A getaway doesn’t have to be a whole week to be great. Sometimes planning a four or five-day getaway can be refreshing and easier to fit into a busy schedule! That is, of course, if you’re heading to a location that allows for a direct flight and your resort is a short ride from the airport. Luckily, many options fit the bill.
Back in November, I made such plans and visited Nassau, Bahamas, which was fantastic! I booked three nights at the recently renovated Sandals Royal Bahamian to check out the upgraded resort and offshore island. The quick flight from Toronto to Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau was three hours, gate-to-gate, to be exact. We essentially left Toronto at breakfast and arrived in the Bahamas for lunch!
I’ve never seen water so crystal clear as in the Bahamas – and when you’re flying in, it’s an incredible sight. The airport is lovely and easy to maneuver – once you clear customs, you head straight for the Sandals lounge, where they’ll escort you to your complimentary transfer. A short 15-minute ride later, you’re at Royal Bahamian’s gates. It’s located along a commercial stretch, overlooking the ocean on the island’s north end. You’ll be in awe of the luxe feel when you pull up to the stunning Sandals namesake water feature.
The property had been renovated during the COVID-19 pandemic… What a time to do it! Sandals 2.0 is shining through with its modern amenities and elevated food options.
What does that mean exactly? Food trucks, new upscale dining concepts and décor that features pastel tones of pink and turquoise. The property was very Instagramable (#IYKYK) and there were many “royal” touches.
The resort is sectioned into three areas: East Bay, West Bay and the Royal Village (a charming cluster of two-story stand-alone villas). With various suites – from swim-ups to penthouses – there is something for every preference.
The rooms were very simple – probably the most simple of any Sandals that I’ve been to. For me, it didn’t bother me as we rarely spend time there. I did appreciate the layout of my particular room though, with a spacious bedroom area, bathroom and bar area.
Connect with Pink Palm Travel if you’re considering booking at this resort, as you’ll want insight on your room booking (Want a quiet spot? A lively area? An ocean view or oceanfront?). It’s not a large resort; it has a small footprint for Sandals but has many high-end dining options.
Food & Drink
My husband and I found the food spectacular – one of the best Sandals Resorts we’ve had the pleasure to dine at. The 10 dining options on the resort are always included. You can choose from French, Mediterranean, Italian, Pan-Caribbean, teppanyaki, seafood, sushi, pub fare, and food trucks – it’s all delicious.
Our favourite was Butch’s Island Chop House. We both agreed that our steaks were the best we’d had at a restaurant. Tesoro’s, the Italian restaurant, had the best antipasto bar we’ve ever tried.
We loved to stop by the Piano Bar every night before dinner. Philip, the bartender, was a highlight! His specialty was espresso and chocolate martinis…it was hard to stop at just one!
Sandals Royal Bahamian has a variety of day and night entertainment that caters to a younger audience. Music was primarily top 40; the all-new Coconut Grove beachfront area was incredible for nighttime entertainment, and the bar was divine! When you go – try the Dragon in a Coconut, a refreshing fruity drink with rum.
Be sure to check out the fantastic offshore island. Boat shuttles to the island (which features its own restaurant, pool, swim-up bar, multiple beaches and a spa) begin at 10 a.m. sharp—being the first on the shuttle pays off so you can grab a cabana (all included) for the day. The watersports team will also accommodate you on the island – so if you feel like jet skiing or any other water sports – it’s all included!
Back at the main resort, there are many lovely places to connect… think hot tubs, swim-up bars and intimate fireplaces. The resort’s Signature Red Lane Spa was small but private. For a Sandals Resort, you can expect a more active nightlife – there’s even a mini dance club – Dancing Queen!
