Sandals Montego Bay in Jamaica: Top 10 Things to Know

Sandals Montego Bay sunset top things to know

 

We love Sandals Resorts, especially because they are adults-only and all-inclusive. We have been to three others (click the links to see my reviews): Royal Plantation; Grenada; and Royal Caribbean. Our most recent Sandals visit was to Sandals Montego Bay. Here are the top 10 things to know about Sandals Montego Bay:

In this post:

  1. Arrival
  2. Rooms
  3. Beach
  4. Bars & Entertainment
  5. Restaurants
  6. Shuttle to Sandals Royal Caribbean
  7. Staff
  8. Room Service
  9. Weather
  10. Pools
  11. Final Word

What I love about Sandals Montego Bay is the long oceanfront and beach. With such a long footprint, many of the rooms are on the beach or have a view of the ocean. Our philosophy is that if we are going to a beach, we need to be ON the beach or at least have a great view of it from our room. Many of the restaurants and bars are also oceanfront, which is perfect as we always love dining with a view. 

1. Arrival

Getting to Jamaica is pretty easy. There are lots of flights and airlines that service Montego Bay airport. The resort is a 10 minute ride from the airport, which gets you on the beach super fast. The caveat is airline noise starting around 830 am and throughout the day, but you get used to it. We just always felt sorry for the poor people having to leave, and it was a reminder to make the most of our time there.

Airport customs and immigration wasn’t too time-consuming, but if you hate waiting in lines, the airport offers Club Mobay, where you can pay to have someone escort you through fast-track customs and immigration and get you to the Sandals Lounge faster. If you hate waiting in lines, I suggest looking online at the Montego Bay airport schedule of arrivals, and if a lot of planes are arriving around the same time as yours, maybe spring for the Fast Track. We didn’t use it this time, but got through fairly quickly (maybe 20 minutes?). We arrived at the Sandals Lounge, gave them our names, used the restroom, and within 5 minutes they were calling us to take us to our resort. Check in was simple at the resort (you can check in online ahead of time). We ate a quick lunch on the beach and then our room was ready and our butler escorted us to it.

2. Rooms

We booked onsite while we were at Sandals Grenada. With our Sandals Select Rewards, the 12 percent discount from booking onsite, plus 10 percent off for military, and then watching the Sandals online 777 sales ,we received a super deal on our room, which was a Beachfront Millionaire One-Bedroom Butler Suite with Tranquility Soaking tub (M1). I did a lot of research on the Montego Bay Facebook Fan page, and since we love a quiet, chill vacation, we chose this room type. These are all the way down near the new Over-the-Water Wedding Chapel, which is, by the way, a beautiful place to get married or re-tie the knot:

 

When we booked I requested (which you don’t always get) to be in the original M1s, which are in Cottage 15, a group of six rooms. They had added a few buildings that had M1s, but I didn’t like the layout of the ones over the swim up rooms. We love sitting on a balcony, but we were given a walkout this time. Our room had a sectional couch and table right on the beachfront. We loved hanging out there in the morning shade, eating breakfast, and in the evening having drinks and appetizers out there. We also had a large double lounger on our patio that was awesome for afternoon naps! It was so convenient to walk from our sliding doors right to our spot on the beach under a palapa…this was an incredible walk out room and I highly recommend it! Please see my video tour below:

 

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3. Beach

beach at Sandals Montego Bay Jamaica
Morning beach time

As mentioned earlier, Sandals Montego Bay has a long beachfront. In some spots the beach isn’t very wide, but if you can score chairs along there, it is nice and quiet and no one sits in front of you. Our Butler reserved us a pair of chairs on one side of a palapa, and people can sit on the other side if they want, but most days no one did. I needed shade and the palapa was key for me. The Butlers also bring you a cooler full of drinks and will bring you lunch and snacks if you request them.

If you are in a butler level room, you are given a butler phone and you can call them. In many cases, they will call you to see if you need anything. There are beach waiters/waitresses, and our room was near the over-the-water bar. If we were feeling the need for a drink, we could go there easily or just hit our own refrigerator/bar in our room. 

