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“Great place... Great disappointment with food”

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Sandals Emerald Bay Golf, Tennis and Spa Resort
Ranked #2 of 6 Hotels in Great Exuma
Reviewed September 26, 2012

We went at Sandals Emerald Bay last April. The beach is beautiful and facilities are exceptional. Unfortunately, on the first night we stayed at the last unit on the right when we enter the site... And it bears the heavy stench of sewer and its view is less than acceptable. Management was nice enough to transfer us to another better unit. Butlers, servers and desk officers were really nice. People in charge of nautical activities always seemed annoyed when were approached for reservations and were rarely smiling.
Finally, I must say that I was really looking forward for my first stay at a Sandals Resort and unfortunately my (and those of our friends) expectations were not at all met due to the weak quality and variety of food offered, especially at the buffet. I might be rough, but I (we) believed that the food was equivalent to the food served in an average resort in Cuba. The only exception being the magnificent deserts and coffee served at Cafe de Paris. For visitors sake we hope that the "chef patissier" will be promoted as Chef!
Will we come back? I don't believe so.

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Sylvain C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 25, 2012

My husband and I visited Sandals Emerald Bay on Sept. 9 - 16. It was our first Sandals experience. Perhaps our expectations were a little high since it is a 5 star rating and higher priced than most 5 star resorts.

The property was lovely. The beach wide and exquisite. We had a 3rd floor room overlooking the quiet pool. We made our way between the large, busier pool, the beach and the quiet pool.

Different types of drinks were always being delivered around the big pool. There was a bar at the quiet pool and easier to find loungers there.

We enjoyed the Cafe where you could get delicious lattes, pastries and crepes. Dinos always had pizza available by the slice if you wanted to skip going for lunch.

We rented a car for a day and toured the island but it only took about 2 hours as it is very small. We ended up at the Great Exuma Yacht Club and enjoyed a delicious grouper sandwich and some wine overlooking the harbour.

Our room was very nice and there were lots of full bottles of liquor, wine, champagne, etc. Not sure why we needed all of those since drinks flow freely on the grounds.

We did not have butler service as it isn't our thing but thought the "two tiered" service kind of odd. Butlers brinking liitle coolers full of drinks, nachos, putting towels on their loungers, etc.

Every resort we've ever been to in the Caribbean, staff has made towel art on our bed. I saw them in photos but guess you get it only if you have a butler. Again, kind of odd.

I want to go on holidays just to relax and we are not picky eaters. We've visited Cuba 3 times and of course they are not known for their food so we expected quite an upgrade in food quality and presentation at Sandals.

It was just a number of little things that added up to make me rate Emerald Bay at average.
No umbrella in room - rained one day
Carpet on floor was never vacuumed all week (or the week before by looking at it)
Morning room service menu was missing
Shampoo was not replaced one day (we even put in garbage so they would know it was empty) and I had to call down for some
Table beside bed not dusted - radio, lamp full of dust.
Day we checked in only one room card worked
Day before we checked out neither room card worked
Had lunch by the pool one day and someone brought the food from the restaurant. No cutlery or napkins. We had to go looking for some
Went to take golf course tour by golf cart on Tues. - Was told it was cancelled, changed to Friday.
Front desk didn't know there was a golf tournament on so Tues and Thurs was cancelled? There was a real lack of communication between departments.
On Tuesday we found out they have a free snorkel trip. Water sports said it was full all week. We were put on a waiting list for Sat.
On Sat we showed up and found out the boat had tons of room. Apparently they limited the number going due to the small shuttle bus taking us next door to the marina. We could have walked over there. The shuttle bus had lots of standing room.
All in all it was a lovely week but I'm glad we went at a reduced rate as I would have expected more if I paid the normal price.

Room Tip: Third floor will give a glimpse of ocean
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  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Jenny K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 24, 2012

We stayed from August 12 to 19, 2012. The grounds are beautiful! make sure you tour the back 9 holes of the golf course, the view is amazing!!! We have stayed at other Sandals resorts as well as other couples resorts, the atmosphere here was exceptional! The staff was friendly and helpful, but never intrusive. Service was very good. The beach and Emerald Bay are outstanding, the water was warm the sand soft, and the water is every beautiful shade you could imagine.The food was good, the french restaurant was our favourite, the buffet was great for breakfast and lunch, we didn't have dinner there. Our room was clean and spacious, with an incredible view! Housekeeping was completed early and scheduled while we were out, again never intrusive! The pools were both quite warm, and the entertainment was good. They certainly seem to enjoy their work. All in all, an excellent holiday greatly enhance by the warm and friendly reception we received from everyone! Many thanks to all the staff at Emerald Bay, see you next year!

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank jdsbest1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2012

This was our first Sandals vacation because we normally have one or more kids with us. That being said we like to go to nice resorts so usually 4stars & up.
We also cruise often & enjoy the nice food on ship
We arrived around lunch time & our room wasn't quite ready so we went to Drunken Duck British pub for lunch while we waited. We both ordered fish n chips & beers. Lunch was delicious
After lunch we were escorted to our room by one of our two butlers .. Darrion. Our room was ground floor beach front. King sized bed,beautiful bathroom,& right on beach with a lovely terrace with table n chairs,2 loungers & a hammock! Beautiful! We ended up ordering breakfast every evening & our butler delivered @ requested time. He came with table cloth & would even pour our coffee before he left ! We have never been to an all inclusive where we didn't eat @ the buffet but we didn't need to. The food @ this resort is fabulous! I asked about having yogurt with breakfast & was told add anything you want. Just write it on door hanger & we will bring it & so they did!
This is our first butler experience & if you havent tried it - don't knock it! We had 2 butlers. Both very good but one clearly paid more attention to detail. When they brought breakfast they had already reserved a cabana for us @ pool. We would go there to find a cooler full of beer for my hubby & diet coke for me. You are given a cell phone on arrival & you call them for ANYTHING you want. They bring you snacks thru the day & lunch from any place you choose. My husband asked for coronas & they left the resort to get him some!!!
There are soooooo many positives about this resort. Too many to mention
Grounds are spotless,beach gorgeous,food great, but to me the service & attitude of the staff is above n beyond anywhere I have ever been!
I didn't think we needed butler service but I will never doubt that again! They absolutely made our trip over the top!
There were surprise bubble baths,champagne etc etc etc
Thank you Sandals for a phenomenal holiday
Special mention to Darrion,Imram,Jacqua,& Nil

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Lesleyapp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2012

We just returned from Sandals Emerald Bay for our one year anniversary. The resort itself is absolutely beautiful! The little details they put into the restaurants, pool, landscaping the grounds, and everything were outstanding. The pool was amazingly beautiful - never a problem getting a pool chair even at noon - and we did not have a butler. The food was delicious - everything from room service for breakfast to lunch to dinner to late night! We have been to 4 Sandals - Sandals Grande St. Lucia, Grande Antigua - Med Village, Whitehouse - Jamaica, and Royal Bahamian. We love Sandals and both of us said this was the best of all of them we have been to. The food & restaurants were the best of all the Sandals in our opinion as well. The fire pits had just opened and were a great relaxing & romantic touch. The resort & pool are sort of a boutique style and not overcrowded - a mini version of Antigua set up we thought and a perfect size. The staff was eager to please you and the service was outstanding. Anytime we saw a staff member or another guest everyone always said hello to us. We didn’t have to wait long for our food or drinks at any of the restaurants or bars. The island of Exuma was beautiful. I thought St.Lucia was beautiful but boy Exuma was heaven on earth - breathtaking at times. We walked down the end of the beach a few times and it was stunningly beautiful. We felt like we were on a private beach. I went to the Red Lane Spa 3 times and it was fantastic as well. Do not listen to the few bad reviews on Trip Advisor - obviously those people cannot be pleased or are expecting something different. 5 stars all the way - we are looking to book again for next year and we just got back last night. Book it - trust me you won't regret it!

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank patterjill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2012

Just got back from a 7-day vacation at Emerald Bay. I was a little concerned after reading some of the reviews posted here, even though we've been to a number of other Sandals resorts (6th trip!) and have always had a wonderful experience. This resort is beautifully landscaped and the expansive sprawling grounds and long beach are a pleasure to explore. Our room and all common areas were immaculate. Because the resort is large (but not a bad walk from end to end), it didn't ever feel crowded.

We loved the option of spending time at the beach and quiet pool- nice places to read and truly relax! Never had a problem getting a cabana, there were always a few empty. Quiet pool bar now has frozen Pina Coladas and frozen strawberry drinks (guess they responded to complaints about no frozen drinks there). Pool butler comes around with fruit on skewers and cups of ice cream (really nice touch). The main pool is great for those who like music, pool games, and lots of fun activities.Something for everyone.

We booked a concierge room Bay House #1, 3rd floor. Nice view and far enough from the main pool to be quiet. Didn't know until we got there that all rooms have compimentary 24-hour room service, even the concierge-only rooms (breakfast on our balcony was wonderful). Pick Bay House 1, 2, 6, 7, or villas away from the main pool if you want quiet, though this resort is not too loud...the outside music and entertainment ends pretty early, and continues inside (eg: Drunken Duck pub).

Book French and Italian restaurants as soon as possible, we had no trouble getting reservations, but were flexible regarding time, both were good. Loved the booth "sofa seating" (cozy) and spaghetti carbonara at Il Cielo. Il Cielo is really nice for breakfast too. Buffet lunch at Bahama Bay restaurant was great-good quality food, nicely seasoned (unexpected-often buffets have bland, boring food). We absolutely loved the Cafe de Paris! (went 2-3x/day). You can get hot or iced coffees and flavored coffees, and awesome desserts which change from day to day. We picked up iced cappucinos and a plate of assorted desserts every morning after breakfast to take to the quiet pool, what a treat! All the ladies who work there are soooo sweet and friendly (Ashlyn, Bianca, Juvardia, Millicent, and others) and are an asset to Sandals.

I always enjoy the spa at Sandals. On this trip, my husband and I went to the Red Lane spa and enjoyed a Couples Massage. Dierdrie and Shakti are very competent and professional. I have a bad shoulder and was a little concerned about receiving a full massage. I mentioned this to the therapist who listened and personalized my massage by being careful with my shoulder massage and then by wrapping my shoulders with a warm moist wrap. Wonderfully relaxing experience for both of us!

