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Home > Destinations > Jamaica > Trip Reports > Trip Report

Jamaica - Trip Reports

Sandals Dunn's River

We recently returned from a trip to Jamaica's Sandals Dunn's River 6/15/03 -6/19/03. We cannot begin to tell you how disappointed we were with the resort. We had looked forward to our vacation with great anticipation, expecting a real world-class experience. However, it was so disappointing that our vacation at Dunn's river was the equivalent of a dressed up Motel 6. The entire experience was such a far cry from the brochures, that we feel we were utterly cheated out of a wonderful vacation opportunity, if not, infact, defrauded. Our vacation was unique, indeed. Unfortunately, it was not the type of experience we would wish for anyone else.

We were wooed into the hotel with rose-scented washcloths and a glass of champagne upon our arrival, but everything went downhill from there. The Dunn's River "resort" at first appeared absolutely breathtaking, but upon closer inspection, it was rather run down. The hotel lobby furniture was dirty, in dire need of a steam cleaning. There was grime built up where your knees hang over the seats of the sofa and on the armrests. The lobby ceiling had stains from water leaking through the roof when it rained. Not only were there stains, but the roof actually did leak when it rained. Our room accommodations were fair, but a shower was practically out of the question. The water was either as ice cold as the Dunn's River Falls, or scalding hot. Maid service left us high and not so dry, with a lack of toilet paper and a toilet that needed babysitting. When it rained, we retreated to the indoor game room. The carpet in the indoor game room had large tears in several places and presented a real tripping hazard.

All food at the Dunn's River "Resort" was more than disappointing. The sample menus offered on the resort's website were in a completely different class than those actually prepared at Dunn's River. We're from the great state of Louisiana, home of some of the finest food in the world; this resort could not begin to compare to our local foods on even the most meager level. The so-called international dining was Shoney's quality at best. The veal picatta at the Italian restaurant was unbearable, unless you're extra fond of chicken-fried steak. The breads and cakes in all of the restaurants appeared several weeks old; they were all staled and hard. On two consecutive diners, the broccoli was yellow and seeded at the crown, and the cauliflower was noticeably old with brown spots. The baked potatoes were half cooked.

To top off one particularly bad dining experience in the international restaurant, we hysterically found the waitress earnestly incompetent. She sincerely did not know the difference between strawberries and blueberries. My husband requested blueberry cheesecake, and the waitress checked with the chef to see if it was available. She returned to say it was not, so my husband ordered plain cheesecake. The waitress returned with our orders: a plain cheesecake for him, and a lovely blueberry-glazed cheesecake for me! The cook at the outdoor grill had no problem serving up a few flies in the breakfast orange juice. When he was alerted to the flies by another coworker who requested the pitcher of juice be removed, he told him not to worry about it. The cook scooped the flies out of the pitcher of juice with a spoon, put the top back on, and began to serve it to other guests not aware of the flies. On a scale of 1 (worst) - 10 (best), during our entire stay at Sandals Dunn's River one meal was a true 3, with all others together totaling a 0.

The beach at Dunn's river was really beautiful. Too bad you couldn't enjoy it! You could not go for a swim in the ocean, lest you be haggled in the water by the "fence people," looking to sell you some trinket or dope. We asked the hotel staff to have the hagglers removed, but we were told that "...they are just trying to make a living." Of course the dope-sellers got to enjoy the water while the paying customers of the resort did not. The resort also boasts its non-motorized water sports. This is true.... there are several hobie cats lined up on the beach. But we waited for two days to use one, because there was only one hobie cat attendant, and he would only put one boat in the water at a time.

The resort's arranged excursions left a bit to be desired. I must say that our outing to Dunn's River Falls was quite enjoyable. The guides were pleasant and the scenery was picturesque. There was a seemingly pleasant crafts market at Dunn's River Falls Park, but our excursion, unfortunately, did not allow time to shop there. Our outing to the resort's so-called "recommended" shopping sites was quite a different experience. We were hurriedly whisked from the Tajmahal to the crafts market in the center of town to the Island Village Shopping Center. The Tajmahal was a great shopping center, but there wasn't enough time to enjoy shopping there, as we were rushed on to the crafts market. I fully expected the crafts market to be a lively place, but I really underestimated it. This excursion should come with a warning label. My husband and I were separated several times in the jungle of this tent city by competing vendors. We were cornered and hounded, and offered marijuana or hash many times. I found the entire experience overwhelming and quite frightening. But what I appreciated the least and found most distasteful was a disgruntled shopkeeper offering me a peek up her skirt! I couldn't get out of there fast enough! Finally, and at long last, we were off to the Island Village Shopping Center and home of Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. We had approximately thirty minutes there to pick up the craft items we missed out on at the crafts market. I honestly believe that we would have enjoyed shopping at the crafts market at the Dunn's River Falls Park much more, had that excursion allotted time to do so.

Thanks to Katie for this trip report ...
June 2003

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