The Southern Girl Travel Guide to Sandals Montego Bay!

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Along the white sand beach at Sandals Montego Bay resort

Warning: there’s a ton of information in this extra-long post so don’t be afraid to scroll around or bookmark it and come back later!

If you’ve read our Southern Girl Travel Guide to Sandals intro post, you’ll know how impressed we’ve been with Sandals all-inclusive resorts.

We’re convinced Sandals resorts are some of the best places anywhere for busy couples and families to relax and unwind. We’re convinced you’re going to love them, too.

Because we know you’re going to love them, we’re making sure you have access to great info on each one of the resorts. While Sandals all-inclusive resorts cover a lot of the Caribbean (7 different countries), their home-base is in Jamaica.

This post features Sandals’ cornerstone Jamaican resort – Montego Bay.

smb-004-634We’re also going to bring you some great photos, courtesy of the folks at Sandals!

The Montego Bay resort started it all for Sandals.

Back in 1981, Gordon “Butch” Stewart bought what would become the first Sandals resort. Today, that same property is known simply as Sandals, Montego Bay.

Butch Stewart is now chair of Sandals parent corporation, and pretty much a legend in the travel business.

smb-014-634Another shot of that wonderful beach!

The Montego Bay resort is one of three Sandals properties around the city of Montego Bay, Jamaica (the others are Sandals Royal Caribbean and Sandals Carlyle – we’re working on our Southern Girl Travel Guides to both).

These resorts are amazingly popular with Americans because they are about a 3-hour flight or less from essentially all of the Southeast. From here in central North Carolina, flying time to Montego Bay is less than driving time to almost all of the Carolinas’ coast.

A quick note on flying into Jamaica: When headed to Montego Bay, you’ll be flying into the Sangster International Airport. Sangster is one of the largest and busiest airports in the Caribbean and getting through customs and immigration can be a bear – we always use and we HIGHLY recommend that all our clients utilize the services of Club Mobay.

Club Mobay is an arrival and departure club/service whose representatives will meet you at your arrival gate, see you safely through customs and immigration, and settle you into their arrival lounge for a drink or two before they connect you with your ground transportation.

They’ll do the same thing in reverse when it’s time for you to (sadly) leave Jamaica.  Club Mobay’s parent company, VIP Attractions, also operates a similar service at Kingston’s airport, known as Club Kingston. 

Sandals’ own private arrival lounge is right beside the Club Mobay arrival lounge at Sangster so you’ll be right where you need to be.

If you are using Club Mobay for your arrival, you can pretty easily enjoy both lounges!

This would be a good time to mention the Sandals’ arrival lounge at Sangster.

It’s a cozy spot to enjoy those first few minutes of your all-inclusive experience. The lounge provides a comfortable wait for your transfer to the Montego Bay resort.

You’ll have places to sit, relax, and enjoy a beer and maybe some rum punch (all are included). Make sure to pick up a copy of the Gleaner – the nearly 200 year-old Jamaican newspaper – and see what’s happening around the island.

You’ll be alerted when your ride is ready and in 10 minutes or so you’ll be pulling up at your new home in Jamaica, Sandals Montego Bay!

smb-081-6343-hour flight, 10-minute drive, and you’re there…and, the champagne is included!

One of the appeals of Sandals Montego Bay is its proximity to the airport. Once you land in Montego Bay, you’re only a ten minute drive (or less) to the resort.

Just so you know: some consider proximity to the airport an issue as you do get a bit of runway noise at the resort. But, many of Jamaica’s other resorts are an hour drive or more from the airport.

In just a few minutes after clearing customs and immigrations, you can be relaxing at Sandals Montego Bay. While we do notice the occasional jet flying over, it is absolutely no bother and is often times kinda cool – if you’re checking out a jet it means that other folks are leaving sunny Mobay and you’re still hanging out at Sandals!

Ok, now let’s dive deep into the Sandals Montego Bay resort.

