12/27/12-12/5/13 Room 134
2. What it’s not
5. Transfer tips
6. If you go: consider…
OVERALL: We had the most relaxing time ever. It really is paradise. You don’t have to worry about a thing: food, money, tips, carrying a purse, crime, etc. We loved our room (honeymoon beachfront walkout concierge room 134) and spent most of our time on our patio reading. Food was about a 100 foot walk to your right and 200 feet to your left. We heard the surf all night and delighted in the birds and nature sounds. The room was bigger than we expected, based on the photos and TripAdvisor reviews, expect a little cottage not anaything like a large suite at a modern hotel. It was “beach style eclectic” and we were quite comfortable with our room. After traveling for a total of two days to get there, we felt immediately relieved and relaxed to sit outside on our patio and look at the ocean. After a few days we couldn’t understand why anyone would have anything negative to say about this place but we figured it out. We are happy with our trip, the choices we made, the length of the stay (9 nights), the location, etc.
I’m posting several photos to illustrate my review.
WHAT IT'S NOT: The beach isn’t as large as the photos lead you to believe. In reality the beach extends north, but if you leave the property you will find a public park with trailers on it, and another resort further. We didn’t feel like we could take a long walk on the beach at all. The south side of the beach, it ends at the beach bistro (look for the thatched hut gazebo in the brochure) and then there’s a seawall. On the brochure/website photo of the Pier restaurant from the air, what you see of the beach is what you get, with just a little further to the left.
For concierge level, there is no “in room continental breakfast” even though that’s what it says on the website under room amenities. If you ask, and I did twice, the second time, I was told I would have a honeymoon breakfast ONCE. Any of the photos you see of a tablecloth and breakfast on the table on your balcony are either staged, or maybe the butler level service (for about $2,000 more) has that. There is a coffee and tea pot, but that’s it. So if you want something to eat within an hour and a half of getting up you’re going to have to go to the buffet.
Take-out to your room: My travel agent assured me that this was available. In reality it’s awkward. You can’t just go up to the hostess and say I want two steak dinners to go. You can't call and ask for anything (unless you pay the butler level for the entire stay) You have to go there and order off a menu and wait. They say they don’t have to-go containers, they have “plates”. I got the feeling when I ordered that this was an inconvenience, but the reward of eating on your patio privately is worth it. So don't be shy about it.
Unlimitted premium drinks for concierge level guests don’t exist. The liquor is not top-shelf, mostly made in Guyana. We asked for a bottle of Schmirnoff and were told they don’t have that. We would be given ONE premium bottle (Absolute), and after that, the premium brands were $40 on up. So yes, you could get top-shelf but you’d have to pay more. Not at all the way Sandals advertises. The Beringer wines were ok, Stone Cellars brand which certainly isn't premium Beringer! But ok.
Sandals Lounge at the airport: There was bottled water available, one staff person, we weren’t offered anything else nor did I see any champayne.
1. It is absolutely beautiful, in fact, I thought it was more beautiful in person.
2. We were always able to find a covered cabana, chairs by the pool, gazebo, swing, etc. to lounge in. Three of the days we spent some time in the daybeds and were happy to be there. I emphasize this because of all the reviews we had read, and the fact that we were there during high season (Christmas to New Year’s week), we were afraid we’d not be able to get a cabana. The Butler level guests do have someone put their towels and books out for them (I saw this). And if you go to the Grande, the only cabanas you can get are either reserved or you have to pay for (there was a sign on each cabana saying: reserved for Mr. & Mrs._____). But not at the Halcyon.
3. The food at the Bayside was way better than we were expecting. The steaks were good on steak night, and the Indian food and Jamaican food was delicious. The spicy creole tuna was a treat. And by the time you ordered an appetizer and soup at the Pier restaurant, I had trouble finishing my filet mignon. Other guests have posted extensively about food so I won’t spend more time on that. Don’t be afraid to go fix yourselves a plate of nachos at the Beach Bistro at 10:30 at night. And their cheeseburgers were surprisingly better than we expected! Any mixed drinks we had you might as well just consider them to be a smoothy.
4. With concierge level, you will always have access to bottled water, juices, and alcohol, which otherwise you’d have to leave your room to get. I didn’t see any bottled water available on site, heard a guest ask for it at the front desk but I don't think they got anything.
5. You can pretty much do anything you want to all day long. We did do a private couples tour of the island because I wanted to see St. Lucia, and I was taking a class about visiting a Tropical Rainforest but in reality we spent 6 hours in a car on "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" and a few minutes at about 5 stops outside. We were happy hanging out at the Halcyon and didn't feel the need to spend a lot of money and/or time outside doing thrillrides. There's plenty to do that's all-inclusive.
6. Free weddings are a great value for just a couple or small group.
We were happy with our room. Someone had commented that the rooms were dark, and yes, there were only two lights by the bed, a sunlamp in the bathroom, and lights over the vanity. The photos in the brochures must have added a lot of stage lighting. But: the green or blue light on the air conditioner by the ceiling gives off more than enough light at night after you’ve gone to bed. In fact, it lights up the entire room. Bring eyemasks if this is going to bother you.
The chair they show the size of a loveseat didn’t exist. There was no ottoman.
