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Sandals Grande Ochos Rios Review_very disappointed

Falmouth, MA
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Sandals Grande Ochos Rios Review_very disappointed

I’m writing a review of Sandals Grande Ocho Rios because I’ve ultimately found the TripAdvisor reviews helpful in planning our vacations. My husband and I just returned from Sandals Grande Ocho Rios (2/25-3/4) where we had booked a Luxury Riviera room. We have been to Jamaica 4 other times (2 visits to Couples Negril and one to Couples Ocho Rios.) Unfortunately, we were dissatisfied with Sandals Grande, and liked it less than both Couples resorts. We must have higher expectations than some people now because we met people at Sandals Grande who were very satisfied with the resort – we were anything BUT satisfied.

Never having stayed at a Sandals resort before, we had high expectations – they weren’t met. Here are a litany of problems:

1. Check in was unsatisfactory. They forgot I was patiently waiting on the couch where I was directed, lost my booking sheet, had to repeat the instructions the concierge had given me about where to sit and wait and someone would be right with me to THREE people... someone finally discovered that my paperwork had been brought to another room where another group who we had NOT arrived with were waiting...simply ridiculous!

2. We were given a Riviera room without a balcony, my husband smokes and I don't, so we needed a balcony. We asked to be moved, and that was a painful experience service-wise, but they finally agree to move us to a room with a balcony. We got there and found it overlooked two huge exhaust fans and overtop the kitchen and delivery entrance, it was SO noisy that I barely got 4 hours of sleep that night! I don't believe that ANYONE is EVER satisfied with that room and I certainly PAID for better! It felt as though we were punished for requesting a room change! SO, we asked to be moved AGAIN. Initially told we couldn't, I asked to speak with a manager, was told they'd call me back, was never given the opportunity to speak with a manager, but told we could move to a quieter room, but still no balcony. Fed up, we finally accepted that room.

3. New room smelled of mold and mildew, and I have allergies! For a resort with the Sandals reputation, I expect a clean room that doesn't reek of mold and cause me breathing problems! Other than the bed, the furniture in the room (dresser and chair) had to have been 30 years old - old and shabby! And we learned that MANY, if not MOST of the Riviera "Luxury" rooms had refrigerators - why did someone ELSE get a balcony and refrigerator, while I did NOT? I paid the same amount of money! We were told that the rooms in the Manor House have all been renovated, and are lovely (FYI, if you’re choosing rooms.)

4. Food was mediocre AT BEST! Food at both Couples resorts was FAR better than what we had at the "not so Grande". Orchids' Asian food was MUCH worse than our local take out place - if you can't cook Asian food, why offer it? At one meal, I was served overcooked fish - I mean, it was leathery... at another at San Genaro, my pork was BURNED, covered with red sauce, and served to me! I've worked in restaurants - how does any chef serve BURNT food? Valentino’s gourmet Italian restaurant was a BIT better, but NOT gourmet for people who actually KNOW what that is. It's sad, but the best food was at the snack bar - burgers and jerk chicken were great! But we paid for, and based on their advertising, expected gourmet food at Sandals, and didn't GET it. We ate two nights at the Dunns River resort (there was a free shuttle), and the food was FAR better – if you’re choosing between Sandals, and have high culinary expectations, I recommend that resort over Grande, by Far. (We had originally tried to book Dunn's River and it was unavailable...now I know why!)

5. Service at restaurants and bars was the WORST we've experienced in the Caribbean. Just to get someone to serve you coffee at breakfast was like pulling teeth. Staff wouldn't LOOK at you to avoid being signalled for help. They were more concerned with clearing and re-setting tables than serving those of us who were THERE! And the attitudes were unpleasant - and again, the service we got at Couples, both Negril and Ocho, was FAR superior, so I know it's not every resort and every staff person on the island! Bar tenders also seemed annoyed if you wanted a drink, and were not the jovial, welcoming people that had us return to Jamaica again this year.

6. Upon checking out at 9:30, I told both the person at the desk AND the bell desk that our bags were NOW outside the room and to please have them transferred to the gate. We had a shuttle to the Aerodrome at 12:15, and when we got down there at 11:45, our bags had not been picked up! A bellman was sent, and had not come back by 12:05, so my husband ran to the room to see what was going on. By that time, the bellman now had two carts and was returning slowly… the point is that the bags should have been picked up and brought to the bell desk when requested, and NOT allowed to sit in the hall for almost three hours where anyone could have opened them – AND if we’d arrived at the bell desk later than 11:45, our bags would NOT have been there for our pick up.

7. The beach is small front to back, and the area directly in front of the Riviera building is obstructed by a large pier, so no wonderful view unless you move to the right or left… if you DON’T stay at the Riviera area, you have to take a shuttle to the beach – people we met who were up the hill found this really inconvenient and annoying. The fact that the resort combined two older resorts did not result in a net gain really…it’s too spread out and a pain in the neck getting around.

