We stayed at the Halcyon from the 12 - 26 March 2006.
We had booked through Thomson in the UK. Getting to St Lucia was with BWIA (British West Indies Airlines) and we wished we had the option to fly with another carrier, 3 hour delay at Heathrow until another smaller plane flown in from Edinburgh, the plane was tatty and we had no entertainment for the whole flight, food was nice but extremely small portions and you have to pay for any alchoholic drinks, we will not fly BWIA again!
We arrived about 10-00pm so did not have the hassle of baggage handlers and as other people have written in their reveiws, the Sandals desk is a few metres outside the airport so no real need to pay someone to carry your bags, bring some bottled water in your hand luggage for the transfer.
Transfer from the airport on the South of the Island is by minibus/taxi and should have aircon, the local driving method involves overtaking slower traffic and may be a little more hairy than you are used to, remember though that these guys do this every day so trust them and relax and take in the scenery for about an hour and a half.
When you arrive at the Halcyon you will be greeted with a glass of chilled sparkling wine and cold face towels, very nice. You will need your booking documents with you as this is needed as part of the check-in process.
We were in the 500 block which was nice and quiet, you can hear the road a little and actually this is the same across most of the resort, but for us it was very much in the background (only heavy lorries, the odd motorbike and sirens)and did not spoil our enjoyment at all. You will also get the local planes from Castries airport flying over the resort during the day, these are 2 prop planes and more of a drone than earsplitting, we got used to it very quickly.
The rooms are clean, a little tired in places and the bathroom could use a revamp but perfectly serviceable nonetheless, however we felt that the rooms do not deserve the 4 star plus rating, a fair rating would be 3 star.
The grounds are kept in impeccable condition and really are beautiful and you start to relax straight away.
We would recommend taking Jungle Formula insect repellent in spray form and a plug in unit for the bathroom, you will need the spray during the evenings and use on any exposed skin, you don't really see or hear the mosquitoes but the little buggers will find you, expect to get one or two bites but again this should not spoil your fun.
The really nice thing about St Lucia is the lack of flying nasties, no wasps for example - heaven.
Some people have complained that you don't get bottled water as part of the all inclusive, to be honest you don't actually need it, the tap water is completely safe, we filled our plastic bottle and then left it in the ice bucket and did this all week, therefore it is safe to clean your teeth and eat fruit and salads etc so do not worry about the water. The water has a slight chlorine taste so you may prefer to purchase bottled water from the gift shop from a taste perspective.
The gift shop prices are $2 US for water, $5 US for 20 Marlboro Lights, $4-50 US for 20 Benson and Hedges. If you go out of the resort,turn right and walk for a minute you will come to a little shopping complex with a supermarket and you can buy these things much cheaper including rum etc, we felt at ease and safe and have no problems recommending you to do the same, you do not need a taxi and some of the staff will try to convince you otherwise.
Sandals is no different to other major operators, they want you to spend any surplus cash within the resort and it is a shame that some of their pricing structure is borderline rip off. There is a photo dept where you can purchase photos taken by Sandals staff but the cost of these are in the region of $6 US per photo, the staff have to take x amount of photos a day (we were told 150 by 2 members of staff), they are not pushy for you to buy but we feel the costing model is wrong.
For those of you who are getting married and are thinking of using the Photo Service for your wedding pictures, a word of caution. The quality of shot is very much a gamble on who takes your pictures, we saw some nice albums and some very poor albums while we were there, these are probably the most precious photos of your life and we would suggest taking a digital camera and getting a friend or a guest you have got to know to take photos at the same time so you maximise the chances of getting a good set overall. Some of the staff are not qualified or even trained in photography!!!
The variety and quality of food is excellent and the service is good, you will sometimes have to wait to get a drink but this is the Carribean after all, please do not be like an English bloke who moaned at the bar when half a dozen people had been served before him - your on your hols, relax and chill, they will get to you!
The presentation of food at the Bayside in terms of hygeine was sadly not in keeping with the star rating, 3 sides of the Bayside is open air and only one side has "fishing line" to stop birds flying in, I saw on a number of occasions birds perched above food and poop into it, this was into the food on open display and a real shame so come on Sandals, sort this one out.
I was laid low for 2 days with food poisoning (not from the Bayside, possibly from another restaurant on resort), the on site nurse was extremely helpful and we ended up getting the Doctor out, you have to pay the Doctor direct and this was $75 US for coming out and another $25 US for the antibiotics, make sure you have travel insurance as we can claim the costs back.
We decided to book a taxi for a day and tour the sights this way, this will cost somewhere around $130 - $160 US, for us we got a one to one commentary with the taxi driver and got to see everything we wanted, works out cheaper than doing the Sandals excursions and you don't have a dozen people on the same vehicle, you can book this from the tour desk or go behind the gift shop to where the taxi drivers sit during the day and book direct, highly recommended.
We learnt from various staff we talked to that Sandals flies in most of the food used on resort from the US and therefore very little of what you pay actually goes into the local economy, the staff work very long hours and paid modestly, they are paid to smile and be nice and if not can lose their job, however you find that the St Lucian people are genuinely happy and helpful. This is shown by how nothing is too much trouble and a real wish to make your visit memorable, if you get off resort and meet some locals you will see this is so, do try and see other parts of this amazing island.
At each tourist spot you will find vendors trying to sell necklaces,bracelets etc, very cheap and tacky but these people are trying to earn a living, haggling is easy and you should be able to get two thirds off the price. If you are not interested, don't be rude but a firm no thank you possibly repeated should be enough to stop being hassled. The vendors are far more laid back than other Carribean countries and not "in your face".
To summarise, St Lucia is an amazing destination and really worth a visit, you will relax and be treated very well at Sandals Halcyon, take a relaxed attitude and you will enjoy yourself, we ended up going for less than the brochure price and felt we had a value for money vacation, had we paid full price we would have been very dissapointed and on reflection would return to St Lucia but to another resort.
- 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