Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Garden grounds with ocean views and Sesame Street characters
Kids are everywhere here -- and with good reason. The resort has a partnership with Sesame St. and the staff dresses up as Elmo, Grover, and Zoe for daily sing-alongs. Families with young children will find more than enough to keep the kids amused, and teens can escape to the XBOX Garage or water park.
Though this environment may not strike parents as relaxing, it often can be just that for adults; staying on such a kid-friendly campus means that parents will have less to worry about, and fewer tantrums to placate. When kids run off, the security staff seems always to be on hand to help. At mealtimes, the kid-friendly menus mean plenty of food options children won't complain about. Kids can meat other playmates at Camp Sesame under the watchful eye of certified nannies -- while parents can escape to the beach for some R&R.
The lobby at Beaches Ocho Rios is open and spacious, featuring elegant furnishings and vibrant colors, with a large front desk and plenty of seating on upholstered striped and floral sofas clustered around dark wood coffee tables. Vases filled with tropical flowers and silver sculptures add interest to the space. Brochures and tour information are available, as well as a concierge desk to arrange special activities and reservations. Guests may be greeted by a variety of Sesame Street characters, as the kid’s camp is right near the entrance. The open doorways lead to several of the restaurants out on the terrace, which features a beautiful view of the hotel property, the gardens, and the water. A glass elevator overlooks the beach, and is convenient for those who'd rather reach the sand without climbing down a lot of stairs.
With only 223 rooms, Beaches is not quite as sprawling as some mega-resorts -- in fact, it's relatively compact. This means it's a bit easier to get around the property, but potentially harder to snag lounge chairs without getting up early. The property is divided into three sections: the Greek Village, the French Village, and the Caribbean Village. The first two are both on the beach, and the Caribbean Village faces the the main pool.
Quiet and secluded, right on the beach
Located about 30 minutes away from downtown Ocho Rios, this resort feels secluded and private. The hotel is right on the Caribbean, with most rooms offering beautiful views of the water and beach. Guests who want to explore the area can visit the nearby town center for shopping and activities, or go a bit farther to visit the city of Ocho Rios or nearby attractions like Dolphin Cove, Blue Hole, and Dunn’s River Falls. Most of these popular spots are 30 minutes or fewer by car, and the resort can set up tours and transfers for guests in advance for an added cost. Parking at the hotel is free.
The 233 rooms have upscale Caribbean style.
Most rooms can fit four or five people, and are decorated in upscale Caribbean style: earthy colors (brown, white, sage), sturdy wood furniture, and tile floors. All rooms include air-conditioning, stocked mini-fridges with free booze and beverages, coffeemakers, microwaves, amenities kits, and patios or balconies; most have pull-out sofas. Concierge Suites are also available for guests who want extra help booking tours and making reservations, and include extras such as champagne on arrival, guest orientation, and a weekly private reception event. While all rooms are large, the more expensive rooms include seating areas and ocean views, while lower-tier rooms have views of the gardens surrounding the property.
Spa, fitness center, and resort shop, to name just a few
The Red Lane spa provides fun treatments, like bling manicures or facials using botanical ingredients, in the indoor facility as well as outside. The spacious adults-only fitness center is clean and has LifeFitness cardio equipment and strength training machines. Guests can browse the resort shop for pricey souvenirs and last-minute toiletries. Laundry services and cell phone rentals are available on-site.
Six all-inclusive restaurants, plus premium liquor
This Beaches property doesn't have quite as many restaurant options as its sister hotels in Jamaica, but the options here are varied and get high marks. None of the restaurants require reservations -- a huge plus -- but dress codes and hours vary, so its best to check in with the concierge beforehand, especially if you have a large group or are planning something special. Eleanor's is the fanciest restaurant (serving dinner only), yet the Caribbean-inspired menu still caters to little ones. The Venetian (Italian, in case the name doesn't make that obvious) is also open only for dinner. Neptune's serves seafood alongside ocean views, and there's a barbecue spot poolside. Bayside offers an international breakfast buffet in its open-air dining room, a buffet-style lunch, and an a la carte dinner. Pop into Josephine's Creperie throughout the day to nibble on desserts and coffee. Room service and candlelight dining services are also available. Note that all Beaches properties pride themselves on serving unlimited premium liquor and cocktails.
Family first with almost endless free activities for children and teens
Camp Sesame is a huge hit with little ones. They can spend a few hours or the entire day with Elmo (and certified nannies) while participating in organized activities indoors and out. It's open until around 9, so it's even possible for parents to have a romantic dinner alone. Older kids (if you can tear them away from the water park and snorkeling gear) can hang out in the XBOX 360 game garage. In-room babysitting services are provided for a fee. Together, the whole family can enjoy Sesame Street parades, beach bonfires, talent shows, and cocktail parties.
Cookie-cutter and hassle-free on the beach
Planning a wedding in another country can be stressful, but many guests rave that the staff at Beaches Ocho Rios Resort & Golf Club makes the process streamlined and relatively simple (depending on the size of your party and requirements). The wedding planner (whose services are provided for free) talks couples through all the details and logistics so everything from music to cake to photography is planned well in advance. Note that none of the ceremony sites are private so other resort guests might be watching your wedding.
Multiple swimming pools, plus Pirates Island Waterpark
Pirates Island Waterpark is a major draw at this resort. The 27,000-square-foot park overlooks the Caribbean and includes nine twisting water slides plus soft padded areas for kids who crawl. Cushioned sun loungers, white umbrellas, and drink service, plus a swim-up bar makes the pool and park a comfortable place for parents to spend the day while kids splash. The vibe is definitely loud with lots of kids running around -- even in the whirlpool. There's a specialty pool for scuba-diving training as well.
Unlimited free golf for kids and adults -- but a fee for the mandatory caddie
Sandals Golf & Country Club is an 18-hole, resort-style course. The course gets accolades from Golf Digest: narrow fairways and small drop-off greens offer a challenge while views of the Caribbean are a great backdrop. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the course from the resort via a free shuttle. Guests golf free but mandatory caddie fees, along with club and cart rental charges and meals at the two golf-themed restaurants, can add up. Lessons are also available for a fee.
Private white-sand beach with free water sports
One of the best features at Beaches Ocho Rios Resort & Golf Club is that it's located on a private strip of beach, which means guests here won't have to ward off the vendors encountered on public beaches. The sand is sugar-white and soft, while the calm blue water is ideal for snorkeling, kayaking, and taking a spin on a standup paddle-board. Scuba diving is free for certified divers; those who want to become certified can do so but have to pay for the service. The glass bottom boat ride and snorkel excursions are popular water activities as well.
The all-inclusive Beaches Ocho Rios Resort & Golf Club is one of the most kid-friendly hotels in Jamaica, offering an XBOX garage for teens and tweens, as well as Camp Sesame (where Sesame Street characters can be found), a water park, and babysitting services. There are activities for adults too, with golf and scuba lessons, the Red Lane Spa, and an adults-only piano bar. Since the majority of guests are families, the resort can be noisy. The 223 rooms have upscale Caribbean style. This Beaches property has a private beach, unlike Beaches Negril Resort & Spa which only has access to a public one.