Beaches vs Sandals: Which All-Inclusive Resort Should You Book?

Posted In: All-Inclusive, Sandals Resorts

By Randell Suba | Updated on February 9, 2024


Hear us out: Your dream Caribbean getaway shouldn’t be that expensive. If you want to go on a tropical trip that makes financial sense, opting for an all-inclusive destination is the way to go. And when talking about all-inclusive Caribbean resorts, there’s one discussion we need to bring up — where do you go and what do you choose: Beaches vs Sandals?

Sandals‘ 18 resorts are adult-only and made for couples. Beaches‘ 3 resorts are family-friendly resorts. They are both all-inclusive and located in the Caribbean.

Both have gained acclaim for their top-tier locations and equally outstanding service. They’re a paradise in their own right. Either resort you choose, you really can’t go wrong. But if you want to make a more informed decision, you can count on this comprehensive guide. 

In this blog, we’ll give you an in-depth comparison of these popular resorts’ locations, accommodations, amenities, activities, and value for money. Ready to splash your way into the Caribbean? Keep reading!

Why Choose Sandals Resorts

Sandals Resorts

One of the top adults-only brands in the world, Sandals Resorts boasts 18 luxurious properties across the best Caribbean islands. You can find seven of their all-inclusive havens on the ever-enchanting island of Jamaica — the most number among all other Sandals resorts locations.

Since Sandals properties cater to adult guests, they have a generally more intimate setting. It has a more romantic vibe, given that many couples choose them as their setting for a wedding, honeymoon, anniversary, or just a simple romantic getaway. 

However, keep in mind that Sandals isn’t just for couples. It welcomes adults seeking a luxurious escape — away from the hustle and bustle and the kids. So, if you and your friends or fellow adult family members want to soak up the sun in a more sophisticated setting, Sandals is the better choice if you want affordable luxury

And within the Sandals network, you also have a wide choice because each property has its own distinct flavor and ambiance. For instance, if you want a vibrant atmosphere, book your stay at Sandals Montego Bay or Sandals Ochi. If you’re seeking a more relaxed environment, Sandals Royal Caribbean and Sandals Barbados are ideal for you.


Why Choose Beaches Resorts

Beaches Resorts

Do you prefer a family-oriented vacation? Beaches, Sandals’ equally fabulous sister brand, is perfect. However, note that there are significantly fewer Beaches resorts locations; they only have three: Ocho Rios, Negril, and Turks and Caicos

While the Beaches brand has yet to expand, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it has already established itself as a premier destination among families who want to experience the Caribbean. As they welcome guests across broader age ranges, their array of amenities is also wider. You can find features in their properties that appeal to toddlers, kids, and teenagers. We’re talking about Kids Camps, Xbox Play Lounges, nightclubs for teens, and children-friendly activities. While youngsters can dabble in different things, adults like you will also have a wonderful time. For instance, they have adult-only dining hubs on-site where you can enjoy the company of fellow adults while savoring delectable cuisines.

Also, for reference, remember that Jamaican Beaches properties have a generally more toned-town atmosphere than the one in Turks and Caicos. So, no matter your family dynamic, there’s a Beaches property where you can have an unforgettable tropical holiday.


Sandals vs Beaches Comparison

As you learned about Beaches vs Sandals, the former has a family-friendly vibe while the latter is exclusive to adult travelers. 

Whether you’re planning a family holiday or a romantic retreat, understanding the distinct offerings of each resort is key to making your Caribbean adventure one for the books. So, after providing you with some overview, let’s delve deeper into what makes Sandals and Beaches different from each other.

History

First — let’s go back in time a bit and learn the beginnings of both world-class brands. Sandals, ranking among the best all-inclusive Caribbean resorts, was founded in 1981 by Jamaican entrepreneur Gordon “Butch” Stewart. Its first-ever property was in Montego Bay. Over the years, what started as a one-property brand has expanded to include 16 more stellar destinations across the Caribbean. Collectively, the brand caters to the diverse preferences and needs of its adult guests.

About 16 years after Sandals was born, SRI — its parent company — launched Beaches Resorts. In 1997, SRI unveiled the brand to complement the adults-only Sandals. This also offers an all-inclusive experience to families and couples who want a livelier Caribbean experience.

