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“Living the dream”

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Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
Ranked #3 of 16 Hotels in St. John's
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed June 6, 2007

Well what can I say......... I have just recently come back from Antigua & stayed at the Sandals on Dickenson Bay. What an experience it was. I read many reviews on this site, many negative ones too which in turn put little niggling doubts in my head as to whether I should cancel or not, but I thought about it long & hard & thought well......you will hear mostly negative feedback from people as they take the time out & put the world to rights & they have the most to say & want to express it the best they can. I met many a people on this holiday who visit Sandals resorts all over the world & 90% of them said that the one in Antigua was in there top 2-3. Now considering the amount of Sandals resorts there are in the world I think that answers itself. Now I can go on about all the things there is to do, places to see & foods to eat but i'm not, as after this review there maybe a negative one & then you will be sat there yet again thinking shall I or shouldn't I. All I can say on this matter is if I hadn't of gone then I wouldn't have had the best wedding day of my life, meet the most wonderful people & live the lifestyle of a king. The only way you will ever know is by going.................................... & with what ever attitude you come back with at least you can say "AT LEAST I DID IT & I TRIED IT".

P.S. I would have given it a 6 rating (if I could).

  • Stayed: May 2007, traveled as a couple
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15  Thank Chris9277
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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6,055 - 6,061 of 6,878 reviews

Reviewed June 5, 2007

We chose this resort because of the new Mediterranean Village. However, we were bitterly disappointed when we were notified that the new section would not be ready due to construction delays. So we were booked in the old part-Honeymoon Luxury Concierge Room of the Anthurium Building.

THE ROOM: This building is at the very back of the resort, along a main road, so the loud and numerous cars/trucks zooming by were very audible. While the bed area of the room was nice, the bathroom was AWFUL! Old tile with stained grout, wimpy shower head, discolored sink, tarnished faucets, beat-up mirror, and rust on the wall all around the light fixture...And as an added bonus, when my husband removed a towel from the bar, the bar fell off the wall! I don't know if they are planning on renovating the baths in this building or if we just managed to get the one room that hasn't been re-done yet, but I would try and find out which rooms/buildings have nicer updated facilities.

THE POOLS: We could not get chairs at the main pool because we didn't get there early enough. We hung out at the small pool outside our building instead. It actually was nice and quiet there, very intimate and never more than 4 other couples there at any given time. No towels are available poolside, they could only be obtained at the water activities desk at the beach which was inconvenient.

THE BEACH: Being used to pounding surf and waves in the ocean in the Pacific, it was a shock to see calm water. It was so quiet and felt more like being at the lake. Walks along the beach were great due to soft sand and a decent stretch of beach from end to end.

THE FOOD: I think it was helpful to have concierge service so that reservations could be made, guaranteeing you get in somewhere each night. They only let us make reservations one day ahead though. Saturday evening Bayside had a wonderful buffet spread-delicious. There was another buffet spread at Monday night's Beach Party. Note: They close one of the main restaurants on these special nights so your options are a bit limited if you're not into the spreads. Bayside presents splendid breakfast and lunch buffets with MUCH to choose from. We also ate at OK Corral, Il Palio and Courtyard Bistro
-all was very good except the steak at OK which was tough (very low quality, disappointing). Lastly, we found it endearing to have a kitty cat or two roaming around the grounds. We watched a sunset with
a sweet calico one night, each in our lounge chair lined up on the beach!

Overall it was a nice vacation, just very different from the grand, over-the-top "glory" that other resorts we've stayed at offer. If you
want a quiet, quaint, intimate experience you'll get it here. If you want lots of bells and whistles you may want to look into a newer
Sandals property or a different resort chain altogether.

  • Stayed: May 2007, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank kygirlLouisville_KY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 31, 2007

My wife and I went here for our anniversary and what a mistake we made. The resort is nice, but not nearly worth the money we paid. I have been to several all inclusive resorts and this was by far at the bottom of my list. The beach was nice, but there were too many vendors bugging everyone. The food at the resort was ok, but no where near what it should have been. My wife and I are avid scuba divers and one of the reasons we chose this resort is because of the daily dive trips. Sandals chooses the worst dive spots on the island. They don't even take you to the places they advertise on their website. The dive crews were nice and great divemasters. But, the dive boats were overcrowded and filled with lots of divers from the resort course. After this experience, we will never stay at a Sandals again.

  • Stayed: June 2007, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank joshr502
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 28, 2007

We have just returned from a week at the Sandals Grande Anigua Resort for our Babymoon. The resort's landscaping and property is beautiful. Except, there were about 5 stray cats, which roamed the resort and restaurants throughout the day. They didn't bother much but did follow you at times.

We stayed in the Honeymoon Veranda Suite with its own concierge service. This suite was near the construction of the new addition being built. The constructions worked from 7:30a-7p. The noise level was low but at times peaked with the drills.