Looking for a Sandals or Beaches package including flights? ACV is offering sizzling instant savings at select Sandals and Beaches Resorts. Book any one of these four resorts now through December 4, 2022 (with a five-night minimum stay in ANY room category), and you can save up to an incredible $1,300 CAD per room! 🇨🇼 Sandals Royal Curaçao – Instant Savings: $250 CAD per room 🇧🇧 Sandals Barbados – Instant Savings: $450 CAD per room 🇹🇨 Beaches Turks & Caicos – Instant Savings: $750 CAD per room 🇧🇸 Sandals Emerald Bay – Instant Savings: $1,300 CAD per room Valid for travel between December 1, 2022, to April 30, 2023. Celebrity Cruises
Want to set sail and tour the Caribbean or Mediterranean on a luxurious cruise ship? Check out Celebrity Cruises’ Black Friday deals now – Take 75 per cent off the second guest; save up to $800 per stateroom; and get up to $800 onboard credit per stateroom. Valid on select sailings from December 2022 to April 2025.
Playa Hotels & Resorts
Playa’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale is on! Find deals on Hyatt Ziva, Hyatt Zilara, Sanctuary Cap Cana, Hilton and more. For a limited time only, take advantage of exclusive savings of up to 25 per cent off these adults-only and all-ages all-inclusive resorts. Book by November 30, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. and travel until December 17, 2023.
The all-new 260-room Sandals Dunn’s River is open for bookings! The resort is undergoing a thoughtful, top-to-bottom restoration – designed to embrace the essence of Jamaica, its curving rivers, lush forests, and majestic banyan trees – with amenities, accommodations and culinary concepts brought forward by the brand’s uncompromising quest for innovation.
Accommodation Highlights: Taking Luxury to New Heights
A first look into the expanded suite concepts reveals the addition of brand new Tufa SkyPool Butler Suites, which will feature glass panels spanning the length of oceanfront balconies, for a cascading infinity effect clear to the Caribbean Sea. At the Coyaba Swim-Up Rondoval Butler Suites with Private Pools, Sandals’ iconic, standalone villas are reimagined with vast open-air rooftops featuring private soaking tubs, sun-lounging areas and privileged views of the surrounding flora. Luxurious Mammee Bay Beachfront Butler Suites® will be equipped with spacious balconies directly overlooking the ocean waters, with gold fixtures and green accents speckled throughout the resort’s various unique accommodations for a nature-meets-luxury effect that immerses guests in the setting’s unequivocal beauty.
More on the Menu
Culinary offerings at Sandals Dunn’s River will now include 12 Global Gourmet™ restaurants – with ten concepts entirely new to Sandals. Infused with the classic cooking techniques found in the finest establishments in France, L’Amande will serve an exquisite mélange of French delicacy and Jamaican fare in a chic setting. A Greek concept, Edessa, is where the Caribbean and Aegean seas will meet, elegantly named for the ancient city of abundant waters. From Thailand to Japan, the Asian-fusion menu at Banyu will offer a blend of cultures all in a single dish. Beloved staples, old and new, will satisfy cravings and please palates – from the Central and South American flavors at Zuka, debuted first at Sandals Royal Curaçao, to the rustic yet soulful Jerk Shack and its traditional sweet and peppery delights.
High spirits will long live at nine bars, each with a distinct identity – including the hip and sophisticated Dunn’s Rum Club, where the island’s signature libation will be shaken and stirred into authentic Jamaican craft cocktails expertly mixed with locally-sourced ingredients like coconut and sorrel-smoked rum. A first-of-its-kind experience, guests will enjoy an expertly curated list of smooth rums while trying their hand at a game of Jamaican-rules dominoes, where the best out of six wins. The Laughing Waters beach bar will offer bed-style seating for a truly effervescent experience right on the sand, with a jovial name and sparkling champagne cocktails to match. A ‘Sandals First’ in Jamaica, the rooftop bar, Ocarina, will pair spirits with the gentle sea breeze, while the chic Lapidus Lounge pays homage to renowned architect Morris Lapidus who designed the resort when it was first built as the Arawak Hotel in the 1950s.
