When it comes to where to stay in Jamaica, there’s no doubt if you’ve made the trip to this sunny Caribbean island you’re on the hunt for sun, sea, sand and plenty of relaxation, and Sandals Royal Caribbean has it all.
An all-inclusive, 5-star, luxury, adults-only resort based in Montego Bay, one of the Island’s most popular tourist spots; Sandals Royal Caribbean specializes in romantic breaks for couples, and is one of six Sandals resorts in Jamaica, with a seventh property set to open in May 2023, making them experts in fostering an atmosphere that really reflects Jamaica’s ‘One Love’ motto.
Not my first time at a Sandals resort, I was curious to see what it would be like to stay at this all-inclusive specialist for a honeymoon. A popular wedding destination, although you are guaranteed to meet at least one couple on your flight who are off to say ‘I do’ at Sandals, it is also a popular resort for couples looking for a child-free stay, or a luxurious honeymoon stay. Speaking to fellow holidaymakers, many return on annual pilgrimages to a number of the Sandals Jamaican resorts, and we soon found out why.
We visited Sandals Royal Caribbean and private island to experience what it’s like to be honeymooners at this popular Jamaican, romantic, adults-only beach resort.
W&H’s Sandals Royal Caribbean Review
If you’re looking for the ultimate luxury resort break that starts as soon as you step off the plane, then you’ve come to the right place. Get through passport control, grab your luggage and head to the Sandals lounge (just after customs), where you’ll be able to freshen up, have a drink, and get connected with your transfer to your chosen Sandals resort (included in your booking). And with Sandals Royal Caribbean a mere 15-minute drive away, you can literally start your holiday immediately. One of six, soon to be seven, Sandals on the island (Dunns River Falls opens in May 2023 and is already taking bookings), Royal Caribbean was the brand’s second Jamaican resort, but as the only resort in Jamaica with its own private island (that all guests can access) and the recent renovation and opening of new club level suites, it’s looking as good as ever.
Set in Montego Bay, one of Jamaica’s most popular tourist strips, there is plenty to do both on and off the resort. Picture perfect, all sports activities and water sports are part and parcel of your stay, so make sure to take the opportunity to head out to sea for some snorkeling and explore the sea life on your doorstep. There is also a wealth of activity to partake in off-resort, with many of these experiences serviced by Island Routes, who have a booking desk just by the main entertainment square, which is open daily.
Facilities and Service
Thanks to being a ‘dual property’, when you stay at Royal Caribbean, you also have access to Sandals Montego Bay (Sandals’ very first property) via the resort’s shuttle service that runs throughout the day. ‘Stay at one, play at both’, means you can use all the facilities across the two resorts, including all dining options, pools and sport and leisure facilities, and, of course, the private island.
Both resorts offer a full roster of water sports – all of which are included in your stay, so you can head off snorkeling as many times as you want, as well as trying your hand at canoeing, and, if you have are Padi-certified, you can dive as many times as you want too.
Looking for something a little less strenuous? Bask in the sunshine and play lawn games including giant chess and shuffleboard. Or head over to the games area by the pool for super-sized connect four, as well as other wooden table activities, or knock on at the entertainment office where there is a varied stash of board games that are free to borrow and give you the perfect excuse for putting your phone down – even with the free WiFi throughout the complex.
Always on the hunt for those picture-perfect moments, you may find yourself stopped by one of the team during the course of your stay to get some pictures, or do what we did and go book a romantic couples photoshoot – as I tell everyone, it rained on our wedding day, which meant we didn’t get the ‘golden hour’ photoshoot of my dreams. So instead, my husband arranged a photo shoot at the perfect time of day for us to get some even more special memories of our trip. The shoot lasted around 45 minutes to an hour and, of course, our photographer knew all the best spots for those perfect shots. You then only pay for the pictures you want to take away with you. If, like us, you’re a couple who seem to take selfies on a night out, but forget to get someone else to hold the camera every once in a while, this was a wonderful way to extend our photo album and mark our honeymoon properly.
