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“Overall very nice, but not perfect”

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Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
Ranked #3 of 15 Hotels in St. John's
Certificate of Excellence
Vancouver, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
81 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 137 helpful votes
“Overall very nice, but not perfect”
Reviewed June 22, 2007

My husband and I stayed at Sandals Antigua for a week in March, 2007. We had reservations after a negative experience at Sandals Negril (terrible food) but were pleasantly surprised. The stay was not without its problems, though.

We booked a Honeymoon Oceanview Suite, and had booked many months in advance. Our arrival seemed a bit confused -- although we had been given Butler and SSG tags at the airport, there seemed to be an identity problem. They initially confused us with another couple. Then someone who didn't introduce himself took us to our room -- it turned out he was one of our butlers. We were given a ground floor room, although I had called to request an upper floor room. The butler said the resort was full, but thne 1/2 hour later another couple checked into the room we wanted! I had asked months in advance. Things got better after that, though.

Grounds: This resort is nice and spread out, with a wide selection of pools and private places in the garden to sit. It is what we hoped Sandals Negril would be. The grounds are lovely. The beach is public, with vendors (except a small strip owned by Sandals). These people are very poor so it's not a bad idea to buy something.

Rooms: Our Honeymoon Oceanview suite was not as private as we had hoped, being on the ground floor, but it was right on the beach (not all of them are) and it was nice to be able to walk right out. The beachfront Rondavals are not private at all, with a walkway very close in front, but they are as near to the beach as you can get. (They're also smaller than our room was.) Of note, the large Mediterranean Village was under constrution but not open. Our room (711) was fairly tranquil and isolated, being at the end of the resort, won't be once the new addition opens and people are going between the 2 sides. It will be right in the middle of the 2 resorts. Similarly,some of the rondavals with plunge pools will lose privacy due to people in the towering new addition being able to see into your little "compound". Just a thought for nude sunbathers.
There are many room options, and some of the gardenview rooms and suites looked nice, with attractive settings.

Food: The food was better here than at Sandals Negril, less oily and more flavourful. We are vegetarians and found more selection here, with less fuss -- even at the OK Corrall, to our surprise. Even the buffets were better. The only disappointment was the Signature Guest dinner. We stayed because we liked the company but the "specially prepared" food was a joke and an insult. Overall, though, food was good. Obviosly carnivores will get better value for money and more selection.

Pool: Wide variety, from noisy ones with swim-up bar to more tranquil and secluded. We didn't actually use them much.

Staff/Butlers: This is the only Sandals where tipping butlers is specifically forbidden. This Sandals is unionized, so everyone gets 2 days off per week -- good for them. Perhaps because of the no-tipping policy, butler service here is more low-key, less in-your-face, than at Negril. Having a butler is the only was to get room service at this resort. By the way, tipping is allowed and expected for drivers and porters at the airport as they don't work for Sandals directly, and for spa staff. We didn't feel pressure to tip here.

Spa: My husband had a massage in one of the tents scattered around the grounds. It was very nice and worth the money.

Diving: Bit mixed. The water is very choppy and at least a couple of people got seasick during our stay, including one experienced diver. You may have to look after your own safety. We took Advanced certification and weren't too sure about our instructor. Once she saw my husband was low on air and, instead of ending the dive as per protocol, she continued by sharing air with him. Another time she didn't end the dive when he signalled, he ran COMPLETELY out of air -- when he broke the surface he was sucking against a vacuum. I was horrified. They also let us dive twice before checking our certification! It wasn't all bad, but do beware. Lizzie (not our instructor) is very conscientious and safety-minded so if you're doing any certification or just need help, try to get her. That all said, there were some fascinating dive sites. Equipment was fine.

Excursions: didn't take any, but we did visit St. John's to go to a restaurant. Not a whole lot to see unless you want to shop.

Internet: There's a very small room with 2 computers. You pay by the minute. It's not too expensive. However, if you bring your own laptop you still have to pay by the minute (not fixed daily rate like some hotels, or free internet like others). It actually works out a bit more expensive to use your own computer!

Ambience: Very nice. We didn't hear any construction noise from the new addition, despite being right at the edge of the property. There was a very large group from an investment firm, and that wasn't a problem either. One night they had a private dinner but there were lots of places to eat. I was suprised about a beer-drinking contest -- thought Sandals was above that kind of childishness -- but of course the place is big enough it's not intrusive. The whole place is very attractive, from the open-air lobby to the grounds, restaurants and rooms.

