We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Secrets vs. Sandals vs. Couples

Cordova, Tennessee...
4 posts
1 review
Save Topic
Secrets vs. Sandals vs. Couples

My husband and I are trying to decide on a resort for our vacation. Which one of these resorts is the best? We are scuba divers so that has to be an option but does not have to be included in the price.

Chambersburg...
Level Contributor
2,900 posts
64 reviews
Save Reply
11. Re: Secrets vs. Sandals vs. Couples

Since this is the internet I think its really hard to hear the tones of others and understand what they are saying. Please know that I was not attacking. Merely telling you that your asking something that can't be defined...exactly. For instance if someone asks me what the best beach is. Well best in terms of what? more secluded? longer? more active? best for surfing? for sun tanning? clothing optional? Softer sand? Clearer water? Water sports? Private?

I really only wanted to explain that you have asked about pretty much the top resort chains in Jamaica. All 3 brands have great reviews and overall positive guest experiences. Since each brand has many different resorts within it that may or may not have things you personally are looking for...thats why I suggested either finding a great TA or doing some homework yourself to help narrow your search by criteria. I myself had to make a long spread sheet of pros and cons until I found the best choice for us. I think you can find everything you listed so far in any of the resort brands you listed. I was just advising you to perhaps consider getting more specific to help narrow your search even more. The suggestions above for things to think about are great ones. I also was just trying to help. I am sorry if I said it wrong.

I did get a good chuckle out of the overzealous comment though. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. I am pretty sure all my advice was not steering the poster in one direction or another but actually telling them "there is no better". but yeah sure...I guess I am just pushing "my" resort on others. ok then....good chuckle. thanks.

Edited: 09 June 2014, 17:49
Mentioned in this post
Jamaica
Jamaica
Caribbean
Saskatchewan, Canada
Level Contributor
3,300 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
12. Re: Secrets vs. Sandals vs. Couples

Hey Renee - Non resort loyalist here :) and I am newly certified and my hubby is advanced open water.

I have only dove in MoBay (Iberostar), Runaway Bay (FDR) and Ocho (Riu). In addition to my list, hubby has dove at Sandals (mobay) and Couples Swept Away. He loved the staff at both Sandals and CSA - the divemasters were Jamaica and laid back but professional. Diving is included in the price of Sandals and Couples.

My daughter and I got certified at Iberostar (Iberostar Grand Rose Hall is adults only) and were very very impressed with the professionalism, friendliness and knowledge of Dressel (which has the Iberostar contract - they are located right at the Iberostar). It is additional to dive there. If you are looking at secrets I would most definately check out the Iberostar. Rose Hall Suites is the only resort we have been to twice and the staff are really amongst the best of what we have seen at any resort.

Last trip we dove at FDR (which you wouldn't want to stay at - it is the "nanny" resort - kid focused. However Jamaica Divers ltd are based out of that resort and they are FANTASTIC. It is at Runaway Bay. Basically we "stumbled" onto them because Scuba Caribe at the Riu was kinda a joke - they picked us up at the Riu (25 mins away) and delivered us back to the riu. We did two tank dives. Hubby said it is the best diving he has had in Jamaica and the sites are so close to shore (clarity is fantastic - over 100 feet the day we dove where Ocho was about half that). The Jewel resorts would be good options to check out - we are looking at Jewel Runaway Bay. Here is my review of JDL: tripadvisor.ca/…REVIEWS

If you have any q's, let me know!

Cheers. Too Cold.

Mentioned in this post
ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios
ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios
9,152 Reviews
Jamaica
Couples Swept Away
Couples Swept Away
5,638 Reviews
Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica
Caribbean
Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall
Iberostar Grand Hotel...
6,929 Reviews
Jamaica
Iberostar Rose Hall Suites
Iberostar Rose Hall...
4,611 Reviews
Jamaica
Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort
Jewel Runaway Bay Beach...
2,758 Reviews
Jamaica
Roseville...
Level Contributor
1,608 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
13. Re: Secrets vs. Sandals vs. Couples

Sandals! :)

As a way of narrowing down your choices, I would suggest that you might pick a location first, then the resort. I have only stayed at Sandals and I am an avid diver. It is great that it is included because I can dive every day and not worry about the budget. Also, Sandals dive teams are top notch. Helpful, friendly, professional, and fun. We have stayed in Negril, Whitehouse, Montego Bay, and Ocho Rios. My least favorite diving was at Whitehouse, not much to see. Montego Bay was nice because the dive sites were not far away.

Good luck with your decision and have fun with the planning!

