If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting one of the Caribbean’s 28 island nations, you’ll know the feeling of utter awe that encompasses you as you set your eyes on the white sand and crystal blue waters for the first time.
It’s that sensation of being in complete paradise that Sandals Resorts, founded by Gordon “Butch” Stewart back in 1981, has been built upon.
The company have six properties in Jamaica, so they’re pretty much the king of the island’s all-inclusive market. That said, each of their resorts has its own DNA, so you don’t feel like you’re part of anything larger than the friendly, inviting hotel you’re staying at.
If you want to honeymoon (or get married at) a resort which has Jamaica’s largest exclusive white sand beach at its heart, then it’s Sandals’ flagship property in Montego Bay that you should be making a beeline for. Hitched’s Sophie went to find out more…
Jamaica’s largest exclusive white sand beach. Images: Sandals
When we landed in Montego Bay airport after dark, it was a total delight to have just a 10 minute drive to the hotel. You’d think the resort’s close proximity to the airport would detract from its charm, but it does the complete opposite.
The resort is located in Jamaica’s main tourism hub, just three miles east of Montego Bay. It’s also within 90 minutes of the port town of Ocho Rios and the world famous Dunn’s River Falls… so the fantastic location makes up for the odd plane flying overhead.
The main entrance lobby
Style & Vibe
On arrival at Sandals Montego Bay, we were escorted inside to the dedicated check-in lounge, before meeting our allocated butler for the week (who, FYI, was just the right amount of attentive without encroaching on our privacy).
He walked us from the main building to our room the other side of the resort, pointing out each of the lunch spots (race you to Jerk Shack), bars and restaurants as we went. Our ears pricked up at the mention of a dedicated ice cream and desserts cafe. Oh, and we were also pointed toward the direction of Red Lane Spa, the wonderful on-site spa (but more on that later).
The hotel’s blocks of bedrooms, villas and suites are each linked via a maze of winding palm tree-lined walkways. There are swimming pools and bars at every turn, and you’re never far away from the ocean. In fact, the majority of the bedrooms have sea views, and those who are lucky may have their own swim-up pool which (almost) touches the sand.
Our room was one of the resort’s Beachfront Super Luxe One-Bedroom Butler Suites, but had we not have stayed here, there’d have been a choice of 25 other room types. (Yep, you read correctly). Some bedrooms have garden views, some have swim-up patios and others have spa-inspired bathrooms. It totally depends what you’re after.
In keeping with the hotel’s chic and seaside-inspired décor, our suite had blue and wood furnishings aplenty. Perfect for a honeymoon, it offered total privacy with romantic touches like a glass-panelled shower (enabling you to see the sea as you soak), a balcony bathtub, cosy lounge area and an enormous bed. Like, so enormous that you might get lost in it.
READ MORE: 15 Stylish His & Hers Suitcases for Your Honeymoon
The Beachfront Swim-Up Honeymoon One-Bedroom Butler Suite with Patio Tranquillity Soaking Tub
If you’re dreaming of Jamaica as your honeymoon spot, as many do, you’re probably searching for an injection of Jamaican culture. At Sandals, you get plenty, as our first full day on the island taught us.
Sandals Montego Bay is typically Jamaican in many ways. It has the service and slick attention to detail that you’d expect from an international resort, while still reminding you exactly where you are. From the steel drum bands that perform in the evening to the market vendors who sell local produce on the beach every morning, there are plenty of opportunities to become engulfed by Jamaican culture. The staff are also ever-eager to talk to you about it.
Food & Drink
Once our (far too short) days spent relaxing and taking part in watersports were over, our evenings were spent exactly as a honeymooner’s should be. That is: eating and drinking.
Butch’s serves up some of the finest steak dishes on the island
After sipping on sunset cocktails at the over-water bar Latitude (a total must do), we’d head for dinner at one of the resort’s 12 restaurants. The Head Chef in each restaurant is a native from the country whose cuisine they serve, which is a really special touch.
READ MORE: The Best Wedding Venues for Food Lovers
Cucina Romana offers excellent Italian a la carte dining, while Tokyo Jo’s serves up Asian wok dishes from the beach. But our favourites? The resort’s sushi haunt Soy and their steak restaurant Butch’s. Order the surf ‘n’ turf or regret it.
Soy is Montego Bay’s sushi restaurant, which is well worth a try
What to Do
Sadly, there isn’t much within walking distance of the hotel, but what is lacks in close proximity to towns and bustling bars, it makes up for in on-site activities. You won’t actually have a reason to leave.