Inspired by Jamaica’s quintessential Blue Mountains, where the beans are harvested and roasted exclusively for the resort, guests can experience a fresh cup of pour-over coffee at BLŪM café, along with Japanese-style and nitro cold brew best enjoyed with island inspired treats.
Where the Fresh Water Flows
Cascading waters collected from the depths of the Dunn’s River Falls will greet guests upon arrival, with all water features sourced from the natural reserves of the rivers throughout the resort. Jamaica’s largest pool – designed to mimic the flow of the river – makes its way back into the Sandals Resorts fold. Featuring a glass panel edge, the pool will be brilliantly leveled to the sand for a water-meets-sand-meets-ocean effect, and is one of five refreshing pools from where to bask under the warm Jamaican sun.
The Red Lane® Spa at Sandals Dunn’s River will debut as one of the most luxurious for the brand, speaking to the heart of Jamaica, the land of wood and water, with the sound of flowing water from Dunn’s River and Roaring Waters River cascading into the spa’s pools against an ethereal backdrop that is ever present.
Moments away, at one of Jamaica’s natural wonders – the honored Dunn’s River Falls – guests will absorb the natural abundance of the Earth and experience a place where love flows naturally, forming natural connections and bringing the Sandals Dunn’s River experience full circle.
Sandals® Resorts offers two people in love the most romantic, Luxury Included® vacation experience in the Caribbean. With 16 – and soon to be 17 – stunning beachfront settings in Jamaica, Antigua, Saint Lucia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, and Curaçao, Sandals Resorts offers more quality inclusions than any other resort company on the planet. Signature Love Nest Butler Suites® for the ultimate in privacy and service; butlers trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers; the Red Lane Spa®; 5-Star Global Gourmet™ dining, ensuring top-shelf liquor, premium wines, and gourmet specialty restaurants; Aqua Centers with expert PADI® certification and training; fast Wi-Fi from beach to bedroom; and Sandals Customizable Weddings are all Sandals Resorts exclusives. Sandals Resorts is part of family-owned Sandals Resorts International (SRI), founded by the late Gordon “Butch” Stewart, which includes Beaches Resorts and is the Caribbean’s leading all-inclusive resort company. For more information about the Sandals Resorts Luxury Included® difference, visit http://www.sandals.com.
Book with Pink Palm Travel
Connect with Pink Palm Travel to book your dream getaway to Sandals Dunn’s River!
Looking for a family vacation that satisfies mom, dad, grandparents and the kids?
A stay at Beaches Negril is sure to fulfill the “want list” that each family member has for an enjoyable, safe and relaxing vacation.
The resort is about 90 minutes from Sangster International Airport (MBJ). Our family of six headed there in late September for a full week. Although it was a lengthy ride, the kids loved seeing the mountains, greenery and lively colours of Jamaica. It was a great way to build anticipation! We even stopped by for a quick photo opportunity as we entered Negril.
Just as everyone started getting a little restless, we saw the Beaches Negril sign and cheers erupted among the kids. We couldn’t wait for our driver (Blake from the amazing Thompson Tours and Transfers) to stop under the grand porte-cochère where staff were waiting for us with smiles and cold towels. Our check-in process was smooth and in no time at all, we were heading to our gorgeous room—a Tropical Beachfront One-Bedroom Walkout Grand Concierge Family Suite (W1BG).
Perfect for larger, multi-generational families
The room was located on the ground floor of the Savannah building, just steps from the main pool, a playground and the waterpark. In fact, it was probably in the most central area of the resort (room 406/407 if you want to request it!).
These ocean-view sanctuaries consist of one bedroom with two pull-out sofas, a trundle bed and two marble bathrooms with a bathtub/shower combination. The mahogany-furnished primary bedroom is complete with a flat-screen TV, a king-size bed and large closets. Each suite also includes a spacious living room with French doors leading out to a private walkout patio. What I loved is the mini kitchenette that was available in both the primary and living areas—it was so convenient to have a microwave in addition to a mini fridge stocked with complementary water, juices, wine and local beer.
