Sandals Mo’Bay Reimagined: “Where it Began is Where It Continues”

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Sandals Montego Bay was the first all-inclusive resort your Open Jaw correspondent ever saw. The circumstances were unusual as the year was 1988 and Hurricane Gilbert had scored a direct and devastating hit on the island just a few weeks before. A group of travel media were invited to survey the recovery and reassure travellers that Jamaica was ready for the imminent arrival of winter guests.

Things were a little different then – I remember there were bowls of cigarettes you could help yourself to at the bars – but the upscale furnishing of the rooms, a choice of restaurants (who knew?) and the fact that you could drink as much as you wanted of whatever you wanted, was a pretty intoxicating combination. In every sense. 

The friendly, gregarious service from the Jamaican staff was another pleasant revelation. And spending a few hours with the amazingly dynamic Sandals Founder and Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart and his merry band of executives was part MBA course and part rum shop laugh riot.

Seven years before in 1981, Stewart had purchased the Bay Roc in Montego Bay, a rundown hotel next to the airport that would become Sandals Montego Bay. With a concrete vision of revolutionizing Caribbean hospitality, he set out to exceed expectations – a concept that became his marketing modus operandi – and did, creating the first of what is now the best-known all-inclusive resort chain in the world. 

Now, 30 years after my first visit and nearly 40 since it opened -- Sandals Resorts International has reintroduced a “reimagined and renovated” flagship resort Sandals Montego Bay. 

“With this reimagining of Sandals Montego Bay, we have again brought the most innovative concepts in hospitality to the shores of Montego Bay,” says Stewart. “This was the first Sandals resort we opened, and it is with great honour that we reintroduce it to the world as the first in a new generation of luxury hotels, hinged on our infamous core competency: exceeding guests’ expectations.”

Following its recent renovation, Sandals Montego Bay boasts all-new room offerings, a new “living room” lobby area, and a high-tech conference center that hosts up to 300 guests. 

Several new dining options are coming soon to the resort in 2018 – Butch’s Steak and Seafood, a new Jerk Shack, serving authentic Jamaican jerk; and Soy, a sushi restaurant. Couples will also be able to enjoy premium spirits and stunning views at Latitudes, the resort’s new over-the-water bar equipped with cantilevered hammocks and underwater lighting.  

And Sandals Mo’Bay continues to be a destination for two people in love with its new over-the-water chapel also set to be unveiled in 2018, where couples can tie the knot with 360-degree, panoramic water views.

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.

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