But don’t forget you are, after all, on holiday – so make sure to factor in that downtime. Sandals’ Red Lane Spa is simply divine and has two locations at Sandals Royal Caribbean. The main base is tucked away in the tropical gardens, and has a number of peaceful treatment rooms snuck between palm trees and luscious greenery. The second – where I recommend you book your treatment for, is on the resort’s private island and when I say it is the ultimate spot to wash away your worries, it truly is magical. Set back from the energetic vibe of the private island, the wooden huts are calming and discreet. With a selection of massages and scrubs available, you’ll be taken through to treatment rooms that feature a decked open back, with a picture-postcard, panoramic view of the ocean. The spa hut offers unadulterated and peaceful views of nature, with waves crashing the ultimate theme tune to any treatment you choose. Fully immersing ourselves in Jamaica, we opted for the Blue Mountain coffee scrub (for those that love coffee, the island’s own beans are some of the best in the world) and our skin was certainly silky smooth after. A couples treatment – after all most things at Sandals are designed for pairs – we can’t recommend the spa enough, and while treatments are not included in your stay, they definitely add to the overall experience and are a worthwhile add-on.
Extras and Entertainment
Although we found some pretty perfect spots on the beach, I found the cabana beds utterly inviting. With thatched rooves, crisp white sheets, and billowing drapes, booking a cabana for the day was one of the most relaxing parts of the trip and this is a thoroughly worthwhile add-on. Rented by the day, you will receive access to butler service for your cabana duration, meaning you don’t need to get up to get drinks or snacks all day, and you will also have a fully-stocked cooler. With options for ocean cabanas on the mainland or beachside cabanas on the private island, these large double beds are the ideal spot for some secluded downtime.
Every evening is packed with entertainment and there are shows, quizzes and karaoke all going on over the weekly roster of events, so you can guarantee there is always something to keep the party going after you’ve finished dinner. Nothing is a must, so you can partake in the evening’s activities at your own pace and whether you choose to join the audience or listen from afar, sitting around one of the resort’s fire pits, it’s entirely up to you.
Dinner by candlelight
Romance and relaxation are always number one at Sandals and as evening falls, there is a certain hush that descends on the resort, as staff busily set up restaurants for the evening rush and the pools empty out as guests go to get ready for the evening that awaits. Quietly and thoughtfully across the resort tables are being set up in the most romantic of spots, candles are being lit and fine china laid out for dinners under the stars. As it was my honeymoon, I hoped for the full works when it came to special moments and the candlelit dinner overlooking the ocean which my husband arranged for us was one of my personal trip highlights. Open to all guests, although not included, there are different packages available that largely govern how much mood-setting you want. Pre-pick your spot – beach, garden or gazebos across the resort – as well as your pre-selected, four-course menu, which will be brought by your dedicated server for the evening, it is a blissful way to dine and a totally different experience to heading to one of the many restaurants. To end the evening, one of the photography team will capture the moment for you, too. If you’re celebrating something special, or looking to pop the question to your other half, this is certainly the setting to do it in!
With seven swimming pools, you really can have any type of vacation you want at Sandals Royal Caribbean and with 280 rooms, the volume of pools ensures that nowhere ever feels overly crowded.
The main pool, thanks to the swim-up bar, is where the party happens and it’s the perfect location for a spot of bobbing around, sipping on one of the many frozen cocktails on offer – after all, you have to keep cool somehow right? Surrounded by a plethora of sun loungers, as well as a number of daybeds, the steady stream of games, quizzes and pumping tunes make this the social hub of the main resort.
To continue the party, hop on the dragon boat – yes, a dragon boat – and head to the resort’s private island. This area felt like it had a more youthful vibe. The pool overlooks the main resort and there is a large circular bar. The island is well-stocked for daytime drinkers, dancers and diners, as Sandals Royal Caribbean’s Jerk Shack is located on the island and dishes up jerk chicken, jerk fish, potatoes and plantain for an authentic mid-day meal.
