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Reviewed 10 July 2013

My Wife and I have been to 2 other Sandals Resorts in Jamaica, and after reading a lot of Trip Advisor reviews, we decide to spend our 38th Wedding Anniversary at the Sandals Royal Bahamian resort in the Bahamas, and made reservations through my travel agent in February 2013 for the week of 29 June - 6 July 2013. I specifically reserved an Ocean View room in the Balmora Towers on the highest floor they could put us in, so we had a great view of the Ocean, but I had to pay extra to get an Ocean View room with a Balcony, which was weird, because after we arrived, we noticed that all the rooms with an Ocean view had balconies. I assumed (incorrectly as it turned out) that since I made my reservations 4 months ahead of my vacation, there wouldn’t be a problem getting the room I reserved. We arrived at the resort at about 3:30 PM and the staff greeted us with a warm, moist, face cloth to refresh us, and a glass of Champagne, which was great after a long journey. Our check-in was very fast and all seemed to be in order until they took us to an older building that was not the Balmora Tower. In fact it was on the opposite side of the resort. I stopped the individual escorting us to the room and asked if she was taking us to Balmora Tower and she said “No”. I told her that my reservations were for the Balmora Tower, at which point she immediately called the registration desk, who asked to speak to me. The individual proceeded to tell me that the room we were given was considered an upgrade, at which point I said that was not what I reserved and not what I paid for and that I wanted the room in the Balmora Tower I had reserved 4 months ago. She proceeded to tell me there were no rooms in the Balmora Tower, which absolutely infuriated me. She asked me to at least look at the room they wanted us to stay in and see if it was acceptable, since they considered it an upgrade. I agreed to look at it. The room was larger but older and overlooked the roof of the Casanova restaurant and the back part of the pool. Yes, you could see the ocean but not even close to the view I paid extra money for from the Balmora Tower. I asked to speak to the Manager, who told me there were no rooms available in Balmora Tower until the next day, which meant we could not unpack our clothes or really begin our vacation until the next day when they moved us to the Balmora Tower, which didn’t happen until after 1 PM. There are 6 floors in the Balmora Tower and the room they gave us was on the 2nd floor. I asked the Front Desk Manager for a higher floor and was told there were none available. Nice way to start a vacation!! We were told the room had Concierge service but never heard from the Concierge. The rest of the week was pretty uneventful. PROS: On the plus side, the food was great in all the restaurants we ate at, including Baccarat, Crystal Room, Casanova, Gordon’s on the pier (Fantastic), and the Japanese Restaurant. The employee’s, were very friendly throughout the entire complex, except for the female cook in Spices restaurant who made Omelets in the morning for breakfast, she never – ever smiled, always had a scowl on her face (She needs some customer service training). The Piano Bar was great fun and the entertainment on the beach side at night was very good, especially the “One Man Band”. Drinks were plentiful and definitely not watered down, however, there was very little beach service for drinks, most of the time we had to get our own drnks, as did most everyone else on the beach. TIP: If you want to reserve a Palapus or Canopy cover on the beach, you must reserve them between 0630-0715. The rooms with Butler service have the Butlers reserve them between 0630 and 0715. Also, if you want a cup of coffee before 7AM, you have to either make it in your own room or go to Spices to get a cup. They do not have it put out anywhere before that time. If you decide to take a trip to Atlantis, be aware that it cost approx. $22 each way for a cab, plus tip of course. If you ride with another couple and share the cost, it will save about $20 per couple RT. NOTE: Once you get to Atlantis, the only thing you can do is walk into the Casino, you cannot walk around the property or go to the Aquariums without paying $45 per person. If you want to use the pools and the water slides, etc., it cost about $130 per person for a day pass. Another PRO is that when you leave the Bahamas, if you are returning to the USA, you actually go through US Customs and Immigration at the Airport in the Bahamas, before you board your plane, so when you arrive at your USA destination, you don’t have to go through Customs again. It’s really great getting home and not having to spend another hour or more going through Customs! CONS: #1 - If you like to take long walks on the Beach; this is not the place for you. There is only about 100 yards of beach front that you can walk on. #2 - I called in a report to the front desk that the message light on the phone in our room kept flashing but there was no message and after 5 days it was never fixed. #3 - Electricity went off one day for a short while and on our last day the water went off completely, at 7AM, just as we were getting ready to clean up and go to breakfast. #4 - If you want a room with Ocean Front view that looks directly out over the water, it costs quite a bit extra and is a separate category of room that can be reserved. I told my Travel Agent that there was an Ocean Front view category of rooms that I wanted to reserve and was told me that there was no such category in the Balmora Tower. They were wrong. There is Ocean View and Ocean Front category of rooms. If you want an Ocean View room with a Balcony in the Balmora Tower with a great view, request a room on the side that faces the Pool, because the rooms on the other side of the building over look several private homes and roof tops of these homes and the view is just not that great.
Let me say that I am a big fan of Sandals, as this is our third visit to a Sandals resort, and even though I enjoyed our stay at this Sandals resort, overall, after losing a full day due to the screw up of our room reservation, I will try a different Sandals somewhere else and hope they get it right next time. As a side note, we met a couple while we were who arrived the same day we arrived, but a few hours earlier, who made their reservations 3 weeks before they arrived, and got a room in Balmora Tower with Ocean View and Balcony, facing the pool on the 6th floor……hmmm, makes you wonder doesn’t it!

