What is the difference between Sandals and Couples...
and which should you choose?
If you decide on Jamaica...
...which resort in Jamaica is your best choice?
Featuring Rrviews of :
Sandals Ochi, Ocho Rios, Whitehouse
Couples Swept Away, Sasndals Royal Caribbean,
Jamaica All Inclusive Couples Only Resorts
Photos and Copy by Patricia Blackstock
My husband, Wally Snider, and I have been vacationing at all-inclusive resorts every year since 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 people have come across my vacation pages asking for information to help them choose between Couples and Sandals in Jamaica
I am not a travel agent, but I often get e-mail from people who come across my vacation review web page. Almost always; they notice that have given good reviews to both Sandals and Couples, and they need help in making a decision. As a result, I put this web page together. I hope will answer your questions.
If you have decided that your couples only all-inclusive vacation will be Jamaica, but you can't decide between Couples and 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 vacationwith lots of good food, drinks and activities...all without paying any extra fees.
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 some very bad reviews. But generally if you research enough, you'll discover the good outweigh the bad. Or vice versa. Some of the refviews 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 outside dining area, and some would even try to land on your table! Well, HELLO?
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 important to us as other amenities. Are you a foodie? How important is a sports complex? Do you want to be on the water a lot for snorkle or diving? We've noticed that some boats at Sandals are more modern and in better running condition than those at Couples. 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 resort may offer fewer restaurants and pools, but on the plus side, it doesn't takew long to become familiar with the property. You meet more people at a smaller resort. We met two couples in 2003 at Sandals Royal and we remain friends today. Larger resorts offer more amenities, pools and restaurants. When you give serious thought to what you want, you will be able to find the resort that best meets your expections.
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 resort reviews. We've made this same mistake ourselves. And remember to add in the cost of luggage (baggage charge) which 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 rooms/suites 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 (and again in 2017) came with concierge service. The resort is very 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 balcony views. There are other Sandals where we were very happy to have the concierge service which we used often. What does a Concierge at Sandals actually do? Currently, wi-fi Internet service is free for guests staying in a Concierge or Butler Room category in any of Sandals locations.
Couples offers less complicatd rates and options. It is what it is...and what it is, is all good
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 at his resport. You would think 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 Coutles, they will never try to "push" their products for you to purchase.
Unfortunately, this is not true at Sandals. Even on a recent Sandals vacations, 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, hawking services at the pool where one is usually held hostage in a lounge chair is not something we would expect from a 4 or 5 star resort.
NEW Note about Couples: We heard from a reliable source (son and daughter-in-law) who said they were asked multiple times for tips while vacationing recently at the Tower Isle location. The sentence the staff members always used was "we take care of you, you take care of us." I was very surprised and disappointed to hear this. I asked if they reported it to a manager or said anything to the employee and they said no. I hope there has been no policy changes at Couples. If you hear of any, please contact me.
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. (For our free week we chose St. Lucia Grande St. Lucian!)
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 choices.
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 all our reviews including Couples and Sandals. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me (Patricia Blackstock) and I'll try to help.
Our Sandals and Couples Reviews 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.
My Jamaica Photos