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Sandals or Secrets?

Fairview, Texas
10 posts
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Sandals or Secrets?

Hi! :) My fiance and I are going on our honeymoon in January 2014 and we are trying to decide which resort to go to. We are considering Sandals (Royal Caribbean and Negril) and Secrets Wild Orchid. We have looked at Couples, but we aren't a fan (one reason being I like the wooden cushioned beach chairs better than plastic ones).

We are looking for a beautiful white sand beach and gorgeous water. We will be spending our days lounging on the beach so we don't want the beach to be overly packed/cluttered. The most important thing to us is the beach and room - the nightly entertainment and things to do won't be a factor in our decision. Neither of us have ever been to a resort (or out of the country) so we know the unlimited food and drinks will be amazing to us. I know it's a small detail, but I LOVE the cabana beds everywhere around the pool and beach at the Sandals resorts. I am very excited about those for some reason haha! But, Secrets Wild Orchid has much nicer looking rooms (we like the more modern room style).

Are Sandals Royal Caribbean and/or Negril outdated? Is the Secrets beach cluttered and packed since the resort is so large? ANY information about any of these resorts would be greatly appreciated. We have been going back and forth for way too long and we are ready to make a decision!!! Thanks so much!

Chambersburg...
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1. Re: Sandals or Secrets?

Wow lots of questions but I will do my best! I have not been to secrets so I will mostly comment on sandals

Beach chairs/lounges: Be advised that the chairs and lounges you see in photos are not what is actually there. As with any type of marketing, the photos taken at a resort are staged and edited. Any resort photos you look at will make the beaches look practically spotless and like there are only a few people there so it seems like you have the place to yourself. The wooden beach lounges with padding in the sandals photos are not there. Expect the typical blue plastic type lounges but there are a few wooden chairs near fire pits and other places.

BEACH: No matter where you go in Jamaica the water is gorgeous and the beaches are beautiful. HOWEVER There are some factors you may want to consider. Sandals Negril has a much longer beach so if you want long walks on the beach this is the place. However, it is not private and they do allow beach vendors there who may try to sell you various merchandise. Some people like this and others do not. SRC has a smaller beach broken into sections with piers and gazebos. Its also surrounded by a reef that keeps the water very calm like a pool and is private so no worries of beach vendors interrupting your relaxation.

Crowds: This is something that varies from resort to resort, the amount of guests, the type of guests and the time you plan to be on the beach. So many factors can change your experience. If you happen to be at a resort thats at full capacity and the majority of guests are beach people rather than pool people, well then you always run the risk anywhere of feeling crowded. It also can depend on the timing. Most people enjoy heading to the beach in the morning. My husband and I prefer to stroll down well into the afternoon. During our honeymoon at SRC, even though it was a smaller beach, we NEVER felt crowded. In fact most afternoons there was only one or two other couples there. We found a perfect spot under the shade tree and often had the water to ourselves. But will this be your experience? No one can say really.

Rooms: Sandals has different resorts that provide a different atmosphere and style. The two you have mentioned BOTH tend to lean more towards and authentic Caribbean tropical vibe. If you really prefer a more clean and modern decor, you may want to consider the new La Source Granada that just opened or Sandals Royal Bahamian or whitehouse. I have not been those these resorts but noticed the style of architecture and room design tends to be a bit more on the modern side. Personally when going to an island, I would prefer a more true island experience and atmosphere which is why we chose SRC. It does not feel like a resort, it feels like a laid back island and from what I understand, so does Negril. Negril is really the heart of Jamaica and its style. If thats not what you are looking for than neither of these resorts will really match your style.

Cabanas: Both SRC and Negril have Cabanas. They are pretty much as you see in the pictures. Very soft and relaxing. At SRC you have the option of renting one on the mainland or the private offshore island. For your rental cost you are provided with a cabana concierge, cell phone to reach them. They will serve you a meal as well as a snack platter later. Provide you with fresh towels, a collection of sun blocks, tanning oils and mists and a cooler filled with drinks. They also can bring you mixed drinks from the bar and pretty much take care of you for the day. Its very nice.

Edited: 01 May 2013, 21:05
Chambersburg...
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2. Re: Sandals or Secrets?

One more tip in regards to choosing between secrets and sandals. Just make sure to educate yourself on EXACTLY what each resort brand considers to be apart of their AI price. That way the only surprises should be good ones. One reason we chose sandals was because we felt out of all the AI resort sites we looked at, Sandals was the most clear and outlined in what to expect of every aspect in our vacation and cost. It was important to us to know what our money was buying and what it was not. We felt sandals did the best of making this clear so we ended up choosing them. The last thing we want to do is go on vacation and run into surprise charges or obstacles we did not expect

St. Charles, MO
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3. Re: Sandals or Secrets?

