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“Not a Five Star Resort, probably about a three star”

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Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
Ranked #3 of 16 Hotels in St. John's
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed May 23, 2006

We recently visited Antigua the week of May 13 - 20. Upon our arrival at the Airport we located the Sandals booth and waited approx. 10-15 minutes for the bus to pick us up along with another couple to bring us to the resort, the ride I have to say from the Airport to the Resort was scary. First of all the do drive on the opposite side of the road in Antigua and pass cars constantly when they are driving a bit too slow, so that was scary when you are a passenger not in control driving head on towards another car.

Secondly when we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted with a cold towel to cool off and a glass of champagne and asked to sit along with other couples in the lobby while they checked us in. We were brought to our room approx. 1/2 hour later after we checked in and we were upgraded to the Flamboyant Building right by one of the best pools in the resort. Besides it being a bit loud in the morning with garbage carts being pushed by at 7 am, we liked the room, but not the dirty shower. We literally had to put our flip flops on to take a shower. The water smelled and we had to spray bug spray down both sink and tub drains because little sugar ants were always coming out of the drain.

I have never been to a resort before were I had to wear my flip flops to take a shower, and we have been to Maui, Cayman Islands, & St. Maarten and never encountered such a problem.

Also if you like animals watching you while you eat than you will love the cats that beg for food, or if you got to Il Palio they climb on the balcony and watch you eat, how unpleasant and unsanitary. They bring fleas and disease and I am not sure why Sandals would want such a thing at their resort in the first place. In the evening since the beach is a public beach you can hear the few dogs we saw barking at people trying to have a nice walk or teenagers walking on the beach and trying to get into the resort.

That brings up another issue, they have security guards at entrances, but it appears to just be a statement they try to make that it is a secure resort, they only asked us for our ID once and this was when we passed the security guard on the way out dressed up for the evening and than he asked our for our id card on the way back in. Than we saw three teenagers walk right past the guard and get in with no problem when they were not part of the resort.

All evening dinners require the gentleman to wear a collared shirt and dress pants (in 90 degree weather, no sandals), when they can have cats walk around while you eat, I don't think that is fair. You should be able to wear shorts at least. I mean come on.

We were not happy with a lot of thing we saw at this resort, and the attitude of some of the employees was not so pleasant, when you asked for three eggs at the buffet they questioned you, anything you asked for from a waiter or waitress seemed to be a bother to them it appeared to us.

Do not forget your bug spray for the beaches or at night because the mosquitos and sand fleas love to bite and you do not even see them. My legs were bitten up terrible and boy did they itch. Bring the spray with you to dinner and to the beach during the day.

During the day you will be tortured by vendors at the beach, because it is a public beach they ask you a million times to buy something or braid your hair, it is most annoying after your third day there. And if you want a beach umbrella get to the beach really early cause they only have a few and they are built in huts they do not have any portable umbrellas.
If you notice sometimes the vendors actually sit under the built in beach umbrellas with their dogs under the beach chairs, we found this most amusing, and no one from Sandals asked them to move.

Overall I would not go back to Sandals I was most disappointed as well as my husband was, we considered leaving the second day we were there, But stuck it out and lasted the week but would not go back. So consider going to St. Lucia Sandals, which we heard was much better.

7  Thank Woala1433
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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6,201 - 6,207 of 6,873 reviews

Reviewed May 20, 2006

my husband and I stayed at Sandals Antugua in February and had the most amazing holiday. We could not fault anything or anybody but were full of praise not only for the cleanliness of the whole place, bedrooms included, the good food (whichever restaurant you went to) the attentiveness of all the staff, nothing was ever too much trouble for them, to the friendliness of the whole place, all in all making us feel very special. The fact that the weather was brilliant, only the odd shower that lasted 2 minutes, made our stay fantastic. We will certainly be returning next year and I'm sure we will not be disapointed.Our congratulations to Mr Franklyn on managing a wonderful resort.

  • Stayed: February 2006
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12  Thank winterdyne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 18, 2006

We recently had our 10 night weddingmoon at Sandals Antigua. I also was a bit nervous because of the bad reviews, but they were quickly forgotten once we arrived.

