on April 3, 2011
KEY POINTS 1. Jamaica is beautiful. 2. The 7 mile Negril beach is spectacular. 3. Beaches Sandy Bay is the ideal sun vacation resort for families, second to no Caribbean resort we have stayed at before. Safe, clean, tropical. 4. Staff are friendly and welcoming. 5. The service is simply great. 6. So is the food. 7. If you have children we like Sesame Street this is the resort you want to stay at. Your kids will have a memorable vacation. 8. Based on the flight schedules in the lobby monitors, I estimate 60% of guests to be American and 30% Canadian (ourselves included). 9. The only negatives we found were caused by some of these tourists. 10. Nice perk: being able to eat and play at the other nearby Beaches resort (Beaches Negril) any time you want! 11. For families, you cannot go wrong with this resort. 12. We have already booked our 2012 Beaches Sandy Bay holiday. Can’t wait to go back! 13. WHY I CHOSE BEACHES SANDY BAY - After quite a bit of research I brought my list of kid friendly resorts in Jamaica down to 4. Sandy Bay won out for a number of reasons: what I had read about it being kid friendly, having a beautiful beach, all day kid food, good variety of food, and friendly people. Also, because the other kid friendly resorts either had small or man made beaches or the water in shallow areas was full of rock or coral, making it difficult (or painful) to swim.THE EXPERIENCE – In all my years of travel I have come across all kinds of tourists. There is always a small group who will complain, period! Some people just can’t be pleased. Half of a vacation starts before you leave home – the attitude you bring to any country you visit is either going to set the stage for a great time or help you to start ruining your experience before you leave home. Some people spend a whole lot of time comparing the country they visit, their customs, their food, their everything, to how it is at home. In my view, such people should save themselves thousands of dollars and be a tourist in their own town. We never encountered one single unfriendly staff – from the grill cooks, to the gardeners, the waiters (who work so hard) to the check in counter, and entertainers and housekeeping. RESORT – Small, safe, the cleanest I have seen. The view to the ocean, especially of the setting sun, is simply gorgeous. The resort was fully booked and yet we never experienced a feeling of being crowded. The atmosphere is tropical, colourful, and very relaxing.BEACH – Second to none that I have visited in the Caribbean over the past 12 years. I now know why 7 Mile Negril Beach is considered one of the best in the world. The different shades of turquoise water are simply beautiful. Clean, safe, white, powdery sand, loved it. I especially enjoyed seeing the occasional sting ray – as large as 4 ft long. FOOD – no adult or kid can go hungry at Beaches Sandy Bay. Kids (and adults) can eat at any time at the BEACH GRILL that is open until 2:00 am! Nachos covered with melted cheese, pizza, burgers, hot dogs, fries, ice cream, popcorn, and delicious meat and vegetarian Jamaican patties. By the third day my son was already asking to return next year. The BUFFET is also varied, with lots of mouth watering food. B’FAST – lots to choose from. LUNCH and DINNER – ample variety of colourful and tasty vegetables, fish, lamb, chicken, beef, seafood, fruit, desserts, made-on-the-spot, to your liking, sandwiches, and soup. Quality and variety are very good. The two formal RESTAURANTS on the property have top quality service, and very, very yummy food, served with beautiful views of the Caribbean sea. ENTERTAINMENT – For Sesame Street age kids this is the place to be. We always got a kick out of seeing the smiles and laughter in the daily Sesame Street parade. Little kids were in awe every time a life size Zoe, Elmo, or Ernie appeared – on the beach or elsewhere on the property. Lots of hugs and pictures. TWEENS will enjoy this property. As we also learned from others families, many tweens who are looking for a bit of independence but still want to access there parents at any time, find the smaller Sandy Bay (compared to Beaches Negril) more to their liking. ENTERTAINMENT STAFF are great! They would call a my son (and other kids) by name and he loved the attention. He especially enjoyed safari night where he got to take a picture with a huge cobra around his neck! My wife and I enjoyed the relaxed but professional demeanour of the staff. They walk by, smiling, and would let us know: ``I just saw your son playing (ping pong, volleyball etc.). It was a nice, unexpected little touch that made us feel even more relaxed over his going around the resort. For TEENS staying more than one week it may not be great but they can have fun even after seven days. Especially, if they are able to connect with other teens early on (this we heard from couples with teens). XBOX garage, beach volleyball, shuffleboard, ping pong, pool tables, and of course, the very, very nice water park at the other Beaches resort. Go on the free (hourly) van shuttle (5 mins) or walk on the beach (15 mins). The nightly entertainment is not as large a production as that of larger resorts. It is a bit more subdued but always fun and well organized. My wife and I enjoyed every performance. There is always the disco, too. The entertainment does not go as long into the night as most other resorts we have stayed at. But given that many guests have little kids it works out well. If you are looking for louder, longer, and more elaborate nights, this may not be the resort for you. But, I cannot say enough good things about Devon, Karon, , Stepahnie and the other entertainment staff. And boy, do these people work hard to entertain guests. I should point out that they do have active kids clubs organized by age group where kids of all ages are always busy. But, some, like my own, only participated a couple of time. He enjoyed it but preferred to explore the property, hook up with other tweens, and try different activities. The free glass bottom boat ride is a must – even more than once.ROOMS – This is not the Hilton and for that reason we didn’t pay Hilton prices. If you want the Hilton, stay at the Hilton. This is a relaxed, tropical setting. The rooms are fine. Ours was colourful, well maintained and clean. NEGATIVES (A) CIGARETTE AND CIGAR SMOKE. There are always… well,…tourists who are idiots (of both genders). Tourists who have this warped sense of entitlement to feel free to smoke around children. I am not talking about one or two kids. I am talking for instance, during the night entertainment. Even though we are outdoors, the smoke of five or six smokers sticks around and parents are left with two choices: ignore it and expose their kids to second hand smoke for a few hours or miss out on the entertainment.. Several smokers did get up, walk the long 100 ft to the beach or to the grounds, have their smoke and return to common areas designed for outdoor dining and entertainment. I tip my hat to those smokers. (B) SOME TEENS – North American teens view drinking as a coveted so called rite of passage. It is forbidden fruit back home and here they overdo it. It seems like the right opportunity to impress each other and look more mature. A few turn into obnoxious clowns. "Beer man, beer". Look at me"! It wouldn’t hurt if some parents would teach their teens a few manners and basic common sense. (C) BEACH CHAIRS – What happens when people who view individual property rights as sacred go to vacation in a communal setting? Selfish, inconsiderate, "looking out for number one", "I’m alright Jack", behaviour kicks in. They seem unable to grasp the fact that the chairs on the beach and the water floats are not theirs. Several tourists would leave chairs with towels or something else on it and not use those chairs for several hours. Meantime, you would see a parent or couple walking the beach looking for a place to settle down for a few hours. OVERALL – Jamaica is beautiful. BEACHES SANDY BAY is a family focussed, fun, relaxing, safe, friendly, top sun vacation spot. Fantastic tropical climate, very good variety of food and food quality, friendly staff, lively entertainment, full and free access to nearby Beaches Negril, and a beach that can only be described as BEAUTIFUL.
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