Before we visited Smugglers Cove i had read some very negative and very positive reviews on here so i went with an open mind. We very much enjoyed our stay at Smugglers Cove and I feel that some of the negative comments on here are unfair. Smugglers Cove is not a 5 star luxurious resort and they don't claim to be. It is a 4 star resort and any seasoned traveller knows that a 4 star in the Carribean is not the same as a 4 star in North America/Europe. If you are someone who expects luxury then you need to go to one of the Sandals resorts, but if you are someone who wants an affordable, enjoyable vacation in beautiful St. Lucia then you will enjoy your stay at Smugglers Cove.
Arrival: The trip from the airport to the resort is about 1 1/2 hours but we knew this and it was very scenic. We received a cold towel as soon as we arrived and a rum punch only a few minutes later. They had all of the keys and room packages ready on a table and started calling names only a few minutes after arrival. I am surprised that other reviewers thought that arrival was disorganized, I felt it was very organized. They escorted us to the buffet which stayed open later than usual (we arrived late because we took the afternoon/evening flight and we were delayed by half an hour at take off). We were very pleased that they stayed open late to accomodate all the arriving guests as we were quite hungry from the long travel.
Rooms: We had the standard room and it was basic but no major issues. The sink vanity, mirror, and furniture where newish. The tub probably needed to be replace or resealed but it was still clean. There was a small lizard in our room when we arrived and we saw 1 spider in the room throughout the week but the rooms are all on the main floor and the door opens right to the outside so this was not surprising. We didnt see any ants in our room that other reviewers have described. We didnt spend a lot of time in our room so the room was just fine for us.
Beach: The beach is not huge but still big enough to enjoy. The sand was not white sand that other carribean islands have because St.Lucia is a volcanic island. The sand was more brownish and some parts were black but still clean. The view from the beach is breathtaking! We saw a horse on the beach only once while we were there (didn't see it defacating in the water as others have described) and there were a few vendors on the beach but they only spoke to us twice throughout the whole week. Just say no thanks and they leave you alone. Like many other carribean islands the beaches are public so the resort cannot make these people leave.
Pools:The pools are right next to the beach so it was nice that you could lay on the beach and you are right next to the pools and the ocean. The swim up bar was our favourite, perfect view of the beach, ocean, and hillside while you are sipping your drink in the pool.
Food: We really enjoyed the food. There were several options. The menus changed every night at the buffet and at the 3 a la carts so there was lots to choose from. Breakfast was mostly the same every day in the buffet but lots to choose from. The scrambled eggs were a little runny but you could get very good omlettes at the omlette station and the ladies also would make fried eggs and they made panakes too. The beach bbq and the pizza at La Tratorria were our favourites for lunch. They had a fabulous creole dinner at the buffet one night and the dinners at cafe asia and La tratorria were excellent. The waterside grill was average but the setting of the restaurant right over the water is so beautiful.
Dress code: For breakfast and lunch bathing suits must be covered and men can't have sleeveless shirts. For dinner (including at the buffet) men must wear long pants and women should wear dresses or nice pants/capris. This is clearly indicated on smugglers cove's website so we were aware of it before we left. Dressing up for dinner is a custom on many carribean islands and it was kind of nice.
The property: the property is somewhat spread out but very beautiful, our room was perhaps a 3 minute walk to the restaurants and beach/pool/ocean area but we just packed a little beach bag and didn't come back to our room until it was time to get ready for dinner.
Activities and entertainment: Lots of waters sports to choose from, we took a double kayak out which was really nice because it was so beautful out at the edge of the cove. There were a few activities through out the day. We did the saturday morning walk which was nice to see the area outside the resort, we just met in the lounge and they were there on time ready to go. The night entertainment was ok, some nights better than others. The fire breathing and limbo night was the best.
Staff: Most staff were very friendly but like anywhere, you get the odd staff member that isn't too pleasant.
Excursions: we went on a day trip we booked with our transat holidays representative and loved it. The island is so beautiful you must get out and see it!
I suspect part of the reason for the vast differences in opinion in this review forum is based on the price paid. We got a very reasonable package from transat holidays, which was the cheapest all inclusive package to St Lucia we could find booking 3 weeks ahead (but remember St.Lucia is more expensive in general than some of the other carribean islands) but we did meet some people that paid almost twice the amount we paid. If your package costs not much less than it would to go to sandals then maybe its not worth it but if you find a reasonable package than its worth it.
Bottom line is if you go with reasonable expectations for a 4 star (carribean 4 star) resort then you will very much enjoy your stay.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.