Mentioned in this post
Negril
Negril
Jamaica
Ocho Rios
Ocho Rios
Jamaica
America, The...
Level Contributor
8,352 posts
70 reviews
Save Reply
14. Re: Secrets vs. Sandals vs. Couples

Renee,

I'll bet you'd like help with your questions :-). Btw, to whomever was wondering in another post, she said she was traveling with her husband. Too_Cold has great diving advice and that is nothing I know anything about.

Just to let you know a bit more about Jamaica, Montego Bay, where Secrets is (and some Sandals resorts are) will be convenient to the airport, but won't have the best beaches. Negril will have some of the most beautiful beaches (CSA and CN and SN are all there) and is about a 75 minute drive from the airport. Ocho Rios, about 90 minutes or so from the airport, has less impressive beaches, but has some nice resorts, including CSS, CTI, and SGR. If you have only a short stay,

I don't think you are going to find vast differences in staff from one resort to the next. Secrets allows tipping whereas Sandals and Couples do not, so I'm sure staff may be a bit more solicitous in ways you see when people are trying to fawn over you to get a tip. We have not stayed at Secrets in Jamaica or at Sandals anywhere. We have had multiples stays at CSA and have found the staff to be wonderful, though I'm sure people who have stayed at the other resorts would likely say similar.

Since, of the resorts you are asking about, CSA is the one I know, I will tell you what I love about it. I have been to many resorts in Jamaica, Mexico, and the Caribbean, some twice the price of CSA, and CSA is the one we tend to return to. We love its location on 7-mile beach and its beachfront rooms with beautiful verandahs from which we can watch the sunset. We love having our room steps from the beach. We think the food is fresh and delicious, with tons of variety. Two of the restaurants require reservations, but there are always a la carte options if you prefer. We love the clear, aqua water and being able to walk out for yards and still see the sandy bottom.

I am a tennis addict, so I love the 10 tennis courts and included private tennis lessons and clinics. My husband loves their 25m lap pool and waterskiing. He also loves the included golf. The tennis and lap pool are unique features that have kept us returning even when we started having very serious doubts because of price increases, though our trips may be less frequent because of this. Though we intersperse our CSA trip with other spots, no place has these. Their sports facilities in general, including private fitness training, cannot be beat. We love the beach musicians who stroll Long Bay, though you should know that Long Bay where CSA and SN are located will have more vendors and musicians, whereas Bloody Bay in Negril (CN) will be quieter. I can keep going on, but I will end with we love being in Negril itself and being able to walk the beach and leave the resort for cliffside dinners at places like Ivan's.

You have lots of great choices of resorts, but if you have any questions about CSA, I'd be glad to answer them.

Edited: 09 June 2014, 18:45
Mentioned in this post
Jamaica
Jamaica
Caribbean
Negril
Negril
Jamaica
Ocho Rios
Ocho Rios
Jamaica
Mexico
Mexico
North America
Caribbean
Caribbean
North America
Bloody Bay
Bloody Bay
881 Reviews
Jamaica
Ivan's Bar & Restaurant At Catcha Falling Star Hotel
Ivan's Bar & Restaurant...
2,017 Reviews
Jamaica
America, The...
Level Contributor
8,352 posts
70 reviews
Save Reply
15. Re: Secrets vs. Sandals vs. Couples

Renee,

Almost forgot! You had mentioned cleanliness as a priority. The rooms at CSA are not brand new, modern rooms. They are beachy, rustic and the photos on the website are pretty much exactly what they look like. In our experience, everything has always been spotless, from rooms to restaurants, to public restrooms. Hope that helps.

Saskatchewan, Canada
Level Contributor
3,300 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
16. Re: Secrets vs. Sandals vs. Couples

RM is so right about 7 mile and the location of CSA – it is just so special. We are having a super hard time deciding between Beaches Negril (next door to CSA) and Jewel Runaway Bay for our family trip in 2015 just because the diving was so good at Runaway Bay but the Negril vibe just can’t be beat and the beach is just spectacular. CSA rooms could use a bit of modernizing – I call them Rustic Carribean Chic. My hubby said nothing felt more like Jamaica than CSA. In terms of diving – I think you can do 1 single tank dives at Couples/day and 2 at sandals/day. If you do book csa and a tv is important, there is one type of room that doesn't have a tv in it (cannot recall which one).

In terms of being right on 7 mile – there is no need to really book any excursions, because you can simply get up off your lounger and walk long beach (which is really nice). You can do that from Sandals Negril as well.

