Sometimes you want to try something new, but sometimes you want to do what’s comfortable. Royal Plantation is that space you go to when you need to get away from it all and leave your cares at the doorstep. We love this place. This was our second stay and we’re booked for 2012 to return. I don’t see us trading in that comfortable space for a new dance partner anytime soon. It helps that Royal Plantation is one of the most beautiful properties on Earth, but it’s truly the staff that make this place shine above the rest.
Arrival- We were in the bulkhead exit row of a Delta 757 so we knew we had it made for the mad dash through customs. First off the plane for the second year in a row! Score one for us. We were excited to see the customs liners were fairly short and everything seemed to be running smoothly. However, upon getting to baggage claim we realized we were now on Jamaican time and eventually got our bags. No worries through. Got to the Sandals Lounge to relax a few minutes while our transfer was arranged. We were a little upset to report that they only had Red Stipe Light and the Red Stripe keg was empty. There would be plenty more to come at the resort, so that was minor. We waited a little over 20 minutes and asked the agent when we thought we would be moving this show along. Turns out we were waiting on another couple who was on our same flight. We later learned the poor thing had her bag lost by the airline. She was flustered when we met her but we ended up being good friends with them for the week and her tone was much different by the time we shared a transfer back to the airport.
It was a BUSY day at the hotel when we arrived but we already knew the drill. We gave the credit card, left our bags, and went to the Wobbly Peacock for lunch and drinks while our room was made ready. We knew something was up with the wry smile of Kelly-Ann the “Soon Come Back” loyalty manager. After lunch and a game of pool in the billiard room we were escorted to our suite… a HUGE upgrade! We were asked if would mind spending a few nights in one suite and moving half way through. NO PROBLEM MON! We were in the Verandah suite with a balcony as large as a standard room. It was the perfect place to have breakfast each morning. And the bathroom, well, you’ll just have to see the pictures to believe it. The bathroom may be larger than our bedroom at home! HA!
It was a nice touch to have your butler give you a schedule of dinner reservations for the week. However, we like to eat around 8pm instead of 7:30. No problems there either, it was quickly changed. I think they probably only do the reservations when the resort was full. (Which it was) Certainly takes the guess work out of dinner which we appreciated.
Construction and Updates: From the last time we had stayed at Royal Plantation there have been a few changes which are all for the good. They are currently under construction with a beach bathroom on the east side of the property. Just in the short week we were there the progress on the bathrooms was evident. They will be a nice addition. Also, they are building a new jetty which will then create a bigger crescent beach on the east side with a dedicated spot for the watersports boats. Love this.
Food: The food is among the best we ever have. We are not very wealthy people and this trip each year really is our splurge to relax and something we look forward to and talk about almost daily. This property is more expensive than most but well worth the difference. When you can have room service with eggs benedict for breakfast, lunch with coconut shrimp and lobster BLT’s, and filet mignon with escargot for dinner there isn’t much to complain about. The ONLY and I mean only complaint I had all week was that our breakfast room service order would sometimes be 30 minutes later than we requested the night before and one morning it never arrived at all. We think the door hang-tag may have blown away in the wind. Wasn’t a big deal, we also think it had to do with the property being completely full. You have to allow for that in our opinion. We also enjoy the buffalo wings and the pizza from the pub. Sometimes a nice change to have your butler deliver to the beach for lunch. (Which she did!)
Drinks: You really do get what you pay for when you come to RP. Here we have Makers Mark, Grey Goose, and other liquors you don’t see at other properties. However the biggest difference may be that the pina coladas here are mixed in a blender and not out of a Slurpee machine. Not to mention white and red wines come in the correct glassware. This is a big difference from other resorts; even Sandals. We suggest trying a frozen lemonade with goose, frozen margarita, the g-stone martini (just ask anyone at the peacock bar), and I loved the Rado Coffee-Tini with rum, amaretto, bailey’s, coffee, milk, and cinnamon. A wonderful way to end the day.
Staff: This is where the resort really shines. There really are too many names to mention everyone because everyone has a part in making your stay special. It all starts at the top with Peter Fraser, the long-time general manager of the property. You see him directing others but you also see him serving drinks and opening doors for guests. He truly leads by example. Gladstone is the long-time bar manager at the pub. He’s professional in every sense of the word and remembers what you like and makes sure your glass is always full. If you go to RP make sure to spend some time at the bar with G-stone. You’ll be glad you did. However our brothers from other mothers would have to be Biggs the Beach Butler (Adrian is his real name) and Mickhael the water sports manager. These guys are more than staff to us, they really are family and friends. Each time we’ve been we always feel like we are their most important guests. Biggs will bring you your favorite drink to the beach chair before you even ordered it in the morning. He wants to know about you and never ceases to amaze. And he’s having a baby soon! NEXT WEEK! Always a smile on his face and we can’t thank him enough. It’s a good day when you can start it with a mangosa (mango juice and sparkling wine) in the morning served by Biggs.
