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The Sands at Grace Bay
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All reviewsocean viewhemingways restaurantgrace bayscreened in porchgrocery storefull kitchenwasher and dryerrum punchan umbrellasands resorthobie catsother resortspaddle boardsbeautiful beachon site restaurantcoral gardensrented a car
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Reviewed April 7, 2005

We just returned from a stay at the Sands at Grace Bay. We loved it! My husband and I took our children (ages 11, 9 and 7). After much research, and reading many reviews on TripAdvisor, we selected the Sands. In the weeks prior to our arrival on April 2 we started to read some negative reviews. We were somewhat concerned but decided to stick with our reservation. We are so happy we did!

The beach was fantastic. My husband is in the travel industry and spends most of the winter on various tropical islands throughout the world. The beach here is by far the best. The water was gentle and blue and we were less than a 20 minute walk to Coral Gardens for snorkeling.

Our children loved the pools. The river pools were lots of fun and the main pool was great. For those with younger children, you should be aware that there is tropical foliage that blocks the view around the river pool. You will not be able to sit on a lounge chair and watch your child swim in the rivers. The rivers are only 2 1/2 feet deep but you may need to enjoy the river with your young child.

Our 2 bedroom oceanview suite was fantastic. We had two bedrooms each with a King bed and a comfortable (so says our 11 year old) fold out sofa. The kitchen was well stocked with dishes, silverware, dish and dishwasher soap and a blender for frozen drinks. The washer and dryer came in handy.

Some prior reviews indicate that people have trouble with the staff. We found them courteous, friendly and helpful. Our room was always cleaned by the time we returned from the beach for lunch. The front desk staff provided us ample information about activities and tours and arranged rides for us. The rum punch was very welcomed upon our arrival as we checked in. We liked Germaine as a taxi driver. He told us about the island and quickly picked us up after any activity when called. One thing to note, we asked the conceirge to make us dinner reservations at Bay Bistro on the night we arrived. We arrived at the restaurant and they did not have our reservation. We were told by the restaurant staff that this happens with most of the hotel conceirge services and it is best to book reservations on your own. We did this each of the following nights. The staff at Hemingways was very nice and took drink orders when we were at the pool and on the beach. Our kids loved this.

As for food, we found wonderful food on this island. We loved walking down the beach to Bay Bistro. The food was fantastic. The service was slow but not inattentive. We also liked Iguana and Hemingways. With every restaurant in the TCI we found it necessary to adjust our American speed expectations and to try to savor the leisurely evening meal. This is not New York City where they are trying to turn over the table as soon as possible. In the TCI you are treated to friendly people, delicious food and a memorable experience. If your children can't sit through a long meal, most restaurants are in close proximity to the beach, so one of you can take them there to pass some time.

We took the Native Adventure Snorkeling trip with J & B tours. It was great. Clearly, the world has not yet discovered and destroyed the barrier reef around the islands. The coral and fish were so colorful and full of life. It was fantastic. Our children took into school today the conch shells they retrieved from one of the stops on the trip.

Just a note, for the those considering Beaches, your vacation will likely be quite different from the vacation I decribed above. Beaches contained the only overcrowded beach on Grace Bay. It was loud and there wasn't any walking room between the chairs. They seem to have the narrowest beach on Grace Bay. Beaches looked a bit tired and reminded us of Disney World. The rest of Grace Bay is not like Disney World at all. It is beautiful, relaxing and laid back. Just a word to those considering Beaches.

We loved TCI and will be returning in November. We plan on staying at the Sands again!

  • Stayed: April 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
25  Thank momstravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
New York
112
Reviewed April 5, 2005

I hope the title of this review is clear enough, but just in case it isnt, dont waste your money, don't bother making reservations (becuase they wont be honored), dont waste time thinking about the Sands (unless you were confusing it for the smooth white sand on the beach), just flat out DO NOT GO HERE!!!!!

