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Sandals Dunns River, Jamaica

Author: Host DebbieH103
Date of Trip: July 2006

Arrival

We arrived on July 5. Our transfer was only from Royal Plantation. We were to depart Royal Plantation at 2:15. I had put this in the butler preferences for our Sandals Dunn River stay and told them in an email to the top managers at Royal Plantation and the front desk. Told everyone we wanted a nice lunch at Royal Plantation after checking out at 12:30. That was fine, and the lunch was lovely, but someone got in their mind we were leaving at 12:30 and I guess told Dunns and some others. We ended up in some old van, but it was only 15 or 20 minutes. We arrived to be greeted by, “we’ve been waiting for you ALL DAY” by a secondary butler. I promptly told her we had told them 6 weeks back we were departing RP at 2:15. She said she’d read it but they were still expecting us much earlier.

That was sort of a rocky start, but we quickly had a welcome drink and were taken for in-room check-in. We had a lovely in-room check-in. There was a huge fruit and cheese plate there. Unfortunately, they took it away when we’d barely nibbled on it, and I looked for it later and was disappointed.

The next butler to show up was Hunter. He came to unpack our things. He did a WONDERFUL job. Todd kept wondering why on earth this took so long. We found out it was because everything was folded beautifully, organized, put out with tissue paper, shoes all shined, clothes pressed, etc. (He took those off and brought them back). Coming from Royal Plantation, I packed the personal things like toiletries and undergarments in one bag and said, “Don’t unpack that one.”

Todd had got me a coconut earlier in the day at the golf course, and they cut it up and put it on a tray with forks and hibiscus. It wasn’t really ripe enough to eat, but I loved the presentation anyway, and the pics were cool!

Room

We booked the top butler category as full-paying guests. I had seen the room in December, 5 days before the re-opening, and I was anxious to stay there if we were going to stay at Dunns River.

Butler suites are all in the Genoa building. We were in suite 3316. When you walk into this suite, there is a large closet with shelves on the left. We never used this. There is also an end table in the hall on the left.

You walk into a nice-sized living room with a lovely couch and chairs. There is a large coffee table. This room has an armoire with a TV and also a dining area with 4 chairs and another side table. There is a bar area with a side cabinet to keep extra drinks (ours had soda and water). They have shelves for glasses and liquor and then also had the liquor dispensers. The fridge had lots of space, and they put juice, mixers and wine in there. We also had a sink.

The living room had a balcony with French doors off of it. This had a table and 4 chairs. From here, we were against the ocean and could also walk over to the side and see all of Sandals Dunns River. Standing, you can see the balcony next to you, and that one was up against the RIU Club Hotel.

Not all of them do, but our butler room had a powder room with a nice sink, mirror, and toilet. Across from that was a full-length mirror.

In the bedroom, we had a lovely mahogany 4-poster bed, another TV with the keyboard in an armoire with several drawers, a desk with a place to plug in Ethernet and sign up for the plan, 2 end tables on either side of the bed, a cordless phone, a large walk-in closet with shelves and a safe that held all our bags and golf clubs, a triangular tub/shower combo and a double marble sink.

SSG Cocktail Party and Dinner

At 5:55, our butler came to take us to the party. It was right outside the elevator of the Genoa building. At the cocktail party, they had several managers. They had an open bar and hot and cold hors d’oeuvres. They had chicken wings in a glaze, fish fingers, fruit and cheese, mussels, scallops and sausages.

Theo, the hotel manager sat with us. Sara, a lovely Italian girl that is training there sat with us, too. Todd and a southern couple had a ball chatting about Italy. Todd actually works for Italy and is the only U.S. based person in his group. There was an agent and her daughter with us. And we all had fun chatting about the properties. We met Theo almost 5 years ago when he was at Beaches Grand Sport (now Sandals Grande Ocho Rios). It is always great to see him.

Theo mentioned the rumors about Sandals going to Grenada. Theo claimed if Sandals comes to Grenada it would be a Beaches. He says the government wants it. He also said RIU tried to get into Dubai and they said “no” but that Sandals is looking at it. Remember this is all talk.

At the dinner at Il Columbo, the menu was not to my liking. The appetizer was to be a pear in blue cheese. Lots of people ordered something else. I had the vegetable spring rolls (outstanding). Todd had the garlic shrimp.

