Sandals Royal Plantation May 20-27, 2012
Thanks to Amy of Dream Makers Vacation Services for taking such wonderful care of us on our Sandals vacations and this one was no different. Throughout the week, various members of management all knew that we were her clients since she was busy ensuring our week was perfect. Unbeknownst to me, my husband had contacted her prior to our departure to ask how to make my birthday special. She gave him some pointers and also worked behind the scenes to ensure that it was all perfect. (It was!)
We are diamond return guests and had not been to Royal Plantation since our honeymoon in August 2003. So much had changed since our last visit (which coincidentally was during their previous incarnation as a Sandals... converted from Beaches, prior to going to just "Royal Plantation" and now back to Sandals.
The service by all of the staff at RP is just incredible and so warm. Everyone is concerned that you are having a good time, a good meal, a good vacation, etc. We were asked by nearly every staff member every day some variation of the above questions. Servers, bartenders, hostesses, beach butlers, water sports, spa staff, you get the idea... They really work to ensure you have a fabulous vacation. Our room service orders were on time every day and anything that was forgotten was usually noted by the person who delivered it and rectified before we could notice. One night our card was never picked up and our order arrived about 15 minutes after we called to let them know it was not taken and was 100% correct.
Bartenders ensured all drinks (even on the beach) had a garnish and in the Wobby Peacock (the main bar/pub) the right glasses were always used for the cocktail. Limes were plentiful, mint for mojitos never ran out and there were plenty of pineapple wedges and maraschino cherries. There was lots of Grey Goose, many flavors of Absolut (except mandarin which is my favorite but that was certainly not an issue for us), Jack Daniels (which didn't run out), Crown Royal, Bombay Sapphire, Bailey's, Frangelica, Chambord. Their "well vodka" appeared to be Smirnoff or Finlandia. The only complaint that was prevalent was "Where's the Appleton" for the rum... Come on Sandals, you are really blowing it with the El Dorado Rum. YUCK. They also had interesting mixers like white cranberry juice. At the suggestion of the GM, Peter Fraser, who was quite visible at the resort, we learned to love the Nutty Irishman and Stubborn Nutty Irishman as our after dinner drink of choice. These were garnished with a sprinkling of nutmeg which really "made" the drinks. They also have a fancy cappuccino maker in this bar.
We never left RP for dinner though we expressed an interest in it on our first evening. We ate 4x at The Terrace and 2x at Le Papillon and then there was the return guest dinner which was held indoors Terrace. I had lots of grilled seafood during the week and enjoyed that . The food is definitely upgraded at Royal Plantation. We ordered room service breakfast each morning and My husband was thrilled to have Eggs Benedict on that menu. I had a variety of yogurt and toast, along with that fabulous island bacon and chocolate croissants which are a standard in the bread basket. They are one thing from our 2003 trip that I was pleased to see back. We only ate lunch twice (both times at Royal Cafe -- upon arrival and on our first full day there) but the jerk shrimp was to die for. I was sad that the Lobster BLT was out of season but the replacement was good too. The best food was at Le Papillion -- we had lamb, veal, and duck there and each was to die for.
We had received a very nice upgrade at check in and were very pleased with our room. It was spacious, clean and lots of storage with 2 bedside chest of drawers beside the bed (his and hers!) The french balcony was nice given the heat and humidity of the week. The bathroom vanity was only one sink and had Molton Brown products that seemed nice and not overly fragrant. The shower was large and separate from the tub and the closet was a nice sized walk in model.
Our butler found us around 2pm on day 2 to show us the potential room on the East side of the resort. It was a very nice suite with a separate small living room and desk with tv, a shower/jetted tub/chaise lounge and bar room, the bedroom, a long vanity with an older style bathroom on one end and a HUGE walk in closet on the other end. The room also had a real balcony which are few and far between at the resort. My husband said we'd take it so I went back to the old room to pack us up. (The butler offered and I declined though I did let him move it all)
As it turns out, the additional upgrade was planned all along (thanks Amy and Mr Fraser!) but came through earlier in the week than planned. So nice!
We were very excited to get to try Beach Butlers since this was a new experience for us. We are used to getting a cooler of drinks from our regular butler at our saved chairs and then getting our own drinks at the bar. At RP, there are no saved chairs and no coolers. It took some getting used to be but we settled into the routine quickly. Adrian and Cleon start out with mimosas (no mangosas all week -- other than when superstar bartender Sean made me one with fresh squeezed mango juice on my birthday!) and water each morning and then take care of guests at the west beach, east beach and poolside. All day long. They would also bring you lunch to your beach chairs if you ordered it - we didn't do this - but we saw them bring the menus to folks, take their order, deliver it and clean up afterwards. Cleon also had his cold water spritzing that he would do most afternoons. This became one of my favorite things to look forward to each day.
These are the two nicest butlers on property. They are also the hardest working. I cannot say enough nice things about these two. You'll just have to go and see for yourselves. On our next to last day, Adrian presented us with a carving from their beach vendor that had our names and the date on the front of a big red heart and their names carved on the back.
Butler Service in General
It was explained to us at the Returning Guests dinner that you are to use your butler as a liaison around the property vs. calling room service, front desk, etc. The butlers are very professional and take care of things that you request but ours were not into surprises or anything that wasn't requested. We did get cute towel art of two people in our bed lounging on my birthday, along with balloons, banners, etc. We had the bubble bath escapade twice - once from each butler. I guess due to the small size of the resort and limited restaurant choices (2) there was no itinerary prepared for our meals. We were advised that the butlers could guarantee Le Papillion twice during our stay. I had mentioned wanting to eat at Neptune's at the Grande on our first night and it was never mentioned again either by me or my butlers. Had I really wanted to go, I'd have mentioned it again. I don't think it would have been a problem - but we are not the sort of guests to have a lot of demands/requests and to me, asking more than once is becoming demanding and I am not on vacation to be demanding.
We also had a weird scheduling issue with our butlers. We didn't meet butler #2 until the evening of our 3rd day at the resort. He was perfectly nice and did a great job once he arrived on the scene.
Late into the evening at 12:01 a.m., the piano player led a rousing Happy Birthday song with the other bar patrons and staff. Then once we slept and woke up, the next morning started off with a bang just before room service was delivered and our butler arrived and sang happy birthday to me along with the Island Routes representative. I've already mentioned the room decorations. The beach butlers sang happy birthday to me on the beach at the top of their lungs and everyone cheered. That evening, we went to Le Papillion where we had a nice bottle of champagne and a customized dinner from the GM. We were surprised with course after course of great food followed by a great dessert, followed by being serenaded by the wait staff complete with birthday cake! It could not get a lot better than that!
We really enjoyed our vacation and got a lot of rest and relaxation while letting the staff at RP take care of us. We indulged in 50% off the 80 minute massages at the spa along with the our complimentary massage as diamond guests. We had such a great time that we changed our May 2013 booking to go back to RP instead of Whitehouse.
All rooms are ocean front but few have balconies if that is important to you.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC