Did I get a good deal with Sandals?

Feb 18th, 2003, 12:19 PM
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Did I get a good deal with Sandals?

Hi Everyone!

Just doing a sanity check here. I am about to book my 10 night honeymoon for July. I am getting airfare from LAX to MBJ, then 6 nights at Sandals Ocho Rios in the Honeymoon Penthouse MountainView suite, followed by 4 nights at the Beaches Royal Plantation resort in their Deluxe level room. This package includes an extra $275 in spa credits that we can use at the resort. It sounds like fun, and I'm looking at paying $5732 out the door for everything including travel insurance. Yay, or Nay?
kingkong5 is offline  
Feb 18th, 2003, 01:36 PM
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This is just my opinion, and I am sure you will have a wonderful time where ever you end up going, but July is low, low, low season, and you can stay at many of the top resorts in the Caribbean for what you are looking at spending to stay at Sandals.
You have plenty of time to plan, and I would look around some more if I were you.
Just a thought.
Diana is offline  
Feb 18th, 2003, 02:57 PM
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thanks so much for your opinion! I appreciate you taking the time to respond. I agree that with it being low season, it should be fun wherever we end up going. I thought that those two Sandals locations WERE some of the top destinations in the Caribbean? I liked the fact that it was all-inclusive with the good food and drinks, and the other fun activities so I wouldn't have to worry about anything. But with the help of your suggestion I'll go looking for some back-up plans to be sure. Any helpful hints would be appreciated as for alternative locations. I did a bit of research on the Sandals website before making this decision, but I didn't really look at all my options because there's just so many!
kingkong5 is offline  
Feb 18th, 2003, 03:03 PM
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Thats a great deal!
prettyvol is offline  
Feb 18th, 2003, 03:33 PM
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If this is your first trip to the Caribbean and you would like to stick close to the resort for the most part, Sandals may work great for you.
I would just look around a little more before you commit as you can ALWAYS get great deals in July anywhere you choose to go.
What kinds of things are important to you?
Do you want a very active honeymoon or do you want to spend most of your time relaxing on the beach or by the pool?
Have you been snorkeling or diving and would you like to do that?
Do you want a very exotic island where you can rent a car or jeep and safely go exploring all over and taste the island food and hear true island music -just the two of you?
Would you rather do any tours as part of a group?
What do you think you would like to do while you're visiting the destination you select?
Is a spa important to you?
Give us some ideas of what you would like to see/do as there are so many choices, and I know you want your honeymoon to be perfect!

Diana is offline  
Feb 18th, 2003, 04:14 PM
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I wouldn't consider any Sandals a top Carribean resort or a top Jamaican resort for that matter. When I think of top resorts in Jamaica, I think of Round Hill, Jamaica Inn, or even the funkier Island Outpost resorts like The Caves or Goldeneye. In my opinion each of these is more unique, intimate, and service-oriented with lots of atmosphere and not a cookie cutter design. But I guess it depends on the individual traveler's tastes and what he/she is looking for since Sandals does seem to have a following. Also, I'm not sure why you would want to stay at both Sandals Ocho Rios and Beaches Royal Plantation since they are next door to each other. If you decide to go the Sandals route, the Royal Planation (which used to be the Plantation Inn) looked much nicer, at least from the outside. I don't know how your package price breaks down, but using $100 per person for insurance, $450 per person for air (this is what we paid last year), you're left with approx. $4600 which divided by 10 nights equals $460 per night. I think that amount of money can buy you some nicer places. Try the auctions at luxurylink.com - I've had good experiences with that site.
Patty is offline  
Feb 18th, 2003, 09:42 PM
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Some like Sandals, some here think its a low class joke. That doesn't really answer your question.

As far as a good price for Sandals, you got it! Went to Sandals Negril for 7 nights/8days in honeymoon concierge suite with room service. Shopped around for best price from Atlanta and paid $4900 after all was said and done. Of course this was high season (early Dec.) but still we only stayed 7 nights.