8. Two of the three pools at the beach are old (not that nice looking) and they don’t play music at them – very few people hang out at these (which might be nice for those who want peace and quiet), so it’s not a very social area. Two of the pools have no view of the beach, they’re in the jungle – you can’t take in the view, so what’s the point of being by the beach?

Really, the only good thing for us was the pool at the Manor House. It’s fabulous, huge and there are gorgeous fountains. The drawback is that it’s not by the beach…however it’s the most popular pool, and a lovely environment to hang out in. The best bartenders are at the Manor pool bar.

The other good thing is that you CAN get out of there and take a shuttle to Dunn’s River sister property – newer hotel, gorgeous pool right by the beach, the beach is nicer, the food was MUCH better (we ate at both the Japanese restaurant and the Italian one on the waterfront) and the service was heads above at the restaurants AND the bars. If you are staying at Grande, I suggest you take the shuttle there the first or second day and spend as much time as possible there – it was a superior experience, more like the one they spend so much money advertising.

Finally, let me again recommend the Couples Resorts – we have had EXCELLENT experiences at both Negril and Ocho Rios properties. If we return to Jamaica, it’ll be to a Couples resort.

4 posts
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1. Re: Sandals Grande Ochos Rios Review_very disappointed

Holy Cow Man!!!!

Buckingham Palace called and your room is ready. Dude, you come across as someone who is choked because Couples was booked up and you had to "slum it". No doubt that from the moment you entered the lobby at this hotel you copped an attitude and started snivelling because you were not shown the "respect" that you think you were due. You can tell from the start of your "review(rant)" that you are someone who is hard to please and expects nothing but perfection without ever having put the shoe on the other foot. From what I gather you had a love affair with Couples for four different trips and wanted to move "up" to a more "distinguished" or better resort. Didn't you notice that 99% of reviews on the two resorts you mentioned are positive and the few that aren't are obviously from people who think their **** don't stink. Didn't it dawn on you that you expect too much, especially after talking to people who were staying at the exact same resort as you and said it was awesome! Sorry that your holiday sucked and you feel it was everyone's fault but your own. But it was your fault, not the hotels. All the petty problems you had from day one could have been taken care of easily with a smile and a better attitude. I've never stayed at either of these resorts and don't plan to, but I've met alot of people who ruin any chance they had of getting the most out of their vacation because someone never jumped high enough when they snapped their fingers. It's obvious you need to check these reviews and forums in the future and read about the "stuck up person at Sandals who threw a hissy fit and complained the whole time and spent most of the time at another resort." Blah Blah. Most people would have been just embarassed for you. Seriously, chill out and have a good time. Don't trash places because you mistook Jamaica for Buckingham.

Minnesota
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21 posts
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2. Re: Sandals Grande Ochos Rios Review_very disappointed

We were @ SGOR 1/21 - 1/28 and found everything to be excellent. We did have a few minor problems, but nothing that wasn't taken care of right away or not even worth bothering about. We went with 3 other couples and when we checked in were told that they didn't have a room assigned for us. Told us they would be right back and within 5 minutes we had a room. We found the food to be great. I can't figure out why I didn't come back a couple of sizes bigger. One couple that was with us was on the Manor side and the rest of us were on the Riviera side and there was no problem with having to wait for the shuttles. You maybe had to wait 5 minutes, but hey, what is 5 minutes - you are on vacation. The bartenders were great, never had any that ignored any of us. Sorry you didn't enjoy your vacation, but all of us did and can't wait to go back to SGOR.

Asheville
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6 posts
2 reviews
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3. Re: Sandals Grande Ochos Rios Review_very disappointed

Wow Rippinem1,

You have a way with words. I feel the same way about the negative reviews, you could almost here the attitude in the reviews, but having not been there yet could not say one way or the other. Hope to have a great time there, without an attitude. I'll save that for work...LOL

Long Island
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393 posts
5 reviews
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4. Re: Sandals Grande Ochos Rios Review_very disappointed

Had the original poster said they thought the food wasn't up to par, or she was unhappy with the service, I could understand, no place is perfect, but, when your only positive comment about a place has a but with it, I really have to wonder where you're coming from. You like Couples better, fine, I respect that. But, to be so negative about everything, give me a break!

Anthony

Long Island
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393 posts
5 reviews
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5. Re: Sandals Grande Ochos Rios Review_very disappointed

And you also put your review in the wrong place. There is a trip review link for that.

Anthony

pgh,pa
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499 posts
2 reviews
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6. Re: Sandals Grande Ochos Rios Review_very disappointed

we were there 2/3/06 what a great resort,good food,good drinks,very clean,lots to do and the staff is great,slow down and relax and enjoy,if you cant have fun and enjoy yourself there you should never go on vacation stay home and be miserable,show a little respect and it will be returned 10 fold the jamaican people are the BEST most of the time after a week I am ready to go home but not jamaica we truely hated to leave but cant wait to go back home and they do make you feel like you are at home

Livingston Texas
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7. Re: Sandals Grande Ochos Rios Review_very disappointed

I want to know a few things about your review capeparrothead070498. So I ask you.

