We stayed at the resort between 6 and 13 October 2007. It rained quite a bit while we were there, but the resort did all it could to move outside entertainment and theme dining events indoors so guests could enjoy as many scheduled events as possible. We stayed in a lower category room and found it very roomy, clean, well appointed, and free of mold, mildew or musty odors, and bugs. The food, particularly the seafood selections, was good, but we didn’t like the steak served at one restaurant. There is no off-resort nightlife, shopping, or exchange privileges with other Sandals resorts here, so if that is important to you, this may not be the place for you. There are a large variety of daily activities, water sports, and tours to choose from, or you can simply enjoy doing nothing. While the weather put a damper on our week, and curtailed a lot of watersport activities, we nonetheless very much enjoyed our stay at the resort. Guests while we were there ranged in age from young newly-weds to geezers like me.
Getting there and back
We flew Air Jamaica out of Baltimore because it was the only airline offering direct flights. That flight has a poor on time record, and we experienced a two-hour delay on the outbound leg and a 50-minute delay on the return flight. Even with the delays we arrived in less time that it would have taken us had we booked alternative flights with interim stops and their built-in layovers.
Upon arrival in Montego Bay, we retrieved our bags, Cleared Customs and Immigration, and made it to the Sandals Lounge inside 30 Minutes. Red Strip, Coffee, and soft drinks and restrooms await you there. We left on a weekend and it took over an hour to check in at Air Jamaica due to the long lines. The lines moved reasonably quickly – just a lot of passengers for multiple flights trying to check in at the same time. Security and immigrations procedures went quickly, however. I don’t know if weekday travel is any less busy.
The trip to/from the resort took 75 minutes because we chose to skip the midway rest stop. While the pucker factor might go up now and again when your bus or van is passing other vehicles, the ride isn’t all that bad. Besides, it gives one an opportunity to get a feel for how rural Jamaicans live – not always a pretty sight.
Room at the resort:
We received a room upgrade and stayed in a Beachfront Luxury room on the second floor of the Dutch Village. All the lower category rooms are the same, just located higher in the building as the category and costs increase. Even the lowest category rooms face a pool and the water. Higher category rooms are larger (suites), better appointed, and have greater services and amenities. Since we are seldom in our room except to sleep, the extras were not important enough for us to spend the extra money. Our room was equipped with a mini fridge stocked with bottled water, soft drinks and a selection of Juices that were replenished every day. We’ve stayed in similar category rooms at other Sandals and this one was by far the best. We particularly liked having the mini fridge.
The resort is divided into three Villages: the Italian closest to the main pool and restaurant area; The Dutch Village, which sports its own pool and whirlpool; and, the French Village. The French village is a mini resort within a resort with its own pool and restaurant (open during the day). It is the most active of the three Villages, and many people want to stay there because of that. I’ve read comments that the French Village is too far from the main Restaurant area, but that should not be a concern for most people. We are both in our mid-60’s and had absolutely no difficulty making that walk.
None of the restaurants require reservations, and perhaps because we were at the resort outside its high occupancy season, we never had to wait for a table. I saw only one couple waiting for a table as we left a restaurant during our entire stay. Three restaurants (Giuseppe’s, Eleanor’s and Jasmine’s) require long pants and collared shirts for men in the evening, and the dress code was enforced. The Arizona, and Bayside Restaurant allow more casual dress (dress shorts).
We took breakfast at Eleanor’s once to try their stuffed French toast. Their menu also included other items like Steak and Eggs, and Omelets. Eleanor’s was good, but we chose the Bayside breakfast buffet the remainder of the week. Bayside offers the usual breakfast fare: French toast, waffles, pancakes, made-to-order eggs, smoothies, juices, breakfast meats, pastries, cheeses, cold cuts, fruit, hot and cold cereals, bagels, breads, and more. It is hard to complain about a breakfast you build yourself.
You can also stop by the Café de Paris, which opens at 5:30 a.m. with a selection of pastries, coffees, and teas. Make sure you go back later in the day because what they offer constantly changes during the day and evening when a wide selection of desserts is available. You will also find a selection of hand dipped and soft serve ice cream there.
The Bayside offered a buffet lunch, which provided the widest selection, or you can order off menus at the Bluefield’s and Arizona’s restaurants, and the Pizzeria at Giuseppe’s. A beach grill is also set up on the sand near the main pool where you can get burgers, and chicken. Bluefield’s is a must, at least for the calamari, and if you want to sample Jamaican fare.
