What is the difference between
Sandals and Couples...
and which do you choose?
If you decide on Jamaica...

Which all inclusive couples-only is the best choice for you?

Featuring reviews of
Sandals Grande Ocho Rios, Couples Sans Souci,
Couples Swept Away, Sandals RoyalCaribbean,
Sandals Montego Bay

Jamaica Adults Only All-Inclusive Resorts and Reviews

Photos and copy by Patricia Blackstock

Couples Swept Away
Couples or Sandals
Sandals or Couples
Couples and Sandals Resorts and Reviews
Sandals vs Couples Comparison
Jamaica All-Inclusive

My husband, Wally Snider, and I have been taing yearly all-inclusive vacations sine 1997. We prefer Jamaica to other locations, and we recommend both Couples and Sandals Resorts in Jamaica to our friends planning a vacation in Jamaica. Both offer multiple locations, and in Jamaica they are the most popular resorts offering couples an all-inclusive, adults-only vacation experience. I often receive e-mail from couples who have come across my vacation page, asking for information to help them choose between Couples and Sandals in Jamaica.

I often get e-mail from people who come across my vacation review web page. Almost always they notice that I have given good reviews to both Sandals and Couples, and they request help in making a decision. A couple years ago, I made this web page which I hope will answer your questions.

If you have decided that your destination couples only all-inclusive vacation will be Jamaica, but you can't decide between Couples or Sandals, hopefully this information will be helpful to you. If this is your first all inclusive vacation, put away your billfold and get ready to experience a laid back vacation with lots of good food, drinks and entertainment. All without tipping!

But which is the best choice for you...Couples or Sandals?

First, do some research. Read all the reviews you can find for Sandals and Couples in Jamaica. I know how frustrating it can be to find something you like, only to discover horribal reviews. But generally, if you read enough, you'll discover the good outweigh the bad. Or vice versa. Some of the bad reviews you come across may have been written by people who failed to do the proper research. I'll never forget one I read a few years ago. Someone wrote a scathing review of the entire resort, based on the fact (and it is indeed, a fact) that there were birds around the outdoor dining area, and some would even try to land on their table.

What are your expectations?

Ask yourselves what you expect from your all inclusive couples only vacation. You might even write your own list, then compare it with your traveling companion. For instance, we live 2 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, so a beautiful beach is not as important to us as other amenities. Are you a foodie? How important is a sports complex? Have you always wanted your own personal Butler? Do you scuba or snorkel? Do you dream of a wide sandy beach or are you basically a pool person? What about the size of the resort? Some are comfortably small. A smaller all-inclusive may offer fewer pools and restaurants, but it doesn't take you long to become familiar with the property. You meet more people at a smaller resort. We met people at Sandals Royal Caribbean in 2003, and we remain friends with them today. Larger resorts offer more amenities, pools and restaurants. If you give serious thought to what you want, you will be able to find the resort that suits your wants and needs.

Get a grip on your budget

As you begin your comparison of Sandals vs Couples, establish a budget and stick to it. This is not as easy as it sounds when you get caught up in searching resorts. We've made this same mistake ourselves. And don't forget the cost of airfare becomes an expensive part of your vacation budget.

In Jamaica, Sandals offers more locations and room levels than Couples

You may want only the basic all-inclusive experience, or you may opt for concierge or butler rooms. Note that some Sandals accommodations are available only with concierge and/or butlers. As a case in point, the room/building we wanted to book at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios in 2013 came with concierge service. The resort is so large and offers so many eating options and activities that we didn't need this level of service. But we booked it anyhow, just for the awesome balcont views and other amenities. There are other Sandals where we were very happpy to have the concierge service which we utililzed quite often. What does a Concierge at Sandals actually do? Currently, wi-fi internet access is free for guests staying in a Concierge or Butler room category in any of Sandals Jamaica locations.

Couples offers less complicated options. It is what it is...and what it is, is all good

Choose your location by going to the Couples website. Select from their 4 Jamaica locations. Search the various rooms and click on "Rooms and Rates." As with most resorts, you will find lower prices during off-season. At Couples, there are no Butler Rooms, Concierge or Club Levels. Wifi is alwaus included with any room selection. We usually book all our restaurant dinner reservations with guest services on our first day at the resort, and we never experienced a wait. We were fortunate enough to meet Elias "Lee" Issa, the owner of Couples Resorts at the Lemon Grass Restaurant at Couples Swept Away. Issa is the epitome of all Couples represents. Friendly, down-to-earth, personable, and genuinely concerned about our experience with the resort. You would think that he had nothing better to do than talk with us. Couples also offers a "Secret Rendezvous" special with excellent pricing if you can travel between November and December. The resort where you stay remains a mystery until 7 days prior to your arrival. Are you a Sports Buff? If so, you should consider Couples Swept Away. It features a 10 acre Fitness Complex. 10 Tennis Courts (free lessons) squash and racquetball facilities, a fully equipped gym with cardio and weight training equipment, a private aerobics room, a 25-meter lap pool a basketball court and an outdoor running track, yoga, Pilates, steam room and much more. When you have a spa experience at Couples, they will never try to "push" their products for you to purchase. Unfortunately, this is not true at Sandals. Even on our recent Feb. 2014 Sandals vacation, there was someone from the spa coming around the main pool every morning, wanting to sell you a massage or other not-included service. As far as I'm concerned, selling products and services at the pool is not something you expect from a 4 or 5 star resort.

So what keeps us returning to Sandals?

The Sandals returning guest program keeps many couples (including us) going back to Sandals. It simply can't be beat! When you have accumulated 35 paid nights, you earn a lovely pair of silver sandals to wear around your neck. After 56 paid nights, you earn your gold sandals. And 70 paid nights, you have earned a free 7-night stay at any Sandals location. We know several people who have earned their free week several times over.

Another reason people return to Sandals is the variety of the resort chain's locations. Couples offers only 4 Jamaica resorts, but there are 7 in the Sandals Jamaica chain, (plus more at other beaches and islands.) So if you want to be in Jamaica, and you like to experience a variety of resorts, Sandals gives you more options.

In truth, we have been equally happy with Sandals and Couples in Jamaica. Both resorts excel in service and good food. We have outstanding memories of both these all inclusive resorts.

Below, you will find links to all our beach and island vacations including Couples and Sandals. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me (Patricia Blackstock) and I'll try to help you.

Our Sandals and Couples Review and photos are here along with other vacation reviews and photos.

Our Favorite All Inclusive Links

Dream Makers Amy McHugh is by far the best travel agent we've ever known. If you're planning an all-inclusive resort vacation, tell Amy Patrish sent you. There is no charge for her service, and she is very familiar with both Sandals and Couples.

Couples Forum

Cheryl's Forum
(My Favorite board)

Couples Resorts

Sandals Resorts

My Jamaica Photos
for Sale
Choose from Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Negril and Whitehouse.
Starting at just $10. incl. US postage Buy 2 or more and deduct 15% from total.

FunBeaches Site map
Contact me (Patricia Blackstock)

All-Inclusive Vacations