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10 Days -- Sandals Whitehouse or Sandals Montego Bay?

Toronto
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10 Days -- Sandals Whitehouse or Sandals Montego Bay?

My wife and I will be travelling the last week of November/first week of December.

We have only been to Jamaica once and visited Doctor's Cave Beach which we loved. I understand that Sandals Montego Bay is right beside it.

We were thinking that Sandals Montego Bay will provide a more intimate experience in the sense that it's a "smaller" resort with more chances to get to know the staff + the added benefit of being able to take advantage of the 3 in 1 exchange program with Sandals Royal Caribbean (and Sandals Carlyle I guess).

We are looking for a good balance of "party" and relaxation. We have only been to Jamaica once before (on a cruise day trip stop) and would like to experience Jamaican culture. We are thinking that this might be more possible at Sandals Montego Bay?

With that said, I have heard that Sandals Whitehouse is the superior resort of the two. Sandals Whitehouse seems more "mega resortish" to me from reading the reviews and looking at pictures. That's not nessecarily a bad thing as big resorts usually have amazing amenties, pools, etc ... I dont' know though for some reason I feel like SMB has alot of character compared to Whitehouse .....

The prices we are looking at is 2265 per person, 10 days at SMB -- room would be deluxe no balcony (lowest level)

versus

2345, 10 days at SWH (all prices include airfare), beachfront room

Any opinions? I'm sure we'd love either one to be honest. Our previous vacation experiences are:

RIU Bachata Puerto Plata

Luxury Don Pablo Amber (Gran Bahia Principe) Punta Cana

RIU Lupita Playa Del Carmen

Iberostar Almeida Varedero Cuba

We've also cruised on Princess, Royal Caribbean and Carnival

Rochester, New York
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1. Re: 10 Days -- Sandals Whitehouse or Sandals Montego Bay?

IMO...the biggest differences between the two properties are:

1. Proximity to airport. You will chew up 1/2 day of your 10 day trip traveling to SWH compared to SMB.

2. Size of beaches. SWH beach is MUCH longer than SMB beach.

3. Lack of stay at 1 play at 3 at SWH.

4. Size of swimming pools at SWH are much larger than SMB.

5. Proximity to specific Jamaican experiences. SWH has some things like Floyd's Pelican Bar which aren't doable from SMB. Likewise, SMB offers the chance to visit the city of Montego Bay for shopping, bars, etc. SWH is fairly isolated with respect to cities. Closest is Negril...and that's really it's own vibe, very different from Mo' Bay. Negril is reachable from both SMB and SWH.

If you are looking for a more intimate experience, then I'd pick Sandals Royal Caribbean rather than SMB if your point of comparison is SWH. The other thing you might want to consider is a split stay. Many do that...we did last spring between SWH and SRC because we wanted a first hand comparison for ourselves. Since the price delta isn't huge over 10 days...IMO that's the way I'd go. Finishing at SMB so you don't have a longer trip back to the airport on departure day. Just sayin...

Edited: 05 August 2013, 19:38
Orlando, Florida
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2. Re: 10 Days -- Sandals Whitehouse or Sandals Montego Bay?

I second exactly what SRCFan submitted. When I read your request, I was thinking exactly what that person said. The Royal Caribbean is an outstanding property! White House is gorgeous, but location wise, I'd go for Mo'Bay vicinity. Whichever you choose, you'll never regret going to SANDALS property!

Ontario Canada
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3. Re: 10 Days -- Sandals Whitehouse or Sandals Montego Bay?

Hi Bamelin...I could be wrong, but I believe Doctor's Cave Beach is closer to Sandals Carlyle Inn. Of the 3 Sandals resorts in MoBay, Sandals Montego Bay (SMB) is the largest, followed by Sandals Royal Caribbean (SRC), followed by Sandals Carlyle Inn (SCI).

In MoBay, our preference is SRC...very intimate with great food and service. The fact you have the stay at one, play at three is great bang for the buck and we take full advantage when staying in MoBay! Sandals provides complimentary transportation among the 3 resorts. We have also stayed at Sandals Carlyle. The Carlyle is located at one end of the Hip Strip and so a good location to walk and shop along the strip. We find Sandals Montego Bay to be the liveliest and have a more enthusiastic vibe of the 3 Sandals and we love spending time there, but always appreciate going "home" to SRC.

I wouldn't consider Sandals Whitehouse a mega resort, but it depends on your point of reference. Of all Sandals on all islands, SWH is our favourite...it has everything which ticks the boxes for us...large pools, a private 2 mile beach, terrific food and staff. Even when it is at full occupancy, it doesn't feel full as you can always find quiet spots to sit. All rooms at SWH are ocean front.

No matter which Sandals resort you stay at in Jamaica, you have full exchange privileges at all of them (except Sandals Royal Plantation). So if you decide to do an excursion to Negril for instance, you can use the amenities of Sandals Negril and Beaches Negril just as if it were your home resort.

We often do split stays among the different Sandals and with 10 days, I might consider doing the same. We love to start out at Sandals Royal Caribbean and then go to Sandals Whitehouse for the remainder of our stay (in November it will be our 4th time doing that combo). Sandals provides complimentary transportation to each resort when doing a split. Likewise, as SRCFan mentioned, some folks like to end up in MoBay so they are closer to the airport on their last day.

Good luck with your decision!

Toronto
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4. Re: 10 Days -- Sandals Whitehouse or Sandals Montego Bay?

The split hotels is an interesting idea. The issue for us is that the packages here in Canada are pre packaged air and hotel combinations via charter companies. I tried pricing it out separately (booking hotel and air separate) and the price difference was massive.

