Are you ready to start your Caribbean adventure at Sandals Resorts? Here are a few things first time Sandals Resorts guests need to know for their first trip. Just remember, love is all you need. And a little knowledge. Anyway, I am here to help!
I am writing this from a mostly-new guests’ perspective. We have been on 4 trips so far, with a few more in the future. I am no way an expert, compared to some other seasoned Sandals Resorts guests. In any case, here are some tips first time Sandals Resorts guests need to know.
Here is a quote that explains it perfectly:
For more than thirty years, Sandals has perfected the romantic resort experience for couples, earning a worldwide reputation as the place where “love is all you need” because everything else is taken care of.https://www.sandals.com/about/
“Worth it” is a subjective statement. For us, as a couple, it is totally worth it. All-included food & drinks, not having to cook and clean, time to catch up, time to slow down. Yes, I definitely say Sandals Resorts are worth it.
I am a Sandals affiliate, so if you click on my link to book your dream vacation, I get a small part of your purchase price back. It doesn’t cost you anymore to use the link, so feel free to start planning your dream vacation.
Again, this is a subjective point. For us, the Sandals Royal Caribbean was our very first Sandals Resorts. In 1997, we went there for our honeymoon, and it was actually called the Royal Jamaican.
It has since evolved into a wonderful, smaller resort that is close to the airport and shares privileges with the sister(and very first resort)resort at Montego Bay.
Not sure which island or resort is right for you? Sandals website has a great resort comparison tool to get you started.
The cost of your vacation depends entirely on what room level you stay in. So the best way to gauge the cost, head over to the Sandals website to check out the different room categories and their costs. You can get some rooms as low as $2000 for a luxury level room, or maybe something close to $20,000 if you stay in one of the over-the-water bungalows. Only you can decide what is best for your needs or your budget.
One of our favorite specials is the extra percent you get by booking onsite. Depending on what room level you book, you can get an additional 12% off. You pay a small deposit, and you are good to go. Be aware though, that if you make changes to your on-site bookings, you will lose your deposit unless you move your trip within a 6-month window.
Other specials include a free anniversary night when you book 6 nights or more in a club or butler level room(You can’t use this if you book on site). Spa credits or excursion credits, may be offered as well. Sometimes there are candlelight dinners or other trinkets that are offered. It all depends on when you book your vacation.
What you need to know about promotions: You must register them on the website within 48 hours of booking your trip. Otherwise you will miss out.
There really is no “best time” to book. It depends on when you are ready to book your vacation. Keep an eye on the website to see what they are offering. If you choose to book online, you get an instant $25 credit.
For us, we book onsite at Loyalty & Travel. We like the extra percentage off, the small deposit, and the fact that it makes leaving a little bit easier. Somehow packing to go home makes it easier when you have a “teal envelope of happiness”, as I affectionately call it.
Pro tip: Make sure you read your contract in its entirety when you are at Loyalty & Travel. It gives you cancellation information, exclusions, and final payment dates. It is a binding contract, and reading it before you initial and sign makes sure you aren’t surprised if something needs to be changed.
No matter which way you book your vacation, you will have the time of your life.
Sandals Resorts has a great rewards program where you can earn points to get money off on your next trip. And, pay and stay for 70 nights, and you will earn a free week at the Sandals(or the family-friendly Beaches) Resorts. Pretty awesome, don’t you think? Read more here about the Sandals Select Program.
Previously, you needed to sign up once you reached the resort. Now you can sign up online prior to your stay, and once you reach the resort, you will move to the first of several levels.
And once you return to any resort for a second visit, you will get an invite to the returning guest dinner, one of our favorite resort activities.
What Are The Sandals Free Week Rules?
So the Sandals free week rules are pretty simple. First, and foremost, you must have 70 paid nights at either Sandals Resorts or Beaches Resorts. Once you reach that milestone, you will receive a certificate at the returning guest dinner marking the occasion. Once you return home, simply call the Sandals Select Rewards number, and a friendly agent will help determine what room level you qualify for.
After that, you can simply book your next vacation. There may be some blackout days, but the customer service representative will let you know. Remember, your free nights won’t count towards reaching your next milestone, but really, having the free week rocks!
So one of the questions first time Sandals Resorts guests wonder is if they should book a room that offers the amenities of Club Sandals. I suggest that if it is in your budget, you should book a club level room. You can read here about Club Sandals Benefits.
For an upcoming trip, we will be staying in a luxury level room in order to stick to our budget. While we don’t get all the perks of Club Sandals, it will still be an amazing trip.
Check-in time at Sandals Resorts is 3pm. If you arrive earlier, your suitcases will be held for you until your room is ready. I always suggest that you put your suit and lotion into your carry-on so you can change and start enjoying the resort amenities.
You will find your luggage in your room when it is ready. The only reason I knew to do this was the helpful tips I received from other seasoned travelers. Make sure, as first time Sandals Resorts guests, that you check out some of the resort-specific fan groups on Facebook.
First, only Club Level and Butler Level enjoy room service. So if that is important to you, then you should book one of these levels of rooms. As for us, we have never used room service, so it didn’t bother us.
As a side note, butler guests enjoy 24-hour room service, and club level guests can enjoy room service from 7:00AM – 10:00PM .
Sandals is strictly no tipping, with the exception of resort butlers and resort spa staff. You don’t tip housekeeping, or the bartenders, or waiters/waitresses. They can get fired if they are caught accepting a tip! I know that there are some guests that feel they are the exception to those rules and you will see them slipping a tip. It is wrong, so don’t be one of “those people”.