Our wedding day was beautiful. The weather was great. While most people decide to get married in one of the gazebos, we decided to get married on the beach - that's one of the reasons we went there! They did a wonderful job and made sure everything was perfect for our special day. We had 16 guests with a private reception on the beach including a steel drum band who was wonderful. The pictures are amazing - the sunset pictures are perfect! As a tip - I would get the picture package with the least amount printed out and then buy the disc with all of them. In total the photographer took almost 300 pictures!

Besides the wedding, the food was wonderful. The Italian restaurant was my favorite followed closely by the Japanese steakhouse. We also had a private lobster dinner on the beach one night under the stars which was amazing (extra charge, but worth it). We stayed in one of the garden rondovals with the plunge pool - LOVED IT! Our butlers were very accomodating. They really do anything and everything to make you happy.

The bad things - we lost our luggage (not Sandals fault), which we recovered the next day. There was a little mix up with the "sandals" wedding coordinator and the "on-site" wedding coordinator, but it was resolved rather quickly. There are many cats on the property, but mostly because people keep feeding and playing with them. The nightlife could use some work - there wasn't really much between dinner and 11pm when the piano bar & nightclub open. But all in all - our vacation was wonderful and I would definately go back to a Sandals again.

  • Stayed: April 2006
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13  Thank antiguawed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 8, 2006

After booking our trip and reading the reviews, I was petrified! When we arrived at the airport we were greeted by a Sandals employee and quickly loaded onto a shuttle. Hopped off the bus and at first sight was happy. We were checked in rather quickly by Sabrina, given champagne and a cold towel. We stayed in the 200 block, were upgraded (I think most are) from a Grande Luxe to a Jr. Suite...it was very clean and nice, not old and out dated at all. Never saw a critter in our room as some reported, but hey after all it is the islands and they do have critters, no matter which one you go to. We had a bar in our room as well, stocked daily with, water, juices, soda, beer, champagne, wine (red and white), and hard liquor.

The beach, was beautiful, vendors go away with a simple no. Pools were small, but we didn't mind, it never got crowded, remember right now it is a small resort. Construction, didn't see it until day 2 at the pool, no bothersome, the music at the pool drowns out the noise. I might have been upset if out room faced a construction wall however. Honestly though, people complain about how outdated, but how do you expect them to keep up if you don't want consrtuction.

Food, okay, some meals good, some just alright, but it is not know for cuisine. They do not adverstise that the food is amazing. We noticed most were more in tune to the drinks and there was plenty of top shelf on hand. Bartenders were heavy on the elbow pouring, not stingy at all.

The employees were nothing but kind, a simple hello got them chatting with you and they ALWAYS remembered your name. Especially, Claudine, Karim, Kevin the playmakers, may I add they did a wonderful job getting us all involved. Althea at the bar and Patrick at Kimonos and the Tex Mex.

We met many people, from all over, The UK, Boston, Scotland, France and not one had anything bad to say about the stay.

To sum it all up, if you want a posh vacation, gourmet food and to be treated like the snob that you are, you are going to have to pay up quite a bit more. Try the Ritz, The Cuisinart, Cap Jaluca...once you price those, you will feel like you got a deal. We priced The Cuisinart for the same week and came up with a cost of $7,000 without food and drink, quite a bit different then the $4500 we paid.

  • Stayed: April 2006
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33  Thank bbart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Austin, TX
130
Reviewed May 8, 2006

After reading some of the recent reviews, I am tempted to ask why you would go to a spot in paradise and photograph tile cracks and chair seats, but I won't. Hardly getting away from it, wouldn't you say? I don't recommend two weeks at Sandals in Antigua -- you WILL begin to get bored and the minutea of chair mold will overtake your shutterbug routine.

We arrived early evening, and were greeted with some nice champagne and a very cold cloth to freshen up from the long travel day from Houston to Miami to St. Maarten to Antigua. We booked less than three weeks ahead and I feel we were lucky to get the price and flight times we did. Anyway, we were pleasently surprised as first time guests to find they had upgraded us to honeymoon concierge with an ocean view (block 200). The room was very large and spacious with a large veranda. The bar was stocked with liquor, beer, bottled water and soft drinks (including delicious Antiguan ginger ale), and they even found us some Seagrams 7 on short notice. If they happen to have it, they will be glad to stock it. If they have to go to St. John for a liquor run, it will cost extra. Just a call to extension 1065 will yield a fast wet bar restock.

