My TripAdvisor Review for Sandals Negril, Jamaica (2007).

MY REVIEW FOR SANDALS NEGRIL RESORT:
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"First off, I want to start by saying that before we took this trip, I spent countless hours online looking up reviews on this resort. I was worried that we had put thousands of dollars into a vacation that was going to turn out a huge nightmare. But given all the mixed reviews, I finally realized that no matter what you read, you really need to experience it for yourself and remember that you are on a VACATION and it will only be as good as you make it. Just go and enjoy and realize that everything has been paid for and all you need to do is relax.

FLIGHT: The flight was not too bad. I hate to fly, but it went by fast. We flew Continental from Newark NJ to Montego Bay. I have read, and heard from a lot of people that Air Jamaica was a terrible airline and that the delays were awful. However, at the resort I heard differently from a couple guests. So, again, it is really one of those things where you need to experience it for yourself to get a real idea about it. Anyway, on Continental we were served lunch ( a cheeseburger, skittles and small salad) even though the flight said snack only. So that was nice.

AIRPORT: I have never been to another country before, so I do not have any experiences to compare this to. When we got there it was a little scary because the plan ran out of runway and had to stop short, but apparently that is something they were used to. To get from the plane to customs it was almost like going through a maze. They were doing some construction on the terminal and we had to be routed around it all. We had to wait in a line to get through immigration, but that only took 20 minutes at the very most. When we claimed our bags it got a little confusing because the baggage claim belt goes in a big winding loop and even though it says that our bags were coming out of the belt marked #6, the belt marked #5 was attached to it and someone must have taken our bags out since they were one of the first ones out on the belt... so we went a little crazy searching for our bag but in the end someone at the airport directed us to the right place. Then we waiting in a long line at customs (only about 5-10 minute wait though). Once we got up to the front, they asked us where we were going and took the card we filled out, and told us to enjoy our trip. I was expecting them to search our bags or ask us questions, but it was a simple procedure. Coming back was the issue. Waiting in line to get our return tickets was interesting. I would advice people from the US to fly American Airlines or get to the airport at least 3 hours early. They only had 2 ticket counters for Continental and the line was very long. AA has at least 6 and there was no line, and Virgin air lines has the same. Air Jamaica, of course, took up a good 10-15 counters and I didn't see on person in line there, ironically.

AIRPORT LOUNGE: After going through everything, you make your way into what almost resembles a shopping mall. Except instead of stores, they are all lounges for each resort. We were directed to the Sandals lounge and someone took our names and bags and tagged them so they would not get lost. Then our porter, Randolf, came to take our bags and told my boyfriend to go inside the lounge and get me a drink, but I wanted to see the lounge so I joined him. It looks like the lobby of the resorts. There are couches, and a TV playing Sandals advertisements, and pictures from all the resorts. There are bathrooms but I did not go in to look because the line was too long. There was a small kitchen like area with a Red stripe dispenser and a soda dispenser. When we returned the porter took us to our bus and loaded our bags on. He also provided some comic relief while we waited for the bus to arrive. We were with about 3 other couples going to the same resort. We also tipped him a couple bucks. Its always good to tip the porter and the bus driver even though you won't need to tip when you are actually at the resort.

