Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica for the first time to experience the Sandals Negril Spa and Beach Resort. After my previous Sandals experience, I was excited to see if Negril would welcome me as warmly as the St Lucian Grande Spa and Beach Resort did a few weeks ago.
For those of us in the LGBTQ community, Jamaica has one of the worst reputations for our people's treatment. The country has not repealed sodomy laws, and same-sex marriage is still banned in their constitution. While some progress has made the country more welcoming, it has been slow to non-existent for much of its independent history.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about My Surprising Experience of Being Gay at Sandals after my trip to St Lucia. I was expecting a very different experience for this trip and was prepared to write a long speech about why Jamaica should be avoided at all costs. I'm happy to report that traveling to a resort in Jamaica is just as relaxing as traveling to a resort in St Lucia (or anywhere else for that matter).
I want to emphasize that the type of vacation I'm referring to is what I affectionally call being in a bubble. This is the type of trip where the outside world drifts away, and all you care to think about is what your next drink is going to be. As of writing this post, I do not recommend rainbow travelers head to Jamaica for backpack-style trips, which require you to be more intertwined with the local culture. Jamaica's tourism board will tell you that the country welcomes all tourists. However, with the possibility of discrimination still very high, I would only suggest staying at a resort with a recognized brand name.
Sandals is that brand. The company was founded 40 years ago and is the largest non-government employer in Jamaica. The company has been laser-focused on providing the best all-inclusive experience that anyone can find. This includes introducing the platinum protocols to ensure every aspect of the resort experience is safe and remains COVID-free. Plus, the brand works to ensure every single one of their guests' safety from the moment they enter the arrival lounge at the airport until they check out and head home.
During my four nights at the Sandals Negril resort, I spoke with multiple servers, bartenders, cooks, and support staff about the experience they provide to LGBTQ couples. Each person I spoke with said the same thing, that once you're at Sandals, they want to make sure you have the best experience possible. Many of them personally knew LGBTQ family members or friends and understood the struggles that they face. Each time, I walked away with the impression that they want social and legal change, but the government is slow to move, which, to be fair, is what we experienced in the US over the last 60 or so years.
The resort works to treat every couple the same, regardless of who they love, with one exception. Not surprisingly, same-sex couples are not able to get married at a Sandals resort.
But Jamaica also does not have the system in place for any civil style ceremonies. This means that same-sex couples cannot do any type of official ceremony with the wedding department.
I always suggest that any couple (Gay or Straight) get legally married in a courthouse at home before they travel for a destination wedding. This helps streamline the process in many cases and helps avoid any legal difficulties that could pop-up down the road with marriages performed in other areas. In the case of same-sex marriage, the wedding department with Sandals would not participate because of the law. Still, the sales department would be more than happy to discuss options for having a party for your group that travels with you to celebrate your wedding.
Like the Sandals resorts in St Lucia, Jamaican resorts are starting to see an increase in LGBTQ couples. Sandals works to ensure that all of their employees provide the same service level to all their guests.
The picture-perfect beaches, unlimited watersports, 5-star global gourmet dining, and every cocktail you can image are great reasons to visit a Sandals resort. And, when you're ready to take your relationship to the next level, they are there to set up a private candlelit dinner just steps from the ocean to help ensure you'll have bragging rights for the rest of time. For couples who are looking to travel for their honeymoon, Sandals goes the extra mile to make it as memorable as possible.
If you're looking to have the ultimate indulgence vacation without having to lift a finger, a Butler Suite will make sure you have everything your hearts can wish for. Sandals send all their butlers through the same training that royal butlers receive before working in Buckingham Palace. Your butler will make sure that every second of your stay is exactly as you've dreamed.
I want to close this already long post by saying that Sandals gets it right nearly every time, but sometimes things happen. When stuff happens, they will make it right. I'm always available to call the resort's general manager on your behalf to ensure that the issue is resolved quickly and you are taken care of.
Rainbow Getaways is a full-service travel concierge specializing in travel for the LGBTQ community and our allies. Each vacation is planned to meet your specific needs, so you have a fabulous getaway. Schedule a free consultation with me to tell me about your dream vacation!