“ Beaches Resorts / Negril / Jamaica „
I was lucky enough to be on a work trip to Jamaica and one of the hotels we spent the day at was this one - the Beaches Sandy Bay - we had a good look around and also had some lunch whilst there so I will advise my opinion on the hotel from my point of view.
What is Beaches:
First of all I will explain what the Beaches properties are. You may or may not have heard of the Sandals name which is an Ultra all inclusive chain of hotels in the Caribbean. By ultra all inclusive it means everything is thrown in including all service charges, food, entertainment and normally premium as well as local drinks at the bars. Sandals is normally for adults only and so to benefit from the name they built up they started the chain of family properties too in the Caribbean with the same concept only where children were allowed too and under the name of Beaches. There are many different properties throughout the Caribbean and they range from budget end to the extravagant end depending on a number of factors including location and the size and amount of facilities in resort.
The property I am reviewing is the lowest end of the Beaches properties called Beaches Sandy Bay and is located in Negril in Jamaica.
As you pull up to the hotel you cannot miss the rather large sign outside that is the 'Beaches' logo - the main entrance looks quite nice with a large spacious area and high ceilings that the breeze can blow through from the pool and beach area. However you certainly cannot mistake the very flowery print of the chairs which is pretty much standard throughout the Beaches properties! Some people find it all part of the package and I suppose it is aimed at families but it somehow seems to make the property look cheap even though none of the Beaches properties come under that tag!
The staff come out to immediately there to assist any new guests with luggage though and the reception staff are very friendly. If you have paid for this property you'd probably expect nothing less.
The hotel is the smaller of the properties in the chain and this is very noticeable as soon as come through reception. The main pool is quite tiny in my opinion and is located facing the reception area. Next to the pool is a small stage where they have daytime entertainment for the children and evening entertainment for the whole family. There is a restaurant located to the left hand side of reception and both this and the pool are literally 15 yards away from being on the beach.
Although it is compact it still has a good range of amenities such as a day care centre for children, it's own first aid hut, complimentary water sports, two swimming pools, three restaurants, two bars, a disco, a beauty salon, video games centre and tennis courts. The resort also benefits from guests being allowed access to the neighbouring hotel that is Beaches Negril which then allows guests to take advantage of the spa (although at a charge), extra sporting facilities and restaurants.
Overall even though small there are enough facilities to keep everybody occupied and because it is a family property of the Beaches chain they have the Sesame Street characters around at certain times to entertain the children.
On another note the hotel also deal with weddings so if you're are wanting to get married abroad then this hotel will allow families to be all together for the special occasion - there is a lot of locations on site where you can get married including the beach and gardens.
The room we went to look at was a standard room type which comes under a 'deluxe' category. The hotel then has a selection of upgraded room types which are in order of price, starting from lowest to highest are:
Luxury ocean view
Ocean view one bedroom suite
Beachfront one bedroom suite
Honeymoon beachfront one bedroom suite
Beachfront two bedroom suite
As you can see there are quite a selection of room types and as always with the Sandals and Beaches properties, they like to give them long winded names!
However as I only saw the deluxe category this is the only one I will comment on - before entering the room I was expecting it to be quite large as the standard room is made for up to either 4 adults or 2 adults and 2 children but I was surprised to see that really it is not that large. Sure it's not tiny but when we checked to see where the extra bed would go as it just had the main double bed in it, we were advised it would go right next to the main bed therefore making people have to climb from the bottom end of the bed to get in it with no space on any side! Also wardrobe space was good for 2 people but with 4 in the room plus suitcases it would be a crammed holiday especially when needing to get ready in the evenings!
Furnishings were nice I will give it that, as the main bed was large and comfortable and the furniture looked heavy duty and expensive. All rooms have air conditioning too along tv, tea and coffee, hairdryer, balcony or patio iron and ironing board and also a fridge that is fully stocked and replenished every day.
My only gripe is the size of the room as like I say if you paid the prices this hotel charge I don't think you'd be very pleased at squashing your family in - you'd probably expect more space! If you upgrade then you'd get a much larger room but it does come at a hefty price tag!
The food at the hotel that I had was very good - lots of choice at the buffet lunch restaurant and it included hot and cold food along with an amazing choice of deserts!! The salad bar had a good range available and the chefs kept the food topped up. The restaurant we ate in was very clean too and was laid out very well so that it overlooked the beach with the breeze blowing through. Very relaxing and I can imagine it would have looked lovely in the evening all lit up.
Depending on where you book, prices can vary quite a bit but expect to pay around the £1200 mark per adult for 7 nights in a deluxe room. The supplements can be expensive for an upgraded room so it can end up being a costly trip - however Beaches do run promotions through out the year for things like 'Kids go free' or 'Second adult half price' so make sure you try and book when these are on as it will save you a small fortune!
Personally I wouldn't ever choose to stay here as it is quite expensive and even though there are a lot of facilities to hand the size of the room would drive me up the wall if I had children with me! Maybe if you were only travelling with one child it would be fine as the space in the room wouldn't be an issue and if you have the cash to stay here then the premium all inclusive package means spending less in resort if you know you are likely to stay on site for the majority of your holiday especially if you want the facilities to keep your children entertained day in and day out. If you're the type though that likes to explore the surrounding areas and like to keep a hotel simple with the concept that it is just somewhere to rest in the evening then this isn't the place for you and there are plenty of other hotels that won't break the bank!