Though their soft opening was in December 2013, the Azul Sensatori Jamaica officially welcomed guests in a grand celebration on April 28. The all-inclusive resort on Negril's famous Seven Mile Beach is part of the Karisma brand of hotels. The company took over what was once Beaches Sandy Bay and renovated it to adhere to their “Gourmet Inclusive” standards. Some rooms are completely brand new, while others have been refreshed with paint, new furnishings, and modern amenities such as 42″ plasma TV's, rain showerheads, and iPod docking stations. While WiFi is free in the lobby, there is a charge for in-room access.
The 136 ocean-view rooms are located in several two-story buildings, giving the property an intimate feel. However, despite its cozy size, there's a lot packed into Azul, which caters to both families and solitude-seekers thanks to a separate, 58-room adults-only section which even has its own swim-up bar. Although most rooms have king-sized beds, and all have a balcony or patio, those traveling with families or friends, have several category rooms to choose from in the “multigenerational section.” They range from loft and family style to one-and-two bedroom suites. There's an array of bedroom layouts with some even accommodating up to eight people—a boon for those planning a family reunion or destination wedding. Each room has a minibar stocked daily with free soft drinks and beer, and premium digs like the swim-up and jacuzzi suites have top-shelf rum and vodka dispensers as well.
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Unlike many all-inclusive resorts, the Azul has four fine dining options that range from Italian to Mediterranean cuisine, and there's only one buffet—the Palms Restaurant. Still, it's an expansive spread showcasing both local cuisine and familiar American favorites. One of the resort's most popular restaurants is Ackee, which specializes in gourmet Caribbean fare like ackee callaloo polenta and grilled snapper with smashed spiced potatoes. For casual eats, light snacks such as beef patties and chicken wings can be ordered at the Oceans Gourmet Corner, or pick up an afternoon latte and pastries at Beans Gourmet Coffee Shop—with no extra charge.
There's plenty to do (or not do) at Azul. Many spend time near the swim-up bar with its serpentine set-up. Others bliss out on the beachfront Bali beds. A weekly activity menu is chock-full of options from Caribbean Sea aerobics to reggae dance classes. Families with small children can take advantage of the free Azulitos by Fisher Price kids club, available for tots six months to four years of age, as well as the Playhouse for those up to 12 years old. In addition to indoor activities in the colorful cottage, there's an outdoor playground complete with a splash park to keep the kiddies cool. This summer will bring a full-service spa and fitness center, but for now, an ocean-facing outdoor spa pavilion is available for al fresco massages.
Each night there's live entertainment, including a local steel-pan band, a fireshow, and even a magician. For those who've taken a nap and have energy to spare, they can head to adults-only Nesta Rasta Lounge, named after Jamaica's island son, Bob Marley. There, you can listen to a reggae band or DJ and sample a wide selection of cocktails, or finish the night with a glass of Blackwell, a new premium rum by Chris Blackwell of Island Records fame.