Your trip is what you make of it. I personally like the high end relaxing resorts sometimes but they are very quiet and lack the busyness and convenience of an all-inclusive like Sandals which is great too.
sunlover is offline  
Feb 19th, 2003, 04:22 AM
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I believe right now is high season. December rates are usually somewhat lower.
Peter is offline  
Feb 20th, 2003, 06:31 AM
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kingkong, I honeymooned at Sandals Antigua for 7 nights/8days and paid $5,000. So you are getting a good deal. We were a little worried about Sandals before we went after reading some reviews, but we really enjoyed it. That's not to say that I would pay full price to stay there though. Congrats and enjoy!
beachlover99 is offline  
Feb 20th, 2003, 04:19 PM
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why would anyone worry about a high end resort like sandels? people on here expect too much from resorts. how much more ritzy can it get damn..
prettyvol is offline  
Feb 21st, 2003, 04:47 AM
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It can get a WHOLE lot "ritzier" than Sandals.
You will find that very few of the people on this board who have traveled the Caribbean extensively would choose to stay at a Sandals.
Sandals works perfectly for people who may be first time travelers to the Caribbean or those who want the convenience of their food, drink and activities all readily-available and included in the one price they pay.
(And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.)
I went AI the first 2 times I traveled to St. Lucia and Antigua because we were not comfortable getting a rental car and exploring.
Now I would never stay at an AI because I want to eat local food, sample the gourmet-level food available on almost every island, and explore all of the island where I am staying.
The AI's are perfect for many people, but anyone who has stayed at some of the upper level Caribbean resorts will tell you no Sandals is among them.
Diana is offline  
Feb 21st, 2003, 06:02 AM
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I couldn't agree more with Diana's last post. The first couple trips to the caribbean, we also did AI's as well, probably because we didn't know how much better it can be. Let's face it, the websites & brocheres for Sandals look amazing, and the colors alone suck you in. Keep in mind the photographs in most brocheres are enhanced BIGTIME. But like Diana said in her post, most experienced caribbean travelers would not consider Sandals a top resort. Sandals makes many people happy, and will continue to do so. The bottom line is all the islands & resorts are simply a matter of opinion. Yes, there are many different classes of resorts, but my point is that we are all different, and enjoy certain islands & resorts for whatever reason, none of which are wrong....just different. My best advice is to do a very comprehensive search on any island or resort BEFORE booking anything. With the info available online today, shame on you if you didn't do (enough) research, and pick a place you hate. With the amount of $$ you spent on booking Sandals, you have many options that may be a whole lot better.
Scott66 is offline  
Feb 21st, 2003, 06:09 AM
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I wish I had read more "travel talk" before going on my honeymoon at Sandals Negril. It was beautiful, but the resort was not all that I had hoped. First of all, we were expecting the food to be wonderful and it really wasn't. How many times can you visit a buffet line? And, the activities were really more for a young crowd. This might be the place to go if you're in your early twenties. You got a good price, but you could do so much better with your $$.
SusanGA is offline  
Feb 21st, 2003, 03:24 PM
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July is low season so rates are at their best. Curious as to why both Sandals Ocho and Beaches Royal as they are literally right down the road from each other.

We have been to many Sandals and Ocho is one of our favoraites - very lush and tropical and romantic - the grounds are just amaxing. But in all honesty, I would save the money and pss on the honeymoon suite - we had the beachfront room and then bumped up to the oceanfront suite and to be frank, there was literally no difference between the rooms except floor level and the suite had a bar - that's it! At other Sandals, the suites are wonderful and far superior then regualr rooms but at Ocho you can save a bundle and book low - go for a cottage (but gt second floor) as they are just as nice or get beachfront.

Beaches Royal is considered one of the top resors in the Caribbean and it the top for Sandals/Beaches so you might want to move up in room there. Atmosphere there is very quiet, luxurious, nothing to do at night. Neither Royal or Ocho has a great beach with Royal being the smaller of the two. Nice however in that you can use Dunn's and Beaches Grande Sport which is also right next door to Ocho.

The price is Ok for 10 days. Did you look on the web? I have some good sites we have used in the past - if interested, just email me at [email protected] You can really save a bundle if you search the web. I would also consider hopping over to Negril if youwant to split resort - you can fly there from Ocho Rios. In Negril, Grand Lido is excellent and Ifeel a far better value then Royal Plantation.

Penpen825 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2003, 09:30 AM
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Considering you are coming from the west coast, I think you got a great deal!
Feb 24th, 2003, 10:50 AM
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Yes, you got a good rate on your Sandals package when you compare it to the rackrates they advertise. No doubt about it. And since you're traveling inthe off season, they may even further upgrade you since it's your honeymoon, making it an even better "deal", but I use the word loosely. It's only a deal compared to what the Sandals prices are, not compared to what you could get at any of a dozen other superior resorts throughout the Caribbean.

By now you've read the comments about AI. They can be a great deal, especially for first time travelers, people who don't have a lot of discretionary money, and those who are, well, perhaps a bit timid when it comes to travel experiences. But compared to what you could get with the money you're prepared to spend, you could get a truly unforgettable, once in a lifetime vacation elsewhere.

You've already decided on the Caribbean, which is a great thing. There are numerous one-of-a-kind places there, which Sandals is not one of. Since they operate under the same management, it's the same as going to any chain restaurant in the States. Sure, an Outback Steakhouse can give you a decent meal, but it won't be spectacular, nor will it be different from one location to the next. And since at Sandals, mnost visitors never step outside their grounds of the hotel, they never know what they're missing on whatever island they're on.

