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Sandals Emerald Bay Golf, Tennis and Spa Resort
Ranked #2 of 6 Hotels in Great Exuma
Reviewed May 11, 2010

We returned from SEB last week. I did the Forum, but, not the Review. We were there for 11 days,and this was our 1st "butler service". Shameer and Henry made our vacation the greatest experience.Once they became familiar with your likes and dislikes, they anticipated your every whim. We never has a cell phone, which we never needed, as they were always finding us to see if they could do anything.They even brought a pitcher of iced tea to our cabana, without us asking for it. Twice we came back to our room, and there was the infamous bubble bath with flower petals.The 1st one was after coming up from the beach. They always had an idea of what time we would be in the room and had cheese, fruit and cookies in the room.All of the staff are a pleasure. We usually do Sandals eve six months, so, now we are looking at October. We will either go back to SEB, or Sandals Whitehouse,which was our original plan.But, if you reallly ,really want to be spoiled, then try SEB.We also, did not get any bug bites. I think this has to do with fragrance from certain lotions or perfumes.We never had any real bad experiences at the restaurants, we were on vacation, therefore, not in a hurry to get through our meal.

  • Stayed: April 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank Barbara A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 11, 2010

I'll start with the positive. The beach is absolutely beautiful. Prettiest we've ever seen. The weather was perfect. The Red Line Spa is awesome. The Spa staff is so friendly and very professional. It's one of the best spa experiences I have ever had.
Now the negative. When we arrived, everyone greeted us with big smiles, friendly welcomes, cool washcloths and glasses of champagne. We were initially impressed! (My analogy - This place is like a house for sale that looks good on the outside, new paint, great landscaping, but once inside, you know it's all cheap cosmetic fixes. It's really a dilapidated fixer-upper.)
Our "butler" escorted us to our room (what we thought was a Jr. Suite). When we walked through the door we were overwhelmed by a strong urine smell. The room was a normal hotel room, it was in no way a suite. It had two double beds without headboards, no lamp on the nightstand, only one chair for the table, no clock or DVD player. There were no light fixtures on the ceiling, just bare lightbulbs in the sockets, with one burnt out in the bathroom. There was a coffee pot, but the wrong type of filters so it couldn't be used.
This room was not guest ready my any stretch of the imagination, and double beds????
We told our butler that the room was not acceptable, so we went back to the front desk. The "manager" of the "butlers" came to us and questioned why the room was unsatisfactory. (Are you kidding?????) He told us, with a big smile on his face, that if we stayed in the room (6310) for that night, that he would upgrade us to a one bedroom suite in the morning. We accepted that, and were looking forward to our "butler" contacting us about the room change the next morning. The next day my husband made two trips to the front desk asking about our room and finally that afternoon, we were brought to our "upgraded" room. I guess it was an upgrade because it had a king size bed, furniture you would expect and light fixtures - but we did not get upgraded to a one bedroom suite like promised. The butler manager never checked back with us to see if we were happy. The sad thing is that they put another couple in that horrible room.
We had a hard time locating our butler for the first few days. Many guest were provided with a cell phone to call their butlers, but we didn't get one until the end of the 4th day. The second morning we tried to order breakfast using room service. We called at 8:30am and waited for 1 1/2 hours. Finally we decided just to go to the restaurant and eat. My husband called and cancelled our order. We came back to the room to grab things for the pool. There was a knock at the door.... 11:30am our breakfast had arrived (after 3 hours and canceling it!) The next morning we tried to order just coffee and orange juice and that never showed up. Turns out you had to go through your butler to get anything and we couldn't get in touch with ours. I need to make it clear that the butler's work there behinds off. They aren't just slacking off. They work really hard, but they have too many people to take care of. That's management's fault. The butler service doesn't work. It's a joke and everyone that we talked to said they really didn't want it. My husband tried to make an appointment with the general manager, and was told that we would get a call to set up an appointment, but no one ever called us back. Many guest we talked to said they were really loud squeaky wheels, and the management finally paid attention to their complaints, but we were on vacation and shouldn't have to deal with the stress!
It sounded like the management offered unhappy guest two free nights at any Sandals to be used within a year. "Wow honey, let's spend more money at Sandals for a disappointing vacation!" ha ha!
The bathrooms by the pool were really clean in the morning, but in the afternoon they were filthy, no toilet paper and trash bin was overflowing. No staff picked up empty bottles or trays around the pool all day. I asked for more beers for my husband, an hour later, when we came back from a walk there were 4 hot beers sitting on the ground by the ice bucket that was full of empty bottles and water from long gone ice. It was unbelievable. We tried to eat at the Barefoot By the Sea for lunch one day. The staff looked depressed and tired. We waited over an hour for our food. Everyone around us was served. My husband went to ask about our order. He told me later there were flies all over the food behind the counter. We finally told our waitress to cancel our order because it was taking too long and she looked at us like we had 3 heads. No apology, no anything!!!
Your butler has to make dinner reservations for you at the 'exclusive' (ha!) Il Cielo restaurant, so really, the only place to eat dinner is the Bahama Bay. We ate there 6 out of the 7 nights. The food is good, but the only problem is, they never changed the menu. We did eat at Il Cielo one night and it was really bad. They show you a wine list, but it's for an extra charge, it took forever to get the food, and when it finally came, the chicken parmesian tasted like a frozen breaded chicken with canned spaghettio's. The only good thing about Il Cielo was the dessert bar.
We think the reason that the restaurants were always 1/2 full with extremely slow service is because the place was understaffed. Again, poor management.
It was really sad to see the disappointed honeymooner's. You'd think they would be top priority, but they weren't.
A major problem with this Sandals is that the Butlers and Spa staff are the only ones that can accept a tip. No one else can. So what is the incentive for the other staff? We heard that Sandals doesn't pay nearly what the Four Seasons did and the benefits aren't as good, and not being tipped on top add's for unhappy employees.
Sandals "Luxury Include" vacations is a joke. They need to stay in the value business.
We thought since this was a former Four Seasons that it might still have some of the Four Seasons service that we are used too. Wrong!!
Sandal's opened this resort up too fast. It's just not ready for guest. So we paid the $6,000 price tag for a very disappointing vacation.