Leaving: We had a 6:30 am flight to Dominica, and Sandals insisted we leave at 3:30 am to be at the airport by 4:30 am. It's only a 20-min drive, and for interisland flights there's no need to show up that early. The desk wasn't even supposed to open before 6! We spent 2 1/2 hours waiting at the airport in the middle of the night when we could have been sleeping -- not exactly happy.

Overall we liked this resort and will be returning next February, but it will probably be our last trip. Sandals is decent value for us as the diving is included, but we like the option of room service at breakfast and of course you have to pay a lot more.

  • Liked — Beautiful setting, lovely grounds.
  • Disliked — Some difficulty with arrival, but not a huge problem.
  • Stayed March 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
20 Thank CrystalVancouver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Omaha, NE
Level 6 Contributor
113 reviews
63 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 100 helpful votes
Reviewed June 20, 2007

We have been fortunate to travel to quite a few resorts in various countries in the Caribbean, but it is easy to see why this one is voted as one of the most romantic. We have been to other Sandals properties (Jamaica and St. Lucia), but none compares to the landscaping of this one. While we were there the new Mediterrean Village was still being built, so this was still a smaller, intimate feeling resort with only 180 some rooms. It will be interesting to see how it feels after the new portion is open and it doubles in size.

The resort is a short 15 minute ride from V.C. Bird International Airport, which is a much shorter distance than some of the other Sandals that we have stayed at.

We received a complimentary upgrade to a Honeymoon Veranda Suite. We absolutely loved our room. It was very well decorated and clean.
The furniture was very new looking and having the fully stocked bar in the room was great.

We enjoyed the food and drinks. We never had any problems getting reservations at the Italian or Japanese restaurant. The new Mediterrean Village will add a number of restaurants, but these were not yet open. The Sandals Sip Sop, Dirty Bananas and Painkillers (find a bartender named Gavin) were very good.

The staff was very attentive. My wife had a birthday on the trip and they even delivered flowers to our room in celebration.

Our only disappointment was the day trip we took. It was a circumnavigation cruise of Antigua on Wadadli Cats. We wanted to go to Barbuda, but the boat was without an engine so that tour was cancelled until July. It is not that we did not enjoy the cruise, but we were supposed to see Nelson's Dockyard and English Harbour, but the captain apparently decided not to stop there.

While there may be a few places that need a little paint or repair, it was nothing like some of the other reviews I had read and did not detract from our enjoyment in any way.

The beach was great and the water was very calm. You could walk quite a distance in either direction. There were quite a few vendors
on the beach (all beaches are public in Antigua), but they did not bother you after they knew you were not interested.

We would definitely recommend this resort.

  • Liked — The resort was very beatifully landscaped
  • Disliked — That we had to leave at the end of our stay
  • Stayed June 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
13 Thank Playa03
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Louisiana
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed June 20, 2007

My girlfriend and I spent a week at Sandals Antigua and had the best vacation ever! We tried to experience as many tours as possible without missing out on much needed beach bum time. We snorkeled, scuba dove, took the Sunset Cruise and the Island Circumnav Cruise. The Circumvnav was fantastic with good food, great snorkeling and of course good rum punch. Our best excursion would have to be Shirley Heights on Sunday afternoons. They have breath taking views and some excellent steel drum and reggae bands. We also did the Couples Champagne Jacuzzi which follows a couples massage. The Red Lane Spa there is fantastic! We have several spas at home but the RedLane Antigua was a nicer facility than any of them. Our concierge room was
nice but could have used some snacks in the in-room bar. The food at most of the restaurants was good with Il Palio, the Italian restaurant, being the best. The Japanese restaurant, Komonos, was not at all what was advertised. The only sushi they have is a California roll appetizer but the habachi grill was decent. Service was very good overall but they definitely need more bartenders working for the number of guests they have. We will definitely return
to Sandal's Antigua and other Sandal's resorts.

  • Liked — Wonderful Tours & Activities
  • Disliked — No in room snacks
  • Stayed June 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
14 Thank LA_Island_Boy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Burbank,California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed June 18, 2007

This was an incredible experience. The staff were all courteous, professional and fun to be around.

The rooms were first class and the food and choice of restaurants were outstanding. The dive / watersports center went out of their way to accomodate us. We were a group of ten couples celebrating my 50th birthday and everyone had the most fantastic time.

The new Mediterranean Village is now open and I can hardly image how much an already perfect resort can be improved with even more choices of pools, bars and restaurants.

We spent a lot of time in the spa, with Eve being our personal favourite therapist.

Can't wait to go back.

