Guys, I experienced an all-inclusive resort for the first time a couple weeks ago….and I LOVED IT! I have always been one to do a bunch of research on places I go and try to eat/drink/do things like a local. I try to never go to a chain restaurants or only go to the big tourism places. When it came time for Jason and I to plan our 16 month belated-honeymoon, we decided we wanted to go stress-free. We had just spent 9 months apart and wanted to go on a vacation where we did not have to plan or try to see so many things that we do not simply relax and enjoy each other. The first thing I did was email an old high school friend who is now a travel agent (info at bottom). I told him our budget, that we were interested in an all-inclusive resort that was for adults only, and we wanted to go to Jamaica. He did the rest. He sent us multiple options, got the flights set, and made sure everything was taken care of for us. It was awesome.
Fast-forward to trip time. We stayed at the Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort and Private Island in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The resort was beautiful and seemed really secluded, even though it was right next to multiple resorts. They did a great job of building the landscape up to keep it quiet and seem small. I would highly recommend going in off-peak times because it was easy to get to know other couples there and it was not crowded at all. We had 7 restaurants available to us at 3 different Sandals resorts. It was easy (and free) to shuttle to the other resorts if you wanted to eat or just hang out there. We chose to do the Butler Level room, which gave us Damien, the guy who helped set everything up for us. He made sure we had the best seats on the beach with a cooler, made dinner reservations, and was there to help us with anything we needed. The staff was fantastic. Everyone was overly helpful and kind. They liked to have fun with the guests, many of them knowing guests from previous trips. Thankfully, Jason can talk to anyone about anything and enjoys meeting new people because it made the experience that much better. We met so many great couples, some young and on their honeymoon, others that were retired and spent a few weeks at this resort every year.
We did not eat any food that was not good, with some of it being exceptional. The “Jerk Shack” was our favorite lunch spot. It was traditional Jamaican food and we really loved the jerk chicken and sausage, grilled sweet potatoes, and fried dumplings with scotch bonnet pepper hot sauce and a cold Red Stripe. For dinner our favorite was a Blue Mountain Coffee rubbed steak. There was food and drinks available at any point during the day or night. They had a delicious breakfast buffet where you ate overlooking the ocean. I had bagel and lox and fresh fruit each morning because I can’t bring myself to not eat lox anytime it is available. They had burgers, chicken, fries, and pizza available at the ocean bar for lunch, a buffet style on a porch, or you could cross to the private island and eat at the Jerk Shack. They then had a French restaurant, which we couldn’t eat at because Jason didn’t think to bring long pants, a Caribbean inspired restaurant, a British pub, a la carte restaurant, and Thai cuisine all at our resort. There were many other types of food at the other resorts, which we went to once (Italian). Then they had late night food at the pub, room service, and other goodies. BUT what may have been our favorite was the soft-serve ice cream machine that was available all the time 🙂 They had great drinks from champagne, wine, beer to any kind of liquor you could want. They were great about making sure you got exactly what you wanted.
I promise we did not just eat, we also took advantage of the many free activities they had available. They had snorkeling, scuba, wind surfing, kayaking, hobie cats (like a sailboat), “and more.” We really enjoyed the snorkeling and went out 4 different times. The water was so clear and there were so many fish and reefs to explore. We spent time relaxing and reading on the beach, chatting with guests and employees at the bar, played pool volleyball, and simply enjoyed each others company.
Sandals Royal Caribbean far exceeded our expectations and gave us the most perfect belated honeymoon. We will definitely try to go back and I cannot recommend it enough. Thanks to Dustin Eskew from Allen Samuels House of Travel for helping us plan this whole thing. Keep a lookout for a video of our trip that I am working to post in a couple weeks (as long as my computer cooperates).
PSA: unlike many people think (including myself before this trip) you do not pay the travel agent yourself. They are paid via companies that they book you with. I was on the fence about using an agent because I did not want to pay extra, but you don’t! It honestly made the trip that much better and I will definitely use them again in the future.