for future posts, or can talk to you about it individually if you want. I'd be happy to match your ideal to a perfect Sandals or Beaches getaway--your first of many to come!