I’ll start this off by saying this was our first Sandals experience and our second all-inclusive. We had a 10-day stay in a Honeymoon Concierge level room in the Caribbean Village.
Because of the Sandals name we went into this experience expecting top notch service and facilities, we left a little disappointed and found that overall there was a major lack of consistency with the service level. Considering what we paid for this vacation, we were left feeling somewhat overlooked and let down. This is a long but thorough and honest review.
Check In/First Impression
As soon as we arrived we were taken to the concierge suite to be checked in, very nice. We were not offered any champagne, as other couples arrived they were all offered champagne or another drink. We were instantly approached by the Red Lane Spa ladies, we hadn’t even been there for 10 minutes! However we did in fact want to book a couples massage, it was just overwhelming. After filling out some paper work we asked if the requests we put in the week before (twice) for dinner reservations and honeymoon check in had been received, they had neither. They told us there were no reservations at Eleanor’s that evening. We were told to go to the sales office in the Med building for the honeymoon check in (just to get breakfast in bed) We were then taken to our room, which at first glance was disappointing. Yes, we knew the Caribbean Village was older but BOY did it look different in person. When I walked over to the full bar I noticed that there were half drunk bottles of vodka and missing glasses, the person who checked us in apologized and said that they must have forgotten to re-stock it. They promptly fixed this, however it was gross to think what else they “forgot” to clean/change. We went down to the Concierge Suite and expressed some concerns about our room, the bar etc. and we were told unless we wanted to move to the Mediterranean Village there was nothing they could do. Not so great customer service. When we got back to our room they called and said we had a reservation that evening at Eleanor’s…it wasn’t full anymore…?? Definitely did not get off on the right foot. However, their saving grace and I’m kicking myself for not remembering his name was the man who re-stocked our bar, he asked if we like poetry and read us 4 personal poems he had written, that man has talent and it was very calming!
The food here was outstanding! Lobster at Eleanor’s was delicious and so was the pumpkin soup! The steak at Bayside was delicious. We did not like Mario’s for dinner, except their lava cakes—heaven on a plate. The beach party on Monday night was so tasty! The kabobs and chicken tacos were great. Kimono’s was SO much fun, if you get a chance request your meal with Teddy…he really blew us out of the water! We ate breakfast at Mario’s almost every day, it’s the best. Eleanor’s was dead slow for breakfast and Bayside is all outside and the birds were sitting all on the fresh fruit and bread, same goes for lunch there. We ate lunch at either the pizza place (YUMMM) or Barefoot..the chimichurri beef wrap with steak fries is soo good! We also loved the Grab n Go, Monday they have chili that is so amazing, they have nachos everyday and the jerk chicken quesadillas always hit the spot! The biggest let down was the honeymoon breakfast in bed, it was so bad. We barely ate it. When we went to fill out the form the woman just asked for our room number, handed us the form and then ignored us. We found out later that you could add hot items (eggs, french toast, etc) to the form, so we went back. We wished we could have skipped it; we also asked for a bottle of champagne and did not receive it.
Grounds and Staff
Gorgeous!! The water is so clear and the sand is so soft and white, truly felt like I was in a dream! I loved all of the lush gardens and flowers in the Caribbean Village, hearing all of the wildlife at night was spectacular! The Med pool is huge and a great time, hardly any wait at the swim up bar. You can always find chairs, they just may not have an umbrella. Yes people reserve chairs very early and most of the day they go un-used, just a fact and you have to deal with it. People also hoard the floaters, like roll them up and stuff them under their pool chairs. We asked several people doing this if we could use theirs, they were not happy to give them up but hey, if you’re not using them then don’t keep it to yourself all day! The resort is on the larger side but we didn't mind the walking, especially after a few lava cakes! We hung out on the beach a few days, we really weren't bothered by vendors, we sat closer to the fence so perhaps that’s why. We only got maybe 1-2 bug bites, not sure why that is either. The resort cats are so friendly and well behaved…so cute! The staff here are all so nice (with maybe 2 exceptions) everyone was happy to talk to you and give you a smile. As I mentioned, TEDDY from Kimono’s…fantastic man! The (sorry I’m horrible with names!) man from the Island Routes desk was so sweet, he remembered us on the second day! Same goes for the girl at the Entertainment Desk, we talked for a few minutes and the next day she came up to us and asked how are night had been, so sweet.
