|Old Reviews - Sandals Dunn's River|
Arrival: June 11- June 17, 2009
There was mold all over the tiles in the pool as well as the rafts!! pool was very cloudy and dirty. bugs and dirt always floating on the surface. never skimmed. not maintained! even the lounge chairs poolside were very worn. beach was super small. locals always stalking you on foot or jetski to buy their jewelry or drugs!! very uncomfortable feeling. federali's were seen on premise's on a few occasion's dealing with these people which made you feel unsafe.
The one restaurant inside where the tree bar was they decided to paint so you were overwhelmed by paint fumes. But yet it was still open for dinner. never heard any island music in the pool area unless there was an activity going on. you go to an island in Jamaica but yet no island music to be heard anywhere! ridiculous! even asked and they told me it was the quiet area. I was in the main pool area! room infested with ants. couldn't leave anything on any counter or dresser. room was sprayed but didn't do anything but make my room stink for hours! a/c was broken. was told it was fixed, ah no! towel people taking your towels off your lounge chairs with no regard to your personal belongings! managed to take my camera and some other personal belongings! Had to go digging in the huge dirty towel bin.
My sister and her husband whom we had gone with both had their camera and ipod touch stolen but then was magically returned the day before we left. Member of staff we were told was fired. Who knows! Members of staff could care less about the incident and did or said nothing to make the rest of our stay better. god forbid you put your drink down and look away for a second, it's gone!! i could go on and on but i think my point came across. i will never recommend this resort! Its run down!! Many people said it was not nice but i found it hard to believe and booked anyway. oh well!!! $4k was a long time savings for me and my husband and we haven't been away since our honeymoon. It's a shame we blew it on Sandals Dunns River!!
Arrival: June 11-17,2009
Restaurants and Bars:
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Rooms: June 11-17/2009
Restaurants and Bars:
We walked right over to the towel hut and in the dirty towel bin, we asked the guys if they had just cleaned up that area and they played dumb..so we looked in the dirty towel bin ourselves and found everything as it unfolded from the dirty towels...everything was taken and put in that bin in the time we were out to lunch (buffett)! Everything was found except for the itouch. Immediately infuriated, we went to the front desk to file a report, asked to speak to Chinzia and security came out. After the embarassing scene on the pool deck that it now caused, the security team then had to strip search our room. Now we are feeling like criminals and violated. Understood with policy, the experience still ruined the vacation from then on. We all wanted to go home. The last 2 days were miserable!!! We felt like we were the criminals and everyone was looking at us! They all knew who we were from the horrible scene at the pool deck! The people that were lying there by the pool were also quite astonished at to was what was happening. We are paying customers for a nice, relaxed vacation, and to a "SANDALS" resort!!! We still can't believe this happened to us. Then the night before we leave, securtiy randomly finds my camera (that disappeared during the scavenger hunt) and my husbands itouch! They were found together and returned together! Two separate incidents.
Nothing was done for us but returning our own personal belongings? NOTHING! So we lost a good 2-3 days worth of vacation because of your staff that made us all miserable, embarassed, violated and left us wanting to go home. The "vacations" was over!
Arrival: march 29-april 5
Restaurants and Bars:
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
just returned from by far the best experience in our lives. we were married at sandals dunnns river on feb 7 2007. we had the perfect wedding, the wedding co-orinator was great no problems at all. the resort was beautiful, very clean, the people were so friendly it was amazing, always asking if everything is ok or if you need antyhing, the best we have ever been treated at any resort. the food was incredible, all the restaurants were great especially kimonos (japanese)
the rooms are very large with king size beds, mini fridge is stocked with water, pop and juice daily. the tree bar has an amazing bartender mario, very entertaining...jamaica tom cruise. the red stripe beer is actually quite good, he have started drinking it at home. the beach is not overly big but never crowded lots of lounge chairs, lots of water sports and activities daily.
the only tour we took was going to the dunns river falls, which was a blast and would recommend it to anyone, we also went to ocho rios shopping, and jimmy buffets margaritaville, it was alot of fun.
it was our first trip to jamaica and not our last, we have been to cuba and the dominican republic, jamaica was by far the best, we would highly recommend this resort, we have only great things to say about sandals dunns river and are already planning to spend our first anniversary there.
We spent our honeymoon at Sandals Dunn's after being transfered from Sandals Grand Ocho Rios. The bus ride was 2 hours, and not bad at all. The driver tells you about things on the way there. The road is being worked on in bits and pieces for the first half, after that it's pretty nice. Arriving for our check-in, we were greeted with cold towels to freshen up and some champagne and bag with shampoo, conditioner, aloe, and lotion.
We were in a Honeymoon Concierge Room. There are in the Glenoa Building on the second and third floors. We also visited the Penthouse Honeymoon Concierge suite and they are the same. The only difference is that they are on the fourth and fifth floors. You can either have pool view or the Riu resort view. Both sides have ocean view, but the pool view is better. The rooms are beautiful, marble bathroom, jacuzzi tub, balcony, and a stocked bar with: rhum, gin, vodka, red and white wine, champagne (not sparkeling wine), juices, soft drinks, water, and coffee. The T.V. reception was very good. We had room service, newspaper clippings from New York Times or something.