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The beach was nice, the sand was soft and the staff worked hard all day raking up the sea grass. While we were there it was very windy and the safety flag turned green for maybe about 3 hours on one day. I went in the ocean, but by us the bottom was a bit slimy and with the winds it was rough and hard to stand, so I really only went in once, unfortunately. There were no swim rings by us. Farther up and closer to the pools and restaurants, the beach was wider, there were tons of loungers, and the water there had swim rings. That area would get really busy and had a more party-like atmosphere.

4. Bars & Entertainment

As mentioned above, there is an over-the-water bar. If you love ocean views, they cannot get any better than at this bar. There are fire pits and couches on the pier leading to it, and encircling the bar are awesome over-the-water hammocks for lounging, and plenty of seating around the bar, too. We loved sitting there at sunset, enjoying a pre-dinner drink and watching the sky change colors.

 

Over the water bar at Sandals Montego Bay
Awesome Over-the-Water Bar–our favorite place for watching the sunset.

There was also a bar by the party pool, and in the main area/lobby of the resort called The Living Room. We mainly used the over-the-water one. There was also one outside of the non-oceanfront restaurants, it looked really nice and intimate.

 

Sandals Montego Bay over the water bar at sunset
Lovely sunsets at Montego Bay!

As for entertainment, they usually had a theme night each evening, such as Reggae, Beach Party, Manager’s Cocktail party, etc. Unfortunately, with our later dinner reservations we really weren’t able to participate in any of the entertainment, but when we walked by it looked really fun and lively. We got up so early each day we were worn out by the time the real parties started around 10 pm–getting older really cramps the party style!

5. Restaurants

Sandals Montego Bay has great restaurants, and a lot of them! The best ones need reservations, and unfortunately you are unable to make a reservation until after you are officially checked in for 30 minutes, which to me is weird and takes a lot of time away from your fun in the sun. If you don’t have a butler, you have to go back to the Sandals Club Lounge to make reservations after you check in.

It would be awesome if you could go ahead and make them while you wait to check in. I get it, you need a room number, but at Grenada they just had a written list of reservations for each restaurant and checked that and added our names. There just seems like there should be a more efficient way of doing this, especially for those at Club and Luxury Level who have to make their own reservations. 

Our Butler made our reservations and luckily we got the ones we wanted. When I was Club level at Royal Caribbean we were unable to get all the ones we wanted. I suspect that butler guests get most of the priority reservations.

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At Montego Bay the reservation-only restaurants are Butches Steakhouse and Cucina Romana. You have access and an easy shuttle ride to Sandals Royal Caribbean (10 minutes away) where you need reservations for Le Jardinier and The Royal Thai. At all the other restaurants you can just show up and request a table.

What’s great about Sandals restaurants is that they are all usually good. We were excited to try the new Butch’s, as we loved the one at Grenada. This one was just OK, the steak (filet) wasn’t that great, and to be honest it was more about seafood. The staff was great and they did a special birthday recognition for me, which was very sweet. But don’t sweat it if you can’t score reservations here. We were not really impressed, unfortunately. 

The good restaurants (for me) here are Cucina Romana (Italian) which is fabulous and so far consistent for the three resorts we have visited. Tokyo Joe’s was excellent, we loved choosing our own ingredients and watching them cook it with lots of fire and smoke. The pizza for lunch was very good, we ate breakfast out one morning at Cucina (just ok), and ate a lot of room service or butler-delivered items like chicken from the Jerk Shack (good). Here is a short video of the chef at Tokyo Joe’s (so fun!):

One evening we stopped at Bayside (outdoor dining) to have an after-dinner serving of escargot, one of my favorites (good). We liked the sweets, ice cream and crepes at Cafe de Paris as well. As I do not like seafood, I can’t speak for the other restaurants. When I visited Montego Bay while staying at SRC in November, we visited Soy for sushi (I got a chicken appetizer) and my daughter loved the sushi—it also had great ambiance. 