  • Stayed: May 2010, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank MrsKPea
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 10, 2010

We went with 8 other couples for a week. Overall the resort struggles with providing service. BUT, if you are lucky enough to have Shameer as your butler, you will have a 5 star experience. Shameer made this trip. He never left our side. He was everywhere we were all the time. He knew what we wanted before we did. Shameer stayed after his shift was done to make sure our meals and activities were fully supported and catered. He was exceptional.

The ocean and beach are clean, warm and breathtaking.

  • Stayed: May 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank mmbradford
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 10, 2010

My wife and I just returned from the Sandals Emerald Bay resort (May 2-9) after spending a full week enjoying our honeymoon. To say this resort is absolutely perfect would be a stretch, but I can definitely say it’s on its way to being so!

So, where to begin. Let's start with the food and alcohol. Like most of the reviews you've probably read thus far, at times, when at restaurants, the service for food does take some time. In terms of breakfast, 2 restaurants serve, that being Bahama Bay, and Il Cielo. Unfortunately, Bahama Bay only serves until 10:00am, and then they shut down so they can get ready for lunch. So, if you like to sleep in, but you also enjoy breakfast, you'll likely end up at Il Cielo, or room service. We managed to eat at both, but overall, the menus are very similar so you can't go wrong either way! For lunch, we often found ourselves having food delivered to us from our butlers while we sat at the pool. This however can take quite some time, as the butlers have several orders, so after the first few days where we found ourselves waiting anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours for food, we learned our lesson, and went to the restaurants ourselves. The Drunken Duck Pub is amazing, and the manager (I think her name was Kelly or Kimberly) is fantastic. You'll find her easily because she's quite friendly and her Irish accent won’t be hard to miss! In addition, the service is great and very quick so you won’t be waiting long. They also have a nice games room with some well maintained pool/snooker tables! Finally, for dinner, we usually went to Bahama Bay or the Pub, as El Cielo requires reservations, which are sometimes hard to get based on the number of people at the resort (so plan reservations well in advance with your butlers!) Dinner also was quite quick, and we did not have to wait too long. We ordered room service later in the evening and this was also quite efficient with minimal wait times.

Ok, so the butlers.....they're awesome! Special thanks to Imran and Deepak. I'll be honest, if you end up with Indian butlers, they'll treat you like gold! And don’t just take it from me; this honestly is what most people I found ended up saying at the resort. You can pretty much ask them for anything your heart desires and they'll make it happen.

