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“Great Beach - But not all we expected”

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Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
Ranked #3 of 15 Hotels in St. John's
Certificate of Excellence
Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Level Contributor
14 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Great Beach - But not all we expected”
Reviewed June 6, 2013

My husband and I got married at the Sandals Grande in St. Lucia 6 years ago. We wanted to celebrate our anniversary and take a much needed vacation. Because it had been more than a few years since we took a real vacation, I splurged for a higher level concierge suite.

I have to say that there are some real positives here: gorgeous beach and ocean, WONDERFUL spa (they really do pamper you), Mario's is a great restaurant for dinner and breakfast, great excursions (additional cost - Best of Antigua, EcoTour), short trip from the airport to the resort, nice "Parisian" café for desserts or coffee, gorgeous grounds.

But I would not splurge on a concierge level room. The concierge staff often seemed like we were bothering them, and didn't go out of their way to do anything for us. Even when we reported an A/C leak in our room, the concierge on duty made a face and said "OK". There was no, "I'm so sorry, we'll take care of that right away," or anything else. I have to say many of the other staff were very much the same way. We often had issues even getting refills on our drinks at some restaurants or getting service at one of the bars. Not everyone was this way, but I would say a good 75% of the staff were not cut out for the service industry. I do give kudos to the manager at Mario's, and the wonderful ladies at the spa.

I had purchased a well known travel book about the island, and in the hotel section they list the pros and cons of different resorts. The word they used to describe the staff was "apathetic", and I whole-heartedly agree. Also, the resort really is 2 resorts in one - is quite expansive, and with no real map or assistance offered, it can take a second to figure out where everything is - no matter which side you stay on.

But if you're looking for a beautiful Caribbean beach, and don't expect much from the service end - I do thing this Sandals is worth trying.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank kjjose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Bayport, New York
Level Contributor
78 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
Reviewed June 6, 2013

Definitely worth staying in a Conceirge level room. The Caribbean rooms are a little outdated. The food at the Italian was the best. Casino is right next door so that was pretty convenient. Dickinson Bay is definitely one of the nicest beaches in the Caribbean even though its a public beach. The have scuba, snorkeling, and water sports included but make sure you make those reservations as soon as you get there. We took a boat ride over to st john which was pretty cool. Theres a lot of cats around and they always beg for food but Im assuming they are there to take care of any rodents. Overall it was a very enjoyable stay.dec11

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank ferenzp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
146 reviews
90 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 145 helpful votes
Reviewed June 6, 2013

We just got back from 8 nights at Sandals Antigua. The ride from the airport was a short 10 minute ride in a taxi van arranged by Sandals. We checked in on the Caribbean side and we were promptly taken to our room. We had checked in online (and highly recommend it to keep check-in short) so all they needed was our credit card and we were on our way. We had booked a Bougainvillea Honeymoon Suite which was spacious and updated. It is right between the 2 pools and a 2 min walk to the beach so nice location!

The service for the most part was outstanding and the resort is absolutely gorgeous. This is definitely our favorite Sandals resort. We have been on 5 trips to Sandals and 10 trips to Couples and this place is in our top 3 favorites for all inclusive in the Caribbean.

Our favorite places to eat in order of preference were:

1) Mario's (breakfast, Pizza for lunch and dinner);

2) Barefoot (great lunch and dinner) - jerk chicken for lunch and the fish selection was great.

3) Kimono's - the food is hibachi style and the entertainment (with a creative cook) was fun.

The service at the above 3 places was outstanding.

We had an average meal at:

4) Ok Corral - the steak was like eating leather but the rest of the food was great. Service also was very good.

5) Bayside - lunch and dinner - food and service was average

Our worse experience was at Eleanors. The service was horrible. My wife and myself both ordered soups - I got the coconut soup and she got the pumpkin soup. Both were luke warm and tasteless. I got the lobster which was overcooked as was my wife's fish. The servers could not careless that we were there. We kept having to ask for water and wine refills and it felt like we were such an imposition on them. We walked after having half of the main course and just did not want to stay around for desert.

