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Reviewed April 27, 2014

We cannot wait to go back! Antigua is a great island and Sandals Grande Antigua does not disappoint! We were sad to leave! Everything was spectacular!!! Our room was clean, the service was great, and the food was wonderful!

  • Stayed: April 2014
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1  Thank Hopkier
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 27, 2014

You boast that you value our loyalty and that we are part of the loyalty club of the Sandals family. So when we come back yet again we do not expect to be treated with a sense of total disregard and apathy. This was the first time in 16 years including our 1st stay we were not upgraded. Since 2003 we have always been given concierge.
As DIAMOND level members you talk about elite privileges and benefits reserved for your most loyal guests.
We were checked-in in the lobby not in our room, then we were given a room over looking the delivery yard and staff entrance, with lots of coming and goings from6am. The carpet was disgusting and had to be removed and not replaced. There was no welcome pack or even a letter, no welcome gift or edible delight, no voucher for a couples spa. We did not receive a invitation to the returning guests dinner.
In the 2 weeks we were there several members of staff were aware we were unhappy but the general manager made no effort to introduce himself or try and rescue our Holliday. The soon come back desk who are usually very helpfully at other properties were very rude and very argumentative.
You can not imagine what a shock this holiday experience was.
However we would like to thank
Gus,Gavin,Ken and Stanley for their hard work in looking after us.

  • Stayed: March 2014, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Hoppo_7
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 reviewResponded April 29, 2014

Hello Hoppo_7,

Thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback. We regret to hear that after your many positive experiences at Sandals resorts, that your most recent stay at Sandals Grande Antigua did not meet all of your expectations. For this, we apologize. It is never our intention to have any guest feel slighted or less appreciated, as you are all valued guests. I would be happy to look into this matter on your behalf and I have sent you a private message for a few additional details about your experience. We truly appreciate our loyal guests and we hope you will allow us another opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to excellence.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 26, 2014

My husband and I stayed at Sandals Grande Antigua in Nov. 2013 for a honeymoon getaway for a week. For the price, we were both expecting 5 star dining but was more like mediocre at best. The one restaurant that we loved was Kimonos, very entertaining but closed on a Friday, when we went back for sushi on our last night. I've never heard of a restaurant being closed on what should have been one of their busiest nights. Drunken Duck was very disappointing the food was not good and they weren't even ready for patrons after being open for almost 30 minutes. They made us wait till they were ready for service. Our room was great, very clean and enjoyed our private pool and jacuzzi. The butler service was the best part, service was great but would have preferred choosing our own reservation destination instead of having someone pick where we would eat at on our stay. For the price I would not return to this resort I'd rather stay somewhere less commercialized.

Room Tip: Mediterranean One Bedroom Butler Villa Suite with Private Pool Sanctuary a must if you want your privacy, for couples who want some quality time alone this is a must.
  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Charla L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 26, 2014

I have a lot to say so I'm going to break it down so you can easily read what you want & skip what you want.

Trip planning:

I highly suggest Ruth DeMuth (ruth@tripguy.com) She's personally been to every Sandals location and is an expert on all things Sandals. She replies immediately, can pull some strings and get you some extra perks, can take care of any issues (even while you're still there), and she takes the time to go over all your questions and concerns before you leave. My fiancee spoke with her several times and we both talked to her via Skype for about an hour before we left. We had some issues with United coming home and Ruth took care of all of our issues, something we certainly didn't want to deal with at that point. I definitely recommend Ruth to help you plan your trip!

Mediterranean vs Caribbean side:

We were lucky enough to stay on both sides, a "split stay" as they call it.

Our first stay was on the Caribbean side on the Sunset Bluff. We loved the location of this room. Check out my pictures and you can see why. I enjoyed walking to and from this room every day because it's so gorgeous. We also loved walking out to the small (and very quiet) pool and hot tub.

