Hali & Mike at Sandals Dunn's River
Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Nov 2003

For this adventure we had the priviledge of travelling with four very good friends. Christine, Paul, Karen, and Dennis joined us for a week of fun and relaxation in the Jamaican sun. Well, it was mostly cloudy, but there was enough sun to get a tan! We had two days that were mostly rainy, and two days that were mostly blazing sun. The other days were a comfortable mix of sun and clouds (with an occasional shower).

The destination was Sandals at Dunn's River in Ocho Rios, and a good time was had by all! Activities for this trip included beach volleyball, sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, water skiing, horse back riding, and hot tubbing! Paul also spent a bit of time fishing, and Karen and Dennis were often found playing Tennis or Golf. The pictures below show some (but definitely not all) of the fun...

To see pictures of our other fun trips you can visit our main vacation page HERE.  Happy trails!   - Mike & Hali

This is the gang at a rest stop on the way from the airport to the resort.
A sepia tone image that Hali snapped from the balcony of our first room.
Hali on the balcony of our first room. This was a nice, quiet, ocean view room.
Mike asking the locals for advice on playing the Pitch & Put course.
Hali, Christine, and Paul paying homage to the local idol. Wood carvings were made from tree stumps throughout the grounds.
Paul, Christine, and Mike getting a feel for the beach during the first day of full-on sun!
Mike and Hali in one of their favorite places -- on the beach!
Dennis and Karen taking a break from the links to enjoy the fine beach weather.
Paul and Christine enjoying the fine day.
One of the pools sported a man made water fall. The cupola above was a nice place to see the sites -- day or night ;-)
Mike, Christine, and Paul getting ready for a beverage or two from the "Tree Bar". This was the main indoor bar.
Dennis and Karen while we're waiting in the Japanese restaurant's dessert area. This was the only restaurant that required reservations.
One of the statues in the main lobby.
Another wood carving -- this one was near the outdoor grill.
Hali striking a pose near one of the hot tubs.
Mike on the dock. The beach area in the background was outside of the resort boundaries, and most people didn't walk out there. Of course, *we* did! Sadly, there was a fair amount of trash along the water line.
Hali on the dock. Here, the resort beach is in the background.
Hali taking a quick break from horse-back riding to swim in one of the mountain river's warm swimming holes.
Hali having a great time riding "Mint Julep".
The view of St John's Bay from one of the rest stops during the mountain horse back ride.
Mike at the helm of one of the resort Hobies.
Hali taking her turn at driving the Hobie. Her water-proof camera housing came in very handy for shots like this!
Paul (AKA "Pablo the fisherman") heading out to test the reef area.
Paul admiring the view from the lifeguard chair.
A slow-flash shot near the waterfall. We forgot the tripod at home, so we had to balance the camera on top of a little plastic table, on top of a lounge chair. It still came out a little blurry...
Hali and Christine comparing black dresses near one of the lobby fountains.
This is the whole gang at the International restaurant. This was the best restaurant at the resort (no reservations required).
Mike getting ready for a little windsurfing.
Hali and Mike hot tubbing. The hot tubs were a perfect temperature, and a frequent late afternoon destination -- especially with the pool bar only a short cold plunge away!
Another hot tub shot...
Hali used the balcony railing outside our room to get this nice night shot using a slow flash.
Paul and Christine at the returning guest's dinner.
Dennis and Karen at the returning guest's dinner.
Hali and Mike on the lobby stairway.
Hali and our adopted son Craig. Craig is not only a semi-professional musician, but also an excellent water skier!
The spa's hot tub and cold plunge. A perfect place if you wanted a little privacy for your late night hot tubbing.
The open-air gym.
Hali enjoying one of our full-sun days. The beach had nice soft sand, and was kept extremely clean by the staff.
A few Sergant-Majors that kept us company during our snorkeling trip.
We're not sure what kind of fish this was. We think maybe an immature snapper?
A friendly little Blueheaded Wrasse.
More Sargent-Majors on parade...
Mike getting ready for his final water ski pull of the trip. Craig is spotting and Snoop is the excellent driver.
The end of the ride and kicking out with a little flair...
A panoramic from the balcony of our second room -- a fine location!

We review the key aspects of the resort on a scale from one to ten -- one being bad, and ten being excellent. The grading is based on what we expect from this resort. Since this is a Sandals resort, our expectations were fairly high...

Rooms: 8.5   The rooms were nice, but a little aged. Ample drawer space, water pressure, and hot water. No fridge -- which is fine for us. We found a special friend in our first room (the kind of friend that can survive a nuclear holocaust). The manager was very accomidating, and showed us a couple of other rooms. We wound up getting a room upgrade for our troubles. The second room had an even better view of the ocean, but still showed it's age. The beds were pretty good, and housekeeping did a good job keeping the place clean.
Water sports/Activities: 9.5   This is tough to rate. They need to spend a few bucks on equipment. The beach volleyball looked like a year-old $2 special that had been run over with a lawn mower and then left outside. However, the beach volleyball court/net was pretty good. The windsurfing equipment was pretty poor quality and selection, but they did *have* windsurfers. The hobies were kinda beat-up, but they did *have* hobies. They even had water skiing on calm days. Free snorkeling and diving are another bonus. The staff was generally great, and Snoop was a great ski boat driver. The checkout system was easy and there were no real time limits on anything. In addition to the staff being great, the high rating here comes from the fact that they did *have* water skiing, and most equipment held together long enough for us to use it.
Bars: 9   Real bananas in the drinks, and good bartenders. We were a little disappointed that they didn't have Baileys. If you checked all 3 bars, you might be able to find Grand Marnier. We kindof expect more from a Sandals resort...
Restaurants: 9.5   Food quality was very good to excellent and service was excellent also. We only did the buffet breakfast and lunch, but we usually did ala carte restaurants for dinner. The International restaurant was the best, with the italian restaurant as the runner-up. The variety of food satisfied everyone in our party -- even the vegitarian.
Grounds: 9   Would be lower without Pitch & Put golf course on grounds -- which was fun. Resort is medium in size. The beach is not especially small, but not large either. Especially when you consider the fact that very few people left the guarded beach of the resort. Beyond the guarded portion of the beach you would be ruthlessly badgered by local sellers of various items.
Overall Service: 10   Or nearly so. The service was everything that you would expect from Sandals.
Reception/Front desk: 9.5   Very helpful people that didn't pass the buck.
Overall: 9.5   A very nice place. The age of the resort is noticeable, but not blatantly so. Great food and beverages, very good activities, and excellent staff. One of the biggest down sides are the people selling things on the beach. Well, they're not allowed on the beach so they stand in the water and call out to people all day long. If you don't have a thick skin, you'll prefer the pool for this reason. Even so, we'd go back again.

November 2003