This was our only negative experience and talking to other visitors by the pool, they had the same issue with Eleanor's which is supposed to be the Signature restaurant for the resort.

The service by the pool was great; the pastries and ice-cream at the french bakery was nice treat and the brick oven pizza was fantastic.

Loved the trip - would go there again and again except that it is very hard to fly there from Houston.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank PCTravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
East Orange, New Jersey
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed June 4, 2013

My husband and I just returned from Sandals Grande and Spa Antigua which we booked through Beach Bum Vacations and had the honor of working with Melissa who was wonderful in helping us with planning for our honeymoon and had an awesome time. From the moment we arrived at the resort our vacation began. We had a room on the Mediterranean side of the resort. In terms of food, we ate at Eleanor's and service was good, nothing amazing but nothing to complain about either. Pizza at Bella Napoli's is also worth a try.
One thing I would recommend is to bring some form of bug spray, like OFF, because there are a lot of mosquitoes and sand flies on the beach. If you do by chance get mosquitoes in your room, if you tell the front desk they will someone up and spray your room while you're out.
Overall, we had a great time, even when the rain came. And would definitely visit Sandals Grande Antigua again.

Room Tip: Definately request a room on higher floors if ever staying in a room on the Mediterranian side of th...
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank kimberly w
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chichester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
25 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed June 4, 2013

Stayed at Sandals in Antigua from May 10th for 11 nights and overall enjoyed an excellent holiday.
Accommodation - Stayed in a Garden of Eden Premium room (one of the cheaper rooms available) in the Caribbean Grove part of the resort. The rooms are single storey and surrounded by beautiful tropical gardens and flowers. This part of the resort appeals far more than the high rise Mediterranean part of the resort and is very well positioned for both areas of the resort. The rooms are old and fairly tired but comfortable, clean and well equipped.
Facilities - Good selection of bars, restaurants, pools, gym etc. and all appeared to be kept in good condition. Diving is available at the resort and included in the cost - 2 tank "deep" dive in the morning and single shallow dive each afternoon. BUT very particular on safety. I foolishly admitted to a back operation some 15 years previously and in spite of a favourable medical report only 5 years ago was obliged to go into St Johns to obtain a current doctor's certificate. As this was a Friday it meant that I was unable to obtain certificate until the Monday and therefore unable to dive until the Tuesday - and still had to do a pool dive with almost 50 previous dives, the most recent only 7 months ago.
Beach - A beautiful beach and I cannot understand complaints as any "hawkers" were polite and happy to chat.
Sunbeds - Sandals do need to get this sorted. With their own staff (Butlers) reserving many of the best beds, it is not surprising that most other guests try to reserve sunbeds near the pool - the lack of sunshades is a bigger problem than the number of sunbeds. Not really a problem if you are prepared to make the effort but still extremely frustrating when butler reserved beds are not occupied for many hours during the day!
Food & Drink - Mostly good to very good but not exceptional as I had hoped for. I believe we enjoyed better quality and selection in previous holidays to Mexican mainland (Secrets) and Cuba (Paradisus Rio de Oro). Excellent selection of quality drink brands - I would recommend the Eldorado rum 'straight up' - in moderation!
Staff - No problems at all. Good service generally and mostly very pleasant and helpful staff.
Finally just to add my voice to the many complaints about the payment require for Wi-Fi. To have to pay over US$40 for a week's Wi-Fi after the price paid for the holiday is unacceptable!
Overall a very good holiday but not quite achieving the superlatives I hoped for.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank GandT54
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
UK
Level Contributor
13 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed June 4, 2013