Room tip: High floors with ocean view facing the pool areas have much better views. Gordon's Restaurant on the pier is fantastic for a very romantic evening.
Date of stay: July 2013
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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3  Thank EdHSat
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 10 July 2013

Sandals royal bahamain was truly an awesome experience!! We traveled the last week of June/first week of July!!

There are options for every type of couple- a party pool with music/staff to get you dancing- (or bob your head as you sip your drink on a raft); a quiet pool to relax in without the music; and the pool on the island which has music, but no Dj/dancers/playmakers. Each of these main pools has a swim up bar. There are additional smaller pools and jacuzzis throughout the resort. Also there are several beaches(3 areas at the main resort & 3 or more at the island). All were clean and quiet enjoyable.

***note, in response to other reviews- we heard our week here the resort was full- yet there was not one day that we could not get a chair at any of the pools and even got a cabana at the island pool the 3 days we went! Finding a chair was not an issue for us anywhere.

Besides the pools- you can relax all day- or do one of the planned activities run by the playmakers ( AM walks, volleyball games, dance contests, water aerobics). Also there are several activities you can do anytime during the day- snorkel, paddle board, water bikes, kayak, as well as a private photo session with your significant other.

We did many of the free activities above- but also decided to get beginners certified for snorkeling. We spent a couple hours doing a swim test, safety video, and practice dive in the scuba pool-3 hours total I think. We were then diving the next day on a 40ft dive. The dive master stayed right by our side being new divers. He swam us around the reefs where he pointed out the most awesome fish, sting rays, and we even got to see a nurse shark!!! He was so patient with us (took us a while to get down due to the pressure adjustment) & it felt like we got our own tour with a dive master! So cool!

There are many dining options depending on what you are interested in (formal type like Gordon's or casual like Cricketers Pub). Like everyone else said the pizza brick oven was a great option as well.

There a couples of all ages and all at different points in their lives- 20s, 30s, 40s up to 70 years of age- some have been married for a while, honeymooners, dating couples, and even a couple families with their older children & dates or spouses!!

This trip was truly awesome- when I wanted to relaxed we did. When we wanted to hang at the party pool- we did that too!! Some days on the island with our snorkel gear and other days bellied up to the pool bar!! The best part of all this was truly the staff. They were so friendly- they said hello, how are you today? (And remembered our names each day). We did not have a Butler service- but honestly we felt if we needed anything we could just ask and the staff would go out of their way to make it happen. I really wanted to thank the sandals team that made this such a great vacation!

We have been to other all inclusives & other Sandals- but we really felt like this one was the happiest place on Earth.

Date of stay: July 2013
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
5  Thank Caitlin S
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 10 July 2013

My wife and I went here for our honeymoon and we're not disappointed. This was the first all inclusive resort we had been to together and it was fabulous. The staff were all polite and always willing to help. The resort was spotless and very well maintained.

The food was great and the variety allowed us to always find something we would enjoy. There was always something open to enjoy. If you make reservations on their island restaurant, beware of the bugs. We got eaten alive.

Date of stay: June 2013
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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1  Thank brandon s
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 9 July 2013

My wife and I just returned from the Sandals Royal Bahamian. We have previously visited two other Sandals properties in Jamaica - The Grand Riviera and Whitehouse. The Royal Bahamian was kind of our bucket list property for Sandals because it is more pricey and looked really, really nice.

My overall review is that the property is good, but not great. There was outstanding service provided by members of the Sandals team. Notably Lance and Aaron at the Windsor Pool Bar. They were fantastic!

The Good:

*The beaches on both the main property and the off-shore island are fantastic! They are beautiful, well-kept and the water is crystal clear - just as advertised.