The Florence building rooms do not have concierge.Some have pool and ocean view, others have garden (the entrance side) view. The Rialto Building rooms are different. The bottom (ground) floor have patios, but the floor above have no balcony because all the doors to the room open on one wrap around balcony. There are no chairs or tables because there is no place to put them. Their view is garden, maybe a bit of the ocean, but they are low, so trees might block the view a bit. Concierge service was not really worth it because mostly you get a bar in your room, but the bars are so easy to get to and close to every building.
The Beach is small but not crowded. It's a private beach, so you can't walk anywhere.
Le pools are very nice, but a bit chilly at 78 degrees, (yes we checked with the thermometer that was in the jacuzzi beside the pool). The ocean is a bit warmer, I guess around 83 degrees. The weather wasn't too great. We got lots of clouds and some rain. Didn't come back too tanned. Our last 3 days it got really windy (red flag) so no snorkeling, or boats.
The restaurants are great. The food was very good as with the service. Most restaurants for supper are not formal, but, men should bring some collar shirts or polo t-shirts with clean bermudas and sandals will do. For the Marco Polo and Orchids, men MUST have closed toe shoes with collar shirts or polo t-shirts and long pants. We never waited to be seated, but we ate at 6:30. Once we got at the Italian restaurant around 7:00, and they said to come back in 30 minutes. Never did it take long to have our dinner. The service was fast. We loved Kimonos. Do reserve as soon as you get there because it's the only restaurant that takes reservations. The Italian was also very good.
We did only one excursion : Mountain to Sea on bikes. They bring you to the top of a hill (2000 feet abouve sea level) by jeep. Then you go down by bike. Very steep. It's hard on the hands because you squeeze those brakes all the way. It's a 8 1/2 miles ride (mostly downhill). We visited a school and went through some villages. The scenery was breathtaking. We ended up swimming in the ocean, with a place to jump off a cliff. We could also do some snorkeling. That costs 59$ US /person.
Taxi rides are expensive: 5 minutes for 20$ US.
Entertainment: During the day , they have pool games around the main pool and music. During the evenings, there is not much. Some nights, they had a band playing, one night it was a talent show, another night it as a harp player, another night was guys doing acrobatics. There are no shows like in most ressorts. They don't have a stage..., costumes..., dancers.
Shuttle to Sandals Grand Ocho Rios: Many times a day, a shuttle goes to SGOR. It's about a fifteen minute ride. It's a huge ressort that is seperated in two by the main road. Once you get there the shuttle drops you on the Riviera side. If you want to go to the Manor side, you must take another shuttle to cross the road.
Photos taken by their photographers are 15$ US each or 5 for 60$ US 1 frame included.
We liked this ressort much better than SGOR, but I don't think I would return because of the price. I found it over-rated. You can get as good for cheaper on other island. Jamaica is green and lush. The people were really nice.
We spent December 4 - 9 at SDR, and enjoyed our time tremendously. The people employed there always had a big smile and happy greeting for the guests. Lots of great food and it was presented well. Their pizzas....Mama Mia!....were too yummy. Our daughter was married at SDR on December 7th. Exquisite weather, romantic surroundings, and helpful staff all added up to a perfect wedding.
To sum up, we had loads of fun and look forward to going back.
We were somewhat concerned about booking this vacation after reading reviews posted on this site.
Fabulous.......is how we would describe our vacation at this resort. .....beautiful island, weather and people, great food, wonderful hospitality.
There was lots to do both on site and off.
The only drawback is the two hour bus ride to and from the airport. The bus to the resort was something from ancient history but the bus back was much improved.
We would visit again without hesitation.
We have just returned from a lovely vacation in Sandals Dunns River. It was our 3rd Sandals vacation, we previously went to Halcyon Beach St. Lucia, and Varadero Cuba. There is no doubt that this Sandals is the best we have visited. The Staff are all lovely, very welcoming and friendly and really make the effort to look after you. The food was excellent, we never saw a brown lettuce leaf, everything was fresh and well prepared. No need to make a reservation either, except for the Japanese Kimono restaurant and we had no trouble getting into there. How different from Varadero!
Our room was in the 6 storey block overlooking the ocean. Very clean and nice. The fridge was restocked every day with juice water and pop. There is a 24 hour coffee and tea station in the Tree Bar and 24 hour snacks at the Beach grill also a coffee maker in the room.
The gym is well equipped although we didn't feel the need to use it. There is a 9 hole pitch and putt course on site and if you didn't bring clubs there is no problem borrowing from the entertainment centre. We didn't go to the Ochos Rios golf course but we talked to people who went and they enjoyed it, there are regular shuttles to the course.
