This is the fourth in our series of short guides to Sandals resorts, and while it stands all on its own, if you’re new to Sandals and to the all-inclusive concept, you may want to read our introductory guide to Sandals:
The third Sandals Montego Bay area resort is the Carlyle.
Carlyle is unique among Sandals resorts.
Here’s the official description:
This quaint 52-room hideaway, surrounded by tropical gardens and just steps from the Hip Strip may be the smallest Sandals but it’s big on charm and huge on value-with an impressive array of amenities for its size. The cozy bed & breakfast ambience of this traditional Jamaican inn is warm and captivating. In a place where everyone knows your name, the famously attentive staff also happens to deliver 24-hour complimentary room service to all guests, assuring breakfast in bed can be a favorite any time of day. Best of all, your Luxury Included® Vacation also includes exclusive “dine and play” privileges at two nearby Sandals Resorts. Like everyone who stays here, the petit Sandals Carlyle is sure to find a big place in your heart.
Carlyle is the smallest of all the Sandals resorts.
Carlyle is also the least expensive of all the Sandals resorts. If you consider it all on its own, Carlyle is a different experience than the other Sandals resorts, more akin to a stay at a small inn than a world-famous resort.
It’s still a perfect choice for many travelers.
Even though Carlyle is ridiculously inexpensive, guests have access to all the amenities at Royal Caribbean and Montego Bay. You can enjoy the low price at Carlyle, but catch the free Sandals transportation every morning to Royal Caribbean and enjoy the private island or to Montego Bay and catch the water sports and party atmosphere, all on exactly the same terms as guests at any of those resorts.
Carlyle fans will tell you that both the food and the service at Carlyle rank as some of the best of all the Sandals resorts across the Caribbean.
Let’s chat a little about getting there before diving deeper into what Carlyle has to offer:
Where is Carlyle?
It’s an approximately 3-hour or less flight from nearly all of the southeastern U.S. From here in central North Carolina, flying time to Jamaica is often less than driving time to almost all of the Carolinas’ coast, and driving time from the airport in Montego Bay to Sandals Carlyle is 10 to 15 minutes.
What does that mean?
It means that you can leave from Raleigh or Charlotte and be relaxing with a drink at Carlyle in just about the same amount time it’ll take to drive to the beach from much of North Carolina’s Piedmont area.
A quick note on flying into Jamaica: When headed to Carlyle, 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. 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 Carlyle.
Again, remember that Carlyle is really a small hotel.
The grounds are well-done and the pool is great, but it does not have a private beach. A public beach sits just across the street from Carlyle, but most guests take advantage of the beaches at Royal Caribbean and Montego Bay. Also, be aware that you will likely be able to hear a bit of traffic, and on weekends you might hear some partying by the locals on the public beach. Many feel those are small concessions for the great prices, top-notch service, and excellent food that comes with a stay at Carlyle.
Ok, let’s dive a little deeper into Sandals Carlyle!
Despite it’s small size and reasonable prices, Carlyle is still fully all-inclusive according to the Sandals definition of all-inclusive, which is a notable step-up from many resorts claiming the all-inclusive label.
Few Thoughts on All-Inclusive: If you haven’t already, read our Southern Girl Travel Guide to Sandals.
You’ll learn more about what all-inclusive means at Sandals. You’ll be pleased. At Sandals all-inclusive means that nearly everything really is included in the price of your stay.
All your food and drink will be included. We don’t mean just well-brand liquors either. Everything at the bar is included. The only exception we know of is that some Sandals restaurants will offer more exclusive wines at an extra charge, but we have experienced no pressure to purchase.
We have checked out from a week’s stay at Sandals with absolutely no additional charges and you can too.
Tips are not allowed. Though if you’re off-resort you’ll want to be prepared to tip as you would anywhere (we’ve noticed some serious pressure to tip in the airport).
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.
What are the rooms like at Carlyle?
While always subject to change, Carlyle’s rooms fall into a single category Luxury Level, with several specific types. As of February 2016, the grandest of the Carlyle’s rooms is the Carlyle Oceanview Penthouse Petite Suite staring at $231 per person per night, and the best value if the Carlyle Deluxe at $177 per person per night. Carlyle does not currently offer butler service.
Here are a few shots from Sandals featuring various Carlyle room furnishings:
Before we move on to Food & Drink and Activities, let’s talk:
Stay at one…
As we mentioned above – and in our previous posts – one of the great things about visiting any of the three Montego Bay area resorts is that you can enjoy all the amenities that each resort has to offer. This is particularly important when staying at Sandals Carlyle.