Looking for a slightly more laid-back feel, but don’t want to be far from the action? On the mainland, just around the corner from the main pool, you’ll find a smaller pool and hot tub, ideal for those that want to know what’s going on, without being at the center of the action. A stone’s throw from the bars and daytime eateries, there are plentiful refreshments on hand too.
If, like us, you prefer a little more R&R, you haven’t been forgotten. Follow the waterfront around, past the cabana sunbeds, and you find yourself at the quiet beach. Set back peeking out at the ocean you’ll find a whirlpool tub and a decent size pool if you fancy a bit more of a swim. This is very much the mellow side of the resort and you’ll find couples here quietly sunbathing, books open, and headphones on. It’s all about finding your tribe, right?
Although we are still yet to find one of the three remaining pools, these next two were our personal favorites for undisturbed relaxation. Only finding them on our last day, the new Club Level rooms, have, in our opinion, the best pools for those in need of downtime. Set apart from the rest of the resort the Club Level facilities house two additional pool areas. Seating includes sofas, rentable cabana beds, and traditional loungers, and there is a bar, alongside lounger-side service – literally everything you need. Quiet enough to hear a pin drop, the rays were hot, the atmosphere cool and the drinks ice cold. Total bliss.
Regardless of the level of room you pick at Sandals Royal Caribbean, you are guaranteed a beautiful stay. The 280 unique rooms are divided across four levels: Luxury, Club, Butler, and Love Nest suites. While all dining options and activities, including water sports, are available to all holidaymakers, the different room categories will be reflected in where your room is situated and in some additional perks.
Depending on the level and style of room you choose, you could find yourself sipping your morning coffee overlooking the ocean, the lush tropical gardens, or walking out straight to the beach. There is also the option for swim-out rooms if you’re a water baby with the desire for a private pool area straight off your balcony.
We stayed in a Romeo & Juliet Butler Suite with a tranquility-soaking tub. The butler suites offer a more personalized service and include access to a butler who is essentially there to organize your stay.
Our room was palatial and possibly larger than our London flat, and although on arrivals day we missed saying hello to our butler team, having arrived extremely late after a day of touring in Kingston and the Blue Mountains, we immediately felt so welcome thanks to the rose petal covered bed and a ‘Happy Honeymoon’ message. Very much like a dream, our beach walkout suite – with a draped, covered balcony that meant we could create our own private oasis – featured a sitting room with a kitchenette, a main bedroom with a dresser, a double sink area, bath and a huge shower, as well as a separate toilet and a walk-in wardrobe.
Andre, our main butler for the week, was the happiest of souls and constantly made us feel like nothing was too much trouble. Splitting the week with Phillips, between them, every whim was catered for, from organizing trips and dinner reservations to setting up our favorite spot on the beach with towels and a cooler. Each butler suite includes a special mobile phone, used for you and your butler to communicate, although expect the unexpected – Andre seemed to always know when we took the last sip of our cocktail and turned up with another weird and wonderful creation from the bar! We had bubble baths with rose petals, breakfasts on the balcony, and romantic surprises throughout our stay – and while you can easily navigate these things without a butler suite (as all the staff are warm, friendly, and willing to help), a butler suite definitely ups the ante when it comes to luxury levels. We also spotted a number of obviously returning Butler Suite guests, where their butler team were now more like old friends, something evident in the warm atmosphere at the resort.
Although all rooms benefit from an all-inclusive mini-bar and coffee-making facilities – we enjoyed our first cup of the resort’s own Blue Mountain blend each morning gazing out at the ocean – the Romeo & Juliet Butler Suite comes with a fully stocked, on-tap array of premium, top-shelf liquors including Appleton Estate Rum & Tanqueray gin, to ensure you can mix your own tipples too – something we very much enjoyed.
