My wife and I spent our honeymoon at Sandals Antigua earlier this month. The decision to go to this particular resort was the result months of research. We chose Sandals for three reasons: 1. Excellent reputation and reviews; 2. Direct flight from Newark (EWR), which is only an hour from home, and 3. The resort is only a 10 minute shuttle drive from Antigua airport. First tip, beware the airport porters; They are very "proactive" -- they ask you if you're going to Sandals, then pick up your bags and walk away, assuming you are following them to the Sandals shuttle. They carry your bags without your permission maybe 50 yards and then demand a tip. The Sandals shuttle was fine, dropped us off after a short 10 minute drive to the resort and unloaded our bags. We were met by staff at the entrance, who led us into the very ornate lobby for check-in, where we were given champagne and cookies; all-in-all, a very pleasant check in experience. As far as the room, we had a Venetian Oceanview Suite in the Mediterranean Village. This is the newer addition to the resort and from what I hear, much nicer than the older section. Our room was very large with a nice, comfy bed, huge bathroom with a shower and jacuzzi tube as well as 2 sinks; There was a mini fridge stocked with water, soda, juice, beer and champagne. Bottles of liquor were also there and all were restocked daily. The resort grounds are absolutely beautiful and VERY well maintained -- not at all dirty. The Med. pool was wonderful -- every day after going to the beach we would hang out here and order their drink of the day from the swim-up bar, then drink it while floating on a raft in the pool. There were usually cabanas vacant for us to use at any time of day, as well. The beach is nice, not very wide, but clean. It doesn't get overly crowded, however you will need to get out there early, like before 9am if you want to reserve yourself chairs under an umbrella. It seemed as though people would go to the beach before breakfast, put their towels down on the best chairs, then go and eat. There were always chairs available at any time of day, however not under shade. Because the beach is public, there are many vendors and you WILL be solicited. Most vendors are licensed and very polite. If you say "no thanks" they leave without any attitude, but there are many of them and sometimes can get annoying. As far as activities, there isn't too much to do, unless you pay for an excursion. There is a boat that takes groups snorkeling twice a day that is included in the cost, however you must book it in advance or it will likely be full. We took an excursion outside the hotel on a catamaran named the Excellence. It was a circumnavigation tour of Antigua that included snorkeling/sunbathing on Green Island. I highly recommend this tour -- it was expensive ($110 each) however very informative and the snorkeling was great. A good price fora 6 hour excursion. Now, as far as the food.... There are a total of 9 restaurants at Sandals. 3 of them, you must make a reservation for in advance. We ate at every restaurant but Kimonos, a Japanese restaurant. I would rate the food as very good -- not bad, not average, but not amazing either. The Bayside Grill and Eleanor's have amazing atmosphere, being right along the ocean. Unlike other resorts that have several options for food late into the night, most food options end after dinner hours; There is no room service. If you are out late and want something to eat, there is only one option here, Cricketer's pub, however you have to go inside, sit down and order, can't just grab and go. The service at all restaurants, and even the rest of the resort staff, was excellent. I've read other reviews that claim that the staff is cold and unfriendly and some say that it has a reputation for this, however it was not my experience at all. The staff was extremely warm and friendly to us; To be so accommodating when they are not allowed to accept tips was impressive -- something I didn't expect. One staff person in particular, Darren, the manager at Eleanor's, was especial warm. When talked with us for awhile when we were finishing our dinner and when he discovered it was our honeymoon, he arranged for us to have a great oceanview seat at the restaurant we had reserved for the next night...which we were pleased to find was decorated specially for us when we arrived their the next day.
To summarize my review, we had a great experience here, wonderful atmosphere and very relaxing. The cost was paid as a wedding present though, and I would not have paid in excess of $6k for this trip out of my own pocket. They advertise a level of luxury that they don't quite meet. I've discovered that there is a difference between a 5 star resort and a 5-star hotel or restaurant; The former is far less luxurious then the latter. An all inclusive resort is not capable of delivering the level of service you'll receive at the Ritz-Carlton, so don't come expecting that. However, I do believe that this is as close as you'll come in an all-inclusive. Sandals Antigua is a great option for a special occasion, such as a Honeymoon -- you'll make some amazing memories and have a wonderful time, however it is not worth such a high price tag.
- Also Known As:
- Sandals Grande Antigua Resort And Spa
- Sandals Grande Antigua Hotel St. John`s
- Sandals Antigua
- Sandals Grande Antigua Hotel
- Sandals Grande Antigua
- Hotel Sandals Grande Antigua
- Sandals Grand Antigua
- Antigua Sandals
- Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa Saint John Parish
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- •A European Hotel in the Six-Star, all-suite Mediterranean Village •Exotic Rondoval with private plunge pool and butler service •1,400 square foot Mediterranean villa with private plunge pool and butler service•Houses the East Caribbean's largest pool (1 of 6) •Offers 9 dining options and 8 bars including an English pub •Voted "World's Most Romantic Resort" 14 years in a row ... more less
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