We went to the Sandals Riviera Grande for our honeymoon April 11-17, 2011, and it was a horrible experience from start to end.
When we arrived at the Sandal’s resort, the bus stopped at the Manor side and most of the passengers got off. We were told to stay on the bus because we were at the Riviera side and we had a purple sticker on our tag. I watched out the window of the bus and saw my bag had been offloaded and was set aside from the bus. I waited, thinking they would load my bag back on the bus. They did not. So, I scurried off the bus and told them that was my bag and I was going to the Riviera side. They loaded my bag on the bus again, and I double-checked to make sure my husband’s bag had not been offloaded as well. This was very frustrating and chaotic.
When we arrived in our room on the Riviera Side, the room was very hot and humid, so we turned on the air conditioner. We attended the Sunday night buffet dinner on the Manor side lawn. When we returned to our room after dinner, we found that the air conditioner had leaked gallons of water into our room. Our curtains were soaked, and the floor had standing water from the patio door all the way back to the bed. Thank goodness we had put our luggage on top of the bed! I called the concierge number and told them our room was soaked with water, and they sent a maintenance man in 45 minutes. The maintenance man did not bring any towels with him, and he asked me to call housekeeping. I pressed the housekeeping button on the telephone, and the man who answered said he was not housekeeping. He said I needed to dial “0” and ask for housekeeping. I finally reached housekeeping told them what had happened in our room and water was all over the floor, and a man delivered 3 towels to our room. When he arrived with the towels, he talked to the maintenance man in a language I did not understand, laughed, set the towels down on the bed, and then left the room. So, I began drying the floor with the towels myself. The maintenance man helped me move the chair and other furniture to finish drying the floor, and then he left.
The next morning, I took a shower and attempted to blow dry my hair. The blow dryer did not work, so I called the concierge number again and told them it didn’t work. They said they would send someone to fix it. I never saw a maintenance man or a call asking me if it had been fixed. This occurred for 3 mornings in a row, and I called the concierge number letting them know the blow dryer did not work for 3 mornings in a row. The blow dryer did not work for the entire trip, and it was never fixed. Ther were also cracks in the bathroom wall around the blow dryer and shaving mirror, from the ceiling to the vanity. The room was sub-standard and we were very disappointed.
On Monday morning, we decided we would go to the beach. As I was walking into the water, I had to go through a wall of seaweed, and I cut my foot on a rock. For the remainder of the trip, my foot stung every time I got in the water. After cutting my foot, we walked up to the pool to get a towel, but there were no towels available. We checked two towel areas, but both were empty. So, we went back to the beach and waited, hoping they would replenish the towels within a few minutes. After 30 minutes of checking multiple times for towels at the pool, we finally left and walked back to our room soaking wet from the ocean.
On Monday morning, we attended the Orientation session to learn about all of the things we could do at the resort. We learned that a new restaurant, Kimono’s, was opening on Saturday, but that is was dress clothes only. My husband did not pack any dress clothes because we were unaware that we needed to pack them. We received dozens of emails in the months and weeks before arriving at Sandals trying to sell us beachside massages and candlelight dinners, but not a single email with a “what to pack” list. I also never saw a “what to pack” list on the Web site. So, we did not make reservations to eat dinner at Kimono’s the last night of our trip. On Saturday April 16, we were looking at the restaurant board in the Riviera lobby and noticed that Kimono’s was noted as “casual” clothing. We were confused, so we went to the Concierge desk to ask. The concierge confirmed it was casual dress, but she said the restaurant was completely booked and she could not make a reservation for us. We were frustrated at the inconsistent information we were given. Had we been told it was casual dress, we would have made a reservation for Kimono’s the first day we had arrived.
Throughout the week, we were repeatedly disturbed and annoyed with the photographers throughout the resort. They interrupted us while we were walking along the beach, laying out in the sun, eating dinner, walking around the resort, literally everywhere!! They would take pictures of us and then start talking to us for 15-30 minutes trying to book a photo session with us. Repeatedly this occurred, and so often that we found ourselves constantly on the “look out” for photographers to avoid. We could not relax. We would purposely walk completely around them just to avoid having to get our picture taken or to speak with them.
The food throughout the trip was horrible. For breakfast, we often ate at the Seaside Restaurant. We did not eat the bacon because it was half-way cooked, we did not eat the sausage links because they were pink in the middle, the scrambled eggs were probably made from dry flakes because they were gritty and coarse. The pancakes had no flavor, and the milk was warm. The oatmeal was horrible too. We were very disappointed in the quality of the food and the service.
One of the reasons my husband and I chose the Ocho Rios resort was because he is an avid golfer and golf was “complimentary” at the resort. After spending $137 for 1 round of golf for him, he quickly found out that golf was in no way “complimentary.” He was required to have a $17 caddy and tip him $20-30, then he was charged $60 for a golf cart and $40 to rent clubs. My husband was prepared to pay for clubs because he did not bring his own, but he was not prepared to spend an additional $100 to rent a cart, caddy, and tip. When we arrived at the golf course, there was also a sign by the cash register in the clubhouse that said “Although this is a Sandals resort facility, food and beverages are an additional charge.” So we did not eat or drink anything on the course because it was an additional charge! We only had 2 bottles of water and “shared” a caddy with another man who played golf with us, even though we were charged $17 for a caddy for us, and the man we played golf with was charged $17 for a caddy for him, but we only had 1 caddy for both of us. We were very disappointed in the “complimentary” golf that cost $137 and would not recommend golf to anyone at a Sandals resort.
We left the resort on Sunday morning. When we checked out at the concierge desk, I asked her if we needed to tip anyone at the airport (like the man who took our bags to the bus upon arrival and told us we had to tip him or else he would not load our bags on the bus). She told us there was no one to tip at the airport and we didn’t need to have any cash for any more tips. She said “everything is Sandals, and you do not tip Sandals.” The bus driver on the way back to the airport stopped on the side of the road half-way between the resort and airport. He stopped in front of a house, got off the bus, and went into the house for about 15 minutes. Everyone on the bus was looking around, asking what was going on. No one knew why he stopped on the side of the road for 15 minutes with a bus full of Sandals guests. It was very confusing and we all felt unsafe.
When we finally arrived at the airport, the driver asked everyone for a tip as they got off the bus. We were confused, because the concierge said we didn’t need a tip for anyone else. The man in front of us getting off the bus did not have a tip for the bus driver. He said “My money is in my bag.” So, the bus driver said, “Well, you can help me unload all the bags from the bus then.” So the bus driver walked onto the bus and went over to a window, opened the window and began handing all the luggage to the Sandals guest who didn’t have a tip for him. My husband and I could not believe it! We got our bags and left the bus as quickly as we could.
We were frustrated, upset, disappointed, and would not recommend Sandals to anyone that we know. My husband worked very hard to pay thousands of dollars for our honeymoon, which was supposed to be the trip of our lifetime. Sadly, it was the worst trip we have ever taken and we feel that in no way was it worth nearly $4,000 for the resort and flight costs.
We sent all of our concerns mentioned above to Sandals and all they responded with was offering 2-night's stay at any Sandal's resort in the next 12 months and stating they are "committed to ensuring total customer satisfaction." Their response was insulting, after everything we went through on our honeymoon. All they have been is UN-committed to our satisfaction and disappointing.