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Free Week at Sandals

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Rochester, NY
Destination Expert
for Ocho Rios
posts: 3,247
reviews: 55
Free Week at Sandals

I have been all over the place, and I just can't decide where to take our free week! I know, what a great problem to have! : )

I had decided on Sandals Grande St Lucian, but the air is going to be at least $600 more, and that's if I find a deal, and there's not many options out there, making it harder to find a good price. There's only two flights that get me home the same day. And once we get there, it is almost two hours to the resort. And the resort is priced pretty high, which would be a good place to use the free week, but we were there in 2010, and the price was more than $1000 less than it is now. I don't think there have been any renovations or anything like that for the price increase, have there? We stayed at La Toc that time, and that resort is more than $1000 more expensive now, too.

I would also like to give St Lucia a second chance because the last time we were there was right after Hurricane Tomas, and the island had no water, lots of roads were closed, trees were down, etc.

My other choice is Sandals Royal Caribbean. We haven't been there since 2008, it would be right near the airport, and the total cost for us to get there could be under $1000. We have always meant to go there again, but SGR is our favorite, and is usually cheaper than SRC, so we normally go back to SGR instead. So taking our free week at SRC would definitely get us there, I really liked the rooms there, and of course we could visit SMB and SCI. And I think Martha Brae river rafting is near there, too, which I would like to do.

So, it would probably be $1000 less to go to SRC rather than St Lucia. My only concern is that if we don't do St Lucia again now, we probably never will because it is unlikely it will be this cheap again (until our next free week, lol!). However, if we save the $1000 on our free week, we could use that toward a second trip next year, and I think I'd rather go on vacation twice than go to St Lucia once.

And I forgot this one big factor, there were no deals at St Lucia's liquor store at the airport!!! No Appleton 12, no Cocomania, how can I survive??? :)

Any thoughts? Thanks! :)

canada
posts: 559
reviews: 2
1. Re: Free Week at Sandals

If you stayed at La Toc back then, then you are going to love the Grand. We hated La Toc, the beach area is horrible, the views aren't that good and we didn't like the lay-out. Now, the Grand had everything La Toc was lacking in. Incredible views, great beach area, much better lay-out. And best of all, better weather, more sun & less wind being on the lee-ward side of the island. If it were me, I'd pay the extra and choose the Grand in St.Lucia for this trip and save up for that extra year to go to Jamaica! That's what we did, and now we are going to the Iberostar Grand Rose Hall in Jamaica for 2 weeks after saving up for 2 years.

Rochester, NY
Destination Expert
for Ocho Rios
posts: 3,247
reviews: 55
2. Re: Free Week at Sandals

I should add, we loved La Toc! Even being there after the hurricane, and with the Piton pool and the piano bar closed, and rationing water all week, we still liked it. I'd imagine we'd like it even more when it's 100%. We loved being at Cricketers every night, and closed it down all those nights (it was closing early due to the water rationing though) Hurricane Tomas really put a damper on things!

SGSL is more expensive, and my husband liked that one, so that is why we would pick it for our free week. We spent a day at SGSL and SHB while we were there. I liked SLT and SGSL, so I'm sure we'll like it. I'm concerned there will be no nightlife though, but we're prepared for that.

We really liked SRC, too. We weren't prepared for how small it was going to be back then, but of course, now I would know. The staff there were great, and all the employees knew our names the day we got there. SRC didn't have any nightlife while we were there either, but we can go to SMB, or just turn in early some nights.

Edited: 2:37 pm, July 23, 2013
Ontario Canada
Destination Expert
for White House
posts: 6,599
reviews: 40
3. Re: Free Week at Sandals

BSB...I was going to suggest looking into SGA in case you hadn't been there, but I'm thinking if you are having a difficult time finding good prices for flights to St. Lucia, it will probably be the same for Antigua.

We spent our first free week at SGSL as it was the first Sandals resort we ever went to...loved it as much the second time around! We are qualified for our 2nd free week and are again considering SGSL but perhaps with a split to SGA (time will tell!). I get your thinking on SRC...so nice to be close to the airport and you can't beat the play at 3 option. We love SRC and are heading for stay #4 there in November.

Personally...I would go to St. Lucia...and I say that simply from the standpoint that you missed seeing a lot on your first trip due to Tomas. The island is so beautiful...for our first stay in St. Lucia I was in a wheelchair and on crutches so didn't get to tour around...this last time we did some great excursions which made us even more excited to return!

Good luck with your decision...I know it's a difficult one!

Rochester, NY
Destination Expert
for Ocho Rios
posts: 3,247
reviews: 55
4. Re: Free Week at Sandals

We were considering SGA, but airfare was an issue (we'd need to fly out of Buffalo), and I was concerned my being vegetarian would become an issue. The reviews of that resort say a lot about staff being unhelpful, which could be a problem if there's nothing on the menu for me. We originally planned to go there, but I mentioned going to St Lucia again instead, and my husband liked that idea, so we took SGA off the table. Like I said, we've been all over the place with this.

