I recently stayed at Sandals Royal Caribbean in April of 2022. This resort is one of the Sandals brands many all inclusive and adults only properties across the Caribbean.
If you aren’t familiar let’s talk about some of the Sandals basics. Sandals is a luxury resort brand based in the Caribbean that focuses on couples vacations. They offer five star accommodations and service.
All rooms at Sandals are double occupancy only and feature one king bed. While you don’t have to be a romantic couple to visit Sandals you do have to be two people per room and share a bed.
All of the Sandals properties are adults only (18+) and all inclusive.
If you are looking for luxury family travel or non-couples travel try the Sandals owned brand for everyone, Beaches.
Now that we have the Sandals basics covered let’s talk about what is included with a stay at Sandals.
* * Incase there is any confusion this resort has no connection to Royal Caribbean Cruises **
If you are interested in a video review of this resort check out my video here.
When Sandals says all inclusive they really mean it. You will not get to the end of your stay and find that you have an unexpected balance due. So let’s get into what is included when you choose to stay at Sandals.
- Transportation from and back to the airport, typically on a shuttle bus.
- At Sandals Royal Caribbean if you stay in a club level or butler level room you get upgraded to a private BMW car transfer included.
- All of your food and beverage! There are no limits. Order 3 appetizers, have lunch at two restaurants. There is no tracking or counting meals it is truly all included.
- The one upgrade we found was you had the option to order from a high end wine list at the dinner restaurants for an additional fee. But they had plenty of wine that was included.
- Activities – Everything onsite is included. Offerings vary by resort and day but Royal Caribbean included.
- Scuba Diving Trips (You have to be certified which you can do onsite at a cost)
- Snorkeling Trips
- Hobbie Cats, Paddle Boards, and Kayaks including instruction on their use.
- Beach Volleyball
- Bocce Ball
- Pool Tables
- Fitness Center and Fitness Classes
- Live Entertainment – Enjoy lots of daytime and nighttime entertainment options daily.
- All tips, taxes and gratuities. There are no hidden fees and none of the staff on site accepts tips.
- With the exception of butlers if you are staying butler level. (more below)
- Visiting Sandals Montego Bay – Just 10 Minutes away, shuttles are included and you have full access to that resort, restaurants, and its amenities as well.
- Free Wedding or Re-tie The Knot– Stay three nights or longer and qualify for a free wedding package. The longer you stay the more options are included.
- Some additional inclusions apply based on your room category which we will discuss below.
What’s NOT included:
- Excursions – Any additional activities off of the resort and transportation to them.
- Spa Services – They offer a full range of spa services at the onsite Red Lane Spa.
- Experience Upgrades – Sandals offers some upgrades like a candlelit dinner on the beach, and cabana rentals.
- Photography – While they do offer a free photo session with each stay, and they have photographers roaming the resort there is a fee to get a digital or printed copy of your photos.
- Upgraded Wedding or Re-Tie The Knot – They offer a wide range of wedding services.
How To Get There
To get to Sandals Royal Caribbean you will want to fly into Montego Bay, Jamaica and Sangster International Airport (MBJ)
Keep in mind everyone will need a passport to enter Jamaica. You will also want to check on any current additional travel requirements at your time of travel.
We found flying there from Maryland a breeze. Southwest offered non-stop flights from BWI. You can package your flights with your hotel stay through Sandals.
MBJ airport during our visit seemed to be undergoing updates. The departures terminal was under construction but nothing obtrusive to your visit. The airport I would classify as mid-size. It has traditional jetways, a food court with American brands, security you would be used to in US airports, stores, and typical seating and restrooms.
When arriving on a Monday mid-day in April customs and immigration was quick and organized. Though it did take about 20 – 30 minutes after we arrived at baggage claim for our flights checked bags to come through. Obviously this can all fluctuate.
The airport did offer a paid VIP service called Club MoBay. We saw several people utilizing it upon arrival. You can find details linked here. I think the biggest perk personally with this would be access to a departures lounge.
Once we were ready to go we headed to the Sandals lounge where they took our bags and checked us in for our included transpiration. Then waited in the spacious and lovely lounge They had included coffee, soft drinks, water, alcohol, and snacks. We only waited about 10 minutes then we were off to our private transfer which was a very nice town car.
