This was our second experience of a Sandals holiday, our first being at their resort on Antigua, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
We had booked a suite with butler service and upon arrival after check-in, were escorted up to our suite on the first floor. We had specifically requested to be in a top floor, or as high as possible, suite. We asked to be moved but had to wait for 24 hours to move up to the fourth floor.
There are two large pools at this resort, one they refer to as a ‘quiet’ pool and the other, the ‘lively, activity’ pool. Unfortunately our suite, and most of the suites (the most expensive accommodation) are situated overlooking this noisy pool. And it is very noisy.
We were originally allocated two butlers, then another. The butlers were very attentive, reserving tables for dinner, booking sun loungers, etc., in the first week but it did tail off somewhat in the second week. Because of the noise at the pool below our suite, which started about 10.30 and carried on until 5pm and sometimes later, we first tried the ‘quiet’ pool. This was fine for lounging around, but the water was so cold, we could not swim for more than a few minutes at a time. We tried the beach and then found it was most restful on the island, a 5 minutes boat ride from the pier. We spent every day on the island from then on. On the island we acquired two further butlers! Very nice attentive chaps.
Unfortunately the last boat back to the main resort landed us at about 3.45 so we still had at least an hour and a half of very loud ‘music’ – so loud that even with the doors and windows shut, radio/TV on it could still be heard pounding through the glass. One day I looked over the balcony at the pool to see several drunk young people taking turns laying on the pool bar and having the bar staff pour liquor all down the front of their bodies which was then licked off by others to great whoops of delight from others. It was so down-market and tacky. Rather like the cheap package holidays to Spain we see in documentaries about unpleasant holiday destinations. We eventually asked to be moved to the other side of the building, overlooking a car park, but nice and quiet with sea views. We also had sun on this balcony. None of the front facing suites – onto the noisy pool – ever had sun.
Gordons on the Pier - good food but always served luke warm.
Casanova - enjoyed the food here.
Baccarat - Food good but again, luke warm.
Crystal Room - Food ok but lacked atmosphere.
Baccarat, the Crystal Room and the Piano Bar were always very cold.
Kimonos - food good and hot! But very, very noisy making it difficult to hold a conversation.
Royal Café - food awful and service worse.
Café Goombay - food variable and staff that couldn’t care less. I asked for some Gangster Rap ‘music’ to be turned down or changed and was told that someone had requested it. We were the only people there so I guess the staff wanted it on.
Spices - we usually had breakfast here and occasionally lunch. A good selection and the staff were helpful .
Sandals have a ‘no tipping’ policy for their staff, except for the butlers. As we ended up with five, the tip was fairly hefty. I don’t understand why they don’t have a pool where the tips go and are then divided equally among the butlers. We attended the ‘Returning Guests’ dinner – food very good and hot (they can do it) – and we had the Head Butler sitting next to us. When asked about why the rest of the staff are not allowed tips, she told us that a percentage of the cost of the holiday was allocated for this purpose.
Although we had a lovely holiday in Antigua last year, we were so disappointed with this resort that we are not sure we will try any more Sandals holidays. Pity.