by Terry Ward
Most Canadians have heard of the Royalton hotel group, known for its escape-winter outposts in warm and sunny destinations like the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico. But for U.S. travelers, the hotel chain’s name recognition is not so strong.
Royalton is part of Blue Diamond Resorts, and its Royal White Sands Montego Bay in Jamaica opened in late 2013 (another Royalton property will open in Negril in 2016).
The first thing to know about this 352-room property, however, is that it is not in Montego Bay, despite the hotel’s misleading name. You will fly into Montego Bay’s International Airport, and then travel by car a good 22 miles (about 35 minutes) east of Montego Bay to reach Royalton White Sands Montego Bay, which is located much closer to the town of Falmouth (just 5miles away). It’s important to know that you aren’t staying in Montego Bay when you book a room at this hotel.
Logistics aside, once you get here, what awaits is a classic Caribbean luxury all-inclusive experience with amenities to appeal to the toddlers, teenagers and adults in your party — and most everyone in between.
Set on a spectacular cove of white sand beach, the contemporary hotel has clean-lined towers, modern rooms, beautiful swimming pools (including one for adults only) and a water park with some exciting slides that will keep the kids entertained all week. Construction is ongoing throughout 2016 at a plot of land next door, where the Royalton Blue Waters is going up with an additional 600-plus rooms due to open by the end of the year. Plan on some construction noise at times, but nothing to overshadow the White Sands experience.
The all-inclusive rates include three meals daily at restaurants that include Japanese Teppanyaki, Italian and a classic steakhouse, as well as all beverages, including alcohol. And non-motorized water sports are also included.
Parents appreciate the chance to enjoy some down time while the kids are in the kids’ camp, available from early ’til late for no additional charge. And there’s nightly entertainment and themed nights that get everyone together for Jamaican-style celebrations and beach parties.
While the modern look of the resort makes you feel you could be anywhere — Miami, Las Vegas, Orlando — guests who want to get off property into the real Jamaica can book tours to see the historic town of Falmouth or visit waterfalls and other attractions.
Most families, however, just hunker down here for most of their vacation — the food is good, the staff are welcoming and there’s always a planned activity or the beautiful beach for passing your time.
Our Editor Loves
- All-inclusive rates
- Complimentary kids' camp
- Water park with slides
- All Inclusive Rates
- Horse Back Riding
- Water Parks
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The property's 352 modern guestrooms are spread between two towers branching off from the main lobby on either side and leading to the beach. All rooms and suites have balconies with either ocean or garden views. All beds are ultra-comfy pillow top "Dreambeds." Coffee making facilities and electronic safes are standard and mini-fridges, in all rooms, are restocked daily with beverages. Luxurious rainhead showers are also standard in all rooms. If you upgrade to the Diamond Club level of rooms, you get amenities like butler service, preferred dinner reservations and access to the Diamond Club beach.
One rollaway or crib can be added to the rooms for no additional charge. Note: None of the rooms cater to those with physical handicaps.
The hotel's entry-level room, on the small side, has a double sofa sleeper bed and your choice of either one king bed, two twin beds, or one full and one twin bed in an open plan. Views are facing away from the ocean, toward the resort property and mountains beyond. This room sleeps either three adults, two adults and two kids or three adults and one child.
Luxury Oceanview Room
These rooms are the exact same as the luxury room, but with ocean views. You can upgrade to Diamond Club services with these rooms.
Family Jacuzzi Oceanview Suites
Larger families should opt for these suites, equipped with a king bed, double sleeper sofa and a set of bunk beds for two kids. The bathroom is large, with a nice Jacuzzi great for bathing a crowd. And the two living areas overlook the ocean and resort. Capacity is either four adults or two adults and four kids. You can upgrade to Diamond Club services with these rooms.
Diamond Club Luxury Jacuzzi Pool View Swim Out Suites
With either one king bed, one full and one twin bed or two double beds, as well as a double sleep-out sofa, the perk in these suites is the swim-out pool accessed from the ground floor terrace. These rooms can sleep four adults or two adults and two children.
Diamond Club Luxury Presidential Swim Out Pool View One Bedroom Suites
You get a good deal of privacy in these suites, with a king bed and a double sofa bed in a separate living area. There's a swim-out pool. These can sleep four adults or two adults and three children.
Diamond Club Honeymoon Jacuzzi Oceanview Suite
You get an indoor Jacuzzi, as well as an outdoor Jacuzzi in these suites, with a king bed and a double sofa sleeper. The terrace overlooks the ocean. It's perfect two adults or two adults and two children.