Our next room was on the Mediterranean side, also a first floor walkout. I personally wouldn't do anything but a first floor walkout regardless of what side you stay on. The bathroom in this room was GORGEOUS! Two sinks (we liked that because I have so many toiletries!), a rain shower head, whirlpool tub (we didn't use it) and the patio had lounge chairs as opposed to standard chairs on the other side.

Consensus: If we could take the bathroom on the Med side and put it in the room on Sunset Bluff we'd have the perfect room. If I had to do it again and pick one or the other I'd go with Sunset Bluff, the fact that it's cheaper helps too. Both rooms are great and you can't go wrong with either of them!

Concierge room:

We think it was worth the money. It was only $100+ more (total) for the 7 days in the Sunset Bluff room. Note: All rooms on the Med side are concierge.

The grounds:

One word, pristine. Absolutely gorgeous, clean, extremely well kept, perfect, just perfect. We loved the fire pits at night (there are two locations that have them). One night they even set up a big screen and showed movies. The groundskeepers do an excellent job, you'll see them in the morning. We get up early, I imagine they're up REALLY early. I must have 100 pictures of the grounds and flowers alone.

The Beach:

We came to a "couples only" resort for a reason and we thoroughly enjoyed not being around kids for 10 days. The thought of a public beach kind of scared me, especially when ships were in. Fear not, even when ships (or "ship" - there was only one ship in at a time when we were there. Out of the 10 days, only 3 days were ship days) were in, there weren't a zillion screaming kids hitting guests in the head with friz-bees like I expected. Actually, if I hadn't looked up the ship schedule, I probably wouldn't have even noticed they were in.

It is a public beach with beach vendors, but a simple "no thank you" and they'll leave you alone. Sandals wait staff will bring you drinks on the beach which is nice. Sandals also takes care of the beach so it's extremely clean and beautiful just like the grounds. There are plenty of shady areas an tents that are first come first serve.

Pools/Drinks/Bars:

Also very clean and well kept. The big swim up bar opens at 10:30am and the bartenders were always great. There are several, SEVERAL drinks to choose from but my personal favorites were the banana daiquiri, pina colada with dark rum on top, and the dirty banana. Basically, anything with a fresh banana in it is delicious, especially if you're like us and don't like super sweet drinks. Beer was good, not skunky like beer on the islands can sometimes be, didn't even need a lime. Champagne with a little bit of peach schnapps or melon vodka is delish.

There is a smaller swim up bar which seemed to get a little bit louder than the big bar. This bar also gets the late sun. This is where they play pool volleyball. Also very fun!

The pool that we walked out to on the bluff was very quiet. I mean VERY quite. We spent the whole day there one day, it was a nice little retreat.

Service:

I can't name exact servers that went above and beyond simply because I'm horrible with names. I will say that we thought the service was excellent and the employees seemed to truly care about us. Many of them asked if we were enjoying ourselves and when we answered yes, they seemed to be really happy (maybe proud?) about it. We're from Chicago where service is excellent so for us to be happy with each and every server that we met says a lot.

Food/Restaurants:

Again, being from Chicago our standards are high. We ate at every single restaurant and never had a bad meal. You can't go wrong no matter what but here are my personal recommendations:

Caribbean lobster at Elenore's - I love this restaurant, make a reservation the minute you arrive

Pulled pork tacos at the OK Corral - the ribs are supposed to be excellent too

Surf & turf at Bayside - That steak was as good as any steak I've eaten in top notch places in Chicago

The burger & pulled pork at the Grab & Go place (forgot the name)

All pizzas were good

Antipasto bar and lasagne at Mario's and the yogurt/fruit/granola cups for breakfast

The ribs and BBQ chicken at Barefoot by the Sea

The chefs at Kimono's are entertaining and everything was delicious (we were there twice)

Go to Soy and ask George for one of his specials.

Do not pass up the famous black pineapple, sweetest pineapple you've ever had.

