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Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and Private Island 4.5

Montego Bay, Jamaica

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • All-inclusive resort with man-made sandy beaches and a private island
  • Adults-only policy makes for a tranquil atmosphere
  • Overwater bungalows, swim-up suites, and rooms with butler service
  • Gorgeous swimming pools and whirlpools with views of the Caribbean
  • Red Lane Spa offers treatment rooms, a salon, and fitness center
  • Wide-variety of on-site restaurants include French, Thai, and Caribbean cuisine
  • Premium alcohol served at bars, on the beach, and in the pool
  • Free water sports include stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and snorkel gear
  • On-site diving shop with free scuba diving for those certified
  • Daily resort entertainment includes beach parties and karaoke
  • Free access and transportation to two area Sandals properties
  • Free Wi-Fi and airport transfers

Cons

  • Some complaints of noise from entertainment and airport
  • Beaches are a bit small and beachfront cabanas cost extra
  • Some rooms are small and lack balconies
  • Some units have shower/tub combos only
  • Room service only free for certain room categories 
  • Complaints of vendors on kayaks

Bottom Line

The 227-room Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and Private Island primarily attracts older couples with its intimate setting and luxury all-inclusive experience. With a number of small beaches (including a clothing-optional section) and a private island, the resort feels small and secluded, even though it’s a short drive to both the airport and downtown Montego Bay. All-inclusive restaurants cater to all tastes, from a romantic French restaurant to an upscale Thai eatery to laid-back British style pub, plus there are snacks on the beach and unlimited premium alcohol. On-site activities and entertainment are extensive, including seven pools, five whirlpools, a lovely spa, nightly shows, and free non-motorized water sports. However, some rooms are on the small side, airplane noise can be heard, and beaches are a bit underwhelming. It's worth comparing rates with the large Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall All-Inclusive.

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Scene

Couples-only all-inclusive with mellow vibe and private island

Although the resort itself is fairly large, it's a smaller, more intimate option that its sister property Sandals Montego Bay nearby. Its 15 acres have a strong British-Colonial design, with lots of mahogany wood, antique rugs, and old-fashioned artwork. White columns at the entrance, classic stone sculptures, and garden gazebos placed around the well-manicured grounds create an elegant and luxe feel, though the atmosphere is mellow. Signs in lobby display information about prominent Jamaicans, and help add some local flair to the resort. Couples here tend to skew a bit older, thanks in part to the fairly compact grounds and intimate feel. The kid-free vibe is romantic and friendly. Groups of guests often mingle at the bars and pools, but the scene doesn't get spring break wild.

Most of the restaurants, entertainment areas, and activities are located in the center of the resort, with the rooms spread out and farther away from the noise. Free boat shuttles take guests to the private island, which houses a small beach -- including a clothing-optional section -- excellent Thai restaurant, jerk shack, bar and pool. It also connects via a boardwalk to the 15 overwater bungalows, which are reportedly booked until 2020. Overall, this resort offers a pleasant all-inclusive experience, but travelers may prefer the beach at Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay. For those who don't mind a few kids, Round Hill has a luxe, Jamaican vibe and more secluded location.

Location

Close to the airport, tucked between several other resorts

Just a 10-minute drive from Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, the resort is located right off of the main A1 highway. It's set back from the road, and ample greenery helps to provide privacy and keep things quiet. However, the neighboring resorts and hotels are visible from the beach and certain other parts of the property. While the highway is too dangerous for pedestrians, the resort is a short drive from a number of shops, restaurants, and sights in the town center. Plenty of local golf courses are in close by to suit every skill level. The resort's private island can be reached via free boat shuttles, kayaks, or on paddleboards. Airport transfers and shuttles to Sandals Inn and Sandals Montego Bay are free.

Rooms

Attractive rooms with minibars, hairdryers, and king-size beds

Sandals Royal Caribbean has a couple dozen room categories to suit all types of couples. Rooms are either done in a modern, fresh design or a colonial style with a more old-fashioned vibe. Since their debut in 2016, the 15 overwater bungalow suites have been extremely popular, thanks to their swish bathrooms, private setting, and huge terraces with plunge pools. On the other side of the spectrum, the colonial-style entry-level rooms are a bit small and some lack balconies. Additionally, these only have shower/tub combos instead of separate showers and tubs, which is surprising for a hotel of this caliber. \

All units, however, have king-size beds, air-conditioning, minibars with beer and Robert Mondavi wine, coffeemakers, free Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TVs. Sitting areas also come standard, and upgraded units add living spaces and outdoor whirlpools. Club-level rooms offer additional amenities like access to the Club Sandals lounge, private orientation, a dedicated concierge for help with reservations and activity bookings, in-room bars, and free room service during select hours. Some rooms are located right on the beach, with a patio that leads out onto the sand, and others include private pools and swim-up entrances. For guests that want a truly luxurious experience, generously sized butler suites are also available, with beautiful views, free 24-hour room service, and a dedicated butler that’s always on-call. Note that rooms located near water activities and entertainment feel less private and may suffer from noise, while airplane noise is an issue throughout the resort during the day.

