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“Very nice resort - great beach”

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

My wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary at the end of November / beginning of December. It was very hot when the sun was shining but it did rain a lot. The rain never really interferred with too much and it was fun to go in the hot tub and the ocean in the rain. The beach is spectacular and the water was always warm. The last part of our week was very windy and all watersports were cancelled. We really wanted to go snorkelling but couldn't get out.

There are many "vendors" on the beach. Usually a polite "no thanks" will send them on their way but they do return - often. We met several who were not polite at all and others who were very nice. Talk to the woodcarver, Somarly, he has a very interesting history. When the cruise ships dock in St. John, a lot of the passengers end up walking the beach. It never caused us any problems. We did talk to guests who were approached on the beach to buy drugs . It never happened to us.

We REALLY liked the Japanese restaurant - ask for Sugar - he's the best!. OK Corral was very good as was the Bayside. We didn't really like II Palio. The pasta is nothing like real Itialian. Men bring long pants, shoes and collared shirts. Ladies need a couple of dresses, skirts or dressy slacks etc.

Entertainment ranged fron very good on some nights to not very good on others. Rain did interfere with the entertainment a couple of times.

There are some mosquitos and sand fleas. Some others got bit - we didn't get bothered at all. WORD OF CAUTION: We brought 3 containers of bug spray with us (as recommended in other postings here). We didn't use them and the Antigua Airport staff would not let us take them back on the plane. They said they are banned because they are flammable. Our airline allowed us to take them to Antigua. We protested but to no avail. Funny, they let other aerosols, like hair spray go on the plane (very flammable) but not the bug spray.

Speaking of the airport, the departure area is nice, the arrival area is not. It is very crowded, hot and unorganized. We lost some of our luggage and no one seemed to know who could help us out. We also had to search out a Sandals rep to get to the resort. On the way back we were treated much better (except for them seizing our bug spray)

We disregarded the resort's 2-hour paid shopping tour of the duty-free area of St. John. We went on our own and walked though the downtown area where the cruise ships come in. We found lots of good deals and we had a good time on our own schedule. Taxi ride was $10 US each way. There are lots of vendors thereso be prepared to say "no thanks" a lot. Another vacationing couple we spoke to got scammed for $150. Use caution with any free offers you get in the town. We turned them all down.

REALLY IMPORTANT! If you like it quiet to sleep, bring ear plugs. We were in the older rooms with a screened window with only a shutter on it. The crickets (some said they were sea frogs) started chirping at dusk and kept it up till dawn. Lots of guests complained about them. We turned the ceiling fan and air conditioner fan to the highests speeds to drown the sound out - it worked for us. They are really loud!

Overall - a great resort with a fantastic beach. Be prepared for a slow pace. No one moves fast on Antigua. Perfect.

  • Stayed: November 2006, traveled as a couple
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21  Thank GandC1981
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 29, 2006

Grateful Experience ! the place is extremely romantic specially due to its beautiful gardens and wonderful white sand beach (Dickenson Bay) , it worth every dollar you spent. Excellent food either if you decide Italian, Oriental or Mid Western option. It's like being in paradise. Sandals Antigua people are very nice!

  • Stayed: November 2006, traveled as a couple
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14  Thank Eagle_PR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 26, 2006

My husband and I spent our honeymoon at Sandals Antigua. Upon arrival, which was quite late, around 11pm, we were welcomed warmly at the airport. We were actually approached by the Sandals rep while we were waiting in the line for customs. Right when we walked out, we were whisked into a (somewhat shady) shuttle bus, and while the driver wasn't very talkative he was courteous and we had an uneventful ride to the resort.

We got to the resort and were given the customary champagne and cold washcloth, which was very nice after a long day. We were escorted to our room, which was a concierge room with a stocked bar. As the week progressed, we didn't take any day trips (which cost extra) but mostly just relaxed at either our pool near our room, or the main pool. We only went to the ocean a couple of times - we're more "pool" people and the beaches ARE public, so there are peddlers.

