Starting at about $1,750 a couple per week, the Sandals Grande Riviera super-inclusive property in Ocho Rios, Jamaica offers a budget-friendly tropical escape that brings the best of both worlds together: Close proximity to the states with all the common conveniences of home and easily-understood English infused with a tantalizing taste of friendly, foreign culture.
Room – Our seaside property accommodations featured a sprawling veranda overlooking a crystalline turquoise oceanfront. The roomy restroom had granite countertops and a spacious granite bench for storing the full-sized, non-toxic botanical toiletries alongside the deep bathtub. A four poster bed was outfitted in starched white linens and spotlighted with ample overhead and ambient lighting fixtures.
Amenities – A full calendar of organized entertainment will be presented to you upon arrival and in a newsletter left inside your room during nightly turn-down service. For a fee you can choose from excursions and tours like a catamaran cruise or zip line adventure, or amuse yourself with free activities like snorkeling or a rum tasting class.
Dining – All room reservations include meals at an assortment of eateries from casual buffets for breakfast to white tablecloth dining rooms for dinner, and room service available in between. There’s also free-flowing top-shelf cocktails at bars conveniently located throughout the property including poolside places you can swim up to for a sip, watering holes suspended above the sea in stilted cabanas and lounges with live entertainment or DJs spinning a mix of top 40 and pop hits from the 80s and 90s. Your liberated in-suite wet bar is equipped with a selection of spirits, mixers and a trio of wines in white, red and sparkling varieties.
Service – The staff at Sandals went out of their way to accommodate our every whim and were particularly on point when it came to keeping drinks full and giving a cordial “hello” every time we encountered one another. Repeat guests can expect extra-special attention with branded items and special extras like welcome chocolates.
Staying Connected – Free WiFi Internet was difficult to set up and ran pretty slowly, however, worked well on smart phones when hopping between properties. Two tiers of premium Internet access are available for an additional fee and promise added bandwidth for a speedier connection.
Disconnecting – A beach, booze and beautiful weather are blended together to cultivate a trifecta for taking things down a notch, mon. For a little extra money, you can add on a pampering package for some serious down-time on the beach or in the property’s spa facility. Or, get in touch with nature by immersing yourself in the ocean on horseback and riding along the Dunn’s River Falls in a lazy inner tube.
What to Wear – Dressing down requires little more than a pair of flip flops (Brazilian brand Rider Sandals offers a great mix of comfort and versatile style) and a beach cover up over your favorite swimwear. Check out Earth-friendly options from Eco Swim at Canyon Beachwear.
The Bottom Line – This Sandals property is ideal for a fun-loving couple seeking one-stop shopping when planning a vacation to Ocho Rios. You’ll be swapping safety and convenience for a fairly fabricated experience, however, so if you’re hoping for an authentic immersion in the country’s culture, consider supplementing your stay with of plenty off-property play.