from Buffalo, New York
Submitted on 02-07-2016
We visited Sandals Whitehouse at the end of March/early April 2016. It was our first Sandals property and only our second all-inclusive in the Caribbean. It did not disappoint! We loved the seclusion...the resort is set on a mile-long beach with no resorts anywheres nearby. We ran the length of the beach back and forth each morning and the only thing needed was to give your name to the guard at the end of the Sandals property so they knew you were out there. Just untouched, unspoiled beach!...
We visited Sandals Whitehouse at the end of March/early April 2016. It was our first Sandals property and only our second all-inclusive in the Caribbean. It did not disappoint! We loved the seclusion...the resort is set on a mile-long beach with no resorts anywheres nearby. We ran the length of the beach back and forth each morning and the only thing needed was to give your name to the guard at the end of the Sandals property so they knew you were out there. Just untouched, unspoiled beach! That being said, apparently the beach is eroding at the moment and that made the water churned up and murky. So if you are looking for crystal clear water all of the time, this isn't the place. There was also a layer of rock that you had to walk over to get out a bit in the ocean before hitting the sandy bottom a little ways out. That did not bother us, but I know that is troublesome for some.
As for the resort itself, it is beautiful! Beautiful, well-maintained grounds with plenty of shady, flowery walks to take. The resort is broken up into 3 different buildings of rooms...the italian, the dutch, and the french. The italian is the closest to all of the restaurants and nightlife, but definitely far enough away that you would never hear any late-night noise if you chose to go to bed early. The main HUGE pool with swim-up bar is also right next to the italian village if you are pool person. The French village was on the far end of the property, farthest from the restaurants, but still within a 5 minute walk to everything. We stayed here and enjoyed the seclusion from the hustle. The French side also has a pool with swim-up bar, although not nearly as big as the one near the Italian village. There were daily games and acitivies at this pool as well so it did get a little rowdy during the afternoon hours. The Dutch village was set in between the Italian and French and was generally pretty quiet. There was a very small pool in this area, almost a huge-looking hot tub, but it was not heated to hot tub temperature (much to some peoples' surprises!). We stayed in a basic luxury-level room and thought it was wonderful. Nice big bathtub/shower area, good-sized room with balcony, and overall, just great. We hardly spent much time in our room so this lowest category worked for us. I should say, also, that this resort is one of few where all rooms are ocean-view and very close to the ocean itself. A huge plus for us! As for the beach, there were some good trees for shade and most of (not all parts) the beach sand was soft and warm (sometimes hot!). The beach chairs were those basic, hard-plastic white ones so they weren't the most comfortable at times, but I guess that's what you get when they need hundreds of them! There really wasn't ever a problem grabbing some. There were nicer, padded lounge chairs with a little umbrella hut and cooler for the Butler guests, but often times, there were empty ones, so you could almost wait and see if any Butler-level guests would take them and if not, snatch one yourself (minus the cooler...there is no beachside service unless you are Butler level). What there did seem to be a problem getting was towels. We sometimes had to jump to other pools to find them or get them first thing in the morning before breakfast. I imagine some people take far more than they need, which makes it difficult for the resort to turn over. It wasn't a huge issue, but annoying at times.
As for the food and drink, it was wonderful!! Never a bad meal and always great choices at the breakfast buffet. The little French pastry shop was the BEST and had amazing crepes. The nightlife was here and there...there was a great bar open late-night (the only outdoor bar at night) and the bartenders were so great! Very entertaining and funny and willing to make you whatever drink you wanted or come up with their own concoction (which are delicious, but deadly so watch out!!!)! There was also an indoor martini bar that I believe turned more into a club around 10:30 PM, but we never went that late. I liked the martinis, but found it dark and not as nice as being outside at the bar downstairs near the beach. There was really never any rowdiness that I saw and the bars are all a good distance from any room, so I don't think there would ever be a noise issue.