Here’s what the folks at Sandals have to say about the resort, straight from the official Sandals website:

Sandals Montego Bay is Sandals’ flagship resort and a true original. Spanning the best private, white-sand beach in Jamaica, this playful and romantic resort is where the world first fell in love with Sandals. The calm, reef-protected beach is perfect for every type of water sport and guests can indulge in unlimited dining at nine gourmet restaurants serving authentic regional cuisine. Experience the casual island vibe from the comfort of your private seaside suite where our Butler Elite await to fulfill your every whim. Everything is just steps from water’s edge and, best of all, it’s all included.

smb-000-634A little of that private beach!

Montego Bay was one of the first all-inclusive resorts, and they really have perfected the experience over the years.

A Few Thoughts on All-Inclusive: If you haven’t already, read our Southern Girl Travel Guide to Sandals post. You’ll learn more about what all-inclusive means at Sandals.

You’ll be pleased.

All-inclusive means nearly every thing really is included in the price of your stay.

All your food and drink will be included. And we don’t mean just well-brand liquors either. Everything at the bar is included. The only exception we know of is that some restaurants will offer more exclusive wines at an extra charge, but we have experienced no pressure to purchase.

We have, in fact, checked out from a week’s stay at Sandals with absolutely no additional charges and you can too.

Tips are not allowed unless you are in a butler suite – and even then they are not necessary, but you will likely want to reward the amazing service you will receive. Off-resort you’ll want to be prepared to tip as you would anywhere.

Off-resort excursions do cost extra as do a few other things. Let us know what you’re interested in and we’ll give you all the details.

Accommodations!

What are the rooms like at Montego Bay?

The resort has three major room categories, while Sandals occasionally changes the names, the categories include a standard range, club-level, and rooms that are served by Sandals’ famous butler service.

They’re simply known as:

  • Luxury Level
  • Club Level
  • Butler Level

Each category includes a variety of specific room types that vary in exact amenities and in location around the resort.

As of February 2016, the Caribbean Deluxe is the most affordable room at Montego Bay, and the Beachfront Romeo & Juliet One-Bedroom Butler Villa Suite with Outdoor Tranquility Soaking Tub is the most extravagant.

Just drop us a line and we’ll detail everything in between.

Here are a few shots from Sandals featuring various Montego Bay room furnishings:

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We have found the rooms at Sandals to be extremely comfortable and well appointed.

Depending on the class of room, you may find a fully stocked bar, whirlpool tubs, mini-fridges full of beer, wine, and soft drinks and beds as comfortable as any we know.

Sandals is also known for being generous with room upgrades – especially in the off-season. We’ve experienced it ourselves and while nothing is guaranteed (and please don’t expect it), don’t be surprised if it happens! Of course, if you are upgraded to club or butler level, it will just be for the room and it won’t come with gratis butler service!

Everyone wants to know about the butler service. All we can say it that it’s amazing, and if you haven’t already, check out the video below from Sandals’ own butler, Rory down in Antigua.

If you have seen it scroll on down.

Food & Drink

Now for our favorite part of Sandals travel – the food and the drink!

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Tokyo Joe’s – One of our favorites at Montego Bay!

Montego Bay includes nine options where all the food is included for guests. Each spans a variety of styles, and each has a particular atmosphere.

Food and drink is one of the areas that really sets Sandals apart from other all-inclusive resorts. Others will have a single restaurant that is included and only cheaper brands of drink. It’s all included at Sandals (with the wine exception we mentioned above), and every resort has multiple restaurants. Montego Bay actually has a specific situation with food that makes it an especially appealing destination…read on, we’ll give you the details farther down.

Before we jump in though, let’s talk dress codes and reservations.

Dress Codes 

The dress codes are not at all strict, but they do matter.

Resort casual can include shorts or jeans, tee-shirts or polos. Any swimwear must be covered and no bare feet.

Resort evening can include dress pants or jeans for men, long or short sleeve dress shirts (with or without a collar); dress shoes or sandals; no tee-shirts, sleeveless shirts, tennis shoes, flip flops or slippers; and, no hats nor caps.  Again, the dress codes are enforced, especially resort evening. Watch that shoe requirement and make sure to bring a pair of decent shoes in addition to those flip flops and tennis shoes!

Reservations

Many of the popular restaurants can get rather busy at Sandals and we recommend planning what restaurants that you would like to try before your travels. Make a list and meet with the concierge immediately upon your arrival to make reservations.

Don’t wait, especially when traveling during peak times.