*The Windsor pool, where we spent most of our time, is wonderful. The bartenders are great and the Playmakers have a good time, but are not too intrusive. The music, especially on the 4th of July, was upbeat and fun. They really created a good party. If you are looking for a quiet pool, go to the one near the Balamore Tower.

*The food at Casanova, Crystal Room and Baccarat was great. My wife especially liked the egg plant parm at Casanova. The only downfall to Baccarat is that we ate dinner with another couple and it took over 2 hours. Yeah, we didn't have anything else to do, but it was still kind of a long dinner. Breakfast at either Spices or Casanova is great.

*The fire pits are perfect. Nice way to end the day with a cocktail and live music next to the fire. Good stuff.

The Bad:

*Sandals promotes getting the Sandals VISA everywhere. We have the card. My wife and I had saved up 125,000 points and cashed them in for 3 free nights on this vacation (we purchased an extra 4 nights). OK, here's where it gets complicated. The 3 free nights have to be on a separate booking from the 4 paid nights. What this meant is that everyone at Sandals thought we were checking out on July 3 rather than July 6. So on the morning of July 3 the baggage guy was knocking on our door at 6 am asking for our bags. The maid is banging on our door at 8:00 wanting to clean our room because we are supposed to be gone. The front desk is confused and finally gets it cleared up. Just frustrating that the can't have a more efficient system.

*The SCUBA diving is meh. You have to be there at 8am and leave at 8:30 for two dives. That means you are gone until around noon. Not to be overly negative, but the dive shop kind of makes you feel like you are inconveniencing them by wanting to dive, if that makes sense. There's no sense of enthusiasm from the staff.

*We booked an Concierge Oceanview Room in the Windsor Tower. It was nice enough, but on our last night there the fire alarm started beeping (like the battery was dying) at 3am. We couldn't get it to stop, so it ended up keeping us awake the rest of the night. The whole Windsor Tower lost power at 7:30am that next day. On top of that, our phone just stopped working. We had two service folks out to fix it so we could call home. They fixed it, but it died again on the morning of our departure, which meant we didn't get a wake up call. We were up from the fire alarm beeping, so it was no big deal.

*On Friday nights they do a beach party on the offshore island. One of the acts includes the
Playmakers spinning fire balls. Well, they asked a guest to do it. Then told her to dip the ball into a tub of lighter fluid; but here's the problem - the ball was still on fire. It caught the tub of fluid on fire, the playmaker tipped it over onto a table right next to them, and the table caught on fire. Thank God there wasn't a guest sitting at the table. Most of the guests were just looking at each other with a WTF expression on their faces. The fire was put out and everyone was safe.

Overall:

Look, this is a great resort. I just don't think it's worth the extra money to go here. Go to Whitehouse or Grand Riviera, save some money, and have just as good of an experience. The few negative comments above were written because I know Sandals reads this site. The grounds are immaculate, the gym has great equipment, the food is really good, the fireworks on 4th of July were a nice touch, and the staff was very, very nice (most really try hard to do whatever it takes to please you).

I'll just make one note as well about the Soon Come Back program. Damien tried is level best to get us to sign up for another trip. He said his offer was better than anything else on the internet. All I will say is that when I got home and looked up the same room during the same time period that he priced for us, I could get a better deal going through Sandals.com and applying my points (It was the Great House Oceanview at Grand Riviera. With air credit and Sandals Select, the price was around $2100 on-line. Through Damien it was $2400.). Just sayin' that if they want people to sign up at the resort, make it worth their while. Take an extra $500 off to really give us a good deal.

Date of stay: July 2013
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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2  Thank kysandalsfan
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 9 July 2013

We just got home from another great Sandals resort! We stayed in a concierge room with beautiful ocean view balcony. On our first night, Rashad from the conceirge group delivered a spectacular dinner to our balcony! We couldn't get into the restaurant because we didn't make reservations prior to arrival...but Rashad took our order and delivered everything!!! Also, special thanks to Deon and Jospeh...the two chefs made us fish and chips for lunch after we returned from shopping in town...special because the pub was closed and they weren't opening for hours!! They set us up a special table and made us lunch anyway.

Very easy to get around town for shopping. We also felt safe while off the resort. Added bonus that this resort is a short ride from the airport!

Private island was wonderful and both beaches felt very uncrowded, we could all spread out between pools, resort beach and island. We spotted sea turtles right off the beach and my husband snorkeled with them, what a treat.

All food was delicious and all staff was very accomodating and attentintive! They made us feel very welcome and very special. We didn't think anyone could beat the Royal Plantation staff in Jamaica, but this resort might have done it! See you next year, Dexter and Marla

Date of stay: July 2013
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank marlab1
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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