Monday, December 2, 2013

Sandals Royal Caribbean - All Inclusive @ Montego Bay, Jamaica

Sandals Royal Caribbean - All inclusive resort located at Montego Bay, Jamaica

We recently had our wedding at Sandals Royal Caribbean and our experiences are below.

The reason we selected this resort was because we had moved to Arizona a little less than a year ago for my husband's job after we were already engaged. And having our family and friends located all on the East Coast, it did not make any sense for us to have our family and friends fly over to Arizona for our wedding when it would have cost the same for them to have a vacation at an all-inclusive resort.


Why we selected this particular Sandal?

We selected this Sandal because there are 2 other Sandals in 5-10 minutes proximity with various pricings, allowing our guests more financial flexibility. Additionally, these 3 Sandals are 5-10 minutes from the Montego Bay airport.


We were engaged at a Couples resort in Ocho Rios but after flying all day and arriving at the airport then having to ride on a bus for 2.5 hours to get to the resort, we didn't want to put ourselves or our guests through that so we selected the one closest to the airport.


We also looked at other Sandals, however, flights are more difficult and prices are higher, allowing less flexibility.


Wedding Planning:

We were assigned a wedding planner over the phone to start planning our wedding by selecting all the details prior to arriving at the resort which is also available on the Sandals website.


Pros: Having a wedding planner helps us think about things that we wouldn’t have thought about, like music selection for walking up and down the aisle, the type of ceremony, writing our own vows or using theirs, just little things like that.


Cons: Information sharing from the wedding planner over the phone to the wedding planner on site, some of the things we had discussed with the wedding over the phone did not translate to the wedding planner on site.  Upon arriving, we were told we did not have a reception dinner.  So we had to scramble to to get that situated.  The wedding planner on the phone did not know the resort as well as she should even though she is exclusively assigned to that resort as her home based.   The wedding planner on site was extremely helpful although steer us away from where we wanted to be on location for our wedding. Our wedding was delayed by 40 minutes which really impacted our pictures as we paid for the twilight time ($600 at 5pm), due to the delay, we did not get pictures with our family and friends like we wanted and the one picture we did get with the entire group was in the dark.  Our first dance was so late that large bugs were out and we were covered in them during our dance.


1.       Wedding itinerary: We couldn’t even get the wedding planner to arrange an itinerary for our guests, what she did was left them a voicemail of what the plan was for our wedding day! Really??? I was shocked, I thought they would get their act together having been in business for so long and promoting these destination weddings all over.

2.       Shuttles between resorts: Even getting a shuttle to bring our guests over from the other resort was something they did not even anticipate….as their shuttle that holds 20 people runs every hour on the hour!! 

3.       Dinner reservations: Arranging dinner reservations for our guests and us for each day that we were at the resort, this arrangement was made in July and upon arriving in October for our wedding, we all met up at a restaurant to find out that our reservation was not made or confirmed with the restaurant per the wedding planner, showing them the email confirmation did not change anything and for the entire time all our other reservations were not honored!

4.       Picture package, I am obsessed with pictures and capturing every detail to our wedding however our photographer from the wedding package we got were HORRIBLE, he did not the right setting for his camera and the only reason we know this was because my sister in a law is a professional photographer, who also took pictures of our wedding as a gift to us and was a complete surprise as we didn’t want to burden her so we had paid for a photography package.  The pictures were got from our paid photographer came out dark and blurry (as I am pretty sure he is not used to taking pictures in the dark as most weddings are not delayed like ours).

5.       Food (reception dinner) After we finally had our reception dinner set up, the appetizer and salad came upon us all sitting down, however our entrĂ©e came almost an hour later with our plates being burning hot as it appeared that these plates have been sitting under the lamp for quite a long time waiting for someone to pick them up and serve them.  And the only reason we even got our food was because 3 of our guests went up to the wait staff inquiring and insisting that they go handle the situation as it should not be something we had to concern ourselves about on our wedding day.

6.       Pricing: Too expensive for the experience we had, not worth it and it was not all inclusive!  For having a big wedding party, I was expecting Sandals to go the extra mile for us and do extra things like putting our nice flowers, making it more memorable in a good way rather than in a bad way, yet all they did was try to nickel and dime us for everything even though we had so many people come to their resorts

7.       Excursions/Amenities (Internet, in room mini bar): All extra unlike Couples resorts where these are included in the pricing.  Dunes river falls – included, ($100+ with Sandals), Catamaran Cruise with Snorkeling – included ($109 per person with Sandals), shopping shuttles – included (extra with Sandals)…mini bar in room/internet – included in all rooms at Couples, only available with Concierge level or higher, same with free internet, otherwise $14.99 per day.

Overall – I would not recommend having a large wedding at any Sandals, 10 or less people may be ok but overall, pricing and what is included, is not worth it. I would suggest Couples resorts.