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“Almost Perfect Vacation”

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Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
Ranked #3 of 15 Hotels in St. John's
Certificate of Excellence
Ajax,Ontario
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Almost Perfect Vacation”
Reviewed December 13, 2013

Our first trip to Sandals Grand Antigua was November 23-30. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and would highly recommend this resort. This is our second Sandals (US) visit – we prefer Grande Antigua to Whitehouse. We have also visited the former Sandals (UK) property in Varadero, Cuba six times.

Food quality was very good. Our first dinner – at OK Corral – was a huge surprise to the upside: the mahi-mahi was perfectly grilled and the ribs were delicious. While none of the other dinners rose to the same quality, we were pleased with quality and variety all week. There are lots of food options – until 930pm, at least – and the Grab and Go in the Mediterranean village was a great, late afternoon option… try the roti!

Our room (Mediterranean – Venetian, second floor) was outstanding: spacious, comfortable, great view. We opted for concierge service, and we would highly recommend it. You really don’t need a stocked bar at an all-inclusive, but it was nice to return from the beach/pool with bubbly on ice. Our room might be the most luxurious we have ever had.

We did not find the pool/beach chair reservation to be a problem – stake out a chair at 7am, then go to the well-appointed gym, prior to a great breakfast at Eleanor’s or Mario’s.

About the beach: Nice sand, but very narrow, with a steep drop off in the water. We prefer the superb beach in Varadero, Cuba, but we found the pool environment enjoyable. That being said, it is a great place to pull up a chair and watch the sunset.

We appreciated that the entertainment at the main pool was not too invasive – a few events, a few announcements, but for the most part it was quiet and relaxing.

About the butler service: We have never opted for this service, and we don’t see the point – concierge service gives us what we need. We have no problem walking or swimming 50 feet to get a drink.

For the most part, the grounds are beautifully maintained. We appreciated the Sandals touches – double hammocks and loveseats beside fire pits. We loved sitting in those loveseats, looking up at the stars in the late evening.

The entertainment was generally very good, but Sandals should re-think seating arrangements – there were typically more people standing than sitting at evening shows outside the Drunken Duck. This can be easily fixed.

There were a couple of minor downsides. We did experience lots of bug bites – no sure of the source. We also felt that it would be nice if there was a dance club, a cigar bar or both somewhere on the property.

We’d encourage guests to take advantage of the in-room safe and the fact that this is a no-tip resort… there is no need to carry valuables.

One aspect of this resort that we really appreciated was that everything was EASY – getting into restaurants, finding a comfortable spot, shopping, etc.

The weather in late November was great – two minutes of rain most days, but blue skies for the most part and a high of 29C/84F. We plan to return!

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank beachgirlAjax
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lauren B, Online Review Coordinator at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, responded to this review, December 14, 2013
Hello and thank you for your review.
We are pleased that you had a great time at Sandals Grande Antigua! It's lovely that you enjoyed all that this resort has to offer. We also appreciate your feedback and will be sending your concerns and suggestions to the resort management team for immediate evaluation and action as needed.
We look forward to having you back for an even better vacation experience in the near future!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Langhorne, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
31 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed December 13, 2013

My wife and I were here for 10 days on our honeymoon, it was incredible. The resort has multiple restaurants with in it so you really don't have to leave the resort unless you want to do some sight seeing, which we did one day. They have multiple pools and hot tubs all around the resort as well as direct beach access. We opted for the lowest level room that still included concierge service, I highly recommend getting a concierge level room. From the express check in to the stocked fridge and alcohol in the room it was well worth it. We had big bottles of water in our fridge every day when other people we meet there were buy gin bottled water in the gift shop everyday to bring to the pool.

The activities were fun too, there was always someone trying to get a volleyball game going or lawn darts or a game of chess. The chess board was neat, the pieces were almost two feet tall and you played on a huge permanent board on ground.

