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“Second Sandals”

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Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
Ranked #3 of 15 Hotels in St. John's
Certificate of Excellence
Pickering, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Second Sandals”
Reviewed November 20, 2012

My wife and i were here to celebrate my 50th birthday. We were at Sandals Whitehouse in February of this year and felt totally "Sandalized" after the first trip but maybe a little less so after this one. Our thoughts are from two 50 year-olds who lead busy lives and like being able to unwind via different mechanisms while down South. This is a beautiful resort - the nod goes to the Mediterranean side Almond building highest floor affordable. Sandals knew ahead of time about my birthday and repeat guest status and we were pleasantly surprised to find that we had been upgraded to this building with an oceanview room. Not having to ask for an upgrade was quite refreshing as we had heard that Sandals does do this whenever they can.

Food was great - we always did the breakfast buffet and sat by the ocean each morning. Usually there was no problem finding enough food to keep us coming back. Lunchs were either pizza (excellent) or take-out burgers/fries/wraps/fruit that was very tasty with a cold beer on the beach. Dinner at Eleanor's was my favourite (reservation required) - i had the pork tenderloin kabobs both nights. We also enjoyed Mario's for two dinners although this is walk up and if you go past 7:30 you will probably need to be prepared for a 15-20 minute wait (go with a glass of wine and the time passes).

Housekeeping was great - rooms are serviced twice a day. Plenty of bathroom towels and fresh beach towels delivered to the room also. They were accomodating to our schedule and "do not disturb" requests. Room was clean and kept that way. Bar and fridge were stocked regularly.

I received two birthday cards from the Sandals Concierge team while there. On my actual birthday we came up to the room after an afternoon on the beach and found a cherry cheesecake with an chocolate inscription saying "Happy 50th birthday Gary". It was large enough for two but my wife wasn't hungry so i ate the entire cheesecake in minutes.

We sailed twice on the Hobie Cats. You don't need to know a lot about sailing to be able to take one out although it helps. I'm sure the staff would give you the pointers required to get you there and back. It's a lot of fun and can be exciting when you get a decent gust of wind.

We did two trips - St. Johns shopping for half a day and the catamaran cruise around the entire Antiguan island. We have been in St. Johns before (half day off a cruise ship) and were looking forward to shopping and walking around (4 cruise ships in port that day so it was hopping). The day long catarmaran trip is exclusive to Sandals guests only on Wednesdays - no other hotel guests on board which (we thought) was a bonus. Great day, OK snorkeling, great lunch, lots of ice cold beer, mixed drinks, soft drinks and water. Crew was great. 30 - 45 minutes of Atlantic sailing had a few people feeling sick although everyone is offered Gravol before heading across this patch of water.

Beach is very nice - not Punta Cana / Varadero size but you can still go for a good walk in either direction. Usually no problem getting seating but sometimes direct sunsine only. Ocean was nice and warm and floating/bobbing in the water was great on a hard sandy bottom.

Although we were very happy overall with the resort few things are perfect in life - these are our thoughts on where the ball was dropped.

I have heard about "towel fairies" before and it was true. Too many brown towels on every lounger and no bodies sitting in them ..... ever. This is backwards thinking but make people accountable for their towels so they can't monopolize chairs they never use - everybody should get one towel and make replacements readily available if people like fresh towels throughout the day. Perhaps even have staff collecting "abandoned" towels so guests don't feel guilty moving someone elses.

I called the Concierge desk asking for a bottle of wine and it was delivered to the room in 5 minutes. A night or two later i had the same request and it took 45 minutes for the bottle to be delivered. The 3rd night request went undelivered for over an hour until i called room service and then a bottle was at the door in 5 minutes (but only one so one request was cancelled out by Sandals staff somewhere).

I didn't feel Concierge was particularly helpful when making dinner reservations either. You had to wait for the "sheets" to appear - between 8:30 and 9am and when they did it looked as though the Butler service had gotten preferred seating times. If you weren't there early you had better like late dinners (if still available).

The majority of restaurant staff were very friendly although we did find the odd bad apple - not enough to spoil the meal though. Most staff were very professional and appeared happy to be there.

