We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary at Sandals Royal Bahamian from January 31-February 4, 2013. This was our 9th visit to a Sandals or Beaches property, but first Sandals since we started having kids in 2007. Needless to say we had to get ourselves back into the Sandals mindset after spending much time at Beaches.
If you are into history (British history) then the backstory of this resort is for you. The main Balmoral tower is the former Balmoral Hotel built in the 1940's. There are many pictures of dignitarities who had stayed here throughout the years.
We are very much beach people and this resort did not have the same "tropical feel" to it that many other resorts do. Yes it is located in the Bahamas and there is a beach and palm trees, but this place felt a bit too formal for our liking.
This feeling all changed when we finally made it over to Sandals Cay (the offshore island). This is a little slice of heaven located just 1/2 mile offshore from the resort. There was a boat that (weather permitting) made regular hourly trips back and forth between 10am and 4pm. There is a very casual feeling to the island and a nice restaurant at which you can have lunch or dinner.
Here are some more specifics.
Room - We stayed in Room 300 (3rd floor Balmoral Tower). The room was clean and well decorated, but this is the first resort we have ever stayed at in over 100 nights in the Caribbean where we had no balcony or patio. Only a window that opened. This room probably represented a very small upgrade despite being Sandals Select Platinum members. This was the only room we have stayed in the the Caribbean where the entrance to the room is completely inside, making it feel more like Hilton than a Sandals.
Food - The food was outstanding. There are 10 restaurants at this resort and we dined at 7 of them. Gordon's on the Pier (an extra charge for non-butler guests like us) and Cafe Goombay (on the private island) were highlights, although the Italian restaurant was great too. The food is on par with other Sandals/Beaches resorts we have been to.
Beach - The beach was pristine, but just not very long. If you are the type of person that likes to take long strolls on the beach, then this may not be the place for you. The resort has a relatively small beach that comes to a dead end at the east and western ends. The offshore island offers a larger beach and some snorkeling, but again there is not much room to stroll as Sandals owns half of the island and the other half is off limits.
Drinks - Sandals always does a nice job with drinks. The Bahama Mama and Bahama Papa were favorites of mine, as were the beer selections of Kalik, Sands and Sands Lights (all fromt the Bahamas).
Activities/Entertainment - Since we are used to the Sesame Street gang at Beaches, we couldn't recall what to expect. There was a nice mix of dancing and live music, as well as a very nice Super Bowl party that was put on. There was plenty to offer, although it would have been nice to hear some of the pool music at the beach.
Pools - The pools looked nice, but hardly anyone was in them since it was relatively cool (in the 70's most of the time). There were plenty of hottubs scattered around the resort that we took advantage of.
Grounds - The grounds were spotless. I can recall seeing various Sandals catalogs where they show all kinds of fancy beach furtniture and then there is nothing of the like when you show up. This is one resort where they must have spent a lot of money as the furniture around the resort was very high quality. There were also some fire pits that came in very handy day and night due to some cooler weather.
Service - The staff was polite and courteous. They neglected to acknowledge our 10 year anniversary, despite knowing about it, and to make up for it we were given a free meal at Gordon's on the Pier (normally $140 for non-butler guests).
Excursions - The only thing we did was to take a day trip into downtown Nassau (primarily due to cooler weather one day). You can easily catch a public bus right outside of Sandals and for $1.25 per passenger each way get to/from Nassau (in about 15 minutes). There is plenty of shopping, dining and etc. We happened to be there when 3-4 cruise ships were in port, so it was quite busy.
Overall Sandals Royal Bahamian is a nice resort. We prefer a more tropical feel and would definitely suggest that visiting in late January-early February might not be the best time due to the cooler weather.