Still I'll ask my travel agent about it. We did look at Royal Caribbean instead of Montego Bay but it's about a 400 per person price difference. I figured for 800 dollars less and factoring in exchange privileges we are better off just sticking with Sandals Montego Bay. I hadn't thought about a day trip to Negril though. That's actually a fantastic idea ... any idea how much a cab/transportation/shuttle would cost from Montego Bay or Sandals White House?

I appreciate all the advice here. I've noticed that White House gets rave reviews from Sandals fans. I was just thinking to myself though that being a Sandals newbie Montego Bay would be ideal due to the exchange privileges and free shuttles.

edit: I see you are from Canada too Travelpair. Did you book direct with Sandals or through an agency?

Edited: 05 August 2013, 20:42
Toronto
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5. Re: 10 Days -- Sandals Whitehouse or Sandals Montego Bay?

A few more questions.

How likely is it to get upgraded? We can really only afford a "basic" room, specifically the Deluxe Oceanside room at Montego Bay (which does not have a balcony). The lack of a balcony is a major downer and is another big reason we were considering Sandals White House instead.

We are going for our 10 year wedding anniversary (it actually passed in June, but it's a belated romantic gift we are giving ourselves). Do things like that have any effect at all on upgrades? I'm guessing probaly not as I suspect it's always sombodies "special" day, at a place like Sandals.

Ontario Canada
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6. Re: 10 Days -- Sandals Whitehouse or Sandals Montego Bay?

Bamelin...we live 90 minutes from Pearson and always fly Air Canada or Westjet.

You are so correct that the package deals are generally limited in options including length of stay. Plus, once you book a package there is no flexibility for changes and that's something I don't like (see below for the reason!)

With a split stay we always book air separate from room. And for all our trips we always use a travel agent for peace of mind should there be any issues. I research to the nth degree and she will either match or better anything I find. Even if we find a good package deal on Air Canada Vacatons, we have her do that booking for us. And sometimes she can find a good package deal through travel wholesalers. But more times than not we book air and room separately. Here's why....our agent books our rooms through Unique Vacations (there is one in Toronto) which is the world-wide representative for Sandals. All that is required is the downpayment of $400 per couple and if the price of the room decreases between the time you book and the time you make your final payment (due 46 days before travel), you can request a price adjustment. So far, for our November stay of 12 nights which we booked in May, we've already saved almost $900 due to price decreases. I keep an eye on the prices and as soon as they drop, I call my agent and she takes care of getting the lower price for us. Those price adjustments won't likely happen with a package deal, as you are locked in to the combo airfare and room. However...sometimes the package deals are such a good price to begin with, you don't mind locking into them!

As far as cost to do a day trip to Negril...it will vary depending on the driver and how long you are gone. A couple of years ago we were quoted approx $120 for 4 of us to travel from SWH to Negril.

Ontario Canada
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7. Re: 10 Days -- Sandals Whitehouse or Sandals Montego Bay?

oops...just saw your other post! Upgrades are hit and miss and are dependent on resort occupancy. I would highly recommend booking the room you would be most happy with...as upgrades are not at all a guarantee, and if one is offered, it is the icing on the cake! For us the view is important and we must have a balcony, so we always book a room category which gives us that...lol, we've even turned down a complimentary upgrade because the view wasn't as good as what we orginally booked.

You have to go with whatever your budget allows. Even without a balcony, you will be in paradise! We don't spend an awful lot of time in our room...basically to sleep and to get ready for dinner.

Your travel agent could put in a request for a complimentary upgrade if one is available and then have him/her check again approx 1-2 weeks before you travel...as this is when the rooms are assigned. You are going at the start of high season, so it's a really tough call as to whether you will get upgraded. But rest assured if you are not happy with your room...the resort will do its best to make sure you are happy!

Toronto
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8. Re: 10 Days -- Sandals Whitehouse or Sandals Montego Bay?

Thanks Travelpair I appreciate your advice greatly! Send me that powerpoint on SRC ... I PM'ed you my email address!

Yeah the balcony thing is the biggest thing making us wonder if we should pay the extra 200 and go book Sandles WhiteHouse instead which is a guaranteed oceanview and balcony. I really liked the vibe at Doctor's Cave Beach and think that Sandals MB will be similar .... plus I love the idea of the exchange privileges with SRC and SC. With that said the lack of a balcony may be a deal breaker for us ... unfortunately the next category up with a balcony is almost 500 dollars more at SMB. That's why I was hoping that "it's our 10 year anniversary" might make a difference.

Don't get me wrong I'm sure we'd have a blast, but I'm the type to sit out on the balcony for hours with a beer or glass of wine and smoke. Well I'm on the patch now so maybe not smoke, but still you know what I mean lol

Ontario Canada
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9. Re: 10 Days -- Sandals Whitehouse or Sandals Montego Bay?

I think you will enjoy wherever you decide...Jamaica is great and we love our Sandals vacations there!

SRCFan is the one who has the powerpoint on SRC, so hopefully you sent your email address to him...it's a very informative presentation!

Chambersburg...
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10. Re: 10 Days -- Sandals Whitehouse or Sandals Montego Bay?

I agree you should always book the room you will be happy with and consider an upgrade option to be icing on the cake. HOWEVER word of advice...sometimes and upgrade is not always "better" depending on your view and vacation expectations. For instance some people get so excited for an upgrade to a beachfront room only to find its location is right near the games and activities on the main beach. To some this might be great and others may find it annoying if they prefer a more secluded and quiet room location. So I will give you the same advice I received which is if you get the option to upgrade upon arriving, ask to see BOTH rooms before deciding rather to accept it. You may find you like your original choice even better.