The playmakers are excellent, good entertainment every night which we enjoyed and games by the pool every afternoon. Everyone seemed to have fun although we tended to stay on the beach.
On the downside, we had 2 days of rain but that is nobody's fault and we really looked forward to some sunshine which did eventually come. The other negative is the bus ride to the airport. I'm sure it will be fine when they finish the highway but much of the drive is on unfinished roads, 2 hours in a bumpy bus is not pleasant.
This is definately a lovely resort I would love to go again, I'm sure I have missed mentioning many of the excellent amenities, someone has thought of everything a person might want to do or eat or drink. I think we will wait until the highway is finished though before we make the trip again.
Hey Mon...No problem!
My husband and I just returned from a week at SDR and had a wonderful time. We are in our mid 50's and have traveled a fair bit to Cuba, D.R. and throughout Florida but this was our first experience with Sandals. Yes, it was a little more expensive, but for my money very uch worh it. The staff were the warmest most friendly folks I have ever met in a resort setting and they set the tone for a comfortable worry free vacation. They were laid back but totally attentive to our needs and smiled all the time. Our room was in the high rise facing the mountains and gardens just below. Yes there is a huge construction project going on next door and yes they did start working in the early a.m. but we are early risers so it did not bother us. We are also early to bed people so I am thankful we were not facing the ocaen and bars during the night time partying which was spirited and constant! The food was great...our needs were attented to promptly and there was very little wait time and even if there was a wait there were plenty of snacks and drinks to be had. The pace is so easy going. Some of the reviews here had me a little worried but truly it was lovely; if you want a replica of "home" in the way of style and service I would suggest Florida. As guests in their country, I think it is really important to acknowledge and embrace the cultural differences.
I was a little concerned that it was going to be very formal by way of dress. It was for some people ut I would say "resort casual" was the done thing and the "fshion police "ere not in evidence. Certainly some of the ladies really dressed to the nines but for the most pary comfort, not elegance was the ket. My husband was typical of the male guests when at dinner he wore a golf shirt and kaki pants.
The resort has much to offer by way of activities and we did take part in some things but for the most part we lazed my the pool near the piano bar and let the best bar tender ever...Garth Brookes look after us. We made some excellent friends while there and were very awareof the cheery goodmornings we heard from everyone who was after the same thing we were...a vacation. One really nice thing about Sandals as a couples destination was the absece of children. ( I love children!) but it was really a pleasure not to be witness to tears, tantrums and whining that we have seen at other resorts.
Lest this sound too good to be true, I will say that although it was very clean, the resort was in some areas a little tired and need of sprucing up a bit. Our actual building (the 6 floor high rise ) has been recently redone and was very impressive.
All said we had a super time and would not hesitate to say SDR was an excellent vacation destination.
Oh yes! The 2 hour bus ride was a tiny bit painful, but it gave us the chance to see the Jamacian country side and our bus driver was very informaitive and sort of eased us in to the social and cultural differences.
The new highway to take you from the airport at Montego Bay to Dunn's River will not be completed for a couple of years yet so the two hour ride is quite bumpy. It included two stops at roadside markets which we felt was totally unnecessary for after a four hour plane ride and the travel time to the hotel, we just wanted to get there!
We were able to upgrade to a honeymoon suite which turned out to be in our best interest because there was construction going on beside the high-rise rooms that started very early in the morning. The honeymoon suite was nice, but dated and in need of renovation; the view from the balcony was good - the ocean and the pool areas.
The first night we ate at Kimonos, a Japanese food place that required a reservation. The second night we went to the Italian place about 7 pm and were told that there would be a twenty-five minute wait outside. After an hour of hanging around the stand-up bar outside of this place, we went back in to complain; we ended up being seated shortly after this. Other couples we spoke to ran into the same problem here, some with almost an hour and a half wait.
We learned that the main dining room was closed for renovations while we were there and this just seemed to overload the eating places that were open.
The quality of the food at the Japanese and Italian places was good but the buffet offered at the Terrace for breakfast and lunch certainly could have been better with more selection. Often the hot foods were barely warm and in some cases, cold. Anyone that likes a lot of vegetables would be disappointed as carrots, broccoli and cauliflower seemed to be all they had. The service on the whole was good, the staff very friendly but because of the food, we wouldn't go back there. We felt that paying the extra money to go to a Sandals resort would give us a week of the best of everything but we feel we didn't get our money's worth.
We wouldn't go back to this resort and would hesitate to recommend it to anyone, mostly because of the food.
I could not wait to get back home and start posting reviews for this trip. We waited a long while since our last vacation after having gone through a difficult pregnancy and now having a 9 month old, so we were ready for a vacation without any children. We had always heard how great the Sandals resorts were, and I had previously stayed at Sandals in Negril, which was great.
