If you’re planning a honeymoon in the Caribbean and want an all-inclusive stay, chances are you’re deciding between Couples Resorts vs Sandals Resorts.
Both resort chains offer adults-only, luxurious accommodations on stunning beaches. They provide top-notch inclusions, delicious dining options, and excellent service. However, Sandals and Couples are not part of the same company and offer different experiences.
Keep reading to find out which resort is best for you!
Sandals Resorts: A Speedy Summary
Founded in 1981, Sandals Resorts International is the parent company of Sandals, which offers 17 “Caribbean resorts made for love” with a focus on luxury, unbeatable inclusions, breathtaking views, and prime beach settings. Sandals has resorts in the following locations:
- Jamaica – Sandals Royal Plantation (Ocho Rios), Sandals Dunn’s River (Ocho Rios), Sandals Negril (Negril), Sandals South Coast (Whitehouse), Sandals Ochi (Ocho Rios), Sandals Royal Caribbean (Montego Bay), and Sandals Montego Bay (Montego Bay)
- Bahamas – Sandals Royal Bahamian (Nassau) and Sandals Emerald Bay (Great Exuma)
- Curaçao – Sandals Royal Curaçao (Santa Barbara)
- Barbados – Sandals Royal Barbados (St. Lawrence Gap) and Sandals Barbados (St. Lawrence Gap)
- Grenada – Sandals Grenada (St. George’s)
- Antigua – Sandals Grande Antigua (St. John’s)
- Saint Lucia – Sandals Grande St. Lucian (Gros-Islet), Sandals Regency La Toc (Castries) and Sandals Halcyon Beach (Castries)
Couples Resorts: A Quick Summary
Abe Issa, the founder of Couples Resorts, opened his first Couples resort in 1978 and the business is now run by his son and family. Couples resorts generally feel more intimate than Sandals resorts, and bill themselves as boutique luxury resorts with an emphasis on “spectacular natural settings and first-rate amenities“. There are only 4 Couples resorts, all of which are located in Jamaica.
- Jamaica – Couples Tower Isle (Ocho Rios), Couples Sans Souci (Ocho Rios), Couples Negril (Negril) and Couples Swept Away (Negril)
Sandals vs. Couples: Guests
People often ask, “is Sandals only for honeymooners?” or “is Sandals only for older couples?” The answer is no and no. Overall, Sandals guests tend to be between 30 and 50 and include couples celebrating anniversaries, engagements, honeymoons or just taking a vacation. Families with adult children and entire wedding parties also stay at Sandals because of the multiple booking promotions and tropical wedding packages. However, different resorts attract a different demographic.
As the name would imply, Couples resorts cater specifically to couples with less of a focus on families or multiple couples vacationing together. The age demographic of guests ranges between the late 20s and 60s.
Sandals casts a wider net in terms of which guests they’re trying to appeal to. For example, if you are seeking an exciting, social atmosphere with lots of entertainment and the chance to mingle with other guests, look no further than Sandals Ochi. However, if you’re craving peace and seclusion, Sandals Royal Plantation, or even a suite in the Caribbean Rivera section of Sandals Ochi, is a better choice.
In comparison, Couples has a more specific demographic: couples who want to relax in a peaceful setting away from the crowds. Couples also attracts more health and wellness-minded guests.
Sandals vs. Couples: Atmosphere
As a generalization, Sandals resorts feel upscale and more splurge-worthy luxurious, whereas Couples resorts feel casual and intimate. Both provide a relaxed atmosphere with a taste of laidback luxury and personalized details.
Because there are so many Sandals resorts it’s difficult to pick one set of adjectives to describe them all so we’ve created a “best of” ranking to help you.
- Most intimate Sandals resort: Sandals Royal Plantation
- Most extravagant Sandals resort: Sandals Royal Caribbean
- Sandals resort with the best food: Sandals Grande Antigua
- Most social, exciting Sandals resort: Sandals Montego Bay
- Most romantic Sandals resort: Sandals South Coast
We’ve also created a “best of” ranking for Couple resorts to give you an idea of what to expect on your dream vacation.
- Best Couples resort for wellness: Couples Swept Away
- Most lively, social Couples resort: Couples Negril
- Most romantic Couples resort: Couples Sans Souci
- Most quiet, secluded Couples resort: Couples Sans Souci
- Couples resort with the best food: Couples Tower Isle
Sandals vs. Couples: Rooms, Suites and Villas
Both Sandals and Couples private accommodations that are romantic, comfortable, and designed for a stress-free experience. However, Sandals resorts have more accommodation options, ranging from affordable to once-in-a-lifetime splurges and the rooms tend to be more luxurious.
The recently introduced Sandals Millionaire Suites and Villas are a hit, featuring high-end amenities, private pools, soaking tubs, private butler service, and spectacular views. The swim-up suites, Skypool suites (they’re located on higher levels so it really feels like the infinity pool is in the sky), beachfront rondoval suites (circular villas that often come with private plunge pools or direct lagoon pool access), beachfront suites and oceanview penthouses are also popular choices.