Let's see....there's a few things you'll want to know overall, which we learned just by speaking to people. If you ask the butlers to do so, they'll give you a nice bubble bath with rose petals and candles lit in your room. We did this right after our nice dinner at Il Cielo, and it was awesome. Especially on our honeymoon, and my wife's birthday (May 6), we really enjoyed it. You can also ask your butlers to set up a nice dinner for you either on the beach front, or your balcony, or other areas around the resort.

The Spa was also really nice. Slightly expensive, but worth it. Since it was my wife's birthday on the 6th, and our honeymoon as well, we decided to splurge a little as my wife got a seaweed wrap, and I had a massage. We're both also quite active, so we liked to start our day at the gym before we sat at the beach or pool and drank and ate the rest of the day. The gym facility was never busy, so if you're an avid gym person like us, you should have no problems with equipment wait times.

A few tips regarding the water sports! So, as I came to learn, the resort diving course is included in your package, so unless you get some upgrades in equipment or rent a diving suit, the basics of the course are all included. And even if you've never dove before, they'll give you a crash course, and provide you with a diving license that's valid for one year at any Sandals resort. In addition, there are a number of other water sport activities that are free so check out the water sports booth located at the beach.

The golf course is great too. Unfortunately, we're not golfers, but another thing we learned from speaking to people, is that the Golf Shop provides tours every Tuesday and Thursday at 1:00pm where the manager (forgot his name but super great guy), drove us around the course and we were able to take some phenomenal pictures. Even if you're not into golfing, make sure you take this tour because the pictures and scenery will be well worth it!

Some of the recommendations I would make regarding this resort is to improve the bar at the quiet pool. The servers are great, but they just don’t have enough product. The bar at the 'loud pool' (you'll know what I mean) is amazing, and very lively! Make sure you get the Melinda Special! Also, they should get a few jet skis or something to improve the water sports, and maybe a rock climbing wall or something to make things a little more exciting. I know this resort is supposed to be romantic and relaxing, but getting a few additional activities to spice things up won’t ruin the image of romance!

Honestly, there's probably a lot more I could say, but I don’t want to bore you readers out there. So, if you have any more questions just send me a message and I'll be sure to get back to you! Oh yah, and the staff are all super friendly, which for us was really comforting. The beach is amazing and the sand is so soft. The weather was fantastic (not like Ottawa where I live where it was snowing last week might I add) and to top it all off, CANADIAN GOLD MEDALIST JON MONTGOMERY of the Skeleton Team was there, which was awesome!!!

  • Stayed: May 2010, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Sens12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 9, 2010

Stayed May for 5 nights. Place is gorgeous. Butler service needs work but if that is why you are going here, don't go. Butlers teamed in twosomes, seems one will be lazy and one will be hard working. The "local" butlers are the lazy ones. Make sure the butler sets you up early AM with seat at pool or beach or you wont get one. sad point of resort, all seats are "taken' by 8 am.
Food was good, Italian restaurant requires 48 hours advance reservation (something they do not tell you on the web site). Shame, because the restaurant was 1/2 empty when they said it was full. Not enough trained staff.
If you a diver, it was AWESOME. Leave your gear home, all new dive boat/shop with brand new gear. Very hospitable dive crew.
Nightlife was boring. Entertainment was next to nothing. Drunken Pub a lot of fun (and surprising;y enough, the food was great).
Had to call housekeeping each day for they forgot our room.
Many of the employees are from others Sandals, and we heard a lot of them saying they were going home soon. Hope the locals can get their act in gear for they could ruin a great resort.
All in all, fabulous time!!!

Stayed: May 2010, traveled as a couple
Thank stevesanibel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2010

My wife and I travelled to SEB from 11 to 17 Apr 10. This was our 3rd stay at Sandals (Varadero and the Grand in St. Lucia previously).

For the most part many of the previous comments are reflective of our stay. The grounds are beautiful, the staff friendly and helpful and the sun warm. We found the food to be good, the drinks plentiful and the pools were quite nice. The gym facilities were well kept and the equipment worked but it’s a bit older, not bad for a resort gym though. The beach is amazing, a full mile of white sand with turquoise water. We ran almost every day and there were always staff cleaning the sea grass and debris off the Sandals portion of the beach.

