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“Christmas at Royal Plantation”

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Sandals Royal Plantation
Ranked #3 of 35 Hotels in Ocho Rios
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 21 February 2005

I stayed at the RP for Christmas 2004. I could not have expected any better. I am slightly dumbstruck at the criticisms in some of the other reports. It is a first class resort and you are so absorbed you could quite easily stay without straying outside the hotel. This is Jamaica so expect life to be more laidback - you are on holiday. The rooms are special - all sea views with four poster beds. The guests tend to be slightly older, but I have never found that a problem, despite my younger years. The staff are very friendly. Service at the beach is second to none. The restaurants are different in their own way and I did experience lukewarm food on more than one occasion, but did not complain. Be prepared for a long, uncomfortable ride if you decide to take a taxi - I would definately recommend flying to Ocho Rios airport and spending more relaxing time at the hotel. The hotel spa and gift shop are excellent too - we had a truly amazing Christmas!

3  Thank Goodiam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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2,466 - 2,472 of 2,569 reviews

A TripAdvisor Member
Chicago
121
Reviewed 16 February 2005

My husband I went to this resort on a recommendation and based on the feedback here on this site. I cannot believe people think this is an amazing 5-6 star resort.

We visited this resort in jan-05. Our opinons of this resort were like many who visited at this time..disappointed.

Where do I start? Service? - do you call not picking us up from the airport service? - do you call ordering food, having the waiter write down the order then bring the wrong food - on more than one occasion service? - do you call overbooking the hotel and DOWN GRADING us after we booked it 10 months in advance service? - do you call waiting for your food for every meal over 1-1.5hr period service?

Despite the lack of service and the poor food. The amenties where nice (ie. rooms, work out room and spa was exceptional - thank goodness)

21  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Dallas, Texas
153
Reviewed 28 January 2005

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 ldelahoussaye@sbcglobal.net.

  • Stayed: December 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
53  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 October 2004

We were there at the same time as the couple above (they are great people), although we arrived a little sooner and left a day sooner. It was our 6th stay and 7th visit.

We arrived only a few days after the hurricane. The staff had done a fabulous job of cleanup. It was incredible. You would not have known a storm was there except for a few small things that were cleared up during our stay. They did have to cut enough large limbs that you can now visibly view (and hear) the Sandals Ocho Rios east end.

The staff was still getting used to the Royal Plan vs. European. We did have to sign for meals, but this was not a big issue as long as we pressed before the last course that we were done and ready to go. The bar staff mostly have this down to a science, and it is really a non-issue at the beach and Appleton.

The watersports staff (especially Wesley) were awesome. He set us up on the beach several times, took me on my own glass bottom ride, etc. The water was warm in the ocean and pool.

Service was off at the main restaurant all week with courses missed, wrong dish delivered once, 50 minutes to get an appetizer at the French, wondering where food was, etc. On our arrival day, there was no a/c and no entertainment, but these were storm adjustments. I think. Everyone wondered why we were not allowed to dine outside since it was 90 degrees, etc. No telling how difficult it was for the staff to come and serve when some had problems at home--lost roof, moldy things, far more important than my missing potatoes! The executive chef had already given notice, and I am sure that had something to do with it.

Lots of returnees were there, but most were not RP returning guests. There were 26 displaced Sandals guests--they seemed to be treated better than the 5 RP returning guest couples. All of us noted this, some of us rather vocally. We did get over it and enjoyed mixing with the wonderful folks we met (everyone had their own tale of what happened to their originally planned trip), and I was pleased that the management agreed to have us our own (advertised) returning guest party since they had one for the Sandals guests when the RP guests could not come. All 5 couples were there for the SSG tournament. I think 3 of us won something or other. We met 3 of the 4 other couples last year. The tournament is great, and the events really help to get to know the others. The course was immaculate in spite of the hurricane (where they lost about 100 trees). We were amazed at their dedication. Everyone from Rachel Chandley, Deja Jones, to Butch Stewart were on hand to guarantee our happiness. This was no easy task since at the beginning there was no water, etc. A million kudos! We had fun events at Dunns River and Boscobel and also on the golf course.

Thirty travel writers and tour operators also came in for two days, causing an extra buffet and more odd atmosphere since they were single or unaccompanied for the most part. We were rather shocked by the buffet, we had 3 for the week.

The above is just the negative, but the positive is a huge list. Any rare problem was corrected very quickly. The spa remains top notch. The food selection is just to die for. So many choices. House wines remain very good. The room service attendant, Lenard, went out of his way to serve our breakfast to order in a lovely setting. The bar concierge brought exactly our preferences just by leaving a little note.

We were transported in a town car and made to feel comfortable in the new Sandals lounge from the minute we landed. The road to Ocho Rios has improved.

We had a lovely stay and will return again next year.

