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Sandals Royal Plantation 4.5

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Five-minute drive to restaurants, shops, and attractions in Ocho Rios
  • One of the most beautiful and secluded private beaches in Jamaica
  • No buffets -- all-inclusive dining at four a la carte restaurants
  • Beautiful, colonial-style rooms with butlers, four-poster beds, and ocean views
  • Elegant Red Lane Spa with full menu of massage treatments
  • Unlimited scuba diving plus water and land sports (including golf)
  • Clean, basic gym with modern equipment plus tennis courts
  • 24-hour room service
  • Free shuttle to Sangster International Airport
  • Self-parking in a secure, staffed lot
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout

Cons

  • Small pool, given the hotel’s size and category
  • A bit of wear in rooms that's surprising for this category of hotel

Bottom Line

Situated in the heart of Ocho Rios’ resort district, Sandals Royal Plantation is an excellent luxury resort that sits right on the sea. This all-inclusive property offers some of the best amenities of any hotel in Jamaica, including a stunning, secluded beach, an elegant spa, and all meals served a la carte -- meaning there's no mediocre buffets to suffer through. The 74 sophisticated, colonial-style rooms feature a spacious, multi-room layouts with canopied four-poster beds, minibars, and private butler service -- some have balconies with beautiful sea views. The hotel even offers a free airport shuttle, a rarity in this part of the country. Travelers who'd like a more affordable, upscale alternative should consider Jamaica Inn, an intimate boutique option right next door. 

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Scene

Beautiful, intimate beachfront all-inclusive with an elegant, refined vibe

The elegant, open-air lobby mixes bold decor elements to great effect, creating refined common areas for guests to lounge in

When travelers think of Sandals, many things may come to mind, and not all of them are luxurious -- indeed, this chain's packaged image typifies the large-scale all-inclusive experience for many Caribbean vacationers, and plenty of their resorts are loud and filled with partiers or families. Sandals Royal Plantation flips that script and does so with sophisticated style. This is immediately clear upon setting foot in the lobby, a refined space that sets the tone for the duration of a stay here. Adorned with polished, checkered marble flooring, ornate wooden furniture, and oversized Mediterranean statues, the aesthetic is cohesive, luxurious, and elegant. Bold, tasteful accents, like pink throw pillows in the lobby lounge, add a dash of modernity and flare. 

From the beach to the outdoor restaurant to the cozy lobby lounge, every common area feels tucked into its own nook or alcove. This creates a feeling of intimacy and seclusion, no matter where guests are on the property -- a feat that's helped by the fact that there are only 74 rooms. The resort’s soft sand beach is adequately sized given the number of guests here at any one time, and the quality of the sand, water, and overall atmosphere eclipse almost any hotel beach in Jamaica. The pool is surprisingly small, given the hotel’s size and category. However, the surrounding outdoor terrace is expansive with beautiful sea views. The relaxed, elegant vibe and single, king-size beds in most rooms make this property ideal for couples, who almost exclusively make up the clientele here.

Location

In the heart of Ocho Rios’ beachfront resort district, but not much else

Map of Sandals Royal Plantation

The resort sits amid dozens of other beachfront hotels and resorts along busy Route A3. While there is a small market across the street, there is little else within walking distance. Ocho Rios’ downtown tourist district -- with dozens of shops, restaurants, and attractions -- is less than 10 minutes by car. A few minutes farther west are two of the area’s most popular tourist draws -- Dolphin Cove and Dunn’s River Falls. Comparatively wilder Montego Bay and its Hip Strip will take at least 90 minutes to reach depending on traffic.

The hotel is situated an hour-and-a-half east of Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. Unlike most area resorts, this Sandals offers a free, roundtrip airport shuttle. Guests looking to get off-property at any point can use either taxi or shuttle services, both of which are quite reasonable. Taxis are readily available and the island’s shuttle bus and van service is the most ubiquitous and cheapest mode of transportation.

Rooms

Elegant rooms with four-poster beds, private butlers, and minibars; many with balconies

The Plantation Oceanfront Butler Suite offers elegant rooms with colonial decor details, such as four poster beds and dark wood furniture

Like the resort’s common areas, room decor is elegant and refined. Rooms in every category are filled with dark wood furniture, a warm color palette, and tasteful artwork and accents that draw heavily on colonial and tropical styles. Light tile floors are laid with patterned area rugs, gilded mirrors hang on soft cream walls, and there's plenty of carved, antique-style wood to complete the look. Some elements border on dated -- like the tropical-print curtains we saw -- and there was visible wear on most wooden furniture. Still, the overall quality of these rooms is a step above the competition, and details like the four-poster beds do a good bit to keep each room looking sharp.

Even for a four-and-a-half-pearl hotel, rooms are larger and more luxurious than expected. Entry-level suites (including the Great House Oceanfront, Plantation Oceanfront, and Orchid Oceanfront) offer similar floor plans and features, with only subtle differentiations in decor. All offer ocean views, but no balcony. Honeymoon Oceanfront Verandah and Royal Oceanfront One-Bedrooms each have larger sleeping areas, upgraded decor and furnishings, plus a spacious, outdoor balcony with panoramic ocean views. Flagship suites (including the Governor General Oceanfront One Bedroom and Villa Plantana) provide additional balconies, spacious living and dining areas, and the best views on the property.

All rooms feature an excellent list of modern amenities, including flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth/MP3 player docks. Additional luxury amenities available in most rooms include whirlpool tubs, private, ocean-view balconies, and minibars stocked with free premium liquor, wine, beer, and bottled water. The resort is perhaps the only property in Jamaica that provides private butler service with every room. 