I mentioned some of the staff by name, but everyone we encountered was helpful and friendly. ALL staffmembers addressed guests with a smile and a "good morning", "hello" or just a kind word. I don't exaggerate when I say that this is an exceptionally customer-service oriented resort. I left feeling pampered and relaxed; just what I was looking for in this vacation. I would recommend this resort to others (as a matter of fact I already have) and plan to return...

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank tara e
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 22, 2012

While planning our vacation to the Bahamas, I read every single review of this resort on tripadvisor -even after we booked it. I got a little nervous at some of the negativity but after spending almost a week there (Sept 9-14) I've come to the conclusion that some people just aren't happy with anything. I've never understood people who take pictures of crumbs on the floor or chipped paint but whatever.

We booked our vacation with Nanda through BeachBumVacations - one of the reviews on tripadvisor raved about the beach bums so I looked them up. We communicated through e-mail and it was the easiest process ever - they even let you make payments. She is awesome and answered all of my questions almost immediately. Prices were same as booking yourself - actually even better AND we were upgraded with our room.

Just like most reviews on here, we arrived before 'check in' and our rooms weren't ready. This was really the only bad experience we had all week. Their check in process is TERRIBLE. They sit you in a room with a ton of other couples, you fill out your paper work & then send you to lunch & tell you to check back later for your room. Had we not known to make reservations for the restaurants we would have been out of luck. There was no organization at all, we returned several times to ask if room was ready = each time they told us to go to lunch and check back afterwards. 4 hours later, we finally were able to get our room.

After that experience, everything was perfect. Pool bar - speedy and fun! Melinda makes a tasty blue drink, I definately recommend! One tip I did read on one of the reviews was to bring your own cup, so we brought our own insulated big cups with lids and straws. This came in handy for extra water, ice seems to melt so quickly! They would gladly fill them up with alcohol I'm sure, but we stuck to water for in between drinks.

The beach was - there are no words for how beautiful the water was. Up until the last day we were there the water was so clean and clear - but then a storm came through and made it a little icky but who cares, it was still beautiful!

Excursions - everyone raves about the 007 Thunderball tour that the resort offers = ANOTHER tip from tripadvisor was to book through 4C Adventures for half the price. 007 through resort was $375 per person - 4C was $160 for the EXACT same tour. Call 4C when you arrive and they will fit you in. They pick you up at the resort and bring you back. Lunch isn't included, so bring an extra $50 for lunch and a few beers at the Yacht club. This was definately the highlight of the trip, our tour leader Andrew took us to the swimming pigs, the iguanas, the sandbar in the middle of the ocean, showed us celebrity homes - and gave us a great history of the islands. We also saw a mama and baby dolphin on our trip. It was amazing.

We also booked a kayaking excursion through the resort, this was fun but hard work. It was worth it though, we went through mangroves, Gully our tourguide took us to a little deserted beach and it was amazing! We kayaked over stingrays and lemon sharks!

While you are in the Bahamas, you must try the conch - fritters, burgers, salads - anything! It's yummy yummy! We found a ton of conch shells while snorkling and kayaking, what a fun souvenier!

The gym was pretty adequate too, we had to burn off all of the alcohol and conch calories haha. Also - try a yoga class, the instructor was amazing. It was a nice relaxing stretch, exactly what I was looking for.

You cannot go wrong with this resort, if you are looking to relax around beautiful beaches and yummy food this is your place!

Room Tip: Top floor for the best views!
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  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Jennifer S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sandals Emerald Bay Golf, Tennis and Spa Resort

Address: Queen's Highway, Emerald Bay, EX29142, Great Exuma (Formerly Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma at Emerald Bay)
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Bahamas > Out Islands > Great Exuma
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 6 Hotels in Great Exuma
Price Range: $608 - $1,689 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Sandals Emerald Bay Golf, Tennis and Spa Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 245
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
•NEW!! Jogging Trail on property - 2.6 miles long •Greg Norman designed 7,001 yard golf course with 6 signature oceanside holes•Three fresh water pools including the Caribbean’s largest zero entry pool with a central fire pit•24 hour room service to all rooms and suites•Seven exciting dining options to choose from•Red Lane Spa with sixteen extensive treatment rooms•Personalized off resort excursions arranged by our Island Routes Tour specialists•Sits on 1 mile of the Exuma’s best powdery white sand beaches•6 Har-Tru tennis courts including a sunken stadium court•Voted Sandals Resorts “World’s Leading All-Inclusive Company” 16 years in a row•Voted Sandals Resorts “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand”, 18 years in a row•Voted Sandals Emerald Bay “Caribbean’s Leading Luxury All-Inclusive”•Awarded #9 spot in the 2012 Readers' Choice Awards "Top 12 Resorts in The Atlantic" ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sandals Emerald Bay Hotel Great Exuma
Four Seasons Great Exuma
Great Exuma Four Seasons
Sandals Emerald Bay Golf, Tennis And Spa Resort Great Exuma, Bahamas

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