Note: If you have the private transfer expect to tip the airport luggage porter which you will basically be forced to use and the driver.
The drive from the airport to the resort is only 10 – 15 minutes. Being so close to the airport we saw a lot of planes at from the resort but didn’t find them noisy.
When it was time to depart we received instructions in our room which gave us a time to leave our luggage outside our room to be collected and a time to arrive at the entrance to be picked up by our transfer. They plan to get you to the airport three hours prior to your flight. This process was simple.
The private transfer was another lovely BMW town car. Both times we had very helpful and nice drivers. They both shared some knowledge about Jamaica with us and chatted about our stay.
Departing there was a bit of a line at customs, bag check, and security but the whole process took under an hour and was fairly organized. There is no Sandals lounge in the departures terminal.
We made our way to our gate, browsed the shops and waited for our flight. Seating was a bit limited at the gate but this area of the airport didn’t seem to have been renovated yet.
My major complaint about the airport was the signage and announcements. At least at the gate we were at there did not appear to really be a loud speaker. So the boarding Southwest process was very unclear and ended up with just a crowd of people standing around the gate attendant waiting for their boarding number to be called. The seating area was long and thin so we very nearly missed that this boarding was even happening. So keep an eye on the gate more than you would typically.
Overall the travel process was simple for anyone used too international air travel. If you aren’t I don’t think this is a particular challenge either. The portion of travel where you are in the hands of Sandals was an absolute breeze.
Layout & Activities & Pools
Sandals Royal Carribean is a smaller and more intimate resort. With 280 rooms on a 15 acre beachfront property. They describe the resort theme as Britain meets Bali and I think that describes it nicely. The common areas are mostly open air with an open concept floor plan. The grounds feature tons of beautiful tropical landscaping and manicured lawns. The overall atmosphere of Royal Caribbean is secluded, tranquil, and peaceful.
Throughout the resort you will find activities like a bocce ball court, a giant chess set, pool tables, and croquet. You’ll also see lots of seating areas including some secluded areas with comfy swings and hammocks.
The resort is beach front and the beaches are private. There is one main beach and a series of smaller ones. All of the beaches are on the smaller side. If you are looking to take long walks along the beach this is not your resort. Check out Sandals Montego Bay down the street. Though they are small I never felt the beaches were over crowded though sometimes you had to hunt for an available chair. There is beverage service and entertainment on the main beach. On the smaller beaches you could really enjoy a more private peaceful and quiet vibe. They even had over-the-water hammocks at one of the smaller beaches.
The resort offers 4 pools and 6 whirlpools. One of the pools includes a swim-up bar. I found there to always be plenty of seating at the pools and they never felt crowded. The main pool often had a DJ. Located next to the main beach this general area is the heart of daytime entertainment at the resort.
Next to the main beach is the water sports center. This is where you’ll want to come if you want to participate in any of the included water sports.
- Hobie Cats
- Paddle Board
- Glass Bottom Boat Tour
- Snorkelling Cruise
- Scuba Diving – must be certified – certification classes available at a cost.
The resort has a full fitness center that offers classes throughout the day.
If you like to shop on vacation the resort offers both a jewelry store and a gift shop with local Jamaican items, general beach essentials, and Sandals branded products. One excision also offered transpiration to a very nearby outdoor mall designed for tourists.
An exciting feature of Royal Caribbean is a private island. You can take a dragon boat over to the island which takes about 5 minutes. On the island you can enjoy a small beach, a pool, two restaurants, a bar and swim-up bar, and on the far side of the island is a clothing optional beach that is well obscured from the rest of the island. This is also where you will find the over-the-water bungalows.
Live entertainment and parties are a big part of the atmosphere at Royal Caribbean resort. Throughout the day you’ll find live entertainment like a DJ, crafting classes, contests and game shows, karaoke, and live musical experiences like a drumline, and local dancers both of which saw.
Nightly live entertainment varies but includes, a carnival on the beach, reggae music performances, singers, and variety show style entertainment.
There is a weekly evening chocolate gala on the pool deck. There are also special celebrations for holidays. We visited around Easter and there were decorations, and egg hunt, and even a visit by the Easter Bunny. Additionally, there are three weekly cocktail parties for club level and butler level guests only.