After a 3 1/2 hour flight, 2 hour bumpy shuttle bus ride that was full of exhaust fumes, we were ready to eat some good food for the first time in twelve hours of not eating anything but a small bag of pretzels. We sat down at 7 p.m. at The Terrace restaurant and waited for about 30 to 45 minutes for our first waitress, which was the rudest waitress I have ever had at a resort. We were continuously waiting for drinks and getting rude looks from the waitress. Same service at all eating locations except the Da'More Italian Restaurant.
The room was great, except for the new hotel being built next door that required work at 6 a.m. each morning. That was a little disappointing. We were upgraded to the consierge penthouse, not what I would call a penthouse by any means. But, we had a stocked refrigerator and liquor, bath robes and balcony overlooking the Caribbean with table and chairs. Don't look at the sheets before going to bed.
Overall, the service was the worst I've seen. I've traveled for about 10 years to different resorts in the Caribbean, and this had to be the 2nd worst resort that I've ever stayed at. We went to Sandals Ocho Rios one day to see if it was any better, and it was worse, much worse. The main reason for stay in Ocho Rios was to be close to Dunn's River Falls, which was the highlight of the trip.
But, if you have any other options, I would not recommend this resort to anyone, especially with the rates they charge for the crappy service they give.
My wife and I were married in May and we decided to have our honeymoon in Jamaica for 2 weeks from May 24th till June 7th. We originally the Beaches Grand Sport as they had a special going on at the time. About 1 month before our wedding we were informed that the Beaches Grand Sport had decided to close for a few months for renovations and that we would be moved to Sandals Dunns River which was a pleasant surprise.
We booked with Air Canada Vacations and due to the time of year, they did not have direct flights in to Montego Bay from Vancouver. We had to fly in to Toronto and then transfer and take another flight to Montego Bay. It was a long day, but hay...it's our honeymoon and we have 2 weeks. We arrived in Montego Bay and were greated by our tour operator and and they tagged all of our bags. The bag porters then take our bags as we follow to our Van who is waiting to to take us back to the resort. As you might have read, be prepared to pay $1.00 per bag that they carry for you. They expect it! Everyone who is not an employee of Sandals including drivers expect to be tipped. I was prepared for this so there was no problem.
The drive from the aiport into Ocho Rios is not as bad as others seem to indicate. We had just travelled 12 hours to get here the last we wanted as we had read was the bus ride from Hell. No it went quite quick. They are actually doing construction on the road and it seems by next year the 1:45 minutes drive should be around 1:15 of nice multi lane hiway.
We then arrived at our hotel the Sandals Dunns River and the grounds are beautiful. We were showed to our rooms and they were below expectations. It was the HoneyMoon grand luxe and it was comparable to 3 and a half star rooms that we have stayed in Mexico. Besides the room, there really is no complaint. The food was good and if we would have only had stayed 1 week I would have said the food was great but after 2 weeks we got a little tired of it. The Beach Grill down by the volley-ball court is also great. So many times at 1:00 in the morning we felt like a hamburger and since it is open almost 24 hours...we can get it just about anytime you like. Now I must warn you that Sandals Dunns River I would say caters more to the younger cround. We are in our late 20's and it was fine with us but even some nights we quite noisy down in the Piano Bar area. It kept us up a little at times. If you are going there to relax and be quiet you a better choice would be the Sandals Ocho Rio or Sandals Nagril.
The playmakers really made the vacation for us. We are outgoing people and they always had something going on if you wanted to join. The more activities you join, the more points you get. The more points you get, the more stuff you receive. After visiting a Sandals you will know what I mean. We left Sandals with 4 Sandals Leather necklace, a certificate signed by all the playmakers and a bottle of rum, which is the max that they give away, but hey we were there for 2 weeks. Darryl, Saint Nick, Christopher and saint nick were the playmates that we enjoyed the most.
All in all it was a great honeymoon. We did some of the tours. The Dunns River Falls, Horseback Riding in the Ocean, Shopping in Ocho Riosand the Blue Mountain Bike tour. The blue mountain bike tour was great but it took 2 hours to get there and then 2 hours to get back so be prepared for a long day. As for the other tours I would recommend not joining the resort guided tours. We did and we regret it because the tours are very guided and a little costly. After our shopping tour, we needed to go back into Ocho Rio to buy something else, so we took a resort taxi which cost of half the price and he waited for 3 hours until we were finshed to bring us back. We also talked to another couple decided to go to Dunns River on there own with 2 other couples. It cost them 1/4 the cost and they were able to spend as much time as they wanted to. Our tour set up with the resort took half an hour and they guides which you are expected to tip make you make a human chain to clime up Dunns River. As for the horseback riding, the broshures look great but in reality it takes you 30 minutes to get you to the ocean while horseback riding and you are only in the ocean for about 2-3 minutes with the horses. It would not do it again.
I read alot of people opinion and I know I am a little late in posting mine but I feel that since used this site to originally pick my honeymoon that I should return the favour by posting our thoughts.