General thoughts on the resort:

The service is excellent. We asked for a bottle of Jack Daniels in our room and it was there within a couple of hours. Food is plentiful at any time of the day. The main pool bar is a lot of fun if you like to join in activities (DH played pool volleyball every day). Drinks are plentiful if you want them.

Bring along dressy clothes for dinners! Ladies, bring a couple dresses or skirts (I only brought one of each) and guys do need close-toed shoes, pants, and dress shirts with collars. Even the Bayside restaurant, which is casual during the day, gets fancy at night, which we weren’t aware of. I liked Kimonos and the OK Corral best; we never did make it to the Il Palio, though.

Unless you’re “self entertaining,” I would recommend doing some of the day trips. We didn’t and I don’t wish that we did, but 6 days of just laying around might get kind of long for some people. The tours do cost money (which we have none of right now) so we were content with lying around but someday when we’re rich and famous we’d like to go back, stay in the new Mediterranean Village, stay longer, and take more tours.

The resort IS showing its age. It’s only 15 years old, but you will see cracked tiles, stained chair cushions, and dirty grout. There are bugs and tiny lizards roaming about, but you’ll have that – it’s the Caribbean, after all. Comes with the territory. They do exterminate every evening at dusk. We did see one cockroach in our room; thank goodness it was our last night there.

The construction didn’t bother us. We were fairly close to it, but our room didn't face it. DH is a builder himself so he was actually interested in looking at it. He described the workers as “molasses in January” so I wouldn’t be surprised if the resort isn’t done when they say it’s going to be. We stayed in the 800 block which was fairly close to it, but I think they do a good job of keeping it separated.

All in all it was a great trip. We had so much fun and wouldn't hesitate to go to a Sandals again. I would recommend waiting until after the new Mediterranean Village is open to go to Antigua, though.

  • Stayed: October 2006, traveled as a couple
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16  Thank bandgeek20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 23, 2006

I was very hesitant after reading many bad reviews, I must say that at no point during our trip were we dissapointed by any of the experiences we had at Sandals Antigua.

The Resort is filled with a lot of couples and it was fun getting to know a lot of them! My husband and I enjoy meeting new people from around the US and learning about how they live. If you want to be by yourself and just relax you can do that as well. Your possibilites are endless. The besch is public so the vendors ask you if you would like to buy their items or tours, a kind "no thank you" always did the trick. The beach was beautiful and always clean and we never had a hard time finding chairs. The grounds were so clean and filled with a lot of interesting and beautiful vegitation. I will give you some of the fun things that we experienced and some of the things that made our trip memorable and maybe it will help you make your stay just as amazing as ours.

1. Go into town one day. You can take the "shopping" tour for 3 hours for $10 and just site see in St. John's. I can't say that the shopping was any good anyways. The old buildings were beautiful and it was great to see their culture. In most 3rd world countries you must be careful of where you go and who you talk to, not in Antigua! Everyone was very nice and it was very safe.

2. There is a french restaurant (Le Bistro, I think.....)outside of the resort about 10 min away and it is AMAZING!! With drinks, appetizers, dessert, and all of our meals, the total was still only $100. Again, it was nice to just get out of the resort for a little while and see the island.

3. Eat at all of the restaurants and try some of the new island foods they offer. They won't hurt you and then you can say that you tried new things. I can be kind of a food snob and I really enjoied all of the food. I can't believe the reviews snubing the food here. The salmon and creme brule at Il Polio was to die for!! I had 2 creme brule's one night and I felt sick but boy were they good!! Kimono's is a lot of fun, has great food and gives you the opportunity to meet some of the other couples there. The Tex Mex place was good but nothing to write home about. It was a fun change of atmosphere for an evening.

4. Relax!! Don't fill your day with activities from sun up to sun down. This was one of the most relaxing weeks I have ever had. I don't think that I ever wore my watch and I don't think that I ever wanted to know what time it was. This place will pamper you with their great music, evening entertainment and fun drinks. Oh, try the BBC. You have ask for it by name but it's coconut creme, banana, and baileys. Oh boy, how yummy!!