Bathrooms in all rooms are equally spacious, with upscale fixtures and materials throughout, though again, there are some elements that don't look exactly contemporary. Polished marble countertops, dual sinks, and ornate fixtures are standard in every category, but the floral tiling looks lifted from an earlier time. Shower/tub combinations are found in lower-category rooms while upgraded suites feature an additional whirlpool tub or large Roman tub. Sandals’ own Red Lane Spa bath amenities are standard in every room.

Features

Four a la carte restaurants, an elegant spa, and one of Jamaica’s best hotel beaches

All inclusive features include access to golfing facilities (and free green fees)

Even in an area replete with luxury resorts, Sandals Royal Plantation stands out with a long list of additional amenities. Among them: four a la carte restaurants and no buffet dining, a beautiful full-service spa, and arguably the most stunning private beach in Jamaica. The hotel also takes “all-inclusive” seriously by providing unlimited scuba diving, golf, and all water-sports activities. Other freebies include Wi-Fi, parking, and shuttles to Sangster Airport.

Food

All-inclusive a la carte dining via four restaurants and an afternoon tea terrace

The Terrace, the hotel's primary restaurant, serves a short, seafood-centric menu in a space that includes a sea-view terrace

The property is serviced by four total restaurants and a terrace with afternoon tea service. Each offers strictly a la carte service, and there are no buffets anywhere on the property. Food quality is highly reviewed as excellent, though the selection can be somewhat limited.

The Terrace -- the hotel’s primary restaurant -- serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The space is relatively casual, and guests can dine indoors or alfresco on a large, sea-view terrace. Royal Grill serves lunch and dinner daily on a deck situated a few feet from the beach. Both menus are short and mostly seafood-centric (think: ceviche, surf-and-turf, and calamari). The hotel’s flagship Le Papillon is its most formal restaurant. With rich, velvet wallpaper, ornate, Parisian-style chairs, and elaborate table settings, the atmosphere is elegant and upscale. Reservations are required, and we found the formal dress code to be strictly enforced.

Additional options include The Wobbly Peacock -- a traditional English gastropub situated adjacent to the lobby lounge -- and Tea Terrace. Decor at the former features exposed brick columns, a dark mahogany bar, and paisley seating. Live piano music is offered on select weeknights. While first and foremost a bar, dinner service is available with a menu that features gourmet twists on traditional pub food. The Tea Terrace offers afternoon tea service and light pastries in an outdoor space overlooking the pool and Caribbean Sea. Neither space requires reservations, and the dress code is casual.

Spa

Lovely Red Lane Spa offers treatments, plunge pools, and a steam room

Red Lane Spa provides a range of services, including couples massages

Situated in a small, stand-alone building, the Red Lane Spa is elegant and refined, with colonial-inspired decor. Dark wood seating, scroll print area rugs, ornate chandeliers, and marble on the floors and walls create a rich atmosphere. The spa offers an extensive menu of treatments, including body scrubs, facials, and solo or couples massages. A steam room, plunge pools, and several small, secluded outdoor gardens are provided exclusively to spa guests.  A number of beauty treatments, including manicures and pedicures, are also available.

Beach

Private, soft sand beach features swinging beds and in-water hammocks

The beautiful beach provides a good amount of seating and shade, as well as calm, clear water for swimming

The hotel’s private beach is arguably the most beautiful hotel beach in Jamaica. The secluded location is tucked into a series of alcoves that feel miles from anywhere. Cushioned lounge chairs and umbrellas provide more than enough shaded seating. A good portion of the sand is adjacent to rows of trees that provide additional shade. A swinging bed that's just feet from the water and several in-water hammocks offer additional, unique relaxation spots. As the entire property sits at the rear of a horseshoe-shaped bay, the water is crystal clear, calm, and swimmable any time of year. Guests are afforded the unlimited use of all water-sports equipment, including windsurfing, Hobie Cats, snorkeling, sailboats, kayaks, and paddleboarding.

Pool

A small, water-view pool with two whirlpool hot tubs

The pool (somewhat small and basic for a property this size) and two whirlpool hot tubs are located on a deck that overlooks the ocean

The only pool is small and basic, particularly given the hotel’s size and category. On the plus side, the surrounding deck provides adequate shaded seating with umbrellas and a dozen lounge chairs. Steps away, an additional terrace houses two whirlpool hot tubs that, combined, are approximately the same size as the pool. Unfortunately, there is no poolside drink service or adjacent pool bar. Like the rest of the property, the vibe throughout the space is quiet and relaxed.

Fitness Center

Decent gym with a handful of cardio machines and yoga equipment

The on-site gym has modern excercise machines, as well as free weights and yoga equipment

The on-site gym is adequately sized with a clean, basic setup. A handful of modern cardio machines and a weight bench with a stack of free weights are available. Balance balls and other basic yoga equipment is also provided. The hotel has tennis courts, which are free for guests to use, and it also provides free access to a putting green, driving range, and free transport to a nearby golf course as well as free green fees (keep in mind that caddies are mandatory at the course and those do come at an extra fee). Other fitness options include basketball and rock climbing. 

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Things You Should Know About Sandals Royal Plantation

Address

Main Street, Ocho Rios, Saint Ann Parish 2, Caribbean

Phone

(876) 974-5601

Also Known As

  • Royal Plantation Hotel
  • Royal Plantation Jamaica
  • Royal Plantation Ocho Rios

Room Types

  • Deluxe Oceanfront Junior Suite
  • Governor General's Oceanfront One Bedroom Suite
  • Honeymoon Grande Luxe Suite
  • Honeymoon Plantation Oceanfront One Bedroom Suite
  • Luxury Oceanfront Junior Suite
  • Premium Oceanfront Junior Suite
  • Prime Minister Oceanfront Two Bedroom Suite
  • Royal Orchid Oceanfront Junior Suite

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