Remember you can also hop over to Sandals Montego Bay and partake in all of their activities, and dining. You’ll have full access to the property. The shuttle ride takes about 15 minutes and runs about once every hour and a half. Montego Bay is a much larger resort with a very long and large beach. They have some different dining options as well with another 12 restaurants. Montego Bay has a more lively party atmosphere than Royal Caribbean.
You’re also sure to see lots of little cat friends around the resort as they live all over the island.
You’ll notice two distinct styles currently in the rooms of Sandals Royal Caribbean. One a more ornate dark wood covered look and a brighter more minimal tropical style. The resort is in the longer term process of renovating rooms building by building. The resort is transitioning towards the more tropical and brighter decor.
Sandals offers three room levels:
The luxury level rooms are the base level rooms, these rooms have mini-bars with water, soda, juice, wine and beer.
Here is a look at some luxury level rooms at Sandals Royal Caribbean:
The club level rooms offer a mini-bar with water, soda, juice, wine and beer PLUS a variety of liquor. These rooms also offer room service, private check-in, and access to the club level lounge. You also gain access to special club level events like a martini tasting and special snorkeling trips.
Here is a look at some club level rooms at Sandals Royal Caribbean:
The butler level rooms include everything from the club level plus you will have 24 hour butler service. You will have two rotating assigned butlers and will be given a cell phone to reach them with. Here to make your stay as simple and luxurious as possible. They can make your dinner reservations, reserve beach chairs for you, bring food from any restaurant on property to your suite or waterside, and more.
Here is a look at some butler level rooms at Sandals Royal Caribbean:
Royal Caribbean also offers over-the-water bungalows which fall into the butler category but are so unique I thought we would talk about them separately. The bungalows are part of the resort’s private island. There are two styles of bungalows between the two they offer features like over the water hammocks, glass floor panels, indoor/outdoor shower and tub, and infinity pools. These book up QUICKLY so plan to book as far ahead as you can! While on my agent tour of the resort we were unable to visit a bungalow as they were all full. I was told they tend to fully book up 15 months in advance. These bungalows are absolutely perfect for honeymooners or couples celebrating a milestone anniversary. They are only offered at a handful of Sandals resorts.
Sandals Royal Caribbean offers over 28 room styles so it can be a complicated decision picking the one you want to book. During my stay I took a travel agent tour of the resort including about half a dozen room types and I can tell you there is a significant variety of rooms available.
Extra things to keep in mind when booking a room:
- Several room styles have open bathroom floor plans where the glass shower is just in the middle of the room. So depending how you feel about that you’ll want to book accordingly. It’s also not made super clear online which rooms have this.
- A big thing to consider is where the room category you are choosing is located.
- Both great reasons to work with a travel agent!
Our Room: We stayed in a Royal Beachfront Club Elite Suite with Balcony and Tranquility Soaking Tub. I really liked this room, the room itself was nothing extra special but it was lovely, clean, recently renovated, and very functional. The balcony was the real star here in was spacious with beautiful views of the ocean and private island plus it had a soaking tub. The rooms location was great for getting around the resort but it was loud sometimes being located so close to the main pool. Another reason I enjoyed the room was that it was a club level room so the room service option and liquor in the mini-bar was a big plus too.
** Disclosure: I did get stay in this room on a discounted travel agent rate. **
If you want to see a deep dive of the room that I stayed in, coded BCS, check out my video here.
There’s a LOT of food to be had here and remember it is all included.
Keep in mind most of the dinner locations required prior reservations so make sure to grab those on your first day at the resort. You can not make them prior to your arrival.
Room Service – Available only in club and butler level rooms. A basic menu with good service and a solidly mid-level quality. It’s a very nice option to have.
Afternoon Tea is served in the tea room daily at 4:00.
Bars – The resort features 6 full service bars.
- Island Swim-Up Bar
- Mariner Seaside Bar
- Piano Bar
- Main Pool Swim-Up Bar
- The Cricketers Pub
- Highgrove Bar
Bella Napoli Pizzeria – This outdoor location shares seating with The Mariner or you can grab your pizza to go. They make all the pizzas here to order. Which means they are super fresh but do take at least 20 minutes to make. My husband had the pizza pictured below here and absolutely raved about it. He thought it was excellent.
Bombay Club – Open for a la carte American breakfast this location offers beautifully decorated indoor seating and outdoor ocean-side seating. For dinner Bombay Club serves Indian cuisine.
