Hayley Whorrall at Beach Bum Vacations booked our wonderful honeymoon at Sandals Grande Antigua, and we had a spectacular time. We stayed at the resort the second week of April, 2013. This was our very first stay at any of the Sandals’ resorts. Sandals Grande Antigua resort really caters to honeymooners, making you feel very special, especially with the complimentary breakfast in bed service. We got everything we requested when we booked our trip, thanks to Hayley!
Upon arrival at the resort, we were greeted by friendly staff that brought us a cold hand towel to wipe off with, as well as a nice cold glass of champagne. There is a good chance that your room will not be ready when you arrive, but there is plenty to do and see (and eat!) during your wait. We had a small snack at the pub, then we walked around the resort and took in the ocean views, finally realizing that these views were ours for the next 7 days!
TIP: Make your dinner reservations the minute you arrive because the restaurants fill up quickly, especially during the prime dinner hours. We arrived on a Sunday, and we had to wait 2 days to get reservations for the times and places we wanted. Many restaurants were already booked up until 9:00 p.m. each night.
We stayed in the Mediterranean Village in the Monte Carlo Sunset Honeymoon Oceanview Suite that had great views of the pool, ocean and sunsets. If you prefer complete peace and quiet when you sleep and don’t like having anyone in a room above you, request a top floor room. It’s worth the total peace and quiet! The bed was a large 4-poster king-size bed that was extremely comfortable, with lots of comfortable pillows. We also had a decent sized walk-out balcony overlooking the entire resort, big enough for 2 lounge chairs, a small round table and 2 chairs. We ate breakfast out there on the day we had our honeymoon breakfast. The refrigerator is nicely stocked with an assortment of beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and is refreshed daily. Housecleaning was also very prompt in the morning, sometimes waking us up if we slept past 10 a.m.! Our room was always freshened up during the afternoon, and especially during the evening. Every night, we came back to a perfect turn-down service, complete with rose petals on the bed and a note from the resort wishing us a happy honeymoon! Some nights they left us swans made out of washcloths. The bathroom was amazing, marble everywhere! There were two vanities with plenty of counter space, a huge walk-in shower, and an awesome 2-person jacuzzi tub. Even the clothes closet was large enough to hold all of our clothes for the entire week. The rooms on the Caribbean side of the resort remind me of little cottages, some have their own small swimming pool, and some walk out to the beach. The landscaping is lush with greenery and tropical flowers everywhere.
OK Corral – Being married to a steak-a-holic, we couldn’t leave Sandals without eating dinner at the steakhouse at least once! The restaurant is on the second level on the Caribbean side and overlooks the ocean. The steak was amazing, and you can watch the chefs prepare your food in the nearby open-air kitchen.
Marios Italian Restaurant – We did not eat dinner here because we wanted to try the other restaurants instead. But there was a breakfast buffet where we ate most of the time because of the close proximity to both our room and the main pool area.
Bayside – We ate here on Steak night (Sunday’s) and it was decent. We got there early to beat the dinner crowd because it gets crowded quickly. They have a beach BBQ on Mondays. We had breakfast here a few mornings mostly because of the amazing ocean view. What better way to start the day than by eating your breakfast at a table facing the ocean and feeling the ocean breeze.
Kimonos – The Japanese restaurant wasn’t our favorite meal. The food was cooked on an open hibachi grill and was very good, but the portion sizes were very small and the selection was the same for everyone – salmon, chicken and beef - each prepared one after the other. Our chef “Kevin” was very entertaining.
Barefoot – This is a great place for lunch while relaxing at the pool. The tables are literally on the sand, and there are huge canopies overhead to block out the sun. We ate dinner here one night and it was decent. Again, more amazing views of the ocean. During the evenings there are fire pits outside of the restaurant which adds to the ambiance. This is the most casual restaurant, especially for dinner -- a bonus for the men who don’t want to wear long pants on a warm night as most other restaurants require.
Eleanors (on the beach) – We ate dinner here on our last night, and it was very romantic. We were able to get a table on the deck right next to the beach. The ambiance was wonderful and the food was delicious. We both had lobster, and the portion size was decent.
Cricketers – This was a terrific little pub where we went for drinks and had dinner the day we arrived while our room was being readied. There is nightly entertainment and karaoke. If you are a cheeseburger lover, you won’t be disappointed! The burgers were so delicious and plenty big! We didn’t walk out of there hungry!