Watersports: We found a new love on this trip. Paddle boarding! It’s basically a wind-surfing board without the sail or a surfboard with a paddle. It’s a new trend and we love it. You can go out from the shore and feel freedom with each wave. We loved that and Mickhel always made sure we had a good time. We also enjoy the snorkel and were able to enjoy a trip each morning. If you can, make sure to make it to the shipwreck site the first calm (green flag) day you have. You can’t make it out there in rough seas but if the stars are in order it makes for a great day.
Special event: We were fortunate enough to meet a lady named Cyndi and her “red shirted” crew from Tropic Travel Online. They have over 200 paid nights to Sandals and a large chunk are from RP. They were nice enough to invite us to a private dinner in the green room of the resort. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone from her circle group and shared a great meal together. We also learned a lot from the pros! During the meal we were surprised with a special chef’s choice appetizer of what were basically corn muffins stuffed with ox-tail, seafood, and chicken. A lovely treat.
Thanksgiving: We were there for thanksgiving and the meal served was a nice twist on an old favorite. Jerk-Turkey! I was in heaven. Along with the jerk turkey they had carving stations with prime rib and lamb. I was in a food coma by the end of the night. They also had a special sorell (not sure if I spelled it right) sauce made from a traditional Jamaican berry found only around the holidays.
Sandals Select Dinner: The return guest dinner was an elegant affair! Last year we shared one table with a handful of couples but this year was much different and much busier. I believe there were over 45 people in the conference center for a meal full of filet of beef, chicken, and lobster served in a half-coconut shell. What a treat! We were all enjoying our multi-course meal and arrived to a candle-lit and decorated room with a complimentary bottle of rum to show appreciation. We love this about Sandals.
Entertainment: This resort really is small and we love it that way. If you want the party atmosphere you can go next door to Sandals grand. But we feel you’ll be running back here for more quiet! Garfield is a great social hosts who does hold various activites during the day. We quite enjoyed them! My wife was able to cook with a RP chef during the Iron Chef competition and we were able to mix our own drinks during a mixology course on the pier one day. It was fun and let us interact with the staff on a more personal level. My wife even took part in a complimentary yoga class one day at sunset and each day we made it a point to sweat a little on the tennis courts. And each evening we were treated to live music at dinner and outside under the stars. A vacation is all in what you make of it and we enjoyed every moment.
Last day: We had a 4pm flight so our transfer back to the airport was at noon. We were able to have an early room service breakfast and the staff was nice enough to prepare a to-go lunch for the journey home. However we opted for a final pizza and salad served to us on the tea-terrace after our bags were packed. It was a great end to a wonderful week and one that we’ll look forward to in the future.
Must do: Have a G-stone martini, try paddle boarding, get to know Biggs the Beach Butler, at least walk next door to see the other property, attend at least one entertainment activity, don’t stay in your room all day, try the coconut shrimp on the beach, try the buffalo wings during a game of pool, stick your head under the waterfall at the hot tub, try high tea at least once, and don’t be afraid to ask for anything.
Don’t forget: tennis shoes for tennis, water shoes if you want to try Dunns River falls, make sure to get up early to claim a shaded beach chair if you need one, to leave room in your baggage for duty free items, don’t pack to much, allow your butler to unpack your bags, put a $400 deposit down for your next trip and get a spa credit, and have a great time! Soon come!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- •All suite resort and all are serviced by butlers trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers•2 private beaches with beach butler service•The Caribbean’s only Champagne and Caviar Bar•Exquisite International, Mediterranean, Caribbean and French cuisine•24 hour in suite dining•Complimentary transfers from this resort to all Sandals Resorts•Voted Sandals Resorts “World Leading All-Inclusive Company” 16 years in a row•Voted Sandals Resorts “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand” 18 years in a row•Five Star Diamond Award - American Academy of Hospitality Sciences ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Sandals Royal Plantation Hotel Ocho Rios
- Royal Plantation Ocho Rios
- Royal Plantation Jamaica