We’ve listed each below with a description from the official Sandals Montego Bay website:

Bayside 

With flavorsome, international cuisine, guests from near and far enjoy the decadence of Bayside by day for buffet-style breakfast and lunch; and bask in its outdoor essence with dining by night for an exquisite a la carte French Brasserie experience. The character of Bayside’s outdoor setting is charming, as guests can watch the sailboats passing, indulge in candlelit dinners, or see the fiery sunset; while indoor dining sets the tone for a more fanciful allure with French windows serving as the gateway to welcome in the cool, Sea breeze. Bayside is the place to indulge your palate with ever-changing daily buffet themes and plenty of made-to-order options. Savor the flavors of a flagship restaurant and toast to the distinct character of this lively seaside eatery, nestled just a short distance from the sparkling, Caribbean Sea.

Bayside’s dress code is Resort Casual (see the dress code descriptions below) and reservations are not required. Currently listed hours (which are subject to change) are:

Breakfast – 7:30 am – 11:00 am Buffet Style
Lunch – 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm Buffet Style
Dinner – 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm A la Carte.

Typically, Mondays are a beach party BBQ and Tuesdays are white nights with a Mediterranean buffet – so bring along some white clothes and get into the tropical spirit. Check with the front desk to make sure of times and dates.

Check out a sample menu!

Oleander Room

Discover Old Jamaica. Seating up to 42 guests,this intimate, picturesque gem overlooks an endless waterscape. Inside, a beautifully appointed dining room with arched valances and Caribbean-inspired décor celebrates what is truly unique about this restaurant. Representing the best in the rich, flavorful fare that Jamaica is known for, guests come to relax and enjoy the beauty of the ocean vistas. But what’s best about The Oleander is the zest found in its unique dishes and the eccentric, culinary touches the chefs employ here. With illuminating décor that makes you feel as if you are dining inside of an 18-century Great House, The Oleander’s food is just as colorful as its furnishings.

The Oleander Room’s dress code is Resort Evening attire. This is the fanciest it gets at Sandals, so don’t be afraid to get dressed up! Reservations are required.

Currently listed hours (subject to change) are:

Dinner – 5:30pm – 9:00pm

Check out a sample menu!

Cucina Romana

Cucina Romana has a legacy that stretches back four generations. When our Italian chef moved to the Caribbean from Grado, Italy in 2011, he brought his generations-old culinary craft with him, carrying on a long standing family tradition of cooking up authentic, Italian cuisine . Only the best ingredients are used in the special meals prepared at Cucina Romana, where our chef skillfully creates inspiring Italian favorites. From antipasti and minestre e ensalate, to primi piati favorites like Fettuccine Alfredo and Lasagna Napoletana, our chef uses fresh basil grown in a nearby, onsite garden and local tomatoes to season signature dishes. Second piati and delicious dolci round off the amazing menu choices. And it’s location on the second floor location offers a 270-degree view of the ocean.

The dress code is Resort Casual and reservations are required. Currently listed hours (subject to change) are:

Breakfast – 8:30am – 11:00am (closed Tuesdays)
Dinner – 5:30pm – 9:00pm

Check out a sample menu!

Tokyo Joe’s

From miso soup, to teriyaki and sukyaki, enticing variety abounds at Tokyo Joe’s-a beachfront restaurant sure to whet the appetite of anyone who gets a whiff of the pan-Asian style cuisine prepared right before their eyes. This popular restaurant plays on the concept of cooking Western-influenced food on a wok, using the spices and seasonings of East and Southeast Asia. Combining the flavors of the Orient with the spirit of the Caribbean, ingredients like snow peas, pak choy, callaloo, escallion, ginger, and garlic spice up the main entrees: seasoned, cooked-to-order meats and seafood served fresh with dan bings and steamed rice or noodles.

Dress code is resort casual and reservations are not required. Currently listed hours (subject to change) are:

Dinner – 5:30pm – 9:00pm

Tokyo Joe’s is quite popular, so arrive early!

Stewfish

Embodying the laidback charm of the Caribbean, this classic restaurant is named for its signature dish of brown stewfish, a Jamaican cooking method where fish is simmered in its own juices along with sautéed ingredients to lock in flavor. All of the Jamaican-inspired dishes here exemplify the unique tastes of the Caribbean. Jamaican-born chefs put their heart and soul into the appetizing cuisine created for Stewfish, and the love and appreciation they have for their national fare is evident upon first bite.

