I Left My Heart At Sandals Royal Caribbean...

All it takes is a quick scan of my blog posts to see that I love Sandals Resort.  For those who don't already know, my Sandals love story goes all the way back to 2007, when I first visited Sandals Negril in Jamaica.  I fell in love with that resort property, and every single one I've been to since. But never did I truly understand my love for a resort until I spent a week at Sandals Royal Caribbean this past June.



In May, I spent five nights at Sandals Whitehouse, followed by a full day of touring every Sandals Resort, Beaches Resort, and Grand Pineapple Resort property in both Negril and Montego Bay. Afterwards, I finished my trip staying two nights at Sandals Montego Bay.  All-in-all, despite it being a work trip, it was a great way to see what was new with the different properties firsthand.  The moment I stepped foot onto the Sandals Royal Caribbean property for our afternoon resort tour, I felt it hit me. This was the place I wanted to be.  As much fun as I had the following two nights staying at Sandals Montego Bay, I longed to be at Sandals Royal Caribbean.

I tell my clients all the time that there is a different "Sandals Style" for everyone. It's based on your likes and dislikes. Do you prefer a quiet, more laid back resort? Or would you rather be active and social on your trip? Each resort, while very similar, has a distinct feel or mood, so-to-speak. Because I travel so often for business and rarely for leisure, I don't get to pick the resorts I visit and therefore when I find myself at one of the resorts that fit my mood, I feel even more at home there.

That is why, in the following month of June, my husband Robert and I made the choice to return to this resort. We were scheduled to attend another work trip in Jamaica, this time it would take us to Ocho Rios where we'd stay at Sandals Royal Plantation and spend time at both Sandals Ochi and Beaches Ocho Rios.  Given that the trip fell on our five year wedding anniversary, we knew it was the perfect time to elongate our stay and book a few nights at Sandals Royal Caribbean to celebrate.  

As soon as we pulled up to the resort I didn't just feel like I was at home, I felt relaxed. As if in an instant all of the stress and pressure was washed away. There was no work to be done or schedules to keep to. We didn't need to socialize with anyone or meet new people. This truly felt like vacation, but yet still felt like home.

We walked into the Club Sandals lounge for check-in and were greeted by a warm and welcoming smiles of the Club Sandals lounge staff. They got us checked in while we sat comfortably in the air conditioning and were offered an assortment of beverages and cookies-- the standard Club Sandals welcome no matter which resort you stay at.


Once we were all set, our butler came to collect us to take us to our room.  The moment he opened the door my eyes glazed over.


The suite was stunning, and the first thing that I saw was the circle tub in the center of the room. 

From it was a view of both the bedroom and the massive shower with glass walls.
You better really love who you stay in this room with. There isn't much privacy. ;)

I kept thinking it couldn't get any better, until I opened the patio doors and stepped onto the balcony. It was by far the largest balcony I've had while staying at a Sandals Resort.  There was a sitting area and a rack for drying swimwear, but the best part was the tub.

Yes, there was a second soaking tub, on the balcony. There were also two large curtains that could be closed for privacy.  The entire suite was perfect. 

Rob enjoying the view from our balcony. We could see the ocean to the right.
[You can view the full walkthrough video of the suite here]:
                                    


Our butler left us to get settled in, but not before checking to make sure there wasn't anything we needed. We used that moment to request that he book us a private cabana on the beach for the following day. It had been something we'd both been looking forward to trying out for a while now and decided what better than to experience it on our anniversary trip?

We spent much of the rest of that day relaxing on the beach, roaming the resort, and swimming the one of the lagoon pools after dark. They looked so inviting all lit up, we couldn't help but test them out.
Lagoon pools are open to all guests.

The following morning we woke up early and headed down to the Club Sandals lounge so we could be escorted to our private cabana for the day. When renting the cabana you have it from 9am-5pm or you can opt for a half day rental as well.  As soon as we were led to the cabana we knew we had found paradise. 


We were given two lounge chairs (in the water) for sunbathing, the bed itself with curtains for privacy, a basket full of sunblock and a cooler full of water.


Each cabana comes with it's own butler as well (separate from your room butler). This butler will give you a cell phone you can use to call if you need anything delivered to you.
Curtains drawn on three for privacy. All we saw was the water. :)
We were still trying to get over our excitement when our cabana butler asked us what we'd like for breakfast. We hadn't even thought about breakfast and the idea of leaving the cabana already made us consider skipping breakfast. That was, until he told us there was no need to leave, he'd be bringing it to us. 

I'd actually never in my life truly had breakfast in bed until that moment, and what a place to experience a first like that. :)

After breakfast we shut the curtains on all three sides and laid back to enjoy the view.  At times a kayak or a hobie cat would pass by, but for the most part we had total privacy.
Never wanted to leave from that spot.

The breeze and shade was just enough to keep us cool, but the water was right beneath us if we felt we needed to jump in. There was even a raft floating in the water just a few feet from our cabana. We spent some time laying out on it.