We plan on going back for an anniversary soon.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Michael_N_00
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lauren B, Online Review Coordinator at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, responded to this review, December 14, 2013
Hello and thank you for your review, Michael.
We are thrilled that you had an amazing honeymoon stay at Sandals Grande Antigua and that you enjoyed your visit from beginning to end! It's wonderful that you have so many lovely memories of the fun you had together exploring all that this resort has to offer.
We look forward to welcoming you back soon!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Forked River, New Jersey
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed December 12, 2013

We stayed at Sandals Grande Antigua from November 24 to December 4 and we were really excited. We had arrived at Sandals around 4 p.m. and our room wasn't ready, no big deal we were perfectly content waiting for the room to be ready. After we checked in the conceirge desk advised us that our travel agent book us a trip to Shirley Heights. The odd part was that I know my travel agent wouldn't of booked us a trip for the day we were traveling. I advised the woman I had a broken foot and asked if this is a tour that I could go on and she said "Yes" you won't have any problems. We get to Shirley Heights and we had to pay $8.00 per person to get in. Another, no big deal kind of moment. Make a long story short, Shirley Heights is nice if you like a tourist trap and have never seen a sunset. Otherwise our travel agent paid $45.00 a person for us to take the taxi ride to Shirely Heights. We ended up getting a taxi back to the resort on our own after about 2 hours at Shirley Heights. I expressed to the conceirge desk that they shouldn't tell people to go on this tour if they have a disablity to get around. We are shown to our room which was nice and roomy. We had the Portofino Walkout Suite, room 7108 on the Mediterranean Side. (Here is the kicker to the Shirley Heights tour, we have champagne from our travel agent with a note saying that we she booked us a tour to Shirley Heights on December 1, not November 24 when we arrived to the resort.) Sandals totally dropped the ball on a wonderful surprise our agent set up for us.
The design of the room was nice except for the bathroom where the toilet is. There is wooden slats on the window and this is where the mosquitos crawl in. I got sick of being bitten so I shoved a towel in the window. We didn't drink the liquor in the room either. When you pick up the bottles and move them around you could see dead bugs in the bottles. It is really nice to have that in the room but caps would be better than pourers where they can crawl in the bottle. We had brought aloe with us and put this in the refrigerator. Third day in it was gone. I called the conceirge desk and they told me the cleaning staff left so we would hear from them in the morning. I hung up and went to their desk and let them know I wasn't leaving without a resolution. The gentleman ran to the spa and got us a bottle of aloe. I bring these items from home because I will not pay $20 to $25 for a bottle of aloe when I get it at home for $6. The next morning I said to the woman that cleaned our room that this was missing and asked if she had seen it. She did not and then she asked the bar restock crew and they hadn't see it either. Jennifer, the woman who cleaned our room knocked on our door about an hour later with fresh aloe! At this point I think Jennifer should be running the show, she knows how customer service works! The Conceirge Desk called us on two seperate occasions as well to ask us if our bags were ready and if we were ready to check out. On both occasions we let them know that we didn't check out for another 8 days then another 6 days when they called again. The third call was on December 1st around 5 p.m. when they let us know we missed our Shirley Heights Tour which was scheduled for 3 p.m. LOL Again, had to explain to them that they sent us on the wrong date.
We explored the resort and it is beautiful and clean. The staff was really friendly. I am not sure why other's put they are not friendly. The food was nothing to rave about. The best meal we had gotten was at the Barefoot by the Sea. Try the Marilin! OMG! Eleanors food didn't have a caribbean flavor it was just plain bland. (Compared to Beaches Negril, the food at SGA was a dissapointment) The OK Coral was our second favorite restaurant. It would be nice if they had a grab and go on the Mediterranean side as well. If you are a foodie, this is the place not to go. Again, Beaches Negril had a 5 star restaurant where we felt like we were eating in NYC top restaurants.
We spent everyday at the Mediterranean Pool, the bartenders were great! There are things that I didn't like around the pool. Techo/Rap music being played 9 out of 11 days. You know, that really makes me feel romantic. LOL (Most people were in the age range of 40 to 70) We didn't see anyone coming around to take drink orders until day 9. On day 9 the staff was on their toes and finally they start playing relaxing music. (Bob Marley, Jason Mraz) On night 8 we were walking back to our room and passed Mario's. Guess who we see! Gordon "Butch" Stewart the Chairman of Sandals and Beaches eating dinner outside of Mario's. After his arrival we felt like it was the Sandals Resort we paid to come to. Sad that it takes the Chairman to come to his resorts for them to deliver what he sells. If I were him I would fire the General Manager. It is her job and her staff's job to know the customers. Example, Techno/Rap around the pool with a bunch of 40-70 year olds doesn't cut it! The drunken duck had DJ Sporty on December 3 and he clearly wanted to play his music, again Techno, Rap. I guess he didn't get it either that he had a dance floor full playing Bryan Adams, KC & Sunshine Band, etc. but still continued to play what he wanted. It was comical to watch the dance floor empty then he played Bryan Adams Summer of 69 and the bar went wild.
In closing, If you are looking for a Ultra Luxury Vacation DO NOT go to Sandal's Grande Antigua. This resort misses so many little details for "2 people in love" to make it extra luxurious. I will be trying Secrets next and I am unsure if we will return to another Sandals Property. Many of the people we met said that Secrets blew this resort away. One couple we met said the RIU in Costa Rica blew this resort away. YIKES! Advice to managment, the devil is in the details and know your customers. Please don't respond to this review like other's I have seen. "While Other's enjoy our resort"

