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“Amazing 25th Wedding Anniversary!”

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Sandals Royal Plantation
Ranked #2 of 35 Hotels in Ocho Rios
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 7 January 2013

First, I would like to start with the fact that my wife and I have not traveled a lot in the last 25 years. We looked for over a year and a half to find “the place” for our special holiday. Gratefully, others have written reviews that helped us with our decision, so I feel compelled to write a review to assist others.

Sandals Royal Plantation exceeded all of our expectations! Jamaica ended up being a great destination. Since it was a short flight, only three and a half hour from Philadelphia, we arrived on the island by noon on Saturday. As soon as we cleared customs, we were greeted by Sandals Lounge directly in front of us. Sandals employees made us feel special as soon as we arrived. There was a car already waiting to take us to the resort that we barely had time to use the bathroom. It was a pleasant ride and the driver was very informative. The driver asked if we wanted to stop, but we were anxious to get to paradise, so we declined.

As we were driven onto the gorgeous Sandals Royal Plantation property, we immediately started to relax and forget about the “real world”. We were greeted at the front door by a Plantation manager and butler. Immediately, we were offered a beverage and cool towels to refresh us after traveling and assist with completing the registration process. We were then given an informative tour of the Plantation by one of our two butlers and then left to be on our own.

We have never had butler service before and were a little nervous. Our Butlers Tanisha and Neal put us at ease right away. They gave us a cell phone so we could contact them whenever we needed anything. They were both very kind, thoughtful, respectful, helpful, and very fun to talk with. Since I happened to celebrate my birthday as well as our 25th wedding anniversary during this vacation, our butlers expertly decorated our room and bath with candles and flowers, as well as added a bucket of ice with champagne & glasses, to create a beautiful and romantic setting.
Our room was beautiful. The décor was inviting and relaxing. We had a beautiful view of the beach and ocean, which we enjoyed each morning and late afternoon. The in-room bar was stocked to our specific requests and replenished daily. Each day our room was expertly cleaned and refreshed with fresh towels. Since it was our anniversary, we chose a room with a whirlpool tub. This was a very nice upgrade.

Every day we enjoyed one, or both, of the Plantation’s beaches. They were set up each morning by efficient and accommodating life guards who placed comfortable cushions on the chairs for us and brought us fresh towels. We always had chairs available to use. We did not ever have to get up early to go find and claim our chairs. Our beach butlers brought us our beverages regularly, especially after they found out what we liked to drink, by keeping a keen eye on us as well as the other guests. We took advantage of some water sports, especially the snorkeling. Experienced, certified, professional resort staff made sure we were shown how to use the equipment safely before being brought out to the reef on a resort boat. My wife was given personal expert instructions to ease her concerns about snorkeling in the ocean (thank you Richard).

My wife and I enjoyed a couples massage in the luxurious Red Lane Spa. The very professional staff welcomed us and made us feel at ease right away. We were shown to our respective male/female sections of the spa where we changed and then given the opportunity to use either the sauna or steam room before our massage. We hand an exceptional and extremely relaxing experience!

There are three restaurants at the Royal Plantation. At no time did we find them boring or limiting, since they changed their menus regularly. This gave both my wife and me the opportunity to try some new and different foods. As with everything else at the Royal Plantation, we found the food at each of restaurants exceptional. The resort was exceptionally maintained. The grounds were gorgeous, even in the wake of Hurricane Sandy
.
In summary, this was a dream vacation come true! It was everything we wanted and more!!! Thank you to Sandals Royal Plantation for creating and providing the atmosphere and accommodations to experience our dream for celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. Also, thank you to Ruth DeMuth from the ruth@tripguy.com for her patience and assistance with getting us to our dream vacation.

  • Stayed: November 2012, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank Timothy H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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1,723 - 1,727 of 2,666 reviews

Reviewed 5 January 2013

Our 5 nights at this wonderful resort were simply fantastic! The surroundings are beautiful, the amenities first class, and the service impeccable! It is really the people that made staying at this small, quiet and classy resort something special. Our butlers, Darren and Dacia were warm and gracious. Adrien and Oshane were always cheerful and attentive. Our last night there I was craving peanut butter, which is not to be seen on any of the menus. Sherril Anne and Natalia Wisdom created a special peanut butter ice cream sundae and brought it to me on the terrace with the inscription in chocolate on the plate: "Anything is possible man!" That sums up the attitude at this delightful resort. Our only teeny disappointments were that all the rooms do not have balconies and that service at breakfast time was always very slow. Overall, however, we highly recommend this place!