This room category enjoys exclusive Concierge Lounge check-in and a dedicated concierge available to handle any special requests and reservations, such as spa appointments or dinner reservations. The room itself was beautiful, modern and spacious. For the six of us, it was perfect—especially because of the second bathroom. You don’t realize how much you appreciate it until you’re in the moment!
I’m confident that any room choice at Beaches Negril would be a satisfying choice as all 185 rooms at the resort have been recently renovated. There are also a number of enhancements taking place on the property which will make for a great guest experience when they’re all finished.
Enhancements are coming to Beaches Negril
To start, the resort is working on oceanfront butler townhomes with private pools—talk about luxury! The beach in Negril is the best in Jamaica, and this new room category will be the most coveted when it’s available to book. In addition to the development of these new townhomes on either end of the resort, plans are in place for the construction of a brand new infinity pool, bowling alley, new Kids Club sections and food truck alley. Along with these new features in the next three years, the resort’s existing pools and common areas will see a refresh. How exciting!
Food options at Beaches Negril are varied with very few requiring reservations. My personal favourite? Stewfish. This barefoot-in-the-sand-style restaurant was incredible for both breakfast and dinner. And, it was the location to take in some of the most beautiful sunsets that I’ve ever seen. The Mill—the resort’s buffet option—offered great variety and was a daily staple for us. We just found it so easy to satisfy every member of the family. Another favourite—and you can find it at Sandals as well—Dino’s Pizzeria. Who knew the Caribbean would have some of the best pizza I’ve ever tasted?
The star of this resort? The beach!
The natural beauty of the area is one of the strongest assets of this resort. In fact, the beach is one of the most gorgeous I’ve been to in Jamaica and one of the best maintained on Seven Mile Beach. We saw so much wildlife and sea life within the week—from starfish to turtles, geckos to cranes—it was incredible.
We booked a cabana on our last day—complete with a butler—and it was a great way to enjoy the resort in a whole new way!
Does the beach look like it does in ads? YES! That was one of the resort’s biggest assets in my opinion—aside from the incredible staff. My husband and I actually walked up the beach to Sandals Negril (adults have exchange privileges here). It’s about 2.5 kilometres each way.
The staff shine at Beaches Resorts
The kids (ages 8, 12 and 14) absolutely loved the resort and are already asking to go back. Entertainment staff (like Kevaughn and Shynnae) went over and above their roles to engage all of my kids. With the Kids Club, Xbox Play lounge, unlimited watersports and a YoYo’s frozen yogurt shop, there was enough to keep my always-active kids busy for a full seven days. Not only that, but the staff memorized all of our names within moments of meeting us. They made so many of the week’s scheduled events a great time—like the Beach Party, Silent Disco, Returning Guests Cocktail Party and Sesame Street Parade! Further to that, nightly themed shows provided entertainment for the whole family.
Little did we know that our kids would make friends with the other kids there! It was so wonderful to feel secure and comfortable with the kids at a resort of this size.
Other amenities included a lovely full-service spa. I had a CBD massage with hot salt stones… It was the best I have ever had. Ask for Paula!
There’s only one resort gift shop, but it’s full of necessities like Benadryl, band-aids and sunscreen and also has a great variety of sundresses, beach balls and souvenirs.
In addition to the beautiful beach is a fabulous Pirates Island Waterpark. With two slides, a lazy river and some great areas for wee ones. Beyond that, you have access to unlimited watersports like snorkelling, scuba, kayaking and paddle boarding—and it’s all included!
If you’re a fitness buff, the gym will not disappoint. The amenities are definitely part of the allure of this resort for adults and kids alike.
Final thoughts on our trip
Would we return again? YES! When I asked my three girls if we should try out Beaches Turks and Caicos next, they said, “Mom, why change a good thing?!”