My boyfriend and I one week at Sandals Dunns River from April 17-24. It was a great experience, but I was disappointed with the resort itself. I was expecting a 5 star resort, but I would rate it a 4…if that. When we arrived, they gave us each a glass of Champaign while we signed in. They also gave each couple a package containing shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and aloe gel. We ended up getting bumped up from a Deluxe room to a Honeymoon Grand Lux, but the room was not as nice as I was expecting. We were on the second floor facing another row of rooms across from us. We had to keep our blinds closed and the lamps turned on the whole time because everyone that walks by, goes right by your window. We had a bit of an ant problem and other various critters in the room.
The food and drinks were great and I liked the fact that you can drink the tap water since it is filtered. You don’t really have a choice though. If you want bottled water, you have to buy it unless you have a room on the concierge level, which have stocked bar fridges in the room.
The playmakers were great and they had all kinds of activities for you to participate in, such as scuba diving, snorkeling, water skiing, kayaking, sailing, beach volleyball, bingo, water aerobics, the dating game, jeopardy, scavenger hunts, pool Olympics, talent shows, beach party nights, toga party nights…They list all the activities happening during the day in various locations so that you can always see what is going on next. Every time you participate in an activity, you are awarded points, at the end of your stay, if you have enough points, you are rewarded with a 14 count leather sandals necklace or a bottle of rum. My boyfriend earned a lot of points but we weren’t aware that you have to go to the entertainment department to redeem them. We just assumed that when we checked out, they would do this for us, so we didn’t end up getting any prizes.
The gym is well equipped, but since it is an open air gym, we found it way to hot to use. I did not try any of the spa treatments, but the spa does allow everyone to use the Jacuzzi, which they keep around 103 F and hot and cold plunge pools, steam rooms and saunas, which are open 24 hours per day.
It rained quite a few times during our stay which caused a lot of water to run down some of the walls in the lobby as well as one spot on the ceiling. There were towels and blankets spread out on the floor, which I really wasn’t impressed with. I don’t think this is a rare occurrence since the walls and ceilings are moldy in those areas. The games room which has pool tables and gambling machines looked and smelled disgusting. The musky odor was unbearable and the carpet has holes and rips everywhere. The walls are filthy and have water stains running down them. The main pool also had a lot of cracked and missing tiles along the side of it and the grout was moldy under the waterfall that cascades down into the pool.
Overall, the resort just seems really rundown and in desperate need of an overhaul. I was surprised at this since Sandals is a huge resort company and people pay top dollar to visit them.
This is the third all inclusive resort that I have visited. It was the most expensive, but unfortunately, not the nicest and I would probably not choose another sandals resort.
My wife and I traveled with another group of 4 couples to Sandal's Dunn's River February 27, 2004. The review rating may have been a little higher had the weather co-operated, but 3 of the five days we were there, it was off and on wet. We've traveled throughout the Caribbean for many years over March break and for budget reasons, stayed in many 3 and 4 star resorts with our 3 kids. This was our first trip without them for quite some time. Sandals Dunn's River was rather disappointing and specifically overpriced compared to all the other resorts we have been to. This is likely due to the 'free golf', which is included but ends up costing you for a caddie ($17+$10 recommended for a tip, or cart at $40 plus the caddie's tip anyway). The course is in good shape. There are lots of long driving holes and small greens. For island golf, it really was one of the better courses I've played. Be prepared for a two-hour bus ride from the airport. You get one break about a half hour from the resort. In my opinion, this is a strong consideration in picking a hotel. It basically blows 2 of your days traveling if you're too far from your resort. The first night they put us into a room overlooking the back of the resort. The room was updated and a good size, but who wants to look at an asphalt roof? The whole tower had a musty smell to it. We changed the next day to get out of the towers and stayed in the last of the two low-rise buildings on the ground floor - always our preference. Although dog-eared, it was much more convenient and intimate. Close to the pool, beach, piano-bar and opposite to the busyness of the main towers and restaurant area. There wasn't one couple in our group that stayed in their originally assigned room. That alone tells you a lot about individual preferences, or what they try to stick you with. The resort itself is very clean. Maintenance workers are around constantly cleaning, sweeping, painting etc. They do a great job keeping the pool and grounds clean. The food and buffets were really no better than any other resort. The a la carte restaurants are enclosed and air-conditioned (why would you want to eat inside after being cooped up all winter?). The only outdoor option was Windies, which is open air, or the grill. We tried each of the other restaurants as well - the International, Japanese and Italian. The nice thing is they serve the meals and clean up and that alone is better than home. The 'prep show' on the grill at the Japanese restaurant and the meal was done in about 45 minutes and could have been much longer. There is no buffet option at night. The evening entertainment is non-existent. Bad Karaoke in the disco, a few bars with a few people. It seemed to die out around 10:30. The drinks are mediocre. Syrup based daiquiris and pina-coladas. High-end resorts should use fresh fruit. Premium drinks are available which was good. The red wine from Jamaica called 'Oakville' tasted like it was made from a powdered mix. Stick with California which is the only other option.