I feel as I can write volumes about this resort, but i will spare you as I dont think it is worth the effort. I just hope you heed what i say, and avoid making the same mistake I made. NOt much went right about the trip, starting with arrival. My girlfriend and I arrived, but apparantly our reservations hadnt. With written travel agent confirmation in hand, they still had no idea who we were. After traveling for over 8 hrs total, we were left helplessly in the "lobby" awaiting word from beyond closed doors. To say the help was dissinterested to me seems unfair....for in order to do so, one would assume they were at one point first interested. Not the case at all. I'm not sure the help even cares about themselves, let alone the guests. After hours of no person in site, who were "working on the situation", we finally got another room, that then took 2 hours to prepare before we could go in. So we were left in jeans and long shirts to sit at Hemingway's for lunch while our room was readied.
All hope of this being an out of the ordinary incident was soon lost. Our air conditioner broke. It FROZE. No, that is not a type, it froze...into a solid ice block. Many calls to the manager later, (after they had sent out the handyman to look at it, and come up with the brilliant conclusion that it was frozen, and they woiuld come the next day to put warm towels on it to defrost) a technician came out to fix it. Still no consolation after missing dinner reservations and having no air conditioning for a day.
I do have one good thing to say though, i must be fair in doing so. We did sign up for a couples massage in the Spa. A little small in setting, but we were both able to get massages at the same time, and very good massages at that.....Oh, that's right, the Spa is independently run. No wonder it worked out well.
In closing, as to not bore you with anymore: Food: ok, Service: Horrendous, Facility Condition: ok, Beach: excellent (if you win the battle for a chair and umbrella....one that the most crafty of minds can not figure out easily) Water: crystal clear, Staff: horrendous....Jo Jo the Dolphin...can't comment, didnt see him.
I think i have made my point, but just one more time to hammer it home, DON'T GO!!!!!


I

  • Stayed: January 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
12  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Ottawa, Canada
118
Reviewed April 4, 2005

My husband and I spent one glorious week on our honeymoon at The Sands at Grace Bay from March 12-19. The Sands is a beautiful resort and our room was amazing. We stayed in a studio room with an ocean view (room 6302) and it was perfect. Our room was located in the building furthest from the beach but it was still only a minute or two walk from the beach. We liked being at the end because we had a fantastic view of the ocean and the grounds plus we could look out back and view the beautiful sunrises.

We took advantage of the shuttle bus to Graceway supermarket to pick up some things for breakfast and light lunches. One thing to remember about Graceway is that they do not sell alcohol on Sundays. I would strongly recommend doing this so you can enjoy a peaceful breakfast in the quiet of your room before heading out to the beach. We enjoyed eat on our screened in balcony on our little wrought iron table looking out onto the ocean.

The beach is absolutely amazing and the colour of the water was unlike anything we have ever seen!!!! We did get up early 6:30-7:00 am to get a little tiki hut for the day. The water was warm and incredible clear. My husband found a beautiful starfish in the water in front of The Sands when he was snorkelling. The beach staff was very helpful. We took the Hobie Cat out several times during our stay – they gave up a quick lesson and made sure we knew what we were doing and then let us go – I would highly recommend doing this because it allows you to experience the beauty of Turks and Caicos from another perspective. We had no problem borrowing snorkelling equipment for the day from the hotel either. We also did this a few times and headed down to Coral Gardens (about a 20-25 minute walk down the beach). You have to do this and I would recommend going earlier in the day (9-10am). We saw to Stingrays, a nurse shark, turtles, cowfish and a melange of other aquatic life. You can go snorkelling right off of the shore so it’s perfect for the first time or the experienced snokeller. We also took the Gecko Bus to Smith’s Reef and went snorkelling there – we some different fish then at Coral Gardens so if you want something to do one afternoon try that – it’s very quiet and beautiful. Anther half-day trip to do was the “Native Adventure” where you snorkel out by the reef and then go diving for conch (very cool). I managed to find a King Conch (which is rare) so that was very exciting. The other conchs that were found were then cleaned and prepared into a fresh conch salad on a secluded beach. Our tour group was small and it was fun to hang out and eat a meal prepared fresh out of the ocean.

