Just spent a week at Royal Plantation. This was our first all-inclusive trip ever, first time at Sandals and overall I think the bar has been set very high now for future trips!
We spent months reading the reviews before we got there so we had high expectations given the reviews and most were met!
We stayed on the 3rd floor overlooking the East side of the beach. We got the Plantation room (2nd lowest level) and were a bit nervous that it may be small. We were pleasantly surprised with the size of the room and the sitting area. It was spacious, the bed was super comfy and the sitting area was adequate. We loved keeping the French windows open and hear the crashing of the waves. The view was great – ocean front with some trees on one side but mostly unobstructed. I wouldn’t hesitate getting this room class again. Also I found there was more privacy for the east side rooms than the west. The only con to the room but it may not just be out room was the bathroom. It is pretty dated, the tub looked very worn out and small…. We knew this beforehand as it seems to be a common complaint. Hopefully the reno’s will be done soon…
The beach is small but amazing… all sand, no need for water shoes. The west beach is nicer and non-smoking. The east side has the water sports + you can smoke there. Adrian always did the rounds regularly checking up on everyone and making sure we were ok for drinks. The resort was at capacity so you had to get there early to get prime seating. If you arrived later, you still managed to get a place to sit. The beach area cleared out early though… by 4pm everyone was going up to their rooms. We were stragglers most days staying out til 5-5:30pm. The grill, water sports and life guards start to go away though by 4-4;30.
We really loved this place – there is always staff doing up-keep on the place. Still – this is not a new and modern resort. It has an old-world charm and with that comes imperfections sometimes. We didn’t mind at all but if you want a new modern facility, this is not the place for you.
We are not pool people so the small pool wasn’t a big deal to us… still if you are a pool person, next door at grand Riviera is the place to be then.
There are a lot of stairs… we didn’t mind but if accessibility is important to you then I would contact the resort to make sure there are sufficient accommodations in place for this.
Butlers and Management
Our Butlers were very nice and gracious – Chadworth and Ashpole. We really did not call on them too much though. We prefer to do our own thing and appreciated that they checked in on us every day but did not impose. They do the typical towel art, bubble bath type stuff. It was appreciated but personally we don’t care for gimmicky stuff like that. What we would have liked were snacks… we specifically asked for snacks like bar mix in the room. After requesting it multiple times we gave up and went to the grocery store to pick up what we wanted… a couple chocolates and some salty snacks so that we can nibble when we’re in the room. We also went to the market but were disappointed that the Butlers didn’t sort this out a bit better for us. We basically paid for a $30 cab ride to go to those touristy souvenir shops… we hated that. My husband wanted to go to scotchies and the cab driver said it would be $60 round trip – that seemed pretty ridiculous and the Butlers didn’t really offer us any other options or alternatives. We ended up passing on that.
The other thing we missed was a chit chat with management. Many of the reviews talk about conversations with Mark, how he is always present etc. We saw Mark quite a bit towards the last half of the week but we did not have any interaction with him. It was a full resort though so we weren’t offended or anything… just saying that everyone shouldn’t expect a phone call or a meet’n’ greet with him.
Excursions, Shopping and Activities
We went to Dunn’s River falls – it was a lot of fun. You definitely need water shoes though and be careful as you go up… the guide’s perspective on safety might be a bit too relaxed.. I banged up my knee pretty good but it’s still a lot of fun!!
We went ‘shopping’ but didn’t like it – the cabbie took us to the Taj Mahal and to Sony’s. We found it too gimmicky and the prices were all over the place that it made us question the legitimacy of what they were selling. The jewelry looked like it came from China, the coffee was close to expiring… we didn’t buy anything from there. In hindsight, the craft market would have been a better place to go.
We skipped scotchies because of the price of the cab (as mentioned earlier). We would have loved to do a farm-to-factory type excursion to blue mountain but couldn’t find anything like that… the bicycle tour does not really cover that.