The only Sandals resort to boast its own private island, Sandals Royal Caribbean is also home to the Caribbean’s first over-water suites. Devised to form a heart, this is the true lover’s paradise. A luxury set of Butler Suites, separated by boat from the main resort, all have direct access to the sea and two decked areas for discreet and secluded R&R. Sometimes booked up to two years in advance, these are certainly the ultimate in destination honeymooning, with the top suite on the island decked out with its own kitchen, sprawling balcony, infinity pool, and ocean float – truly ensuring you never need to leave. These exceptional suites of course come at a much higher price tag, but if you’re looking for the most exclusive and secluded Sandals Royal Caribbean experience, the over-water suites are where it is at.
With nine on-site dining options and access to 12 restaurants down the road at Sandals Montego Bay (thanks to the ‘stay at one, play at both’ motto), one thing you won’t be at Sandals Royal Caribbean is hungry! Whether you’re looking for traditional Jamaican fare, casual or elevated dining, or to be transported across the world to Japan, Italy, France, or even an English Pub, your tastebuds are set to be tantalized. Day fare is casual and comforting, but, as the sun goes down, pockets of the resort come alive with bustling restaurants, in purpose-built spots, fully immersing you in the cuisine on offer. Dietary requirements are absolutely catered for and all allergies were noted – servers were not just warm and friendly, they were super accommodating and attentive, too.
While some restaurants are signatures of the Sandals brand, and if you’ve holidayed in other Sandals resorts, they will immediately feel familiar, each destination also has a restaurant that is unique to them.
Royal Thai: Situated on Sandals Royal Caribbean’s private island, Royal Thai offers delicious authentic Thai dishes.
Bombay: Delicately spiced, authentic Indian dishes, with real depth of flavor.
Jerk Shack: Jamaican favorites, including jerk chicken, jerk fish in foil, plantain chips and festival.
Le Jardinier: The Parisian-inspired interior is matched by a menu of classic meat and seafood dishes.
Spices: Pan-Caribbean classics including rundown, jerk and curry. By day the restaurant is home to both the buffet breakfast and the buffet lunch options.
The Cricketers: Serving pub-style grub ’til 2am, aside from room service it’s one of the latest places to dine on the resort. Our top tip? Try the fish and chips, they are exceptionally good.
Bella Napoli: Pizza so good we took one to the airport – yes, even through the security scanners!
The Mariner: Great for filling, an international menu is on offer, including burgers, sandwiches, quesadillas, and fresh salads.
La Tavola: Head to Italy, with a menu bursting with traditional fare including plenty of comforting pasta dishes.
But as this is a stay-at-one, play-at-both…
The restaurant options at Sandals Royal Caribbean may end there, but you’re just a free shuttle ride away from checking out the extensive dining options on Sandals’ sister resort, Sandals Montego Bay. This will take your dining options to a staggering 21, and while the Jerk Shack, The Cricketer’s and The Mariner are available at both, there are several further restaurants to tantalize your taste buds.
Soy: Fresh fish, coupled with delicious flavor profiles made this one of our favorite dinners of the trip.
Cafe de Paris: Fresh coffee, baked goods, and an indulgent ice cream bar.
Bayside restaurant: Offering a French Brasserie experience, Bayside is also home to the buffet breakfast and lunch options at this resort.
Oleander: Innovative twists on traditional flavors including Blue Mountain coffee-rubbed steak and Jamaican snapper with yam casserole.
Cucina Romana: Authentic Italian dishes, including fettuccine, lasagna and antipasti, the restaurant boasts a 270-degree view of the ocean and the surrounding resort.
Tokyo Jo’s: Using the flavors of East and Southeast Asia, fused with Western and Jamaican influences, steamed rice and noodles, alongside meats and seafood.
Stew Fish: With a menu of authentic Caribbean cuisine, this is the spot to head to for hits such as Jamaican Pepper Shrimp, West Indies Pepperpot soup and Lobster Bouillabaisse.
