My husband and I honeymooned at Sandals Grande Antigua January 22 - February 1, 2013. After reading many of the reviews we had some reservations but in the end were extremely pleased with our stay. We were in a Venetian Oceanview Suite on the second floor of the Cypress Tower. The room was nicely decorated and very comfortable. I loved the jetted tub and rain shower head. The water pressure was very good. We had none of the problems with power outages or air conditioning that other reviewers have. Our view was of the Mediterranean Village grounds and the ocean beyond. Rooms on the higher floors have more dramatic views but we were happy with ours. We watched hummingbirds in the bushes outside each morning. My only complaint is that I wish our balcony was larger. We liked being on this side of the resort since it's newer and our room was conveniently located, but the Caribbean side is charming as well. It just depends what you want.
We ate at all of the restaurants except Bayside and never had any trouble getting reservations. The food was very good in all of them. I did have a meal or two that was a bit on the salty side but this was the exception, not the rule. Overall we found the food flavorful and well-prepared. Eleanor's was hands-down our favorite. Service at breakfast was slow but everyone treated us warmly. Dinner service was excellent and very attentive. Stacey at Kimono's, Omarie at OK Corral, and Lisa and Shannon at Eleanor's all went above and beyond. We loved Althea at the pool bar! She makes the best mojitos and martinis! We also found the concierge staff to be helpful anytime we needed assistance.
The beach is beautiful. It's narrow, but long so it's great for walking. The sand is white and soft and the water is a gorgeous shade of blue. It wasn't especially clear at the resort but the snorkeling was good both times I went. The vendors will approach you but as others have noted a simple "no thank you" does the trick. If you do take some time to talk with any of them, you'll find them pleasant. They're more than happy to tell you about their home or answer questions.
Antigua is a lovely island. We hired a taxi with another couple for a tour and it was well worth it. It was more rugged than I expected and there is so much history. I highly recommend a day to explore!
There were a couple of days that we had a hard time finding loungers in the shade by the main pool. The butlers do reserve them but there are generally plenty to go around. There are several smaller pools around the property that get shade throughout the day if you don't mind a more quiet atmosphere.
Many people have complained about the cats. Yes, they are there but we had no issues. I saw the same few during the entire 11 days and for the most part they kept to themselves. We weren't bothered by the tree frogs either. But when it comes to insect bites, I would have to agree; bring bug spray!
The resort is spread out but we didn't mind the walks since the grounds were stunning. The Caribbean side is so lush. It's more lively on that side at night if that's what you're looking for. If not, we loved the fire pits near the beach to relax after dinner and cocktails.
I had a spa treatment while we were there and I loved it. Collette gave a terrific massage and the entire experience was very relaxing.
Overall, we were happy with our decision to stay here and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it or another Sandals. We will absolutely return but there are other places we'd like to visit first.