My husband and I just returned from a 10 day stay at Royal Plantation. After previously traveling to 6 all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica and Cancun, I spent a lot of time reading the reviews on Trip Advisor prior to making our selection. Now, I want to help other travellers.
I had pored over the mixed reviews and was hoping to find a resort we would want to return to again and again. Because of aggressively discounted rates (55% off plus one free nite), we were so optimistic that we actually had gone ahead and booked a second trip to Royal Plantation for later this year (in order to take advantage of the "sale"). Being back home now, we plan to cancel the 2nd one, even though we'll have to take a big financial hit for this.
Royal Plantation attempts to be over-the-top with its service and dining but, at many times and in many ways, the show simply falls flat. Many of the things that were shown to us during a tour of the resort immediately after check-in were entirely absent during our stay (e.g. We never were given a flag for drink service; we never saw any rosewater or cucumber slices and we were on the beach for hours every day; etc.). My husband and I love leisurely meals and almost never find "dragging out dinner" to be a problem; yet, at Royal Plantation, the delays we encountered were incredibly frustrating...since they involved things like having to ask 4 times for beverages with a meal and there's no way to get up and get them for yourself. While staff would eagerly offer to help you, it was tough to get them to translate words into action (versus apologies). The staff seems to work incredibly hard, but it's like they're trying to hold together an impossible situation. While they tried to present the food at Le Papillon as top notch, it just wasn't very good. Other resort guests seem to feel similarly, as it was pretty much empty. Like other guests, we found meals at the Terrace to be somewhat better -- particularly since the menu varied nightly. But it also was disappointing as things just weren't that good generally and were absolutely horrible at others (e.g. I was served cream cheese one morning that had green spots of mold growing all over it; another day, they ran out of bagels). The hotel claimed that it is not lobster season between April 1 - June 30, so they could not serve it; this was really disappointing and struck us as a cost-cutting measure since we knew that Royal Plantation gets its seafood from Sandals -- It's frozen -- so it clearly was available and this was a poor excuse.
We couldn't help but notice the continuing extensive attempts by the staff to get guests to buy additional services that would supplement the hotel's revenues (e.g. dinner for 2 on the beach for roughly $200, spa services, etc.). This was annoying and reminiscent of cruise ship obvious efforts to hit up passengers with various offerings.
One earlier reviewer had expressed concern about the resort's potentially cutting back on services since occupancy is so low. That is precisely the sense my husband and I had. In addition to easily identifiable things like eliminating the free private transfers from the airport (which now costs guests $190 pre-tip), it seems as if staff have been let go and food offerings have been affected. And I honestly have to believe that many of the positive reviews on this site are not from guests but, instead, were submitted by third parties hired by Sandals.
An additional comment: It is absolutely exhausting and inexcusable to experience the hassle of departing from the airport in Montego Bay. My husband and I have travelled extensively and never have had as miserable an experience as we had trying to catch our flight. It's bad enough to make us think twice before returning to this area at all.(Interestingly, this was in sharp contrast to what it's like for travellers to arrive at Montego Bay; it's as if once you've completed your vacation, they just don't care.) We arrived at the airport 3 hours prior to our flight and barely made it due to jam ups of literally hundreds of people just trying to check-in. Despite predictable non-peak season volumes (plus considerable heat and screaming children), there was no organization or system whatsoever. It was like Disneyworld with no set waiting lines for the rides. The few Jamaicans who staffed the area actually directed people and then, exasperated and over their heads, changed their minds -- dissolving lines where people had been standing with luggage for more than an hour and making them start the process all over again. We talked to fellow travellers who had visited Jamaica many times and, unfortunately, they said it always is like that regardless of what time of year or what hour of the day you are scheduled to depart. My husband and I never want to go through that again...We arrived home so stressed and tired.
- 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