Le Jardiniere – This restaurant is only open for dinner and serves French cuisine with indoor and outdoor seating. We dined here and had the filet de sole meuniere (sole fillet) and tournedos vegetalien (vegan meatloaf) for our entrees and the creme brûlée and a dairy free variation pommes caramelisees (sautéed apples). We aren’t big French food eaters but we were shocked by how much we really enjoyed the food here. The ambiance was very calm and romantic as well. I’d highly recommend dining here.
Royal Thai – Located on the private island with entirely outdoor seating in a striking columned building with Asian touches. The atmosphere here is great and being located on the island makes heading there for dinner feel like a little get away from the resort. The menu is just what you would think, Thai cuisine. This location also had the most options for vegetarians and vegans. We had the pro pia tho (vegetable spring rolls) and the gai satay (chicken skewers) as appetizers. For entrees we chose the pad thai with chicken and gang massaman with chicken. We really enjoyed everything we ordered. This is a great dinner option.
The Cricketers Pub – The go to spot for a late night drink or snack the pub serves a la carte dinner and midnight snack options, it’s open until 2:00am. Designed as a British pub and entirely indoors it’s a very fun atmosphere and highly themed you can even play darts. The menu matches the theme.
The Jerk Shack – In my opinion this is the best lunch spot at the resort. We ate here twice in a relatively short stay we liked it so much. The chicken is absolutely the star here. Go ahead and try all the sides. I do recommend you skip the fish in foil it was extremely oily. It’s located on the private island and totally outdoors. In the past the food here has been served buffet style during out 2022 visit it was served a la carte by wait staff but that could change back.
The Mariner Seaside Grill – This outdoor beach side lunch option is a really fun and livley spot. The menu is classic American gilled food with Jamaican specialties and lighter options as well. The highlights we had here where the Jamaican beef patties, and the fish burger which was not a patty but slices of fish.
La Tavola – This is an Italian dinner restaurant, it is all open air and basically just in the middle of the resort grounds, which made this the least atmospheric of the dinner options. The quality of the food here was high but both of our dishes where mostly pasta with little vegetables and meat. So this one was a bit of a disappointment. We had the chicken scaloppini and shrimp scampi.
Spices – This is where you will find the breakfast and lunch buffets as well as a table service a la carte dinner option. We only experienced the breakfast buffet which was great. It had a very wide variety of options, including some Jamaican specialties. They had a made to order omelette bar, and waffles and pancakes being continually made so they got to you fresh. There was lots of tropical fruit. They offered mimosa service as well. They even had the super basic things like whole fruits, boxed cereal, bagels and pastries which make a great item to grab and bring back to your room for a snack later. We where very happy with the breakfast options For breakfast seating is outside and this is the one outdoor dining option with limited shade. For lunch and diner there is indoor seating.
Dinner Dress Code: At the time I visited Sandals Royal Caribbean all of the restaurants has a dinner dress code of resort casual attire. But that could be subject to change so always check before you pack. Also keep in mind if you plan to hop over some dining at Sandals Montego Bay requires resort evening attire. The dress code is enforced.
Resort Casual Attire – Shorts or jeans, t-shirts or polo shirts. Swimwear must be covered. Shirts and footwear required.
Resort Evening Attire – Dress pants/trousers or jeans for men, long or short sleeve dress shirts (with or without collar). Dress shoes or sandals. No shorts, t-shirts, sleeveless shirts, sneakers, flip-flops or slippers. No hats or caps.
** Special Dietary Requirements – For vegetarians and vegans every menu has at least one option for you and the menu has them labeled as such. For gluten free and dairy free those options are also marked on the menu but the options are not as prevelant. If you have an allergy you can request to speak with the chef at each restaurant. I don’t eat dairy and I was able to eat something at every restaurant. Though I was only able to have dessert at one of the dinners, and a few times my options where more limited.**
Packing For Sandals
Of course you’ll want to pack all the tropical vacation essentials like bathing suits, cover-up, sunscreen, etc. etc. etc. The average temperatures in Jamaica don’t fluctuate too much but always check the weather for the days of your visit.
A few special things to consider:
- Dress Codes:
- Day: During the day the dress code is casual and a bathing suit and coverup, or shorts and a tee shirt will do.