We had two reservations during our stay for restaurants at SRC: Le Jardinier (French) and The Royal Thai (Thai). Le Jardiner had a beautiful atmosphere in a garden setting and the food was very good (again, yummy escargot). The Royal Thai is on the private island and you take a boat to it. It is also open air seating, and the night we went it was very, very windy. We arrived early and they offered us a table in a very exposed area with lots of wind. The food was excellent but we were a bit wind-battered by the end of dinner.

Remember you can always go to the maitre d’ at any of the restaurants and order food to go. We did that several times, especially at Le Jardinier, where one night we ordered escargot as an appetizer and then later a dessert. They have a great, rich chocolaty dessert, which was unusually difficult to find at either resort for some reason.

Keep in mind that if you take a shuttle to SRC, you have to work around their break schedule and either go early and kill time before hand at that resort, or stay later than you would like.  One night at SRC while killing time for the next shuttle, we caught their entertainment one night. It was a Steel Drum Band with attitude, the Silver Birds. They were so good! See a bit of video of their performance below:

 

6. Shuttle to Sandals Royal Caribbean 

Besides being able to expand your choices for restaurants, taking the shuttle to SRC also expands your entertainment and beach/pool options as well. It is nice checking out another resort and getting an idea if you would ever like to book there. We really liked the private island, where they have beach loungers, a pool, bar, special spa services, and the Jerk Shack.

7. Staff

Everyone we saw at both resorts was always working hard. And always super friendly. At Sandals Montego Bay we always felt safe with a security presence. The beach was constantly cleaned and raked and the food and beverage service staff were always kind and patient. Resort management was very approachable (we met Carl, the Manager, walking along the beach), and housekeeping always did an excellent job. Our butlers were fabulous and helpful. We love Jamaica and the laid-back attitude Jamaicans always seem to have—“no problems, only situations, mon!” Sandals staff always seem top-notch, and this resort was no exception.

8. Room Service

In a butler room you can order room service 24 hours per day. In Club level it is during the day/until 10 pm. We had a standing request for coffee delivered to our back patio every morning at 7 am, and then we would order our breakfast whenever we felt hungry. We would order appetizers and snacks in the early evening before dinner, and it was always hot, fresh and delicious. It is an awesome option to have, since we often didn’t feel like walking all the way down the beach to where everything was. We liked our quiet end!

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9. Weather (in January)

Our weather was hot and usually clear. We had a couple of periods of rain, but sitting on the patio watching the rain and then the beautiful rainbow after was great, too. As I said before, the wind was very strong the entire time we were there, which limited being able to do watersports like snorkeling and paddle boarding. We didn’t see many Hobie Cats going out, either. Bring and wear a good hat for the sun. A few times on the beach the wind made it a little chilly. But overall it was beautiful beach weather!

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10. Pools

The pools at Sandals Montego Bay were fairly small, especially the party pool. The quiet pool was a bit larger and you could get some swimming in, but for the most part, most people we saw were just standing around drinking in the pool. They had some great hot tubs around, one was right on the water and pretty big at the party pool. We found another one back by Butch’s that was covered and isolated, and rarely saw people in it.

There is a pretty pool behind the Red Lane spa. There are also lots of swim up buildings at SMB, therefore there are lots of pools in front of the buildings that aren’t just for those with rooms that open on to them. I can’t say much for the temperature of the water…we aren’t really pool people and didn’t go in any of them!

hot tub on beach at Sandals Montego Bay
The huge infinity hot tub on the beach by the party pool

Final Word

Keep in mind that all Sandals Resorts are all-inclusive. All drinks, food, most activities, and entertainment are free. There is no tipping of any staff except for butlers and spa staff, drivers to and from the airport, and airport baggage handlers. You do not have to do Butler level or even Club level, and you will still get great service and the other all-inclusive aspects of the resort. I suggest you bring Yeti-style cups to bring liquor back to your room if you are luxury level, however, although you will have a refrigerator in your room with local beer, wine, water, juices. 

Overall, I absolutely loved Sandals Montego Bay. I loved the beach, our room was incredible, the access to the other resort was a great option, and the over-the-water bar was the absolute best. All staff were great, and it was a beautiful, well-kept resort. I would highly recommend it!

 

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