BUS RIDE: This was a crazy trip. It took about an hour and a half. The ride was smooth, despite what some people say. The only problem was that when you got into the towns the houses and stores were very close to the street. You will see a lot of people walking and riding bikes on the side of the street, and the streets are already very small, sometimes it can barely fit two cars. The drivers are very daring, when we would come up to a bend in the road, even though they couldn't see who was coming around the corner, they would still speed up, and that was always scary. Other than that, the vans were comfortable and air conditioned. We make a "pit" stop half way to the resort, and that was interesting. We all got out to use the restrooms and a few people bought some beer. We bought some jerk chicken, and they charged us $7 for it. We didn't even finish it and ended up giving the rest to a stray dog that was laying out in the sun. We were also haggled by a bunch of kids for $1 but we didn't give it to them because apparently you can get in trouble for doing that. I don't know by who, but we did hear that along the way. The ride home was much better. We didn't make a stop and the guy told us a lot of interesting facts about the island. It was almost like a tour bus, we forgot we were on our way to the airport after a while. Be prepared to see a lot of animals on the side of the roads. There were chickens, horses, goats, dogs and cows just wandering around without a fence. It was always scary because sometimes it looked like you were going to hit them. If you want to get to the resort quicker, there are charter flights through TimAir (timair.com) that will take you from Montego Bay to Negril in 15 minutes, and it flies you right over the resort, however, it costs about $170 per couple. We were going to do this coming back, but we decided to take the bus because they will check you out at the time the shuttle bus leaves anyway and we didn't want to be stuck at the airport for 5 hours.

THE RESORT: It was breathtaking. At first I was a little upset because everything looked so cramped, but after a few hours we realized the convenience of it all. We went at a the slow time of year so it was not crowded at all. It was also their rainy season, but it really only rained the first day we got there. Other than that, it was typical tropical weather, it rained for at the most an hour each afternoon and then it was beautiful again. The water was calm the first couple of days, barely any waves. The last couple of days it was a bit more choppy, but it was still comfortable and always felt like bath water.
The beach is a bit narrow right in front of the Paradise building, but even so, there was plenty of beach to choose from and sometimes being that close to the water was a good thing.
The pools were not huge, however it was hardly ever crowded. The hot tubs were more crowded and the swim up bar was full at times, but it was more fun to lay on a floaty with your drinks.


(Locals walking down the beach playing music, a true Caribbean experience).


ROOM: We booked the Grand Luxury Beachfront Concierge Room. As soon as we arrived a staff member came to greet us and took us up to the Concierge executive suite room and checked us in. He gave us cold towels and a glass a champagne. He told us about the resort and walked us to our rooms and showed us how to use the safe. By the time we walked up to our room our suit cases were sitting outside the door (checkout was just as easy, just put your suit cases outside the door and hand in your key, they do the rest).
We stayed in the Paradise building in room 5224, with a balcony (with a table and two chairs) overlooking the narrow part of the beach. We had an in room bar (stocked with all types of liquor, juices, sodas, and Red Stripe beer), a safe, an umbrella (which came in handy the first day we got there), two robes, and a flat screen Panasonic Tv (which also came in handy on the rainy day). The bed was a king size and it was very comfortable. The bathroom as well as the entire room seemed to be updated and there was all mahogany wood furniture, including a four poster bed. There were two beautiful french doors that opened onto the balcony. The best part about the room was that the beach was so close that when you were laying in bed it almost looked as if you were over the water. There was also a palm tree right outside the window and it made the view even more beautiful. At night the moon was so full and bring it looked like there was a spot light on the water. It was the perfect view.

ACTIVITIES: I would highly recommend snorkeling. It would be best to bring your own stuff, seeing as they keep the used equipment in a bucket of water. We went out every day at 10am and it was a great time because by the time you got back you had to whole day to relax. We saw so many things, and from what we heard from the guest, it was the best snorkeling they had done (compared to Mexico and St. Lucia). We loved Mackie (aka double trouble or crusty crab). He made the boat ride a blast. And Captain Barry was great too. I also advise you to get involved in things. We waiting till the second to last day to try pool volleyball and we had a blast. Next time we plan to do it every day. They also had night time activities like Couples Trivia and Name That Tune on the entertainment stage in the Bayside restaurant. Our favorite was the PJ Disco Party, they had it one evening around 11pm. It went until about 1am. It isn't for everyone. They play club music and everyone dances in their pjs. We had fun.