Beach

Small, private beaches with sun loungers and fees to use the cabanas

The waterfront at Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort is calm and clear for snorkeling, with patches of seagrass where fish hide. Sandy beaches are kept clean and raked, though the beaches are short and divided up with manmade seawalls -- so if you're seeking a long walk hand-in-hand on the sand with your significant other, look elsewhere. Loungers are comfortable and woven straw umbrellas provide a respite from the sun. Guests can bask on the beach at the resort or on the private island, which has a clothing-optional section -- full drink service is offered on all beaches. Extra fees are required to use the semi-private cabana beds. Note that some past guests have complained of vendors coming to the beaches and by the main restaurant.

Pools

Seven heated swimming pools and five whirlpools with drink service

Swimming pools of all shapes and sizes throughout the resort are surrounded by comfortable lounge chairs and umbrellas, so there's always a spot for guests to relax in the sun without squabbling over space. Pools are heated and kept very clean. Landscaping includes artificial rocks, blooming flowers, and columned pillars to create a tropical and colonial vibe. Some pools have views of the Caribbean. Whirlpools are kept hot, and drink service is available. Two swim-up bars are popular spots. 

Food

All-inclusive restaurants and bars with tasty food and premium liquor

There are a whopping eight all-inclusive restaurants (five of them have full bars) serving a wide variety of cuisines for adult tastes, though not all restaurants are open all day (some are open for a scant two-and-a-half hours) and reservations are required for a couple of them. Royal Thai and the casual Jerk Shack are located on the private island, reachable only via boat. The Regency has longer hours and serves three meals a day (breakfast and lunch are buffet-style) with an international menu, and its outdoor dining area overlooks the water. The Mariner Seaside Bar and Grill stays open until the wee hours of the morning and doesn't have a dress code or require reservations. This is where you'll go to eat burgers in your bikini.

Garden-inspired Le Jardinier is the most romantic restaurant, thanks to pergolas with draping bougainvillea and wrought-iron furniture, and it requires evening attire to enjoy the haute French cuisine. A pizza restaurant, Caribbean restaurant, and British-style pub round out the food and bar options on property. Premium, unlimited alcohol is included. Guests can take the free shuttle to Sandals Inn and Sandals Montego Bay and explore the restaurant options there as well.

Features

Free scuba diving, water sports, and entertainment

It would be fairly easy to spend an entire vacation here with a drink in hand by the beach, but it would be a shame to miss out on at least some of the free and luxe features. Guests can enjoy unlimited scuba diving (certification costs extra), snorkeling, sailing, waterskiing and paddleboarding on the water. A boat runs back and forth between the main property and the private island, giving guests easy access to the Thai restaurant, oceanside spa services, additional beaches with cabanas, and a pool with swim-up bar. The Red Lane Spa features a modern fitness center and a large assortment of treatments. Massages on the beach are also available.

On land, there's beach volleyball, tennis courts, croquet, golf, and billiards. A variety of events are available, including daily afternoon tea, talent shows, reggae performances, and karaoke. Additionally, the resort offers laundry and dry cleaning services, photographers, gift shops, money exchanges, and rentable beachside cabanas. Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel. Guests who wish to visit the restaurants, bars, or activities at the nearby sister resorts, Sandals Inn and Sandals Montego Bay, can do so for free.

Weddings

"Weddingmoon" packages (with lots of romantic and expensive add-ons available)

This property is extremely popular for couples who want to combine their beach wedding with a Sandals honeymoon and call it a "weddingmoon." The package starts with the basics (for two to six people), which include a pre-wedding travel planner and a dedicated wedding team at the resort. Staff can arrange paperwork, witnesses, music, and a small reception afterwards. For larger and more elaborate parties, prices go up. White gazebos and the sandy beach are pretty ceremony sites and a wedding lounge is on-site. All honeymooners get fun extras like free sparkling wine with a white-glove service dinner.

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Address

Mahoe Bay, Montego Bay 167, Caribbean

Also Known As

  • Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort

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