When we booked this we were a little concerned the hotel complex would be too busy for us; how wrong were we. We stayed in the "old" part of the complex towards the back of the grounds and found it very quiet and relaxing even though the hotel was fully booked. The entertainment was very much an "opt in" which suited us to a tee. The grounds were fabulous and really made for a relaxing holiday. The room was great and the mini bar was well stocked and frequently replenished. The staff were excellent (though we found this with all the people on the island). The choice of food was very good and all the meals we had were excellent as was the wine. Well worth hiring a car for a day or two (the island isn't big enough to warrant having it for much more than that). We hired it at the hotel and thought the rates were very good. The beach was good but narrower than the brochure portrayed, and isn't the best one on the island.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank stu1364
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hopewell Junction
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed June 4, 2013

My husband and I just got back from Sandals. We went there from May 30-June 3rd to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary. This was our 1st all-inclusive vacation and we enjoyed ourselves. Our room was in the Mediterranean building and it was spacious, clean and seemed pretty new. We had a short walk to the beach which was fine with us since we had a lovely view from our balcony of the water.
I do agree with other reviewers. It was a good vacation with many positives and some negatives.

Pros:
The Staff is amazing. Everyone is super friendly and always smiling and saying hello. They were also very helpful. The Bartenders at the big pool bar were amazing especially their intern Marcus. He made everyone feel like they were his favorites.

Pool: The main pool was lovely. My husband and I would get up relatively early for breakfast (7:30am-8am) and then head over to the pool to find a spot. We never had an issue finding a lounge chair with an umbrella even with the butlers saving some of the chairs. I enjoyed the free rafts they had in the pool too.

Drinks: for an all-inclusive resort they had good liquor choices. The main pool bar had a selection of Absolut vodkas and other upper end liquors. Also they provide lemonade and water with cucumbers on the side of the bar throughout the day.

Food: This is a tough one. There are some great places to eat there and some places we didn't like. Since we were only there for 4 days we decided to try to focus on local cuisine.

Breakfast: Marios was great for breakfast and our favorite spot was the OK Corral for the view and the food.

Lunch at the Barefoot Restaurant right on the beach was good. We had an excellent jerk chicken and BBQ ribs. I also tried the swordfish salad which was pretty good. We did do a pizza one day and the grab and go another. The pizza was decent but we are from NY so we are picky.

Dinner: Eleanors is by far the Best. The Coconut soup is to die for and the grilled lobster was excellent. Half way through the meal we made a reservation for the next night. That's how good it is. We also did an upgrade for our anniversary night and did dinner on the beach. The food was excellent as well and so was the service. The sommelier was top notch too. (Kenny)


Cons: The first night we did Sushi thinking it's an island the seafood would be super fresh. It wasn't. The salmon was good but that is about it. The rolls were prepared prior to us ordering. We felt slighted by the service too. It was hard to get a drink and the sushi chef ignored us. We found out there were free appetizers by hearing the chef tell the guests next to us.

Beach: The beach is so beautiful. The water is the perfect temperature and the sand is a soft white sand. The only annoyance is the vendors. Just keep saying No Thank You and after awhile they will get the idea. If you do show a little interest in what they selling they will be all over you. Also I noticed the weekend was worse than during the week for the vendors. I wish Sandals could do more to stop the harassment of their guests but it's a public beach so there's not much they can do.

On the positive side we did do a horseback ride with a licensed vendor Joseph and it was Amazing!! I highly recommend doing this. Our guide was professional, knowledgeable, helpful and most importantly nice. My husband is an avid rider and I have never been on a horse before. We both enjoyed the ride. We went along some great beaches and even ended up getting tour of their local fort.

We heard from other couples that the diving/snorkeling boat through Sandals was really fun. Another couple did the Catamaran trip which they said is an all day (8 hour) trip. They didn't like the trip. They said the seas get really choppy with big waves at times out in the ocean. The boat operators said this was normal. Some people threw up. Oh and I guess only about 2 hours of the 8 hours is spent on land.

Overall it was a nice vacation. We really enjoyed ourselves and felt that Sandals did a great job trying to keep all their guests happy. I would recommend Sandals Antigua to our friends and family.

Room Tip: The higher floors on the Mediterranean side are best. Great views and quiet.
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank HPGreier
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 Luxury Hotel in St. John's
#3 On the Beach Hotel in St. John's
#3 Family 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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