Honeymooners and newlyweds can enjoy a whole host of all-inclusive activities, from a sunset cruise on a catamaran (which makes a stop at the infamous Margaritaville – if you know, you know) to jet skiing, paddle boarding and snorkelling in a nearby reef. You can head out of the resort with Island Routes to visit local waterfalls and places of interest, and you can even rent your own Hobbie Cat and enjoy a day of sailing.
There are four pools (and four whirlpool tubs), a swim-up bar and plenty of sunbeds down on the beach – a place which gets more secluded (and adorned in hammocks) the further East you walk.
Latitudes – the resort’s very own overwater bar
As a Sandals guest, you also have access to their other resorts on the island – one of which is located just a five minute drive away. It’s all part of their “stay at one, play at two” concept which opens up further five-star dining options and offers complimentary transfers.
This regular shuttle bus to Sandals Royal Caribbean definitely makes things easy, and with eight further restaurants (some of which are located on a private island) and an array of overwater villas to check out, it’s totally worth a visit.
What to Instagram
The view from Latitudes over-water bar
Sandals Montego Bay is a dream honeymoon destination, perfect for couples looking to kick back and relax without having to lift a finger. It’s pretty good for making your Instagram followers green with envy, too.
When it comes to what to Instagram, the answer is quite simply “everything”. But the highlight? It has got to be the sundowners at Latitudes. Choose from one of their delicious rum cocktails, relax on the overwater hammocks and watch (and photograph) as the sky turns pink. #Nofilter will be needed.
Best For… Customisable Weddings
Of course, it isn’t just honeymooners enjoying themselves in Jamaica. It’s the perfect place to say your vows too.
You can get married for free at Sandals Montego Bay if you book a three-night stay, so you can combine a relaxing holiday with getting married abroad – the dream mix for a memorable big day. We’ve seen their weddings firsthand, and can assure you they are spectacular!
The dedicated weddings team, headed up by Director of Romance Marsha Ann Brown, has been helping couples to tie the knot on Montego Bay’s shores (…and in their gardens… and overwater chapel) since their opening in the ’80s. As many as 20% of the hotel’s guests will be there for a wedding (or to get married themselves) at any one time. Seriously – weddings here are a big deal.
You can get married at Montego Bay in front of just your witnesses or 300 friends and family, and you can choose between religious and non-religious ceremonies.
Each and every component of a Sandals wedding is interchangeable, meaning no two celebrations are the same. This is refreshing, because at a chain of resorts as huge as Sandals, there was always going to be a risk of a “one size fits all” approach. Luckily, that’s nowhere to be seen.
READ MORE: Everything You Need to Know About Getting Married Abroad
The Overwater Chapel at Sandals Montego Bay is a stunning wedding ceremony spot
The brand new Weddings Lounge, magnificent Bridal Suite and Overwater Chapel are three features which really ensure your wedding experience is second-to-none. We were blown away by how stunning a ceremony spot the chapel is, with its 360 degree ocean views and glass-panelled flooring. What’s more, the interior is completely white, lending itself to whatever wedding theme and colour scheme you choose.
After saying your vows over the ocean (or on the sand, in the garden or in the nearby garden chapel), you and your loved ones can enjoy a drinks reception as the sun sets. Or how about mixing things up and choosing rum cocktails and beach games? We told you the opportunities for personalisation were endless.
After a drinks reception, you’d can sit down and enjoy the wedding breakfast you’ve selected at the complimentary menu tasting just days before. Wedding breakfasts are served in private and secluded parts of the resort (not at all close to other hotel guests), and spaces are opulently decorated. As far as wedding photograph backdrops go, the work of the Sandals wedding team is pretty special!
The Garden Chapel at Sandals Montego Bay is perfect for those dreaming of a religious wedding ceremony
You’re probably wondering how you go about planning a wedding so lavish and well-thought-out if you’re living on the other side of the world, but the answer is easy.
The team at Sandals pride themselves on a personalised service and regular contact with their clients, wherever they come from. On your arrival, you’ll be able to go through every last aspect of your big day, changing anything you don’t like and adding new additions. You’ll also be able to enjoy a menu tasting and a hair and makeup trial from the dedicated bridal suite. They do say the devil is in the details…
Seven nights at Sandals Montego Bay staying in a Caribbean Deluxe costs from £1,689 per person.
Price includes Luxury Included® (all-inclusive) accommodation, return economy flights with Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick Airport and resort transfers. This price is based on travel between the 5th September – 24th September 2020 and based on two adults sharing a room. Pricing is subject to change and may vary. Subject to availability.
To book or for more information, head to the Sandals website, call 0800 597 0002 or pop down to the Sandals Luxury Travel Store at 135 Fulham Road, London.