- Night: At dinner is where you really need to consider your dress. Restaurants all have a dress code and it’s either resort casual attire or resort evening attire. You’ll find on the website which restaurants have which.
- Resort Casual Attire – “Shirts/cover-ups and footwear are both required for resort casual dining attire, but beyond that, pretty much anything goes! As long as you’ve covered your swimwear, both men and women can feel free to wear any type of shorts, jeans, t-shirts, or polo shirts they want. All styles of shoes are acceptable, but flats or sandals are advisable if you’ll be dining on the sand.”
- Resort Evening Attire – “Resort evening attire is a little dressier than resort casual and is only required for certain restaurants at dinner time. This dress code differs a bit for men and women. Men should wear long pants in whatever material suits them best (yes, jeans are allowed!), and definitely avoid shorts. Top that off with a dress shirt (could be a button-up or polo, with long or short sleeves, with or without a collar), and you’re good to go. Shoes should be dressier and closed-toed, so your favorite loafers or deck shoes would be perfect for the occasion! Women get a lot more leeway with resort evening attire! Ladies, you can wear anything from dresses to rompers to jeans and a nice top. Your shoes don’t have to be closed-toed, so heels, wedges, or dressy sandals are great options. Both men and women should avoid jeans shorts, swimwear and cover-ups, t-shirts, sleeveless shirts, sneakers, flip flops, slippers, and hats where resort evening attire is requested.”
- Theme Nights: Each Sandals has a weekly White Night chocolate buffet and party. It’s totally optional but if you want to play along with the theme bring an all white outfit. You can coordinate to other theme nights as well.
- Fitness Center & Classes – If you want to participate make sure to bring along some athletic clothing.
- Excursions: Check the dress code for your excursions before packing. For instance some more adventurous ones may require closed toed shoes.
- Packing For A Purpose: Sandals participates in the Pack for a Purpose program. This program encourages guests to buy at home, pack, and then donate new items like toiletries and school supplies. The items are then distributed throughout the island to those in need of them. It’s super easy. Just check your hotels list of needed items, purchase and pack them, then bring them to the front desk to donate.
- Here is the link for Royal Caribbean: https://www.packforapurpose.org/destinations/caribbean/jamaica/sandals-royal-caribbean-resort-private-island/
- I highly recommend a waterproof phone pouch with lanyard if you plan to bring your phone around with you for photos.
- Wedding Rings – You are going to be in and out of the water so I would suggest leaving the expensive and important jewelry at home and wearing some silicone rings or inexpensive costume jewelry rings.
- You do not need to bring beach towels.
- Download the Sandals App.
Sandals offers excursions through their Island Routes brand. You can book prior to arrival which I would suggest for the best availability. Or you can book once you arrive at the Island Routes desk on property.
The excursions offered at Sandals Royal Caribbean include a sunset catamaran cruise, biking and waterfall tours, bamboo river rafting, dolphin encounters, zip lines, powerboat adventures, and more.
Recommendations & Review
Overall I greatly enjoyed my stay at Sandals Royal Caribbean and I would absolutely stay there again.
My biggest take aways:
- Room type really matters and I am glad that we had one with an ocean view and club level amenities.
- The overall vibe here is low key, tranquil, and peaceful it’s a perfect place to recharge and relax.
- Try as much of a variety of the food as possible, and book reservations as soon as you arrive.
- Make sure to visit the private island at least once.
So who do I recommend this resort for? I think this resort is a great fit for couples of all ages who are looking for a quiet, intimate, and tranquil resort that still has activity and entertainment options available. The clientele here during my stay skewed middle age and above but I also saw plenty of younger guests.
For those looking to honeymoon or celebrate a special occasion the bungalows are a perfect fit for that.
I also think those coming from the US east coast looking for a quick flight or with limited vacation time this is a great option.
If you are looking for a party atmosphere, or a huge resort this is not the Sandals I would suggest for you. I also wouldn’t suggest Royal Caribbean for non-couples.
As you can see Sandals Royal Caribbean has lots to offer! I hope you found this helpful in planning your visit to Jamaica.
If you are looking to travel to Sandals Royal Caribbean, Jamaica, or the Caribbean in general I would love to be your travel agent. Get expert advice on planning your vacation and a personalized experience at no additional cost to you.
Contact me at email@example.com
Follow Me! https://linktr.ee/katiethemagicsyours