For coffee, the best prices were at the grocery store next to the gas station just up the street from the resort. Run is best purchased at duty free at the airport.
There is a painter who sells his art on the beach. We bought a couple pieces from him. When we went to the souvenir shops we found very similar paintings and carvings to what was being sold on the beach…. So who knows how authentic they are…
There is live band/singer up to 10pm on the terrace. This one lady is super good and so is peter floyd. After 10pm, the entertainment continues at the wobbly peacock. A couple nights there was a DJ - that was a lot of fun to dance to. The piano player was also very talented. What we didn’t like was when the bar staff would start doing hokey pokey or other gimmicky stuff like that – they don’t need to do that.
The water sports is good – there is enough variety… some lessons would have been good though… we weren’t pushy enough to request it so we didn’t do too much in this area because we are not that strong with water sports
This is the toughest part to review…. Yes – the resort serves restaurant quality food… but we found there to be a lack of variety and common taste to it all. With only 3-4 restaurants open at any given time, we got tired of the food. We ate lunch at Dino’s next door and that was terrible. Kelly’s dockside was very good though and a welcome change – great service and atmosphere.
Le Papillon was good – we ate there twice… the French onion soup was amazing and my husband really liked the meat dishes. The service takes forever though – it can be a long drawn out evening so be prepared for that.
The Terrace menu changes up daily – we ate there a number of time for lunch, dinner and breakfast. Great service and good food.
The Grill was our regular lunch spot – the coconut shrimp and gazpacho are delicious.
Still – this is the area that I wish there was more variety… as much as RP doesn’t want ‘junk’… we would have really appreciated some kind of snack bar… a place to get salsa and tortilla chips, or bar mix…. We missed not being able to get this…
We went to the Red Lane spa once for massages. We took the complimentary massage and upgraded it to 50 minutes. The massage itself was amazing… but the pricing was inconsistent. The ladies on the beach trying to book you in gave us a price for the upgrade and we made it clear we wanted a firm massage. At the spa however they only had us booked in for 30 minutes and gave us a different definition of the massage and charged us differently for the upgrade. That left us feeling a bit ripped off so we didn’t go back.
From airport to customs to the lounge. That is all the ‘thinking’ you have to do. Once at the lounge, two people receive you, take your bags and sort you out. We found it to be very efficient and organized. The only complaint is trying to find stuff in the lounge… I couldn’t find water to take with us in the shuttle.. so I had to ask… the person I asked didn’t seem too thrilled … this was the one and only time I felt that there was ‘attitude’.
Overall we were very happy with RP. It’s a classy place with very good service. The age range is mixed – I would guess: 25% 40 or less. 50% between 40 – 60. 25% over 60. If we were a bigger group of people travelling together I think we would prefer to stay at a bigger resort with more amenities, music and fun… but for my husband and I, this place was great and we look forward to visiting again.
Over and above our Butlers, our favorite people were:
Akela from the grill – so nice and warm
The bartenders at Wobbly peacock, especially ‘Que’ – they make great cocktails and will adjust the recipe as you like
Sonjay and Dowarge at the Terrace – very gracious and friendly
Adrian on the beach – he always kept the drinks going
There are many more but the names are escaping me….
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- •All suite resort and all are serviced by butlers trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers•2 private beaches with beach butler service•The Caribbean’s only Champagne and Caviar Bar•Exquisite International, Mediterranean, Caribbean and French cuisine•24 hour in suite dining•Complimentary transfers from this resort to all Sandals Resorts•Voted Sandals Resorts “World Leading All-Inclusive Company” 16 years in a row•Voted Sandals Resorts “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand” 18 years in a row•Five Star Diamond Award - American Academy of Hospitality Sciences ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sandals Royal Plantation Hotel Ocho Rios
- Royal Plantation Ocho Rios
- Royal Plantation Jamaica
- Sandals Royal Plantation Jamaica/Ocho Rios