I would also do SRB because its the most expensive resort, and the air is the cheapest, but we really didn't like it there, so I don't want to give it another try. The reviews don't seem to show that anything has changed since we were there.

That brought Jamaica to my mind. The air is much more reasonable with better schedules, and we liked SRC and did want to go back sometime. I didn't necessarily want to use our free week in Jamaica since we've been there several times already, and I'm sure we'll be back again, free week or not. However, the cheap part of me is coming out, and I really don't know if I want to spend almost $2000 just for air to get to St Lucia. I can't decide!

Rochester, New York
posts: 1,398
reviews: 62
5. Re: Free Week at Sandals

BSB: Here's my take on your dilemma. In essence you are playing with house money for this stay. So stay at the place where you would LEAST likely go. Here's my convoluted logic. If it turns out awful...oh well, you were, as I said, playing with house money...so you didn't spend alot of your own $$$$$ or emotional bank account stuff either. If it's a great visit! Well you got it for dirt cheap then. That's basically what we did with 3 free nights we had at SWH. We liked SWH...but it didn't WOW us. So we said, 'Hey we got these nights free...and had a good time. What's not to like about that?' Then we headed to SRC for a regular paid visit and had a great time too. All in all, 10 days spent in heaven any way you look at it. Good luck!

Haverhill...
posts: 3,098
reviews: 21
6. Re: Free Week at Sandals

What about considering SRB or SEB? Both are on the pricier end of the scale, but defnitely easier to get to. You don't mention the time of year your considering traveling, which can certainly be something to think about when considering the Bahamas. Flights to Grenada are going to be even more difficult, so wouldn't throw that into the pool. Personally I'd opt for either SGSL or SGA. You could always take the helicopter in St. Lucia, which would get you to the resort much more quickly. And of course there's always BTC - lots of couples go there kidless and I believe they have a number of adults-only areas........

Ontario Canada
Destination Expert
for White House
posts: 6,599
reviews: 40
7. Re: Free Week at Sandals

Hey Winnekini....SEB is unfortunately not an option for the free week, nor is Grenada (darn)...plus I have a feeling BSBgirl would find SEB too quiet for night life.

Rochester, NY
Destination Expert
for Ocho Rios
posts: 3,247
reviews: 55
8. Re: Free Week at Sandals

@SRCFan I have the same logic as you, only I am factoring the air in. If air was all the same, I'd go to SGSL because it's the most expensive of the ones you can do for your free week. Well, and really if that was my logic, SRB is actually the very most expensive of the ones you can do, but we didn't like it there, so I'm hesitant to try it again.

@winnekini It will be April/May of next year, and we did SRB and didn't like it, and SEB is not an option, and I think it would be too quiet for us anyway. Grenada is on hold for now for free weeks, so not an option either, and I don't want to go to that resort for a few years until they get the kinks out. If I throw the helicopter in for St Lucia, I'm spending even more money, lol! I know that would get rid of the transfer time, but I'm trying to get the most value out of the free week I can. If BTC were a Sandals, I'd go there in a heartbeat. Since it's Beaches, we've both decided we're not interested.

We really didn't do any excursions while we were in St Lucia because everything was closed, so we just stayed put aside from visiting the other Sandals. We really aren't excursion people though, so the only thing we'd probably do is the park next to SGSL, Fort something I think? I had planned to walk to the top of that while we were there, but it was closed, too.

Which kind of brings me back to my same thinking; SRC for less than $1000, or SGSL for about $2000. Will I like SGSL $1000 more than I like SRC I guess becomes the question, and really, I'm thinking no...

Regina, Canada
posts: 2,168
reviews: 7
9. Re: Free Week at Sandals

Hey BSB - Have you considered flying out of Toronto? We meet so many people from Buffalo that go to Toronto Pearson for flights. Air Canada (out of Toronto) has some great (and more importantly) direct options. And, with the Cdn dollar in the toilet right now, you would get even more savings there :)

If that is something you are interested in I would check out westjet and air canada.

nova scotia
posts: 1,430
reviews: 50
10. Re: Free Week at Sandals

@BSB, just a suggestion for the St Lucia option... One time we flew into Castries instead of the int'l airport so transfer time to Sandals was minimal for our arrival. Maybe check that out from your preferred airport ( I don't know if you usually go out of Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Buffalo). We had to fly out of int'l for departure but we did not mind the travel time which was about 75 minutes nonstop.

IMHO paying for just airfare into St Lucia beats the heck out of paying for an inclusive holiday there, so why not use your free week at SGSL??

But I also think since SRB has been reno'd since you were there, it would be worth a return visit - why not use your free week where you get the most bang for your 'hotel only' buck??

Good luck and look forward to hearing what you have decided... figure you cannot lose, eh?

Oh and congrats on your free Sandals week!

Edited: 6:27 pm, July 23, 2013