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Danielle E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lauren B, Online Review Coordinator at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, responded to this review, December 14, 2013
Thank you for your review of Sandals Grande Antigua.
We regret to hear that we were unable to meet your expectations. Because of that, please accept my 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.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Canada
1 review
Reviewed December 11, 2013

It seems like it was just yesterday when my husband, Rob, and I went to Antigua to celebrate our honeymoon and found paradise. We were so lucky that we flew Air Canada first class, with superb service that was just a hint to what was in store for us when we arrived to our beach front, butler catered suite. Rodger was exemplary and we couldn't have asked for better treatment. We hardly kept him busy at the hotel because we were off on excursions most days, including a helicopter ride over the live volcanic island, deep sea fishing with two other honeymooners of similar age (seasoned, lol) from South Carolina. One of THE best choices we made was to hire one of Rodger's recommended personalized Taxi service so that we took the day to tour the island, see all that was to see, without being treated like cattle on and off a tour bus. One of the best discoveries we had was walking along the beach to find a small little intimate restaurant where we had grilled lobster. We were almost astonished to find our butler there with his fiancé and a couple who were close friends -- what better endorsement than that! We have Antigua high on our list of places we want to return. We're closing on our 10th Anniversary so who knows.

Room Tip: We stayed in a beach front unit that was steps from the beach front with Butler service ... if you w...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank RobJeannetteMarshall
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lauren B, Online Review Coordinator at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, responded to this review, December 14, 2013
Thank you for your review of Sandals Grande Antigua, Rob and Jeannette.
We are delighted that you had the honeymoon of your dreams and enjoyed every minute of your stay. The Butlers are fantastic and ensure that you are able to relax and enjoy this beautiful resort and island!
We hope to welcome you back soon!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Norwalk, Connecticut
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed December 11, 2013

Reviews were so incredibly useful in helping me make my final accommodations that I feel compelled to return the favor. Hope this is objective and helpful! Let's start with cons because it's always best to end on a good note!

Cons:
Late-Night Help from the Front Desk: I called on two occasions after 10:30 pm and wasn't able to get sufficient help. The phone rang for several minutes and I was eventually rolled over to someone who was unable to help. My wake-up call never happened, so be sure to set your own alarms as a back-up.

Gnat/Mosquitos: Within the first 24-hours on the resort, I had a dozen bites. Quite honestly, I've never had insect bites like these. They were maddeningly itchy and even blistered. In no way do I think this problem was specific to Sandals. They do their best to control them. It likely happens all over the island, but word to the wise: pack tons of bug spray and hydrocortisone cream - as there was no Afterbite left on the resort.

Beach: The beach was stunning, but we found it quite crowded. We felt we were almost on top of each other in some spots. By 11 am, there were very limited beach chairs left and absolutely none with shaded coverings. Because this is a public beach, there were several vendors selling their wares. Most were polite and accepted a simple "no thank you." However, there were two in particular that were very aggressive. One made an inappropriate joke that my husband did not find funny, and another asked us to buy him a hamburger for lunch - a request that made us uncomfortable and also incredibly sad.