FOOD: My boyfriend and I love to cook, and seeing as the reviews about the food were bad, we were timid about trying things. However, we tried many different things and agreed that the presentation of the food and the quality were at the very least 4 star. The only place we did not like was Kimonos. The food was cooked with too much terryaki sauce. Other that that, the four C's had great pasta dishes, and Barefoot By The Sea had great tuna steak. I tried the chicken at the Sundowner but I wasn't feeling well that day and couldn't completely enjoy it. The breakfast and lunch buffets at the Bayside were always good. We also got the 24 hour room service with our room category. That was great when it came down to it (the pasta and chicken was great, and so was the deserts), but we mainly just went down to the beach side grill and ordered food and brought it back because they had more of a selection. There was a nacho machine, and a ice cream machine where you can help yourself, and over in the pool table area by the piano bar, there was a popcorn and soda machine. We would walk down there at night and grab some popcorn and come back to the room and watch tv.


DRINKS: My boyfriend had a theory that they watered down their alcohol. He stuck to the Merlot most of the time. I enjoyed the Champagne at dinner but when we were hanging out on the beach and in the pool we favored the pina coladas, making Jamaican babies, hummingbird, Miami vices, blue Jamaica, and daiquiris. The beer was always Red Strip, and if you want a specific liquor, just ask. Usually the main bars carry the top shelf liquor, and the pool and beach bar didn't always have them.

WEDDINGS: Every day there were about 3 or 4 weddings going on. They never interrupted each other or the other guests. It was always so nice to see the brides and grooms along the beach taking pictures. We've actually started considering a wedding there because it seemed so lovely.

STAFF: Despite what anyone has said, the staff went above and beyond to ensure that each guest had a great vacation. The play makers tried their hardest to get everyone involved with the games and the night time performances (especially since it was the slow season and there weren't many people there). Dominique and Jason were great at entertaining. Mackie, Captain Barry, and Kmar on the snorkeling boat were awesome. Ophia at the 4 C's made our last night very memorable. Paul our chef at Kimonos kept us entertained throughout dinner. Otis at the swim up bar, for being talented enough to carry my drinks to me, on his head (with no hands), and Demarse for always making MJBs for us,and Chris in concierge for making sure we enjoyed our week there.

EXCURSIONS: Pointless. If we were staying for two weeks and ran out of things to do then we may have opted to go outside the resort, but we had plenty to do there and only choose to visit Rick's Cafe, and that was pointless. The food there was overpriced and not that great and the tour bus leaves you there for 3 hours so if you want to go home before that, you need to pay for a cab. It was not worth it, unless you are a thrill seeker and want to jump off the cliffs (and we were not at all).

EXCHANGE PRIVILEGES: We did use this once. We wanted to go to Beaches Negril and seeing as it was a 30 minute walk, we decided to walk the 5 minutes to Beaches Sandy Bay and take the free shuttle bus over. They had a lazy river and a water slide that we used and then stopped and had lunch at their lunch buffet. But we decided to take a taxi back for $5 instead of waiting for the shuttle.

TIPS: Bring lots of sun block and bug spray! I was burnt after day one and it was not pleasant. Also, bring an underwater camera. They cost way too much at the gift shop. The gift shops are a little over priced, if you want to buy Rum or anything souvenirs, it is better if you buy it at the airport by the terminals. It is much cheaper. Also, bring lots of cash, because there are no ATM's. You can charge money to the room and have them give you Jamaican money, but the exchange rate is every $1 of ours is worth $66 to them... so bring a small calculator when buying things so you do not get stiffed out of money (for example, every Friday they sell crafts on the beach... it is easy to bargain with them, but hard to keep track of your change).

I hope everyone enjoys their trips here and has the same great experiences we did. We are definitely planning on coming back here next year. We were tempted to book while we were still there! If anyone has any questions or comments and needs to reach me, please do so.

Enjoy!"


(Gorgeous view of the sunset through the palm trees from the restaurant with tables on the beach).


(Floating on the clear and calm Caribbean waters at Sandals in Negril, Jamaica).


(Amazing view of the water from our the French doors on our balcony.  The waves sounded so close that when we laid in bed at night we felt like we were laying in the ocean).


(Crystal clear water made it great for snorkeling).


Kira Solomon

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