As I start a week filled with vacation planning (both for my clients and myself), I keep thinking about a guest I met during my last stay at Sandals Inn. He hated his honeymoon and I felt so bad for him. Let me share his story.
Bil and I were spending a few nights at Sandals Inn. If you don't know about this unique resort, it's a tiny, boutique hotel of just 52 rooms at the base of the Hip Strip in Montego Bay. There's no swim-up bar, the beach is a sliver across the street (and it's public) and it just doesn't look like the typical Sandals resort. However, if you are looking for a quiet, intimate experience with the most stellar service you have ever received, it's a great choice.
When you stay at Sandals Inn, you can use all the amenities at both Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Royal Caribbean. A free shuttle runs regularly throughout the day. Bil and I were waiting for the shuttle one day to head over to Sandals Royal Caribbean for some paddleboarding (which did not go well, but that's a story for another day). As we were waiting for the shuttle to arrive, Bil struck up a conversation, as he tends to do, with the man next to him. He innocently asked if the man was enjoying his vacation.
The man suddenly became animated. "We're at the wrong resort!" he exclaimed. Thinking Sandals had made some sort of terrible error, Bil asked what went wrong. "This is not what we wanted. We wanted a room on a beautiful beach! We asked if Sandals could fix it," he told us, "and they said they could move us to Sandals Montego Bay but there would be an additional charge! Unbelievable!" The man was furious.
Ever the travel agent spouse, Bil asked who booked this trip for him. "My brother-in-law!" Ah...now things became very clear.
This man was expecting a typical Sandals resort -- stretches of white sand beach, swim-up bars and White Night parties -- and Sandals Inn is anything but. He was on his honeymoon and his new wife was not happy that they had to get on a shuttle just to go to the beach. They had imagined walking out their resort room door and plopping their butts in the sand while a butler brought them cool drinks all day. Not happening at Sandals Inn.
The brother-in-law had clearly hopped on the Sandals website, saw the least expensive option -- which is always Sandals Inn -- and booked it, having no idea what he had just booked. In so doing, he had ruined the couple's honeymoon. Further, they now had a bad taste in their mouths about the Sandals brand when, in reality, Sandals had done nothing wrong. The couple was in the resort that they booked. It was unreasonable for the guest to expect Sandals to move them to a more expensive resort for free when the resort had not made an error.
We sympathized with him and went on to have an interesting day paddleboarding and a fabulous evening at Sandals Inn. You see, people (including us) love Sandals Inn. They have the highest return guest rate of any Sandals property. People love the intimacy. They love the quiet. They love the staff. It's the perfect resort for the right guest.
This, my friends, is why you see me traveling constantly. I spend a lot of my time and a lot of my own money to visit the resorts, take the Adventures by Disney trips, and sail on the different cruise ships. This way, I can confidently match the right destination to the right guest. I know what you are getting so I know you are going to love it.
Yes, you can book your own trip online -- just like this guy's brother-in-law did -- but are you willing to risk spending your vacation time and hard-earned money on a trip you end up hating?
Or, would you rather have input from someone who knows about the destination because she's been there, can get you best pricing available (nope, Priceline and Cheap Caribbean have nothing on me!) and will ensure you have the trip of a lifetime?