Rachael713 makes a very nice post above. I have been to Sandals Negril and Sandals Royal Caribbean and she decribes them accurately. The beaches at Secrets will be much like the ones at SRC, small man made coves. The Secrets resorts seem to have more rooms in less space than most others. That and the small beaches may make beach space a premium. I would look at reviews of Secrets for comments regarding crowding or not crowding on the beach.

As Rachael says, the photos on the web sites can be made to look like the beach is endless when that is not the case. I would trust pictures posted with reviews more than the ones on resort web sites. Also, find the resorts on google maps or wikimapia to see just how much beach there is at each place. I find those views very helpful.

On the cabanas, check the rental cost before you decide. They can be pricey, at least in my opinion. That can put a real dent in your budget.

Edited: 01 May 2013, 21:33
Fairview, Texas
10 posts
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4. Re: Sandals or Secrets?

Thank you both so much for all your information! That helps a lot. We love the two resorts in the Bahamas, but we are worried about the weather being too chilly since we'll be going in January. The travel agent I was working with recommended we not go to Grenada right after it opens because of potential delays. She also said the cabanas are included in the price for people who have butler suites - is this accurate?

Thanks again :)

St. Charles, MO
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5. Re: Sandals or Secrets?

I've never done a butler suite, so I'll let others answer that. But A LOT is included with the butler suites. I would expect that your TA is right.

London, United...
Destination Expert
for St. John's
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335 posts
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6. Re: Sandals or Secrets?

We are going to SRC for the first time this coming weekend, although we have visited other Sandals resorts on 9 other occasions. Each time we have Butler suites and each time (where provided) we have enjoyed a cabana. Unless SRC is different (and I doubt so) Butler suite guests still do pay for cabana hire it is about $90 per day.

Chambersburg...
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7. Re: Sandals or Secrets?

Cabana rental is NOT included for Butler Category guests. I am guessing the reason for this and the reason that Cabanas have a rental charge in general is to make it easy and fair for all guests at the resort to rent one. If Butler Guests took priority, it would leave little to no time for other guests to be able to rent one during their stay. There are only 6 Cabanas at SRC so I imagine allowing butler guests to use them for free would result in no available slots to rent them. BUT the perks of having Butler service are outlined on the sandals website. There you can see all of the benefits of having a Butler category room. Yes its true you can pretty much expect them to do little surprise things for you that they think of once getting to know what you like (a surprise bubble bath, a surprise fruit platter with fresh flowers ect) but unfortunately the Cabana is not one of the things to expect.

And I agree with Hogdaddymike on all aspects except perhaps that guest trip advisor photos can be more accurate than the website. As a photographer and person who has been to SRC, when I look at some of the photos taken and posted to Trip Advisor it makes me cringe because most of these photos DO NOT do it justice at all. Many of them fail to capture the true color of the water and can make the atmosphere appear gray and cloudy. To me using low quality cameras is the like the opposite of Sandals professional photos. And neither extreme really captures the resort as you would see it in real life. So when looking through pictures keep that in mind. A better camera will always capture colors and textures and details much better. But Sandals takes it to the next level with photo shopping and enhancing those existing colors and details. They also stage everything with models so it appears as if only 4 people are at the resort lol. If you want to look at my photography taken at SRC that should give you a better idea of the resort without all the staging and photo shopping. flickr.com/photos/…

Fairview, Texas
10 posts
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8. Re: Sandals or Secrets?

Again, thank you so much for all of your info! Would ya'll recommend another Sandals in Jamaica over Royal Caribbean or Negril - based on the beaches / crowds?

Fairview, Texas
10 posts
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9. Re: Sandals or Secrets?

Oh, and Rachael, thank you SO much for the pictures from your trip! Those are gorgeous - you are a great photographer :) It's good to know to look at Trip Advisor's pictures with that in mind - good tip.

Ocala, Florida
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for Ocho Rios, Negril, Montego Bay
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10. Re: Sandals or Secrets?

You might want to check out Sandals Whitehouse --- we have not been there yet but it looks like it has one of the nicest beaches for Sandals in Jamaica. Our favorite is Sandals Grand Riviera --- but the beach is broken up into 3 small sections --- we like it but, but I know some people prefer long beaches for walking. SGR is a large resort --- half is on the hillside and half is on oceanside. We stayed at SRC after a week at SGR in February ---- very nice resort , but a little small for us ---- although we had an amazing room --- the Romeo and Juliet swimup walkout suite.