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“First time at Sandals”

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Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
Ranked #3 of 16 Hotels in St. John's
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed July 30, 2006

This was our first ever visit to Sandals or indeed an all inclusive resort.
The airport is chaotic but after European and North American airports it is actually quite funny to watch!
Once through we were picked up and were in the resort in about 20 minutes(driven by a rather large, very jovial black lady).
When we arrived we were given Champagne and cold towels as we registered, a nice touch.

We were given 2 upgrades and the room was literally 6 feet from the pool. The room itself was OK, maybe a little tired but clean and well equipped. But as I did not intend to spend my holiday in the room I was not too bothered.
We enjoyed the food, found the restaurants good, the Bayside was excellent for breakfast and lunch and the evening meals were good. I don't generally like Italian food but Il Palio was great. Kimonos was different but because of the way the food was, there is only one main course , we only ate their once, but I was a little disappointed with the OK Corral where the service was poor, although the food itself was good.

We were told that there was a dress code for the restaurants and we packed and dressed to this code, however many people were in these with shorts, T-shirts and flip flops. I don't really have aproblem with this but if you have dress code, ENFORCE IT, if you don't intend to enforce it don't have a code.
The evening entertainment was interesting but low key, the piano bar was great if only for the air conditioning.
Being a wrinkly never went to the nightclub!

The guests were predominately American and as such some of them can be loud, but that is the American, they are on holiday as well!!

We met some great people but you can mix or not whatever you wish.

I found the staff fine and very polite.

Sadly there were a couple of people who treated staff like dirt and I am sure they did not get great service. Serves them right.

All in all a great holiday

Stayed: June 2006
31  Thank Wanderingwrinkly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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6,181 - 6,187 of 6,876 reviews

Reviewed July 23, 2006

we just stayed a week in sandals Antigua, The grounds are very beautiful, the beaches are well kept. The food in Sandals was NOT very good. The Japanese restaurant was a joke. Dirty
smelled like mildew, the "chef "was not entertaining or talented.
the Italian restaurant was the one we enjoted most.
The employees competed for the Sandals tour business. We were confronted by employees to have their friends or family members provide the 'same' tour as sandals, but in a private auto. (that was a bit scarey). Other employees were rude and
not very accomidating. I felt as if I were imposing on them. The main bar in the coutyard was the problem, those bartenders, especially the day time batenders were downright rude. The upstairs piano bar was freezing cold and full of german cockroaches. (the dirty restaurant kind) At about dusk everyday
some kind man comes around with a diesel fuel vaporizor of sorts and fills the air with some sort of bugkiller, no warning people get sprayed too.

  • Stayed: July 2006, traveled with friends
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15  Thank sweetpetuniapie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 20, 2006

We have just returned from out honeymoon at Sandals Antigua and can only say how excellent our stay was. On arrival we were given champagne and snacks and told that we had been upgraded to a Junior Concierge Suite directly opposite one of the smaller swimming pools.

Our room was superb, clean, airy (air conditioned), stocked with a full bar (replenished daily) and was literally a few strides away from the swimming pool. We asked for specific spirits for the bar and had them the very next day.

The resort itself is in a very well maintained condition with beautiful gardens and swimming pools. The pools were swept twice daily and were always at a comfortable temperature.

The bar staff were really friendly and always gave us fantastic drinks (though you are in the Carribean so don't complain about the not-instant service; we never waited more than 2 minutes for our freshly-made cocktails). Our only negative was that the house-wine wasn't particulary great but then again we are both very picky with our wines.

The food was nothing short of fantastic. Breakfasts were buffet-style, lunches were either buffet style or from the grill bar. Evening meals gave you an option of four restaurants, all of which were excellent (though the marlin steaks in the Italian were by far the best meal we had during out stay). We enjoyed the food immensely and small things like chocolate buffets on our last night make excellent surprises.

The beach was always kept clean and had plenty of sun-loungers. The beach vendors were present but all were polite and it only took a 'no-thankyou' for them to leave us for the rest of the week.