Mentioned in this post
Beaches Negril Resort & Spa
Beaches Negril Resort...
5,510 Reviews
Jamaica
Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort
Jewel Runaway Bay Beach...
2,758 Reviews
Jamaica
Negril
Negril
Jamaica
Caribbean
Caribbean
North America
Jamaica
Jamaica
Caribbean
Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa
Sandals Negril Beach...
5,743 Reviews
Jamaica
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Destination Expert
for Cancun, Riviera Maya, Negril
Level Contributor
16,068 posts
72 reviews
Save Reply
17. Re: Secrets vs. Sandals vs. Couples

I completely agree with RM's comments above. I am a fan of CSA since my first stay there in 1989. We are returning for #10 in only 4 weeks and can't wait!

We find that CSA ticks all of our boxes. Rooms are clean and spacious, with large terraces no matter what the category. We enjoy the lush grounds and low rise and the gorgeous beach with calm and clear swimming conditions. There are plenty of floats for all guests and we enjoy the couples only vibe of the resort.

We have always found our rooms to be very clean and enjoy the food as well as the location on 7mile beach. I am a big fan of their sports complex/program and Couples offers including watersports, including diving.

We really prefer Negril to other areas on the island, having stayed in MoBay and Ochi as well, multiple times each.

When we go to JA and choose an AI resort, our preference (having stayed at many AI and not) is for Couples - CSA first and then Couples Negril.

Mentioned in this post
Negril
Negril
Jamaica
Couples Negril
Couples Negril
4,499 Reviews
Jamaica
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
1,039 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
18. Re: Secrets vs. Sandals vs. Couples

I have stayed at the following resorts-

Sandals Royal Plantation

Sandals Royal Caribbean

Sandals whitehouse

Iberostar Grand Rosd Hall

- spent a day at Sandals Negril and I would go back in a heartbeat because of the beach, the smaller size of the resort, the Caribbean beach and but mosly they amazing vibe. How ever I would also love to experience CSA or CN, because of all the positive comments I have read over the years here.

Have fun in your research of your perfect getaway place.

Alex

Mentioned in this post
Sandals Royal Plantation
Sandals Royal Plantation
2,730 Reviews
Jamaica
Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall
Iberostar Grand Hotel...
6,929 Reviews
Jamaica
Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa
Sandals Negril Beach...
5,743 Reviews
Jamaica
America, The...
Level Contributor
8,352 posts
70 reviews
Save Reply
19. Re: Secrets vs. Sandals vs. Couples

Renee,

I knew you would get lots of helpful feedback :-). Feel free to come back and post more questions as you narrow down what looks good to you. There are many good choices and so many on here who, as a group and many individually even, have stayed at a wide variety of resorts. One more item to consider that would put me leaning away from Secrets and toward Couples and Sandals is that Jamaica has a wonderful, colorful, proud history and culture. Though you never get to experience it fully staying at an AI, I believe that Couples and Sandals, being Jamaican resorts themselves will likely do a better job of showcasing that at their resorts than would the Spanish-owned Secrets, which, though a great chain, could be anywhere in the world. If part of what is bringing you to Jamaica is experiencing Jamaican culture, then I think you can do it better at Couples and Sandals.

I know that during our 4 stays at CSA, Jamaican traditions and culture are showcased in their food and drink (there are traditional Jamaican choices at every meal) their decor, their shows, and so forth. They do not try to provide a watered down "international" experience, save for their one Pan-Asian restaurant, like we have seen at resorts in Mexico with "Michael Jackson shows" in the evenings and cuisine from 10 countries..or a facsimile thereof. They provide an experience that proudly reflects their own culture. They don't ask their staff to speak to guests in some stilted resortspeak like we had at the R-C Rose Hall, where every request was met with, "It is our pleasure to assist you." At Couples, you get a happy, "Ya Mon." You know you are in Jamaica when you are at Couples. For us, we travel to specific destinations for specific reasons and local culture is important. For others, it is less so. I just wanted to share this in case it was to you. Secrets resorts are well-regarded. It just isn't my choice for Jamaica. Same with the Iberostar Grand, though we really liked our stay at the one in Punta Cana, and it's for the same reasons.

Mentioned in this post
Jamaica
Jamaica
Caribbean
Mexico
Mexico
North America
Rose Hall
Rose Hall
Jamaica
Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall
Iberostar Grand Hotel...
6,929 Reviews
Jamaica
Punta Cana
Punta Cana
Dominican Republic
20. Re: Secrets vs. Sandals vs. Couples

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 11 June 2015, 06:17