Dino’s Pizzeria: Delivering a similar service and fare to Bella Napoli, it turns out you really can get great pizza in Jamaica.
Butch’s Steak & Sea Food: Delivering high-quality grain-fed Midwestern Beef alongside seafood and fresh fish, with tasty sauces and exquisite sides.
Sandals Royal Caribbean: Final Verdict
‘Welcome home’, is the first words we heard from staff as we arrived at Sandals Royal Caribbean, and having spent a week in the lap of luxury, there is nothing I’d like more than to make that dream happen. Different to the other Sandals resorts I have stayed in, Sandals Royal Caribbean offers both a lively and relaxed vibe simultaneously and although smaller than Barbados it still felt buzzy, but you could easily set your pace to super slow.
All-inclusive resorts don’t get much better, and for those that want to balance their vacation between activity and plenty of R&R, you’d be hard-pushed to find a better resort. With so much to do on the resort and potentially off-resort, but no hard and fast rules to partake, a trip to Sandals really is what you make of it. An ideal place to make memories and let your relationship blossom, we fully immersed ourselves in all that Sandals Royal Caribbean had to offer, and as the age-old saying goes, ‘life is what you make of it’. So our advice is to book the holiday and then jump straight in. Sure, the loungers and the frozen cocktails are great, but truly get about the resort and get to know it – and take advantage of the tours and get off the resort, too! Visit Sandals Royal Caribbean, and create memories that you will cherish forever.
With a lounge dedicated to return bookings, it’s easy to see why Sandals has so many returning customers and with a number of other resorts on the island, its the perfect partner to facilitate a return to this beautiful island. Joining an exclusive club that’s super-inclusive, we’ve already booked a return visit – and that really tells you all you need to know!
Sandals Royal Caribbean: Prices & How to book
Enjoy a seven-night holiday at Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort & Private Island, Jamaica from £2,285 per person:
A seven-night stay for two adults (over 18) at Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort & Private Island, Jamaica – staying in a Crystal Lagoon Hideaway Junior Suite with Balcony Tranquility Soaking Tub costs from £2,285 per person.
What does it include?
Price includes Luxury Included® (all-inclusive) accommodation, return economy flights with Virgin Atlantic from London Heathrow Airport and resort transfers.
Price is date-specific and is valid for travel on 27th September 2023.
Pricing is subject to availability and prices may change.
To book or for more information on Sandals Resorts visit www.sandals.co.uk or call 0800 742 742.
Alternatively, you can call Travelbag on 0207 001 4112 or visit www.travelbag.co.uk
All packages subject to availability and based on two adults sharing unless otherwise stated.
Sandals Royal Caribbean: Key information – what you need to know
Currency: Although Jamaican dollar is the official currency, you can also use US dollars widely throughout Jamaica and we recommend exchanging to US dollars for your trip
Best time to travel: Jamaica is pretty much gorgeous throughout the year and although thankfully the country has avoided serious hurricanes for a number of years, generally speaking, October and November are potentially the wettest and windiest months of the year. Popular periods for Jamaica include December through to early August/late July.
Family-friendly? No, this is an adults-only resort. For family-friendly ideas, check out Sandals other resort brand Beaches.
Is the spa use included? No, this comes at an extra cost and can be booked prior or on arrival
Is there free WIFI? Yes, there is free WIFI throughout the resort and rooms
Are airport transfers included? Yes, you will be picked up from the airport and this is included in your booking. Your return journey to the airport is also included. Upon arrival in Montego Bay, head to the Sandals Lounge once you have cleared security, collected your luggage and cleared customs.
For more information visit: Sandals Royal Caribbean
- The 8 Stories Every Hotel Must Tell Effectively in 2022
- St. Augustine hotel plan review for tallest building delayed again
- MOH holds Joint Annual Review
- Taxis to quarantine hotels launched
- Victim of Glasgow asylum hotel stabbings fails in judicial review claim against Home Office in English court