Hi! Remember me?
Yes I’m back, and I apologize for the crazy long hiatus! Life jumped in the way of my blog, which is a HUGE no-no! (smile)
When I last left you on my amazing FAM trip adventure. I had just finished drooling all over Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and Private Island and enjoyed a relaxing day at Sandals Montego Bay with my fellow agents. Our host had given us a LOT of free time on this day, more than we’d had all week, so a few of us tried to go water tubing, lounged at the beach, played at the pool; this was the day that truly felt like a vacation. We attended a cultural show that night in the theater and briefly participated in some karaoke. (No one can touch my Kris Kross impression!) Good times!
The next day was bittersweet. We had to check out of Sandals MoBay, but we were headed to Ocho Rios for even more fun and two final nights at Beaches Ocho Rios. I was excited about what lay ahead, especially knowing that we could potentially be given the opportunity to climb Dunn’s River Falls (which is TOTALLY on my bucket list).
We loaded the bus and drove one hour east toward Ocho Rios. The drive was scenic and beautiful, with looming mountains on our right and the impossibly blue Caribbean Sea to our left. We passed several other resorts: RIU, Holiday Inn Sunspree, Grand Palladium, and Couples (once we arrived to Ocho Rios).
Sandals Grande Riviera Beach and Villa Golf Resort was our first stop of the day. I was very excited to see this resort, as I sent a client and her husband to this same resort in 2012 for their 40th wedding anniversary and they LOVED it. (Hello Thompsons!!). We were told that this was Sandals’ largest property in Jamaica sitting on 100 acres, and once we arrived I could see that they were not lying. The place is HUGE, split up into three different areas for guests’ convenience.
Accommodations: We pulled up to the main entrance on the hillside/Butler Villas section of the resort, where we were shown the Butler guest lounge before being whisked away to travel uphill for room tours. Effective February 2013, ALL of the villas are now serviced by a Butler. (!) We were able to see two villas: Butler Village Honeymoon Romeo & Juliet Sanctuary One Bedroom Villas Suite with Private Plunge Pool (pause for breath) and a Butler Village One Bedroom Oceanview Poolside Villa Suite.
The Romeo & Juliet Suite is the top tier room and Maaaan, I can see why. It’s amazing!!!!! It’s split into a living area and bedroom area, with an open courtyard separating the two. In the courtyard is the private plunge pool with a hot tub. I mean, you COULD leave your villa, but why?
The Oceanview Poolside Suite was also quite impressive and spacious, but instead of a private pool, you have a shared pool that is used by the other villas in your “block”. I believe I only saw 4 villas per pool.
As with the other resorts in the Sandals chain, Butler suites allow you to be waited on, hand and foot. An added plus is access to Kelly’s Dockside, an outdoor restaurant reserved ONLY for those staying in Butler’s Suites and Villas.
Later in the tour, we were taken to Riviera Seaside, which is located downhill from the Butler Village and is the second of the 2 guest areas at Sandals Grande Riviera. We were shown the Riviera Honeymoon Beachfront One Bedroom Butler Suite, which boasts an incredible view of the Caribbean Sea as well as the pampered service of a private Butler.
Dining: This resort has 15 (!) different dining options to choose from, ranging from Chinese to Italian to Pizza. We had an opportunity to eat at Bayside at Riviera Seaside, which was a delicious option for a buffet lunch. Several of the resorts require reservations. Guests staying in Butler-category suites and villas have access to Kelly’s Dockside (as previously mentioned) and 24 hour room service.
Pools/Beach: Okay, if you’re a person whose vacation experience is determined by the quality of swimming options, then THIS is the resort for you. Seriously. The third component of Sandals Grande Riviera is The Ochi Beach Club, which is exactly what it sounds like: an awesome beach club. Tons of sand, beach chairs, 2 bars (including a swim-up bar), 3 restaurants and a pool. If you can’t tell, I was quite impressed by the beach club and wanted to spend more time there!
There is a massive pool at the Great House, the main reception building near Butler Village. For a nominal fee, private cabanas are available for rental, either 1/2 or full day, and come with concierge service. Of course, all of the watersports standard at Sandals properties are also included.
Atmosphere/Extras: Sandals Grande Riviera is a wonderful resort. It’s large, so you have the option of being in the midst of everything or staying in your own private retreat. They conveniently have these golf carts to take you around the resort (they told me what they’re called but I COMPLETELY FORGOT), so you don’t have to walk the 100 acres.
They don’t have the name “Golf Resort” just for show; the golf course is only a few minutes away and transportation is included, as well as your greens fees. You will be responsible for paying for a caddy (not included) and the cost of renting a golf cart, clubs or shoes. There is a pro shop on the golf course to help you get yourself suited up right before performing your best Tiger Woods impression!
Lastly, there is an impressive meeting and conference facility onsite, which can accommodate up to 1200 people!
It’s been almost three months since I visited this resort, and when I think of it, feelings of relaxation, fun, and that BEACH CLUB come immediately to mind. Everyone I know who has stayed there has loved it, and I am looking forward to spending more time there myself in the near future.