A guest told us on our first night to just eat dinner at Giuseppe’s (Italian) because it was by far the best restaurant. I had an excellent Snapper dish there, and my wife liked her Chicken dish, but we also dined at Eleanor’s twice (Filet Mignon and pepper shrimp -- both good) and at Arizona’s twice (Grouper was great, Lobster tails – small, but tasty, but the NY strip way too tough). Almost everyone who had the steak there complained about it. We didn’t try Jasmine’s (Asian) or the evening buffet at Bayside.
In addition to the restaurant fare, the resort stages a Caribbean bonfire beach party buffet and a Pirates of the Caribbean feast during the week. They also offer a late-night chocolate buffet and seafood buffet in the Piazza. These events are moved under cover should it rain, as it unfortunately did while we were there. We also attended the dinner for returning Sandals Signature Guests one night where stuffed Capon and Snapper were served. I liked the capon and folks who took the snapper said it was good as well.
All in all we liked what we ordered and thought there was plenty to choose from at each restaurant. The seafood served at the resort was by far my favorite.
Entertainment is scheduled in the theater nearly every night. Most of it reasonably good, but often sparsely attended. Musical events are also scheduled out on the main piazza throughout the week, especially in conjunction with the beach party and Pirates Night. A saxophonist and Violinist also perform on the piazza at various times during the week. It was nice sitting on the café terrace and listening to them. When it rained as much of the outside entertainment as possible was moved to the theater.
A long list of activities is scheduled throughout each day that guests can participate in, or you can do as we did and simply chill out. A pricey gift shop, boutique, jewelry and art gallery are also present at the resort, as well as a Spa facility which we didn’t take advantage of. The beach is free of vendors pushing their wares, but they are allowed into the resort once a week for those interested in what they offer.
Off site excursions
A wide variety of tours are available at the resort for an additional fee. A tour of the Black River, where you can possible see crocs, and the YS Falls was included in our stay at Whitehouse, so we took it. The tour lasted about six hours, which included a boat ride along the river in the morning, Lunch at a restaurant near the boat docks, and the visit to the falls in the afternoon. One can get in pools along the way up the series of falls and try a rope swing into one of the pools as part of the tour. Take water shoes if you intend to get in the water, and extra money if you want to ride a zip line back down to the base of the falls. The fee for that was $30.00 for the first trip, and $10.00 for each additional trip. Also take some money to tip the tour people.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Discover the undiscovered. Journey to a forgotten Jamaica where the natural beauty is simply unforgettable. Within a 500-acre wilderness preserve, blue mountains, lush palm groves, pristine coastlines and shimmering turquoise waters create an unbelievable backdrop for a monumental resort. Sandals Whitehouse Europe Village & Spa perfectly blends the exotic allure of the Caribbean with the refined elegance of Europe. Charming Italian piazzas and fountains are surrounded by gardens resplendent with fragrant foliage, while three European-inspired villages – Italian, French and Dutch – are home to luxuriously-appointed, all oceanfront rooms and suites. Each one offers magnificent views overlooking the two-mile long beach, and top tier suites come with Sandals’ legendary Butler Service. Seven restaurants serve mouthwatering gourmet cuisine from around the world, and entertainment ranges from a sophisticated piano bar to bonfire beach parties and a chic nightclub. This resort is truly a world unto itself, where time is all but forgotten and the only moment is now. World Travel Awards: Sandals Resorts “World’s Leading All – Inclusive Company,” 16 years in a row. Sandals Resorts “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand,” 18 years in a row. Sandals Whitehouse “Jamaica’s Leading Spa Resort” Five Star Diamond Award, American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. We’re so very pleased to announce that Sandals Whitehouse European Villages & Spa has been named in Condé Nast Traveler’s Voted 2012 Readers' Choice Awards “Top 15 Hotels & Resorts in the Caribbean,” coming in at No. 10 and “Top 30 Resorts in the Caribbean,” coming in at No. 4 as part of the annual “Best in the World” poll. Presented Certificate of Excellence for 2012 and Travelers' Choice Hotel for 2012. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Prestigia, Travel Republic (UK), Ebookers and 5viajes2012 S.L. so you can book your Sandals South Coast reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Sandals Whitehouse European Village Hotel Whitehouse
- Whitehouse Sandals
- Sandals Whitehouse Jamaica