All beaches are public although Sandals has much of the beach out front of their resort full of chairs and cabanas. Two days it seemed as though a bus load (or two) of tourists got dropped off for a day at "our" beach. It wasn't crazy but we noticed. Maybe we're just getting a little too stiff with age. The vendors walk the beach all day long but are pretty easy to blow off with a nod of the head or grunt (you get tired of telling the same faces "no thanks" 3 or 4 times a day). You don't have to worry about vendorson the property - hotel security is at each beach entry point so only Sandals guests can get onto the resort from the beach. We got asked a few times to confirm our name and room number with security and they checked our info against their list.

One day we were in the main pool - there was a very loud bunch who were camped out at the swim up bar. They were young and loud and had definitely had their fill of drinks. Again, perhaps our age thing but not what we were expecting at Sandals. There were other quieter, but smaller, pools spread across the property but we spent most of our time on the beach.

Overall, we had a great time and the weather was fantastic. Sandals-Whitehouse in Jamaica would probably rank a little higher on the overall satisfaction number for us but we like things a little quieter and more mature (although not looking for senior's satisfacton - sorry q-tips). The nightlife was ok and we won a bottle of rum one night. We enjoyed the repeat guest banquet and it was a full house. We are looking for to another Sandals - we have a few in mind but i think there's a cruise on the hoizon next.

Room Tip: Mediterranean side - Almond building and highest floor possible for best ocean view.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Sandalized
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Manchester, England, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed November 20, 2012

We were in resort from 11th to 19th November for my fiancee's 40th, and its the best resort we have ever stayed in. I was apprehensive due to some of the reviews, but would say make your own mind up you will not be disappointed.
Staff were fantastic and always went the extra mile. Restaurants were great, and only 3 of them requird bookings but this was never a problem. If you dont want to dine there is grab and go or the pizza bar. The evening entertainment was good and cricketers excellent.
We frequented the main pool and beach most days and both are great, beds werent a problem, neither were drinks, as if you did not fancy a walk (or swim) to the bar, there was always a waitress coming round taking orders.
Big shout to Remy and Alfie who we met whilst there and had a great laugh with.
Top, top resort, we would go again like a shot!

Room Tip: those pesky mosquito's!!! take spray or wipes.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Tony S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Prattville, Alabama, United States
Level Contributor
62 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed November 20, 2012

My husband and I went here in August 2012 for a week. We had a wonderful time! The main pool was HUGE. The staff was wonderful (a woman bartender at the main pool bar never forgot my husband's name, and Ken, from the Cricketeer's Pub always remembered us, too). Our room was great - pretty view, awesome jetted tub and bed - you did have to watch for the air conditioner dripping. We laid a towel down in the floor because it got really slick. We tried Marios, the Cricketeers Pub, a ocean side romantic dinner for two, Eleanor's, Bayside, Barefoot by the Sea, Kimonos, and Bella Napoli Pizzeria. Barefoot by the Sea was a great place to grab a quick lunch while you're by the pool. Eleanor's requires a reservation, and you should definitely go. The food was awesome. We also really enjoyed the pizza from Bella Napoli. We would get it and bring it back to to the pool. The romantic dinner for two was an excursion that we paid extra for. The food was great, and the atmosphere was very romantic, but the service was slow (there were a bunch of people having a romantic dinner all over the beach). There was a beach party the same night as our dinner, so we ended up leaving before dessert to go to the party. We made some really amazing friends while we were there, and I wouldn't trade the experience for the world.

We signed up for deep sea fishing, but it got cancelled because not enough people signed up (so I was a little disappointed about that). The beach lets vendors hang out, and they are constantly trying to sell you stuff. We only went to the beach one day because, come on, who wants to be harassed to buy excursions and clothing? The only other con of our trip was relatd to a tropical storm that delayed our flight leaving. We were still taken to the airport like we were going to leave on time, and then we had to hang out in the very minimal airport for hours (and by minimal, I mean smaller with less stuff than the Montgomery, AL airport). It was rough, but I blame that on the tropical storm (and the fact that my husband had contracted some kind of cold).

