PHOTO: View from one of five new overwater villas at Sandals Royal Caribbean. (Photo by Brian Major)
Five overwater villas recently completed at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica will debut for guests on Dec. 1. This, after years of careful planning and a determination to create what Adam Stewart, CEO of Sandals Resorts International (SRI) called “the future for Caribbean tourism.”
Due to strong demand from clients, SRI has launched construction of another 12 overwater bungalows (slightly smaller than the villas), which will debut in February of 2017. All of the 17 overwater villas and bungalows will be located adjacent to Sandals Royal Caribbean’s popular off-shore resort island, which is open to all guests and features food and fun activities. The overwater suites, however deliver a distinctly different experience.
Guests staying in overwater accommodations are met at Sangster International Airport transferred to the resort via BMW sedans. Upon arrival guests are welcomed by a personal butler and transferred aboard an electric power boat to their villa for the check-in process. Once there they enjoy luxury all-inclusive service, amenities and facilities including 24-hour room service, in-suite Jacuzzi tubs and private balcony decks quipped with infinity pools.
The villas are the first of their kind in the Caribbean and guests are paying a premium for the experience, as rates start at $1,435 per person, per night for the villas that debut December 1 and at $1,229 for the bungalows planned for February 2017. The top-drawer rates haven’t prevented the just-launched suites from being fully booked for the winter season according to Stewart. Here are five more great things about Sandals Royal Caribbean’s overwater bungalow suites:
They look fantastic: Each suite is designed based on a theme of natural elements including wood, fire, water, earth and metal. All feature large full kitchens, large tiled baths, smoothly finished wood floors and contemporary furnishings with inventive accessories, plus large private decks with temperature-controlled infinity pools. The pools are lit at night and two large windows set into the bedroom and living-room floors are also illuminated in the evenings, allowing guests to view passing schools of fish.
The suites are positioned to provide privacy and angled so adjacent bungalows do not provide direct views into the neighbors’ space. Each two-story suite is supported by 18 sturdy pilings, and guests can walk down a staircase from the deck directly into the surf, which is shallow and kept calm by a long offshore reef. As Stewart pointed out, the suites even face the western sky so that guests enjoy fabulous sunsets.
The offer the ultimate in exclusivity: “This is like a little self-contained world over here,” said Stewart. “Guests have facilities for cooking as well as totally customized menus featuring any cuisine they want, around the clock. Everything is self-contained here, so they can do anything they want: go on island for tours or they can be picked up straight from the ocean here and never have to touch land if it’s a catamaran cruise or a water-based tour. We have a fleet of BMW Seven-Series sedans, which will be exclusive. It’s just a whole different vibe, a different level of quality.”
First-rate services: Guests check in via tablet provided by suite butlers after arriving, eliminating the lengthy front-desk reservations process. Room service and transportation to any point are available 24 hours a day via the island’s private fleet of electric-powered speedboats.
Easy access: Sandals Royal Caribbean resort is located within a 10 minutes’ drive of Sangster International Airport, making the transfer to the resort exceptionally efficient. Guests are greeted by name, escorted through an expedited immigration and customs process, and transfer to the resort via BMW sedan. Once there, they take an electric power boat directly to their villa. Guests will be in their suite within 20 minutes of landing in Montego Bay.
“On my honeymoon I flew from Montego Bay to Miami, Miami to London, London to Qatar, Qatar to Mali” said Stewart. “That’s 23 hours to go to an overwater bungalow versus three hours from New York.”
More are on the way: Six overwater bungalows are currently under construction at the Sandals Grande St. Lucian resort and are schedules to open “either by the end of February and early March,” Stewart said. The suites “will be very similar, but they won’t be near a private island, they will be off shore from the main resort,” he said. In addition, “we have plans at three more hotels which we haven’t yet announced.”