Couples resorts don’t offer overwater bungalows, but these room types can be found at the following Sandals resorts: Sandals Grande St. Lucian, Sandals South Coast, and Sandals Royal Caribbean.
Couples resorts usually have under 8 room types that include garden verandah suites, sea view verandah suites, deluxe ocean suites, and premiere beachfront suites (these are the best rooms in the house). The rooms are secluded and offer plenty of space to relax, but are generally smaller than Sandals suites.
In terms of design, some Sandals rooms have a colonial-era look with opulent upholstery, marble countertops, and plush furniture, while others are contemporary or shabby-chic beachy. On the other hand, some Couples suites feature tropical décor with floral motifs, while others offer modern interiors with white walls, blue accents, and blonde wood details.
In our opinion, the entry-level suites at Couples (the garden suites) are nicer than the entry-level rooms at Sandals. However, the midrange and splurge-worthy rooms at Sandals are better.
Sandals vs. Couples: Activities and Inclusions
Both Sandals and Couples offer a variety of complimentary daily activities and inclusions guaranteed to keep you entertained and relaxed; however, Sandals has a wider selection. Also, both all-inclusive resort chains offer roundtrip airport transfers, a free wedding when you stay 3 nights, and WIFI.
When you book a stay at a Sandals resort, you can enjoy unlimited PADI-certified scuba diving and the chance to explore amazing dive sites. Sandals Grande St. Lucian offers easy access to Anse Chastanet Marine National Park where you can see shipwrecks, healthy coral, and a variety of marine life. You can also enjoy complimentary scuba diving at Couples resorts, but they generally offer fewer dives per day.
Recreation and Excursions
Snorkeling equipment, paddleboards, kayaks, beach volleyball, pool volleyball, day and night tennis, Hobie Cats, squash courts, croquet, table tennis, bocce ball, billiards, and a large fitness center with aerobics classes are available at all Sandals resorts. However, water sports like tubing, waterskiing, and windsurfing are available at select resorts (such as Sandals Grande St. Lucian). All Couples resorts offer windsurfing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, and sailing in addition to most of the recreational options available at Sandals.
Excursions to some of the most beautiful places in Jamaica (such as Dunn’s River Falls or Margaritaville) are included in the cost of staying at Couples Tower Isle and Couples Sans Souci. Guests can also enjoy a complimentary catamaran cruise when they stay at least 3 nights.
Sandals resorts offer tours as an “add-on” experience with an additional cost. Some of the most popular tours include deep-sea fishing, swimming with the famous pigs in the Bahamas, sunset catamaran cruises, horseback riding on the beach, bamboo rafting, and dune buggy off-roading.
Pools and Beaches
Sandals resorts are often referred to as “pool resorts” due to the impressive designs, size, and sheer number of pools at each resort. For example, Sandals Royal Caribbean has 8 swimming pools and 6 whirlpools. You can also find some of the largest pools in the Caribbean, lap pools, free-form lagoon pools, rooftop pools, and elevated infinity-edge plunge pools at other Sandals resorts.
In addition, guests at Sandals Royal Caribbean can enjoy a private offshore island complete with a pool, swim-up bar, private cabanas, and Jacuzzi, while couples at Sandals Ochi can spend the day at Jamaica’s trendiest beach club, Ochi Beach Club.
Sandals and Couples resorts truly have prime locations with easy beach access. However, Couples offers nude bathing at 3 resorts, and Couples Sans Souci has a private nude island complete with a pool and beach bar.
Wellness and Spas
Couples resorts put a greater emphasis on combining wellness and fitness. For example, Couples Swept Away has a 10-acre fitness complex that’s home to 10 tennis courts, racquetball courts, a fully equipped gym, and studios that offer kickboxing classes.
Couples Sans Souci has a mineral grotto pool that’s filled with natural spring water and perfect for relaxing after a workout. Guests can also take part in meditation or yoga classes at no charge.
Both Couples and Sandals have beautiful spa facilities that offer massages, body scrubs, pedicures, and more at an additional cost. You can get a seaside massage in a private cabana or retreat to the Red Lane Spa sanctuary at Sandals.
Couples Tower Isle recently launched “the Caribbean’s first-ever all-inclusive spa experience”, which is available when you stay in the Oasis Spa Villa for 5 nights and allows guests to enjoy unlimited spa services.
All of the Couples resorts offer unlimited golf, including green fees and transfers, while only some Sandals resorts have golf courses (with complimentary green fees, transfers, and group clinics).
Couples Swept Away is the best choice for golf enthusiasts because of its location near Negril Hills Golf Club, a picturesque 18-hole par 72 course with a very challenging 9th hole.