Fast forward to today; both Sandals and Beaches have established reputations in their respective market segments. In the next sections, we’ll closely examine their differences and similarities.

Locations

All-inclusive Caribbean resorts

If you want to escape to a world of tropical luxury, opting for a Sandals or Beaches property is a great choice. When you choose any of these, breathtaking beaches, crystal-clear waters, and sun-kissed skies await you. 

Now, where are these SRI resorts located? 

Adults or couples-only resorts (Sandals)

Sandals Resorts, primarily catering to couples, are synonymous with romantic escapes, offering 18 unique locations across eight Caribbean countries. They are as follows:

  • Sandals Saint Vincent. Located at Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, this resort is the newest Sandals property. It features overwater villas, swim-up suites, 12 dining concepts, and unique experiences in a tropical paradise.
  • Sandals Montego Bay, Jamaica. This is Sandals’ first property located on Jamaica’s largest, exclusive white-sand beach. It boasts an over-the-water collection, including a chapel, a bar, and gazebos. It offers full exchange privileges with Sandals Royal Caribbean/
  • Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort & Private Island, Montego Bay, Jamaica. Dubbed as Jamaica’s most alluring resort, it also boasts an offshore island of its own (the only resort in Jamaica with this feature). It has over-the-water villas and bungalows. It offers full exchange privileges with Sandals Montego Bay.
  • Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa, Jamaica. A true beach lover’s resort, this property is built directly on the shoreline — particularly on the longest stretch of the famous 7-Mile Beach.
  • Sandals South Coast, Whitehouse, Jamaica. Sitting on an idyllic 500-acre nature preserve, this resort is home to Sandals’ first-ever Swim-Up Rondoval™ Suites. It also has over-the-water amenities, including a chapel and bungalows with own private beach cabanas.
  • Sandals Ochi Beach Resort, Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This is Sandals’ largest resort, offering over 500 rooms. It has the only rock climbing wall in the whole Caribbean. It also has over-the-water experiences — which include an above-water restaurant. Additionally, it offers full exchange privileges with Sandals Dunn’s River.
  • Sandals Dunn River, Ocho Rios, Jamaica. One of the newly revamped properties in Sandals’ portfolio, Sandals Dunn’s River takes pride in having Jamaica’s first-ever Skypool Suites and Sandals’ Sky Villa Rondoval™ Suites. It also offers full exchange privileges with Sandals Ochie Beach. 
  • Sandals Royal Plantation, Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This is the only all-butler, all-suite resort among all Sandals properties. It’s a boutique resort with 74 colonial-style suites. It has full exchange privileges with Sandals Ochi.
  • Sandals Emerald Bay Great Exuma, Bahamas, Bahamas. Exquisite sophistication is what waits for you at this Sandals resort. You can find it along a mile-long stretch of powdery sand beaches — one of the best you can find on Exuma. A standout feature is the Caribbean’s largest zero-entry pool.
  • Sandals Regency La Toc Golf Resort & Spa in St. Lucia. Befitting of its nickname, this resort is indeed “the emerald of the Caribbean.” Like all other Sandals resorts in St. Lucia, this offers a Stay-at-1-Play-at-3 program, letting you enjoy the amenities of its sister resorts. 
  • Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort. Occupying its own peninsula, this Sandals property offers postcard-worthy vistas. Apart from access to two more Sandals resorts, it has several over-the-water structures (e.g., chapel, restaurant, bungalows).
  • Sandals Halcyon St. Lucia. Simply enchanting, this tropical paradise has the longest river pool in the Eastern Caribbean. It sits between two other Sandals resorts o the island and has its own over-the-water restaurant.
  • Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa. You’ll find this Sandals property on the Antigua beach with the calmest waters, making it ideal for many watersports. It is the original Sandals resort with the popular Rondoval accommodation (suites-in-the-round, surrounded by gardens and comes with its own private pool).
  • Sandals Grenada Resort & Spa. Located on Pink Gin Beach, this Sandals destination stands out with many innovative amenities, including Skypool Butler Suites and Tranquility Soaking Tubs™ for two.
  • Sandals Barbados Resort & Spa. Home to the island’s longest and largest river pool, Sandals Barbados is situated on Maxwell Beach. It offers full exchange privileges with the nearby Sandals Royal Barbados.
  • Sandals Royal Curacao. This property is situated within 3,000 acres of the beautiful Santa Barbara Estate. Staying here lets you explore the whole island conveniently — it only takes two hours to drive across Curaçao.