As for pick-up and drop-off to the airport...be aware...this resort is far from the airport. So if that makes a big deal to you or you are carsick easily, plan accordingly! After going thru customs, we were ushered into the Sandals lounge, where there were drinks and small snacks of croissants and rolls to wait for your shuttle to the hotel to be ready. We only waited about 5 mins before being taken to a large van, where 2 other couples joined us. We waited in the van for about 20 more minutes before finally heading out. Traffic in and around the airport and in Montego Bay is busy, so it took a little while to get through that. Once through, you were up and down, around bends and over hills through the Jamaican countryside. It was very pretty, but you got a good glimpse at some of the poverty and how some live in that country and some of the road's conditions were quite shody and the driver often had to slow down very much to go over bumps or ditches. The ride straight through probably takes around an hour and 20 mins, but on the way to the resort, you stop at a jerk shack for the ability to get out, stretch your legs, go to the bathroom, buy a drink, and buy some authentic Jamaican jerk food. At this point in the trip, I hadn't eaten in hours, so the jerk food was AMAZING!! After about 30 minutes or so, you were back on your way to the resort. Total travel time to the resort, from the airport, was about 2 hours. On the way back to the airport, there were no stops and, like I said, we made it in about an hour and 20 mins. One other way of getting to the hotel from the airport was via the Sandals helicopter. Should I do this resort again, or possibly St. Lucia since I hear those Sandals resorts are a good distance from the airport, I might choose this option. I believe it was $1300 roundtrip, but you were able to share with another couple. So if you could find one other couple, it would be around $350 per person. Honestly, it might be worth it to get, basically, an excursion out of your airport transfer and be able to see Jamaica from the sky. The trip via helicopter is mere minutes, I'm told, but dont quote me on that (maybe 15 mins?). You land at a pad just off the resort and I believe there is a car waiting there to transfer you into the resort. We saw the helicopter come in nearly every day, so this is a viable option.
As for excursions, we did one...the YS Falls tour and it was awesome!! We were picked up by van with a few other couples and informed about Jamaica and YS Falls by the tour guide during the 45 minute ride. The falls are beautiful and the zip-line option was pretty neat as well! While touring the falls, be sure to bring your camera and a few dollars...they had people ready and willing to follow along with you, taking pictures as you swam in the falls and pools and did rope swings. We got some lovely pictures from it and we were highly appreciative of our picture man. Be sure to tip this person! It is the only tipping you relaly need to do besides if you choose to tip your housekeeper and if you are at Butler level, your Butler. Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend the YS Falls tour!
As for other activities on the resort itself...there is a dive staff right there in-house and a special pool for those wanting to be certified or need a refresher course and the dive boat leaves right from the resort. My husband and I are both certified divers but chose not to dive due to our short stay. We did do the included snorkeling trip and found it eh. The water visability was not the best and where they took us was not the most beautiful. There wasnt much to see and the staff wasn't the most friendly, so we just kind of had a mediocre time. I do hear that the diving is not the greatest also, but its all relative. I'm sure its ok, but probably not nearly as beautiful as other places in the Caribbean. The snorkeling is free, though, and isn't a long trip, so I'd recommend it just to get out on a boat and see for yourself. We also made use of the stand-up paddleboards, which was fun, but the water was semi-choppy (most of the time) so that made things a bit more difficult. I should add that it was fairly windy most days and we were told that this was pretty normal for that time of year (which is probably what they always say). It was ok at times, but at others, it was very windy, kicking up sand and causing the resort crew to shut down all watersport activities. This was not every day, though.
Overall, we had a wonderful experience and wish we could have stayed longer! The Jamaican people are amazing and friendly and always smilng and I just love returning to such a great country. The resort itself was beautiful, the food good, the grounds lovely, AMAZING, long beach (really, the highlight for me), but the water clarity was the downfall. Regardless, I would absolutely recommend this Sandals resort and would be happy to answer any questions if anyone has any!