The bathroom had old Spanish style tile, which was fine. But nothing like the marble countertops and modern bathroom you see in the brochure.
To turn on the tv, you have to find the switch under the left side of the frame. And we had to put our own batteries in the remote. Also, we brought our own DVD but it would not hook up to the tv.
If you leave the windows open at night, the sounds of the ocean and treefrogs will probably keep you from sleeping. Sometime around 3am the frogs must go to sleep themselves. I brought earplugs and could still hear them. I'm not complaining but reporting. We love nature.
They put an umbrella in the room for your use. When it rains, it doesn’t seem to last more than a few minutes but it was nice to have when leaving the room.
Our room was the first room in the last row before the restaurants, and almost every single guest had to walk by for all their meals. It seemed that many of the employees did too. The morning after tours walked right past our room around 10 and 11 am each day. Considering we loved our botanically trimmed patio, we didn’t mind much.
The lamp that lights the pathway did shine in our room everynight, all night. If I went again I’d get the same room, figure out how to keep the light from shining in the glass/curtain on the door. The curtains for the windows were just fine.
If you want your room cleaned before 3-5pm, you need to take charge of the situation. You can call concierge and request a specific time everyday, or on days when you know you will be out during certain hours, you can catch your housekeeper (not far from your room block) and request this.
I highly recommend private VIP transfers. Sandals charges $140 per couple each way, but we found SerenityVacations&Tours through TripAdvisor and it was only $95 coming and $85 going. You will have a guide meet you at the door to the Sandals lounge. They loaded your luggage. No crowds or worrying about being shoved into a van with strangers. They provided water, rum punch, beer, juice, and even stopped at a roadside bakery and treated us to freshly made bread with butter and melted cheese! They stop in Dennery, about halfway there, and take a scenic photo of you. After having read all the reviews at TripAdvisor about the Sandals shuttles, I was pleased with our choices. One thing no one said that I gathered at the end, you can ask for a boxed lunch for the last day. If you leave at 11:30 and your flight isn’t until 4pm, you’re on your own for airport food. Also, while Sandals guests had to catch the shuttles by 11:30, we arranged to stay later at the resort. Our plane didn't leave until after 4pm and we didn't want to spend 3 hours at the airport.
IF YOU GO:
1. Consider the location of your room. Study the map of the property. Figure out how close to, or far away from, crowds you want to be. If you see the little white path in front of your room, people will be walking by. If you want more privacy, consider asking for the blocks of rooms on the other side of the Pier restaurant. I think the two blocks of 13 by the Beach Bistro/gazebo are perfect.
2. Do you want a private patio/balcony, or not? Consider your lifestyle and room choices. None of the rooms by the Paradise Pool have any privacy outside. The two story blocks have balconies and patios, but I don't think you can get concierge service with them.
3. Consider upgrading to Concierge Level if you are in the habit of drinking bottled water/beverages all day and/or if you are a drinker (of alcohol). We really could put in a request for more chardonnay and champayne on a daily basis. On the other hand, if you’re trying to save money, if you leave the property, almost across the “highway” is a local grocery store. There’s a walkway over the road. You could just take a couple of walks with a rolling cart and stock up yourselves. I have no idea what anything costs to buy in St. Lucia grocery stores.
4. Souvenirs: You can find just about everything at the airport at reasonable prices. I wish I would have just waited and bought things there, and made it an additional carry-on. Also, the Sandals gift shop has musical instruments for $5.99 that make great gifts.
5. Don’t overpack your “just in case” items. There’s a nurse on hand for free from 9-5. The other gift shop has medical items. Yes bring your bug spray, but we ended up leaving the two containers of sunscreen and many other items you’re led to believe you might need. Do pack sleeping meds.
6. Do your research. You can email TripAdvisor reviewers and the 6 times I did, I got extensive information within a week. Don’t bother emailing the hotel, they don’t respond. And your travel agent, at best if they’ve toured the property will be able to only answer about half your questions.
Feel free to email me with any questions. I’d be happy to answer.
I can’t stress enough what a wonderful time we had. And how beautiful this place is. We absolutely hated the local vendors barking at us everytime we walked the beach, or even the path to the restaurants or path along the beach. “Hey princess!” “When you gunna talk to me?” etc. etc. Almost every little wooden hut on the beach is occupied by them most of the day. This, along with I got bit by something in the middle of the night and the left side of my tongue swelled up maybe six times the size? requiring a visit from the doctor ($). But hey, to have cheeseburgers in paradise with the love of your life is priceless and unforgettable! :)
I just spent half an hour uploading photos but not sure they are going to appear.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- •Friendly to the physically challenged with low rise architecture •Fully air-conditioned Caribbean cuisine restaurant on its own 150 ft pier over the •Caribbean Sea •Houses 169 Rooms with true personal service and intimate experience •English-style afternoon tea served at the Paradise pool •Tableside service at the Beach Bistro •“Stay at one, play at three” free shuttles to Sandals La Toc Golf Resort & Spa and Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort•Sandals Resorts “World’s Leading All Inclusive Company” 16 years in a row •Sandals Resorts “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand”, 18 years in a row ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sandals Halcyon Beach St. Lucia Hotel Castries
- Sandals Halcyon Beach Castries
- Sandals St Lucia
- Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort St. Lucia/Castries