In terms of watersports we used the hobbie-cats (really fun cateraman sailing boats) and did two dives each day. As very experienced divers we have dived some of the best dives sites around the world and we were very impressed with the diving operation at Antigua. The dive guides were efficient and welcoming, the boats were designed and fast and the diving very relaxing and enjoyable. The water was around 28 degress centigrade and there was plenty of things to see (we saw baracuda, snappers, squid and sharks to name a few). The dives wen't out at 8.15am and 11.00am and we enjoyed all of our 8 dives.

We didn't partake in the organised events during the day (volley ball, beach hunts etc.) but other guests we spoke to gave good comments about them.

During our stay we talked to many couples both American and British and heard nothing but good comments. One couple were on their ninth visit to Sandals Antigua and have never had a bad experience.

Yes, the construction site does start operations at around 7am but we were never distrubed by the noise. Yes, there are a few cats around the report but they are not a nuisance and are clean. Yes, there are mosquitoes etc. but you're in the Carribean so just take bug-spray and after-bite instead of moaning about it.

All-in-all we were extremely impressed and will definately be visiting next year (if not sooner) for aniversary.

Hope you enjoy your trip as much as we enjoyed ours.

Mark and Hayley

  • Stayed: July 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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44  Thank Mark&Hayley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 12, 2006

This was our sixth visit to a Sandals property and probably the worst one.
Pros: Service was excellent and people were extremely nice and accomodating.
Food was very good. However, my husband did get sick one night which we think was from the mussels. Lobster was served on two occasions and was excellent. The wines were very good for an all-inclusive. Met lovely people from US and England.

Cons: Our room needed to be fumigated while we were there. Not at all pleasant. This was due to small spiders, ants, and other small critters. I have many many bites on my legs and arms and need to go to the nurse while there. Yes, they seemed to take care of the problem with fumigating it, but I really felt like some other compensation could of taken place. I paid dearly for the room and did not count on pests sharing it with us.
While the beach is beautiful, it is seriously ruined by the loal vendors. Sandals does not take enough stance to try and keep vendors away. I understand it is a public beach, but we had vendors come sit in our chairs and ask for beer/food and tell us their life stories. I am sympathetic to anyones plight, but I don't need to deal with it on vacation! I know this sounds harsh, but I have saved for this relaxing time, as my life isn't so easy either, so I was quite bothered by this going on.
We made the most of this, still enjoyed ourselves, and got fantastic tans. I would not return to this property though.

Stayed: June 2006
23  Thank caseybv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 12, 2006

This was our second visit to a Sandals resort, the first being the Halcyon in St Lucia last July for our honeymoon, and we were not dissapointed. We were aware of the building work (both from reading reviews and from our travel agent) so we booked our room accordingly. We were in the Frangipani block (Grand Luxe Beachfront concierge room) which is the opposite end to the works and with a view right out over the ocean, and as with St Lucia, our room was very well furnished (King size 4 poster, TV, sofa, refridgerator - which was restocked daily, air con unit and celing fan) & kept very clean. On arrival we were given the usual champagne & cold towel and we also had flowers in our room to welcome us which was nice.

The resort itself is in good condition, the pools (5 of them) were all kept clean, and we have no problem in getting a sunbed, despite the hotel being full. Palm shades were slighly harder to come by on the beach, but we were getting out onto the beach quite late some days (11ish), so no real surprise that we couldn't get one. The general grounds are beautiful, many different plants, trees, shrubs etc.

As we tended to stay by the pool in front of our room, or on the beach at our end of the resort, we wouldn't have had a clue that ay building work was going on, however whilst wandering around the grounds and being at the swim up pool bar, you could hear sawing and hammering going on. It seems that most of the major structural work is complete, however with the new village not due to open until Feb 2007, there will be disruption for a few months to come which should get less as times goes by and work becomes more internal. But I'll say again, it did not affect our holiday at all.

The one area we were slightly dissapointed with was the level of service in the restaurants, unlike St Lucia, the waiters/waitresses were a little slow, and not so attentive. As an example, the main course on the signature meal was a little cold when it arrived. This isn't really a problem as you are on holiday and therefore don't need to rush around anyway. The food on the other hand was excellent in all four restaurants, Kimono's being probably the best in my opinion, champagne breakfast each day was nice tounch, but get your bookings in early for the restaurants, especially if you want to eat at 7.45 as these slots go quickly.

The staff are all very friendly, they will give you a smile or hello when they walk past, and are always willing to have a conversation.