Sandals Emerald Bay is our favorite Sandals golf resort because the Emerald Bay Golf Course is simply stunning. Located directly along the ocean, in Great Exuma, this 18-hole par 72 championship course is considered one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean. However, there are more Sandals destinations with golf in the Caribbean, including St. Lucia and Jamaica.
Sandals vs. Couples: Dining Options
You’re probably seeing a theme here, but Sandals resorts generally have more dining options than Couples resorts. For example, Sandals Montego Bay has 12 restaurants, and guests can also go to Sandals Royal Caribbean and enjoy the 9 restaurants (and resort facilities) there at no additional charge.
At both Sandals and Couples, guests can book a private, candlelit dinner on the beach, in their suite, or by the pool (prices start from $180 at Sandals and $250 at Couples).
Sandals guests can partake in unlimited gourmet dining and unlimited premium liquor, wine, local beer, juices, Blue Mountain Blend coffee, and soft drinks at any of the restaurants and bars. Additionally, all Sandals rooms come with a stocked in-room bar. Here are a few of our favorite Sandals restaurants:
- Butch’s – an upscale eatery serving high-quality steak and seafood at Sandals Montego Bay
- The Jerk Shack – a hidden gem offering Jamaican jerk cuisine in a laidback beach setting (you can find the Jerk Shack at many Sandals resorts including Sandals South Coast)
- Royal Thai – an exotic Thai restaurant on a private island serving bold flavors at Sandals Royal Caribbean
- Vista Sky – serving fresh seafood in a contemporary setting with unbeatable views of the turquoise waters at Sandals Ochi
All Couples guests can enjoy in-room dining (only for breakfast at Couples Negril and Couples Swept Away), while only Club Level and Butler Elite guests can enjoy room service at Sandals. Couples guests also receive unlimited dining and premium cocktails, wine, local beer, and soft drinks at the restaurants and bars. Here are a few restaurants we love:
- Casanova – In an atmosphere of colonial elegance, guests can enjoy international cuisine with fresh, Caribbean ingredients at Couples Sans Souci
- Veggie bar – This casual lunch spot offers healthy salads, sandwiches, delicious smoothies, and fresh juices at Couples Tower Isle
- Beach Grill & Heliconia – Located steps from the sand, this laidback restaurant offers grilled specialties and Mediterranean cuisine at Couples Negril
- The Palms – This open-air establishment offers fresh bread, salads, and grilled seafood by the pool at Sandals Swept Away
Sandals vs. Couples: Entertainment and Nightlife
Sandals resorts are a better choice for couples seeking exciting nightlife, vibrant shows, and more choices, while Couples resorts are better for people who enjoy a more laidback setting.
Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Ochi are particularly popular with couples who love nightlife and an exciting scene. Sandals Ochi has a range of activities specifically catering to honeymooners. However, all Sandals resorts offer beach bonfires, pool parties, karaoke nights, fire shows, live music, and themed nights. Some of the most popular themed nights are Caribbean Night and Reggae Night.
Couples resorts also offer live music, Latin dance classes, themed nights, beach parties, cocktail parties, piano sing-alongs, and at least one form of nightly entertainment. There are also beach bonfires at all the resorts except Couples Tower Isle.
Here are a few examples of our favorite bars at Couples resorts:
- Au Naturel Island Bar – Located on the private, naturalist island at Couples Tower Isle, guests can enjoy a cocktail in the nude
- Balloon Piano Bar – This octagonal-shaped bar is casually elegant and offers nightly live music at Couples Sans Souci
- Martini Bar – Enjoy stunning views of the sunset with a drink in hand at Couples Sans Souci
Here are a few of our favorite bars at Sandals resorts:
- The Rabbit Hole – Serving old-fashioned cocktails in a retro environment, the Caribbean’s first speakeasy can be accessed only with a password at Sandals Ochi
- Latitudes – This overwater bar is the perfect place to watch the sunset in a hammock over the water at Sandals South Coast
- The Sky Lounge – Featuring panoramic views of the resort grounds and Pink Gin Beach, this upscale, rooftop bar is a favorite at Sandals Grenada
Couples Resorts vs Sandals Resorts: The Cost
All-inclusive entry-level rooms at Sandals and Couples are similar in price: starting from $200 to $400 per night per person. All-inclusive midrange rooms at Sandals are slightly more expensive than at Couples. For example, many ocean view rooms in the Club Level room category range between $300 and $600 per person per night, while midlevel rooms at Couples range between $250 and $550 per person per night.
It’s difficult to compare the prices of premiere rooms at the two resort chains because Sandals has so many unique room types that Couples simply doesn’t offer. For example, the Overwater Bungalows at Sandals South Coast start from $1,628 per person per night and the Oceanview Bluff Millionaire Butler Villas with Private Pool Sanctuary at Sandals Regency La Toc start from $1,139 per person per night.