The salad was with citrus dressing in a plantain bowl. That was good. Next there was a chicken breast with 2 shrimp. Todd ate my shrimp. This was served with mashed potatoes. I didn’t eat much of it.

The dessert had some sort of peeled chocolate on it. I ate that part and not the dessert. It was coffee flavored, and I don’t like coffee. I wore a long dress and was still eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Regarding smoking–none in Marco lounge (one or two guests were opening the doors and standing in the doorway, but they allowed it at Il Colombo (West Indies) even though it is covered. We weren’t happy about that. I guess if it is open air enough for me to get eaten alive, it is not indoors. There was an enormous storm the day before, which I imagine is where the bugs came from.

First Night After Dinner

One neat thing about Dunns is they start entertainment for the evening at 8:30. They have stuff going as late as you want but the main shows are 8:30 to 11.

After a short talk with Ann-Marie, the sales manager, and Theo, it was a short trip to the room to drop off the repeat guest gifts of rum, t-shirts and orchids and then go back down to The Forum in-door theatre for the show.

At 8:30, they had the mid-week game show. The women vs men did trivia on famous places, faces, TV shows, etc.

After that was the guest and staff talent show. Craig, the entertainment supervisor sang Struggling, a song he wrote. Conrad played Rock around the Clock. They had various skits, including a long one where they spoofed people from different countries. They were the hardest on their own country.

There were 4 guests who performed, all sang songs. One girl named Sara did At Last. She was good. Another girl, Alicia did I Will Survive. She sure had fun, and a guest got out there and danced to it. Then there was Tony who apologized for being bad (but wasn’t) and another guy (Ric??) That was working the band and the audience and said, “Love You Dear” to his wife at the end.

By about 11:20, they started the disco, which seemed set up for reggae.

When we came back to the room, candles were going with flower petals all over the bed and “I Love You” in cat tails. We slept like babies.

July 6

We had breakfast in our room, set up by butler Frasier and a concierge. I had fruits and eggs and toast, and Todd had omelet and ham and fruits.

At 11am I went down for aquacize. They did not have it. I stayed in the hot tub. At noon I came up because Frasier was to set us up on the beach with a cooler in some shade. We enjoyed that for an hour and then went to lunch at 1:30. I had pizza margherita from the piazza and Todd had ham and grilled cheese from Cafe Orno. I also had cotton candy. They spin the cotton candy right out there fresh for you most anytime, so even if you think it isn’t available, it probably is. Just walk over, and someone will show up. It is next to the roasted nuts and small cookies.

They make those 12-inch pizzas and also have enormous calzones. They do have a lot of waste. The pizza is thin and delicious. It would be difficult for one person to eat the whole thing. I ate ¼ of it.

We went back to the room and saw the end of Madagascar. Then I watched General Hospital.

We went over to the spa and used the indoor hot tub and then one of the steam rooms.

Next we went to the piano bar pool and hot tub. By then it was 4:30 and the water was cool but refreshing due to the wind. All day, the wind was just incredible. We heard it was 55 to 65 mph all day.

At 6, after more time in the in-room jet tub, our butler took us to Kimonos and took our drink order and served us. We had a great dinner there. For appetizers, We had tempura and spring rolls. We had the sesame salad. We had green pumpkin soup. I had beef, Todd also had the chicken and shrimp. We skipped the tuna and also skipped dessert. At dinner, two of our companions were the tutor of the child in the movie being filmed at RP and the girlfriend of one of the stars. That was an entertaining dinner. The chef indicated it was his first night. We don’t know if that was true. It was a good time.

I did get watermelon from the international buffet. On that buffet I did notice they had shrimp bisque and also crawfish. There was also jerk chicken and many other items.

We went on up to the room. The fashion show was at 8:30 and was viewed and heard perfectly from our bedroom balcony. At 9:30, they had showtime but this was in The Forum so we were then off to bed.

July 7

We skipped breakfast. I did some work while Todd slept.

Fabian, our butler set us up at 11:30 on the beach with a cooler again and this time under a beautiful rectangular palapa in the shade.

The wind was still high with the yellow flag out vs. red. We didn’t want to do any watersports this trip anyway.

