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“Not quite 5 star”

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Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
Ranked #3 of 16 Hotels in St. John's
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 9 April 2012

This was our second trip to Sandals so we had high expectations, we arrived on Saturday night customs and transfer was a breeze
We received a upgrade from the Venetian Oceanview room to a room on a upper floor
The food was just o.k. After going to other 5 start all inclusives we had high hopes for the food but was let down even though all the reviews for the pizza were bang on - best meal we had there
We had the concierge service who could never seem to get us a decent dinner reservation so we did miss having dinner at Eleanor's
The pool was very nice even though we did find not a lot of activities maybe the playmakers were on vacation that week?
There was problems getting a lounger in a sunny spot, you had to be there prior to 7:00AM to get a spot, that being said we did see a whole bunch of new ones just before we left
We did meet some great staff, there was one butler - Craig started chatting to us very nice young man, Norman the intern who tried to help with our reservations and of course Samantha at the gift shop. Lastly Stewart from the photo shop, we got a little lost so we got a guided tour and he always managed to say hello after that
There were a few who also stood out for the wrong reasons, the staff at the water sports shop we couldn't believe how rude staff can be at a all inclusive also we had the chance to run into the General Manager, maybe we caught him on a bad day but we found him to be patronizing and
very condescending
Overall the resort is beautiful, with a great pool, great weather, loads of "ok" food and some real nice staff despite the few who couldn't spoil our holiday
Would we go back? Just watch this space!

Cheers

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank awayfromthedogs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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4,039 - 4,045 of 6,876 reviews

Reviewed 9 April 2012

The Good: I don't know where to start with the entire trip, but to say it was wonderful from beginning to end. The butler manager, Sandeep, met us when we were walking to our room with our butler, and Sandeep remembered us from our last trip. We were here for our complementary week, and booked a room we always looked at but didn't choose because it was out of our price range. Fortunately, we combined our normal vacation budget with the 7 nights free to get one of these rooms. It was one of the little cottages on either side of the main pool, and it had its own pool and hot tub in a lovely garden area. It was a very nice room, but I think I enjoy the incredible view of the beach from up higher in the Mediterean Tower better. Our butlers, Hunter and Lincoln, could not have been nicer and more professional in the 9 days they took care of us. A couple traveling with us were equally impressed with them. Even the lady, Jennifer, who cleaned our room perfectly everyday, was most impressive. I can't thank the wonderful staff at this resort enough for such a great vacation.

The grounds are really impressive. This is our 3rd trip to this resort, and I am amazed that the grounds are even more beautiful than I remember them from the last time. For those of you concerned about safety, the numerous security officers checking on us made us feel very safe the entire time though I had to continually remember to bring my id card every time I forgot something on the beach or needed to go to the pool bar.

The OK: Really, the food was just OK. The two things they do very well are the pork dishes and pulled chicken. Barefoot at lunch is always good, especially the local dishes. Nice fresh tomatoes, fruit, and salads. My husband loved his daily pizza fix at the pizza cafe, along with his morning coffee and pastry at the new Cafe de Paris.

I'm always a little disappointed with the seafood at this Sandals. Since I lived most of my life in Louisiana, and we love our fresh seafood, it may just be because I know what fresh seafood tastes like, that I'm usually disappointed. We did have an interesting seafood platter at Barefoot which surprised me. Good quality, nice texture but that was about the extent of the good seafood. The lobster at Eleanor’s was nicely presented but watery and overcooked. This seems the norm, but we keep trying! Beef is also somewhat iffy - even the returning guest's dinner, the steak was a pretty tough. I usually stick with the locally grown food, and the soups of the island, and always enjoy them. Breakfast at Bayside is always pleasant - how can you not like breakfast sitting in the morning breeze and looking at the beach?

The wine in our room was good, but the wine at dinner was not the same quality. We're not really into harder spirits, but I believe they were all considered top shelf in our room. We ordered a couple of wine bottles with dinner, and the two sommeliers recommendations were very helpful. The main pool bar had the most delicious frozen drinks, and we were always served with good cheer. Thank you, to all the bartenders for making it so pleasant getting our morning Dirty Banana's!

Room Tip: We prefer the tower due to the view of the entire resort. We have also stayed on the older side, an...
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  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank av8tr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 April 2012

We just returned from an AMAZING trip to Sandals Grande Antigua. This is our 5th Sandals/Beaches resort (Halcyon, Le Toc, Ocho Rios, Sandy Bay), and our new favorite, replacing Le Toc. I have no idea where people writing the negative reviews stayed, but it was not the same resort I visited.

Room: We stayed in the Monte Carlo Suite on the Med side. We had a beautiful room and a great bathroom (both as pictured on the Sandals website). The balcony was a little small, but still had enough room for a table, 2 chairs, and a drying rack. We watched the sunset over the water almost every night from the balcony while sipping wine from our room bar. The bar in the room is not stocked with top shelf liquor, and when we asked for Tanqueray and Absolute, we were told we would have to pay extra. Regardless, we still loved the room!

Resort Grounds: Both the Med and Caribbean side were gorgeous-lush, beautiful, and well-maintained. I don't know what the rooms were like on the Caribbean side were like, but all the people we talked to over there said they were happy. I liked listening to the frogs and birds when I walked through that side. The Med side, on the other hand, doesn't have the Caribbean feel, but is gorgeous in its own way. Yes, there were cats, but this is the Caribbean. I personally liked the cats and found them friendly.

Water Sports: The dive team was outstanding. The diving itself was good, but not great. The sand there is so powder-like and fine, that it is easy to stir up and make the water cloudy. We saw a couple of small black-tip sharks, several rays, baraccuda, and some nice reefs. On the way to the divesites (which was typically a 30 to 40 minute boat ride) we saw turtles and dolphins. The dives are all fairly shallow-the max we hit was @ 65 feet. I can't thank the dive team enough for their professionalism and entertainment value on the boat rides... If you go, make sure and ask William why he likes to be in the back on the dives. I cannot recall the name of one of the dive team members who I particularly want to compliment, but I know he works another job as a ferry driver at Jumby Bay. We really enjoyed a very long talk with him about island life and places to visit.

Staff: The staff here was by far the friendliest of any Sandals/Beaches we have met. They wanted to talk to us, tell us about life on the island, where we should visit, and what we should try for dinner. Several staff members spent quite a while just chatting with us. We also had the pleasure of having dinner at the Sandals Select event with the GM Gerald Christ. Mr. Christ was very nice, attentive, and clearly took pride in ensuring "his" resort was the best he could make it. I actually think he must have cloned himself, because we saw him morning, noon, and night all over the resort. Not only did he always greet us, but he often stayed to chat for several minutes, and offer tips on where we should visit.

Tours: We did not do any of the tours, but several people we met enjoyed the circumnavigation. We got our fill of the water on the dive boat. We rented a car on our last day and drove to Jolly Harbour, through the rainforest, to Nelson's Dockyard, Shirley Heights, and a quick stop to visit the Grand Pineapple Resort. Navigation was no problem, and locals were happy to give us directions. Devil's Bridge is a must-see. Mandy at the Soon-Come-Back desk arranged for us to visit Grand Pineapple (a family-friendly sister of Sandals) to decide if we wanted to bring our kids there.

Food: Our favorite by a long-shot was Marios--don't miss the chocolate cake. We typically had breakfast at the Paris Cafe because the dive boat left early (we had to check in by 745 and the other restaurants did not open until 730). It had good pastries, but it would have been nice to have some fresh fruit. The few days we did not dive, we had breakfast at either Bayside (buffet) or OK Corral (a la carte). Both were great and had amazing views. I am not a seafood fan, but when we went to the Sushi restaurant for appetizers, George, the chef, insisted that I could not sit at his sushi bar and not eat sushi. He made me a special treat which we named Texas Sushi--a regular sushi roll with medium rare steak fried in tempura. It was so good.

Pools/Bars: The Med pool is HUGE, and I agree with the reviews saying there is a problem finding chairs in the shade early in the day. But we just went to the smaller pools and had no problem. By late afternoon, there are shaded chairs and also a lot of shade in the pool. The two pool bars both had great service and yummy drinks. Marie-Louise and Althea were great.

This was an amazing trip. Our only regret is that we didn't stay longer! We will definitely be back.

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank jen110807
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 April 2012

One of The BEST vacation places ever! Quality throughout with several restaurants with very good food to choose from and the best little coffee shop serving Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee ;) and a lot of pastries etc. The staff is sooo friendly and welcoming you cannot do else then feel relaxed and at peace when greeted with smiles everyday. The beach is fantastic with a stroll onto further three smaller if you want to walk or jog the Dickinson Bay. The Spa is like entering another world! Out of the bookable restaurants we preferred Eleanor's and Kimono's as favorites while the Mario's served fantastic meat and a lovely buffet style entree dishes while the waiting was a small drop-down, but a drink or glass of wine can make up for that..

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank MyGlobalMap
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 April 2012

Resort is large with great variety of food choices. Beautifully landscaped! People are friendly! The resort is divided into two areas Mediterranean village and the older area Carribean village which has the tennis courts. The main pool is fantastic, the bar is very quick at orders and the BBC is the best drink. Good location not far from the airport! Check in is A MAJOR PROBLEM from what I see, travellers are still far from being happy. We spent over 2 hours waiting for our rooms to be ready,then was sent to the wrong category(Downgraded) Being a repeat customer of Sandals, I was a little ticked at the staff and expressed my dismay at the whole situation. We were upgraded after three nights. All the rooms were very spacious and comfortable. As we did not have butler service, you must get up at 6am (earlier than the butlers) to get any seating at the main pool with cover. They need to fix this situation of saving spots while no one sits in these lounges most of the day and some don't even claim their towels. A quick fix would be to follow suit from Oceania cruises--towels left on lounges for more than an hour with no one, will be picked up by pool staff and your things can be claimed at the pool attendant.

Room Tip: Have a travel agent to help you as you may have bought a room which you did not receive. I preferre...
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  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank sonoecho
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 April 2012

My husband and I stayed at this resort for only two nights. We reserved at mutiple resorts to get a feel for the island on our first trip.. We had a great time during our short stay.

Room:
We had a sunset Bluff room and I felt it was decorated beautifully...kind of island colonial meets beach. We requested a top floor when reserving and received a bottom floor. The room was stocked as promised in the concierge category and we slept very well at night. The room was very clean but we noticed that the floor was really scratched and worn and it wasn't completely scrubed around some of the baseboards and under the sink..

Grounds/beach:/pool
The landscaping was especially beautiful on the caribbean side and the beach was very nice. We were able to find chairs on the beach down at the spa end of the resort with no problems. Venders were not a huge problem for us and all were polite. We sat by the main pool for only a couple of hours. There were chairs available but we had to sit back away from the edge of the pool which was fine with us. The pool was not as loud as we thought it might have been. There was music at the bar but we could barely hear it from our chairs. No loudspeakers when we were there.

Food:
We thought the food was good during our two days. We were surprised to have great steaks at the Barefoot and the staff was exceptional at this restaurant. This was also our favorite place for good drinks during the day and overall the most romantic spot to eat. Eleanors was nice but we wished we would have tried the lobster. The staff at Marios went out of their way to accomodate us for dessert one night. Also remember that you can go have sushi before dinner if you have late reservations at another restaurant.

Bites:
This was a big concern on Tripadvisor. In the middle of March I sprayed my feet (top and bottom) and legs one night before dinner and had no insect bites. I forgot the next day and night and received two bites.

Impressions:
We totally enjoyed our stay. We loved the room but, even though we had a wonderful concierge, I'm not sure we would pay extra for the service again. We found the resort to be less crowded and noisy than we had thought it might be. The guests represented a variety of ages.We really couldn't guess an average age which was nice. While we were happy with our room choice, some guests we met were not happy with their initial room assignment. It seems that room choice is a big factor here. We were pleasantly surprised and would return with the right room at the right price.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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2  Thank cozy1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 April 2012

The great location can't make up for the inconsistent service that this hotel provides. The staff is apathetic and lacks training. Be aware of the all-inclusive formula: if you want to drink and eat as much as it is tolerable for your stomache, this is the place to go. Don't expect anything hip or glamorous, but more middle class. This is not a 'luxury' property as advertised.
I would rate it as a very good 3-star hotel.

Room Tip: If you want a Las Vegas type of architecture, go to the Mediterrean Village part...but if you want s...
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  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank vane_suiza
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa

Address: Dickenson Bay, St. John's, Antigua
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Antigua and Barbuda > Antigua > Saint John Parish > St. John's
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Top resorts Hotel in St. John's
#3 Family Hotel in St. John's
#3 Luxury Hotel in St. John's
#3 On the Beach Hotel in St. John's
#4 Romantic Hotel in St. John's
#5 Business Hotel in St. John's
Price Range: £423 - £964 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 373
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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Also Known As:
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort And Spa
Sandals Grande Antigua Hotel St. John`s
Sandals Antigua
Hotel Sandals Grande Antigua
Sandals Grand Antigua
Antigua Sandals
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa Saint John Parish

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