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank jlevy666
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 January 2013

We had been to the Royal Plantation two years ago and we were impressed. Based on our past experience and the change to Sandals, I can see some changes for the better and some for the worse.

I will start with the good things:
The butlers seems to be better trained and the requests we made in advance were honored, but we had to go over them again once at the resort aggressively. I don’t know why they don’t read all the stuff they ask you to answer in advance, but it’s worked out that way both times.
The food is lower calorie.
The alcohol selection was better, the wine was a better quality.
The transportation to the resort was a shorter wait and private.
The golf resort had brand new carts and the course was in excellent shape.
The room service was timely and good, both breakfast and dinner.
We were able to dine at Le Papillion twice ant at the times we wanted, but this time I was extremely specific about my wishes.
The evening entertainment was consistently good and usually ended by 10-10:30 pm. The bands were usually different each night.

Less than good things:
The men who work for Sandals at the airport tried to hustle us out of the airport (rather than into the Sandals lounge) to the bar outside the airport. I insisted on going in the lounge as I did not want a porter to dump me in the bar outside to wait in the heat as Sandals has a lovely lounge to wait on for just that reason. It happened the first trip and I was (and had to be) very determined not to let it happen again. I suspect they are trying to throw business the way of the bar, but I was having none of it. Also neither of the ladies at the Sandals lounge front desk ever greeted us - I consider this behavior rude and unprofessional.
The promised room upgrade (promised during booking) was a complete joke. They are offering something they can’t fulfill- why get our hopes up! I was not a happy camper. Seems the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. By the second trip to this resort I knew there was no hope from the start, but IMHO it is a form of bait and switch.
The travel agent on site was an idiot who couldn't get my name correct and our one prepaid trip off site was cancelled and she blamed it on me saying she had my name wrong. Funny she had my money as it had to be paid for from the US in advance! Beware the cruise ships, they seem to control when and if trips go and I didn't want to go with the cruise folks, so our trip was cancelled. The Butler and the travel agent couldn't be bothered to tell the truth and say that until an hour before the excursion was to begin. There is no doubt in my mind they knew about it long before that, but hoped I would choose alternate activity to fill my time, NOT. Their failure to communicate the truth of the situation really ruined our day. Needless to say I was in no mood to reschedule.
The other trip we wanted to take off the resort was to the distillery and they were closed for the holidays and a fire and again the butler couldn’t get his story straight in time and ruined another opportunity. It was Christmas and the place was closed and had suffered a fire. Gee, I can’t imagine why it was closed?!
Oh well, its money we didn’t spend in Jamaica and the failure to communicate in a straight forward manor was a huge negative in our trip.
Another time we went next door to the other Sandals to go to their gift ship as the RP one is small. What was a 5 minutes trip over for a ten minute shopping spree became a 1 ½ hour wait to return! Good grief.
When we went to the golf course we were left waiting for long periods. The truth is there is a timetable and you aren’t going anywhere on that island on your timetable. If you don’t believe me go to the Sandals next door and read the timetable on the wall in the lobby and you will see I am not lying. If you want to golf at 9:30am – it isn’t going to happen no matter how nice you butler pretends to be. The taxi runs at 10am. It would be more truthful to just post the schedule! I was truly annoyed once I had been next door.
Oh, go next door and use their gift shop- it’s cheaper and has more stuff. Coffee is on sale on Wednesdays. If you pay attention whatever you want is on sale on a different day. Wait it out.
The food:
While the calories were less so was the taste. Who has ever heard of a 5 star restaurant serving boiling hot crème brulee? The deserts were poor and consistently warm if not dangerously so.
Like our last visit, the food was repetitive I was completely nonplussed. They really need to get a more inventive chef. Our waiters (in training) were just rude. One told me to fine it myself and walked off. I doubt she will survive long, as Peter the general manager will eventually get wind of the behavior.
We simply love Peter – he is always available to respond to anything one could need. I could never be as pleasant and patient as he is. He is to be commended for his high standards. He simply cannot be everywhere all the time. It was because of him we chose to return this year.
Our Butler(s):
They try, but whether it’s training or just the manor of the people in the country etc., but sometimes it’s just the wrong touch for the paying crowd. I came to be catered to not held captive until I, the customer, gave up and did things their way. Tell the truth and your will be rewarded with happy guests!