This open-air restaurant offers an impressive selection of authentic Caribbean cuisine such as West Indies Pepperpot Soup, Jamaican Pepper Shrimp, and Lobster Bouillabaisse. Stewfish presents a winning combination of flavorful food and inviting atmosphere where the fresh, open air adds to its undeniable charisma. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy an authentic Caribbean meal amid Old English ambience, with thatched-style roofs and sand-lined walkways. With the beach just steps away, an after-dinner walk along the beach is inevitable. All who eat here can enjoy exquisite comfort food while enjoying the incomparable hospitality Jamaica is known for.

Stewfish is a wonderful concept. You really are that close to the water and it works perfectly. Don’t miss it.

smb-065-634Stewfish is another of our Sandals favorites!

Dress code is resort casual and reservations are not required. Currently listed hours (subject to change) are:

Dinner – 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Enjoy some scenes from one of Sandals’ chefs at Stewfish:

Check out a sample menu!

Cricketer’s Pint

For more than 300 years, pubs have provided a carefree ambiance and comfort to those who wanted to relax with good ale and a good joke after a hard day’s work. Pubs are most certainly fundamental to British culture. Samuel Pepys, famous for his detailed 17th century writings, even described pubs as the ‘heart of England.’ The Cricketers Pub serves the same purpose as those time-honored public houses of yesteryear, where people gathered together to enjoy life and a cold one in a vibrant atmosphere. A delightful encounter full of good times and customary pub fare awaits pub-goers who seek the welcoming experience of a traditional, British pub.

Dress code: Resort Casual
Reservation: Not Required

Lunch – 11:00am – 4:00pm
Dinner – 4:00pm – 10:00pm
Late Night Snacks from 11:00 pm – 5:00 am

smb-011-634An official Sandals shot from inside the Cricketer’s Pint

While they go by different names, Sandals has a Cricketer’s Pint English-style pub at nearly every resort. I was skeptical of them at first, but they really are a great place to hang out in the evening. On our first visit to Montego Bay, we found ourselves coming back again just about every day in the early evening and after supper.

Don’t miss it.

And, here’s a brief, official, but sparsely edited video on the pub at Sandals Emerald Bay (Bahamas), the Drunken Duck. It’s quite similar to the Cricketer’s Pint:

Check out a sample menu!

Dino’s Pizzeria

Create your own personal pizza masterpiece or choose one of the Dino’s signature blends. Made-to-order pizza combinations range from the traditional margherita to the Calabrese and Hawaiian pizzas, all made with the same long-leavening, high-quality dough. With so many toppings to choose from, this place stays abuzz with guests vying for the opportunity to try every single pizza combination on the menu…and even make up a few of their own. With its charming outdoor seating just steps from the beach, Neapolitan-style pizza doesn’t get any better than this at Dino’s Pizzeria-or as many guests call it, Pizza Heaven.

Dress code: Resort Casual
Reservation: Not Required

Lunch – 11:00am – 6:00pm

The Mariner

From the very beginning, The Mariner Seaside Bar & Grill has been something special. A place where guests come for delicious, grilled food and a cold one, this beachside bar and grill doesn’t disappoint. With traditional grilled delights such as grilled fish and burgers, a commonality among guests is to first enjoy the mouthwatering, flavorful food, and then take pleasure in a peaceful walk along the beach. Guests can also enjoy wraps, French fries, salad, and local favorites such as Jerk Chicken and Jerk Pork where peppery jerk and fiery scotch bonnet spices are used to season these local treasures. With a laid-back vibe characteristic of the Caribbean, this come-and-go grill is good time fun for everyone.

Dress code: No Dress Code
Reservation: Not Required

Lunch – 11:00am – 4:00pm

Check out a sample menu!

Cafe de Paris

On most mornings, there is a cool breeze in the air, making enjoying a macadamia, amaretto, hazelnut, chocolate, vanilla, or raspberry hot or chilled latte all the more sweeter. Well into the afternoon, delighting in chocolate cream puffs, crème brûlée tarts, cake, cookies and more, is enchanting. And, as the sun lowers in the sky and the air cools again, indulging in a warm crêpe with the topping of your choice is magical.

