Water sports such as kayaking, snorkeling, and sailing
Evening entertainment and theme parties
Free shuttle to the airport in Montego Bay
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Property is confusing to navigate
90-minute drive from the airport
Extra fee for spa access and cabana rentals
Required caddy at the golf course costs extra
Small beach for size of property
This 529-room upscale all-inclusive is adults-only, drawing many younger couples and honeymooners. The 110-acre resort is split into two halves by the road, and jitneys run between the two lobbies regularly. The Riviera Seaside Village and Ochi Beach Club are both on the water, while the All-Butler Riviera Villas and Great House are set back in the gardens, and offer butler service. There are lots of restaurants, bars, pools, whirlpools, and activities (including an 18-hole golf course overlooking the sea) on the premises, and it's a five-minute drive to downtown Ocho Rios for more spots to shop and dine. Just know that the beach isn't large and the hotel is an hour-and-a-half ride from the airport on the resort's free shuttle bus; those who prefer less travel time may want to compare rates at the smaller Sandals Montego Bay, and those in search of a better beach may want to consider the Sandals Negril Beach Resort.
A sprawling 110-acre all-inclusive that's popular for weddings and honeymoons
This large all-inclusive is essentially split in half by the road, with the Riviera Seaside Village and Ochi Beach Club on the water side, and the Great House and All-Butler Village set back in the gardens. Both sides have a lobby; the main lobby on the Riviera Seaside is larger, with several levels of seating, a private lounge, and the Polo Lounge with views of the resort. The smaller lobby in the Great House is surrounded by lush tropical landscaping. Both lobbies are open and decorated in warm, neutral colors, with dark woods and brown leather furniture. Free coffee, ice water, and cookies are available, and flat-screen TVs are generally tuned to CNN. Both sides have nearby entrances to resort shops with souvenirs and travel necessities. Jitneys run between the lobbies regularly, and guests in butler level rooms get on-call rides from their butlers in private golf carts. Those who prefer to walk should stay on the beach side of the resort in order to avoid crossing the busy road.
Split between two sides of the road, close to downtown Ocho Rios
This 110-acre resort is located a five-minute drive from the main center of Ocho Rios, and its two sides of have distinctly different feels. The beach resort and seaside rooms are a short drive from the main road, with large archways and a grand entrance. The villa side is up in the hills and is a farther drive, with the villas spread out behind the main plantation-style Great House. While it is possible to walk around on each side of the resort, guests wishing to cross need to use the continually circling jitneys, as the roadways are too dangerous for pedestrians and the main road separating the two sides is very busy. A free shuttle brings guests to the golf course at scheduled times, and drivers are available for travelers who wish to explore downtown Ocho Rios and nearby attractions like Dolphin Cove and the Green Grotto Caves. The shuttle to the airport is free but expect anywhere from an hour to two for the drive. Sandals Montego Bay is much closer to the airport and still offers free transportation, but the property isn't as large and guests there report airport noise.
If you're looking for a white powdery beach, you should check rates at Sandals Negril Resort & Spa, which is located on a long stretch of Seven Mile Beach. The beaches at this property are clean and private, which means you won't encounter the seemingly endless parade of vendors found on public beaches in Jamaica, but it's broken up by wooden docks and is not long enough for a stroll. The main beach for lounging includes tightly packed rows of comfortable chairs on golden sand. The swimming area is divided from the rest of the ocean by a U-shaped wooden dock with a palapa-style roof and more sun loungers; it's the only shade available on a beach without umbrellas. An adjacent beach holds all the water toys like kayaks, paddleboards, and colorful water bikes. The water is crystal clear and bathwater warm. A docked raft floats in the center of the swimming area.
Seaside standards and suites, plus butler villas on the Riviera side
Rooms at the Sandals Ochi Beach Resort have upscale colonial-style decor; they are decorated in dark woods and elegant neutral tones. Four-poster beds are topped with fresh white linens. There are 23 different room categories, but all rooms include air-conditioning, 40-inch LED flat-screen TVs, stocked minibars and mini-fridges, coffeemakers, microwaves, amenities kits, and patios or balconies.
Couples who prefer to be by the beach should choose rooms at the Riviera Seaside; categories range from the standard Riviera Bamboo Grove Deluxe to the Club Level Rooms and Villas to the Beachfront Butler Suites. Across the street is the All-Butler Village, with suites in the plantation-style Great House and a variety of quiet poolside villas (each unit shares a pool with three others).
