I did a ton of research online before booking my Honeymoon. This site was an invaluable resource, and having been to the place I heard described by so many I can tell you that the descriptions are for the most part very accurate and can be trusted. The only variance being how individuals perceive their experience.
The 'negative' things that you will read about Jamaica are true. It IS a third-world country and the pace is definitely slower and quite a bit less organized than what one would expect in the States. HOWEVER, if you can accept those facts as part of the culture and not let them get to you, you will have an incredible experience on the island and especially at the RP!
Our experience at the Montego Bay airport was the first indication that we were in a very different land than the one we had departed. We stepped off the plane right onto the tarmac, walking in front of a bunch of other large jets parked at the terminal. The airport was small and run down with people milling about everywhere. Immigration, customs and baggage claim were all chaotic with long lines, no organization to speak of and discourteous employees. But once we got through that we were escorted into the Sandals lounge at the airport which was like stepping into another world. It was cool and well appointed and they immediately took our drink orders and gave us cool towels to wash our faces with.
After about a half-hour wait and a Red Stripe we were brought to our van, which was not very nice at all and driven by a driver from a company that contracts with the Sandals resorts, however, he was very friendly and we went on our way while he pointed out attractions as we passed over a soundtrack of Bob Marley, which you will hear nonstop during your stay.
I had read about the 2 plus hour drive and it was really quite an exciting adventure UNTIL the traffic came to a standstill about 10 minutes away from the resort. A truck had overturned, making the road impassable in both directions. We were told that a crane needed to brought in and we wouldn't be going anywhere for at least THREE hours - and it was already about 8 PM. Our driver told us there was no way around the accident and we were stuck, but then he saw another driver he knew who was from the area and thought he knew a way around. So we took off up into the mountains following this other van. A harrowing hour-long journey up and down twisting mountain roads that I later learned were abandoned mining roads we arrived at RP exhausted and sore - our whole jouney had been about 3.5 hours long.
When we arrived at RP we just wanted to get to our room, lay down and order room service. Again, the service wasn't the fastest, but we did get more cold towels and glasses of champagne. Dale, the concierge, checked us in and took my credit card, which alarmed me a bit, because we were under the All-Inclusive plan and I knew that they were transitioning to Euopean plan, so I asked Dale twice and he assured me that it was just for incidentals and we were indeed all inclusive.
We finally got up to the room, which was the Deluxe Oceanview Suite (the least expensive). I loved the room from the moment we stepped in. It was well decorated with a very comfortable four-poster bed complete with down comforter, completely sticked bar (Absolut Vodka, Appleton's <local brand> Rum, Red Stripe, Campagne and all kinds of fruit juices and soft drinks). We immediately ordered room service and they brought it and set it up in the sitting area, which features wo sliding glass doors that open virtually the entire room up to an incredible ocean view. The rooms are practically ON the water!
The waiter had me sign a bill for $96 for the room service, which freaked me out a bit, so once again I asked if we would be charged for it, and once again he assured me that we would not be. The food was good and the plates were nice china with real silverware , white table cloth and everything. Our waiter was very friendly (as they all were throughout the trip) and asked us to call when we wanted our sishes collected.
The next day we woke up to very rainy weather, so we called and scheduled a couples massage for later that day and ordered room service again. Breakfast was awesome and once again i was brought a large bill, which would happen at all meals - but eventually I got used to the idea that I wouldn't actually be charged - it was just for accounting purposes - it actually became kind of cool to see what kind of money we would be spending had we not ALREADY spent it.
After breakfast we took a tour of the property, which is amazing and very tropical, there are birds and beautiful plants everyhere, there are even even a couple peacocks!
Then came the couples massage, which was extraordinary. Although it costs extra the spa is very well worth it. It's a beautiful, peaceful place and the staff won't let you lift a finger, which was pretty much the case throughout the resort.
After that we went to the Appleton Bar, which would become a nightly hangout after all the older guests retired for the night. About 70% of the guests are over 50 so the place pretty much clears out after 10:30 PM or so. Lickily there was another young couple on their honeymoon who we became fast friends with, and it became a ritual to hit the bar after dinner and drink until at least midnight.
That first time we went to the bar we met Cibony (sp?) who makes all kinds of "Cibony Special" tropical drinks and another bartender, Hensley, who I am convinced is my long-lost Jamaican brother. We became fast friends and still keep in touch. Also working the bar was Durant, another great guy...all three of them kept us entertained into the wee hours every night.
That night we ate at the Bayside, the more casual of the two retaurants open for dinner, the food was excellent at all the restaurants, including the more formal Le Papillion and the Royal Cafe, which is right on the beach and is open for breakfast and lunch only. One great feature of the Royal Cafe is that when you're laying on the beach - where they bring you as many beach towels as you want and will move your chair for you to put you in or out if the sun - you're given a flag that you wave whenever you want a drink or some food or whatever. They even brought my wife a coconut from one of the trees on property and cut the top off for her and dropped a straw right into the shell - certainly the freshest drink she'd ever had. We must have had dozens of pina coladas on that beach - my wife'e favorite query from the wonderful beach waitress became "extra rum for the lady?"
In addition to laying around on the beach and drinking, we also did some snorkeling and sailing, which were also wonderful. The watersports staff is great as well!
Eventually, our days became a routine of room service for breakfast, a bit of sailing, a bit of lounging on the beach, pina coladas and lunch on the beach or the beachside cafe, afternoons in the huge hottub with a beautiful view, a nap with the fromt of the suite opened up to the seabreeze, a five star dinner, which included a spectacular flambe one night, and evenings at the bar drinking whatever premium concoctions we desired. Sleep, and repeat...
We DID leave the resort twice: once to go to Dunns River Falls, which I would recommend (if you're up to climbing a 900 ft. waterfall) and we also went to Sandals Dunns River to eat at the Hibachi restaurant. The only good thing about that was that we got to see how GREAT we had it at RP!
In summation, the RP was more than I could have ever dreamed of. It's a beautiful, small, exclusive, incredibly friendly place - quite like I would imagine heavan to be. If I can afford it, I WILL go back. In I don'treally want to vacation anywhere else. It was so wonderful that I was pretty depressed for about a week after we returned!
One final thing: after our botched journey from Montego Bay, we took the air Jamaica Shuttle back. It took 20 minutes! I would highly recommend doing that - it's well worth the $120 (for two) or so.
If after this very long review you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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