Room Tip: We originally booked a honeymoon garden of eden deluxe, but because prices dropped, they put us in a...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Christie D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Monroeville, Indiana
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed November 19, 2012

My wife and I have been to a few Sandals and consider ourselves regulars. This was our first time to Antigua. I will start by saying that the view was wonderful and the sites were the best we have seen from the Sandals we have been to in the past (St Lucia, Jamacia). The food was excellent and a big highlight for us. We did some deep sea fishing off the resort which we had booked seperatly. We were sucessful and able bring some back to our resort were a gracious gentleman named Boycott prepared several different meals for us with the fresh fish. This was a big highlight for me, and for that I am greatful. The food everywhere else on the resort was very good with no lack of fresh sea food. The swim up bar was a nice place to take in some sun and enjoy several cocktails which they did a good job making. The service however was a step below the service we have come to exspect from Sandals congiers in the past. Once arriving at Sandals we were ask if about spa treatments and escorted to our rooms after a two minute tour. The staff was not very helpful and seemed to have better things to do. We are typically outgoing people who welcome the ineraction of the onsite staff. However with the exception of Boycott, Spice, Celia, and Taricea, we did not feel it was up to the Sandals Select level that we have come to appreciate and enjoy. The room was very nice, the view was awesome, and the food (Seafood & Fresh Fish) was the best we have ever had. The service could use some work. We would try some other Sandals locations before going back to this one.

Room Tip: Monte Carlo Ocean view 7th floor
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
3 Thank Douglas S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cassie C, Sandals & Beaches Review Coordinator at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, responded to this review, November 20, 2012
Thank you so much for your excellent review of Sandals Grande Antigua. We're glad you enjoyed the delicious food and our beautiful resort and we're more excited to read that Boycott, Spice, Celia and Taricea were able to make your stay so wonderful! They will be so encouraged to hear of your kind mention. Unfortunately, during your stay, the hospitality of some of our staff members did not meet the Sandals standard and for that please accept our apologies. As hoteliers we realize that there is always room for improvement and feedback is crucial in this process. Therefore, your comments have been passed on to the relevant departments for immediate evaluation and action as needed.

We look forward to welcoming back soon for an even better stay!


Sincerely,
Cassie C.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oshawa, Canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed November 19, 2012

Just returned from a short stay at Sandals, and had a blast but with some minor irritations. Stayed at the Med side, where the room was very nice, with a great view. The reception staff were very attentive, and had no issues with any of them. A special thanks goes to Allison for arranging a day pass to Pineapple Beach Resort for us, which we used the day we rented a car.
We had a problem booking any of the "preferred restaurants", but we got past it !!
Had a great game going on in the morning called "beat the butler", I say this because you had to be down on the beach by 6:30 if you wanted a decent location. I was up early anyway, so this was no big deal !
Some of the bar staff could have greeted you with a smile, felt like they were doing us a favour, not all but some. Tried the upstairs restaurant for breakfast at Bayside, gave up up after it took us twenty minutes to place the order, server was a little rude so we just left. This was our second time at this resort, and left with the same thoughts as the first time, great resort at a great location, but the staff could be a little more attentive, not all but some. We booked a candle light dinner on the beach which was very nice, and the food was very good.
We have stayed at Sandals locations all over Jamaica and St Lucia, and would say that this resort probably is up there in the top three for us, along with Whitehouse and Negril. Like most of the resorts, you have to pay a premium for the upgraded rooms, to ensure that you get what the pictures in the brochures depict.
You have to get off the resort and get around the island, it has some great places to visit.
Hope this helps !!