The Med pool is the place to be during the day. There was usually a fun group activity, a big shout out to the Playmakers for making our time so fun! Go Team Crush It!! We really enjoyed the nightly shows, the singers were great and Mr. Moves is awesome!! We played in the Newlywed Game and had a blast on white night, definitely don’t miss the chocolate buffet! We also did paddle boarding and rented jet skis ($50 for 35 minutes). I loved that there was no wait to use these items, you just walked up, signed your name and off you went! The Entertainment Room (next to Eleanor’s) also has board games and books if you’re interested. Because we were there for Halloween they had a costume party at the Drunken Duck and we had so much fun! I also sang 6 songs on Karaoke night there..great times! As for Wi-Fi we paid $11 for 30 minutes, then were given a free 30 minutes by the staff just because..very nice!
We did the catamaran tour and the trip to Shirley Heights on Sunday for the party. Shirley Heights offered beautiful, stunning views, even though it was overcast! The steel drum band was fantastic, the food was delicious (a bit pricey $15 a plate on average) but the drinks were reasonable $4 mixed drink $4 for beer…if you get the chance make this trip!! They closed the Med pool (yes ALL day…see below) they offered a free catamaran ride around the island, we obviously went on it. However it wasn't just for Sandals guests and the people from the other resorts were really rude. We were crammed trying to sit down and this family of 6 was laid out like a bunch of starfish in the seating areas. They never moved and everyone else was pretty much on someone else’s lap. That being said, I would HIGHLY recommend this tour (just do the Sandals Exclusive) it was the best way to see the island and the private island they took us to to snorkel was so pretty! They gave us a yummy lunch and rum punches all day!
Red Lane Spa
We did the couples massage, it was great but overpriced. We got a second massage by Dr. Sunshine and his wife, walk out of the resort and go right. They use freshly shaved coconut, squeeze out the milk and massage that into your skin. $40 for a full body massage, not to mention Dr. Sunshine is great!
Don’t get me wrong we had the most incredible 10-days of our lives, there were just some things that kept popping up like little buzz kills throughout the week. There is room for improvement.
Things that weren't great (and a common thread between other couples)
1. Every time we called for reservations at Eleanor’s we were given a really hard time, yet when we ate there the place was barely half full.
2. I mentioned above about the bar not being stocked in our room when we arrived, yea well 6 days into our trip my husband pulled a half drank juice bottle from the fridge…that wasn't ours.
3. We never received any sort of acknowledgement that we were on our honeymoon. I was looking forward to the towel animals, we never got any until my husband asked the maid on a little note for one. We got 1 that night and that was it.
4. Some days we got beach towels and other days we didn't.
5. It took 4 phone calls to get more waters for our room.
6. We had quite a bit of rain (serious downpours) during our stay and they didn't provide any sort of activities during those days, we had to go ask the staff for a foam football and a portable music player, we were pretty much left to fend for ourselves. I guess they expected us to lie in bed all day and watch tv?
7. Sometimes we got the day’s newsletter slipped under our door and other days we didn't.
8. The beds are not comfortable, I slept better on the pool chairs.
9. "Romance" costs extra ie private dinner on the beach, rose petals in your tub
10. The resort to the right of Sandals (if you're looking at the beach) was at capacity and half of their guests came onto the Sandals property, used beach chairs and pretty much took over the beach...there were a lot of young (crying) children, we weren't able to enjoy the beach in this section.
And last but not least, the photo shoot crew. We had to put up with them all week and it was quite annoying. Every day something new was blocked off or closed. And the staff was RUDE they made rude comments to guests if they walked too close or crossed their caution tape. I went into the bathroom by the Drunken Duck while they were shooting and a staff member yelled at me telling me there were bathrooms outside closer to the pool, I told her I wasn't at the pool and I was a paying guest so I can use whatever bathroom I want. Mind you there were no signs posted outside that I could not enter. Not to mention they closed the Med pool all day due to the shoot.
Fantastic week with several snafus, at this point I’m not sure if we would stay at another Sandals again. We feel that we can get the same experience (if not better) at another resort for much less money.
- 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