Family-friendly resorts (Beaches)

Beaches has three spectacular family-friendly resorts under its belt. You can find them in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos. Note that all these destinations hold an Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC) designation, making it more inclusive for everyone.

  • Beaches Negril, Jamaica. Letting you embrace pure freedom, this is the most intimate among all Beaches properties, offering 197 well-appointed accommodations. It’s located on the widest stretch of the 7-Mile Beach.
  • Beaches Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Sitting on 22 acres of tropical gardens, this Beaches property puts you right beside a beautiful cove beach. It’s the only Beaches resort with golf and clinics for children.
  • Beaches Turks & Caicos. The largest Beaches resort is located on the popular 12-mile beach of Grace Bay. It boasts the most thrilling waterpark in the region: the 45,000-square-foot Pirates Island.

Accommodations

Since Sandals and Beaches cater to various audiences, both brands offer different types of accommodations. Generally speaking, Sandals Resorts has rooms and suites ideal for couples. They specialize in creating romantic and luxurious experiences, offering some of the most opulent options for an elevated stay. These include:

  • Swim-up suites. Love to be near the water? Another option is a swim-up suite if an over-the-water bungalow isn’t available. This suite gives you direct pool access, letting you swim right from your room to the refreshing pool.
  • Rondoval suites. These are round villas designed for adult guests who want a private and all-inclusive vacation experience. Surrounded by a pool, you can enjoy your stay here without needing to leave the suite — unless you choose to.

In contrast, Beaches have more flexibility, accommodating more people per room. Unlike Sandals, Beaches Resorts offer rooms that start with a standard occupancy of four, and can accommodate up to even more than 10 people in villas, making them ideal for larger groups or families. Note that some suites include separate kids’ rooms and personal butler service

If you prefer a more luxurious stay, consider their Together Nest Suites™. Designed for couples and families, this type of accommodation offers top-notch amenities and a butler or concierge service.

Amenities and Activities

Sandals offers a unique experience for its guests. For instance, a number of resorts have an over-the-water chapel that epitomizes a romantic setting for destination weddings. As mentioned previously, there are other over-the-water amenities like bars and restaurants. 

While on land, you can also check out several features. These include a four-lane bowling alley, complemented by a craft beer hall and a cocktail lounge.

On the other hand, Beaches resorts boast more family-oriented amenities and fun-filled activities. For example, they have a Pirates Island Water Park, complete with thrilling water slides and aquatic adventures for children of all ages. Moreover, they have a Kids Camp, which provides a variety of activities, including teen-only catamaran cruises, beach soccer, seashell collecting, and treasure hunts. Keep in mind that certified nannies are available so that parents can have their own quality time.

At Beaches resorts, young guests can also enjoy Caribbean Adventures with Sesame Street®. This unique feature allows children to meet and interact with their favorite Sesame Street characters. Trench Town, another Beaches exclusive, is a vibrant area where kids and teens can enjoy electronic basketball, laser hockey, and a variety of other arcade games. For a modern gaming experience, there’s the Xbox Play Lounges. Meanwhile, Club Liquid offers a safe and exciting dance spot for teenagers.

While each brand has its own offerings, both Sandals and Beaches have one common denominator: prioritizing the creation of exceptional experiences for guests like you. As part of SRI, they boast the largest water sports operation in the Caribbean. With a fleet of over 270 boats, including dive boats, waterskiing (available at select resorts), underwater vision glass bottom boats, and a variety of non-motorized boats, you will have ample opportunity to explore the stunning Caribbean waters in style.

Dining

Sandals and Beaches share several dining concepts. Beaches properties boast a more relaxed and kid-friendly dining atmosphere, offering more menus and more casual dining options that appeal to younger guests. Character dinners with Sesame Street characters are an interesting addition as well.

On the other hand, Sandals resorts focus on a more upscale experience, ideal for romantic dinners and sophisticated palates. While some restaurants are common to both Sandals and Beaches, the latter offers a more exclusive and intimate dining atmosphere. Over-the-water bars and unique dining settings further enhance the ambiance.

