Lawmommy's Review of Beaches Negril by Sandals part 1
I think I am going to have to do this review in parts because I am very tired and have waded through something like 200 emails from work and my brain needs to go to sleep soon.
Anyway, first off, let me say that Husband and I have been loyal Sandals returning guests for something like 10 years. When I say that we have spent a boatload of money on Sandals vacations, I mean that we could have, literally, purchased a boat, a nice one, with the money we have happily been giving to Sandals for the last ten years. I've been a happy customer, is my point. We've been to Sandals resorts in three countries - we've only not been to the ones in Antigua or the one in Cuba. (Antigua because it has never been convenient to get there, and Cuba because technically it would be illegal to spend money there. And I value my law license more than the intrigue of sneaking into Cuba to stay at Sandals. Although it looks beautiful and I would LIKE to go.) What I am trying to say is that I have been generally very happy with the Sandals corporation, so, that may color my opinion of our stay.
The most important thing about this resort is this: if you are not traveling with children under the age of 16, seriously, do not go to this resort. There is no point. Sandals has many other properties that you will enjoy more if you are traveling without kids. Children are the focus of this resort, there are kids everywhere, and you will have much more relaxing vacation elsewhere. (If you are traveling as a couple, or with a group of couples, I highly recommend this resort, which is just amazing. Sandals Whitehouse. This one is also fabulous, although getting to St. Lucia can be a pain. Sandals Regency St. Lucian). Anyway, Beaches Negril by Sandals is a good choice for families with children. It is a bad choice for people who are not traveling with children, especially if they are going to complain about how many children there are on the resort. (Go to Hedonism IIor something, (geez!) (Um...that link to Hedonism (which is NOT a Sandals resort) is probably not work safe, btw).
Anyway, I'm not kidding myself that a visit to Sandals or Beaches is a true Caribbean cultural experience. I know it's not - and that's not why I'm going there. I'm going there to relax, be pampered, swim, snorkel, bask in the sun, nap, eat too much rich food and drink too much rum than is probably good for me.
So, I'll divide this review into three parts: the perfect, the good, and the disappointing.
1. The Beach. The beach in Negril is everything the brochures tell you the beach in Negril is - seven miles of gorgeous white sugary sand and water so beautifully blue you almost cannot believe it is real. Every afternoon about 4:45 we went onto the beach and stayed there until after the sun set. This is my favorite time to be at the beach because a good portion of the other guests have left, and I don't have to worry about finding a cabana or a beach lounger in the shade to prevent burning to a crisp. The kids would build sand castles (there were tons of sand toys scattered around the Beaches beach), and Husband and I would float on one of the anchored floaties in the waves or lie on the beach loungers, watching the kids play in the sand or reading a book. Lana and Gabe were absolutely BLISSFUL during this time of day. And every day for about the two hour period of late afternoon I would think, "This is perfect. This is perfectly perfect. This could not be more postcard perfect." So, the beach, and our afternoons on the beach, definitely fall into the perfect category. (A caveat - there are some biting mosquitos or something on the beach - Beaches sprays for them, and Husband and the kids did not get any bites. I got ten bites, but, Husband says that is because I am delicious. And I am. To bugs anyway. They love me and always have.)
2. Kids Camp. The resort has a kid's camp program that works like this: if your children are under the age of 2, there is a nursey program. I don't know anything about it, because I don't have an infant, but, there were lots of families with infants at the resort.
If your kids are 2 to 3, or 4 to 5, the kids camp is open from 9:15 ish to 6:00. The nannies have activities planned all day, and will take the kids to lunch if you so desire. We didn't ever leave Lana in the camp for that long - she was most there from 10:00 to noon and 1:00 to 4:00. They have supervised swimming in a very shallow pool, arts and crafts, visits with Sesamee street characters, sand castle building, etc. The children are divided into the age groups of 2 and 3 year olds, and 4 and 5 year olds. (You should take three plain white tshirts and leave them at kids camp with your child's name written on the collar because they will do various t-shirt decorating activities throughout the week.)
If your kids are 6 to 7, the camp is available from 9:15 ish to 5:00 PM and from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. If your kids are 8 to 12, the camp is available from 9:15 ish to 5:00 PM and from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. The nannies will take your kids to lunch and dinner if you want them to. Gabe did the evening camp 2 nights and we hired a nanny to stay with Lana on those two nights (the nanny stayed with the nannies who were minding the kids camp that evening, but, we paid $10 per hour for Lana for those two evenings, whereas Gabe was free.) The older kids have planned activies and also a snorkel trip two mornings, and they go to the Family Pool and Waterpark everyday instead of the very shallow baby pool. (There are lifeguards.)
Gabe and Lana both enjoyed Kids Camp, although Lana was much more hesitant than Gabe. Also, she was upset that she couldn't be in Gabe's group. On the whole, I wished that we had gone with another family who had similarly aged children (so they would be with someone they knew at Kid's Camp) - but, it worked out nicely and it gave Husband and I some time to be alone, and kept the kids busy with fun stuff.
Okay, I'll be back tomorrow with the Good and the Disappointing, because I am falling asleep.