Medical Staff: Unfortunately, we witnessed a guest have a serious medical episode during our stay. Admittedly, I am from the hard-charging greater New York City area where we want things yesterday. However, I found the medical staff's response time to be unacceptable. I screamed for someone to call 911, and while restaurant staff brought the man water, it took several minutes for the nurse to saunter over. Once there, they seemed ill-prepared and slow to handle the situation. On vacation, I'll gladly wait for food and drinks. For medical emergencies, however, there needs to be a much greater sense of urgency.

Pros: (There are many!)
Food: The food and drinks were delightful and plentiful. Not to be missed treats include: Barefoot by the Sea's lunch beef chimichurri wrap and hummus with pita chips appetizer, as well as the grilled Mahi Mahi for dinner. The beef short ribs at OK Corral were tender and flavorful, and I had the coconut ice cream everyday it was available at the Patisserie. I don't care for cheese, and the pizzeria even made me a cheeseless pizza.

Housekeeping: The staff was amazing. Our room was well-stocked and meticulously cleaned on a timely basis throughout the trip.

Overall Staff: We found the staff to be so warm and accommodating throughout the trip. The no-tipping policy actually made us uncomfortable - as we had no tangible way to thank staff for their impeccable service beyond a chorus of thank-you's. We even got a personal phone call at the end of our stay to see how things went.

Excursions: Antigua is one of the most beautiful islands we've visited. Sandals makes it easy for you to leave the resort and explore the island - which I highly recommend. We did the Sandals-accompanied trip into St. Johns and the Power 360 circumnavigation cruise around the island - perfect ways to experience Antigua by land and sea.

Overall, we had a great trip and would definitely return to another Sandals resort!

Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
3 Thank CNW212
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dieppe, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed December 10, 2013

We celebrated our 25 anniversary at this super resort....compared to some of the reviews...we have nothing but great memories of our vacation...we were well served right from our arrival.
Our room was really nice, we had our fridge re stock every day without asking, plenty of everything...our room was spic and span plus turn down every nights. The food was great, the weather was great, the beach was great and the grounds were clean and beautiful...The surrounded nature...wow !!! Fresh beach towels in our room every night !!! Which was not a problem at the pool, always plenty...We walked on the beach every day, and if you walked a bit
on the left side, we were just the two of us and enjoyed a bottle of champagne...Great vacation and plenty of great memories...This was not our first Sandals vacation...as we visit sunny destination every year but this was our first sunny destination in November...it was perfect !!!
Now we can't wait to visit Sandals Barbados in april !!!
Roger & Denise Leger

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Roger L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed December 10, 2013

I have always wanted to have a holiday at a sandals hotel, so my husband surprised me for my 60th birthday. My husband sent a email to inform them of this and there wasn't even an acknowledgement of our special trip. On walking round the resort we were very surprised how tired it looked, for a top class resort it failed miserably. On trying out restaurants the staff would leave you waiting to be sat, although they would stand there staring at you.Quite a few times we were seated at tables with dirty table cloths and also chipped crockery. The best is lunchtimes, if you want a sit down meal you have a choice of two restaurants both infested with nasty looking black birds. Most of the food is uncovered with birds landing and eating it with most of the staff ignoring them.Near our room on a path an animal had left its mess and it was still there 3 days later. Sandals you really let us down we will NOT be returning.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Susan W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lauren B, Online Review Coordinator at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, responded to this review, December 11, 2013
We regret to hear that your stay was not as expected. We strive to uphold the highest standards of service and quality. Our staff goes through 120 hours of rigorous training each year to ensure we are providing excellent guest experiences. We have many guests that boast of our luxurious inclusions, water sports, fine dining, accommodations and quality of staff but as hoteliers we realize that there is always room for improvement and your feedback is appreciated.

On a tropical island it is difficult, at times, to keep the birds away as we are in their habitat but we do have staff monitor the buffet areas and will remind them of the importance of this exercise. Along with diligent surveillance, we have other deterrents in place, such as: an ultra sonic bird away system, screens and nets around the buffet area and artificial predator birds. We are always seeking new, environmentally safe methods of reducing the bird presence and will continue to work earnestly to resolve this issue.

We want to make sure future guests do not have similar feedback and will take action by notifying the appropriate departments of your remarks. We do request that while on resort you notify us of anything that does not meet your standards. We are always willing to work with you to make sure you walk away feeling like your stay was money well spent.
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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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