Today we are sharing a review of Beaches Ocho Rios family resort in Jamaica.
“Welcome home!” said a smiling man, as he motioned me to take a seat on a chunky leather sofa, where I was offered a choice of Champagne or Signature cocktail.
Elmo (yes, THE Elmo) arrived just after my cocktail. Someone handed me an iPad to tick some boxes, while another member of staff chided me for picking up my own bag. “Put that down!” she scolded, taking my bag from me. “And welcome home!”
Arriving at a Beaches Resort has very little in common with your usual hotel check-in.
Beaches – the family resort owned by the people behind Sandals – doesn’t describe its holidays as “all-inclusive” preferring the term “luxury included”. And they’ve got a point.
Getting to Beaches Ocho Rios
Beaches Ocho Rios is on the Northern coast of Jamaica, a 90-minute drive from Montego Bay airport. To make the trip less arduous, Beaches customers have access to a dedicated airport lounge so you can freshen up and enjoy a drink while you wait for your transfer.
Our flight was with Thomas Cook airlines, and it was a 9-hour flight from London, so I was glad our hosts had splashed out for premium economy seats, with a little more leg room.
We checked in at Beaches Ocho Rios using the resort’s Concierge service, which means you have a central staff contact who is on hand to help with everything from checking in to booking spa appointments, arranging activities and providing advice on local excursions. Your concierge is available on a dedicated number 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Beaches Ocho Rios Accommodation
The buildings around the Ocho Rios resort are white and Mediterranean in style. It creates a lovely, light, open feeling. The various accommodation wings and restaurants are set out around a large, central piazza meaning that although the resort is quite large, it’s easily navigated.
While we visited, the Greek themed rooms were being renovated. They will become a row of beachfront suites each with a private deck that leads directly to the beach. They are spectacular. We also noticed that staff around the resort were busily installing ramps alongside stairs, making the resort more accessible for wheelchair and pushchair users.
Our accommodation felt very spacious. Family rooms are large with living areas and seating separate from the sleeping area. One thoughtful touch – the room balconies are designed to be big enough for everyone in a room to sit out and enjoy the glorious views over the ocean.
Everything was immaculately clean, comfortable and had a feeling of quality about it. Closet space was decent enough, although there’s not LOADS of space for clothes if you’re a big packer…
The Concierge Suite
We stayed in a Concierge suite with 2 double beds, large living area and a balcony with ocean views. Our beds were gorgeously comfortable, and there are a lot of added extras that make these rooms a bit special for families, including:
- A mini bar stocked with all-inclusive Coke, Sprite, Red Stripe beer and a selection of juices (spirits are only added to your fridge on request, in case you want to avoid tempting any teens!) – this is re-stocked daily.
- A microwave, kettle and coffee maker, together with a supply of tea/coffee in every room – great for late-night and early morning drinks.
- Every room at Ocho Rios comes with a plasma TV and X-Box 360 as standard – you can request additional games from the Concierge, along with extra controls. There are plenty of US channels to keep you occupied.
- Rooms with multiple beds and sofa beds, and 1-bedroom suites with a separate bedroom sleeping up to 5 people, plus adjoining rooms for larger groups – great if you’re travelling with family.
- Complimentary robes for adults (kids’ versions will also be supplied in the near future but for now, Flea simply allowed an adult robe to trail after her and insisted on being called Your Highness while wearing it)
- Complimentary full-size toiletries from the on-site spa – perfect when you realise you’ve forgotten any moisturiser. D’oh.
Customer Service with Heart
We arrived tired after the 9-hour flight from London, and Flea just wanted to hit the hay – so I opted to skip dinner and head for our room, while our fellow bloggers checked out the restaurants and entertainment.
We didn’t miss too much though, as our room balcony looked out over the resort towards the sea, giving us a great view of the resort stage and the live Sesame Street show that was running. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Big Bird dancing to reggae.
Within a few minutes, there was a knock on our door.
Beaches Ocho Rios doesn’t offer in-room dining, but our friendly concierge had sent along some still-warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies and a bottle of milk for Flea.
Two minutes later, another knock at the door.
This time, it was a concerned looking man with a restaurant menu for me to choose some dinner to eat in the room – “You must have some dinner, we’re worried about you!” (I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d eaten half the cookies).
What we noticed throughout our stay is that the staff at Beaches Ocho Rios really will go the extra mile to make your stay special. It was so appreciated.
Family Activities & Beach
The morning after arrival, we were invited to an orientation. This was a small group guided tour of the entire resort, allowing you to find your feet quickly and ask any questions you might have (like, “Where can I buy some more bug repellant?”)
Wandering around the resort, we saw a number of Sesame Street characters posing for photos with children (and the odd 41-year-old) and it definitely adds something to the experience. I’m of an age that it’s still quite a thrill to meet Grover.
Ocho Rios is perched on a hillside overlooking a quiet, private cove where pretty white sand and palm trees meet the sparkling blue Caribbean Sea. It’s glorious. And since this is luxury included, there’s even an elevator to take you down to the beach.
You can attend a character breakfast during your stay, and there’s also the option to have Elmo read you a bedtime story and tuck you in. Tragically, I couldn’t persuade Flea that we should do this. Next time, Beaches, next time.
Although you can just relax on the beach for your stay, there are loads of activities to take part in on the resort.
We started out with little sail boats and kayaks, and Flea loved the trampoline that’s in the water just off-shore. There are daily excursions to explore the island. If you want to dive then this is available for kids aged 10+, and if you don’t want to dive, then you can go on a trip to scuba, sit on a glass-bottomed boat, or just sightsee.
Beaches Ocho Rios Review
At every stage during our stay, it felt as though the staff genuinely wanted to make sure we were having the most perfect time possible. I suspect that’s something to do with the company’s primarily American customer base. As a guest at a Beaches Resort, you’ll feel as though nothing is too much trouble for the staff you meet – although this is Jamaica, so don’t necessarily expect everything to do be done particularly quickly!
There’s even a food service manager who knew upon arrival that I had a seafood allergy, and offered to run through every restaurant menu with me to ensure I could find something to eat without any problems. Fortunately my allergy is just of the, “I think I’ll have the fish instead of the squid, thanks” variety, but it is nice to know that allergies are taken seriously. Fellow blogger Helen was at Beaches the same week, travelling with her diabetic daughter, and I know she was similarly impressed with the care that was taken in providing her with special dietary information.
It’s this level of service that I think really makes Beaches feel like somewhere special.
We visited Jamaica as guests of Beaches. Seven nights staying at Beaches Ocho Rios – A Spa, Golf & Waterpark Resort costs from £1,775 per adult and £899 per child. Price includes Luxury Included® (all-inclusive) accommodation in a Caribbean Deluxe Family Sized Room, return economy flights from London and resort transfers. Prices valid at time of writing.