The staff is cordial, professional, and by and large a bit aloof. Unlike a lot of people, this staff demeanor was perfect to me. Everyone was pleasant and said 'hi' all the time, but they weren't bursting out of their skins to overwhelm you with warmth. I found it a perfect, professional balance, and upon seeing other guests needlessly berating the bartenders and wait staff, I can see how some of them may be cynical. Go along to get along, and don't lose your temper if the bartender doesn't know how to make a "Screaming Fuzzy Navel on the Beach" type drink. I saw it too often, and it was puzzling considering the amount of money people spent to be there.

The appointment of the rooms are great, but the shower pressure is quite low. Also, the only drapes that draw are the inner blinds, which leave a translucent view into the room if someone is really looking. Cosmetic flaws were slightly apparent, but did not affect the quality of the stay in the room. Individual AC units allowed you to set it just as warm or just as cold as you needed it.

Maybe we're just simple people, used to our Texas food, but we found the selection, quality, and variety of food outstanding. The reservations required places were tasty and filling, and the dishes were imaginative. The non-resevation Bayside Grill is a nice stop over for a seafood menu (depending on the night), international buffet or outstanding barbeque. The Bayside is also very strong on fish and seafood. The Japanese tepenyaki restaurant was great, and the chef, George (baby Shaq) was a riot! He referred to himself as a "Blackinese" chef, and was not shy about photo ops. He played off our waiter who was the straight man of the comedy team. By the time George finished cooking, the room was extremely warm as the hood fan didn't take out all the heat. Oh well...just part of the adventure, I guess. After dinner, they escort you down to a large, covered table outdoors for tea, dessert, and conversation with your meal mates. We went to the Bayside after that and managed to find some other great dishes and desserts on the International buffet. Near the Bayside, there is an automatic coffee maker offering black coffee, double strength, expresso, cappuccino, latte, and Americano. There is also a whole large selection of caffeinated and herbal teabags on demand.

We just happened to be in Antigua to coincide with the Rolex Race Week, with stop #1 being at Dickinson Bay in front of Sandals. The locals set up food, liquor, and shopping tents for the international regatta crews, and it was one big 24 hour beach party with booming Carribean sounds and beach performers. The Race did curtail the use of the beach and the many water sports, but the sight of the people crowding the beach and the yachts crowding Dickinson Beach was worth a small, one day inconvenience. We feel priviledged to have been there for this event. Speaking of Dickinson Beach: If there are more beautiful, more clean developed beaches anywhere, I challenge you to show me. The sand was white, the sun was moderate (compared to Texas), and the water was of perfect temperature.

While on the beach, vendors may be dispatched with a simple "No thank you". Watch out for the braid women. They don't understand that you only have so much to spend and they will charge you a dollar per braid. As they work on you, it turns into an hour before you start thinking "hmmmmmm...they are doing a LOT more than we asked". Next thing you know you are into them for $150 and they act as if YOU are the bad guy for welching on your braid bill. I hate to say it because they have families to support, but their methods are questionable at best.

On our last day, we took an eco-tour hosted by Xtreme Adventures. It was a great trip, and Bird Island is a must see. The Carribean is on one side of the island, and the Atlantic is on the other side, and they are indeed two distinctly different oceans. Bird Island has a number of very rare species, and the snorkeling is great, too!

When taken on balance and in context, Sandals Antigua is a great place to fire up that romance, and recharge the soul. We WILL return!