There are several non-Sandals staff that you can tip. These include: Club Mobay representatives, Red Caps, your shuttle driver to & from the resort, and any guides you encounter during off-resort excursions.
The no-tipping rule also includes things like candies, clothing, or other treats. It is hard on the long-time Sandals guests, as many have developed close relationships with the staff and feel like they are family. As always, the few ruin it for the many.
There are so many different choices at the bars, even non-alcoholic drinks. Just ask your bartender to skip the alcohol, they are happy to please you! For us, my favorite drink is the Dirty Banana.
For my husband? It is definitely a Purple Rain. So no matter what your tastes are, you will find something you enjoy!
Also, each restaurant has a specialty drink. Make sure you try it, as you will probably find another favorite! And if you are a Club Sandals guest, each one has a signature drink as well. When we visited Sandals Emerald Bay, it was the Bahama Breeze. These specialty drinks get you in the vacation mood!
This is definitely one of my favorites, that is for sure!
First time Sandals Resorts guests need to know that there is a restaurant for every taste. While we haven’t been to every resort and experienced every restaurant that is available, we certainly have our favorites, the Jerk Shack being one of them.
At Sandals Emerald Bay, we were able to eat at the Bombay restaurant. Turned out to be one of my absolute favorites!
Other restaurants feature Italian specialties, the best steak house around, and even a sushi restaurant. You will definitely NOT go hungry. There are also places to get snacks and late night treats.
I can’t wait until we visit some other resorts to try out all the different restaurants!
During your last night, while you are out enjoying yourself on your resort, a staff member leaves you the “white envelope of doom”, as I affectionately call it. It has your flight information, your luggage pick-up time, and your official checkout time if you leave earlier than 11 AM.
If your flight leaves later, the staff will hold your luggage so you can continue to enjoy the resort amenities.
See what I mean about having an envelope from Loyalty & Travel makes it better? After all, you have to leave to “soon come back”.
Well, technically you can. But keep in mind, you will have to pay the double occupancy fee. Which means, even if you go, you are paying as if you were there as a couple. Sometimes guests do that if they are attending a wedding on a resort. If you have another person staying with you, it would be less expensive. Keep in mind though, the rooms have a single King bed, so if you aren’t comfortable with sharing a bed, you probably shouldn’t go.
The second part of this question is that Sandals Resorts caters to couples. There isn’t a lot of activities for singles, and it isn’t really a place to meet someone that could be a future partner. Most people are there as a couple, so you may feel out of place.
First of all, relax and take everything in. You are in paradise, you worked hard to get there, and now it is time to enjoy. Here are a few other things we have learned:
- Don’t live your vacation through someone else’s experience. Reviews and opinions are helpful, when they are realistic. But one person’s experience and expectations are not yours. If I would have listened to complaints on FB groups and TripAdvisor, I may have missed out on the best vacation to date. If you go in looking for and expecting the negatives that others may have had, then you have ruined your vacation before you ever step foot on the resort. Some travelers will never be happy, and those are the ones you will hear complaining the loudest on the internet.
- Sandals takes food allergies very seriously. Most servers ask if you have food allergies or dietary restrictions. But you need to be proactive as well. Ask your Club Sandals concierge to see the culinary team and plan accordingly. This works for special diets as well as food allergies.
- Did I mention to stay away from TripAdvisor? Yes, I did. All you will do is end up second-guessing yourself and possibly ruin your vacation.
- Don’t be a floaty hoarder. They are there for all guests to use. If you aren’t using it, then set it free for other guests to enjoy.
- Don’t let the “chair game” frighten you. Yes, there are places where there aren’t enough seats or umbrellas. If you can’t afford a butler, then you need to get up earlier to get a chair. We tend to get our spot, eat breakfast, and head right back to our chair. And if we aren’t using it anymore, then we clean our stuff up and let another guest use it.
- Know that nothing is perfect. There will be bumps. There will hiccups. And frankly, there will be disappointments. How your vacation goes is all depending on YOU! So if you encounter a problem, use the LOOP onsite. Or ask to talk to a manager. Give the resort an opportunity to fix it on the spot, instead of being angry on Facebook.
- Have a question? A request? A concern? Talk to a staff member on site instead of immediately jumping onto social media and bashing the resort. Miscommunications on social media can cause a bigger issue then if you just ask someone.
- Be real with your expectations. This is Caribbean 5-Star, not European or American. You won’t get quite the same experience because it is a completely different place. Yes, we ALL pay money to go there. I often hear complaints that start with “for the money I paid…” Yes, we all pay money to go there, but I realize that 5-Star there is NOT the same everywhere else. I am not perfect, I don’t expect others to be either.
- Be aware of island time. Things move slower. You are not rushed through restaurants so they can shuffle someone else in. It may take longer for things to come out of the kitchen. Instead of getting upset, take the time to talk and laugh with your spouse. If you get truly concerned, just politely ask a server.
- If you are not a fan of paper straws, bring your own. Sandals Resorts is doing its part to cut down on plastic, so help them out by doing it as well.
So, as I mentioned earlier, I am far from being an expert on Sandals Resorts. The tips I have shared in this post are all the ones we have experienced, helped along with the advice we received from others. So it is my pleasure, as a fledgling Sandals guest, to pass these on to other new Sandals guests.
One final thought: just stop, take it all in, and remember that love is all you need when you are at Sandals Resorts.