The beach was magnificent because of it's silky white sand and calm blue water. There are a few local sellers who are okay with a "no, thank you". The pools were all very small. The largest pool, which was by our suite, had a swim-up pool bar, which opened from 10:30-6:30 PM and rarely played any music. This pool was also pretty small. When we asked the staff why it was so small we were told because most guests enjoyed the beach more. The pool enterntainment staff were fun to be around. The towel hut didn't open until 8:30AM so if you're any early bird like we are, you would find it a little annoying when trying to enjoy the sun early.

The Spa facilities are very up-to-date with wonderful friendly staff. They're a liltle pricy but fabulous.

Breakfast is a lovely continental spread with cheeses, exotic fruit, pastries, omelets, french toast, etc and mimosas. We enjoyed breakfast very much every morning. For lunch you have the option of a buffet spread or a diner menu (burgers, fajitas, etc.). The diner menu was our preference since the lunch buffet spread wasn't appealing.

We only really enjoyed two of the restaurants - Kimono's (teppanyankki) and OK Corral (Southwestern). The food at Il Palio (Italian) was not up to par with our familiarity of Italian dishes. The Bayside Restaurant, which served an international buffet once a week and a la carte menu for the rest of the week, didn't have a great selection. We didn't enjoy the fact that the dress code for all of the restaurants, including the buffet night, was evening casual (no jeans, shorts or slippers). The only restaurant with a casual evening dress code is OK Corral. Be sure to pack comfortable clothing since all of the restaurants are located outside while Kimonos is indoor with air conditioning.

The entertainment staff were great in providing evening entertainment with different steel drum bands. Monday we enjoyed a beach party while listening to a steel drum band on the beach. The evening ended with a fire and limbo show. Friday we enjoyed cultural day with an evening of a steel drum band and beautiful dancers.

Overall I would say this is probably an average resort compared to the rest of the Sandals resorts.

P.s. The travel time from the airport to the resort is 15 minutes.

  • Stayed: May 2007, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank Lourdes R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 28, 2007

I've been reading reviews n this site for almost a year before we arrived for our honeymoon and I thought I would give a real fully comprehensive review of the resort. The good, the bad, and the ugly!

On arrival we were greeted by the manager of the resort (Franklin) and offered a cold towel and champaign and escorted to the air conditioned piano bar to fill in our registration and get our keys, etc. It was a very painless check-in as our bags were instantly taken to our room and we were given a brief introduction of what was going on at the resort that night. There is an orientation the next day for people that have not visited before which is good to go to as they explain the activities, restaurants, spa and tours the resort offers. The orientation is in different places for concierge level rooms than non as that level of room offers a few extra perks such as booze in your room and the ability to book restaurants and tours by phoning or stopping by the concierge desk. PS... The restaurants save a certain amount of reservation time blocks for concierge level rooms so that helps but I would advise you to book your restaurant the day before you go to it.

The resort itself is a bit worn and there are things in need of repair but it's not in shambles or anything. The resort is not brand new but was in the same condition as any 5 star resort I've stayed in that part of the world. If you are expecting the same prestine condition of a 5 star+ resort in Canada or the USA you will be disappointed. There are different standards and if you've travelled much you know what I mean. We stayed in a Grande Lux Conceirge room which is in the back corner of the resort. Although there was a building closer to the new construction it was rare you heard enough noise to even make you notice. Only once during the day it was loud for about 30 minutes while we were in the pol in front of our building. The rooms are a bit dated and worn but that's why they are building the new sections to the resort. If you're planning on going don't book the new section yet as it won't be finished for at least 12 months. There is still quite a bit of work that needs to be completed and the construction people I saw were in no hurry to get it done. When finished though it will be absolutly amazing. I would go back just to see it complete as it looks like it's going to be one of the nicest resorts I've ever been to.

All of the restaurants are good and a few that were excellent. You will find something you'll really enjoy at each of them. My now wife is very very picky and she had no trouble eating there (which was one of my major concerns). As other posters have mentioned there are 5 cats that roam the grounds. I'm not sure how anyone could complain about them though as they never begged for food, went anywhere near the kitchen or buffet lines or were in the way. If you have a pet at home I'm sure they are more of a pest when you are eating than these cats were. The only came if you offered them food and never would they brush up on you. Besides I would sooner have 5 cats on the whole lot than mice or rats running around. People have to keep in mind that most resorts in that part of the world have an open wall to view the ocean, etc and birds and animals will wonder by. If that really bothers you don't go to the Caribbean, mexico or South America as that's just the way it is. Men bring dress clothes as most restaurants have a dress code at ngiht. Women can wear dresses, etc but men must have a collered shirt and long pants.

