The first two of the seven site inspections below are in order of favoritism. The rest fall where they may, but each should provide a little insight into what we saw today. Enjoy!
No wonder this place inspired Ian Flemming to write James Bond – I’m not sure how you could stay here and not experience the culture of creativity. Goldeneye is easily my favorite property in Jamaica, maybe even one of my top 3 in the Caribbean. I seriously had another Cap Maison moment – not knowing what to expect beforehand, only to be completely blown away upon arriving. Just like Cap Maison, I honestly could not find one thing wrong with this resort, it was just spectacular!
It’s really like a little slice of French Polynesia in the Caribbean – the boutique property boasts everything from lagoon rooms, where guests can swim across the shallow brackish water to the spa, to beachfront villas, just steps away from the ocean.
The attentive staff blew us away with incredible service. They greeted us with friendly faces and treated us to a wonderful coffee break, which the general manager attended. I love when GMs take the extra time to introduce themselves – it makes me so much more confident sending my clients to that resort.
The highlight of the resort, besides the fact that I just fell in love with Goldeneye in general, is Ian Flemming’s home, a collection of villas that can be rented for 6-8K per night. In defense of the price, it does have 5 rooms, so that could be split up – plus, it comes with its own private pool, tv/game room, and so much more. Not to mention, you can sit at Ian Flemming’s desk and try to compose the next great novel – I tried to do so today. Maybe I’d need a little more time than 5 minutes.
Overall, my favorite resort so far.
I loved this Virtuoso resort to the same extent as Goldeneye, although the two properties are entirely different. Goldeneye has a more natural, Caribbean feel, with its lush, raw landscape, while Jamaica Inn has a charming cottage-like experience and more manicured landscape.
This resort has several one-of-a-kind suites and cottages, each one we toured just got better and better. The White Suite, a one-bedroom oceanfront room with private pool (this isn’t just a plunge pool – it’s the largest private pool I’ve seen at a resort) and walkway to a secluded area overlooking the water, was truly magnificent. However, I fell in love with one of the cottages we toured – the private infinity-edged pool on an immaculate terrace just did not hurt. It also had a special stairway down to the beach, making it the best of both worlds: a secluded cottage with beach access and spectacular ocean views.
Jamaica Inn was generous enough to host us for lunch, which was absolutely incredible. Best meal we’ve had so far.
What a good family property! Beaches are such a great alternative to a family cruise – it has multiple kids areas, depending on ages, a huge water park, and so much more to accommodate families.
Boscobel really takes it to a new level – it’s just large enough to entertain everyone, but just small enough to where parents won’t be worried about children running around on the property. Not to mention the recent renovations – we were all pleasantly surprised with the updated furniture and the spacious accommodations. PLUS, it’s all inclusive, which means no huge bill on water sports, soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, gratuities, or anything else that surprises guests at the end of a cruise. I’ve got a family going to Beaches Negril next month and they are going to love it.
They surprised us with a demonstration of the Night Night Tuck-In, where a Sesame Street character brings cookies and milk and tucks your child in…however, we did not know this character would be waiting on us in the room. It scared the mess out of Frances, who was the first one to walk in and see a giant pink character grinning in her direction. Not going to lie, even once I got used to it, it still kind of creeped me out. Courtney explained that it’s because I don’t have kids:
Couples Tower Isle
I was so impressed with the public areas of this property – it’s modern and stark white with beautiful green and blue accents. Very South Beach (or so I’m told). The clientele is nice and the price point is a great bang for your buck…until you get to the rooms. The accommodations are so outdated! If they would renovate the old tile floors and grab some new bedspreads (and artwork – the children’s paintings of Red Riding Hood were not what I’d call romantic), I’d rank them seriously high. For now, the public areas have recently been redone and are just gorgeous, so it’s an affordable option if you don’t mind the older rooms.
Please note that, if you’re just taken with the fact that this resort has a private island like Sandals Royal Caribbean, it has one major difference: guests who go to the private island are required to bare it all on the nude beach. No clothing-optional features here. It’s either off or you can’t hang out on the island.
Couples Sans Souci
This Couples Resort definitely made up for Tower Isle – the property is a little quieter, has updated rooms, and the grounds were just beautiful. While Tower Isle had a more modern feel, Sans Souci has an authentic Caribbean elegance. I love the natural landscape and the laid-back, beachy vibe. I’m happy to say that my two couples heading here later this year should have a blast!
Really, we really had to stop at the RIU? It was a learning experience, considering how rarely I sell RIU (this Spanish chain is a behemoth of a resort – 800 rooms and if you’re in room #800….man, you’ve got a long week of walking ahead of you). We saw two sub-par rooms today, one on each end of this property. I just about hurled myself out of the window when I realized that the room was not worth the 7 mile walk.
The RIU does have its merits, though – it’s good for budget and for activities. It’s like the land equivalent to a lower-end mass market cruise. You’ll never run out of things to do, there’s a buffet and live entertainment, and you can make 800 new friends.
However, the building is painted periwinkle purple, and that’s something I just can’t live with.
Sandals Grande Riviera
The largest of all the Sandals Resorts, I did not expect to like Grande Riviera – but I loved it! There’s so much going on at this resort it’s unbelievable. They’re undergoing a serious renovation to their hillside villas, which will be spectacular once they’re completed. The property is very spread out, though. Even though the villas are secluded and private, I would want to be right on the beach in a concierge or butler room since they’re a little more convenient. It all really depends on what you’re looking for, though, and those villas were really gorgeous. We’re going over to Gordon’s on the Pier (this restaurant is only available to butler guests at the Sandals Resorts – that’s one of the reasons I recommend staying butler! Plus you get awesome cheese trays waiting for you in your room, like I did tonight. I love me some cheese trays.), so I’ll update regarding the food just as soon as I try it. Also, I didn’t take a ton of photos, so I’ll try to get a few more tomorrow. The number of restaurant options at Grande Riviera is unbelievable – thank goodness that Royal Plantation guests have access to the dining!