Sandals: More than Hype?
(Psst: Catch my wedding post here!)
I've been watching Sandals commercials for years and had always heard of people going there but it hadn't struck me as something I really cared to do.
I thought the Caribbean wasn't "that great" and Sandals was more hype than anything else.
Well...I was wrong. And I'm so glad!
As we searched for an affordable place to go, I had ruled out nearly everything due to cost. It was so hard to find anything remotely within my cost range at this point.
Finally, my aunt recommended we look into Sandals. I had kind of checked it out but not in depthly. But this time, I really did my research.
I spent time reading over reviews of the various resorts, asking for opinions via social media, reading the website closely to see which would be best for us.
Of the five or so Sandals resorts on Jamaica, I decided that the Whitehouse location was best for us. It boasted lots of activities in a remote part of the island -- and a very leisurely atmosphere not full of the "club scene" you find on some resorts.
When I found out it only cost about $700 to have a wedding there, I was game. This would be our "WeddingMoon" -- wedding/honeymoon combined.
They gave me my own personal wedding planner who went over the details with me and took care of everything. All I had to do was send in our birth certificates and show up for the most part.
We arrived on Monday night and as soon as we walked in the door we were graced with pink champagne and man say, Mr. Sylvester and Ms. Andersen? They knew we were coming!
We got the rundown, found our room and even though it was 9:30pm, we hopped in our bathing suits to head for the pool. No one was in the pool so we swam, then headed to the bar, where we had the signature Red Stripe beer, hung out for a bit and then turned in.
Food and Sun
The next morning, we went to the breakfast buffet, full of bacon, eggs, biscuits, fruit, cheese, juices -- just about everything you can imagine.
Our first day it was funny because R just couldn't believe we didn't have to pay for anything! He brought money thinking surely...we'd have to pay for something! Nope...no paying and barely any tipping. It was SO nice!
Then we met with the wedding planner people to go over details -- where we chose a cake and I opted for white roses over magenta flowers (thank God, they look way better than magenta would have!)
Most of Tuesday was spent in the sun, where R acquired a wicked sunburn. He's got naturally pale skin and though we slathered on 30 SPF twice, it burned right through on his chest especially. Poor thing!
Being in the sun is actually exhausting but it was gorgeous! I mean, clear water, the beach right outside our room, several massive, beautiful pools, hot tubs and more. Cocktail stations were all over and there was plenty of chair space and umbrellas around as well. It was NOT crowded, and we loved that.
Sand & Surf
The water was warm and beautiful and we spent a lot of time just swimming around in it and chatting beneath the sun -- it was pretty glorious!
Of course the walk along the beach was also awesome and there were lots of sports and activities going on all over the place. We didn't do any extracirrucular stuff mostly because weren't there very long and wanted to just "do nothing."
There were like four nice restaurants to choose from for dinner -- no reservations needed and of course, it's all inclusive so you can get whatever you want!
The only thing I wasn't super impressed with was the food -- it wasn't the best -- but the atmosphere and experience was absolutely amazing.
The staff are clearly trained on how to make guests feel like they are celebrities -- always super friendly and helpful. Someone was always asking if things were okay and saying "Yeah Mon." Apparently, Jamaicans really do say "Yeah Mon" to everything!
They seemed very laid back and generally very happy -- the island atmosphere was in full swing everywhere. And...the great thing was -- everyone was happy because we were all on vacation on this beautiful island! Oh boy do I need this every year!
If you got bored, they had a game room with pool tables, checkers, ping pong and a gigantic chess board. You could play shuffleboard, get a massage in the spa or sign up for surfing, party boats, kayacking, scuba diving or something else.
It rained everyday around 3:30 (to my dismay on wedding day!) but always stops shortly.
Evening By The Sea
Dinner was fun because we'd come in from the beach, regroup, shower and get dressed for a night out. There were couples of all ages and I loved the romantic feeling everywhere -- everyone holding hands, looking and feeling their best.
On our last day, I relished just sitting on the beach reading my book sipping a Blue Lagoon drink (I'm sure something with rum) and sitting under and umbrella. It was perfection! I actually read 2 books in five days (with all the travel time included.)
That night, we had a special dinner at one of the restaurants -- a "wedding menu" we had selected and came as part of our wedding package. The staff made sure we felt really welcome and satisfied.
Of course I went around snapping photos like a mad woman-- trying to capture this place, these memories, this beauty -- to remember it later.
So...what do I have to say about our experience? Awesome! I would recommend Sandals to everyone and in fact told my parents they need to go there!
I do wonder if there is much difference between the various resorts but I knew there was a reason this was the one I went with. I'm so glad I did!
Despite all my traveling, I've never take a true blue vacation like this -- and neither had Rick. We were both overwhelmed with the luxury and particular care Sandals takes to make it "your" experience.
As I sat there looking over the blue water and tropical greenery on the beach, I thought to myself -- I'm not sure the South Pacific (my original dream plan) could really be much better than this. And THIS was much less money and just as awesome.
Thanks Sandals for making my "weddingmoon" wonderful.