It was Jamaica day and they were selling lots of stuff out on the patios, including a bunch of world cup merchandise. There was someone selling nice leather sandals. We had no room to add anything to our suitcases. They also did the Discover Jamaica class. They had maps and historical photos. They had the speak Jamaican class, too.

For lunch I got a plate from the buffet. I had some nice fruits, a jerk chicken wing and a few Café Orno.

We had a lovely visit with Cinnzia, one of the top managers. She introduced us to Antonio, the Italian chef. He was explaining Michelon forks vs Michelin stars.

After about 5 hours of the beach and then hot tub, I was ready for an activity. We played the pitch and putt course. The longest hole is 200 ft. I did a good job at chipping but could not putt. It was a lot of fun. Next we checked out the Marco Polo lounge and got some little sandwiches for feeding the fish and turtles.

We got ready for our special dinner. Fabian served us course by course on our balcony. If you stay in a butler suite, take note that RIU does their loud party on Friday. We had appetizers of shrimp and mussels, a great soup and salads. Todd had steak and I ordered bouillabaisse but only ate the mussels and crawfish. Next was crème Brule, which was served with the freshest cookies I have ever tasted.

We had candlelight and balloons. After dinner, we strolled to the piazza to hear the harpist. It is romantic at night. And guests were having pizza and desserts of cookies or ice cream in dishes or cones, coffees and cotton candy, ice cream and nuts all by candlelight. The staff were setting up for the martini and seafood night. We did not stay for that.

July 8

This day was kind of magical. We stayed in our shady place at the beach for hours (though Todd took a sports break). The hot tubs were always the perfect temperature, don’t read the Tripadvisor reports saying they aren’t heated. We did the outdoor snacking for lunch.

I do recommend when dining at the Italian to go at 6:30 or 8:30. Throw on repellant and get a table oceanside. For once, this was a restaurant with class where the guests are respectful of the romance. We have been to this restaurant a number of times before the re-opening of the resort and found it either fabulous or terrible, never in between.

The Italian restaurant is everything they said it is (so much a cut above what it was in the past), and we dined with Cinzia, the executive assistant manager (Italian). I had Osco busso, she had saltimbocca, and Todd had a t-bone. The antipasto was everything Vincenzo (RP’s food and beverage manager/sommelier), Cinzia and Anthony, and Fredericko (restaurant mgr) said it was. The menu has 26 dinner items, and that is impressive. I think I’d skip most courses here except the antipasto (great mussels and peppers) and save room for the very HEARTY entrees. The sauce w/ the Osco busso (sp) was clearly accented in basil and the zestiest I have ever had. I could not eat 1/3 of it, so they thought I didn’t like it, but it was to die for. Todd and Cinzia ate every bite of their entree. I am not a big meat eater and eat slow, but I do appreciate greatly in my own portion size, lol. Still, I was SO about to pop. We skipped dessert, as I had to get one last cotton candy!!

Then we saw the show, which had a unicyclist, a snake charmer, some dancers imitating Michael Jackson and the male opera singer that was at the Sandals convention I went to in Atlantic City. Cinzia had us sitting front and center, and the opera singer said, “I see we have a friend from the Sandals conventions”. I was so flattered. We talked to him afterward.

After the variety show, they had Soul on Soul in The Forum. They were great, and so many guests were dancing…even in their seats.

We got to bed at 11:30 with little packed.

July 9

I woke up very early, and at 6:30 still had little packed. Nine days had been a great trip, but we were getting all tripped out and ready to beam ourselves home. We were grateful for the non-stop flight that was ahead, as we were surely going to have our bags bursting at the seams. Our butler was dying to pack our bags, but we told him we would do it.

I had breakfast delivered between 7 and 7:30. We had a hearty hot breakfast and packed.

We had to be ready at 8:00. We didn’t like this time and felt it was too early for our 1:10 flight. We told the butler 8:15, and after a lecture to us, he waited to come up. He looked around for items and had us in the lobby for our 8:30 departure.

We got to the airport around 10. Every seat on the flight was sold out. Again, there was no entertainment. We received turkey and cheese sandwiches, chips and a candy bar. Everything was a breeze at the Houston airport, and we got home at 5:52 after landing at 4:40.

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