5. See Alvin at the end of the beach in the white hut and look at his paintings. They are amazing and he will customize anything for you. His prices are very fare and is a great memory to take home. They are on canvas so you just roll them up and bring them home. They sell paintings inside the courtyard and those are great too but Alvin is more talented and less expensive.

6. Watch the sunsets everynight. My husband and I have over 50 pictures of the sunsets and every one is amazing. We got in the habit of bringing a bottle of champagne down to the beach each night and watching the sunset, it was so realxing and very romantic!

Well, these were the items that we really enjoied and I can't say enough about how wonderful our honeymoon was. The staff at Sandals, the people we met, the food we ate, the relaxing and romantic moments we shared will always make this trip the most memorable. I hope yours is the same!

  • Stayed: October 2006, traveled as a couple
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29  Thank gerilyn143
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 22, 2006

This was our third trip to Sandals and we once again had a great visit. This visit was for 11 days and we had a very enjoyable time. What a wonderful island. The price we paid was worth the service/accomadations we received. Some properties on this island go for over $2000 per room per night.

We arrived around 1130pm due to weather issues in Atlanta and after relaxing a little, turned in for a little rest. Last year the construction had just started, so we were excited to see how much had been done, and if the noise was as bothersome as some have written. We were in the 600 building close to the construction, but rarely heard anything. Between 530pm and 9am, I felt they took a lot of effort to keep any noise from being heard. During the day you could hear them from the closest pool to the site, but even then it was not that bad. From the other pools and the beach you would not even know the work was going on. The progress is coming along very nicely.

Some speak of bugs, but the only thing we have seen in the last 22 days we have been on this resort are Sand Flies and Mosquitoes which are everywhere on the island, not just at Sandals. Take good insect repealant and you will be glad. We did not have any problems with them, but those without spray did.

Take time to take the extra trips if you can. The Eco Adventure that goes to Hells Gate and snorkling was our favorite. The Jeep Safari was real nice also. Avoid Shirley Heights on Sunday night. It is an overcrowded tourist trap. The view and sunset from there is wonderful, but go any night except Sunday. It seemed every tourist on the Island were there and the locals we hoping to cash in selling food, drink, etc.

The rooms are not perfect, but I have stayed in much worse for much more. And they were in the city (New York, Boston, Denver, etc) none of which have the beautiful beaches Antigua has. The food was good, and service was not rushed as it is in USA. Sitting having dinner looking at the beautiful Carribean is not a place to be in a hurry to leave.

I do not scuba, but having the choice of snorkelng on the Sandals boats at no extra charge is very nice. We made 6 trips to different stops and each time saw a lot.

  • Stayed: November 2006, traveled as a couple
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19  Thank dynaman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 21, 2006

After just returning from Sandal in Antigua, I'd like to let other know what a wonderful time we had. We've been married 30 years and decided to renew our vows there. The wedding consultants did an excelent job. Our day was perfect, they even sang for us. We had the concierge level and it was great. If we needed something they were happy to help us. People were very warm and friendly. We really exjoyed our visit to Sandals and are looking forward to our next visit.

  • Stayed: November 2006, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank chinosmom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 19, 2006

Great value for what you get, when the say all, they really mean all inclusive. There was nothing that we really needed to pay for but of course we did a few additional things that I wouldn't expect them include.

The spa is not included (obviously) and that was great and even better than that, we got a candlelight dinner on the beach which is truly one of the most romantic experiences I have ever been a part of. I highly reccommend it.

the one issue we had was the construction going on, however, we were advised prior to travelling and I actually am excited to see the hotel when they are done.

Sandals knows how to do it right, I will be going back in about a year when it is done.

  • Stayed: October 2006
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10  Thank benwatca
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 On the Beach Hotel in St. John's
#3 Luxury 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: $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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