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So overwhelmed on the resorts

Naperville, Illinois
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15 posts
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So overwhelmed on the resorts

I have been looking all morning at Jamaican all-inclusive resorts and every time I think I have it settled, I see something else. We've never done an all-inclusive and the Sandals resorts seem to get a lot of repeat customers, so I was leaning towards Sandals-Whitehouse but I was also looking at Wild Orchid. Let me tell you what we'd like, and maybe those of you that have been there often to offer a little insight?

My husband and I are more low-key. We'd probably appreciate some activities, but we'd also like to find a quiet spot when we're not feeling social. Large party atmosphere is not our thing, but we're also planning on October which is off-season anyway. We're not planning on loads of excursions, so the overall quality of the resort is important because that's really the bulk of our vacation. Nice beaches and pools are highly important and not a lot of hassle for getting there. I don't mind a drive from the airport, but I don't want to be in the car all day after being on a flight for 6 hours. The other issue is dining. The husband is SUPER picky so Italian and American fare options are a must so he can at least find something to eat.

Any suggestions?

United States
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1. Re: So overwhelmed on the resorts

"Nice beaches and pools are highly important"

Both resorts you list have nice pools. Sandals-Whitehouse has a nice large beach while the beach at Secrets is small and mainly man made.

"and not a lot of hassle for getting there"

Secrets is in Montego Bay and only a few min. from the airport (you can see the hotel from the end of the runway). Sandals-Whitehouse is about a 2 hr. drive from the airport over the mountains.

"Italian and American fare options are a must"

You will find both types of food at both Sandals-Whitehouse and at Secrets. Your husband should pack long pants, nice shirts, and dress shoes if he likes to eat Italian at either resort.

New Jersey
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2. Re: So overwhelmed on the resorts

Wow! You must have read my mind. I feel like I'm in the same boat. This is our first trip to Jamaica and booking an all-inclusive.

I have become very overwhelmed by the choice selections in Jamaica. The reviews are so varied and mixed for many of the resorts and I am still not sold that all-inclusives is worth the money. Most resorts seem below average in the dining options, room decor and/or overall quality of /location/property.

My husband and I prefer boutique hotels on the beach. We are beach lovers. Looking for a beautiful resort with a beautiful beach, with various dining options (so we do not feel trapped on a resort), and not too crowded (that we feel the need to fight for beach chairs). We have stayed in Turks & Caicos and Aruba in the past. I thought we narrowed down to Couples Swept Away and Sandals Whitehouse but still not full sold on either choices.

I'm a bit confused because when I speak to friends they say all-inclusives are the best because you never have to worry about bringing any cash but when I read the reviews I see references to tips and extra services not included in the overall large bill. So what is the point of all-inclusives?

St. Charles, MO
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3. Re: So overwhelmed on the resorts

I empathaize Amanda R, it is overwhelming to make this choice. We invest a lot of time, money and energy into this and we really, really want to get it right.

You have selected 2 top notch resorts. Secrets Wild Orchid is a more compact resort while Sandals Whitehouse is more spread out. That means more elbow room and more beach room, but a little more walking to get to where you want to go. Sandals is adult only, couples only. Secrets is adult only, but not specifically for couples.

If I could give you one piece of advice, don't be concerned about the drive from the airport. If the resort that is really right for you is 2 hours away, it's worth it to be in the right place. That 2 hour drive will seem like nothing when you are in your 2nd and 3rd day of a wonderful vacation.

And not to make your choices any harder, but have you considered any Couples resorts? They are also top notch adult only, couples only resorts. They also have a strong following of repeat guests.

Naperville, Illinois
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15 posts
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4. Re: So overwhelmed on the resorts

We did Puerto Rico last year and the resort was not all-inclusive. Frankly, there was a bit of sticker shock upon checkout even though we more or less expected the jacked up prices on a resort. That's why we'd like to try the all-inclusive route this year. Combing through the rankings of Jamaican hotels on TripAdvisor, I saw quite a few smaller resorts that looked beautiful but were unfortunately a little out of our budget. If you can afford it, some of those may be closer to what you're looking for.

