Free international calls to cellphones and landlines
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Limited room service menu
The luxury Azul Beach Resort Sensatori Jamaica by Karisma reopened in 2014 after a slick renovation put a designer spin on this all-inclusive, which unfolds along pristine Seven Mile Beach. An expansion, opened in May 2017, saw the addition of new rooms and restaurants, with more restaurants set to debut by summer 2017. The resort's 285 rooms are funky and spacious -- with furnished terraces, water views, and swim-up suites. With four pools, four quality restaurants, and a top-notch spa and fitness center, Azul Beach Resort Sensatori Jamaica by Karisma packs in the features of a mega resort on an intimate scale, all executed with lashings of contemporary style. The property caters to families, groups, and couples (there’s an adult-only section), but travelers seeking boutique luxury in more traditional island style could try the Spa Retreat Boutique Hotel.
Bold, fashionable, and contemporary decor create a chill boutique vibe
Nestled off the main highway drag, Sensatori’s low-key entrance and chic lobby capture the cool, intimate vibe that plays out across the property. With its urbane decor, Sensatori could be a hip design hotel in New York or Berlin, were it not for its sprawling pools and beachfront setting. British fashion designer Jonathan Saunders conceptualized the resort’s revamped aesthetic. His reputation for daring prints and bold colors shows in the offbeat wallpaper, abstract feature walls, and in-pool motifs that ooze with flair. Every interior space takes on its own cool aesthetic and vibe.
Four pools stretch along the beachfront, and rooms unfold behind them, on either side of the lobby. A lazy river meanders past swim-up suites, and palm gardens add a lush layer of privacy between rooms and the main pool areas. The layout creates an intimate ambience, but the long list of features and restaurants rivals the biggest resorts on the island.
The clientele is predominantly English, and although Sensatori is kid-friendly, children don’t predominate as they often do at many other resorts. The general vibe is calm, relaxed, but many guests dress up in the evening.
The resort sits on Seven Mile Beach -- a long, wide, postcard-worthy stretch of white-sand with crystal-clear aqua waters that are perfect for swimming. By day, most guests can be found chilling here (the pools were nearly empty during Oyster’s visit). In the evening, many guests congregate around Seven Mile Oceanfront Bar for excellent cocktails and the lively post-dinner entertainment. During our visit, an awesome steel drums band performed popular tunes, followed by an acoustic chanteuse singing classics late into the night.
On Seven Mile Beach, close to Negril -- about 90 minutes from the airport
Sensatori sits nestled between Seven Mile Beach and Norman Manley Boulevard on the way into Negril (from the north). The property is a two-minute walk to Kool Runnings Waterpark and a 12-minute drive to downtown Negril where nightlife, shops, restaurants, and bars are in abundance. There's some on-site parking, and taxis can be arranged, but most guests stay put on the hotel grounds. Guests typically arrive in and depart from Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, which is about a 90-minute drive away.
Spacious, vibrant, and modern with funky accents and patios -- many of them swim-up
The resort's 285 rooms have the same hip style as the common areas. Bold splashes of color in abstract rugs and artwork accent the crisp, white bedding, furniture and walls. Interiors are vibrant and fresh, and most open through French doors to covered alfresco areas that feel like outdoor living rooms with circular canopy daybeds. The ground-floor swim-up rooms lead directly to the lazy river pool surrounding them, and double cabana daybeds perch right above the water, in full view of other rooms. All rooms have super comfortable king-size beds, iPod docks, 42-inch flat-screen TVs, minibars, hairdryers, and plush robes, and free in-room Wi-Fi.
Bathrooms are wrapped in mosaics, featuring gold metallics that have cool bling factor without being overbearing. Dual vanities, rainfall showerheads, and high quality Karisma-branded toiletries enhance the bathroom experience. Room categories range from Ocean View Deluxe or Ocean View Swim-Up to One- and Two-Bedroom Suites, and a choice of Honeymoon Suites. They’re all considered “Ocean View,” although beach views from lower-level rooms are somewhat obstructed.
Packs a big feature punch that's on par with mega resorts -- but with a design-conscious look
As expected, the action at the resort is focused on the beach and pools. The four pools, including a lazy river and a kids' pool, provide ample space for guests to swim, especially given the smaller scale of the resort. Multiple loungers also ensure all guests can find a spot to sunbathe. The beach is equally inviting with powdery white sands, cobalt-blue loungers, and a few canopied sunbeds.
There are six on-site restaurants, a lounge bar, and an open-air bar near the pool serving great cocktails. A la carte options include Ackee (Caribbean), Hua Hin (Thai), Garfield Beach House (Mediterranean), and Di Romagna (Italian). The open-air Palms buffet restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- its open kitchen/ buffet space is intelligently separated from the dining area for a less chaotic buffet experience. Mahogany Restaurant & Kitchen, open for dinner, also hosts an open kitchen concept, and guests can get cooked-to-order a la carte dishes. Beans coffee shop, located in the lobby, makes fresh juices (with some delicious concoctions), and good espresso. Oceans Gourmet Corner serves a range of snacks from jerk to sandwiches and burgers next to the pool area -- perfect for a light bite or relaxed poolside/ beach dining without having to sit in a restaurant. Multiple bars include Beach House Bar (directly on the beach); the Indigo Denim Bar, two swim-up bars, and the Seven Mile Oceanfront Bar where most of the action unfolds, making it hard to get a drink in the evening. Room service is available as well, but the menu is limited and the quality is disappointing.
There’s nightly entertainment/music, and it’s actually pretty good. During Oyster’s stay, a hip steel-drums band performed incredible energetic renditions of new hits and old classics, captivating the resort. Nesta Rasta Lounge serves drinks and tunes until the early hours of the morning. The Karisma Spa is a real highlight, with a range of treatment and relaxation rooms unfolding over two levels.
There’s a kids’ club and a daily activities program, and water sports on offer include kayaks, boogie boards, hobie cats, and canoes. A range of classes from yoga and aqua aerobics to cooking are included. Other features include a fitness center, ping pong, and beach volleyball. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout. Unlimited international calls (to mobiles and landlines) are included.
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