on January 16, 2012
There's just something about Sandals Negril that will keep you coming back. We got married there in 2009 and then revisited the property this past Christmas. I was a bit nervous going there because i was terrified that it wouldn't live up to the hype I give it. But it did. And here's why. It all starts at the Sandals lounge. You get off the plane, go through customs, go collect your luggage, and then usually you expect to stand around eagerly waiting for a cab/shuttle to pick you up and take you to your resort. But that's not the case if you're staying at a Sandals in Jamaica. After you collect your luggage you make your way to on-site Sandals representatives who will then take your information, greet you, and then show you to their lounge while you wait for your shuttle. The lounge is beautiful and definitely an indication of what you're in for at Sandals Negril. There's ample comfy couches and chairs. There's a drink dispenser -- you can choose from sodas, water, and Red Stripe beer. And the lighting is really relaxing. It's just a great way to unwind after a long flight while you wait to be shuttled to your resort. The shuttle usually arrives within 20 minutes. Some people complain about the ride to Negril, which is about 90 minutes, but I liked it. The shuttle drivers, who are very professional, courteous, and often tasked with ensuring you have a good time, drive very fast and of course on the left side of the road, so it can be a bit scary sometimes but they seem to know what they're doing. If you just focus on the scenery on the way to Negril, the drive will go by very fast. Oh, and don't forget to tip your driver. The drivers don't work for Sandals, so they are allowed to accept tips, and they expect it. The same goes for the baggage handlers at the airport. Be prepared and have lots of ones. We arrived at the resort and were greeted by several staff members. Lindon was our bellhop and he deserves special mention. He was not only courteous, professional, and efficient, he went out of his away through the whole trip to ask how we were doing and if we were enjoying our stay. When he took us to our room, he could see that I was quite disappointed. They had just finished painting our room, so the smell of paint fumes was very strong and not very tolerable. And in addition, the room itself was located in the back end of the resort. There was no patio or outdoor sitting area. He could see in my eyes that I was not happy, but I tried not to complain either. When he left, my husband and I decided not to deal with this because we were on vacation and we were in Jamaica -- what more could you ask for. We went for a swim. When we got back to our room, we had a message from a representative from the front desk telling us she heard about the paint fumes and would like to switch us to another room. I just thought that was so nice and thoughtful of Lindon to go back and put in a word on our behalf. I will be forever grateful! So we were switched to a higher room category and then two days after that we were switched to an oceanfront walkout room (that was per our request, however). From then, any small worry I had was completely gone. The staff at this resort is what truly makes it a fantastic resort. It all began with Lindon but then we find out (and remember) that it doesn't stop there. Trust me, we've been to other Sandals properties and while the staff at those resorts have never disappointed us, they never make us as happy as the staff at Sandals Negril. Almost every time a staff member walked by us, they greeted us and asked if we're doing ok. We met the manger of the resort at the dinner/reception they have for returning guests. For the remainder of the week, he went out of his way to say hello or wave to us. And it really seemed genuine. The resort itself is older than some of the other Sandals properties, so you have to know that going there. While it is a 5 star and it luxury is included, as they promise, it is a bit dated in some ways, especially the rooms. But the rooms are clean and well looked after. And if for some reason your room isn't what you expected or if a problem occurs, just tell them about it. They'll do what they can to see to it that you're happy, and if that means getting you into a newer room, they'll do it fir they can. But my best advice is to book the room category you want and don't count on an upgrade (we learned that the hard way once!). It will cost more but if you think you'll be miserable at a lower room category, then spend the extra money to get exactly what won't make you miserable! Also, they are updating the rooms this year and other features on the resort, and I've heard they already started. The resort is also pretty small, but that's what I love about it. It's conducive to meeting lots of new friends. We met a lot of great people over the course of the week. The beach is beautiful. Negril is known for it's 7 mile beach. There's security all along the beach, so walking for miles at a time is never really a problem. You will run into local vendors trying to sell you something but you say no and they won't push. I never felt like they were a bother. The water is crystal clear and it was very warm when we were there (probably since the temperatures were in the high 30s Celcius). People often complain about the lack of chairs and floaties. Usually I can see what they're talking about but on this vacation, we never had a problem finding a chair, no matter how early/late we were looking...and that goes for pool and beach area. The floaties, however, were impossible to come by. I got my hands on one only two of the seven days I was there. We saw that people were bringing to their rooms at night and keeping them all through the week. I thought it was a bit unfair since there are only a few to go around. While we were there, the piano bar was under construction and it wasn't complete until our second to last night there. That was very very disappointing. That meant it was very noisy down at that end of the resort.. However, it you could tolerate the noise, you were pretty much guaranteed to have that pool/hot tub to yourself. There would be the odd person hanging around but other than that, it was generally empty. The food on the resort is excellent, in my opinion. There are a few must-haves, including the tenderloin steak from Sundowners and the jerk snapper from Barefoot by the Sea. We went to Kimonos twice, which offers Asian cuisine. You get to sit around the hibachi grill while the chef cooks you a really great meal and entertains you. It's a really good time. The buffets can get a bit tiring but that's the only choice you have at lunch for a sit down meal. We love the jerk chicken from the beach grill. The pizza was also very good. The diner is open pretty much all day/night and the pizza shack is open all day. There wasn't much of a nightlife this time around, probably because the piano bar where it all tends to happen was out of commission. However, that's not to say people were in bed by 9, either. If we wanted to stay up late, we could have and we know we could have found people to party with. We did one night and had a blast. All in all, it's worth checking out Sandals Negril., but only if you like smaller resorts and don't mind that it's a bit outdated in some ways. The staff is unbelievable and the beach is beautiful. The sunsets at night are to die for. You'll probably never take a bad picture at this resort. Enjoy it if you go! We have booked again for next Christmas.
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