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Reviewed 6 April 2010

I recently returned from a holiday to Jamaica at Sandals Negril and it is with great disappointment that I now find myself having to write this poor review.

Never before have I been so let down by a resort, but I can honestly say that Sandals Negril failed to meet my expectations on a colossal scale. Before I continue, allow me to say that my husband and I are extremely well-seasoned travellers and have holidayed all over the world and in particular have visited many parts of the Caribbean many times. We always stay in 4 or 5 star resorts so have a lot of experience of these. I, therefore, think of ourselves as experienced in foreign holidays and not at all naive.

We were booked into a Honeymoon Grand Luxe Beachfront Concierge room and the only positive thing I can say about this is that the view was absolutely superb. The room, and particularly the bathroom, left an awful lot to be desired for a resort that advertises itself as 5 star. The whole room, in my opinion, can only be described as shabby. The bedside rugs were stained and worn and my husband found a loose floor tile underneath one of them. The mahogany furniture that is advertised was chipped and tatty and, in general, the whole room just looked tired.
Now onto the bathroom which is, without a doubt, the worst bathroom I have ever seen in a 5 star resort. It was absolutely disgusting. Again, it was very tired and shabby and filthy. There wasn’t even a plug for the sink when we checked in, just a chain where a plug had obviously once been. We had to ring the concierge just to get a plug for the sink, something that I would have assumed was just a basic requirement in a bathroom! Some of the tiles surrounding the bath had rust stains on them from where the screws in the grab-handle had rusted. Some of the other tiles round the bath had dried paint splashes and drips all over them from when the door frame had been painted but nobody had bothered to wipe the paint off. The toilet cistern never got wiped down in the 2 weeks that we were there and by the end of the holiday you could write your name in the layer of dust on it. When we checked in there was a long black hair on the floor in the corner of the bathroom behind the door, and it wasn’t from me (I’m blond) or my husband. I thought I would leave it, as an experiment, to see how long it would take to get cleaned up and would you believe it, it was there 14 days later when we checked out. This is just unacceptable from a 5 star resort.

Sandals advertising states, and I quote, “ an exceptional array of accommodations”. Exceptional means outstanding or brilliant or excellent. None of these words could be used to describe to room we stayed in.
Sandals advertising also states, quote “the concept of giving guests more than they expect is exemplified in Sandals rooms and suites - the most luxurious the Caribbean has to offer. There is no such thing as a standard room at Sandals - each of our private paradises feature a king-size bed and custom-detailed bathroom” unquote. I take it the paint splashes, rust stains and dust are the custom details in the bathrooms then?

Pools - yes there were 3, but one of them was out of bounds as it was reserved for the people in the River Suites. Something that the brochure fails to mention. Of the 2 pools available to the common people, one was quite small and the other was always noisy as that is where the entertainment was (pool volleyball etc).

The next fiasco was the sunbeds on the beach. In the brochure it does not mention that the beach resembles Benidorm in the high season. Row after row of sunbeds, not enough umbrella’s and in some places the beach no wider than the sunbed itself. The photo in the brochure must have been taken with the world’s largest wide angled lens because at no point is the beach as wide or spacious as the picture suggests. The brochure also fails to mention that butler’s will come down the night before and reserve beds/umbrella’s for their clients, leaving the common people (people who haven’t paid for butler service) little or no chance of getting a sunshade unless they get up at 5.30am! Not something you want to be doing when you are supposedly on a relaxing break. Whilst on holiday it shouldn’t be necessary to conduct a military operation in order to ensure you have a sunshade. We complained to our concierge about this and were told to leave our towels and some reading matter out the night before and the beds/shade would be ours the next day. This worked on a few occasions but one morning our things had been moved and the beds reserved by someone else. This prompted us to complain to the general manager of the resort, who was not aware of the problems with sunshades. His response was to erect a great big ugly tent on the beach to provide more shade. The top part of the beach was reserved for butler-service people so we couldn’t use that part of the beach. I understand people with butlers have paid extra for that service and I don’t have a problem with that, but what I do have a problem with is being made to feel like a second-class citizen because you haven’t got a butler, and this was experienced by a few people we talked to, not just ourselves. My husband and I could have afforded a butler if we wanted to, but we just wouldn’t have felt comfortable with it. That shouldn’t have resulted in us being deprived of places to sunbathe because of it.

Never in my life have I wished a holiday away, but at Sandals I was on a daily countdown to the day we could get out of there. In terms of cost, the Sandals holiday is in our top 5 of most expensive holidays, but in terms of standards there is no competition, it is absolutely bottom. I have stayed in many true 5 star resorts in the Caribbean and paid a lot less for the holidays, and the standards of those resorts put Sandals Negril to shame. I don’t know how long the resort has been open but, apart from the millionaire suites and river suites, the whole resort could do with a serious refurbishment.

