Great Place for Families with Young Kids

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by rhondakfuller on December 28, 2009

My family recently took our first trip to Jamaica. We stayed at Beaches Sandy Bay in Negril. We chose this location as opposed to the Negril location because Sandy Bay was less expensive. We stayed for 5 days and 4 nights. (we would have stayed longer but, due to blackout dates on their sale on Thanksgiving weekend it cost us a lot more for the first two nights of our stay) Our only reason for going there was to spread my dad’s ashes in the ocean. My dad was a scuba diver and he and his wife stayed at Sandals a lot. My dad’s wife bragged about how great Sandals is and how much we would love it there. My husband and I have 3 year old twin girls and it was their first time on an airplane. The drive from the airport to the resort was rough and long. They say it is a 90 minute drive, but traffic made it take much longer. When we arrived at the resort, our luggage was left at the front entrance while one of the workers showed us around. My husband was reluctant about leaving our luggage at the front, but they assured us it would be fine. It took about 15-20 minutes for the luggage to be brought to our room, which wouldn’t have been a big deal if we didn’t have two 3 year olds who needed their clothes changed and were hungry. Our room was a Luxury Oceanview Room on the third floor. I think the pictures on the website looked a lot prettier than the actual room, but we had a nice view. One negative was that we had to walk all of those stairs with two 3 year olds. We went to the restaurant to eat dinner. They were having a seafood buffet that night. My girls won't eat seafood. I was a little disappointed that we were paying so much money and they didn’t have a good option for kids for dinner (especially since they are advertised as a family resort). The chef was very nice and made them a grilled cheese. The next day, we went swimming and ate lunch at the Sesame Grill. The chef there was very nice and the food was really good.

At Beaches, you have exchange privileges where you can go to the other locations during your stay. So, the next day, we took the shuttle to the Negril location to check out the water park. It was Very fancy and crowded compared to Sandy Bay. One thing that was a little disturbing was that three of the women working at the lazy river were commenting that one of my daughters looked "so sexy" in her bathing suit…HELLO…she’s 3??? I just brushed it off as a cultural difference?

The stage shows were great! My girls had to wait a couple of days to see Abby Cadabby and had so much fun when they finally saw her. One day, the girls got to have a treasure hunt with Abby. It was shortened a little because it was raining outside and Abby couldn’t stay out in it. They really enjoyed seeing her up close. Then, we had a parade with the characters that night. It was a great ending to our trip there. The band playing was great, and all of the characters were dancing.

My dad’s wife had told me that there would be people at the resort walking around taking pictures of you and your family. We had 2 1/2 days at Sandy Bay where we did not see anyone taking pictures. We saw a photographer at the Negril resort taking pictures. My dad’s wife went into the photoshop and asked if they would be taking pictures at the stage show on our third night, and they said they would take pictures the next night for the parade. A little later, a photographer came out and started taking pictures. He took pictures that night and we saw him out regularly from then on. We saw in the newsletter that we could have our children’s picture taken with one of the characters jumping on the beach. We called the photoshop and they set it up for my girls to have their picture made with Abby. It was real nice considering that it was only supposed to be Cookie Monster out that day. When we got to the location, the photographer took several pictures of my family. He took all of the pictures basically with him squatting on the ground. I just felt like the angle that he took them from could have been better. And, a lot of the pictures looked like we were positioned awkwardly. He should have given more direction about the posing. Abby came out to jump with my girls and I wanted a picture of them jumping with her together. She looked a little disgusted when we asked her to jump more than twice. I know it’s hot in the costume and everything, but this is what we are paying so much to stay there for….the only character that should have a bad attitude is Oscar. (ha)
Just before we left the resort, we went into the photoshop and looked at the pictures. They have set packages, and you have to stick with the package prices. I had to pay $210.00 for 35 images on a cd, a 5x7 printed out and a picture frame. I didn’t really care to get the 5x7 or frame, but was told that that was how the package worked. When I was looking at the pictures I asked the girl helping me if she would get the red eye out of the pictures and she said yes. When I picked the cd and picture/frame up, my 5x7 was a vertical picture and the frame was for horizontal pictures because they were out of the vertical ones. Would have been nice if she had asked if I still wanted that picture… And, when I got home and looked at the cd, all of the pics still had the red eye. I was able to get most of them out on my own, but there were a couple I had trouble with. We called Beaches and they had the photoshop call us. The lady told me that they can’t always get the red eye out. I told her that the girl that sold them to me obviously didn’t try because I could get some of them out. She then told me to email her the ones that I needed the red eye out and she would do it and send them back to me. She did it, but I don’t really like the way it turned out. I let it go though… Then I remembered that the guy was taking pictures of my kids swimming one day and I had not remembered that when I was looking at the pictures in the photoshop, so there may have been pictures that I would have wanted that I didn’t even get to see.

To sum it all up…there are positives and negatives about Beaches Sandy Bay. It’s not as fancy as the Negril location and doesn’t have as many restaurants or a water park. But, it is a little more calm and you can still visit Negril and take part in the fun stuff there. I feel like the workers were friendlier at Negril than Sandy Bay. There were some nice people at Sandy Bay, but there were times where I was disappointed with the servers at the restaurant and people at the front desk and in the gift shop. There seemed to be a lot more picture taking going on at Negril in the beginning of our stay, but Sandy Bay came around and started taking pictures…even though I feel like some of them could’ve been done more professionally. The food was okay. One of the perks of an all inclusive is that you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to eat and drink all the time and how much it’s going to cost. If you drink alcohol, you will really come out ahead because all of the drinks you want are included in the price you pay to stay there.

Will I go back there? Maybe. Because my girls loved getting to see the Sesame Street characters up close. (Think of what you would pay to go backstage at a concert or something to see character up close….and how much time would you get with them?) And because it is a memory I will always have of where my dad’s ashes were spread. And because the lazy river was FUN! :)
Beaches Sandy Bay Ultra All-Inclusive
Seven-Mile Beach
Negril, Jamaica

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