  • Stayed: May 2006
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30  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 2, 2006

Antigua sandals
May3 2006
trip advisor member Elmwood Park NJ
My husband & I along with another couple were just at Sandals & we loved our vacation. It is true that this Sandals is a bit older than all the others we have visited ( Royal Bahamian, Royal Plantation, St Lucia Regency, & Whitehouse ) it was kept up well. The grounds were beautiful the rooms were lovely. The pools wwere a little smaller than I am used to but we actually liked the fact that the pool was right outside our room. We had no problem with the construction that was going on as it was well away from where we were staying. Progress is usually a good thing even if it is a bit inconvient at times.
The staff was wonderful & very friendly. Most of them knew us by our names & treated us verywell, especially Clifford at the front desk, Linda & Telcita at the main bar, Rodney in the Piano bar, Meria Claudina,Kevin & Karim from the entertainment staff, & Eleanor in the Tex Mex Restaurant.
I found the food to be good but the wine was not the best unless you purchased a bottle.
I was not bothered by vendors once I told them I wasn't interested, but I did find them pleasant.
The beach was beautiful & i didn't think it was very crowded even though it was a public beach.
Overall we had a wonderful time & we would definitly return, especially when the new part of the resort is finished. I don't think there is a better way to travel than with Sadals, each one is unique & that's what makes it special.

  • Stayed: April 2006
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19  Thank pattyg333
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 2, 2006

There's so much to say about Sandals Antigua. We just returned from 2 weeks of sun, fun & relaxation. We were a bit nervous after reading negative reviews, but after arriving there, we were not concerned and came to realize there is no pleasing some people.

Our wedding was perfect. It was completely stress free and planned to perfection. Thanks to Junie, Nekesha and Octavia for doing a great job. We could not have imagined a better wedding. Who could complain about getting married in a tropical location looking out at the beach and caribbean sea? We decided on getting married in the beachfront gazebo. It was a good choice as it was hot hot hot that day. We opted to eat our dinner on the beach. We watched the sunset and ate a very good dinner and drank lots of champagne (or sparkling wine for all you wine connisseurs out there). Our wedding pictures are beautiful and the DVD was very nice as well. Karen in the spa did a great job on my hair and makeup.

Now on to the other stuff. We booked our first week in a deluxe room and were pleased to be upgraded to a honeymoon room (600 block). The rooms are not fancy, they are quaint and very clean. Our second week we booked a beachfront concierge room (100 block). They are much newer and the beachfront is nice. Every morning we would get up and stand at the window checking out the beach.

The food was great. We cannot think of any meal we had that was not good. We did venture down the beach for a change of scenery to the Waddi Pier for lobster. It was also very good.

We enjoyed the entertainment and made sure we checked out all the bars. The piano bar was a bit low key, but then at 2:00 am, we were pretty tired anyway. Checked out Betty Jo's for Kareoke Night. What a blast! Some people should never have a mike in their hands, but it was so much fun.

The beach is nice. We like it better than the Grande in St. Lucia. The pools are on the small side, but we didn't go there because of the pools, we went for the beach.

The spa was wonderful - we definately recommend the couple's massage.

We took in a lot of excursions. The Extreme Circumnav (you see the island from the water) is worth the money. We snorkelled in a great location and swam at a beach where the water was crystal clear. The island safari trip was fun as well. We got the see the island on land and ended up at Turner's beach where the water again was crystal clear, but the sand was golden - not white. The Barbuda trip takes you to two beaches - the water color is like nothing we had ever seen before. Coco Beach was again crystal clear.

Here's what we didn't like: the seagulls who hang around the Bayside at breakfast and lunch - they are quite aggressive. As soon as someone leave their table the birds flew in for "the kill". The cats everyone talks about do hang around, but if people would stop feeding them, they would just go away. The price is a bit high. You are paying a 5 star pricetag and not staying at a 5 star resort. However, we were so relaxed and de-stressed and to us we'll pay any amount of money to have that experience. And besides, we didn't have to cook and clean for 2 weeks.

We honestly felt the negative things about the resort did not even come close to the positive things. We found the staff very friendly and helpful and we will return someday, but next time we want to check out some other islands. Antigua is a beautiful island and Sandals does take care of their guests.

  • Stayed: April 2006
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21  Thank mrs_puff
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

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 Family Hotel in St. John's
#3 On the Beach Hotel in St. John's
#3 Luxury Hotel in St. John's
#4 Romantic Hotel in St. John's
#5 Business Hotel in St. John's
Price Range: $229 - $1,359 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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