Sandals South Coast
Sandals South Coast resort isn’t the easiest of the Sandals resorts in Jamaica to reach.
Sandals Montego Bay is basically in the glide path of Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay (the tradition is to wave to the planes on final approach), for example, and Sandals Royal Caribbean is also within minutes of the airport. But it will take you at least an hour and a half to drive the width of Jamaica to get to Sandals South Coast resort.
If clients balk, tell them to grab a couple of Red Stripes and some snacks at the Sandals reception center at the airport, settle into their shuttle or car, and just enjoy the ride — it’s worth it.
The scenery is occasionally stunning along the way to the resort, but that’s not the point. The reason you want to send clients to this resort is that it’s not only the most remote of all the Sandals properties, it’s also arguably the most complete of the chain’s all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica.
Sandals South Coast (formerly Sandals Whitehouse) checks all the boxes for a pay-one-price beach vacation in Jamaica. Like all Sandals resorts, South Coast features the brand’s signature Luxury Included amenities, including multiple room categories and dining and drinking options, nightly entertainment, and a variety of land and sea sports. As the only major resort on Jamaica’s south shore, this Sandals property has plenty of socially distanced space to play in, including 500 acres of lush grounds facing two miles of white sand beach.
WHERE TO SLEEP
What makes Sandals South Coast stand out begins with the room inventory, particularly on the high end. The resort is one of two Jamaica Sandals properties boasting Over the Water bungalows, and while the overwater villas at Sandals Royal Caribbean are attached to a private island, the sense of isolation is disrupted by the aforementioned air traffic and shallow waters that occasionally see local fishermen strolling by in search of the daily catch. At South Coast, the bungalows are perched above deeper water at the very end of the resort property, arrayed around a long pier and comfortably removed from prying eyes.
Furthermore, the South Coast resort is the only Sandals resorts to feature Swim Up Rondoval Suites. Debuting in fall 2020, these adorable, peaked-roof private villas are arrayed around the a serpentine pool — think of a lazy river like you might find at a water park, only minus the current. Located off the beach and arranged in a village-like setting, the 20 rondovals all face inward toward the pool and feature zero-entry decks with lounge chairs half- submerged in the water, patios with dining tables under shady umbrellas, and private plunge pools with waterfalls, and 22-foot diameter guest quarters with dramatic 20-foot ceilings covering the bedroom, living room, and, spacious bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and access to both indoor and outdoor showers.
Both the overwater villas and rondoval suites feature highly responsive butler service (as do several other classes of rooms at the resort, including other swim-up suites), working in two-person teams to deliver food, drinks, and other amenities upon demand — for clients looking for a Jamaican resort stay with as much separation from other guests and staff as possible, these rooms are definitely the right call. Butlers also can make dinner reservations, book spa treatments and excursions like sunset cruises on the Island Routes catamaran based at the resort, and — in the era of coronavirus — set up the all-important COVID-19 testing guests will need to return home a the end of their stay.
WHERE TO PLAY
The resort’s talented entertainment staff keeps things lively at the pools and during variety shows staged at the nightclub and during a weekly beach party — the local talent assembled is impressive, including singers who can match superstars like Whitney Houston note-for-note. The Red Lane Spa at South Coast is centrally located but surrounded by high walls to create a tranquil cloistered setting — treatments cost extra, but you can enhance your serenity by lingering in the outdoor pool at the heart of the spa.
Next door is a well-tended tennis center, with morning instruction by staff tennis pros and lighted courts for evening play after the heat of the day subsides. The biggest thing the South Coast resort lacks is a golf course, but there is an on-site PADI-certified dive center. Learn to dive programs are included with stays, and advanced instruction is also available.
The resort’s included banana-boat rides are great for thrills and laughs with friends, and other inclusive water sports include snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, paddle boards, Hobie cat sailing, and more. In addition to sunset sails, Island Routes runs weekly excursions to Floyd’s Pelican Bar, a restaurant and watering hole built on stilts over a shallow reef that’s popular with local fishermen as well as resort guests. On the land side, the resort’s popular beach volleyball court is conveniently close to the swim-up bar at the pool and the Jamaican jerk restaurant for snacks between sets.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Speaking of food, the resort’s nine restaurants run the gamut from simple to fancy: the chicken and traditional fried “festivals” at the waterfront Jerk Shack go down easy with a Red Stripe or rum punch, the Japanese entrees, sushi and sashimi at Sushi on the Shore are quite good, and both Schooners and Neptunes have lovely outdoor seating near the ocean. For breakfast, midday snacks, or late-night munchies, the universal favorite among guests is Cafe de Paris, which serves up pastries, coffee, gelato, and — best of all — made-to-order crepes.
If they’re like most Sandals South Coast guests, clients will inevitably make their way to the Latitudes overwater bar for sunset cocktails — the round bar set well off the shore is a popular pre-dinner gathering and meeting place set between the overwater villas and the resort wedding chapel, similarly situated at the end of a long dock. As dusk settles, you’re likely to see butlers arranging private candlelight dinners on the beach for couples, who may be seen later at the piano bar, the hot tub … or not at all.