A few true highlights. The room service was prompt on the two occasions we used it and the orders were in our room 15mins after the call was made. They had CBC available on the TV in the pub and in our room which was great for as huge hockey fans!! Finally, Grince and Tony our Butlers were awesome. We usually came back to our room after baking in the sun all day and found a cheese plate and dozen bottles of water (per our request) waiting for us, which was quite nice. They we’re more than willing to stop by the pool with beer and water for us and quite often checked in to make sure things were OK. Being a bit of a jerk I decided to test Grince a bit and attempted to stump him with a request. I asked for a bottle of Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch. 2 days later Grince stopped by our room and handed me the bottle. Truly amazing. They both did a great job.

There are a few things this resort does have to work on. My wife and I are used to island time and expect a bit of a wait in service but sometimes it could be a bit taxing. On one occasion, in Il Cielo, it took 2.5 hours for dinner (good thing it’s an all inclusive resort and you’re generally not starving between meals!). Very long waits between courses did not provide for an enjoyable meal. The other wait times that were generally frustrating were lunch. It didn’t seem to matter which restaurant or which waiter/waitress most of the time it was painful. We did have a few mix ups on what we ordered and really didn’t usually get exactly what we asked for. If it was far off or it was something that we didn’t like and it was brought to their attention they were more than happy to make it right.

Probably the most frustrating part of the trip for us was the wind. It was super windy the week we were there and the water sports only operated one day of the seven. The main reason we travel to Sandals resorts is the included scuba diving and we did not get a single dive in. It was really disappointing. To that end my wife and I spent the money and took an excursion with Captain Pat around Elizabeth Harbour. This turned out to be one of the best parts of the trip. He was a very knowledgeable tour guide and we had a blast. We finally got in the water for some snorkeling on a reef and at the mouth of an underwater cave. Got some great pics of George the Barracuda and we walked a huge sandbar. Very cool trip and worth the money if the activities are cancelled on the resort.

I understand the “Safety” issue and that the weather is not a controllable thing but I really think SEB should start developing a few contingency plans for the breezy times. For example, Great Exuma is 30 miles long and 2 miles wide. Every island has a lee side where conditions are calmer. Why not drive the 2 miles to the other side or down to Elizabeth Harbour and shore dive a few sites? It would be just as quick as a boat ride to one of the sites on the windy side. Simple, effective solution.

In the end the trip was still good. The resort and its people were fantastic and we relaxed like nobody’s business. I guess it could be summed up best by D-Wayne, the best bartender’s favourite saying “Everyday above ground is a gooood day!”….in Exuma at least!

  • Stayed: April 2010, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank TheHacks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 3, 2010

Our first impression was that everything was clean, brand new, and beautiful. We couldn't have asked for a better location. Our room was perfect and the view from our balcony was stunning. The pool was unlike any I have ever seen. Loved it! Even though it was a little bit cold it was very refreshing after laying in the sun for awhile.

The Drunken Duck Pub had a game room, which was a really good place to meet people. DJ Scooby played at the pub most nights, which got people dancing. We were here every night. We are young so this was the perfect entertainment for us.

On our second night there the Playmakers arrived from Jamaica. Thank goodness! The resort definitely needs to cater more to the young people that are there. Dwayne, Marlon, Leevon, Tashana, Crispin, and Kerron were so much fun! They did it all! My husband is not the type to sit around at the pool all day. He played bocce, beach volleyball, and croquet with the playmakers. On our last day they had Name that Tune, which was right up our alley! We hung out with the Playmakers all week. The management really needs to let the Playmakers do what they have to do in order to get people involved in activities. They should be able to make announcements at the pool. That is ridiculous that they were told not to use the microphone. Not everyone wants peace and quiet. That is why there is a quiet pool!

Food was good, but service was slow. There isn't enough variety of food choices. Bahama Bay is the best for breakfast. Il Cielo took forever for us to get breakfast. I wanted to be outside at the pool, not sitting waiting for an omelet! We spent the majority of our time eating at Bahama Bay. Dino's Pizzeria was good for lunch. My husband would go place an order and then pick it up a half hour later to bring to the pool. The resort really should have a buffet, especially for breakfast.

We didn't use our butlers at all. One we met on our first night, and the other I don't think we ever got introduced to. We would rather get our drinks/food ourselves. Maybe if they tried more to contact us we would've been more open to using them. The cell phone service was down for a few days, but it didn't bother us like it did others.

Overall we had a great time with the Playmakers and the people we met. It was all so beautiful!

  • Stayed: April 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Maquelski
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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