Of course, we tried the multitude of fantastic restaurants in T&C. Our favourite was Bay Bistro located at Sibonne (right beside The Sands). The atmosphere was wonderful – it was as if you were dining right on the beach. Very relaxing yet the service was perfect – friendly and helpful. We ate two dinners and two lunches there – I recommend going to this restaurant over Hemmingway’s (located at The Sands). Hemmingway’s lacked in courtesy and atmosphere. They try to be an upscale restaurant but they need to recognise that they are more of a bar and grill. I suppose they are acceptable for a family to dine at but if you are looking to have a romantic dinner for two – they are not the place to go. Also, breakfast and lunch are slow in service too. They do offer a beach service, which is convenient, but if you want to sit down for lunch take the short walk to Bay Bistro! We also had dinner at Grace’s Cottage – on the other side of The Sands – all I can say is that it was absolutely PERFECT. Amazing atmosphere, delicious food, relaxing music, and friendly staff! If you are looking for a casual dinner take a walk down to The Saltmills and just past it is this cute Mexican restaurant called Carter’s Café – they are so friendly and it’s nice and quiet!

T&C really has something for everyone – I found our days full of activities – snorkelling, swimming, and going out in the Hobie Cat. Our evenings were filled with trying out the various restaurants. I recommend going to this beautiful, clean, and pristine island. I know we’ll be back. I want to especially thank our parents David and Beverley (who vacationed in T&C two years ago) for sending us there on the most fantastic honeymoon we could have ever wished for!!!!

  • Stayed: March 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
18  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 30, 2005

Just returned from a 3 night stay at this hotel it is a nice hotel, beutiful pools, nice room, but the best of all is the beach and the hemingways restaurant. Since I only stay for 3 nights I ate most of the times at the Hemingways and is really a good restaurant with beutiful views to the sea (very romantic). One night went to Iguanas restaurant but they have very poor sevice and food quality. The only thing that I didn't like is that one night the hotel probably had a problem of waters because there was a terrible smell and when you pay $450 per night (ocean front during easter week) you don't expect to have this kind of inconveniences also I was at the third floor and my tub was licking so I noticed that the room in the second floor were having great trouble with this.

1  Thank ALCSJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 29, 2005

Advertised as a four star resort, the Sands falls quite short. A condo community with rooms that are beginning to show age (i.e. handle missing from dresser, door to armoire fell off in our hand, bed as hard as a rock, sheets and blankets worn looking and course feeling) and service was nearly non-existent.

Upon arrival we were told that despite our written confirmation in hand, a confirmation card from Classic vacations and phone calls from our travel agent and the Classic representative, the hotel could not find our reservations. Rather than offering us the use of the hospitality suite and inviting us to relax and have lunch, we were left standing in the lobby for two hours while they "researched" our reservation. In those two hours, I never saw a single person offered the 'welcome punch' as advertised. The lobby is shabby and small with silk flowers and drapes that looked like they had not been dusted in a year. After two hours, we were so tired, hungry and angry that when the general manager finally showed his face we were like two crazy people. He made an effort to fix the situation, but it did little to make up for the abominable service of his staff for the preceding two hours.

Getting a beach chair and an umbrella (an absolute necessity since there is no shade on the beach) was nothing short of a turf war. Guests had their towels laid out at 7:00 AM. By 8:00 AM, you were out of luck. I had to get out of bed and go down each morning and personally drag beach chairs and umbrella down the beach to a spot on the sand or be without for the day. Guests who didn't know the 'rules' were not offered any assistance and were left without chairs or shade. The beach staff could not be bothered to assist guests other than to dig the hold for the umbrella that you tracked down and dragged down the beach. On our last day we finally saw the water sports staff dragging some chairs which must have been in storage somewhere out to the beach. Otherwise, the water sports staff were absolutely no help and I came back to my room each morning sweaty and out of breath from setting up our spot for the day.

We have traveled all over Europe and the Caribbean and I can say without hesitation that the Sands has been our biggest disappointment to date. What seemed interesting to me is that each time I was in the office someone was there either switching from another hotel where they were having problems or switching rooms within the Sands. Lack of service, bug infestations and disinterested hotel employees seemed to be a running theme on the island. It is a shame, the beaches are magnificent and the island is ripe for tourism. The food was good and the restaurants all excellent.

  • Stayed: March 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
14  Thank Traveler20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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