  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank FredFStone
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 January 2013

I am not sure how anyone could write a bad review of the Royal Plantation. The only negative thing i could say about this resort, is that every resort I have been to since RP has paled in comparison. When my husband and I go on vacation now, we have to stop ourselves from saying... remember the food at RP, remember the beach at RP, because no place can compare. The food was amazing. The first night we were there (we traveled in April of 2009) there was a steak and lobster dinner with entertainment! The coconut shrimp with the mango chutney... i can still taste it. Its a small resort, so if you want to spend some one on one time with your loved one, you really get the opportunity to do that here, but you also have fun! We had an amazing driver who tool us wherever we wanted (before going to the hotel he took us to a shop since we forgot a camera and he helped us bargain for a good deal!) There are peacocks on the premises... PEACOCKS! I was in complete aw! The people are so nice! When we went, a gentleman from the hotel would occasionally take our picture and he told us at the end if we wanted to purchase them, we could, no pressure at all. I'm still upset that I didn't buy them. If you want a romantic vacation, that is super relaxing with freedom to do what you want... I highly recommend Royal Plantation.

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank FatimahM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 January 2013

Royal Plantation is in our opinion, by far the most elegant, luxurious all-inclusive, adult only resort in the Caribbean. The outstanding food and service, along with British Butler Guild certified training, and attention to detail is formidable.

This is our third year staying 10 nights during the Christmas and New Year period and we honestly cannot find a flaw with the resort. It is truly exceptional.

Under the leadership of General Manager Peter Fraser the resort has clearly hired the best in class, in every category of employee. Everyone does their job extremely well and with pleasure. From the watersports team who carefully manicure the beach, to beach butlers, chambermaids, waiters, Chefs Extraordinare and personal butlers. They all excel at what they do everyday.

Special thanks to our wonderful butlers Audell and Shelly-Ann who catered to our every need.

The holiday season is an extra special time of year and their are many repeat guests at Royal Plantation who call this place home away from home. They are also willing to pay a hefty premium price for the Royal Plantation experience.

However, a huge concern for many repeat guests is the association with the Sandals brand and the possibility of losing the current distinguished rating of Royal Plantation as being a cut above the rest. Many fear that the resort rating and elegance will begin to diminish due to heavy "discount rate offerings" throughout the year. We hope this discounting, is not to the detriment of the Royal Plantation we have all come to know it over the years, as there is no desire for guests to see this resort become a Sandals property known for a somewhat younger crowd who wishes to party etc. Also, it would help to keep the Papillion French restaurant a little more elegant and formal and insist that men where proper dress shirts if not jackets instead of golf shirts. This dress code kind of defeats the white glove service and ambience in the restaurant. I understand the Round Hill has managed to keep a dress code so I hope Royal Plantation will reconsider bringing back some formality.

I truly hope someone takes note of this concern, as it was the topic of conversation this year with many and some are questioning how many more years they will be able to come back to Royal Plantation before it downgrades itself to meet the Sandals expectation.

  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank granddamme
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sandals Royal Plantation

Address: Main Street, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint Ann Parish > Ocho Rios
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Ocho Rios
#2 Spa Hotel in Ocho Rios
#2 Luxury Hotel in Ocho Rios
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Ocho Rios
#2 Romantic Hotel in Ocho Rios
Price Range: $760 - $2,163 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Sandals Royal Plantation 5*
Number of rooms: 74
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 
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Also Known As:
Sandals Royal Plantation Hotel Ocho Rios
Royal Plantation Ocho Rios
Royal Plantation Jamaica

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