Room Tip: Book the Med side if the quality of the room is important to you.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Welshtaff322
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed November 19, 2012

This was a holiday to celabrate our 20th wedding anniversary, we had the most relaxing time, all the restaurants were lovely food and the staff were mostly very friendly ( except in the grab and go ) they were very miserable, swim up pools were great, but had to be early to get a bed, but we preferred the beach most of the day and it was beautiful and the water blue and warm, and would go to the pools later, very romantic atmosphere but not in your face, overall I would recommend this holiday and would go back tomorrow

  • Stayed October 2012
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Helpful?
2 Thank Buggie4099
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cassie C, Sandals & Beaches Review Coordinator at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, responded to this review, November 20, 2012
We're all so thrilled read that you had such a spectacular stay at Sandals Grande Antigua. It was an honor to share this special occasion with you and we're happy that we were able to make it a memorable and amazing experience. I have forwarded your excellent review to our staff. They are glad to hear of how they exceeded your expectations and made your stay a wonderful one.

Thank you for your review. We look forward to your return in the future!


Sincerely,
Cassie C.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hinckley, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
52 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
Reviewed November 18, 2012

I should start off by saying if a few small things didn't happen, I would have rated this higher. However, they did so now some repeating customers will never be coming back to Sandals. In addition my recommendation to friends and colleagues will be to avoid this place.

So, what are these small things? Well to start off my wife and I are very keen in water based activities, so the obvious place in Sandals to go to is the Watersports centre. However, the attitude of one of the members of staff there was absolutely staggering. To say it was patronising would be an understatement, also down right rude. If you come across a character called "Justin", give him a wide birth would be my advice. If I was his boss and I knew about his attitude he would have been sacked a long time ago.

The next small thing kind of relates to the first thing - the overall attitude of Sandals staff. They really just don't care! We booked directly with Sandals so we expected a little courtesy. We flew over with Virgin Atlantic as part of the package that Sandals organised. There is a system operated by Virgin called "check in and chill out" where on the last day they take your bags early and already check you in for the flight, so you can spend more time relaxing. However, what we weren't told is that this needs to be ordered 72 hours before departure. We get a letter through on the day saying if you want this, do it 3 days ago. BEFORE ANY SANDALS STAFF REPLY TO THIS - NO WE WERE NOT TOLD IN THE ARRIVAL LETTER OR ANY OTHER TIME, SO DO NOT PATRONISE US YET AGAIN!!! Basically we were turned away from this because we were too late - it was an impossible situation. In trying to talk to Sandals about this, they just did not care at all. The only answer we got was, well you were told on arrival. OH NO WE WEREN'T! They just kept saying we are not affiliated to Virgin so it's not our problem. Not helpful and didn't even try try to assist us. Not impressed at all.

As for the rest of the stay, it was not that bad. The restaurants on the whole were nice. I would avoid the OK Corall as the food was horrible there, but the others were ok.

The smaller pool was nice and had a good swim up bar. Some great cocktails there. If you want a good cocktail, get served by Lattoya, she is awesome at making them.

The accommodation was nice, not large, but quite homely. The cleaning maid was a bit erratic - sometime coming to clean at 10am and then other times at 4pm etc, so was caught out a few times.

So to sum up, it could have been a great holiday, but in essence we had our experience spoilt. For that alone, we wont be returning back to Sandals again. Customer service here is seriously lacking. We expect better service than this, certainly for the money you need to pay.

Room Tip: Try somewhere else than Sandals.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
19 Thank knightdiverx
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa

Property: Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
Address: Dickenson Bay, St. John's, Antigua
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Antigua and Barbuda > Antigua > Saint John Parish > St. John's
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Top resorts Hotel in St. John's
#3 On the Beach Hotel in St. John's
#3 Family Hotel in St. John's
#3 Luxury Hotel in St. John's
#4 Romantic Hotel in St. John's
#5 Business Hotel in St. John's
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 373
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
•A European Hotel in the Six-Star, all-suite Mediterranean Village •Exotic Rondoval with private plunge pool and butler service •1,400 square foot Mediterranean villa with private plunge pool and butler service•Houses the East Caribbean's largest pool (1 of 6) •Offers 9 dining options and 8 bars including an English pub •Voted "World's Most Romantic Resort" 14 years in a row ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sandals Grande Antigua Hotel St. John`s
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort And Spa
Sandals Antigua
Hotel Sandals Grande Antigua
Sandals Grand Antigua
Antigua Sandals
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa Saint John Parish

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