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.
- 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