MONTEGO BAY -- "We have a saying that if you stand
still long enough here, you'll probably get painted over," said Carl
Beviere, general manager of Sandals Montego Bay in Jamaica.
While said in jest, there's a kernel of truth to the
statement. After undergoing close to four years of renovations, nearly every
surface across the 26-acre resort -- built in 1981 and the first property
within the Sandals empire -- sports a pristine coat of fresh paint.
Beviere, who has served as the property's general manager
since 2014, showed off the resort's myriad upgrades on a recent media tour,
which offered a firsthand look at the transformations.
A first-hand look at Sandals Montego Bay
Among the more notable changes is the property's expansive,
sun-filled lobby area. Once topped with a leaky, canvas roof, the space now
features a white, vaulted ceiling with skylights as well as open-air ocean
views. Groupings of cozy seats give the lobby a living room ambience, a feeling
enhanced by the many guests curled up on couches or sitting with their feet
propped on coffee tables.
The bright and airy aesthetic extends to the resort's 272
rooms and suites. Guestrooms feature white walls and linens and splashes of
sea-inspired hues; the rooms are also outfitted with updated bathrooms and
sleek, modern furnishings.
"We wanted the rooms to have a bigger, roomier feel,"
Beviere said, adding that the room revamps included a removal of dark, mahogany
The vast majority of accommodations now offer oversized
outdoor tubs on balcony or patio areas, while select premium room categories
also feature the property's first swim-up suite options, offering direct access
to small, heated pools.
Another highlight is the recently completed Latitudes Over
Water Bar, which sits just off a new pier and showcases 360-degree water views.
When lit up in the evenings, the space is particularly warm and inviting, with
fire pits adding to its charm.
Also of note is the resort's new overwater wedding chapel,
which is similarly situated at the end of a long pier. The all-white venue,
which debuted in January as Sandals Montego Bay's second on-site chapel, can
seat up to 40 guests. It can be booked for $750 per hour.
According to the property's wedding manager, Nickalia
Kinkead, the overwater chapel is designed to cater to today's "social
bride," who scours social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram for
wedding inspiration and favors more unique, photogenic spaces.
Meanwhile, among the biggest culinary changes at the
property are the addition of two restaurants: Soy Sushi Bar and the
reservation-only Butch's Steak & Seafood.
Housed within a space formerly occupied by a racquetball
court and generator storage area, Soy is an elegant, high-ceilinged space
anchored by a long marble bar and understated, Asia-inspired decor.
Butch's, meanwhile, offers a more energetic setting, drawing
the eye with bright-red upholstery and large color and black-and-white photographs
of Sandals chairman and founder Gordon "Butch" Stewart and his
Both restaurants promise upscale, full-service dining
experiences, with Soy specializing in fresh sushi and sashimi and Butch's
serving up surf and turf classics such as filet mignon with lobster tail and
pan-seared scallops with beef brisket.
Over a three-night visit, it was clear that the venues were
a hit: Soy was bustling at dinner time and reservations at Butch's were
relatively hard to come by.
The new food and beverage offerings bring Sandals Montego
Bay to a total of 12 restaurants and six bars, with guests at the resort also
welcome to access restaurants, bars and other amenities at nearby sister
properties, Sandals Royal Caribbean and the Sandals Inn, via a free shuttle
As a result of the various upgrades, Beviere said, the
resort has seen a sustained surge in occupancy as well as a high percentage of
repeat guests. Late last month, he reported that occupancy was at nearly 100%;
repeat guests accounted for about 50% of bookings.
"We're getting really good feedback," he said. "And
now you have people who always stay at other hotels in Montego Bay or have
thought about coming to Montego Bay that are giving Sandals Montego Bay another
look. There's definitely been more interest."
But while the major components of the resort's renovation
are now fully up and running, a handful of areas still await updates. They
include a small, poolside piano bar and the Bayside restaurant as well as the
property's Red Lane spa, which still features mahogany furnishings and other
traditional design touches.
Those spaces are slated to begin receiving face-lifts later
this year. Beviere also hinted at the possibility of more accommodations being
built, suggesting that 300 rooms could be the resort's "sweet spot."
"We never stand still here at Sandals Montego Bay,"
Beviere said. "We're always looking and planning for this year, next year
and the year after."