Why did you post your “review” on the “Forum Page” and not on the “Traveler Reviews Page”?

{If you would had posted your “review” on the “Traveler Review Page” then you would not get the responds that you will get .}

Just because you booked a Riviera "Luxury" room does not mean you will get a balcony. When we booked on line we had to pick a room with a balcony and it was more!

You said --- Food was mediocre AT BEST! And but NOT gourmet for people who actually KNOW what that is.

You are right I don’t know what true gourmet food is. But I do know seafood! I live on the Gulf of Mexico. I have eaten at Gaido’s in Galveston, Texas more times than I can count. They are considered one of the best seafood restaurants in the US. The seafood I had at SGOR was at lot better!!! I just wish Gaido’s served Conk and Smoked Blue Swordfish. To me that was gourmet food!!

You also said -------- “Just to get someone to serve you coffee at breakfast was like pulling teeth.”

I don’t know why that happened to you. Every time we ate that the Bayside {ate they every morning} we would walk in say “Good Morning. The carved watermelon is just as beautiful today as it was yesterday.” We always got a cup of coffee and a refill with out having to ask for it. One waiter always came over to our table to ask what we had planed for the day. Maybe it was because we called him by his name and asked him how he was doing. I don’t know.

Again you said ------ “The beach is small front to back, and the area directly in front of the Riviera building is obstructed by a large pier, so no wonderful view unless you move to the right or left…”

My husband and I were in room 4512 on the fifth floor. We looked right strait into the Blue Neon Sandals Sign from our balcony. It was beautiful view!!!

This what got to me the most……. You said …….

“Two of the three pools at the beach are old (not that nice looking) and they don’t play music at them – very few people hang out at these (which might be nice for those who want peace and quiet), so it’s not a very social area. Two of the pools have no view of the beach, they’re in the jungle – you can’t take in the view, so what’s the point of being by the beach?”

Let me start off with telling you that they do play music at them! The bartenders even played some of our own CDs. At the swim bar pool with the waterfall. It was never peace and quiet while we were there. In the pool or in the hot tub. And the bartenders were a hoot! The outer one is the Hidden Pool. I wonder why it’s called that? Maybe if they played music there it would not be hidden anymore! I don’t know the pool you are talking about that is old and not nice looking. I never saw that one. Like I said I live on the Gulf of Mexico and have been in a lot of pools next to a beach and have never been able to see the beach when in the pool.

I’m glad that you had a great time at the Couples resort. So if you do return to Jamaica I will not run into you when we return to SGOR next year.

UK
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463 posts
16 reviews
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8. Re: Sandals Grande Ochos Rios Review_very disappointed

I read this review last night and was going to comment but I guess the above have all done it for me!

My husband and I had a dreadful room experience at SGOR but instead of whinging and moaning, we sensibly took our complaint, quietly and with dignity, to the appropriate management.

Our complaints were fully justified, and within one hour of meeting with the manager, I cannot begin to tell the story of the wonderful treatment we then received.

I think the management recognise who has, and who has NOT got genuine problems. They are not stupid and will treat you with RESPECT if you do likewise.

I have never detailed on any forum what our complaints were, reason being, that we were so well looked after, afterwards, that I feel its would be unfair to go shouting my mouth off about a problem that was well fixed by sandals.

Value for money, even in the lowest grade of room, sgor has got to be one of the caribbeans best.

We could have gone shouting and balling about our complaint..that would get one nowhere. RESPECT...thats the name of the game! All I can say, is that after our mishaps, we had the most wonderful two weeks at SGOR. Their treatment of us paid off. On our first visit, we had booked for a basic room, our return visit has been booked for 2007 for a Romeo and Juliet Suite. We are sacrifycing another vacation in order to have two weeks of perfect bliss at SGOR.

The writer of the review also suggest to others that they got to SDR instead. How can one tell another what is best for them? We visited SDR and although it is lovely, it wasn't to OUR personal liking and we personally preferred SGOR as a "base camp".

Different courses for different horses!

Well said all of the above!

Maine
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9. Re: Sandals Grande Ochos Rios Review_very disappointed

capeparrothead070498, you are right on target. ripinrik is obviously an idiot who is willing to settle for 3rd class service and accomodadtion. I was at SGOR in Dec for my 20th wedding anniversary. SGOR ruined it for me.

Wisconsin
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10. Re: Sandals Grande Ochos Rios Review_very disappointed

I have found a great deal depends on your attitude. The Jamaicans will treat you the same you the same they are treated by you. I spent my 20th at SOR and keep returning to sandals every year we're going to SDR for our 30th because they went overboard for our 25th. Our travel agent makes contact with the manager before we arrive and we couldn't ask for more.