Who said blogging doesn’t amount to anything? Well, I can tell you that blogging not only changed my life by allowing me to pursue a passion of mine, but also let’s you travel the world! Win-win if you ask me. My wife and I got to spend 5 days down in Jamaica for a blogging mastermind retreat. We stayed at Sandals Montego Bay, which was an amazing place with awesome people and even better views. The best part is it was an all-inclusive resort. Yes, that means food and all drinks are included. What a budget happy place if you ask me.
We have never been to an all-inclusive resort before, but we are honestly hooked. I don’t know if we will vacation the “other way” again. While you might find sticker shock when booking an all-inclusive vacation, you have to remember that all things are included in those costs. You don’t have to worry about food, drinks, or entertainment. At Sandals, they even included quite a few awesome water sports as part of your package. Basically, we didn’t have to leave the resort if we didn’t want to and we barely did.
Jamaica is Amazing!
From the moment we stepped off the plane, we were greeted by many locals who were smiling, happy, and there to help you get to where you were going. We didn’t meet one unhappy person the entire time we were there. Since tourism is big part of Montego Bay, they know how to treat people from other countries. I met a couple of people from France, England, Germany, and quite a few others from the US. It’s nice when you get to come from winter in North Carolina to 85 degrees and sunny in Jamaica. It’s a nice way to get away from winter.
We have an account at CIT and they make it really easy to earn good interest and they keep competitive with other banks. You can have an account setup in minutes and customer service is easy to deal with. With a low initial deposit, this is our favorite bank for saving money.
I will give you a word of advice that was given to us when traveling to Jamaica and Montego Bay. You need to get Club Mobay. Seriously, the best thing we could have purchased and it was cheap. Basically, this service greets you getting off the plane, helps you get through customs and security, and helps you with your bags and transportation. They even have a lounge when you arrive if you’re transportation is not ready yet.
When you have Club Mobay, the best part is jumping in a special line for immigration. When we got off the plane, there was about an hour and a half wait to get through immigration. We were placed in the Club Mobay VIP line and got done in less than 10 minutes. It was awesome and well worth the expense. If you’re there during their very busy time, it can save you three hours of standing in line. Who wants to stand at the airport when you can be enjoying the beach with a drink in your hand?
Paying the extra money was so worth it to us and the Club Mobay people really treated us very well.
Sandals Treated Us Right
We worked with a PR agency when booking our trip to Jamaica. Since it was for a blogger retreat, we worked with them and they didn’t disappoint. We were greeted with a private car from the airport, got to enjoy a refreshing beverage while we filled out our stay paperwork, and they took care of our bags to get it to our room. We originally had been booked in some walkout rooms in an older building, but Sandals upgraded us to an ocean view room that was spectacular.
Since this was our first time to Jamaica and our first stay at a Sandals, we can honestly say it was awesome and I’m ready to go back right now. Five days seems like a good amount, but I wished I could have stayed a little longer. The food was good, the service was excellent, and I’m never going to complain about all you can drink beverages. OK, we can also say the little french dessert bar they had there was also really good. If you wanted some ice cream, a cookie, or a pastry, you just went and got it. You didn’t have to worry about paying for it. It’s a little weird at first when you first experience an all-inclusive resort because I was expecting to see prices on the menus. I got used to it pretty quickly, but the first time getting up from the table without paying was strange.
On top of the good food and beverages, they also had a shuttle to take you to their other resort if you wanted to go. It’s called the Sandals Royal Caribbean and it was pretty cool too. We spent a day there just enjoying new views, good food, and their private island. Yes, that Sandals had a private island where you had food, a bar, and nice beaches. They were even building over the water rooms to stay in while we were there. The photos of those are below.
I think as a group we preferred where we were at Montego Bay as it was more open and inviting, but the other resort had it’s charm. You can’t resist having a private island to call your own! It was a little darker when walking in, but that’s because the design influence was much different. Still a very nice resort and a place you could check out if you want to go to Jamaica.