Stayed May 2007
Helpful?
11 Thank mrcolin2u
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
cr
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed June 17, 2007

My husband and I just returned from Sandals Grande Antigua. We had recently taken our children to Beaches and LOVED it, so our expection for Sandals in Antigua was pretty high. The look of the hotel is dated, there is loud construction going on ALL the time. The food is pretty boring and very much the same in all the restaurants. After our great trip to Beaches, with its friendly staff, again we were expecting much more. Not much need for friendliess, except from the Playmakers. Sandals needed to be very honest with all its customers about the New Mediterranean Village, which appears to be MONTHS away from being finished.
On the lighter side the off property excursions are really great, and the island is very beautiful.

Stayed June 2007
Helpful?
5 Thank mollyCr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Babylon, New York
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed June 8, 2007

We just returned from a wonderful vacation at Sandals Antigua. Our experience was terrific. Upon arrival, our luggage was tagged and brought to our room for us with no problem, we were given a glass of chilled champagne and were escorted to our room (This was a concierge service). The hotel is beautifully landscaped with lush gardens and is right on one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to. The sand is powdery white and the water is so clean, turquiose and calm that you can go in and enjoy it all day long. I have been to other resort beaches where the water is so rough that you cannot go in. The choices for dining were fine. Each restaurant was clean, with good service and good food. At night, each restaurant and was lit with candles for the perfect carribean, romantic ambiance. The entertainment at night was very good with a live band and terrific dancers each evening. They do a "sing-a-long" in the piano bar on some evenings which was so much fun. The bartenders always make your drinks strong with top shelf liquor. There was liquor right in our room so we could mix our own drinks while in our room as well. As this is a couples-only resort, there were many, many lovely honeymoon couples, I did see some older couples too, but not as many as younger newlyweds. Sandals is adding an absolutely beautiful mediterranean village to its resort. It will be amazing once it is completed, however, it is no where near completion. If you have rooms booked there, make sure you know ahead of time, it will be at the very least six months before it will be ready! I know we will be going back to stay in the new section, it will be wonderful once it is open!! The island people that work at the hotel were very nice, very warm and friendly. There are hammocks and rocking wicker chairs to enjoy right on the beach under huts, which I loved to sit in and read my book each morning. For an added fee, you can arrange for a private candlelit lobster "dinner for two" right on the beach. The one negative comment I have is the fitness center is outdoors under a hut so it was too hot to work out there. You may want to keep that in mind if you like an "icy cold-air conditioned" fitness center on vacation, you won't find that here. The rooms that the resort offers are very spacious, clean, but keep in mind there are "older" rooms further away from the beach that may not be in such great condition, you may want to stay away from those rooms when booking your stay. There are plenty of excursions offered for daily activities. I would have enjoyed banana boats but they didn't have those. To leave the resort to go shopping was a disappointment, no great shopping in Antigua with any high-end shops, but you'll have to save that for another trip. We did not get butler service with our room, however, the guests we spoke to that did, said it was wonderful, the butlers were warm, friendly and added to the enjoyment of their vacation. The butler will make all your dinner reservations, unpack, press and pack your clothes, draw your bath, etc. One last note, it is very hot in Antigua, so no need to pack a light sweater for the evenings as the restaurants are all "open-air" restaurants. We enjoyed the pool that had a swim-up bar. It was a great place to cool-off and socialize and around 3:00 everyday, a staff member summoned willing participants for a beach volleyball game. I do recommend this resort, it offers everything you'll need for an active or relaxing vacation at a very, very beautiful tropical location. I also recommend the excursion to Shirley Heights. They will take you to the top of a mountain, the highest point of the island where you will see "the most beautiful" view, one of the most beautiful sites in the world at sunset. Cheers.

  • Stayed June 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
19 Thank crusnwsusn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dublin, Ireland
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed June 7, 2007

We felt we had to write this having spent two wonderful weeks in the Sandals Antigua. I had read some of the other reviews and were were a bit worried however as soon as we arrived we knew we had nothing to worry about. This was our honeymoon and it had to be special. It was..... every minute was wonderful.

The staff were friendly and helpful. The key to enjoying a holiday here is to remember it is in the carribean and things move at a different pace... once you get that decide that you are on your holidays then you'll love it... Food was great in all the restaurants but the Japanese restaurant was our favourite followed very closely by the Bayside and OK Coral.

We visited the Red lane spa for several treatments... full body massage and exfoliation is a great start to any holiday and they really know how to accommodate couples. We've been to many Spa's and this is up there with the very best.. worth the indulgence. The hot stone massage was a real treat.

The island and people have so much to offer take some time to talk to them and learn more...

Enjoy the holiday I know you will.

  • Liked — Location, Spa and staff
  • Disliked — Nothing really
  • Stayed June 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
13 Thank IrishBride07
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

Property: 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 (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
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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