I will preface this review by saying my absolute favourite resort is Sandals Negril, which is a relatively small and intimate resort that boasts a beautiful beach and the most stunning sunsets. You can walk from one end of that resort to the other in about 15 minutes. So to go from this resort one year to Sandals Grande Riviera the next year was a bit of a shock to the system.
Walking from one end of the resort to the other is not doable. In fact, you need to rely on a bus to get you from one end to the other.
When we were booking the resort we knew there were two sides to the resort -- the manor side, with all the butler villas, and the beach side. We usually go for the beach side but saw how relatively inexpensive the butler villas were and we knew we'd never shell out the money for a butler on any other resort, so we decided to seize this one chance to try out the butler experience. So, we booked the manor side. We had to take a bus to the beach or to any of the amenities/restaurants located on or near the beach. I found that very inconvenient. If I forgot something in my room, I'd have to turn around, walk to the bus stop, wait for the bus, go for a short ride to the Manor House and then walk to my room, then walk back and catch the bus to go back down. Very inconvenient. We were lucky that our villa was right by the Manor House -- other people who had a villa far from the Manor house (where the bus stop is) would have to get a jitney to go to the Manor House and then get the bus from there.
The beach was insanely small. You'd just get walking and then it would be cut off by a set of stairs that you'd walk up, walk a few feet, then walk back down, then you'd get a few more feet and that would be the end of the beach. Very strange. We talked to one of the managers at the returning guest dinner and he said a man owns a section of the beach right in the middle of the property and he won't sell it to Sandals no matter how much they offer him. That's why the beach has to be broken up by a set of stairs. Needless to say, long walks on the beach aren't happening at this resort. And because the beach is small, it always felt overcrowded. Unless you could get a chair out on the dock, the beach area was always loud, never peaceful and serene.
There were no beautiful sunsets that you get in other parts of Jamaica (particularly Negril). It was disappointing.
However, the property was absolutely stunning. Every inch of it was immaculate and very modern and grand. It was definitely the best looking resort we've been on. But we just never felt "at home" the way we have at other Sandals properties we've been on, which happen to be much smaller. If I were to go back there for some reason, I would opt for a room on the beach side but in the gardens. That was my favourite part of the entire resort -- they were so lush and beautiful. It was amazing walking through them at night, listening to the tree frogs.
The food was great -- never a bad meal!! They weren't afraid of adding spice to their dishes there, and we love spicy food. So we were 100% satisfied with that! As always, the staff was incredible -- you never get a "sorry, we can't do that for you' answer. You ask for something and they make it happen!!
Having a butler was nice but it really wasn't for us -- we didn't make much use of them at all because we like to do our own thing and it felt weird asking them for something we can easily do ourselves, especially when we're just sitting around doing nothing.
In sum, I can tell why some people love that property because it is absolutely gorgeous and has all the amenities and cuisine you could ever imagine.... but since I love small resorts that sit right on a long stretch of beach, this one wasn't for me.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- •Situated on over 100 acres of lush hillside gardens overlooking the Caribbean Sea•529 villas, luxury rooms and suites with fantastic mountain and ocean views•94 pools (7 large public pools), 22 whirlpools•16 dining options including room service for butler serviced suites•2 luxurious Red Lane Spas•Complimentary golf at Jamaica’s most elite and popular golf course, the Sandals Golf & Country Club (Transfers to the golf course are included)•Over 5,000 sq. feet of first class meeting and conference facilities•Recently completed US$60 million renovation/refurbishing exercise•Voted Sandals Resorts “World’s Leading All-Inclusive Company” 16 years in a row•Voted Sandals Resorts “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand”, 18 years in a row•Voted Sandals Grande Riviera ‘Jamaica’s Leading Resort’ ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Hotel Ocho Rios
- Sandals Grande Riviera Beach And Villa Golf Resort
- Sandals Ocho Rios
- Ciboney Ocho Rios
- Sandals Ochi Beach Resort Jamaica/Ocho Rios