Let’s start by saying All Inclusive resorts generally are not my favorite. That being said, Alfie loves the convenience of them, so needless to say, we have been to quite a few in the 5 years we have been together. If there ever was a resort to change your mind about them, that resort would be Sandals Montego Bay in Jamaica.
Sandals Resorts came onto our radar when we were researching potential wedding venues in Jamaica for our destination wedding in 2020. We decided to do a quick trip to investigate a few of the properties we had our eye, that way we could make an educated decision when choosing one.
From the moment you arrive you immediately feel all of your troubles melt away. After a BMW chauffeured airport transfer you are escorted into the Club Lounge for check in. Immediately you are brought their signature Rum cocktail to sip on while going through the process. I don’t know about you, but I appreciate having a cocktail in hand the moment I arrive to signify my vacation has begun!
Once you get to your room you are blown away with the spectacular white sand ocean views. On top of that, every balcony is equipped with a large soaking tub; which means you can start planning your sunset baths right away, like I did. The room is a decent size, with crisp white linen on the massive King bed inviting you for a afternoon nap. The bathroom has plenty of space for getting ready, as well as a large open shower complete with rainfall shower head.
Sandals Montego Bay is THE original Sandals that started the Sandals empire, though from looking around the resort you wouldn’t be able to tell. They recently did a renovation a few years ago and everything is up to date and modern with a sophisticated, chic beach vibe.
Though we were only here briefly we got a good idea of the cuisine options here. The breakfast buffet was great, offering local fruit varieties, a smoothie station, as well as Jamaican cuisine: stewed chicken, steamed vegetables, and roasted breadfruit among others. One of my main complaints with All Inclusive resorts is that you don’t often actually get to try the local cuisine, so I appreciated that Sandals made sure you got a taste of Jamaica with your meal. The outdoor terrance was right on the beach overlooking paradise, so naturally this was my favorite way to start the morning.
Also notable was the jerk hut, which was Alfie’s favorite lunch spot, serving up authentic Jamaican jerk chicken, pork, and sausage; as well as peas and rice and festivals. Being a pescatarian I fell in love with these Jamaican side dishes, and they were really elevated by the amazing homemade Scotch Bonnet sauce that accompanied all meals. If you love spice, do yourself a favor and do not miss the Jerk Hut.
The other restaurants were lovely as well, and definitely a cut above any other All Inclusive food. As we only stayed two nights we didn’t get to try them all, but I can say we throughly enjoyed the ones we went to. First we tried Soy, a brand new sushi concept, and you actually feel like you’re at a sushi restaurant complete with sushi bar and all. The second night, the Sandals wedding staff had secured a reservation for us at Cucina Romana, the Italian restaurant, and am I ever glad they did. The restaurant is situated upstairs with huge open air bay windows to give you the most amazing views of the Jamaican sunset while you dine.
Another thing that set Sandals apart was their signature cocktails available at various bars around the resort. You could taste the difference of the quality liquor and ingredients and though while they were sweet, they are tropical cocktails after all, they didn’t taste like buckets of fake sugar and a hangover in the morning. Real bananas went into the Dirty Banana, our personal favorite, and the Rum floater on the Piña Colada’s had Alfie saying it was the best he’s ever had.
Our absolute favorite spot to enjoy a cocktail was at Latitudes, their over the water bar. It does not get any better than sipping a delectable drink, as reggae softly rolls from the speakers and you overlook the Caribbean Sea. This is pure perfection. I could lay in the netted hammocks all day relaxing as I listen to the waves peacefully crash against the structure. Besides Latitudes, there are multiple other bars, so no shortage of spots to get a drink. Naturally you have to have a pool bar for the pool crowd, the spacious main lobby bar, and the main beach bar attached to the wood fired pizza spot. If you’ve ever been to an All Inclusive then you know sometimes it’s like a mosh pit just trying to get a drink. But the vibe at each bar was so mellow and relaxed, and you never had to wait long to get your order in. Many times you walk right up and there is a smiling bartender ready to serve you.
Something I appreciated that was also included were the water sports. During the day you had plenty of activities to enjoy. From Snorkeling, Kayaking, Water Skiing, and Sailing all of these options were included complimentary just for staying there. There is also a large inflatable couch type thing you sit on as they pull you behind a boat. This is a total blast and perfect for two people. You absolutely have to do this activity.
I would have to say the thing that stood out the most to me was the overall vibe of the resort. It was not some massive conglomerate that tries to pack people in. They specifically focus on providing relaxation for their guests. Even on Easter weekend it never felt packed, and I believe that was done by design. You never had to wait long to get a drink, or to be seated for dinner, or struggle through hoards of people to try to get a beach chair. I believe they purposefully do this because they want each one of their guests to receive impeccable service. All the staff were very friendly and helpful, always eager to make sure you are 100% taken care of. I have never been at an All Inclusive Resort, where every aspect goes above and beyond to make sure they are creating the ultimate experience for you.
One regret I had was that we did not take the shuttle over to their sister resort: Sandals Royal Caribbean because it would have been nice to see the similarities and?differences as well as to compare resorts. Although I would have to imagine with their attention to detail it would be a very similar vibe to what we experienced. One other thing is the Royal Caribbean has the over the water bungalows so keep that in mind if that’s something that interests you.
I can honestly say I have a fantastic time here and cannot wait to explore other Sandals properties in the future. If you are planning a trip to Jamaica or an other Caribbean destination, I highly recommend checking to see if there is a Sandals and urge you to consider staying there! You will have a wonderful time.
Until next time Sandals! Cheers