> Destinations > Jamaica > Trip Reports > Trip Report
22-27 May 2003
My wife and I stayed five nights at the Sandals JC in Montego Bay, Jamaica. As with our last stay at a Sandals, we were impressed with many things, especially the energetic, courteous, and helpful staff. However, we again were unimpressed many other things. I'll cover it all. Sandals provides a "day pass" that lets you visit the other two Sandals in the area and use their facilities. An hourly shuttle bus makes this worth doing.
- Going. Went through Philly from Baltimore. Not direct, but on time and efficient. Sandals got us to the resort comfortably and quickly. Of course, it was only a few miles from the Montego Bay airport.
- Returning. Again, very well done. Would be nice if all passangers could preprocess at the resort like the Air Jamaica passangers were apparently allowed to do.
Room: We got the least costly room, but it was still nice. However, the bed squeaked so much that my wife couldn't sleep the first night. We complained, and it was fixed quickly; but you have to wonder why it takes a complaint to make it right.
Resort Facilities and Grounds: Generally, these were impeccable. The tennis courts looked brand new. The grounds were nicely kept. Only the Regency restaurant seemed a little long in the tooth with the ceiling beginning to crack and light fixtures kind of hanging. In fact, they had to shore it up, but no time lost.
Pools: There were 4 or 5 pools and jacuzzies. All were relatively small, but adequate. We stuck to the main one and were generally pleased with the swim up bar service and activities. However, the last two days the pool and jacuzzi were cloudy, indicating less that good maintenance. Pools at the other Sandals were always clean when were visited.
Breakfast. We alway had the buffet in the Regency (though I may have the name incorrect). The meal was good, if not great. Two out of five mornings I had to wait more than 10 minutes for a coffee refill, and one of those I never did get a refill. Fortunately, they had nice coffee maker always available.
Lunch. Again, we always had the buffet. It was good, but not great. Service was good, but almost a non-consideration, since you serve yourself. The beach side bar and grill seemed good, and may people used it.
Supper. Supper varied in quality. The one buffet supper was fine. As for the others:
-- Regency. Steak was marginal (pan broiled in grease). Service okay.
-- BaySide at the Sandals Montego Bay. Waited a long time for service. Prime rib arrive cold and I had to send it back. It turned out okay, but not to brag about. Wife's chicken was not edible for her.
-- Thai. On the island (Sandal's Cay) and a very nice milieu. Service very good, appitizers good. However, the main course was only okay. Wife said here Phat Thai tasted like it had old chicken and she didn't eat it.
-- Courtyard. Started okay, but then no part of our meal arrived. Our server disappeared, so the host eventually took over. From then on it was excellent and this was perhaps the best food we had at evening meals.
No great emphasis on activities by the resort (not a Club Med). They had the resort dive certification which seemed well organized. They even had scheduled tennis lessons, though I'm not sure how well they were run. They had advertise racquetball at Montego Bay, but when I asked I learned that they had closed it down three years ago.
Pool/Beach-side activities. They ran different activities all day and got good participation. The organizers were fun.
They had nice equipment. I sailed at RJ and water skied at MB. What was disappointing is that it rained 4 out of 5 days for at least part of the day and they used the rain as an excuse to shut down water sports. They talked about lightning, but there was not a hit of thunder and they didn't bother to tell people who were swimming to get out of the water. So, we lost many opportunities for sailing, waterskiing, and snorkeling.
Snorkeling. We like to snorkel, and try to go as much as possible when we stay in the Caribbean. As I said, they didn't go on many trips because of the rain scare (perhaps afraid we would get wet). We did go twice at JC, once at MB, and once at Sandals Inn. The latter trip was fun, and there were fish to see. The other trips were okay, but the fish had gone else where. There were only small schools of small fish. The water was deep, so surface paddlers would have had a hard time seeing anything, anyway. Of note is how rude and abrupt the Royal Jamiacan boat captain was. He barked orders and generally seemed not pleasant. It seemed more important to him that no one spit in his masks, than if anyone had a good time. This thing about spitting in the mask was silly, since it is a standard practice, and he didn't seem to care about all the saliva in the snorkels or the snot bubbles that always happen when you're in the salt water. The skiing was excellent when it happened.
We didn't take any. We talked to one couple that said the falls trip was nice, but arduous. We overheard a couple talking about how great it was. Shopping downtown is a buyer beware kind of thing, we heard.
- We probably won't go back to another Sandals unless we get a heck of a deal. This is our second stay (Royal Bahamian the other) and the experience is the same. Food at evening meals is marginal, water sports are cancelled on a whim, pools start out okay, but get cloudy, too often you have to wait to get drinks (though it was usually okay for this trip). The help is alway great, but we wish they'd stop insisting their employees always greet and ask how you're doing. It gets old after the 20th time that morning. A simple 'hi' would be okay. You know they have to hate it.
- While we've been disappointed in Sandals, when we stayed at the Turks and Caicos Beaches (same company) we had a great time. Food and activities were fantastic.
- Would like to say our brief day at the Sandals Inn was nice. Garfield, the recreation coordinator, was fun. Snorkeling was much more fun that at the other two and they went even though it was raining.
Thanks to Chris for this trip report ...