Which is the best Sandals resort in Jamaica?
That was the seemingly simple question we set out to answer when we first began to research the review article you are currently reading.
Sandals, as you may know, is a chain of all-inclusive beach resorts with properties in a handful of Caribbean countries including St. Lucia, the Bahamas, Grenada and Antigua. The country with more Sandals resorts than any other — there are seven altogether — is Jamaica.
But which of those seven Sandals should I choose for my vacation? you might be asking.
With that specific question in mind — and with a skeptical view of Sandals in general — Spot Cool Stuff visited all our their all-inclusive resorts on during our last trip to Jamaica. Here’s what we found:
It’s the sort of sale headline that seems way too good to be true: $19 per night at an all-inclusive Caribbean beach resort!
That’s the travel deal the cool website Cheap Caribbean is offering for the next three days. $19 a night! That’s with food, drink, accommodations and activities included at the Lifestyle Tropical Beach Resort & Spa in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
But what’s the catch? you are surely asking.
Is the deal only for specific dates that are already sold out?
Does the included food and drink consist entirely of pretzels and water?
To qualify for the deal do I first have to survive a night in a haunted house?
The answers to those last three questions are no, no and no respectively. Cheap Caribbean’s latest flash sale truly is remarkable. But, as you do doubt suspect, Dear Reader, it also not quite as great as it seems. Here’s Spot Cool Stuff’s take on the good and bad of it:
Longtime readers of Spot Cool Stuff might remember our review of Sweden’s Utter Inn. The “inn” is located in the middle of a lake and consists of a single suite with one room above water — and another room beneath it!
It’s amazing being a guest at the Utter Inn, laying snuggled under your sheets while looking out at the underwater scene beyond your bedroom’s windows. But how much more cool would it be if that scene was of crystal clear tropical waters instead of a murky Scandinavian lake?
To answer that question, one needs to travel to the The Manta Resort on Pemba Island, part of the Zanzibar archipelago off the coast of Tanzania. That’s where Genberg Underwater Hotels, the company that designed and constructed the Utter Inn, recently finished work on their second half-underwater suite.
There are 908 islands scattered around the Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast of Australia’s Queensland State.
Of those, 74 islands make up the Whitsunday Archipelago, a national park and one of Australia’s top tourist destinations.
Of those, 11 islands are inhabited.
And, of those, only 1 island has luxury resorts, gourmet restaurants and a sophisticated, yet laid-back, vibe:
Make yourself at home. Shirts and shoes are strictly optional.
Spot Cool Stuff has not seen the movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back. But we’ve seen where Stella got her groove back — at My Time ‘N’ Place, a wonderful little cottage bed and breakfast-y type of place on the northern coast of Jamaica.
My Time ‘N’ Place owes its existence to the movie industry. And to its gregarious and entrepreneurial owner, Tony.
Bora Bora has only 29 square kilometers of land. Yet, incredibly, the French Polynesian island has 9 outstandingly cool-looking luxury resorts. That gives Bora Bora a OCLR/KM (outstandingly cool-looking luxury resorts per square kilometer) value of .31, which is surely the highest of any island in the world.
Each of Bora Bora’s nine outstandingly cool-looking luxury resorts has its merits. A stay at each is also somewhere between expensive and exorbitant, especially once you account for the cost of food, activities and local transportation, all of which is pricey even before tacking on the 14% national tax. That makes choosing the optimum resort key. And, of course, if you are staying for your honeymoon you want to get it right.
For this overview, we’re listing Bora Bora’s OCLRs in the order of overall resort quality as we judge it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the first resort on our list is the best fit with what you are seeking for your particular trip. Also, while reading our comparison, keep in mind that all these resorts have overwater bungalows. All have service that exceeds that of a typical luxury hotel. And all are set in stunning locations, Bora Bora offering nothing but. In those ways, you can’t go wrong with any of these choices:
The Dhoni has been a central feature of life in the Maldives for nearly as long as there’s been a recorded history of people living there. Traditionally, Dhonis were small sailing vessel built from coconut palm wood. Today, a Dhoni (pronounced: “doh-nee”) comes in a variety of sizes and is as likely to be powered by an engine as it is by the gentle trade winds that grace the Maldives. Travel around that archipelago of tropical islands south of India and you’ll see Dhonis everywhere. People fish in them. Children ride to school in them. Merchants sell their goods from them. And at one hotel, the Cocoa Island Resort, Dhonis have been turned into romantic, idyllic luxury suites.