Delight in French favorites, like chocolate cream puffs, crème brûlée tarts, cake, cookies and more, from morning well into the afternoon. As the sun lowers in the sky and the evening air cools, indulging in a warm crêpe with the topping of your choice is magical. Café de Paris combines the laid-back Caribbean spirit with a smidgen of France’s romantic, sweet life to bring some delicious joie de vivre to the islands.

The dress code is Resort Casual, and reservations are not required. Currently hours vary so check at the resort when you arrive.

Now for that special situation specific to Montego Bay, that really opens up the options. 

As we said above, Montego Bay is in close proximity to two other Sandals resorts, Royal Caribbean and Carlyle. If you are staying at any one of these resorts you have free access to everything at all three resorts. That gives you a total of 12 bars and 19 different dining options. And, Sandals provides free transportation between each resort.

src-062-634That’s the Royal Caribbean’s Royal Thai restaurant in the background; it’s all yours even if you’re staying at Montego Bay

For all the details check out our Southern Girl Travel Guide to Sandals Royal Caribbean and our Southern Girl Travel Guide to Sandals Carlyle.

Let’s talk activities (other than lounging on the beach, eating, and drinking)

Depending on how long you stay, you might not get past the laying on the beach stage! When you’re ready to get up, though, Montego Bay will have a ton of offerings – and nearly all are included.

Here’s a summary:

On the water (and all included) at Montego Bay, you’ll find:

  • Canoes/Kayaks
  • Waterskiing
  • Sailboats
  • Tubing
  • 4 Pools, 4 Whirlpools
  • 1 Swim-up Pool Bar
  • Snorkeling
  • Paddle Boarding
  • Scuba Diving
  • Hobie Cats

Like all Sandals resorts, Montego Bay also includes Scuba Diving…with just a few limitations on what’s included. If you’re a diver and have questions, let us now. Otherwise, we’ll be posting on diving at Sandals soon. Subscribe to find out when.

On land you’ll find:

  • Table Tennis
  • Shuffleboards
  • Day/Night Tennis
  • Xbox One Experience
  • Fitness Center
  • Board Games
  • Beach Volleyball
  • Pool/Billiards

There’s also a well appointed fitness center to help work off all the great food and drink you’ll be enjoying.

Just like the option to enjoy the food and drink offerings at Royal Caribbean and Carlyle, you have the same option with all the activities.

Sandals calls it Stay at 1 Play at 3.

This makes staying at any one of the three a great value!

src-043-634That’s Royal Caribbean’s exclusive private island in the background – all yours if you’re staying at Montego Bay

 How about what’s not included?

Of course, once you leave the resort and venture into the city of Montego Bay, you’re back to the real world where everything is not included. While that’s always an option, we prefer to spend most of our time hanging out at the resort and relaxing.

There are however a few options you really should consider for an extra charge.

Sandals Red Lane Spas are available at every resort. At Montego Bay, you can enjoy a number of different treatments including private massages along the beach. Let us know if you’re interested and we’ll give you all the details.

Sandals features Island Routes for off-resort excursions. There are a ton of choices that – if you like – will let you spend time exploring even the interior of Jamaica, making it back to Montego Bay for a relaxing evening. Some of your choices include:

  • Visiting Dunn’s River Falls
  • Taking an off-road 4×4 safari
  • Swimming with the dolphins
  • Segwaying around an estate
  • Taking a reggae cruise on one of those cool resort catamarans

Reach out and we’ll give you all the details.

We’re going to end this guide with one last video. It’s a few years old. It’s an official Sandals video and it features a tour of Montego Bay hosted by Jamaican model Rachel Stuart.

Take a look:

Thanks so much for sticking with us this long, and please don’t hesitate to let us know what questions you have about Montego Bay – we’ll be happy to arrange your trip to Jamaica today!

Click Here and Sign Up For A Free Sandals Tool!

And a special thank you to Sandals for allowing us to use the great photos and videos in this post!

Don’t forget to:

Relax…you CAN get to Sandals Montego Bay from here!

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