The beach is small, the water-sports and activities are like any other hotel on any other island. We already went to Dunn's River Falls on a previous trip so we didn't go there. It is very pretty and if you haven't been, try it.. Shopping in town is well.....Jamaica. They will never learn that bugging tourists is a real turn-off. That will never change. All in all, OK, but not the 5 star Sandals makes itself out to be. Holiday Inn in Montego Bay is 10 minutes from the airport and almost half the cost - and way better value.
Any specific questions write to Ed at email@example.com
Thank you so much for this site! Prior to our trip, I found myself coming to this website almost daily to see if there were any new reviews from Sandals Dunn’s River and because I was so excited. This is a very informative site, and we’re planning another vacation and utilizing this resource! Thank you!
We traveled to Sandals Dunn’s River December 6-13 2003 for our honeymoon. (Sorry we’re a little late on this posting!) We were married in August, but wanted to enjoy the warm weather when it was cold back home! Neither my husband nor I had ever been to and all inclusive resort, so we really didn’t know what the expect. We booked our vacation through a travel agent I found off the web. We found they were very competitive when comparing to local agents, and they were the number 1 top producing Sandals agency in the Mid-West. We booked the Honeymoon Concierge Room for 7 nights, and with airfare, spent around $3,900.
Plane rides from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Atlanta to Montego Bay went smoothly. It was so beautiful flying into Montego Bay, as it looked like we were going to land right in the ocean. From the air, you could see a variety of different resorts and was glad we didn’t book our vacation at one of the Sandals near the airport. Customs went very smoothly and had nice Jamaican music and welcome to greet us there. There were even Christmas decorations up at the resort. It was a mad dash inside the airport where the Sandals staff met us. We were a little confused, as there wasn’t much organization in terms of getting our bags, finding our shuttle, etc. We were signed up for the inner island flight, but because of the time change with the inner island flight, our travel agent contacted us and said we would be unable to make the flight; we were doomed for the 2 hour ride from the airport to Dunn’s River!! Actually, the bus ride to the resort wasn’t too bad, but we would have been much more comfortable in a short 15 minute plane ride, then on the bumpy, dangerous road. Everyone always makes mention of the crazy drivers, and there’s really no other way to put it! I remember one time, whipping around a corner, only to see a passing vehicle in our lane. Our driver simply slowed down and nonchalantly said, “No problem.” By the third or fourth time this happened, we seemed to become a little more accustomed to this driving. We stopped half way at a little ‘oasis’ only to find very strong Rum Punch and lots of Red Stripe. Most of the other passengers, including us, just wanted to get to the resort, so we didn’t stay long. Our bus driver talked a lot about the area, the people, the new highway that would soon be done, and taught us a couple of Jamaican words to use on our trip. We were happy to hear that Sandals Dunn’s River was the first stop as we were ready to get unpacked and start enjoying our vacation. Our bus driver hung around long enough to make sure he got his tip.
Once we arrived at the resort, we were greeted by a Sandals staff member and reluctantly left our bags right on the curb. She guaranteed that someone would be by to pick them up for us. There was construction going on to the main lobby area, which was very noisy, but wasn’t too bad. We were greeted with a cold towel, champaign, a little Sandals welcome pack, and a complimentary room upgrade to the Honeymoon Penthouse Suite. We were excited about the upgrade. She showed us which building to head to and we were on our way. Our first room had a very strong musty odor and we requested a different room. The concierge had no problem with this and we finally settled in our room. We had a beautiful view to the ocean and were pleased with our room accommodations. Our bags arrived about a half hour later and we didn’t have any other problems with our room the rest of our trip. Our fully stocked refrigerator, robes, and patio were just a few amenities that we enjoyed very much.
The playmakers were the highlight to our trip. We were amazed at how talented they all were and each and everyone of them made sure our vacation was perfect. The first day we participated in the poolside “Name that Tune” game and began earning our points. St. Nick and Craig were the MCs, and after our first meeting, neither of them forgot our name (or any of the other guests!) Throughout our stay we participated in many of the Playmaker’s activities, whether it was a toga party, sand volleyball, the newlywed game, or pool Olympics, we had so much fun and indeed felt like “beautiful players.” With these activities, we were able to meet many many other couples and developed some great friendships with a couple of the guests.
Despite having two tropical storms in the area while we were there, and rain 6 out of the 7 days, we still had a wonderful time. With it not being as sunny as what we would have hoped for, I think it encouraged us to do a lot of other activities, rather than just sitting near the beach or the pool soaking up the rays. My husband and I worked out in the mornings in the open air gym. The equipment was nice and the warm breeze off the ocean was heavenly. One day, Maurice, a water sports guy, and a couple we met there, went on a 2 hour long Hobie Cat ride. We had a blast. He took us way beyond the property lines (Maurice told us not to tell anyone, he’d be in trouble!) and we came up to a little private island with a huge waterfall. It was amazing. Evidently, the Prime Minister’s beach was only a few yards away and this waterfall area was in one of the James Bond films. We also went snorkeling one day, water skiing, and kayaking. We brought our golf clubs along, but heard that with all the precipitation, the course was not in the best of condition; instead, we treated ourselves to a couple’s massage. That was WONDERFUL. We also toured the Dunn’s River Falls. We had a great time, but encourage you to leave the group and climb the falls with a few people. A huge chain really takes away your freedom and it takes quite a bit longer too. Beware of the merchants and all the tour guides wanting you to ‘treat your guide right;’ they’re not shy about begging for a tip.
