Italian Charm with a Caribbean vibe.
Trip Start Jun 01, 1994
2Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Sandals Dunn's River Villagio Golf Resort and Spa
Our trip to Sandals Dunn's River Villaggio in January 2008 was one of my all time favorite vacations. First off let me say, we absolutely love this resort. The service is probably some of the best in the entire Sandals Resort chain. They truly go out of their way to make you feel at home here. As a returning guest, this level of service is something that has been lacking at many of the other Sandals Resorts for a while now. Don't get me wrong the other resorts are great, but it is managers like Louis Grant, who has remained at the wheel, since Sandals opened Dunn's River in 1991, that make all the difference. When you can walk up to the bar, watersports, or even the front desk and the staff remember you after returning several years later, that is why we keep going back to Sandals. The staff here are genuinely happy to work at Dunn's River, and it shows because they stick around, many since the property opened.
On top of that the resort is in top notch shape after a major renovation in 2005, when they actually closed the resort for several months
With the completed renovation came a new theme as well, Italiano. This resort exudes an Italian flair everywhere you look. To cap it all off, they brought in half a dozen staff members from Italy, including chefs, and managers. If you enjoy Italian Sandals Dunn's River is the place to go!
Originally built in 1958 as an Arawak Hotel, the property has a rich history, having changed hands several times. In the 1970's it was transformed by the famed architect Morris Lapidus into the Eden II. In 1990 the property came under the ownership of Sandals, was gutted to the bone, and a new pool was installed, incorporating a replica of the famous Dunn's River Falls. At the time, the pool was the largest in Jamaica.
When we stayed here in 2007, I really got to know several of the watersports staff. Just like other Sandals these guys are some of the friendliest people you will meet in Jamaica. Plain and simple they have a great job and they love it. So coming back in 2008 was such a joy to catch up with old friends. If you like to sail this is a great resort for Hobbie Cats
The best part of the trip for me however, was learning to Dive. Something I have wanted to do for a long time, but had to get over my fear of the water first. I have to say this is one thing that I regret not doing 15 years ago. Scuba Diving opens up a whole new world of adventure, and the staff here make it easy and enjoyable.
The entertainment here is fun, exciting, and relaxed. The playmakers, who always have something going on, and are very fun an energetic but not so pushy, that you feel forced into games when you just want to relax
In keeping with the Italian theme, Sandals has brought in some great evening entertainment including Cuban Dancers and even a Jamacian opera singer named Rorie. I was skeptical at first, but it works and people love him. He's also a good friend, and fellow diver. You won't be able to miss him, big tall guy, with the heart and voice of a pussy cat. Chances are you might see him late at night in the piano bar, if so ask him to sing "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley. If you like Reggae, you'll be happy you did.
So, by now you should know that I'm a big fan of food. Fortunately there is plenty to choose from here. The brick oven Pizza at the Pizzeria Del Campo is to die for. Don't be afraid to try some of the specialty pizzas, they are all great. For something more Caribbean, Jerk pork and chicken are always available at the beach grill.
The only thing I can say I didn't enjoy about this resort was the service at Marco Pollo, the international restaurant
Our favorite by far, has to be El Capitano. Manager & Italian chef, Federico Discalzi has has created a menu that is extraordinary. Probably the best Italian Restaurant in the entire Sandals Chain. You can easily make a meal form the antipasta bar alone. Be sure to try the stuffed Calamari if you enjoy seafood.
The bars and bar staff are all excellent as well. Great service, friendly and highly entertaining.
One last thing. By the time trip has come to an end, you will have most likely already have come to the conclusion, that you don't want to leave. That's always a tough time for us, saying good bye to a lot of new and old friends, and not knowing when or if you'll be back. But if you are lucky enough, and there isn't a managers meeting going on at the time, several of the managers are usually standing by at the bus to see you off. A very nice touch in my opinion, and if you are really lucky, Mr. Grant will step onto the bus himself, express his wishes for a safe return, and sing you a farewell song. I have never experienced anything like that, anywhere that we have traveled. Just another reason why we love Sandals, Love Dunn's River and why we created Sun, Sand & Seas.com to share our experiences with you.