Naperville, Illinois
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15 posts
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5. Re: So overwhelmed on the resorts

Oh yes, I've also been looking at the Couples Negril and Swept Away and the Iberostar. There's just too much to look at!

St. Charles, MO
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6. Re: So overwhelmed on the resorts

Jersey4life, the 2 all-inclusive resorts you are considering do not allow tipping. You can go the whole stay and not pay for anything extra at either resort. There are some things like spa services and upgraded wines that may cost extra, but it is very possible to not spend a dime extra while at the resort. Not all AI resorts operate in this manner. Some have additional charges for 'international' liquors, for example. That is not the case for CSA or Sandals Whitehouse.

The AI to non-AI choice is a personal one. For me and my spouse, it is the right one for US. We enjoy the freedom of not worrying about budget and not carrying money with us while at the resort. We like the idea of having everything paid up front. The AI model also lets me be more adventours while dining/drinking. I may order something more exotic that I would not order if I was having to pay extra $ for it. If I don't like it, no big deal. I just order something else. Others like the non AI flexibility of dining at a variety of places, particularly the smaller local establishments. There is not a right and wrong answer, besides what is right and wrong for you.

Orlando, Florida
Destination Expert
for Jamaica
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7. Re: So overwhelmed on the resorts

I can tell you that, in my opinion, Couples Negril hits all of your requirements. They are small hotel, with only 234 rooms. The pool is lovely with a great swim up bar and the beach is simply amazing.

There are many places that you can just be and watch the world go by and while there may be folks having a party and enjoying themselves there are just as many who are just relaxing.

The food is very good, they have one restaurant that is very Italian influenced and has great food. And the other restaurants have some dishes that are American influenced. I am a fairly picky eater and have always found something to eat and enjoy at CN.

United States
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8. Re: So overwhelmed on the resorts

"I've also been looking at the Couples Negril and Swept Away and the Iberostar."

Both of the Couples resorts are very nice. They are located on great beaches. However, they are about 1 hr. 30 min. from the airport.

There are three Iberostar resorts in Jamaica. They are located next to each other and share some facilities. If you are looking at Iberostar I suggest looking at the Grand.

Chambersburg...
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9. Re: So overwhelmed on the resorts

Its a long process but try this. Open a document and make a list of the resorts you are looking at that meet your budget. Under each resort list all of the pros and cons (maybe even highlight or mark the things that match your vacation desires the best or points of extreme value to you)

And then once you have all of then in front of you, you can your husband can look them over and start a process of elimination. I know its overwhelming because each resort is different and where some lack certain aspects they make up for it with other great trademarks. The biggest tip I will give is to ensure you do your homework and are completely aware of what exactly is included in your price. Each AI has a different definition of whats "all inclusive"

Richmond, Virginia
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358 posts
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10. Re: So overwhelmed on the resorts

Outside of the ride, Amanda, SWH seems to fit you well. The pools at SWH really wowed us! And I loved that each of the 3 had a different vibe so you could choose based on your mood. The beach is also amazing. We loved the seclusion of the resort with nothing on either side. So beautiful for walking and for water sports. And the views- love that you don't pay extra for a view at this resort- you're almost guaranteed to have a great ocean view since all the rooms face the water.

The ride is about 90 minutes and it's up and down, but I like the rides through Jamaica, doesn't bother me, and we also have about 6 hours of travel time prior... totally worth it once you're there as was stated.

SWH is also spread out enough that you can be as social or as private as you wish. We had no trouble finding either based on what we were in the mood for. Food is also very good, as simple as want- burgers/fries, jerk quesadillas, or a bit more fussy like swordfish carpaccio... Italian restaurant was very good as well with usual dishes like lasagna or eggplant parm.

I know i can't compare to others, as I've not been outside of Sandals, but per our experience, pools and beach at SWH seems to fit your description well.

I like Rachel's suggestion of the pros/cons list! I may be doing that for Grenada and St. Lucian Grande myself! Good luck choosing, and no matter where you end up, you are sure to love Jamaica!

Edited: 30 April 2013, 14:39