Diamond Club Honeymoon Jacuzzi Oceanview Swim Out Suite
Get your choice of a swim-out pool or outdoor Jacuzzi in these suites with a king bed and double sleeper sofa. The terrace overlooks the ocean. It's perfect for two adults or two adults and two children.
Diamond Club Chairman's One Bedroom Oceanfront Swim Out Suite
The property's finest accommodations are these two-level beauties -- corner suites with a king bed, a double sofa, an indoor Jacuzzi in the bathroom and a wraparound swim out pool. The terrace overlooks the ocean. These can sleep four adults or two adults and three children.
Luxury rooms can be connected to other luxury rooms to sleep six adults or four adults and four children. Luxury oceanview rooms can also be connected to sleep the same amount of people. Other than those categories, no other Diamond Club rooms or suites can be connected.
by Phil H
Just returned (sadly) from Two fantastic weeks here. First time at a Royalton and it will not be the last. Firstly some shout-outs to exceptional staff who are a credit to your company. Nadine was quite simply superb on the beach treating us as friends and was super professional ably supported by LaShayne. George was the kindest and friendliest person to talk to each day on the beach and completely made us feel like part of the family even if he is a Liverpool fan! Special mention also to Paul and Andre in the Blue Wates lobby bar who gave us exceptional service each and every time. Finally a mention to Janesha who provided truly superb service in the Steak restaurant which completely overshadowed any other service we received in there. Brittania is also wasted as a Sommelier as she should be speaking to as many customers as possible as her manner and likeable personality really positively shines through.
Overall this was a superb holiday, the chilled out atmosphere was really refreshing, the kindness experienced was welcomed and not forced in any way and the hotel itself was well run, clean and perfectly satisfactory. A/C worked well (and was needed)
I have no idea what the negative reviews are about, do not have a second thought about visiting here, they will all make you feel incredibly welcome and we will visit again soon.
by Aaron F
Room was mediocre at best, multiple restaurants closed limiting you to a buffet. Drinks were tasty but lacked alcohol content. Multiple people wondering the beach selling items was uncomfortable.
Enjoyed Nima the scuba diving instructor, Roy, Shemar, and of course Deshae, aka Bones the Contortionist. They were fantastic. Each one did something different for the resort and I'm not sure they'd be in business without them. Those four rocked.
If your kids are water babies, they are covered here between the resort's excellent water park, pools and beautiful cove of a beach where kayaks and Hobie Cats are waiting to be sailed. The hotel's beach is rather small, but it's a beautiful stretch great for wading in the clear blue water or building sandcastles. If you sign out with the guard, you can venture east along the beach, too, off property and along another beautiful and longer beach (expect locals to try to sell you anything and everything along the way). There's a pretty little man-made island on property that you can wade through ankle-dip water to reach, where a few lounge chairs are set up under umbrellas. If you upgrade to the Diamond Club package, you can have access to a beach with fewer people on it and more room to stretch out on daybed-style lounges.
The only land-based sports available onsite are tennis, with rackets and balls provided as part of your all-inclusive rate, and beach volleyball, down on the main beach.
Pools and Water Park
As far as hotel pools go, the long, cool drinks of water at this Royalton are as fine as they come. There are just two pools onsite, but both are so large they never feel overcrowded. One pool -- the one with the swim-up bar, and closest to the ocean -- is for adults only (18 and up). It makes for a nice respite for the splashing of the family pool, located just a short stroll away. Both pools have lifeguards on duty from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In addition to the pools, the hotel has an excellent waterpark onsite, with a great zero-entry swimming area at the base of it where young kids like to splash around. The water park has a splash area for younger kids with four easy and breezy slides ideal for the younger set. Then there are four additional high and twisting slides for older kids (6 and up) that will also give the adults some thrills.
From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on days with calm seas (most of the time here), you can make use of the various water toys available as part of your all-inclusive rates. There are Hobie Cats that can take up to four people cruising in the lagoon, stand up paddleboards for fun exercise and kayaks, too. Shore staff keep a close eye on you as you're adventuring along and are ready to come out with a chase boat for a rescue, if needed. For an additional fee, you can go scuba diving (or get certified!) at the PADI diving facility onsite.
Clubhouse Kids Club
Childcare for kids ages 4 to 12 is included in your all-inclusive rate, with activities planned throughout the day both in an air-conditioned play area and outside by the pools, water park, small playground and beach. The club is open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., then again from 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. You are expected to pick your children up in between for meals. Younger kids really love the scheduled appearances by bunny friends Max & Ruby and Mike the Knight.
Hangout Teens Club
The teens lounge, open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for the 13 and up set, makes up for its small size with a good range of Xbox games, board games and table games. Having their own place to hang out always pleases this group, and there's Wi-Fi and charging stations if they just want to peace out on their own screens, too. Just outside under a sun-shaded area is a small billiards table and a regulation size Ping Pong table.