The staff were great and we never had a problem with any of them. Each bartender has their own specialty drink which isn't on the menu so just ask and they make it for you. Most of the time they were fabulous. Nothing I drank was watered down as I drank much of it straight and know what it's supposed to taste like. The resort stocks most of the main types of booze you're familiar with.

The grounds are in a word "Incredible". I'm not sure how they can keep it that nice but wow. By far the best grounds of any resort I have visited. I couldn't stop taking pictures.

The entertainment was pretty good if you could stay awake long enough to see it. Many of the people we encountered were goign to bed at 8:30pm as the sun goes down no later than 6:30pm.

The beach is great and there are vendors on it but all of them are very friendly and will go away if you just say no. They always remember who you are and will chit chat about things as they generally seem interested to hear from the people visiting their country.

The only real ugly thing I can think of was the nasty sunburn I got. I used SPF 45 many times a day and the sun still got me. Be warned... Bring sun screen and lots of it because as much as anyone says they don't burn (my wife) They do!

If anyone wants the real facts I'll be happy to answer any questions they have. Have fun vacationing!

  • Stayed: May 2007, traveled as a couple
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20  Thank XTANT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 28, 2007

This was our second trip to Sandals (we honeymooned in St Lucia). We were originally booked to stay in the new Meditterean Village, but they contacted us in February to say it wouldn't be open and we were upgraded to one of the rondavols with a private plunge pool and butler service (At the resort they say the village will be open in July, it looks like it will be a lot longer than that)!

The room was great, felt like an individual cottage, our private pool was very private and beautiful, and our butler set up an incredibly romantic dinner with flowers and candles by our pool one night, our most romantic dinner of the trip.

The food was as expected, good not excellent, although Kimonos was great, ask for Sugar.

The cocktails were excellent.

We went SCUBA diving everyday and the dive staff were excellent. Although diving in Antigua isn't the best, we did see a lot of interesting wild life, some reef sharks, tons of giant rays, lobsters, puffer fish..... We payed extra for a night dive one night and it was really interesting.

  • Stayed: May 2007, traveled as a couple
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12  Thank kelly983
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 28, 2007

We stayed at Sandals for our weddingmoon (9 days) and absolutely enjoyed it!! Don't listen to the bad reviews - maybe those people need holidays from their holidays...
We were warmly welcomed with steel drum music, cold towels and sparkling wine and within 15 minutes we were at our room -we were located in the green Poinsetta-building just a step from the wonderful white beach. Ok - we backed to the constuction-site but we never heard a thing. I think the big construction is almost done- maybe the new village opens in late summer.

FOOD:
Excellent! We tried every restaurant and we never had a thing to complain. We had our own waiter/waitress every evening and they were ALL very courteous. Also no problem with the reservations in Kimonos, Il Palio and OK Corral.

DRINKS & BAR:
We tasted the BEST cocktails. The standard of the drinks is very high. I never tasted a drink that was watered down - just the opposite ;-)

STAFF/LOCALS:
Very friendly, always a smile on their lips. It was very nice chatting with the locals. We had also no problems with the beach vendors - a friendly "no thank you" does the thing.

BEACH & GROUND:
VERY well kept - the gardeners are always working and the beach is cleaned every morning. We had the pleasure of a huge beach party on Dickenson Bay - it was the start of the famous Sailing Week on Antigua - one day - lots of people, good food and drinks (tried Rum Punch...). On the next day all sailing boats were gone and the beach was cleaned up and white like before.

WEDDING:
It was just what we imagined - very romantic... (we chose the beach gazebo) The wedding staff took care of everything - you just had to put on our wedding clothes and say: I do. Very stressless and the photographer (thanks to Marianne) takes wonderful kitschy pictures. Tip: Take the smallest package (6 printouts I think) and take the CD (all photos - about 150 on it) instead - you can print them out at home much cheaper.
Thank God we found our perfect witnesses among the Resort-guests - thanks again to Kristen and Dan.
The only bad thing was: We had a special dinner for 2 at our wedding gazebo on our wedding day (I think for about 200 Dollars) and we had to choose from the same menu they had at Bayside restaurant for free...

DIVING:
We are certified divers and we had so much fun at our dives!! The diving staff (especially Delia, Dean, Lissy and John) was very professional and do always help. And it's no problem if you are beginner-you'll absolutely enjoy diving here.

PEOPLE:
You get to know other guests very easily. Most guests are from the USA or the UK (we are Austrians - very rare at Sandals ;-)) and they were all very nice. We are still in e-mail contact with some couples.

MOSQUITOS:
They bite - bring insect repellent!

All in all we had a FANTASTIC holiday. If there's a question left - feel free to contakt me.

  • Stayed: May 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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28  Thank niknak79Austria
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 Luxury Hotel in St. John's
#3 On the Beach Hotel in St. John's
#4 Romantic Hotel in St. John's
#5 Business Hotel in St. John's
Price Range: $576 - $1,314 (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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