As mentioned in other posts, the endless food and alcohol options were much better than expected. We found the convenience of the grill to be a nice treat as well as the main restaurants. We especially enjoyed our dinner at Kimonos. The food there was delicious and the entertainment was great too. I even caught some shrimp from the chef! One evening, a bunch of us traveled to Ocho Rios together and dined at the Arizona restaurant. Another evening at the International Restaurant, which was delicious as well, the four of us each requested a modification to what was listed in the menu, and of course, the staff replied with a, ‘no problem.’
I could go on and on about our trip and how wonderful it was. We’re hoping to explore more of the Sandals properties, as they truly know how to threat their guests well. I’m probably forgetting a few things, but feel free to contact me if you have any questions! SarUnderhill@hotmail.com
Overview We vacationed at Sandals Dunn’s River from December 28-January 2, 2004, and were most impressed by the quality of their service staff and hospitality. As travel agents, we have been visited over 200 resorts. As Caribbean vacation specialists, we have been fortunate enough to have visited all but three of the island countries in the region. At Sandals DR in Ocho Rios, we felt most welcomed.
The resort is on Jamaica’s north shore, situated on an attractive beach two hours minutes east of Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. The courtesy van transfer can be quite an adventure so we suggest that, until the “Some Come Soon” highway to Ocho Rios is completed, you consider the Air Jamaica Express or Air Link shuttle service to the Boscobel Aerodrome, 30 minutes east of the resort. Sandals will transfer you from there as well.
The layout of this multi-story property is easy to learn, the grounds are very well kept, and everything is within easy reach – one of the most convenient we’ve experience. The property has begun a refurbishment cycle to be completed in the next 24-36 months. Lounge chairs abound throughout and the pool and beach chaises are comfortable and numerous. In fact, even though SDR was booked solid over the New Year’s holiday, we never felt the crush of numbers. There was rarely a line for anything and space was available everywhere, even at Kimonos, the excellent Teppanyaki-style reservations restaurant,
Dining The four dining venues are varied and serve quality food presented in an appetizing way. Our favorite breakfast and dinner choice was the Internationale Room, an air-conditioned, intimate gourmet restaurant under the watchful eye of Evan, their solicitous maitre d'. Also quite enjoyable was Ristorante d’Amore, the casual Italian ala-carte restaurant. Of course, there is a typical island buffet option, the Terrace, available for all three meals. If you like buffet-style service, you’ll love this one. There are always local-style island menu choices offered here. The beach grill and bar service at the five locations was outstanding.
Accommodations The rooms are furnished attractively with a variety of sizes and views. Our smiling housekeeper, Patricia, worked very hard attending to our needs. Landscapers are everywhere and, like most of the staff, will stop what they are doing to help you or get a co-worker who can. Security personnel are everywhere but quite discrete. BTW – we were struck by the level of joy the entire staff seemed to feel. They laugh and sing all the time, making guests feel very comfortable.
The on-site European spa was wonderful but the cost is additional from the extensive menu of services. However, the saunas, steam rooms and three whirlpools are accessible to all guests. There is the Sandals Golf and Country Club a few minutes away and the rounds are complimentary but the required caddy is not (only $17 plus tip). There is a delightful Pitch ‘n Putt course on property, replete with two beautiful parrots and a pond of koi.
The sister property Sandals Ocho Rios is but a free shuttle ride away. Guest relations can make arrangements for you to visit, something we enjoyed doing very much. The reservations-only Valentino’s restaurant there is another of the advantages of staying at a Sandals resort – you get access to all as a guest at one of them.
Conclusion Finally, all the above says what a great couples-only place this is. But the best part of SDR is that which few guests get to appreciate – SDR’s strong management team headed by one of the best general managers in the Caribbean, Louis Grant, and his fantastic assistants Marsha-Ann Donaldson-Brown and Newton Grey. Our complicated request at check-in and subsequent inquiries were met with big smiles and the always pleasant, “No problem!” Nothing seemed to faze them, not even the New Year’s visit of Jamaica’s Prime Minister and his entire security entourage.
What a great place to spend some island time! We highly recommend Sandals Dunn’s River to you,
My Husband & I have just return after a fantastic 2 weeks at Sandals Dunn's River. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we intend to return to the resort. The rooms were clean & we had a nice view overlooking the pitch n' putt and the mountains. The Restaurants were excellent, the International was probably our favourite, the waiters service was excellent and they were very friendly in all restaurants. The Bar staff were very good and tried lots of different cocktails. All the Playmakers were excellent, they got people joining in the fun & games.