By the afternoon, our cabana butler was back and taking our lunch order. We opted for pizza, because it was easy to eat in bed. :)


 It didn't matter if it was nine in the morning, noon, or three o'clock. The cabana butler continued bringing us our favorite drinks and ensured we had what we needed.

Note: Sandals has a strict no-tipping policy, but cabana butlers are allowed to receive tips,
so make sure to tip them, especially for a job well done. :)
                                [You can view the full video of our beach cabana here]
                                     

By the time five o'clock rolled around, Robert and I had agreed that we wanted to book the cabana every day for the rest of our stay there.

After heading back to our suite and washing the sun, sand and sea off of us, we heard some music coming from the lawn below our room.  We peeked our heads out the curtain on our balcony and saw a school band marching through the property playing music for the guests.  We hurried up to get ready and then headed downstairs to where the local school children were playing for the guests at the Manager's Welcome Party.

After that we sat by the fire pit overlooking the off shore private island. It was peaceful to watch the sun disappear behind the ocean while listening to the soft waves from the water all around us.

Once the sun had finally set, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at the French restaurant on property, Le Jardine.  This was my favorite place to eat dinner. The beautiful flowering tree canopy over the terrace made for the most romantic dinner setting.



When dinner was over we decided to call it a night, heading back to our room. What we found waiting for us was an Anniversary surprise like no other.  Rose petals led us into the room and to the tub which was filled with warm water, bubbles and more rose petals. On the bed were two towel swans kissing and a heart made of flowers. Champagne was on ice next to a cake with a "Happy Anniversary"message written in chocolate. There were also chocolate covered strawberries and soft music playing from the radio.


We stepped outside and noticed the tub on the patio was also filled too, leaving us the option to try either, so we tried both. :)



 We didn't think that day could be topped, but for the next few days we spent there, it was a rinse and repeat of relaxation and romance. 

Robert would wake up and hit the gym, which was conveniently right outside of our room.

I'd head down to the beach bed and order us breakfast and morning cocktails.
Paradise found.
We'd take some time in the afternoon to venture around the property.  

One of the pools on property. 
Drink options left by the pools without swim up bars.
Main beach area. 
Water sports options for all.

At one point we even headed over to the private island to spend some time soaking up the sun over there.  There are two restaurants on the island for guests to dine at, so we decided to have lunch while there.

There was also a pool with a swim up bar serving premium brand liquor all day long.


We had plenty of options for places to relax.  You can rent one of the island cabanas for the day or half day (we only booked the one on the main land).  You can also enjoy an "over-the-water' hammock right off the beach on the island. There is a fire pit and plenty of chairs and loungers.

There is also a spa area on the back side of the island, so guests can have massages next to the water. Beside that is a private clothing optional beach which guests are welcome to use. The water there is perfect for snorkeling as there is sea grass and coral off to the side.  Soon Sandals will begin building their new overwater bungalows off of the island and they will bring even more amazing room options to this property.

We didn't spend much time on the island, just enough time to enjoy the facilities and then head back to "our spot".  As per our schedule, at five o'clock we'd have to leave our beloved beach bed and we'd use that time to swim in the quiet lagoon pool by our room, which was usually empty by that time.


Or we'd relax in the hammock in the gardens behind our room block.
Hammock in the gardens by the spa.
Since our return, the resort has also added a few hammocks over the water on one of the mainland beaches, as well as two swings that overlook the island. We're sad we missed out on these!
Photo credit: @laydval on Instagram (from Sandals Resorts)
Photo credit: Jason Dunfree, Sandals BDM (Facebook)

When it came to meals, we made sure to try all of the restaurants on property, because why not? It's all included. :)
 Delicious dinner on our last night.
We even made friends with the sweetest cats on property. For those who may know me, I have a soft spot for strays and rescue animals as Robert and I foster rescue dogs when we can. So whenever I meet cats on property at Sandals it warms my heart to see how loved and well taken care of they are by the guests and staff.
This little guy was hiding next to us while we were eating dinner.

By the time our trip came to a close we truly did not want to leave. We spent every moment we could enjoying our stay until the last second where we got onto the transfer van and pulled away from the resort.
Lunch with a (final) view before leaving for the airport. 

The most important part of that stay was what we took away from it. Celebrating five years is a small milestone in a marriage still just starting out. But this trip was special because it was just us together creating memories to last us many more anniversaries to come. The resort provided the perfect atmosphere for us to shut the rest of the world off and reconnect with each other. We both felt like we (and many other couples) were in our own little bubbles of love while there.


So readers, if you are traveling to Sandals Royal Caribbean anytime soon, keep an eye out. When you lay on that beach bed, or swim in those warm waters. When you smell the pizza cooking in the stone oven or drink that cold piña colada on a hot afternoon. When you soak in that big circle tub or float on the raft built for two. Or when you feel the warmth of the fire on your face as you watch the sun dip behind the horizon after a day you'll always remember...  my heart is there somewhere among you. But I plan to come back and visit it soon. :)



View a full resort tour video made by Robert here:




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