Club Level Rooms offer additional amenities, like access to the Club Sandals lounge, private orientation, a dedicated concierge for help with reservations and activity bookings, in-room bars, and free room service. Butler suites on both sides include dedicated butlers that can assist with just about anything, from bringing snacks and drinks to transporting guests around the property in golf carts. For guests seeking a truly luxurious experience, villas are very spacious and private, with private patios, semi-private pools, and beautiful views. Guests have occasionally complained of noise from golf carts and late-night revelers.
Enormous resort with wide variety of activities and amenities
Sandals Ochi Beach Resort's 100-plus acres are put to good use with seemingly endless features. Limitless scuba diving is free, while scuba certification is offered for a fee. Other water sports include snorkeling, sailing, waterskiing, and paddleboarding. Glass-bottom boat rides are on offer as well (reservations required). On land, there are tennis courts, croquet, billiards, and beach volleyball. Entertainment includes everything from cocktail parties to talent shows to impromptu beach parties.
Swimming pools are a huge draw at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort -- there are seven public to all guests and a total of 105 of them spread out over the expansive property (this figure includes the many in the All-Butler Village). The main pool is massive and includes a , , and dolphin statues. Blue floatation mats are available, as are comfortable sun loungers with white umbrellas. The total absence of children screaming and splashing should be a nice change of pace. Some guests can get boisterous with the free drinks, but there are enough pools and chairs to find a quiet spot. Poolside cabanas for two cost extra and include a personal butler who delivers suntan oil, drinks, and meals. is smaller than the main pool, but as the name implies, beachfront -- and it also has a .
-- with a solarium, steam room, sauna, and plunge pools -- is worth a visit if you don't mind paying the additional costs. Dedicated therapists offer a wide variety of beauty treatments, massages, and body wraps. and The spa has over 30 treatment rooms, but couples' massages can also be arranged on the beach. All guests have access to the adequate, spacious , with LifeFitness cardio machines and strength-training equipment. Fitness classes are provided in the aerobic rooms and there's an indoor .
Unlimited golfing at the resort's 18-hole golf course is provided for all guests. A free shuttle takes guests to and from the links throughout the day. The par-71 includes views of the mountains and sea. A caddy is required and costs extra, as do optional golf carts, club rentals, and lessons. There's a driving range and practice putting course. A jerk shack sells chicken and pork off the 10th hole or golfers can eat and drink (not included) at the . Free golf clinics are held twice a week.
Free shuttles transport guests around the expansive property and to the airport and golf course. Services include laundry, dry cleaning, photography, money exchange, and a gift shop for beach essentials and souvenirs.
Sixteen all-inclusive restaurants with varying hours and reservations policies
With 16 restaurants serving throughout the day and into the wee hours, even the pickiest eaters be well-fed (though figuring out various hours of operation and reservation policies may take the assistance of a butler or concierge). Dino's Pizzeria does wood-fired oven pies served al fresco for lunch and early dinners. The open-air, on-the-beah Neptunes is popular for Mediterranean seafood in the evenings. Kimonos offers show cooking and Asian food, but is open for a short window and reservations are required. The Italian Valentinos is probably the most elegant and romantic restaurant at the resort. Bayside serves buffet-style breakfast on the pier with made-to-order omelets. Note that some restaurants require pants. Candlelight dinners for two can be arranged on the beach for an extra cost.
Sandals prides itself on serving top-shelf liquor for no added cost, so expect Beringer wines, Jim Bean, Bombay Sapphire, and Smirnoff. The swim-up bars are popular for obvious reasons and there are several other bars for unlimited cocktails and beverages.
Room service is free. Tips are included in the all-inclusive package and staffers are not allowed to accept them (except for butlers).
Weddings here can be very cookie cutter and affordable, or personalized and expensive with a mind-boggling list of add-ons from flowers to invitations to cake and more. Thankfully, the bride and groom have access to a free travel and wedding planner who will make sure the travel, accommodations, and big day go smoothly for the couple and their guests. Ceremonies can have up to 600 guests, and can be held throughout the resort, in a gazebo, on the beach, or in a garden. Note that the weddings aren't private and you may have an audience of bikini-clad onlookers who weren't invited. Also, given the hotel's couples-only policy, any stag wedding guests, or those with families, will have to stay at Sandals' family-friendly sister property, Beaches Ochos Rios Resort & Golf Club (wedding guests who stay elsewhere will have to pay an extra fee to visit the Sandals property). Children need to be approved by the hotel in advance.
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