Headed to St. Lucia!!!

So THIS is exciting! I was just invited on a FAM trip by Sandals to visit all three of their properties in St. Lucia! YAY! I’ll be spending 4 days and 3 nights at Sandals Regency La Toc, with visits and resort tours at Sandals Grande St. Lucian and Sandals Halcyon. I can’t wait to share the photos and reviews of each resort with you all; this is an amazing opportunity and perfectly timed, as one of my friends/clients is getting married at La Toc in March!

slu-001 slu-005

Coming Soon: The Caribbean’s First Overwater Bungalows

Image

Last month, the wonderful folks at Sandals Resorts made a major announcement, one that those of us in the travel industry had long awaited: the addition of overwater bungalows to the Caribbean! Currently, you can only enjoy these accommodations if you travel to Tahiti, where the overwater, glass-bottom bungalows are readily available to travelers. In 2015, they will be available at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Jamaica!

At this point, Sandals is only planning to construct 5 suites, which means they will disappear as soon as they become available. They are using the back end of the private island at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay to construct, which is slated to begin next month.

Guests staying these suites will be able to step down in the Caribbean Sea directly from their room. There will also be an outdoor shower, hammock for two and hot tub jacuzzi on the exterior of each bungalow.

Inside, expect nothing less than the finest Sandals has to offer. Their standard 4 poster, mahogany bed will be present in the room, along with modern accommodations, a soaking tub and a glass panel in the floor that will provide a view directly into the water!

Image

I mean, wow. I can’t WAIT to get back to Montego Bay to experience these suites for myself. These would be perfect for honeymooners, couples celebrating their anniversary, or anyone looking for a luxurious romantic getaway.

The suites are not yet available for booking, but once they are, I PROMISE to let you all know!

Jamaica FAM Trip: Beaches Ocho Rios

Hello my good people! I know it’s been awhile, but for good reason: your favorite travel consultant has been TRAVELING! Yes, I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite Domestic Destinations, Ann Arbor Michigan, as well as go on a long-awaited trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. While in the DR, I had the opportunity to tour SIX resorts and will begin posting about my experiences shortly. Hopefully it won’t take me 6 months to write up those reviews….

When I last left off, we had just toured the all-butler, all-fabulous Sandals Royal Plantation, and had boarded our bus for the final stop of our whirlwind week in Jamaica, Beaches Ocho Rios. We would be checking in and staying two nights at Beaches before heading back to the USA. (sadface).

What a view!

What a view!

Continue reading

Jamaica FAM Trip: Sandals Royal Plantation

I’m back: Picking up where I left off on my comprehensive review of my Jamaica FAM trip , with only 2 resorts left to go! (You can do it, Carla!)

When I last left you all, we had just finished touring the VERY large Sandals Grande Riviera Beach and Villa Golf Resort, and were headed to our last tour of the day, Sandals Royal Plantation. Fortunately this resort was all of 10 minutes from Grande Riviera, so we arrived before we even had a chance to get comfortable.

Sandals Royal Plantation is steeped in European influence and is the ONLY All-Butler/All-Suite resort in the Sandals/Beaches family of properties. It’s located cliffside with gorgeous views of the Caribbean Sea available from EVERY suite on property. In other words, if you are looking to be pampered in an upscale setting, this would be the Sandals property for you.

Welcome

Continue reading

Jamaica FAM Trip: Sandals Grande Riviera

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.

WMpic1
Continue reading

Jamaica FAM Trip: Sandals Royal Caribbean

Please excuse my unintended hiatus; some out-of-town trainings got in the way of my blogging and now I feel completely behind!!!

So when I left off, we had just settled in at Sandals Montego Bay and were preparing for 4 more resort tours to close out the week. Sandals Royal Caribbean & Private Island was the only remaining resort to tour in Montego Bay before we headed east to Ocho Rios.

Sandals Royal Caribbean is only located a stone’s throw away from Sandals MoBay, which further enhances the convenience of the “Stay at One, Play at Three” program through Sandals. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a great deal of time to explore the resort due to our late arrival for the tour. Which is a shame, as this resort was my favorite one of the entire FAM trip.Private island wm

Why did this one stand out from the others? Two words: Private Island. But more on that later.

