I'm a travel agent and stay at many different accomodations and different countries. This was my first stay at a Sandals, although I have visited the Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Royal Caribbean (both resorts were actually located in Montego Bay, unlike the Whitehouse).
My stay was from December 2, 2006 for 7 nights. Yes, I did pay out of my pocket for this stay (although at a reduced rate as an agent) but this resort stood out from other resorts I have stayed at in this past 30 years.
The airport at Montego Bay is uncomfortable - although I noticed the renovations from my previous visit 4 years earlier. The air-conditioning is poor/warm, the wait in the lines to go through customs is too long, but Jamaica is making some strides in upgrading their airport. In otherwords, I've seen alot worse. I loved the ride to the resort, although it's an hour and a half. Sit in the front of the van/bus and ask the driver about the surrounding countryside and maybe you'll learn about the real Jamaica. It's a beautiful country, albeit not up to the US standards in the countryside, i.e., some poverty.
My take on the resort:
Rooms - any room at this resort is fine. Every room is on the ocean, unlike most resorts. You look out your window, or go out on the balcony and you face straight out to the ocean. Yes, some of the rooms have a "better" view; those being on the corners of the buildings, with a larger balcony. Yes, some of the more expensive room categories that you pay for include liquor in your mini-bar or have a jacuzzi in the room. The far more expensive room categories are actually suites, some with butler service. Would I sell this? Yep, if the client wanted it. I saw some of the butlers at work, and would like mine to go to the front of the line in a restaurant to obtain my table, or bring me room service and set it up in my room. I didn't have room service nor concierge service, I had to walk to get my breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, but after eating all the wonderful food I was thankful I had some exercise. The Italian Village was nearest village to most of the restaurants, so therefore if the Sandals Whitehouse can meet your request, I would ask for accomodations there if I had problems walking any distance. (The Italian Village had no pool in front of it though, only a hot tub - but was close to the main, large pool). Bathrooms were handicapp acessible, although I would of liked to have seen a grab bar by the toilets in some rooms (maybe there was, I didn't inquire). The walls were thick enough with no noise from other rooms. Good reception for satellite TV and yes, my cell phone worked better down here than in Cancun or Cabo. (Because, Jamaica's infrastructure is set up for cell phone service in the countryside, you'll see all the service staff carrying cell phones to call their Jamaican homes). Take your walking shoes for this resort, it's spread out, even a walk to the nearest elevator from some rooms.
Food and Drink - that is where this all-inclusive resort stood out! I'd say 90% of all my meals were outstanding and I'm from a great "foodie" city of Chicago. Bravo to Sandals for offering real Jamaican dishes, they were very good and not just the typical jerk chicken or jerk pork. Sushi anyone, especially in Jamaica? You can eat all you want in the Asian restaurant here, and it's pristine, although there's not much variety to choose from. The steaks in various restaurants were prime, not the tough meat you get in Mexico. Lobster tails were even darn good, much better than on cruise lines. Anyone who complains about the food here is not adventurous or ran into the 10% choices I made that were just not to my liking. Save your appetite for late nite buffets, yummy seafood and chocolate buffets if you stay the whole week. I don't drink, but my husband was quite pleased with the rum (Appleton) at the bars, good mixed drinks especially tropical ones (bananas were in short supply for the tropical drinks though) and if you like a good Cosmopolitan or Greygoose Vodka martini, go to Casablanca at nite. Oh, the smoothies at breakfast are yummy too. Beer lovers might be disappointed though, Red Stripe is the commonly served beer here.
Service - almost 100% again on this, most all of the employees were friendly, and helpful. Considering Sandals was one of the largest employers in the countryside (unless you want to be a fisherman), many of the service staff did an outstanding job. You wish you could tip some of the staff, but that's a no-no, except for exceptions like the butlers. Don't expect the staff to move swiftly, you're on vacation at this Sandals (or think "Jamaican time" no problem). Housekeeping was somewhat sloppy, I noticed leftover kleenix and papers from previous guests under my bed; and the screens leading to the balcony take a beating from guest, with holes in them. But eventually maintenance will get to your room if you ask them to replace your screen.
Entertainment - good. Here's where I thought Sandals can do a better job - once again their venue for viewing the entertainment is not large enough (more seats needed), nor is it very classy. I did notice upstairs seating, but didn't check it out. That said, Sandals would you please spend some more money on your entertainment areas. The entertainers from outside were good, their entertainment staff did a good job. Don't miss the singers they bring in, they're very good. Audience participation nites were always fun; the Jamaican cultural dancers were just OK.
Activities - get up early, walk the long beach, sign up for the games, or just reserve a seat early at the large pool. Don't worry, you'll eventually find seating or a float for the main pool. Or try the "quiet" smaller pool at the Dutch Village or the busier French Village pool next door that has the Jamaican restaurant for lunch and a swimup bar too. Snorkeling is almost non-existant, as the reef has been "trashed" by over fishing/dynamite fishing/hurricanes. Water skiing is available! Didn't go on any tours/excursions off the property. Try the spa, very nice facility, not for free though.
Setting - the ocean is fairly clear, don't expect crystal clear water like south of Cancun or the Bahamas for example. It seems as if the sand on the beach was shipped in, as it seemed finer, softer and whiter than the normal Jamaican sand I saw in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. The grounds are well manicured with fountains and bridges in some spots, and bare patches in the lawn in other parts. Mountains are beautiful and lush, as are most of the grounds at Sandals. Very tropical at nite, with the tree frogs. Bugs were not bothersome when I was there, just bring some Deep Woods to spray before dusk if you're watching the beautiful sunsets.
Sorry, for the long review. My husband and I celebrated a wonderful 22nd wedding anniversay while here. I have been to the Palace resorts for adults only in Mexico. I have been to the Virgin Islands, Martinique for my honeymoon. There are prettier tropical settings than where the Whitehouse is located, but for an all-inclusive resort with an oceanside room and good food, I would recommend this to most people. In summation, it's relaxing, and worth the price!
- 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
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- Also Known As:
- Sandals Whitehouse European Village Hotel Whitehouse
- Whitehouse Sandals
- Sandals Whitehouse Jamaica