My wife and I try to choose Caribbean vacations at locations that are a little less traveled. We decided to go to Antigua. We had never been to a Sandals and my travel agent stated that Sandals Grand Antigua is the best resort on the Island. She was not wrong.
I start off by saying that the Island seems very safe. I have been to Mexico several times, St Maarten and Costa Rica and never felt worried in Antigua when I went off site.
I am used to tipping for everything, even at past all inclusive resorts. Sandals would not accept any tips (this is the case for everything except for butler services) So let me officially begin my review with what I loved about the resort.
The staff was extremely friendly helpful. There are more restaurants than we were able to try in the week we were there. The food was fantastic (The pizza place was decent but it leaves a little to be desired, they are small). The rest of the food was fantastic. The best restaurants in my opinion were Kimonos (Japanese hibachi) and Eleanor's (Caribbean cuisine). We also really enjoyed the Sushi place which was surprisingly good. We also did a private dinner on the beach which was very nice and surprisingly reasonable compared to other resorts that do the same thing.
There is a lot to do at the resort and the resort is huge and our room was right in the middle of everything so despite its size, we never had to walk too far. Our room was nice. Nothing extraordinary. The room was always clean and the minibar/fridge was always restocked. The pools were very nice. The main pool is huge and beautiful but crowded. The other pool was quite a bit smaller and quieter but not inviting. The main pool was the place to be. There was always music playing and things going on, but not in a "you're on spring break type of way". The staff encouraged you to participate in activities but didn't hassle you. At Sandals they realize this is your vacation and want you to enjoy it in you're own way.
One of the things that drew us to Antigua was that they say the island has a beach for each day of the year. The Sandals beach was probably the best on the island. Clean crystal clear water, white sands and waiters that will get you drinks or food if you want. We decided to take a day trip to see other beaches and explore some of the island. Compared to other islands, Antigua doesn't offer a lot of history to see. A lot of people don't leave the resort. We were told by one of the Sandals staff to just get a cab and tell the driver what we want to see. The driver was happy to show us his island and culture and it was worth it. The only time the shops in town open is when cruise ships dock, so unfortunately there were no restaurants offering traditional Antiguan food for us to try. We did go to some other beaches and although they were nice, they werent as nice as the Sandals beach.
As far as entertainment goes, every night they have events planned. They range from guest/staff talent shows to competitions and fire dancing shows. All of them are pretty fun and we laughed a lot.
Now for the cons of the resort. Although there arent many, and none of them ruined our experience. The main pool was dirty. Ive been to resorts where the staff is normally cleaning the pool every morning. This did not happen here. I could constantly feel sand on the floor of the pool like it was never cleaned. I also saw food floating in the pool on numerous occasions. This was most likely the result of seagulls taking left over food from the beach and flying over the pool and dropping it. The seagulls were not a huge problem, but when you eat at the Barefoot restaurant during lunch, there are seagulls that will hop on the table to eat your food if you arent paying attention.
The beach is not private (which is rare for Sandals). Antigua laws prohibits any private beaches so there are locals that are walking around trying to sell you items. I have been on many vacations where this happens (mexico is the worst) and if you say no they wont bother you again. To counter this problem I have also brought beers to locals and when you do that they tend to watch out for you and leave you alone.
I would say that the bar tenders do not get personal with you like I have seen at other resorts. They probably have no reason to because they arent getting tips but they do work very hard.
The only other negative thing I would have to say is that the drink selection at the Irish Pub is not that great.
Sorry for the long poorly written review but I am not a writer. After this vacation we immediately booked another vacation at a different Sandals location. This is the best resort I have been to.
- 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