We saw no bugs, cockroaches or anything like that, just the usual local wildlife (i.e. cats & lizards (totally harmless (which were also in St Lucia))), although we did get a little bitten whilst on the circumnavigation trip (so back bug spray anyway).

All in all, we had a great time and would recommend the resort to anyone, yes, there are a couple of things that aren't perfect, but nowhere is, and there is nothing that should stop you from having a wonderful holiday there.

  • Stayed: July 2006
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34  Thank Steve027
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 8, 2006

We decided to get married in Antigua in February of this year, unfortunately we booked Sandals Antigua Resort, because we were led to believe it was ‘the best’. Don’t get me wrong the actual wedding was beautiful (if a little conveyer-belt style), the setting was amazing, we got married at the beach gazebo, which was beautiful and have loads of pictures of a typical Caribbean wedding on the beach, which is what we wanted. We were lucky because we were the last wedding of the day (4pm) so we could take our time drinking our champagne, eating our cake and just generally chilling out, however people who got married earlier in the day, I thought were hurried along so the next one could start. Also if you are thinking of getting married at Sandals, don’t be fooled by the wedding included package, the package is very basic and the extras are very expensive. But all that aside I do have to say that our wedding was lovely and the co-ordinators obviously know what they are doing.

Back to the hotel, well I felt it was Butlin’s in the Caribbean, without the kids. The entertainment was ok but the married couples game was very scary and sent my husband and I running off in the opposite direction! The food was poor, with the exception of Kimonos, (but not if you’re a vegetarian). The staff were lovely, but the hotel was in dire need of updating or even just a lick of paint. One American lady actually had her foot go through a rotten plank by the pool. A word of warning if you are eating in the Bayside Restaurant in the evening, I would advise sitting inside or else you may find a couple of extra guests dining with you (cockroaches). There are cats wondering around, but they are totally tame, clean and very affectionate.

With regards to the building work, we only found out about this 2 months before we were due to travel, Sandals refused to give us any sort of compensation. We were upgraded as soon as we got there to Premier Rooms (we had booked Deluxe), but found that the Premier rooms are closer to the building site than the Deluxe, there were 6 in our party and we each asked to be moved and we were told that they had no other rooms available but would let us know if that changed, we didn’t hear anything! We were lucky that our room was the furthest away in the block, but our friends were quite close to the site and they were effected a lot more than us. One evening the cranes and lights were on until 11pm. Our rooms were just opposite the pool bar, which got quite noisy in the afternoons, with all the games, but we were normally on the beach so it didn’t really affect us too much.

Antigua is the most beautiful Island in the world, with the loveliest people and we loved it so much we are going back for our 1st anniversary, however we won’t be going back to Sandals!! We do recommend a visit it Shirley Heights on the Wednesday or Sunday evening, have a few rum punches, listen to the steel band and watch the sun set and would recommend an Island tour, but by land not sea as the east side is very windy and the sea choppy.

I read all the reviews before I went (although next time I will read them before I book), and everyone has different requirements in a holiday, ours was primarily to get married and our wedding was perfect with lots of lovely memories, however I wouldn’t go to Sandals again and I wouldn’t recommend it to any of my friends. This is no reflection on the staff as they were really friendly and helpful (except when it came to our request to move rooms).

  • Stayed: February 2006
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17  Thank TeenyDevon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 6, 2006

My wife and I sepent 7 wonderful days in Antigua at Sandals all inclusive. We were greeted at the airport and within 20 minutes we were sipping champagne while checking in. The staff were great, food was above expectations for an all-inclusive, night life was superb.
There was quite a good range of guests from the mid-20's to late 50's which made for a great range of conversation and options. The resort had 4 restaurants plus an all day/night snack bar. Service was great and there was always lots of activities going on if you like to scuba dive, go sailing, exercice, play volleyball of just hang around the pool or ocean.
Overall we were extremely impressed with this Sandals and would highly recommend it. The new expansion area currently under construction looks like this resort will get even better once it opens up - early next year iIbelieve.

24  Thank Bailey1968
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: $551 - $1,248 (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 Resort And Spa
Sandals Grande Antigua Hotel St. John`s
Sandals Antigua
Hotel Sandals Grande Antigua
Sandals Grand Antigua
Antigua Sandals
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa Saint John Parish

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