If you are looking for insight into this resort I will get there, but first I want to start with the people who made this vacation so memorable and that is the workers...
We had Jerome and Rouane as butlers, and they were AMAZING!!! I filled out that butler form prior to going and they did everything we asked and more! Many of the couples we were with made comments about how they wish they had our butlers. I miss those two guys as much as I miss the vacation itself. We weren't particularly high maintenance and our requests were not outlandish, but I guarantee they would do whatever it takes to please their guests even if we were.
Alex at the pool bar was entertaining and energetic. His personality encouraged to us constantly go back to the ochi beach club. Though I don't remember his last name, the playmaker named Jerry, might be one of the best employees a company can have. His positive demeanor and ability to bring out the best in people is unmatched. Plus he is easily the best dancer I've ever seen. Joseph Warner at the manor grill was so polite, sweet, and you can tell he not only cares about making the best food but also making the people that will eat it happy. He and Jerry are so smart, caring, and destined for greatness, that I hope Sandals realizes their potential. Tneisha (I'm sure I spelled it incorrectly,) the playmaker, always had us participating in various pool games and having fun. We met Chantelle on her first day and over the week, she became an asset to Sandals. She was very sweet and loved to interact with people. Everyday we saw her it instantly brought a smile to our face.
Romario and Shawn Day were an absolute blast to hang out with. They are very funny, were good at getting people involved, and along with Jerry, somehow got me to dance. While the pizza was very similar on each side, the best pizzas we had were at bella napoli with Leon as our server. Nicholas the server during the day at dinos pizza went above and beyond to help us and even fetched us some fresh mangos. Jermaine was an excellent server (I know we had him twice and one of the times was at the breakfast on the manor side) Lastly, Topal at soon come back is so sweet and "sings like an angel." Honestly, I know I'm forgetting so many people and these are the people were interacted with that I remember named. Every worker we encountered was so nice and they genuinely wanted to make us happy. I wish I remembered more names because they deserve the recognition! I didn't talk to Vishal but his role was quite clear and he was always looking out for his guests and workers. Caren was so sweet and went out of her way to ensure I was pleased with the resort. Every face we walked by had a smile and said hello. This killed us on our last day when we had to say, "no, it's goodbye."
On to the resort itself...
If you read one review on tripadvisor you read them all but let me just break it down for you.
The atmosphere of this resort is unmatched. You get a feel for the Caribbean and it is exactly what I didn't like about past resorts. There is an awesome beach party for you to drink from coconuts. There is dancing and entertainment. The steelbirds show is fantastic, don't miss it. Every night there is activity. You can dance, sing, drink, and be merry! The workers make sure this happens.
-The sand at the beach isn't pure fine or pure white. It is still great though
-The beach is broken into 3 sections. Ochi beach side has some rocks, but it didn't affect anything and claims of these being abundant are exaggerated. The water had some waves, nothing like east coast or La Tok, but enough that if you brought your float you'll be paddling back to shore every few minutes.
-The beach surrounded by the pier is very calm, clear, and not all that deep. Many people often lounged here and relaxed in the water. I for one preferred the beachside due to it not being enclosed. If you are irrationally afraid of sharks, they'd never be able to make it to you in this section! This is an irrational fear for some, I don't believe Jamaica has had a shark attack in over 50 years! No harmful critters in the water from what I saw. A couple schools of fish, a sting ray far from the swimming area, NO sea urchins, stonefish, lion fish etc. Stop worrying =)
-The other beach is primarily for aquasports but you can swim there too. I found the water to be alittle too rough to enjoy the aquasports but the flags were green every day.
-The beach has gorgeous aqua blue water. Maybe not exactly like the website, but let me tell you, we took some photos without a filter that were very very close. I'll post those when I can. Gorgeous water that far exceeded our expectation and it is more like something you'd see in a brochure!
-3 swimup bars which all have their own atmosphere and all are awesome.
-The manor pool was the typical extravagant gorgeous sandals main pool. I found this to be more relaxed but there were definitely still people partying and playmakers making a great time for everyone.
-Ochi beach club pool was our favorite and had so much activity and fun. I liked this because you can rotate between the beach and the pool. There were also great playmakers and bartenders.
-Pool by the ampitheatre had a fun bartender named andre, but due to flowers there were a lot of bees. Due to plants there was a lot of debris in the water, and due to the broken spicket, sand was dragged into the pool.
-There is a cool quiet pool with a water feature that looks like a slide over by dinos.
-THE TILE IS SLICK! I saw a lot of people almost wipe out and I did! Be very careful when wet or even just walking by the pools.
-The pools in the villa are great, but due to the trees and abundance they will often have debris in them. Ours was cleaned two or three times while we were there. The amount of upkeep is insane, I was once a pool boy, so I understand why there were some leaves in them.
Beer=red stripe which is amazing. I will go to jamaica again and again for this reason. It is so much better than the local beer in other places ex- St. Lucia and Bahamas.
