Are The Private Transfers In Jamaica Worth It?

After marrying in Jamaica in 2010, we'd been so busy traveling to other Caribbean destinations that we didn't have a chance to get back and visit one of our favorite islands in the world.  So when I was invited down to Sandals Grande Riviera this week for the Sandals Travel Agency Recognition Awards, I knew I had to take the opportunity to try out some of the new luxury travel options and report back to you guys.

For me, one of the most intriguing new options was the private transfers with Island Routes.  I've never had an issue hopping into the included transfer vans and enjoying the drive to the resort with other hotel guests.  However, my husband and I have been spoiled in the past by the private transfers in the Rolls Royce that all butler level guests staying at Sandals Royal Bahamian receive complimentary.  Plus, I had booked these private transfers for my clients in the past and wanted to see for myself if these transfers were worth the steep price.  When my husband cringed at the price, I told him it was going to be worth every penny, and then said a silent prayer that I wasn't blowing this money on something completely unnecessary.

The day we arrived in Jamaica we had pre-booked the Club Mobay package.  This package allowed us to bypass the Immigration and Customs line coming into the resort [Click here to view my other blog to read about it that package was worth it too].  From there, we were shuttled to the Sandals Resorts lounge in the airport where we waited for the airport rep to find our private transfer.

Because we came in on a Sunday afternoon, and all the other travel professionals and Sandals employees from Miami were coming down for our event were also arriving around the same time, the lounge was packed!  Luckily we didn't wait long, but we also had access to the Club Mobay lounge right next to the Sandals lounge, which was not as busy.

But before we could even enjoy either lounges, we were being whisked away to our private transfers.  Most of the guests arriving at the same time as us were waiting at least ten more minutes for their transfer, then waiting more time for the bags to be loaded into the vans and the other guests to get situated before leaving. We experienced something a little different.

The airport rep took our bags and led us out through the main doors.  He made a path for us through the crowd of travelers on the sidewalk waiting for taxis and transfers.  The ones that weren't staying at resorts that gave them access to the airport lounges or offered transfers included.   A minute later we walked up to this beautiful Audi sedan.  The rep loaded our bags in the trunk and the driver opened my car door for me, helping me into my (extremely comfortable) seat.

The first thing I noticed once settled in, was the plate of snacks sitting on the arm rest between us.  After being up early and traveling all day, that plate was a welcomed sight.

The driver began his hour and a half drive from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios and explained to us that there were drinks in a cooler in the front seat.  He asked if we wanted anything, and after handing us two waters, he asked us if we wanted some wine or champagne.  We agreed.

My husband poured us each a glass and it took me a moment to register that not only were we opening a bottle of wine and drinking it in a moving car, but we weren't going to get in trouble for it like in the US.   It felt so relaxing to be able to sit back and sip our drinks while watching the blue water and the lush green mountains pass us by.

We also had fee wifi available for the duration of the drive.  That meant we could log in and send messages to our family to let them know we landed and were safely on our way to the resort.  We could watch a movie during the drive, or take photos and share them online if we wanted.  It also meant we could answer work emails, which was very important to us.   

Honestly, the idea of an hour and a half drive for such a short stay wasn't something I looked forward to, but by the time we pulled up, I was shocked at how quickly it all went by.  

We spent most of the time taking photos and videos of the scenery we passed, or catching up on our emails and messages through the car's included wifi.

I almost didn't want to get out of the car!

That was until where I saw we pulled up to, and then I couldn't wait to get out and start my Sandals Resort vacation!

Originally I had talked my husband into us paying for the one-way transfer, and then we agreed to take the group shuttle back to the airport on the way home.  But a few days before we left I just had the urge to book our return private transfer too.  I had a feeling we'd love the transfer so much we wouldn't want to take the van back, and let me tell you how happy I was that I booked the return trip too!  Again, while everyone loaded up into the van back to the resort, we stepped outside and there was our car, waiting for us, even though we were a few minutes late for the pick up time.  This time it was a Mercedes Benz.  

Again, we were helped into our seats and there were snacks waiting for us.

On this ride, my husband was coming down with a cold and we had been out late the night before celebrating a big win at the STAR Awards.  He felt so grateful for the comfortable seats, the cold water bottles available, the smooth ride and the quiet that a private transfer that afforded him the ability to get some much needed rest.

I was able to sit back and relax on the trip home as well.  I took in the beautiful scenery and got some of my work done so that I wasn't stuck playing catch-up when I got back to the office the next day.  

So for those who ask now ask me...

My answer on if the private transfers are worth it, is a resounding YES!   

Now that I've experienced the private transfers I don't think I'll ever be able to travel another way while in Jamaica!   They also offer something similar in St. Lucia too, which is nice as that ride is a full two hours from the resort too. 

However, from what we've learned, the St. Lucia transfers are contracted out by local drivers so you can be given a range of types of car from luxury to non-luxury cars- despite the description on the Island Routes website showing a photo of an Audi sedan and mentions "riding in comfort and style". Also, food and drinks available are not part of the St Lucia transfer package. The St Lucia transfers are much cheaper than the Jamaica transfers because of those differences.

Island Routes has done an excellent job offering couples and families a luxurious transfer option apart from the normal taxis and vans you can hire to take you privately to your resort.  The best part is, you don't have to be staying at just Sandals or Beaches resorts to book these transfers.  No matter where you stay, you can experience this level of luxury.  If you're going to travel to a luxury resort, why not travel in style to get there too?   If you can, do it! 

Considering private transfers too?  
Contact me and I'd be happy to provide you pricing and help you book! 
Or, visit our the Island Routes website direct by clicking here.

Happy transfers you guys! :)

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