Our Honeymoon at Sandals Whitehouse, Jamaica.
As some of you may know, Jon and I recently got married. With every wedding comes a honeymoon, which we were fortunate enough to spend at the wonderful Sandals Whitehouse in Jamaica.
We contemplated everything from Fiji to Hawaii to Mexico and the Caribbean, and ultimately settled on the Caribbean due to its close proximity and relatively lower costs (weddings are expensive!). We didn’t want the hassle of locating restaurants and activity vendors as needed, instead wanting to solely focus on enjoying the sunshine and fun of warm weather, so an all-inclusive was a must.
I’ve to Jamaica before, but Jon had not, so we thought this trip would be a nice opportunity to introduce him to the island. In Jamaica there are three primary all-inclusive resort brands, Sandals, Beaches and Couples, plus a several one-offs around the island.
Sandals and Beaches are both owned by Sandals Resorts International. Beaches is a family-friendly resort with activities for both adults and children. Sandals, on the other hand, is for adults only with an 18+ age restriction. Couples is similar to Sandals, being age restricted. We decided upon Sandals due to an amazing deal, plus Sandals has a more rewarding network across the Caribbean islands should we want to return in the future.
IND to MBJ
Route: IND -> IAD -> MBJ
Airline: United, Economy
Plane: Embraer Regional, Boeing 737
Travel time: 5 hours
The flights to IAD and MBJ were pleasant and uneventful, which if you’ve flown before, is probably the best thing you can ask for!
Traveling internationally is always an adventure in one way or another, and Jamaica never fails to disappoint.
MBJ is one of the least organized airports we have ever traveled through. Upon arrival, there was an enormous line of people waiting for customs and immigration. However, we discovered an amazing shortcut. Assuming you aren’t traveling with minors, you can walk around the line and head to the far left of main waiting area where you will be able to electronically scan your passport for a fast-track through the process. This easily saved us over an hour and allowed us to get through customs and immigration in less than 15 minutes. I don’t think many people realize this feature exists and simply get in line because everyone else is doing the same.
When we arrived at baggage claim, we experienced yet another interesting situation, one that left us wishing we had only traveled with a carry on. (*Advice: Never check a bag when traveling anywhere, let alone Jamaica, if at all possible. Your bags will never be lost, stolen or MIA and you’ll be out of the terminal and on to your destination with everything in tow.) We finally picked up our checked bag but it took some serious persistence on our part in encouraging the local airport workers to locate an entire flight’s worth of luggage. Reminder: pack light–after all you are going to the beach!
Once you’re through the gates with your luggage, Sandals staff greet you with cheer and invite you into a Sandals-only lounge. The lounge enables you to drop your bags, take a break and enjoy a Red Stripe and small snacks before you board the resort shuttle. After a short rest, you’re escorted out of the terminal onto a shuttle with other guests who are headed to your Sandals resort. Many dread the journey as Jamaican roads aren’t typically smoothly paved; however, our driver was calm and the 90-minute ride flew by. A side note: your driver and/or porter will more than likely make a hard request for a cash tip for their services.
As you plan your trip, we highly recommend purchasing Club Mobay tickets for both arrival and departure at MBJ. Club Mobay is a private lounge inside the Montego airport. We didn’t know about Club Mobay prior to our stay in Jamaica but heard from fellow Sandals guests during our stay that it’s a great way to approach this chaotic airport. It’s only $30 per person and can be purchased either online at the Club Mobay website, at the airport, or through the front desk staff at your Sandals Resort. Check it out and let us know your experience–we’re eager to travel back through MBJ in the near future to try it out ourselves.
Sandals Whitehouse is located on the south shore of the Jamaican island, located far from any real big cities or tourist locations. If you’re looking to check out local markets and walk the town, this isn’t the place for you. However, if you’re looking to leave the world behind and seclude yourself in warm sunshine, full-service luxury without distractions, Whitehouse is a great choice. It sits in the middle of a 500-acre nature preserve to ensure privacy and exclusivity are met at all times. Just be prepared for a rough ride as the roads through rural Jamaica are a closer resemblance to an off-road course than a normal street.
The Whitehouse property itself is divided into four main sections. As you arrive, you walk in from the north into the main lobby, which sits on the east side of the property. Passing through the lobby, you walk out to the main pool directly ahead and a majority of the available restaurants flanking it to the left.
The next three sections looking west are the three residential “villages” on the grounds. First is the Italian Village. It is home to the highest-end rooms, which often include 24-hour butler service. During our stay, this lent to an older crowd, and priced out many of the cost-sensitive honeymooners. The second section is the Dutch Village, which includes many of the “club-level” rooms. These include a larger bathroom with tub, as well as a full bar in the room itself.
Finally, at the far west end of resort is the French Village, the area where we stayed for this trip. It has its own pool as well as Blue Fields Beach Club. This seemed to have the youngest crowd of guests, with a majority staying for their honeymoons. The rooms do not come with a bar or butler, but did have a stocked mini fridge with sodas and juice. Size-wise, our room did not disappoint. Even with a king-size, four-post bed, sofa, desk, and couch, there was still plenty of space to walk around. Plus, with our room facing west, we were able to take in some radiant sunsets over the ocean from our balcony. Our only negative about the room was that the water temperature in the shower never got about “warm”, so a truly hot shower was never to be had. I’m sure this could be easily fixed and otherwise we had no complaints at all.
Personally, if you’re looking at Sandals for your honeymoon, save the cash and stay at the French or Dutch Village. The butler service, while nice, seemed overbearing to some who paid for it. Even from our room, we were no more than a short walk to a full bar attached to the pool, and we never felt like were missing much that was on the other side of the resort. Additionally, the French Village pool proved to be full of activities and social entertainment (…and the best bartenders. Look for Jermaine, Romeo, Delroy, Kavita and Kamaca! They’ll take care of you.), while the main pool seemed quite uneventful and boring most of the time.
Stay tuned for Part II where we’ll discuss our adventures, including dining and an awesome catamaran tour!