On arrival, you'll be given an event calendar to see what's planned in the way of entertainment during your stay. Activities throughout the day include contests by the pool, reggae and steel band concerts, fruit cutting demonstrations, cooking classes, beach volleyball competitions, trivia games, water aerobics in the pool in the morning and on beach, a challenge course for kids and much more.
As is the case at many all-inclusives, it's all about eating -- all the time -- at Royalton. And the property's range of restaurants manages to cover most bases when it comes to pleasing everyone in your crew. Reservations are only needed at Zen, the Japanese sushi and teppanyaki bar. The other restaurants are all first come, first served - but having Diamond Club access will get you into them before the crowds (come early, from 6 p.m., if you don't want to wait in line for a table). Highchairs and coloring books are available at all restaurants.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this is the main buffet restaurant and where families do most of their dining. Meals cover the bases with cereals, pancakes, chicken fingers, pasta and burgers for kids, and a great range of gourmet cheeses, fresh salads and seafood and steaks for adults. There's scoop your own ice cream (don't miss rum and raisin -- a Jamaican favorite) and lots of pretty desserts, too.
Open for breakfast from 7 to 10:30 a.m., lunch from 12:30 to 3 p.m. and dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. Most tables are inside, but there are several tables on an outside terrace fronting the water fountains, too.
Zen Japanese Teppanyaki and Sushi Bar
Chefs pour on the theatre at communal teppanyaki tables at this dinner-only restaurant on a floating pagoda in the middle of the resort. Be sure to make reservations as it's very popular. Kids love to watch their food being prepared, and fried rice, tempura and other dishes go down well with everyone. Open from 6 to to 10 p.m. nightly.
Open in the evenings for dinner only, by the beach, this is the spot for woodfired pizza, pastas and delicious grilled meats. Open from 6 to 10 p.m. nightly.
Hunter Steak House
With an elegant Miami-style vibe and circular tables perfect for groups, this steak house in the center of the property has delicious ribeyes, beef tenderloin, sirloin and pork chops in addition to grilled salmon and snapper. There are burgers and chicken dishes for kids. Open from to 6 to 10 p.m.
Score Sports Bar
Catch your favorite team from home play on the big screens at this convivial grill restaurant, open from noon to 2 a.m., with things like chicken wings, burgers and great onion rings on the menu.
Serving lunch only, from 12:30 to 3 p.m., the Jerk Hut opens on the beach to sell delicious smoked chicken and pork. It's a Jamaican specialty -- sweet and spicy at the same time -- that you'll likely get hooked on for an easy beachside lunch.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Wi-Fi, available throughout the property, is included with your all-inclusive rate.
Babysitting services can be requested for $25 per hour.
There is an onsite gym, open 24 hours, with cardio and weight equipment that includes an elliptical, treadmill and more.
The concierge is staffed 24 hours to help you with tour bookings and excursions.
The hotel's excellent spa offers a range of services and has steam rooms and saunas in separate women's and men's dressing rooms, as a well as a communal indoor aqua therapy pool.
The Art of Smart Timing
All activities -- including the water park and swimming pools -- are available and open all year long.
Jamaica is very hot for much of the year, with the summer months particularly sweltering. But sea breezes help keep things comfortable. December to March bring the most pleasing temperatures, but seas can be rough.
The island -- and resort -- blooms into high season from late-December and stays busy and at max capacity through April. The spring break period, in March, is particularly packed.
For the best deals on rates, aim to book in May, June and September.
The nearest airport is Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, located about 35 minutes away from the Royalton (22 miles). The hotel can arrive private transfers for up to four people for $50 one way or $120 roundtrip. It's $20 per additional person.
Consider renting a car at the airport (Hertz, Thrifty, Budget and EuropCar are all represented) if you want to explore beyond the Royalton and don't want to take taxis everywhere. Parking is free in a secured outdoor lot and having your own car can be very useful if you plan to venture off property. (Note that they drive on the left side of the road here).
The hotel can arrange taxis for you to Montego Bay and Falmouth, or private driver services if you wish to explore farther afield in spots like Ocho Rios or Negril.
For Mom and Dad
Make time for the two of you to slip away and experience the Royalton's top notch Royal Spa, a beautiful facility with couples' massages, body wraps and facial treatments. And for something extraordinary just down the street from the Royalton, go for a romantic after-dark boat ride at Glistening Waters Luminous Lagoon Tour and go swimming in a bioluminescent lagoon that glows all around you. Pure magic! There's also a restaurant onsite. And yes, you might want to bring the kids back to see it, too.