Take Me There: Sandals Royal Plantation

With The Bachelor final rose ceremony right around the corner, there is a lot of buzz around where the overnight dates and season finale were filmed.  I'm not a huge bachelor fan, but I do occasionally tune in to check out the resorts and locations where the show was shot.  After working for Sandals, I immediately recognized this year's finale spot from the previews.  I've stayed at Sandals Royal Plantation a number of times, so figured I would do a quick review, for any of you "bachelorettes" that are curious.

Sandals Royal Plantation is located in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, about an hour and a half from the Montego Bay airport.  Ocho Rios is a town offering a bunch of activities that encourage you to leave your resort and explore, including climbing the famous  Dunn's River Falls, or pretending you are a Jamaican bobsled driver - I've done both.  Although it's an all inclusive, the resort is more of a boutique hotel, with only 74 suites, each with an ocean view and personal butler.  

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

The entire hotel has a very "old world" feel in its architecture and decor.  I'm a huge fan of the lobby and reception areas, and love passing the resident peacocks.

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

Royal Plantation does not have a huge beach, but it's very secluded and quiet, compared to other Sandals Resorts.  The photo shows that the beach is divided into two parts, known as East and West Beach.  To get to the beaches you much climb down a number off stone steps from the bluff, so I would not recommend this hotel for anyone that is physically challenged.  

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

Unlike other Sandals, this resort leaves the pool bars and bumping music behind, creating a more serine experience.  The below photo shows the hotel's only pool, a far cry from the mammoth pools Sandals is typically known for, so if you are a pool person this might not be your spot, the resort is definitely more beach focused.

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

Pictured above, most rooms include a french balcony, with upgraded categories having full size and wrap around options for privacy.  Below is one of the suite bathrooms, which I think is an area where the hotel is lacking.  The bathrooms feel a little outdated, and could use a slight refresh and updating, which is something to note if considering Royal Plantation for your vacation.

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

If you like to have your cake and eat it too, book the Villa Plantana, a private villa, in a secluded location on the property.  It's the best of both worlds, having its own pool and private entrance, but still offering the option to join in the fun at the main resort.

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

In the evening the resort has a quite and relaxed atmosphere typically offering jazz, or a band on the outdoor terrace.  Royal Planation has three restaurants for dining, as well as a beach grill during the day.  If you are staying for longer and want more dining options, nightlife, or need a pool bar fix, there is a small path that connects this resort to it's neighbor, Sandals Ochi - just an inside tip ;)  But please note the guests at nearby Sandals Ochi are not allowed to visit the Royal Plantation property.  If you want to know more about Sandals Royal Plantaiton, or Jamaica, let us help!

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts


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What I Packed: Turks and Caicos Edition

After seeing this picture, I got a few inquires about what I was wearing - all black in the Caribbean?  Yes, black is one of my favorite colors, and slimming - duh!?!  The shorts and rash guard I had on are actually two of my top picks for staying warm and protected from the sun while snorkeling.  There is no reason to leave such a flattering color behind when headed to the Caribbean - I say rock it!


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Escape Review: Beaches Turks and Caicos

If you follow Stock & Olive on Instagram, then you know my husband and I escaped the Pittsburgh winter a few weeks ago and headed to the Islands of Turks and Caicos.  Grace Bay has been a favorite that we continue to return to, after honeymooning there over 5 years ago.  The clear calm waters and soft white sand are absolute perfection, and although we've traveled to many other islands and beaches, it's hard to find something that can compare.  

I first started traveling to Turks and Caicos, during my years of working for Sandals and Beaches.  I've actually been there over twenty times (it might even be closer to thirty now), at one point residing there for three weeks while working on events for the Beaches resort.  It didn't take me long to fall in love with Grace Bay, it ticked all the boxes of an ideal Caribbean escape.  Crystal clear turquoise water, a wide flat beach with easy entry (not rocky or filled with seaweed), great dining options (named a best island for food), it's both family friendly and romantic at the same time, as well as easily accessible from the states.  When I started traveling there in 2008, only a few people knew about this pristine chain of islands, and I secretly liked it that way.  Almost ten years later, word has gotten out that Turks is one of the best island escapes.  With recent awards as Tripadvisor's best beach in the world, and Travel and Leisure naming Grace Bay as one of the top island beaches, my secret escape has been outed.  Yes, there are more hotels and visitors than before, but it won't stop me from daydreaming of this perfect vacation spot.

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

Providenciales (Provo for short) is the specific island where Grace Bay is located, and even from above the blue water is breath taking.  

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

This trip we decided to return to the Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort.  There is no denying this resort is one of the best family getaways out there, but many of my clients are couples or honeymooners, and the family atmosphere was often not a good fit when choosing hotel options.  They recently expanded the resort though, opening a new section called the Key West Village.  So, I decided to check it out and see if it would be a good fit for my adult clients.

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

Above is the center "atrium" of the main building in the Key West Village.  We stayed here in a balcony room with partial ocean views, perfect for enjoying a morning cup of coffee or an evening night cap.  There are four villages at Beaches Turks and Caicos, and each of them has their own distinctive feel, this one has a very laid back and soothing atmosphere.

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

The Key West Village also has picturesque cottages and villas that have up to 3 bedrooms, including a full kitchen and laundry.  Perfect for families or couples who want more space and privacy.  

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

Above is the adult only pool, which despite the hotel being at 90% occupancy while we were there, it was completely empty most days, leaving space for couples to have uninterrupted quiet time.  Below is a picture of one of one of the twenty (yes, you read that right) restaurants and twelve bars that are included throughout the resort.  We found the adult only roof top restaurant, Sky to be a personal favorite, delicious and great views.

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

You see that yellow raft anchored in the ocean?  Yeah, I still have the tan lines to prove I spent way too much time there...

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

There is a boardwalk that runs the entire length of the resort, making for beautiful views while getting around.  Below is the water sports center, another spot that we would frequent.  My husband and I are both PADI Scuba certified,  so in addition to boarding our dive boats here, this is also where you leave for snorkeling trips, or if you want to sail a Hobie Cat,  go kayaking, paddle boarding, windsurfing, or to pedal an aqua trike, this is your place.

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

Above shows one side of Grace Bay.  It is protected by a reef, keeping the waters calm, even when the Atlantic may be rough.  Below are the dunes which run along part of the beach.  These are protected by the TCI and keep with the island's mission of protecting their waters and wildlife, resulting in lots of natural beauty.

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

The infinity pool is perfection, and the sunsets aren't too bad either...

©Stock and Olive

©Stock and Olive

Would I suggest Beaches Turks and Caicos for adult travelers?  Yes, defiantly.  I would highly recommend staying in the Key West Village to escape some of the more kid friendly parts of the resort, and this way you can easily sip on a glass of wine while enjoying your uninterrupted view of Grace Bay.


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