Hip, hop, hooray! You are heading to Sandals for your honeymoon or a romantic getaway. We know you can’t wait. We visited Sandals for our honeymoon oh so many moons ago. Even though we had a wonderful time, there are a few things we wished we had known (such as what attire to bring for themed nights and certain restaurants). Now we are much savvier travelers who’ve learned a few tricks for getting the best price and have hopful advice for people taking their first trip to Sandals, or even the Caribbean. Use these Sandals Resorts insider tips to save money and get the most out of your vacation.
Sandals Resorts Insider Tips
Our Sandals Resorts insider tips will help you maximize your vacation time and money. Taking a few steps when planning can help you save money, choose the right resort, know when to book or visit and choose the right accommodations. You can also gain a few insights into what to bring with you and what you should do before and after you arrive to get a jump on dining reservations, booking tours and scheduling dive times.
Tips for Planning to Visit Sandals Resorts
Know How to Find the Best Deal on a Sandals Vacation
First off, you want to start off on the right foot (or flipper) by getting the accommodations you desire for the best deal. You want to use all the sales and promotions — they are generally combinable — to get the most for your budget. We Caribbean amphibians are here to help with that. Look for 7-7-7 deals, holiday promotions that are released around every holiday. And soon, you can save some green by booking through your favorite frogs (that's us!)!
Join Sandals Select Rewards
Be sure to join the free rewards program, Sandals Select Rewards. You can access more specials and earn points that can be used to redeem savings to packages, upgrade rooms and more. There’s even a Sandals credit card that can help you rack up points.
Research Distance to the Airport
No matter which location you choose, Sandals includes the transportation from the airport, so that’s one less thing to worry about. But you want to prepare yourself for the drive. Once you exit the airport you may be ready to begin your vacation.
With some locations, you can get the party started right away. Some Sandals Resorts are a quick 15- to 20-minute trip from the airport, such as Grenada (only 5 minutes!) Montego Bay, Royal Caribbean, Antigua, Emerald Bay, Barbados and Royal Barbados.
Other resorts may have 75- to 90-minute drive, such as Ochi, Royal Plantation, Negril, and South Coast in Jamaica and Halcyon and Regency La Toc in Saint Lucia. The Grande Saint Lucian, however, is a 120-minute ride from the main airport.
Pick the Best Time to Visit
The high, or busy, season is December to mid-April. Understandably, people from colder climates are looking for a warm beach escape. That means you may encounter less availability (so book holidays and peak times early). If you feed off the energy of other guests and want more of a party atmosphere, then the peak season may be for you.
You may want to book off-season to save money and have more physical distance space if you are looking for a quieter trip. You may save money when visiting during the low season of May to November. However, you may encounter rain or tropical storms (especially in August and September) as June through November is technically hurricane season.
Choose Your Accommodations Based on the Level of Service You Expect
Sandals are all-inclusive resorts with everyone getting the same food, drink, activities and entertainment no matter what type of room they book. However, some higher-level accommodations come with Club Sandals concierge service or Butler Service. A concierge agent can help you make your reservation around the resort, and you’ll have access to a lounge and special cocktail parties and other events.
With Butler Service, your butler can also make your reservations and escort you to dinner to a reserved and decorated table in an ideal spot. Your butler can plan romantic surprises, draw you bubble baths and anticipate your every desire. He or she can acquire your pool or beach chairs and serve you drinks or food there while you relax.
A basic Luxury room doesn’t have these services. If you are independent and content with managing your vacation on your own, a more affordable Luxury room will still offer a wonderful vacation with all the other inclusions.
Sign Up for Scuba Lessons, Tours and Excursions Before Your Visit
Before you even leave home, you can set up some plans for your trip. If you are new to scuba, you can sign up for an introductory course (for a fee) before your trip. Experienced divers can skip the course. All divers should definitely visit the dive shop upon arrival to book dives for the week for the best availability.
If you want to go on excursions to explore the surrounding area, you can sign up for tours before your trip. These cost extra and vary per resort.
Hop over to the Sandals extras page to book tours, spa, scuba, golf, photos and more.
Alert the Resort of Any Dietary Restrictions
Another thing you should do before your visit is alert the resort of any dietary restrictions (such as Kosher meals) and food allergies. You can do this a month in advance. Please email email@example.com with your arrival date, booking number, your name and the resort at which you will be vacationing so that arrangements can be made for you to speak with the chef on arrival.
Arrange Airport Transfers
Your air-conditioned airport transfers are included in your Sandals vacation. You can ensure your resort transfer is available at your time of arrival through online check-in at https://checkin.sandals.com. When you land, head to the Sandals Desk for assistance.
Tips for Once You Arrive at Sandals
Find out if some restaurants are more in demand than others, and reserve dinner at them when you arrive. Kimonos teppan table restaurant has limited seating, so that's a good one to reserve. If you want to scuba dive, book your dive trips for the week upon arrival. You’ll be doing this on your own unless you have a concierge or butler to assist you.
