The All-inclusive Experience

Have you ever been to an all-inclusive resort? Maybe you’ve thought about it or are planning to?

If you’re in search of pointers or just want to know about the “hype,” this the place!

We recently went to Jamaica with some friends for a birthday trip where we stayed at a Sandals All-Inclusive resort in Montego Bay. Here, I’ll give you the run down of what it was like to stay there, staff, hotel accommodations, etc. (The good, the bad and the ugly!)

Scroll down to the bottom for cliff notes if you don’t want to enjoy the full read

What to consider before booking:   Montego Bay an All-Inclusive Resort

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Planning your vacation can be a daunting task, which is why the allure of an all-inclusive resort is so lust worthy. Whether you plan do go the route of Sandals Vacations or elsewhere there are a few things to think about before pressing that “book” button.

The first few questions you’ll be asked is if your stay will be for an occasion:  birthday, honeymoon, anniversary, etc. If you are staying for one of these, make sure you are adamant about specifying which one. It’s likely the hotel or concierge will make the effort to make your visit special.

Check out the resort’s website, visit it thoroughly too. Some things you may not think about is the location of the resort.

When we arrived in Montego Bay we realized the property is basically at the end of the runway strip of the airport where flights take off. Granted it wasn’t as obnoxious as we anticipated it to be, but planes are pretty loud after lift off! 

If you are booking through a travel agent, make sure they have all your information in for the accommodations. Your passport information is key! Additionally, if you want to arrange anything special (dinners, arrival drinks, etc) be sure that you repeat it to your agent. Translation can get lost sometimes between your agent and the resort.

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For instance, I set up a surprise lunch for my friend’s birthday because she did not know we would be attending her vacation at all. I had our travel agent pre-plan the exact location for lunch and while it was a nice gesture, our butler service decided to take us elsewhere for a private “picnic.” Our picnic consisted of mini pizzas and tea sandwiches. Not quite the surprise meal I’d planned for my friend…

 

 

There are often upgraded rooms that come with perks (butler service, massage sessions, private rooms, etc).

Should you choose an upgraded room, may I suggest to preview all the video and information prior to selection! Butler service can be amazing, where they take care of any and everything you wish including dinners, massages, excursions, etc. Remember though, that your service can vary. Just like any restaurant… not all servers are alike.

butler service

Between the 3 rooms and 3 butlers, only 1 stood out (MEL) as the greatest and one was completely nonexistent. Literally, he didn’t even work the entire time we were there! The others were phenomenal! We rather enjoyed 2 of the 3 and wished they could have hung out with us all day!

Excursions should be at the top of your list, if you plan to see more of the area you plan to visit and not just the resort. If you want to just have some R & R, then no harm in staying at the resort. Hell, you’re paying for it… enjoy every minute of it! There are usually some very touristy excursions on the website, but you can also find some additional things to do off the property via the resort pamphlets or even from your butler (who is likely a local).

Before leaving for Jamaica, I explored my favorite avenue:  Pinterest for some excursion ideas. Though I’d visited Jamaica before, our birthday girl hadn’t, so I crafter together a birthday jar for her filled with excursions, dinner options and drinks of the day! I left it up to her to decide what to do for the day.

 

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We did make it outside of the resort once in our short 3 day vacay to snorkel. Our fantastic butler set us up with a private catamaran. It was a blast. The best part… not having to deal with all the other drunk people we didn’t know! Brad even got to captain the boat out. The staff was wonderful and even cast out a line to fish with on the way out to our snorkel spot which really got Brad pumped! They made us drinks as we blasted through the water to reggae music. They stopped by Margeritaville on the way back for us to grab some additional drinks and some snacks. 

Decide on what kind of vacation you want to have. Do you want to take it easy and be catered to or would you rather play about the area and soak up the cultural vibes?

Either is totally fine, but be sure to have an idea of what you’d like so that the resort can be mindful of your schedule. They will have private car services for you to and from the airports, out to private excursions or group excursions. Some may even take you on city tours (if requested).

Make sure to inform the resort of your arrival and departure with flight information. Car service will be set for you accordingly. 

Arrival to the resort was pretty simple. On the flip side, we were rushed out of the resort on our last day which put us at the airport 4-5 hours prior to departure. A few extra hours we could have soaked up a little more sun!

Lastly, remember that you’re booking an All-Inclusive vacation. This may or may not include gratuities so make sure you read the fine print!!!

Additionally; the resort will probably have a photographer on site, so if you want them to capture some of your memories at the resort ask them to take your photo. You can pick any photos you want on premise or none at all. The choice is yours. You can even ask to have a personal shoot for you and your loved one(s). Or you can ask another resort traveller to take one for you:

Brad and Nicole-sandals
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Brad and I are not the most photogenic couple… mostly on brad’s behalf but we do not get the couple photos because we don’t know how to be normal. Case in point>>>

Key points:

  • what occasion are you visit for?
  • review the resort’s website thoroughly
  • how will you book: online, 3rd party, or travel agent?
  • are there upgrades to take advantage of?
  • plan excursions
  • decide on what kind of vacation you want to have
  • make sure your resort knows your arrival and departure times
  • check out the local customs (gratuities, greetings, etc)
  • read all the fine print
  • get photos!

sandals resort

If you do decide to go All-Inclusive, have fun and enjoy the moments (good and bad).

Until next time,

Safe Travels!

room with a view

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