Value for Money

Sandals vs Beaches cost comparison

Are you wondering which resort offers better value for money: Beaches vs Sandals? The answer really depends on individual preferences and budget. The good news is that Beaches and Sandals vacation packages are available to offer cost-effective choices.

Generally speaking, Sandals resorts tend to be pricier per person, reflecting their focus on providing a more luxurious experience. With amenities like swim-up suites and overwater bungalows, they cater to those seeking a more exclusive and romantic getaway. However, it’s important to note that affordable options are available, especially in locations like Jamaica, making luxury accessible at different price points.

Comparatively, Beaches Resorts are often more budget-friendly, especially for families or groups. While they also offer a sense of luxury, the focus is on family-oriented amenities and accommodations, which can translate to more cost-effective options for larger groups. And with several Beaches vacation packages to choose from, you’ll enjoy a smoother experience.

Either resort brand you pick, you’ll get the best bang for your buck. After all, they are both distinguished as the World’s Only 5-Star Luxury Included® resorts. Your rate already includes the following:

  • Access to world-class gourmet meals
  • Exclusive accommodations, some with personal butler service
  • Comprehensive amenities and activities
  • Stay at One, Play at More benefit

Also, at an additional cost, you can enhance your experience by rejuvenating at Red Lane® Spas or booking excursion tours. In some resorts, these add-ons are already included in your room rate.


Sandals vs Beaches: Frequently Asked Questions

Still undecided about which resort is more suitable for you? Here’s a roundup of some of the frequently asked questions about these resort brands — plus, the answers to those.

Which has better rooms, Sandals or Beaches?

Both offer a range of options. Sandals is known for luxury rooms like swim-up suites, while Beaches offers everything from large villas to simpler rooms. 

Which is better for weddings?

Sandals Resorts are ideal for couples with their tropical settings and unique over-the-water chapels. They also waive wedding fees for stays of three nights or more, offering an affordable beach wedding experience.

How about for honeymoons?

Sandals Resorts, with their adults-only policy, over-the-water bungalows, and world-class dining, are more suited for a romantic and serene honeymoons.

Who has better restaurants?

Both have a variety of dining options, but Sandals offers more upscale dining experiences and a broader variety of cuisines. Beaches cater well to families with casual dining.

How do Sandals and Beaches resorts compare in price?

Sandals tend to be more expensive due to luxury offerings, but both brands have packages for different budgets. Beaches, being family-oriented, offers a broader range of pricing options.

Which offers more water sports?

Sandals offers a variety of water sports with instruction included. Beaches, with its Pirates Island Water Parks, accommodates more family-friendly water activities.

Which is better for kids’ activities?

Beaches Resorts are better for families, offering a wide range of activities for kids of all ages, certified nannies, and teen clubs. Sandals are an adult-only property. 

Which offers better tours and excursions?

Both resorts offer tours through Island Routes, with no significant difference in the excursions. They provide a variety of land and sea tours suitable for all ages and interests.

So, between Sandals and Beaches Resorts, which is the better choice?

Ultimately, the better choice depends on your travel needs. Sandals is ideal for romantic or adult-only getaways, offering luxury accommodations and dining. Beaches is perfect for families, with a wide range of activities and facilities for children and teenagers. Both offer all-inclusive packages with a variety of activities.

Beaches vs Sandals: Final Words

When talking about Beaches vs Sandals, it’s really challenging to pin down which is better because each has its own pros and cons. As stated, the choice really depends on the type of vacation you want to have. 

If you’re traveling with a loved one and you want a romantic, luxurious retreat, Sandals’ adults-only environments and upscale amenities will tick all the right boxes. If you’re going to the Caribbean together with the whole family, Beaches resorts are more ideal. They are SRI’s family-oriented brand; therefore, they offer a wide array of activities and facilities that cater to all ages, from kids to teens.

Both are part of the Sandals Resorts International group. These resorts guarantee top-notch all-inclusive experiences with diverse activities, dining options, and stunning beachfront locations. Whether you opt for the romance of Sandals or the family-friendly vibe of Beaches, you’re bound to have a memorable Caribbean vacation. All you have to do is choose, book that room, and enjoy. 


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