Honeymoon Discussions

Sandals vs. Excellence

Hello!! I am getting married in a year and my fiancé and I are trying to book our honeymoon location :) We are stuck between going to Sandals Royal Caribbean in Jamaica and an Excellence resort (Riviera Cancun). We love the modern look of the Excellence resort but we heard that the Sandals resorts are nice too. Please let me know if you have been to/heard anything about these two resorts or possibly different ones (in either Jamaica or Mexico). 

Thank you :) 

Re: Sandals vs. Excellence

  • edited May 2015
    Hard choice as each place is different.  We have not been to either resort but have been to THE Royal  (now Hyatt Zilira) in Cancun twice as well as Sandals Negril once and Sandals Whitehouse twice (both in Jamaica) and are heading to Sandals Mobay next year.  We have also been to Sandals Grande St. Lucian twice and Sandals Antigua once. 

    That being said, Mexico and Jamaica are two totally different places with two different vibes. You need to ask yourselves what is it you are looking for in a honeymoon as well as in a resort. The following would be my standard questions to ask when choosing. However, it appears in your case, you may wind up choosing between two different locations rather than two different resorts.  

    What type of activities do you want?  

    What types of food do you want?

    How many bars? 

    Do you want room service and does it need to be 24 hrs or not?

    Do you want a mini bar in your room?

    What room level basic, club or butler? 

    Do you prefer beach to pool or pool to beach? 

    What does all inclusive mean to each resort, including what activities are included*this is a big one when trying to compare and always read through what all inclusive means as well as what is included with your room level*?

    Will you even use the included activities and/or amenities?

    Keep in mind there is NO tipping at Sandals*except the butlers, spa staff and any excursion drivers/guides as the drivers/guides are not Sandals employees* where as other resorts may allow it and it may be "expected".  I can honestly say that when we go to Sandals as soon as we get to our room the wallets get put away and do not come back out until departure day or if we do an excursion and need to tip the driver and/or tour guide *we spent all of $40 in tips this past trip to Whitehouse*. 

    Please do keep in mind that Sandals Royal Caribbean is close to the airport so you will hear the plane noise.  

    With four Sandals under our belts so far, each has been the same but different. 

     We always book club level and always have some type of water view *best being Whitehouse*. The rooms have all been nice just not modern. Service has always been outstanding *slow though as its Caribbean time*. Food has ranged  from mediocre at best (Antigua) to very good.  Beach is different at each one (we are beach people not pool people). I can say that although the beach is long at Whitehouse and amazingly beautiful off property, it is not very smooth, there is coral getting into the water and the water is not crystal clear (there are slight waves that churn up the water).  However, this still remains our second favorite beach (Grande St. Lucian number 1) out of the four Sandals we have been to so far.

    Lastly or really first and foremost, what is your budget?  

    This should also include things like, flight, baggage fees,trip insurance, do you need a room near the airport the night before you leave, will you need food the night before you leave if staying in hotel room, food and drinks at airport, Misc. monies (tips, excursions, trinkets). I have an excel spreadsheet that I use to do our trip budget. I can tell you that for next years trip to Sandals Mobay with all of the above included and being in an ocean front Club level room the total comes to $5k and that is during in high season. 

    I know that's a lot of info but when comparing resorts, apples should really be compared to apples.  I see all to often people saying how Sandals is so expensive compared to others. However, one must really sit down and compare all aspects of one AI resort brand to another to get a good picture. All in all, it really just comes down to what your personal needs are.  For us, Sandals is great and that is where we will continue to go when doing an AI resort (until we run out of islands where Sandals are that is). 
  • tcnobletcnoble member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    Have you looked at Secrets resorts? For us, a Secrets resort ended up being more affordable. We LOVED Maroma Beach, for what it's worth.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • Thank you for your help! I think the most important thing for our honeymoon is a nice beach/pool, all-inclusive for sure, and some activities such as snorkeling. But mainly we just want to relax and make sure we stay within out budget. Luckily my parents are paying for our airfare so we don't have to worry about that. That is why we are either going to Jamaica or Mexico since Southwest flies to both of those places. Those are definitely some great things to consider and to think about. I heard that the Sandals resort we want to go to has very friendly staff and lots of activities.

    I love the modern feel of the Excellence resort more and I heard the beaches are very nice so I guess I am trying to decide more of WHERE to go (Cancun vs. Jamaica) than anything. But also I have heard great things about Sandals so I guess I am a little nervous going to a less "well known" place such as an Excellence resort although it does have great reviews. I will have to just investigate more! :) 
  • Also, i have heard of the Secrets resorts but I will have to look into the one you mention! :) 
  • edited May 2015
    If you're really wanting a nice beach Royal Caribbean probably won't fit that bill. I have not been there but have seen the pictures. Although nice, it is small but does have a private island (half that island is clothing optional* don't know how you feel about that so I figured I should mention it*). However, you would also have access to Sandals Carlyle and Sandals Mobay (stay at 1 play at 3).

    Excellence is well known just not on as many islands as Sandals nor marketed like Sandals.

    I did look at Excellence (Playa Mujeres) for our last trip to Mexico. We would have chosen it but THE Royal (Hyatt) came in cheaper (no activities though) and at that time, we had to go with the cheaper option. When we go back to MX some day I'm going with Excellence, unless Sandals has a resort in MX by then :)

    I will say as a side note two things:

    1: if you choose Jamaica, do yourself a favor and get Club Mobay http://www.vipattractions.com
    We do arrival and departure but they can be bought as one or the other.

    2: if you choose Sandals and think you will continue to go back to Sandals, sign up for their Sandals Select program (costs nothing). You earn points as well as other ammenities as you go. Currently we are platinum, have almost 40 paid nights which is just over half way to our free week and I've saved between $300-$150 each time we go just by using my points.
  • Excellence Resorts top other resorts IMO - Secrets has nothing on them. I suggest you check out Trip Advisor and the Cancun Forums for more information. 
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