We stayed for a week from 19-26 November, and this was our first Sandals experience: not a wedding or honeymoon, but a much-needed week of relaxation at the end of a crazy year. I made the mistake of reading a lot of reviews a few days before we travelled - and there was a flurry of very bad ones. As others have said recently - don't read them! It made me anxious and left me wondering if we'd made a big mistake, but my fears were allayed as soon as we made contact with the Sandals desk at the airport. Transfers and check-in were smooth and friendly, and we were having lunch within am hour or so of landing. We'd booked the cheapest room, and were upgraded to a concierge room as it was our first stay: no view other than a few scrubby plants and the car park of the building opposite, but I assume the room was larger than the one I'd booked. Our whole stay was relaxing and peaceful and just what we both needed. My husband took the introductory dive class, which he couldn't praise enough, and was able to go on two short dives, although they did eat significantly into our "together-time" as the early start, combined with half-hour transfer to the boat, loading and off-loading equipment, etc for 20 minutes of dive-time seemed excessive. But he was full of praise for the instructors and their care and attention to safety.
Due to the high winds for the majority of our stay we weren't able to get across to the island, or experience Cafe Goombay (other than the menu transferred to Spices), nor able to enjoy snorkelling or kayaking from the resort, and the sea was too rough to swim in, and the pools too cold. But it was the perfect temperature for relaxing on a lounger with a book in a sunny spot. We loved the fire pits in the evenings, and thought all the food was good. Despite shouting about its 9-10 restaurants, only two or three are open each evening, and at least one of those is on reservation-only basis, but we didn't find this too much of a problem, and certainly didn't have long waits like other reviewers.
We didn't partake of any of the entertainment, so couldn't speak for/against those, but every member of staff greeted us with a smile and friendly hello, and we felt welcome.
A few downsides stopped this from being a 5-star experience:
Housekeeping - variable, and we found it irritating that items were removed (for cleaning?) and not replaced, eg bath mats and drinks glasses. Also, when we checked in, the half-used toiletries from the previous guests had not been removed and replaced from the bathroom. All of this was resolved by speaking to the concierge or leaving a note.
Hot water - was in serious short supply: some mornings, the water temperature couldn't even be called warm, and it would have been nice to take advantage of the large bath tub, but the water just didn't run hot enough in the evenings. The only times hot water seemed in plentiful supply was mid-afternoon.
Mini-bar restock - we didn't drink that much, but ran out of water on a couple of occasions as our mini-bar was only re-stocked twice over the week, and both times upon request. Because of the weather, we were often in our room late in the afternoon, so maybe that's when it's usually done ...
Overall, the vacation was just what we needed. Would we go back? Probably not (and I got fed up of clearing telephone sales messages offering me "amazing discounts" off my next booking) but may well check out a different Sandals location in the future. So ignore the negative reviews and just go and relax and enjoy your trip.