Try the website www.luxurylink.com It offers many packages (some with airfare) to truly elegant and/or luxurious resorts all over the Caribbean. May I suggest that you look at the following for unduplicated experience:

--CuisinArt or Cap Juluca on Anguilla
--Strawberry Hill, Round Hill or Half Moon on Jamaica
--Jumby Bay or Curtain Bluff on Antigua
--Guana or Peter Island in the British Virgins
--Palm Island in the Grenadines
--Cotton House in Mustique
--Petit St. Vincent in the Grenadines
--La Samanna in French St. Martin
--Guanahani or Eden Rock on St. Barth's
--Point Grace in Turks and Caicos
--Pink Sands in Bahamas (or any other Island Outpost resort)

GOod luck. And feel free to email me with any questions. [email protected]
ejcrowe is offline  
Feb 24th, 2003, 01:28 PM
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I've stayed at Sandals Ocho Rios and just got back last week from Royal Plantation. The price you are getting is outstanding... particularly for Royal Plantation, which is pretty expensive. Royal Plantation is very upscale and the food and service are outstanding. I paid about what you're paying in total for 5 nights at Royal Plantation (though for 2 rooms) -- and right now is high season. This did not include my airfare.

You will really enjoy Royal Plantation and it will be spectacular for a honeymoon. I also liked Sandals Ocho Rios, although it is not as upscale as Royal Plantation. One thing you might want to consider if you haven't booked is whether you could stay at Sandals Negril and then at Royal Plantation. That way you could see different parts of the island. Sandals Ocho Rios and Beaches Royal Plantation are next door to each other. On the other hand, you may not want to hassle with the travel.

One thing that we did get when we stayed at Beaches Royal Plantation was free airfare from MBJ to Ocho Rios. You might want to ask about that.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. You'll have a great time at these resorts and I think the price you're getting is very good.
Allison0926 is offline  
Feb 24th, 2003, 01:41 PM
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For EJ-----I loved your recommendations to Kingkong, of the resorts you suggested, which ones are free of 'kidlets'?????? Thanks.
Feb 24th, 2003, 04:42 PM
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EJ - Just so you know, those who are timid about traveling and first time travelers are not the only ones who like AIs. sometimesI just like the pure convenience of them! Many vacations I enjoy renting a car and touring around but some vacations, I really jsut plain don't want to have to leave the resort either to go to dinner or sightsee. Thsi isn't because I am timid but because sometimes I just want o be lazy!!!! My hubby and I both have high pressure jobs and neither of us works less than 50 hours a week not including our long daily commutes. Sometimes we jsut want to fly down to caribbean and do nothing but lounge onteh beach or hang out at the swim up bar for a few days. Sandals definitely fits the bill for that. We don;t have to carry around money, think about where to go for dineer or ever go anywhere for that matter which is just great sometimes. I think honeymoons are lot like that for most people, they jsut want to "be" not sight see and go out and look around the islands and soak up local culture, that is one reason Sandals is attractive for many, not because people are timid.
sunlover is offline  
Feb 25th, 2003, 05:23 AM
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For HaveVisa:

Among those resorts I mentioned, Peter Island in the BVIs is probably the most kid friendly. (But even so it's not marketed as a family destination.) Besides, the resort is an entire island, so I can't imagine it would ever feel overrun by either adults or kids.

Half Moon on Jamaica has a childrens\'s program, and is actually a very large resort.

But realistically, these are all places that most children would find tiresome, so you'd be safe from the little tykes. A few don't allow children during the Christmas-New Year week, or at all during high season. Some only allow kids who are 10-12 and up.

For Sunlover:

You're right, of course. Not just inexperienced or timid travelers stay at all-inclusives. And there are plenty of folks who use the AIs who do venture out to the rest of the island during their stay. My first experience in the Caribbean, at the Jalousie HIlton in St. Lucia, might as well have been an AI for the amount of time I stayed on site. And I loved it--so much that I became obsessed with the region. If I gave offense to you, I apologize.

For everyone:

I sometimes let my soapbox get the better of me because I am, quite simply, opposed to chain-AI like Sandals, Beaches, Grand Lido, etc. For one thing, the trickle down effect of the money tourists spend at these places into the local economy is much smaller compared to smaller or individually owned hotels. Major corporations seldom support the local economy by buying local. And the service charge that is added to an AI package (around 10%) is often less than what the American tourist would pay on his or her own at any any other service establishment (15-20%), so the money directly into the islanders' pockets is less, too.

But then again, I feel the same way about shopping at Barnes & Noble, Office Depot, and Wal-Mart in my own hometown. The more chains that take over anywhere, be it at home or in the Caribbean, the less indigenous flavor a place has. I hope that the "Malling of America" stops at the mainland and doesn't homogenize the Caribbean in the same way that it happened to Florida or the Keys, for example.

For even though most of us aren't rich,let's face it: if we are traveling to the Caribbean on a regular basis, we have the means to travel there responsibly. If as tourists we don't do what we can to support the local merchants on each of the islands we treasure, sooner or later we'll find that there's not much to draw us back.

End of soapbox.
ejcrowe is offline  

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