*Effective 4/16/2022, travelers to Jamaica are no longer required to present a negative COVID test result to board flights to the destination. All that is required is a valid passport and onward or return airline ticket. Travelers to Jamaica are encouraged to fill out their Customs & Immigration forms electronically in advance.
I had the great pleasure of spending a few days at Sandals Montego Bay in Jamaica. The purpose of the visit was to participate in a LIVE VIP Experience and site inspection, but of course, there was downtime to enjoy the resort and its amenities. I’m so excited to share my experience with you!
If you’re not using a trusted travel advisor like myself to guide you through destination protocols and ensure you are aware of what to expect while traveling, you are doing yourself a grave disservice. A few days prior to my visit, Jamaica’s protocols changed, drastically cutting the testing window. Undeterred, I scheduled my COVID test, and obtained my travel authorization within the mandated timelines. I provide step-by-step instructions to my clients to do the same.
Flying During COVID
- The airlines are using hospital grade filters, and fogging the planes before each departure.
- Upon boarding, passengers are given a single-use sanitizing wipe to disinfect their immediate area.
- Service on short flights (e.g. Nashville to Atlanta) has been eliminated.
- On longer flights, passengers are given a baggie of bottled water, snacks, and a single-use sanitizing wipe.
- Flights are operating on a reduced capacity.
- Passengers are allowed to remove their masks only when actively eating on drinking. One one leg, a cabin steward asked passengers to slide their masks down to take a bite, sliding it right back up to chew and swallow. I didn’t notice anyone doing this.
Pro-tip: Where possible, purchase food prior to boarding, especially for longer flights.
Delta Airlines has extended their policy to block middle seats through April 30, 2021. I must say I rather enjoy this and will miss it terribly come May 1. Sigh!
Arrival into Jamaica and Club Mobay
I opted to purchase the Club Mobay arrival and departure package. Club Mobay is a VIP service lounge in Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. On arrival, I was met by my Club Mobay representative, who retrieved my luggage, fast-tracked me through Customs and Immigration, and finally escorted me to the Sandals Lounge for check-in. A few feet away is the Club Mobay arrivals lounge. There I enjoyed a jerk chicken sandwich and rum punch, while waiting on my transfer.
It’s worth noting that the Club Mobay lounge on the arrival side is not huge. The major benefit is being fast-tracked through Customs and Immigration, which is a huge time saver on busy days. Remember, if you’re staying at a Sandals resort, you’ll have access to the Sandals Lounge as well.
The Club Mobay lounge on the departures side is significantly larger and better equipped for hours-long visits. (Thanks three-hour check-ins!) There are showers, spa services, and cable television. While waiting, I enjoyed the most delicious crab cakes and chicken patties.
There is Wi-Fi at both, and the service is excellent.
Sandals Montego Bay
After the shortest transfer ever – no more than 10 minutes – I was at the resort, proving that that you can land at 2:00 pm, and by 2:45 pm you can literally be on the beach with a mango daiquiri. This location is perfect for short trips for this reason alone.
Fun Fact: According to the Sandals transfer driver, Jamaica is the only Caribbean island completely surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. Others share Caribbean Sea and Atlantic coasts, or are completely surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.
Sandals is an adult-only, luxury all-inclusive brand, that excels in romance travel. In Jamaica, there are six locations: Sandals Montego Bay, Sandals Royal Caribbean, Sandals South Coast, Sandals Ochi, Sandals Negril, and Sandals Royal Plantation. This blog post will focus on Sandals Montego Bay which is where I was hosted.
One of the features I love about Sandals (and Beaches) resorts is their indoor/outdoor concept. I’ve always maintained that this chain is perfect for travel during COVID. From the lobby and the hallways, to the patio dining and activities, guests are in the great outdoors. Though masks are required on property, they are only mandatory in enclosed spaces, e.g. gift shop, patisserie, and the spa. You could very easily walk from your room to the pool, beach, or select dining venues without ever putting on a mask, or endangering someone else.
The agents got to tour all of the room categories during our guided resort tour. There are way too many room types to list, so I’ll highlight my favorites.
It’s worth noting that the rooms are steps from the beach! You seriously could not get closer!
Beachfront Grande Luxe Club Level Junior Suite with Balcony Tranquility Soaking Tub
This is the category room I stayed in. It features a king-sized bed, an oversized balcony with a private Tranquility Soaking Tub for two, and a lavish spa-style bathroom. As a Club Sandals guest, I received complimentary room service between 7am – 10pm, and concierge assistance with whatever I needed, including dining reservations.
Beachfront Romeo & Juliet One-Bedroom Butler Villa Suite with Outdoor Tranquility Soaking Tub
Ok, how posh is this! There are four Romeo & Juliet Suites housed here; two upstairs and two downstairs. These newly built, extravagant Love Nest Butler Suites feature a separate living room, king-sized bed, lavish spa-style bathroom, and an extra-large balcony or patio with the signature Tranquility Soaking Tub for two. Of course guests receive Butler Elite service, 24-hour room service, and Round-trip Private BMW Luxury Airport Transfers.
