Although this review is LONG overdue, hopefully it’s not too late to be helpful to those thinking about a vacation at Sandals Grande Antigua. My husband and I stayed there April 11-18 and were married during that time. We selected the Honeymoon Garden Rondoval with Private Plunge Pool Villa and I could not go in enough detail on how absolutely breathtaking this room was! The Villa literally made our entire vacation .. simply magical. Since we were there for our destination wedding (technically our 10 yr renewal of vows, but we had never had a formal wedding experience), we felt the need to be sequestered and just wanted to enjoy each other’s company. We are parents to three young sons and we were primarily interested in some major R&R.
Our customs experience was less than wonderful, but at no fault of the hotel itself. LOTS of confusion upon arrival to Antigua and our airline had not even provided anyone on our flight with customs forms. What a mess that turned out to be! We were quickly routed to the Sandals Welcome Desk after collecting our bags and treated like royalty from that moment on!
Although we had a butler room, we still were the last ones to be picked up from the lobby and directed to our room. By the last ones, I mean we were waiting all of ten minutes. And during those ten minutes, we were provided drinks, cold towels, and were made very comfortable by the reception staff. Plus we were just thankful to be away from the mess at the airport. Once our first butler, Cecil arrived, he took us directly to our room/villa where our other butler awaited with a bottle of champagne, fruit and cheese tray, and rose petals spread around. Our butlers were a perfect blend of professionalism and personalism during our entire stay. Neither my husband or myself are of the demanding or picky sort, so we received just the right amount of attention once we explained this to our butlers. We did not require escorts to dinner or for our days to be planned; as I had almost mapped out our entire stay prior to arrival. I shared my printed itinerary with our butlers, and Voila! everything happened as we had planned. Mind you, the extent of my planning was what restaurant to eat which night and what spa and beach activities we wanted to participate in. The remainder of the time, we lounged in our own pool with a full cooler of all our favorite drinks each day and on occasion ordered lunch to our room.
There was only one long wait for a meal on our third day at Barefoot by the Sea, due to a mix up with waitresses changing shifts. One waitress assumed we had already been served and another thought the other waitress would tend to us. However, once discovered we had not been helped, the situation was quickly rectified. This in no way put a damper on our day. We were on vacation; our first one without the kids or having do to any cooking or cleaning! That alone made the whole trip worth it !
Our wedding experience (or renewal of vows) was flawless. The wedding team was this very well oil machined that ran smoothly. With that being said, we never felt rushed or less than important, in fact we felt the exact opposite. I am not even sure how they were able to pull that off. It was the most special day of my life and I am not sure that the wedding staff we were fortunate to have that day is aware of how big of an impact they make in people’s lives. Thank you all so much! After ten years with my husband, our renewal of vows was not suppose to have me in tears, but the intimacy that the wedding staff created did just that.
The beach was always warm and clear, making afternoon swims very enjoyable on the few times we ventured in. My husband absolutely loved the hobbie-cat sails and we both enjoyed the tandem kayaking. We did not participate in any of the free snorkeling excursions that took place several times throughout each day, as we had already scheduled an offsite snorkeling, hiking excursion through Island Routes. That excursion was very informative and one of our favorite memories of the trip. We walked up and down the beach almost each morning, collecting seashells and enjoying the serenity of the beach before most others woke up. Although I am in my late 20’s and my husband in his mid 30’s, we are most definitely morning people.
The only time we checked out the main pool area was for the whirlpool until we found that the hot and cold whirlpools in the spa/fitness area were always deserted. Obviously, we wanted the type of vacation that was quiet and calm, and although the entire resort was VERY lively, we were able to find the privacy we preferred. We did notice pool activities at various times throughout the day and volleyball games going on throughout the property at the several different sand volleyball sights. The fitness center was great although we only visited once.
The Spa staff was excellent and really went out of their way to take care of us on the several times we visited for massages, manicure, hair styling, etc. We even picked up a set of Red Lane Spa robes to bring back home with us.
All the restaurants we visited were great. For dinner, Eleanors was our favorite due to service and food. We did get to experience the candlelight dinner on the beach and that blew all our other meals out of the water. Our server was the most personable and pleasant staff member we encountered and for the life of me I cannot remember her name. Of course, as soon as I post this, I will have remembered! We had coffee and breakfast brought to us a few times so we could enjoy sitting by our private pool. All the other mornings, we visited the breakfast buffet at either Mario’s or Bayside. We made sure to stop by Café de Paris daily, as we quickly discovered that their coffee and pastries were the best out of the entire resort. We never even ordered dessert anywhere else!
We did not partake of the nightly entertainment as much as most probably do. Our first night we did visit the Cricketers Pub and had a lot of fun watching karaoke night. The night of the beach party, we showed up a little later but did find the food good and the atmosphere entertaining. A few nights we walked along the beach and listened to the waves. Every aspect of this trip was peaceful and relaxing and we made it exactly how we wanted it. Had we looked for a livelier vacation, there was that option. However, for us we were looking for seclusion and relaxation. Which is why we are two weeks out from our next Sandals vacation at Sandals Whitehouse in Jamaica!!
As a side note, we did encounter several couples that had complaints about this resort. One lady droned on and on about how the sound of crickets were keeping her up every night and asking why Sandals has not done anything about this. She made additional comments about her experience being the worst vacation ever due to these crickets. Another couple complained that the resort did not serve American beer and somehow that ruined their entire stay. To my husband and I, these were beyond ridiculous complaints and still to this day wonder how those people fare in life with such a negative outlook. Every experience is what you make it, do your homework, be at least somewhat prepared when making travel plans if you are of a particular nature, and the only way for you to truly enjoy a vacation is to have it your way all the time. As for us, we wanted a wonderful vacation, researched our options, made the best decision for us and had … a most wonderful time at Sandals Grande Antigua.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.