Raid the Mini-Fridge
At most hotels, we avoid the high-cost items in the hotel minibar. Not at Sandals. The soda, juice, water, beer and wine are included for you! Higher-level room category includes other liquors, as well.
Borrow a Board Game
If you want some quiet couple time, borrow some board games from the resort.
Find Out the Weekly Events Before You Visit
Get a sense of the weekly entertainment you might experience at your resort. This way you can pack the perfect outfit to match the theme. Most resorts have a white party night (it involves chocolate!) and a Caribbean carnival night. Some resorts offer a talent show. If you know which nights have can't-miss entertainment, you can more easily schedule dinner reservations for other nights.
Things to Bring With You to Sandals Resorts
Cash and Credit Cards
Even though everything you need is included, bring some spending money for souvenirs, butler tips (it’s the only tipping that’s allowed besides spa therapists and airport bag handlers), spa treatments, photo packages and more. The resorts and shops take U.S. dollars, but you may receive change in the local currency. You can exchange dollars at the on-site exchange bureau. In Jamaica and Saint Lucia, bring golf money for a golf caddy (about $15) and a golf cart (about $40). You'll need to present a credit card at check-in to activate the room folio (should you decide to take a tour or have room changes).
Don't leave important travel documents at home. In fact, be sure to check your passport expiration dates a few months before your trip. It can take 12 weeks to renew a passport. Each country has its own rules about passport expirations dates. For Jamaica, the Bahamas (for U.S. or British passport holders) and Barbados, the passport must be valid for the duration of the trip. In Grenada and Saint Lucia, the passport must be valid for six months from the date of entry. For Antigua, the passport must be valid for 180 days from the date of entry.
Sun Protection and Bug Repellant
You’ll want that reef-safe, water-resistant sunscreen, UV wear, hats, sunglasses and lip balm with SPF. Apply and reapply sunscreen, and use any available shade you can find. The Caribbean sun is very strong. You might want to use bug repellent in the evenings, especially during the rainy season, to avoid bug bites. We find it easy to travel with the repellant towelettes and bracelets.
Nighttime Dining Attire
You men might not think you need to pack pants for a warm-climate vacation, but learn from my mistakes when I was a less-experienced traveler. One of my motivating factors for making the Sandals Resorts insider tips is to save other men from making my wardrobe mistake of packing only shorts and flip flops when we visited Sandals and Beaches (the family-friendly version of Sandals). That meant we could not enjoy a few of the nicer restaurants at night that had a dress code. My wife, Flora, was a little disappointed in me. Croak!
For the most part, the resorts are casual. But there are a few opportunities to dress up, so you'll want to be prepared. You can look up each resort’s restaurants ahead of time to find out which ones have a dress code. Resort elegant means long pants and no flip flops, T-shirts or tank tops for men and dresses or nicer outfits for the ladies.
Here's a look at the Sandals dress codes:
- Resort Casual (daytime attire and some restaurants at night) - Shorts or jeans, T–shirts or polo shirts. Swimwear must be covered. Shirts and footwear required.
- Resort Elegant (evening attire at some restaurants) - Dress pants, Dockers or jeans for men, long or short sleeve dress shirts (with or without collar). Wear dress shoes or sandals. No shorts, T–shirts, sleeveless shirts, sneakers, flip flops or slippers. No hats nor caps. Elegant dress shorts are permitted in some restaurants.
Dive Cards and Seasickness Meds
If you are scuba certified, bring your dive cards with you. If you are prone to seasickness, don't froget to bring medication. Flora says meclizine works best if you take it the night before a dive, so it has time to get into your system. When she takes her meds, she never gets sick.
You do not need to bring your sports equipment, but you can if you are more comfortable with that. If you are visiting a resort with golf, you can bring your own clubs or shoes. Rentals are available. For experienced scuba divers or snorkelers, you can bring your own mask, snorkel and fins (as well as a BC and Regulator for divers), but you can also just use the resort equipment and save the extra baggage costs. We frogs wear our flippers everywhere we go!
An Insulated Cup and Reusable Straw
This is more of a preference, but you can keep the drinks cold on the hot beach and the seas free of plastic.
All of your meals and snack are included at Sandals Resorts. If you want more of anything or an extra serving, just ask! You can even order double dessert. No judgments if you head back for a second dinner. Make your own progressive dinner. You can enjoy drinks and appetizers at one restaurant, then hop to another for dinner and take a walk before visiting a third destination for dessert.
Your Workout Clothes
Each resort has a fitness center with equipment and classes. We aren’t saying you have to work out on your vacation, but it’s nice to have the option. You just might want to work off all the included food and dessert!
Leave the Blow Dryer and Electrical Adapters at Home (if traveling from North America)
Hairdryers are in every room. You do not need to bring an electrical adapter. Each room is equipped with 110-volt outlets. You can also leave beach towels home, as they are provided by the resort.
Hopfully our Sandals Resorts insider tips put you in good shape to plan your trip, save money and prepare to have a toadally awesome romantic getaway.