Connect with Pink Palm Travel to book now. For a limited time, service fees are waived for all Sandals and Beaches bookings.
Want to extend that carefree summer feeling but worried about the current travel landscape?
The travel industry has seen a booking boom this year, with demand quickly outpacing inventory. It’s no secret that these days even a quick getaway requires a fair bit of planning and a lot of patience. The good news? You can travel and have a great time doing it—here are some tips and tricks to help you make your next getaway a breeze.
Check your passport before you book
You’ve likely heard on the news that there are significant delays with passport processing. Even I’ve been affected by this, so I know how stressful it can be!
When planning a trip—before you even start looking at destinations, you should check your passport’s expiry date. This will not only relieve anxiety leading up to your getaway, but you can rest knowing your passport is in a safe place and you’re not searching for it the night before you depart for paradise.
Travel tip: You should always ensure that your passport expires long after your planned return date—ideally, no shorter than six months of your planned travel.
Pack light like a pro with a carry-on
Save on checked baggage fees, skip the baggage carousel line and no stress about lost luggage!
I’ve challenged myself to pack only carry-on for all trips since travel picked up again. Packing light will save you time in the airport (just think—no baggage drop-off or pick-up!) and give you peace of mind, knowing you have everything physically with you.
Travel tip: Wear your bulkiest clothing on the flight (running shoes, a light sweater, etc.) and pack a solid-coloured clothing capsule to make the most of your wardrobe in destination.
Use an airport fast-track service
Save time and feel like a VIP with airport fast-track services. For example, if you’re heading to Jamaica, consider a service like Club Mobay. With their arrival and departure service bundle at a price point of about $100 per person, you can be personally escorted through private lines at security and customs and end up in an exclusive lounge sipping on a rum punch before you know it.
I’ll be honest—before using Club Mobay, I wasn’t sold on it…and then I tried it. I loved bypassing the massive line at immigration upon arrival, and I appreciated being able to make the most of every moment before returning to Canada in their all-inclusive departure lounge, complete with Red Stripe and beef patties.
Travel tip: Book this service early—it often sells out months in advance.
Pre-arrange private transportation from the airport
Another great way to save some time and get to your destination faster? Booking private transportation to and from your accommodations. While many travel operators will include transfers as part of your package, the thought of being crammed on a bus full of people is not always appealing. By booking a private transfer, you can say buh-bye! to waiting around and get to your resort faster—and often beat the rush at the check-in desk.
Travel tip: The best way to find reputable private transportation is through referrals—ask family, friends or a travel advisor.
Use tech to your advantage
While it’s great to disconnect from our smartphones, they provide some valuable tools while travelling. Aside from staying connected to our family and friends back home, it’s helpful to store boarding passes in our Apple Wallets or check-in online via the resort app we just downloaded.
You don’t have to let technology interrupt your need for downtime—use it to make the most of your plans.
Travel tip: Before you leave for your vacation, download your airline and resort app and, of course, the ArriveCAN app.
Give yourself extra time—and patience
There’s no doubt that we see more delays and cancellations than ever. That’s why planning and building buffer time into your schedule is essential.
For example—when clients are heading out on a cruise, I always advise them to fly out earlier than needed—an extra day or two can be a trip-saver when it comes to flight delays. And, if you’re relying on connecting flights, schedule longer transition times—a couple of hours at least.
Travel tip: Where possible, you should book the first scheduled flight in the morning.
Protect your trip
Travel is an investment. It’s always wise to purchase trip insurance if you have a lot of money invested in your getaway.
In addition to trip cancellation and interruption, most travel insurance plans include coverage for trip delay, missed connection, lost or delayed baggage, medical expenses, and more. Not only that, but 24-hour assistance services can be included to help the traveller with emergency medical assistance, lost baggage tracking, emergency cash transfer, emergency or last-minute travel arrangements, and assistance with replacing lost travel documents.
Travel tip: If you’re a frequent traveller, consider multi-trip insurance plans for the best value.