Beachfront Super Luxe One-Bedroom Butler Suite with Balcony Tranquility Soaking Tub
This Love Nest Butler Suite is the room where my LIVE VIP event aired. It is so stunning! It features an airy master bedroom with a king-sized bed, wall-to-wall glass doors that open up to reveal a spacious balcony with the signature Tranquility Soaking Tub for two, and a perfect view of the over the water chapel. Guests receive Butler Elite service, 24-hour room service, and Round-trip Private BMW Luxury Airport Transfers. Swanky!
Dining at a Sandals resort is always a multi-sensory feast! Here are my favorites:
La Cucina Romana was my favorite spot for breakfast. It offered a lovely view of the Caribbean Sea and I could watch the watersports crew bring the boats in, and set up the hobie cats and paddleboards for the day. I got to try ackee and fish (the national dish), which was not my favorite thing ever, but it was quickly followed by the fluffiest strawberry pancakes in the world!
Bayside was a favorite for lunch. Just downstairs from La Cocina Romana, I still had lovely sea views, but this location is just off the lobby, so it was a prime people-watching location. 🙂
Without a doubt, dinner at Butch’s – the resort’s signature dining restaurant named after Sandals and Beaches Resorts founder Butch Stewart – was a highlight! I dined with several other agents, and I think between the five of us, we ordered everything on the menu. Everything was divine!!!
Butch’s is one of the few restaurants on property that requires a reservation. It is not to be missed!
It is especially nice to have room service when you’re craving loaded nachos and charcuterie late at night. A close second is Cafe de Paris for sweets.
La Cocina Romana for cocktails and Stewfish for pan-fried snapper.
Activities & Entertainment
As part of its Luxury Included service, guests can enjoy everything from PADI-certified scuba diving and non-motorized water sports, to golf and tennis. One afternoon I went tubing, and later convinced a few of my new agent friends to join me on a snorkel cruise with Captain Macca, which was so much fun! We hand-fed fish and saw all manner of wildlife. Highly recommend!
From my balcony, I got to enjoy cheering on several games of beach volleyball and shuffleboard. The activities staff were active participants and ensured everyone had a great time!
There is night time entertainment as well, including themed nights and late-night pool parties. This I left to those who travel without back rub creams. 🙂
And of course island excursions are available to book through COVID-certified providers. While I was in Jamaica, the Prime Minister instituted an island-wide curfew in the weeks leading up to Easter to curb the spread of the disease. While there was no significant effect at the resort, it did affect my ability to book excursions. All excursions departed in the morning to have guests back at the resort by a certain time in the afternoon, and give workers sufficient time to get home. As my mornings were unavailable, I was unable to sign up for an excursion. This wasn’t my first visit to Jamaica, so I focused my afternoon energy on activities at the resort and was quite content.
I even hopped over to sister resort Sandals Royal Caribbean to check out the lay of the land. It is just as close to the airport, and a short, five minute transfer from Sandals Montego Bay.
There are subtle differences in the architecture, but the biggest difference is that Sandals Royal Caribbean has a private island – Sandals Cay – which is home to its over the water bungalows, dining, and a small pool area. The ferry runs back and forth constantly and the transfer takes all of two minutes.
Getting Married at Sandals
Back to Sandals Montego Bay, destination weddings or vow renewals could not be easier! There is a land chapel with a beautifully appointed bridal suite…
…as well as an over-the-water chapel.
Ask me how you can get married here. I would love the opportunity to be a small part of your forever story.
The landscape is so lush and gorgeous! And a nighttime, there was a chorus of cicadas to lull you to sleep.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the sunrises and sunsets. They were just brilliant!
Sandals Platinum Protocol of Cleanliness
Please be assured that the resort is doing everything possible to enhance guest safety. The new Platinum Protocol of Cleanliness includes:
- Certified Sandals sanitized guest rooms
- Triple-Check Guarantee
- Restaurants and bars feature adjusted layouts to increase social distancing
- Pristine pool and beach areas
- Increased protocols in the Red Lane Spa & Fitness Centers
- Team Member Promise to wear face masks at all times and carry out necessary precautions when assisting guests
Testing and Extended COVID Support
Now for the elephant in the room. What about testing to re-enter the USA?
At Sandals and Beaches Resorts, complimentary testing is provided on-site. The resort determines your testing date, based on your return ticket, and gives you a day and time to report to the Nurse’s Station for your test. When I got back from dinner one night, the turndown service left an envelope with my testing details. The test took less than five minutes and I had my results almost immediately.
Should someone test positive while on property, Sandals and Beaches Resorts are prepared for the guests’ extended stay, until they are able to test negative and return home.
I am always so impressed at how hard these islands and resorts are working to attract guests back. They are doing everything humanly possible to make your vacation as worry-free as possible.
I enjoyed my visit very much and appreciate those of you who tuned in to my LIVE VIP Event last Tuesday. I look forward to booking your Sandals or Beaches vacation soon!
As a full-service travel agent, I would love to be of assistance to you. I am passionate about what I do and pour that energy into crafting perfectly planned itineraries for you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.