 


Continue reading

Jamaica FAM Trip: Sandals Montego Bay

Ahhhh, Sandals MoBay. I have fond memories of this resort; I think we (as a group) really bonded during our two day stay at Sandals Montego Bay. But more on that later. This isn’t supposed to be about me anyway! 🙂

IMG_2458

Sandals Montego Bay is situated near Sangster International Airport. Actually; “near” is not the appropriate word. The airport is quite literally across the street from this resort. The plus side is, you don’t have far to travel to get there. The negative? Airplanes. Those guests who are looking for a soothing retreat away from the noise and sounds of the city will not enjoy their time at Sandals Montego Bay. The airplanes fly over more regularly during the day, but honestly after the first day I barely noticed them. It soon became a reflex to lift my arm up and wave at the jets as they flew over, which is customary at this particular resort.

Continue reading

Jamaica FAM Trip: Sandals Carlyle

After an hour of travel time between Negril and Montego Bay, we pulled up in front of Sandals Carlyle, the next, FOURTH, and LAST resort tour of this tiring Tuesday. Those of us who managed to stay awake for the ride had a chance to see the “Hip Strip” in Montego Bay right before we arrived to the resort; we passed Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, complete with an inflatable obstacle course in the middle of the water that rivaled that of ABC’s “Wipeout”. (Looked fun too, I MUST go back!) We also passed a number of shops, restaurants and bars; Montego Bay is definitely the place to go if you’re looking for some great local nightlife!

Sandals Carlyle’s tagline is “The smallest Sandals resort; with the Biggest Heart”; I could see why upon our arrival. The resort IS much smaller than its counterparts, presenting itself like a boutique hotel. The Sandals standards are still present however; all-inclusive amenities, Butler service (in specific rooms only), and even better – ALL rooms are eligible for 24 hour room service. Furthermore, this resort features the “Stay at One, Play at Three” option, giving guests of the Carlyle access to Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Royal Caribbean via complimentary shuttle buses that run throughout the day.

 

IMG_2437

First allow me to apologize…my camera AND phone were both dying by the time we arrived to this resort, so my photos are very limited.

Accommodations: Sandals Carlyle has 52 guest rooms in 4 different categories, ranging from Seaside Deluxe to Carlyle Club Oceanview Penthouse (with Butler service). This resort does not have a Concierge level guest room. The two top tier rooms have all recently been renovated and updated. All of the guest rooms are housed within the main building at the resort, which has three stories (no elevator, just so you know!) We were shown the Oceanview Penthouse Room, which is pictured below.

IMG_2451IMG_2453

Dining/Bars: There are onsite restaurants at the Carlyle: Bay Window, Nibbles and The Carlyle. However, guests have access to over NINETEEN restaurants should you choose to visit Sandals Montego Bay or Royal Caribbean. As previously mentioned, ALL Carlyle guests are also eligible for 24 hour room service if you don’t feel like leaving the resort.

Pools/Beach: Sandals Carlyle has one main pool and a whirlpool. The resort is situated across the street from a public beach, which is accessible to resort guests as well. All of the watersports and diving inclusions that come standard at Sandals are available to Carlyle guests at the two other Montego Bay properties. There is a resort spa, but the Red Lane Spa with full services must be accessed at Sandals Montego Bay.

IMG_2441

Overall Atmosphere: The sales manager told our group that people who stay at Sandals Carlyle become regulars, and I certainly understand why that is the case. This is a very intimate resort where the staff will know your name very shortly after your arrival. Those who are looking to avoid a huge resort where you are forced to walk 15 minutes to dinner would thoroughly enjoy the Carlyle, as would those who are looking for a more affordable Sandals option with the same amenities as the bigger resorts. The “Stay at One Play at Three” feature gives guests the opportunity to sample what the bigger resorts have to offer,  at a lesser price. Would this kind of resort fit your personal style?

Jamaica FAM Trip: Sandals Negril

Our final destination in Negril was the lone Sandals property in the city: Sandals Negril. Also located on Norman Manley Blvd, this property is located in close proximity to Beaches Negril and Grand Pineapple, two of the other resorts I previously discussed. After all, they are all located on Negril’s Seven Mile Beach and are trying to take full advantage of the real estate!

IMG_2367

This was our third resort tour of the day and after being out in the hot Jamaican sun, we travel agents were DOG tired. The kind folks at Sandals knew it too, as they greeted us with cool lemongrass-scented towels and cold refreshments (note: the cool towels are a staple at ALL Sandals resorts and have a way of making you feel relaxed instantly). We also knew that we’d be having lunch at this resort – yes, we toured three resorts all before noon – so we were definitely looking forward to some good eating as well.
Continue reading