Spa:

The spa is gorgeous. We had a couples massage and it was very relaxing. I asked for a deep tissue and a deep tissue I got. Usually females aren't able to do this well enough, not my girl! I felt great afterwards.

Excursions:

Ziplining was a lot of fun and the employees were really entertaining!

James (black leather cowboy hat) the beach vendor took us on an awesome morning horseback ride (they have a sunset one too). This was the best sightseeing of the whole trip. $70 a piece for 2.5 hours, highly recommended.

Management:

We saw Mr. G (General Manager) several times throughout the trip. He actually seated us at Bayside for lunch. The fact that he was out and about talking and serving guests sets a great example for his staff.

My opinion on other negative reviews:

Don't take them to heart. We weren't even a week into our trip and we were already talking about going back in 2015. I saw some very rude guests there, consider the source of the bad reviews. I saw bartenders go out of their way to be nice to rude guests. I don't think I could be that nice after seeing such rudeness, but that type of customer service stuck out in my mind.

Quick Tips:

You have to get up early if you want a shaded spot by the big pool

Try the "Newlywed Game", we won a free cabana for the day!

The mosquitoes are stealthy, bring bug spray!

Do NOT miss Da Vibes, steel drum band and the dancers. They play at the beach party and then they play again later in the week.

Finally, if you can financially do so......never leave. Coming back to reality really sucks.

  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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11  Thank kab134
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 26, 2014

We returned today from a fabulous 2 week holiday at Sandals, Grande Antigua. This was our second visit to the resort, where we again stayed in the Caribbean Village (Oleander block). Our room was large and adequate but in need of a total refurb - as is the case with most rooms in the Caribbean Village. (The rooms in the Mediterranean Village are superior and modern but, not so well located). Our room was kept clean and tidy by the housekeeping staff, although cleaning was sometimes not done until after 4pm.

The staff are undoubtedly the resort's biggest asset. Without expection, they are polite, friendly and helpful and always do their utmost best for visitors. Our visit was made extra special by gorgeous Nicole in the Barefoot restaurant and Ken in Marios, both of whom we now consider as friends. They were always welcoming and friendly and we shared happy times with them during our visit - lots of laughter and fun and, of course, professional service on their part. Sincere and heartfelt thanks to them both - particularly the occasion of our friend's birthday. Nicole, Ken - you are stars!

We found the resort gardens more beautiful on our second visit. Old overgrown trees and shrubbery had been cut back and there were many more glorious tropical flowers. The resort gardeners do an excellent job!.

The food was good in all restaurants but management really does need to address the issue of birds and flies eating and cr***ing on the food in the Bayside restaurant. (The restaurant is open on the beach-front with easy entry for birds. Food is left on display and uncovered for visitors (and birds and flies) to help themselves). Sandals - this is a health risk. There must be a solution?

In addition to the bird issue, there are some other issues that Sandals need to address if they are to maintain their reputation and unique share of the market:

Firstly - the resort is advertised as a romatic holiday location for couples. When we visited, there were large groups of loud-mouthed, drunken visitors who certainly made themselves known in the swimming pools and restaurants. Sandals - is this your future market?

Secondly, the evening restaurant dresscode has been relaxed and visitors are now permitted to dine in very casual attire (bordering on beachware) in just about every restaurant now. We would expect this in a resort with fewer stars - not a 5/6 star resort. Sandals - again, is this the future?

Thirdly, some visitors are terriotorial about blue floats in the main pool - they claim floats for the day and store them under their sunbeds so that others cannot use them. This causes conflict between visitors. Sandals - please do something about this. It's not difficult for the pool attendant to throw them back into the pool. Signage could be useful too.

Despite gripes, we had a fab holdiay and will probably return. Antigua truely is a beautiful island.

Room Tip: Rooms in the Caribbean Village are better located but rooms in the Med Village are superior.
  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank DeniseMaryAnne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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