I've always heard amazing things about Sandals Resorts, so when the opportunity arose for us to take a romantic vacation for two to Sandals South Coast in White House Jamaica we were thrilled! We've been together for a lot of years now (we started dating in the 9thgrade), and this was going to be our very first vacation as a couple. As well, our first time staying at a resort, and I truly had no idea what to expect. I knew it was going to be great- especially because Sandals South Coast is an all-inclusive resort with 5-Star Global Gourmet. I'm so excited to share with you our fantastic experience.
Our vacation began about a week before leaving. I was alerted to the Sandals app where you can plan your entire trip and learn about all aspects of the experience. From your phone you can browse restaurants, book activities, shop, view the resort map, and monitor the local weather conditions. I also used the app to do advanced check-in, and join their rewards program to really get the most out of our trip. I’ve honestly never felt more assured and in control knowing that everything was taken care of in advance!
Our flight left at 9am. This was my first time flying into Montego Bay. I managed to opt for coffee over a proper breakfast, so by the time we landed I was hungry and starting to wonder how I was going to navigate getting lunch upon arriving at the airport. Security was simple and took no time at all, and as soon as we were through we were met by a Sandals representative who had been waiting for us. He took us to the Sandals in-airport lounge, where we were greeted by more staff whose sole job was to ensure we were taken care of from start to finish. They took our bags and led us into the private lounge area reserved just for resort guests, equipped with clean washrooms, tons of grab and go snacks, cold drinks, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, tea, and comfy sofas. We were ready to spend quite a bit of time here- very content to wait in such a relaxing space for as long as it would take for our ride to our final destination.
Ten minutes later we met our driver, who took our bags to a sleek BMW car, with a picnic lunch and champagne awaiting us in the back seat. We cooled down on the beautiful scenic drive from Montego Bay to White House. It flew by as our driver told us all about the area and what was in store for us at Sandals South Coast. The Jamaican hospitality is truly unlike anything else I have experienced while traveling, and this was just the beginning!
As many of you know I recently moved from Toronto’s busy downtown core to a farm two hours north of the city. There was a reason (apart from financial) that I made the move- I love more than anything to feel seclusion. We pulled up to the massive gates of Sandals South Coast and I felt as if I found a truly secluded island paradise- that is the best way I can describe it. The resort sits on a 50-acre property surrounded by water and lush greenery that decorates the mountains surrounding. I’ve never breathed more delicious air than when I stepped out of the car.
We checked in and were greeted so warmly by all of the staff that we met and had some chocolate chip cookies before we even got our room key. To our surprise we were informed that we would have access to the Sandals butler program-whereby you have butlers to attend to your every need throughout the trip. We met one of our two butlers, who took us on a tour of the resort on route to our suite. The all-new Sandals South Coast is garnished with marble statues, fountains, and hints of European and Mediterranean luxury and architecture at every turn. We passed the over-the-water bungalows (yes, even more beautiful than the ones in Bali), an overwater bar, nine restaurants, three pools, and the most stunning wedding chapel I’ve ever seen, set on an impossibly flawless white-sand beach. We’ve made it!
Our butler poured us each a big glass of champagne and showed us around our suite, handing us a cell phone to carry, with his number on speed dial should we have any requests. There was fresh fruit awaiting us on the coffee table in our living room, something I had longed for all winter. The first bite was pure magic and it only went up from there!
It was evening by the time we decided to leave our beautiful balcony to explore the resort on our own. We walked around, stopping to explore the endless restaurant menus featuring authentic cuisine from many different cultures. We grabbed drinks from one of seven bars, and finally decided to have sushi at Sushi on the Sand for our first dinner. It was incredible! We returned to our room to find rose petals tracing a path to a perfectly drawn bath with champagne and a plate of chocolates. We quickly realized this vacation was all about us!
For the next few days we enjoyed an abundance of time relaxing and indulging in nature. The beach was amazing. Our butlers set up coolers with drinks and snacks for us at a private cabana on the sand each day. They brought us all different kinds of foods to enjoy from the resort restaurants, my favourite being the Jamaican patties! We relaxed in the ocean for hours laying out in the floaty saucers. We had pinacoladas at the Latitudes overwater bar, and sat in the hammocks with our feet dangling over the edge watching birds dive seamlessly into the water, coming up with little fish over and over again while talking about our future plans and goals.
We also had a day of adventure planned with Island Routes, a nearby tour company that offers all different types of off-resort excursions that allow you to live like a local. We booked a trip to YS Falls which included lunch and transportation. They had many other options that looked fun, including visiting Appleton Estates to see how rum is made, and even swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat. They had a booth set up at the resort to take care of all of the organizing. We also opted to do some of the fun activities included with our stay on-resort. We went paddle boarding, did the glass-bottom boat tour, and snorkeled atop the sparkling sea water!
I know I talk a lot about how there is no detail overlooked but it’s true! One aspect that really amazed me is that they have a photographer that captures candid moments for you during your stay in a very non-invasive way. They seem to be there at every picture-perfect moment to document your memories- no wonky self-timer couple’s photos. When you stay at Sandals, they take care of it all. The photos are logged under your room number and at any time you can go and see and select your favourites.
For the remainder of the days and nights we enjoyed long meals, icy drinks, hours in the pool, we made friends, we saw exotic lizards and frogs, ate jerk chicken for lunch, and prime rib for dinner. We had omelets every morning, and tried all different kinds of new fruits. We drank soursop juice, petted the resort cats, drank rum, stuck our tongues in the ocean, swam for hours, and talked for hours by the fire. There were no lines, no crowds, no worries. It was heaven on earth. Exactly how life should be when you have nothing in the world to stress about and everything available to you to enjoy.
On our last night, we were told that they had a special dinner for two planned for us. We got to choose from a variety of menu items in advance and select everything from what flowers we wanted to what champagne. I was so excited, we got dressed up and our butler led us to where we would be dining at sunset. When we arrived, we took our shoes off and walked across the sand, it was the coolest it had felt all day. The waves were softly crashing against the rocks, and the only other sounds came from native birds. Our servers led us out to the table on the water. Iwas truly speechless. Hewas speechless. We looked at each other from across the table and told one another how much we loved each other, without saying a word. It was perfect, and the lengthy dinner that ensued was unlike anything I have ever experienced. By the time we concluded it was dark, and our smiling faces were lit only by the flickering candles. Our remaining server brought me a beautiful red rose to conclude the evening, and we returned to our room each with a coconut full of rum in hand. The perfect ending to our stay.
Each and every employee served an important role in making the resort so incredibly exceptional. Every person we met was proud of their career with Sandals and talked very favourably about the employment opportunities. They went out of their way each day to chat with us, and to make sure that we were having a great time- never once forgetting our names. They did this for everyone. It was a huge part of what made the experience so wonderful.
Our trip was quiet, it was peaceful, and it was exactly what we needed to feel whole. It felt as if we had left earth while we were there in the best possible way. The focus of the trip was us, and each other. A couples-only resort where it’s okay to be selfless and even a little selfish!
For more photos and behind the scenes visit www.instagram.com/karcalabrese and click on highlight 'Jamaica'.
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