11  Thank DebbieH103
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Vancouver, BC, Canada
19
Reviewed 1 October 2004

We stayed at Royal Plantation from June 30th to July 7th, 2004. It was our first time to Jamaica and to a Sandals resort or any all-inclusive resort.


1. The ride fromt the Montego Bay airport to the resort takes about 1.5 - 2 hours. It is bumpy and the way Jamaicans drive makes it a little scary, but we enjoyed the view of the Jamaican life outside the resort.

2. The staff were very friendly and catered to all our needs. I once lost my wedding ring on the beach and returned to the room after giving up finding it. An hour later, a beach attendant (his name was Cleon) found it and called our room.

3. The food was absolutely fantastic. Most of the meals we had were the best we've ever had.

4. The beach is very small, but there were only about 50 guests when we stayed there, so it was ok. The beach loungers were not short at any time.

5. The room is very well air-conditioned and cleanly kept. The in-room bar was stocked well, but not with fancy brand drinks. We had Johnny Walker Red, Appleton Jamaican Rum, some gin, beer (local brand), and many kinds of juice and pops.

6. What we liked the most about this resort is that it is a very quiet place where we can relax. We once made a trip to adjacent Sandals Ocho Rios, and it was a huge place with every facility in the resort crowded. Royal Plantation is a small resort but with even smaller number of guests.

7. The laundry was expensive. It would cost you $3 - $5 US per piece. When we booked the resort, it was an all-inclusive only resort, but they changed the policy to accommodate non-all-inclusive (room only) guests. Then they started putting prices on things (such as food and activities), and we felt they were expensive (we paid the all-inclusive price, so everything was still free to us). For example, a lobster dish would cost you $40 US. There were cheap dishes too (around $15 US) but don't expect your local restaurant price.

Now that they take rooms-only guests, the resort might be more crowded before. But what we experienced was a quiet, well-catered resort with excellent, excellent food.

Feel free to email me to ask more questions.

  • Stayed: August 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
9  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 September 2004

My husband & I returned from The RP on 9-27-04. What a beautiful place. It is classified as a boutique hotel & truly lives up to the name. We flew into Ocho Rios via Tim Air on a little puddle jumper. A bit scary but took only 25 minutes as opposed to 2 hrs by car. We were greeted by the GM, Peter Frazier upon our arrival and fed. Our room(101) was outstanding. 2 doors, huge ceremaic bathroon & 4 poster mahogany bed. We were moved into a better room (255) our last 2 days (upgrade). The 55 (numbered) rooms have an outdoor patio along w/ wet bar. Stunning. We were originally booked for a deluxe but due to 50% occupancy were were moved free of charge. THe food was outstanding, cavier bar was excellent but expensive. We were AI but there are add ons. If you booked before 7/1 there isnt a charge for room service. After that it is $10.00 + tip.
The beach service is unbelievable. You are given flags (to wave for service) at 10am, then mango mamosas, followed by fresh fruit, offered cool face towels though out the day and sprayed w/ rose water to cool off. There isnt any immediate service at the pool. I suggest you tell staff you will need service on your way to the pool and they will accomadate you. Very calm & peaceful. You ask & you shall receive.
We cant wait to go back in Feb.

8  Thank silvbill_123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 September 2004

I booked this resort for myself and a girlfriend for a 4 night "wives' getaway". I am used to staying in 4-5 star resorts and so booked the BRP over the other resorts in Ocho Rios. Our problems began when we arrived at MBJ. The travel company insisted we had booked a bus to the resort, but we had actually paid extra for a private town car. After one hour of sitting around in the airport waiting for them to clear this w/ BRP, we finally got our town car but only after I tried to use their phone to contact BRP myself. Once at BRP, the mgr came to talk with us at my request, and comped us a spa service each for our trouble, which was much appreciated.

We also thought that the "Royal Plan" we had booked was THE all-inclusive plan which was how it was explained to me when I called Beaches to reserve. Turns out we did not have use of the other resorts, among other things, which we wanted so we could have both quiet and 5-star as well as some nightlife. Again, the mgr was helpful and got us a pass to go to another resort for 1 night.

One other complaint is that the service was very slow. Having traveled a lot in the Caribbean I know we were on "island time" but at times I felt like we were invisible!

All of this being said, we really did enjoy our stay. The other couples at the resort were very friendly, most staff were friendly and helpful, the rooms were very nice, and the beach and water were great as well (and yes, the service on the beach is wonderful).

I would recommend this hotel but just be very clear up front with what you are/are not purchasing, and expect slow service.

15  Thank sailorgrl16
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sandals Royal Plantation

Address: Main Street, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint Ann Parish > Ocho Rios
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Ocho Rios
#2 Family Hotel in Ocho Rios
#2 Romantic Hotel in Ocho Rios
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Ocho Rios
#3 Luxury Hotel in Ocho Rios
#3 Spa Hotel in Ocho Rios
Price Range: £410 - £1,083 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Sandals Royal Plantation 5*
Number of rooms: 74
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

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