Bella Napoli pizzeria has the best brick-oven pizza. You can sit outside under umbrella tables, or take your pizza back to your lounge chair at the pool or beach! It’s a great alternative if you come out of the pool hungry and don’t feel like getting dressed just to eat a meal.
We spent the days at the main pool (in the Mediterranean Village). The pool is enormous, and a stop at the swim-up bar is tradition! The only downside to the main pool is that you need to wake up early, grab your towel(s) and try and reserve your lounge chairs by putting your towel(s) on the chairs. The best idea is to find chairs under a palm tree. Because the sun changes direction all day, the shade comes in handy by the late afternoon! Otherwise, you’ll end up with chairs directly in the sun all day. The umbrella chairs located directly in front of and surrounding the main pool are “reserved” for those guests lucky enough to have a “butler” room. The butlers come out every morning around 7:30 a.m. and reserve their own guests’ lounge chairs. That’s probably the best perk about having a room with a butler. The pool water wasn’t as warm as we would have liked, so we didn’t spend much time swimming. The staff said that the month of April was still early in the season and the water wasn’t usually warm (enough) that soon, but by the month of May, the temperature would get hotter and warm up both the ocean and the pool water. The pool in the Caribbean Village is small, quiet and not very crowded. Unfortunately, the amount of lounge chairs is minimal; so unless you get up early or get lucky enough to see someone leave, your chances of lounging in comfort are not very good. The entertainment staff has a game of water volleyball at this pool every day at 3:00, which my husband looked forward to on a daily basis!
We didn’t spend our days lounging on the beach mostly because there are vendors walking around trying to sell you their wares. We were told to only buy from “licensed” vendors, so we opted to skip the beach altogether during the day and stay at the pool. Sandals doesn’t offer its own private beach, because all beaches in Antigua are public. This was probably my only disappointment during our entire vacation. We opted to walk the beach during the evenings (especially during sunset). It was peaceful and romantic because the most of the vendors had left for the day. The photographers are more than happy to take photos on the beach during sunset. Our beach sunset photo is the favorite of all the photos we had taken.
There are tons of excursions to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one or two!! We did the 360 degree navigation excursion, which featured a catamaran trip around the entire island along with a 45-minute guided snorkeling tour. If you enjoy snorkeling, but are not sure where to go, we highly recommend this trip as you get to see coral and many varieties of fish, as well as a narrated tour of the island including Shirley Heights and Nelson’s Dockyard. Because it was early April, the ocean water was not as warm as we would have liked while we were snorkeling, and there were actual pockets of cold water here and there. But if you can tolerate slightly chilly water, the underwater scenery is well worth it. During our sail we crossed a portion of the Atlantic Ocean and were fortunate enough to see dolphins diving in and out of the water near our catamaran. Take an underwater camera and video camera if you can, the scenery is unbelievable.
Evening entertainment was sporadic. We laughed through the Sandals’ version of the Newlywed Game and the Battle of the Sexes competition! Some evenings had either a band or steel band over on the Caribbean side. The best day was when the resort celebrated Antigua/Barbuda appreciation day. There was authentic food and drink, music, dancers, jewelry made by locals, etc.
Be careful to only book your excursions at the resort excursions office. There are vendors walking the beach who will try to sell you an excursion for horseback riding, etc. and take you to an area of the island that is not safe.
There really wasn’t much we would change about Sandals. If you have the extra money and love the idea of being waited on 24/7, definitely splurge for the butler room.
Thank you Sandals, and thank you Hayley!!! We are looking forward to visiting another Sandals’ resort soon!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- •A European Hotel in the Six-Star, all-suite Mediterranean Village •Exotic Rondoval with private plunge pool and butler service •1,400 square foot Mediterranean villa with private plunge pool and butler service•Houses the East Caribbean's largest pool (1 of 6) •Offers 9 dining options and 8 bars including an English pub •Voted "World's Most Romantic Resort" 14 years in a row ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sandals Grande Antigua Hotel St. John`s
- Sandals Grande Antigua Resort And Spa
- Sandals Antigua
- Hotel Sandals Grande Antigua
- Sandals Grand Antigua
- Antigua Sandals
- Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa Saint John Parish