How We Budgeted for Our Stay at Sandals Montego Bay
My wife and I don’t take many vacations. Maybe it’s because of having a toddler and a six-month old, but it’s really probably because of the money. Vacations can be super expensive, especially when you don’t account for everything. Getting there and lodging are one thing, but then you have to account for food, activities, and drinks (if you’re into that sort of thing). What I really liked about Sandals, among other things, is that they were all-inclusive. You knew what you were going to pay before you got there. That’s what so awesome about trying to budget for a trip like this.
We were able to score some cheap flights on JetBlue down and back on American. For some reason the two different airlines was a better deal. For both of us, we got down there for less than $500. We knew that price up front. The price of Sandals was a flat fee with everything included. Yes, we could have ventured off the resort, but we really never had to. If you just wanted to relax (and we did), then all you need is a lounge chair at the beach and you’re set.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=””]Want to go to Jamaica? Get up to 60% off at Sandals Montego Bay[/thrive_text_block]
We were able to save up for the trip before we even left. With all-inclusive, it’s so easy to do. I just created a new savings budget in my credit union bank account and funneled money in there when I had extra. By the time the trip rolled around, it was paid for and we didn’t have to worry about a thing (besides traveling down there).
With all of our other trips, we typically had a hard time budgeting. You don’t know what the cost of food is going to be. You don’t know what activities you’ll want to do and the cost associated. These are unknowns in the budget column and that’s where our vacations usually turn south. While we always enjoy ourselves, we sometimes come back with a lot less money than we left with.
This is why I’m stuck on an all-inclusive traveling lifestyle now. I didn’t know about it before, but I was missing the good stuff. When I don’t have to worry about carrying my wallet with me, I know I’m in for some relaxation and pure enjoyment. Sandals Montego Bay really delivered that and we knew exactly what we were going to spend. You can’t beat a good time with a good budget.
What We Liked and Disliked About Sandals
I don’t think you can have a vacation go 100% smoothly. At least not in our household, but this Jamaica trip was pretty good. I consider the best trip my wife and I have taken thus far. Maybe because it was our first international trip and we were without our kids, but Jamaica was just awesome. I don’t have any other words to describe it. It’s definitely a place I’d got back to many times over.
So, what did we like about Sandals?
- The beautiful views of the ocean.
- The staff was nice, cheerful, and helpful during our entire trip.
- Our rooms were spacious, very clean, and comfortable. Here is a view of our patio from inside the room. Yes, that’s a tub out on the patio.
- It’s all-inclusive.
- There are 9 restaurants, many bars, a great buffet breakfast, and room service. There wasn’t a bad place to eat.
- It’s a short trip from the airport.
- Spending the time there with friends…Holly and Greg from ClubThrifty.com and Lauren and Mark from LaurenGreutman.com (you guys are awesome friends)
I could probably list more, but you get the point. Sandals Montego Bay is a great place to vacation and I would recommend it.
Now, here’s what we didn’t enjoy…
- They were renovating much of the resort since it’s their flagship.
- The workers would start jackhammering at 8am.
- While the short trip from the airport is great, you’re actually right next to the runway. Yes, the planes are loud, but the sound goes away quickly. They also only fly from 8am to 10pm at night. We got used to it pretty quickly.
- There was little to no authentic Jamaican food served. This was a little strange for my wife and I. We really wanted some authentic food and there was none.
You can tell that we were happy with our trip and I think everyone in our group was. It was a great time with friends and spending time with my wife alone for five days was perfect. It gave us a chance to recharge, enjoy some quality time, and just have fun. It didn’t hurt that it was high 80’s and sunny for most of the time!
If you’ve known me for some time or have read this blog before, then you know I will toot the horn of companies who treat us right and blast those who don’t. I’m going to toot Sandals’ horn. They did such an amazing job with our stay. They made it very easy to relax and not worry about a thing. If you’re thinking about a warm getaway, please check out Sandals Montego Bay. You won’t be disappointed!
Here are a few more pictures from our trip to leave you wanting your own Caribbean vacation!