You’ll hear Sandals use the terms “Stay at one play at three” and “Stay at one dine at three.”
They simply mean that if you are staying at any of the three Montego Bay area resorts you can utilize all the dining, amenities, sports, and facilities of all three – and Sandals will provide the transportation between each resort.
When in the Montego Bay area with Sandals, we have found ourselves bouncing back and forth – especially between Royal Caribbean and the Montego Bay resort – almost daily, primarily for supper and drinks.
When staying at Carlyle you’ll also want to do this to enjoy the beaches, water sports, and the private island. If you’re wondering about the private island experience, check out this quick video from Sandals:
Food & Drink
Now for our favorite part of Sandals travel – the food and the drink!
As we said above, Carlyle fans will tell you in a heartbeat that the Carlyle has the best food of all the Sandals resorts.
Carlyle boasts three restaurants:
Before we jump in to the specifics, let’s talk dress codes and reservations.
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 – especially for the kids!
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 Carlyle’s restaurants below with a description from the official Sandals Carlyle website:
Discover Exceptional Character. Besides offering amazing appetizers and entrees, Bay Window guests are delighted to discover that some of the best cocktails on the island are served here. Located poolside with indoor and outdoor seating areas, the culinary team creates scrumptious delights with a goal to offer cuisine that reflects the variety of the Caribbean palate as well as the flavorful characteristics used in international cuisine. By remaining true to its roots, The Bay window delivers fare of exceptional island character such as seafood cake appetizers with scotch Bonnet mayonnaise, while also exploring food good for the soul such as Baby Back Ribs with sweet corn relish served with macaroni and cheese.
Bay Window’s dress code is resort casual and reservations are not required.
Currently listed hours (subject to change) are:
Breakfast: 7:30am – 10:15am
Lunch: 12:30pm – 2:15pm
Supper: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Check out a sample menu!
Discover a Charming French Escape Welcoming and quaint, The Carlyle is the quintessential place to dine when you have a hankering for classic French cuisine. Designed with lovers in mind, this luxury restaurant featuring a progressive French menu and white glove service is adorned with lush plants, exotic flowers, and the piéce de résistance: a bespoke exhibition kitchen where guests can not only catch wafts of delectable aromas, but can also watch as their fare is prepared by top chefs. This open-air restaurant pays tribute to France’s decadent cuisine with its signature dish, Seafood Bouillabaisse-sautéed snapper, squid, mussels, scallops, shrimp, light seafood broth, and herb croutons; while the Brandy Truffle, comprised of vanilla vodka, créme de cacao, St. Remy VSOP, and milk, offers lovers the ultimate nightcap selection. The perfect venue for two, guests dine al fresco under the stars, enjoying modern French cuisine and an experience akin to dining in the Jardin des Tuileries in central Paris.
Carlyle Restaurant’s dress code is resort evening and reservations are required.
Currently listed hours (subject to change) are:
Supper: 6:45pm – 9:30pm
Discover Stellar Drinks & Grilled Delights. Named to honor the best eats of Jamaica, Nibbles features snacks and grilled foods that are considered staples of the Jamaican palate. No grill in the Caribbean would be complete without the delicious offerings that can be found here. Signature items such as Jerk Chicken, served with Rice and Peas, and Chicken Patties, grace the menu. The casual setting of the grill invites guests to linger and enjoy the best cuisine of Jamaica, as well as pretty amazing drinks to accompany the flavorful fare, including the Soon Come Back, a drink that has guests returning again and again for another one, and the Money Mike, a blend of Appleton, Amaretto, Lime Juice, Simple Syrup and Pineapple.
Nibbles’s dress code is resort casual and reservations are not required.
Currently listed hours (subject to change) are:
Breakfast: 11:00am – 6:00pm
Supper: 10:00pm – 1:00am
Like we said above, after enjoying what Carlyle has to offer the stay at one dine at three option is the way to go. For a list of all the Mobay area Sandals restaurants in a handy spreadsheet perfect for planning meals before your trip, simply sign up with Southern Girl Travel.
Just like the option to enjoy the food and drink offerings at the other resorts, you have the same option with all the activities.
Sandals calls it Stay at 1 Play at 3.
While Carlyle does have a pool and a hot tub on site, once you’ve enjoyed lounging, you’ll want to check out all the activities at Royal Caribbean and Montego Bay. For even more details on activities check out: The Southern Girl Travel Guide to Sandals!
This makes staying at Carlyle one of the best values in the Sandals universe!
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. 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
Thanks so much for sticking with us throughout this post. 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!
And a special thank you to Sandals for allowing us to use the great photos and videos in this post!
Don’t ever forget to: