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SANDALS Guests BEWARE of Island Routes

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SANDALS Guests BEWARE of Island Routes

Enough is Enough, Sandals cannot keep telling lies to keep their guests from going out with local businesses. If you are one of those individuals that Sandals tour company Island Routes has told they are the only insured and licensed company on the island that is FALSE. There are many reputable watersports/tour companies on the island who are licensed and insured. Also if they try to tell you that one of the watersports company is closed dont listen to them, do your research and contact the tour companies directly. Not only will you be supporting local business owners, you will also save alot of money. See things to do in Great Exuma for a list of other companies you can use while visiting the island.

You should also know that one of their staff that makes the reservation for these tours has a family member who is contracted through Sandals for watersports tours. Put the two and two together. It has also been brought to my attention that this particular watersports operator has private messaged potential guests who were making posts on tripadvisor about going out with other tour companies and bashed those other companies about what a poor business they are. Even though the positive reviews speak for themselves.

Think twice about what businesses you want to support. Quite frankly this lack of professionalism is appalling.

calgary, AB
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1. Re: SANDALS Guests BEWARE of Island Routes

I have read many posts that go both ways on this topic for a very long time. It should be very easy for any one of these companies to deflate the accusations by supplying on their website a copy of thier insurance certificate or a company and policy number.

I am not taking sides, but , if I was under attack like this, it would be my first move.

We are going in April and would love to support the local business. I presume Island Routes is local and employs local residents as well?

I want the best tours at the best prices in a safe manner.

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2. Re: SANDALS Guests BEWARE of Island Routes

Island Routes is not a local business and is not bahamian owned. They subcontract with local vendors.

Langhorne...
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3. Re: SANDALS Guests BEWARE of Island Routes

As a frequent visitor to Exuma I can say with confidence to those visiting Sandals that the boat tour companies that are consistantly mentioned in these foirums like Starfishexuma, Roberts and Ray's are all local Bahamians who work hard to give visitors a taste of the most magnificent waters in the Carribean. You can book with confidence with any of them. My personal favorite though is Starfish. Although it is nice to have an all inclusive vacation the downside to the Sandals experience is that it does not make it easy for the guests to get out beyond the resort and see what the island has to offer .

Boise, Idaho
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4. Re: SANDALS Guests BEWARE of Island Routes

I can say with all certainty, having just used the Tour desk at Emerald Bay they in no way put anyone down. The girls were fabulous. Friendly, knowledgable and efficient. I'm not surprised to learn one might be related to someone in a tour company. In Exuma we learned everyone is related to everyone! It was fun to find out our housekeeper was our breakfast server's niece, and the lady at the gift shop was the sister of our taxi driver. The girl at the front desk was engaged to our friend's butler, Plus more!

The ladies at the tour desk weren't pushy and honestly answered any questions we put forward to them. We had heard from some guests who were debating using outside sources so we asked the Tour Desk about the price differences ourselves. They stated that the pricing reflected the services offered within the hotel: (I can't remember them all)

booking services, confirmation letters, (in our case, cancellation letter - weather), towels from the hotel, Transportation from the local taxi company, money back guarantee, a 20 million dollar insurance policy held by Sandals and emergency evacuation procedures in the event of an accident (We were shocked to find out there is no hospital on the island).

In addition to this, we were explained that the Tour Companies used were chosen based on their excellent history with the Four Seasons, were all local companies, and all provided refreshments as well as having many years in the Tourism Industry.

Nothing was said negatively about anyone, and the explenation certainly wasnt' said in a way that made it sound as if the other local companies "dont do it". I hope the person who wrote this is wrong, because the ladies I met are not the people described here.

Ontario Canada
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for White House
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5. Re: SANDALS Guests BEWARE of Island Routes

keytoyz...I totally disagree with your statement that the Sandals experience does not allow guests to get out beyond the resort...far from it! Not only do guests have the option to book tours at the resort with Island Routes, I've found the resorts more than willing to provide their own advice on what to see, where to go and how to get there. Our experience with one Sandals resort in particular was top-notch, with them providing their own driver and vehicle for us to tour part of the island. Yes there are some guests who like to chill at a resort, whether AI or not...but those who like to experience local culture will do so no matter where they stay. From my research, I agree there are terrific local tour companies in Exuma and I know folks who have used them, rather than the services offered by Island Routes.

Blubelle052...I think your experience says it all, and certainly coincides with our own at other Sandals resorts. We are heading to SEB in March, so will certainly check things out.

lyns33, while Island Routes is not a "local" business...ie Bahamas, it is certainly Caribbean local and utilizes the services of local vendors. If what you say in your OP is true, then I would hope you would bring it to the attention of the powers-that-be, and with documented proof. Somehow I have the feeling rightly or wrongly, that you may be taking the word of a disgruntled tour vendor...but I could be totally off base...just the perception I had when reading your post.

Milford...
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6. Re: SANDALS Guests BEWARE of Island Routes

We have used both independent as well as Island Routes, depending on the tour, as well as renting cars/taking public transportation to check out the local scene. My issue is that a similar tour is double the price. When I inquired, I was told that x was insured, and Y was not. The truth was that both were insured.....trying to understand the significant price difference.

Will also be going in May and will check this out as well

Edited: 21 January 2011, 17:47
Langhorne...
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7. Re: SANDALS Guests BEWARE of Island Routes

travelpair55 I am so glad you got out beyond Sandals walls to explore the island. It has what I think are some of the most breathtaking beaches in the Carribean and to go out on the truquoise waters in a boat is heaven for me. I think I should have worded my post a bit better. I did not mean that Sandals does not offer trips and excursions but rather when you are paying for an all inclusive vacation the incentive is to stay at the property eating and drinking "for free". rather than go out and experience local bars and restaurants.

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8. Re: SANDALS Guests BEWARE of Island Routes

The purpose of this post was not going against Sandals as a whole it was to create awareness to the truth behind false information given through Island Routes to these guests. I have been told by guests first hand of their experiences trying to go off-property with non-Sandals vendors. They had negative comments said to them, or some were told a business was closed if they inquired at the tour desk about a non-Sandals vendor. As well as receiving emails from guests of what Island Routes told them in regards to why their prices were so much higher, which they responded as other companies charge less due to lack of insurance/licensing.

It is wonderful that some of you had an amazing experience on the island. Exuma is a very special place, one of the best places in the caribbean and it is important to tourism on Exuma that people have an incredible experience on the island so they will return and tell their friends about it. It is important that those that want to explore the island off of Sandals property are encouraged too and that it is a positive experience. If you did not inquire at the reservations desk about specific non-Sandals vendors nor go out with one of them you wouldn’t have experienced anything that I posted. I’m also not saying that everyone that goes off of Sandals property without their vendors have issues. What I am saying is this has been an on going issue among other things. I don’t know about you but when people are called “boot-leggers” (which isn’t even the right term to use) or that they are risking their life by going out with a non-vendor, as well as other things mentioned this is wrong.

Travelpair55 Unfortunately the departments to get to the “powers that be” don’t have a lot of power when you are up against money and who you know here (that is another can of worms not being opened) they can just pass on the information, but that doesnt necessarily mean it will get resolved. Various complaints by different individuals or companies have been made and no changes have taken place, so this is the last resort to clear up to any guests who have or may in the future receive the wrong information be educated in what the truth really is. As you can imagine small businesses could really be hurt by this false information.

I hope you all have an unforgettable time in Exuma and continue to return!

Los Angeles...
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9. Re: SANDALS Guests BEWARE of Island Routes

I have experienced Sandals Emerald Bay myself. The place is beautiful but nothing about it is Bahamian except the beaches and that breathtaking water. I went to the Bahamas to experience what the Bahamas has to offer but all I see is Jamaicans and Indians not many Bahamians at all. The Restaurants hardly served any Bahamian food except on what they called "Bahamian Day". I spoke to some of the Bahamian staff and they told me that they (Sandals) don't pay well. A server told me that they get paid less than $5 dollars per hour and cannot except tips....thats insane. Then I asked about things to do off property, I was told that they can only refer me to Island Routes as they (being the staff) can get in trouble if they mention any other entity that is not under the Sandals Company. I went to Island Routes and inquire about the prices on the tours that they offer and they were ridiculous....over $300 dollars a person for a half day tour. The lady who was friendly I must add stated that is because of insurance reasons. I find that quite silly seeing that we would have to sign a liability waiver which frees the company of any potential lawsuit if anything happens to me. So I decided to rent a car ($75 dollars a day) and venture out. There were other tours which wasn't crowded with other guests from Sandals and were a lot cheaper and I totally enjoyed myself. It seems to me that Sandals is a greedy company who wants to hog all the money to themselves. Staff are paid low salaries, no tips allowed, they lie to guest so they don't venture out unless we pay their ridiculous prices and to top it all off, its an all inclusive resort but I cant take a bottle of wine or grey goose from one of the bars back to my room!!!! If I already paid for it I should be able to have it. Sandals only wants to take the guests money and don't care about the Bahamian people and thats sad!

Ontario Canada
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10. Re: SANDALS Guests BEWARE of Island Routes

keytoyz...just to clarify...my trip to Exuma is coming up in March..my comments were based on our experiences with Sandals generally. Been to or stayed at them all and we are looking forward to SEB and seeing what the island has to offer. I look at an AI experience as one of convenience...you can come and go at your leisure, choose to eat at the resort or not and always know that while at the resort (Sandals) we don't need to carry a wallet/purse. But truly it is the nature of the guest themself whether they will tour a locality no matter where they stay.

lyns33...I hope you encouraged the guests who came to you to put it in writing and send it to the GM of this particular resort. And also, to complain to their travel agents who in turn will notify the resort. If this is a consistent problem, something would have to be done with regard to the Island Routes rep(s). I've never believed in complaining for the sake of complaining unless I'm willing to do something about it. If I have an issue with something, I take it up with the person who is in a position to investigate it. Forgive me for asking...are you a tour operator, a past guest of Sandals, a travel agent? My curiousity is peaked as I wonder how you come to know this type of information from guests first-hand. Your profile doesn't say where you live or what you do, and I haven't read enough of your posts to grasp this information.

jb33085...hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the minimum wage in the Bahamas is $4.00B which equates to $4.00US. So if that is correct, than Sandals pays their servers above minimum wage. Also, all Sandals employees participate in a profit sharing program and all employees (with exception of butlers and spa staff) receive a percentage of booked sales as a gratuity bonus. As for the other things you mention, it's really unfortunate you didn't research your choice of resort in advance. It may have helped you tremendously in realizing that perhaps Sandals is not a good fit for you.

As far as the higher prices...I would suggest that any tour company operating out of a resort would charge higher fees than a local company. Just as the gift shops sell merchandise for a higher price. One thing lsland Routes mentions on their website is: "We provide the most comprehensive Insurance Coverage in the Caribbean, 3 to 4 times our competition"...not sure if that justifies some of the costs or whether that piece of info gets lost in translation when talking to guests. Just speculating on my part.....