Sandals Dunn's River is really a fun place to holiday.
My wife and I just returned from our honeymoon in Sandal's Dunn's River mid-June 2003. What a fantastic trip! I've never experience the levels of attention and service we received from the SDR staff. I would highly recommend this resort to anyone considering it. This was our first time trying an all-inclusive vacation and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. We paid about $3500 for 6 nights and it was worth every penny. As mentioned in another review, this was certainly the smoothest check-in I've ever seen. A friendly greeting followed by a quick questionnaire and then we received a personal escort to our room, which included a brief tour of the grounds. We only paid for the deluxe room, and didn't get the "free upgrade" that everyone else did, but you know what...we didn't care. Our room was on the far side of the resort, secluded, and on the ground floor. A couple of steps out and into the pool by the piano bar. No ocean view, but that didn't matter. We didn't spend hardly any time in the room anyway.
The grounds were spectacular! Very open and beautifully landscaped. Plenty of places to hang out with your new friends, as well as secluded areas when you wanted to be alone. The pools were extremely refreshing with an abundance of lounging rafts to float around on. The jacuzzis were great, but a couple of days they were just too hot. The sign said it should be set for 103, but most days it was higher...one day it was an unbearable 109 until the staff came to fix it.
The quality of the food was surprising for what we expected from an all-inclusive deal. All the restaurants had delicious meals with a wide selection to choose from. And there's always the convenience of the grill, which is open from 10am to 7am the next day. Anytime you want a burger, chicken, fish, nachos...just walk right up and tell them what you want. You'll get a friendly "ya mon", and the food will be ready in minutes!
And they certainly don't skimp on the alcohol. Every drink was surprisingly strong. Getting drinks was never a problem either. It's not like the bars back home where you have to stand in line for 5 minutes before you are even noticed by the bartender - I don't think we ever waited more than 2 or 3 minutes for a drink. Usually service was immediate and always friendly.
The playmakers are the highlight of the resort! Nicholas and the boys really know how to keep the party going by involving all his "beautiful players". They are very personable and somehow manage to remember most everyone's name by the end of the week. Things like volleyball, the newlywed game, blackjack, darts, drinking contests, aerobics...just about every hour of the day something is going on.
Our only complaint was the Dunn's River Fall's tour. The tour itself was fantastic and a must do, but the promo video running on the Sandals website for SDR clearly states that you will be "treated to a complimentary trip to the actual falls, courtesy of the house". When we got there, however, we found it costs an additional $25 per person. Not that big a deal, but that was $50 we didn't plan on. Several complained, but nothing ever came of it. We also did the Blue Mountain Bicycle tour. That was exhilarating! It was about $89/pp and a 2+ hr drive from the resort, but they take you up 5000ft in the mountains, and let you coast down twisty back mountain roads to the bottom. About 20 miles, virtually all downhill. I think we only peddled once. Very informative tour and a chance to see another beautiful side of Jamaica featuring towering waterfalls and rainforests. I also did the resort scuba course! Not much to see at the bottom, but it was quite exciting for a first timer just to be 30 ft underwater. Be sure to sign up early though. It's a 3 day process. Sign up -> Take class the next morning ->then dive the following day.
The work ethic of the employees was amazing to watch. They love their jobs and it certainly shows. You never see them standing around chatting or relaxing, even if they don't have any customers. They are always doing something. When you get up from your table, someone is there to take your plate within a matter of seconds. Remarkably efficient!
Oh and just a tip, close your eyes during the 1 1/2 hr bus ride from the airport. Those drivers are crazy! There are no road markings and people just pass whenever they feel like it...whether it is on a turn or not. Ha! If anyone has any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I'd be more than happy to share more stories.
We went to Dunns River Falls and the shopping trip. Falls was great, shopping was a little long but I can attest that at the Royal shopping store, the watches there are at least 40% cheaper than the US. I bought a Bulova for $130 that was $225 at home and I heard similar stories from others. I went scuba diving 2 times after the initial 3 hour, class. you can only go once a day if your not certified. The boat was not working too well so we did not get to go to any wrecks but it was still nice. The last 3 days I was there nobody was going out scuba diving because they said the tides made it too hard to see underwater because it stirred everything up (I think the boat just stopped working).
All in all, great place with no complaints and outstanding service. We went to Ocho Rios Sandals for one afternoon and dinner (Arizona, serves dinner on tables set up on the beach right next to the water and if you catch the 530 bus from Dunns, you will have a nice sunset to go with it) and within an hour or so were glad we chose dunns rivers instead. When we get back to Jamaica, I see no reason to try anywhere else. Feel free to Email me with any questions at email@example.com, however make sure you put DUNNS RIVERS QUESTION in the subject line or I may accidentally delete it thinking it is junk. Wherever you decide, have fun.