The advertising is very glossy and luxurious and suggests wonderful things about the resorts, but my observations of Sandals Negril is that the advertising is writing cheques that the resort just can’t cash. In other words, the advertising suggests something that is way beyond the standards the actual resort can deliver.

We had totally bought into the Sandals idea of “a luxury included holiday, aimed expressly at people in love. That at Sandals you can leave you worries behind” - Sandals words, not ours - and we were extremely disappointed with the real thing.

It was my first time at a Sandals resort and will absolutely be the last!

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank pammie14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 April 2010

Sandals Negril was so much more than we expected. We were invited to a destination wedding that was beyond charming. It took place in a gazebo on the beach officiated by a local reverend. He was wonderful. After the ceremony (that was backlit by an amazing setting sun), we were led to a lawn shaded by a huge tree with a 3-piece reggae band providing all the classic reggae tunes. We had a lovely cocktail hour and had ample opportunity to take amazing photographs. After that, (we were a party of 30) we sat at 3 tables of 10 right on the sand while a DJ played. We had a lovely dinner further lit by the sunset and later by tiki lights, strung overhead lights and chinese lanterns. Totally charming.

This location is not perfect...and surely it is not for everyone. We are very well-travelled and are expremely discriminating when it comes to comfort and service. Having said that, you would have to really work at having a bad time at this property. Everyone was so amazingly hospitable, polite and accommodating...it just put you in a good mood all the time. From housekeeping to shopkeepers to food servers...everyone was always smiling and friendly. This location should be very proud because they not only represent the Sandals brand in an amazing way, they represent all of Jamaica and an amazingly high level of Jamaican hospitality.

It is all-incluse so you can drink all you want. There are a number of choices when it comes to restaurants or you can eat in the main dining hall where you have a gorgeous view of the caribbean. Every night was another fascinating cultural show or very amusing shows where the guests participate. There are many beautiful places to sit with friends, relax, read quietly, or party, dance and even swim well into the night.

The best place for us was the Beach Grill where "Crane" is THE MAN! He was so much fun and you can have all the Jamaican yummies like jerk hamburgers and beef patties. He was so accommodating that when our party went on a fishing expedition and caught some nice tuna...he volunteered (we didn't have to ask) to prepare them for 30 people and he stayed to be sure they were served properly at a rehearsal dinner that night. All the while, he smiled, cracked jokes, made you feel welcome and was just a joy to be around.

I highly recommend Sandals Negril and intend to try their other locations.

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled with friends
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2  Thank amldate
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 April 2010

My only complaint would be the room was small, (King Bed) but it was a nice room! The beach was beautiful, the pool was lovely, the food was great. The alcohol was plenty, the staff was wonderful, We only slept in the room, with so much going on at the resort we had no need to hang in the room. Wonderful weather, would go back in a heartbeat!

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank jackAllentownPA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 April 2010

The resort and staff are just excellent.
The food you cannot fault and the staff were just so friendly and attentive.
The location is perfect and there is a long long sandy beach with a crystal clear sea.

We had a loft apartment about 10 metres from the beack.

All in all an excellent resort .

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank GwaliaSurrey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 April 2010

We went for a wedding, so we didnt have a whole lot of options, but we KNEW we were not staying at the family hotel, so this is where we ended up landing. Boy were we glad we DIDNT stay at the family sister hotel.. as the beaches were covered in sand fleas. We had free access to the other 2 sister hotels next door, and both were worse than this one.
As for the sandals.. the few good things.. nice enough beach, without sand fleas. Food was pretty good at most places, although generic. Bars were GREAT!! top shelf liquor and well mixed. Loved the drink at our hotel VS. the two others we visited. Kids are not allowed on the premises.
Now onto the bad.. We got a crappy room and when we got into it, it smelled musty and was at the back of the property very far from the beach and very close to the parking lot and roads. The sink did not even drain properly, and the bedding AND furniture are all OLD and musty. We were told we would have internet in our room, and just happened to get a room where it did not work. They justified this by saying that it was free and available in the lobby. This place needs a major remodel to be considered "sandals quality" in my opinion.
Now.. I am sure that if you pay thousands more (and yes, per person it is around 1000 more) and get a swim-up suite and butler.. it is nicer. HOWEVER, it must be noted that this part of the hotel is a newly added part. So it is not even anywhere near the condition the older part is. So.. if you don't plan on paying big bucks... pick another resort.

  • Stayed: July 2009, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank lauralu333
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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