Rum= Appleton which is also amazing. Especially because all the drinks I was having were rum based. I admittedly switched to jack and water to avoid the sweets. The sugary drinks will catch up with you. I found the mixes to be much better than they were last year and this could be due in fact to them being made in a machine and not in a blender every 5 seconds. All Sandals should use the machines for pina coladas and strawberry daquiris as it completely saves productivity. I also think it would be cool if they had a drink menu. I loved almost everything I had, but if you aren't a huge drinker you may not know what to order.
-The bartenders are great. They don't skip on alcohol and if you want them to have a heavy hand they will. You aren't going to be drinking kettleone or the finest of whiskey, but they still have great brands. I'm not a wine drinker, but my wife says their line is good.
-Breakfast does the job. It's nothing you will be raving about, but it is good. I was always trying new fruit. There were smoothies to be made and an excellent omelet station. The buffet also consisted of corn beef hash, pancakes, potatoes etc.
-Lunch, we tried sticking with the pizza as it was very very good. The lunch buffet was decent but not spectacular. The pasta station was actually really good (exceeded my expectations) They had a variety of foods as they have a variety of ethnicities. I always found something to enjoy.
-Dinner the food was very good but I must say not as good as St. Lucia. I enjoyed every meal I had, but if you are expecting 5 star top chef food you may be disappointed. Also, complaints of long wait times are unfounded. I'm sure if you communicate to the staff that you want to eat quickly they would accommodate you. I for one love how long dinner takes because it is an opportunity to eat good food, take in the location, and be with your loved one(s).
Valentinos- this was our best meal hands down. Amazing lamb, great steak and a chicken stuffed with shrimp. The gnochi was excellent but if you are not into spicy food you may want to stay away from it. (I loved it) The ravioli and lasagna was delicious. The lasagna wasn't what I was expecting as it was meatless, but honestly, if you were to call it a stuffed shell, it would have been the best I've ever had! I wasn't going to eat here because I make really great Italian food, but I'm happy I did! It has a cool view too.
Kelly's Dockside- Mahi-Mahi had some bones in it and the filet wasn't all that great. The location is superb but it is a double edged sword as the workers literally run the food to you. It's kind of upsetting people would complain about food temperature because those workers are hustling to get it to you as fast as possible. But at the same time I understand the complaints because it is a restaurant they offer and advertise. I would definitely eat there again because of the atmosphere, it was worth it.
Neptunes- the food was good, not great. Similar menu to kelly's. I had the lamb and it was similar to the way I make it at home. I liked it, but wasn't raving. I think I had the swordfish here, which again was good but not "omg amazing"
Beach party food- I would suggest making dinner reservations for this night, but definitely go to the party. They are battling the elements to keep the food optimal. They do have some meat which is fresh cut, these were all very tasty. I wish there were more sauces available so I could have made the most of it. I wasn't a fan of the cold served seafood.
Welcome back dinner- the food was excellent, my wife's filet mignon was so good, my cut wasn't as good.
Kimonos- been to one hibatchi grill been to them all, but still an awesome time and would do it again.
Manor- I really liked the food here. I was able to eat some curried goat, oxtail, and other food that was from the caribbean.
-All week I wanted to go to Soy, but we couldn't figure out how to fit it into our schedule. I wish it was opened an hr or two earlier, so that we could eat it before getting ready for dinner!
-Each restaurant for dinner and lunch has chicken that was cooked great. I absolutely loved the chicken at this resort.
-I loved how this resort offers the opportunity to eat caribbean food. I wish they put more effort into their jamaican beef patties and offered them with dinner. I went off resort to get a good one! Another suggestion- add some mexican food to the menu somewhere.
In closing, this was the best vacation I've been on. We met so many great workers and also met so many great couples looking to have fun. It was great to meet people from all over the world, from all walks of life, and spend quality time together. I feel as if I made more friends on this trip than I did in the past 10 years. It's important you put things into perspective before going on this trip. If you itemize everything your getting, Sandals is actually a pretty decent deal. Don't go in expecting the nicest resort ever established for the elite of the world. It's luxury, it's great, but it isn't that. If it's your honeymoon, this is something you've dreamed of for so long and Sandals will do everything it can to make you happy, but you have to speak up they are not mind readers. This trip saved sandals for me. While the food and alcohol were big pluses, the star of this resort were the workers. They had personality and remained classy. Other resorts have workers that seem a little robotic.I really want to try more Sandals properties, but the workers here are going to make that decision difficult for me. I will keep my eyes peeled for a good deal to come along because I can't wait to return to Sandals.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I know how important a honeymoon or anniversary is and am more than willing to help you!
- 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
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- Also Known As:
- Sandals Grande Riviera Beach And Villa Golf Resort
- Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Hotel Ocho Rios
- Sandals Ocho Rios
- Ciboney Ocho Rios
- Sandals Ochi Beach Resort Jamaica/Ocho Rios