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“Not so Grande”

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Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
Ranked #3 of 16 Hotels in St. John's
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 30 November 2013

Stayed recently at Sandals Antigua. Our holiday has to be rated as very good but having been to other Sandals resorts I have to say there are things 'lacking'. This is difficult to pinpoint as our problems were resolved but for the type of resort/company these should not have arisen in the first place.
Prior to our visit I sent an e mail to a sales consultant, Ezra, having been given her name by Sandals in the UK. I had few very minor requests and questions that I asked for response too. Following her first reply she sadly did not reply further and it is fair to say that this lady almost went out of her way to avoid us. We were not given the room location we initially asked for and we were advised to speak with her the day after arrival. She failed to appear and it seemed that someone else had been sent to speak with us.(Lesley) (All we wanted was a room in a quiet location on the first floor which we didn't realise was the 2nd floor in Antigua)
This matter was eventually resolved when we spoke with Dianah and then Shernell who went to great lengths to resolve this issue, taking the matter personally and constantly reassuring us that it would be sorted out. We were told that Ezra would speak with us and had indeed left messages (which she hadn't). In real terms she does no favours to Sandals to represent them in the industry they are in.
Our holiday overall was acceptable and got better as the two weeks progressed.
Our top restaurant was probably Marios and the staff there certainly went the extra mile to make sure everything was good.
Kiminos was a bit hit and miss. One meal good one not so and Barefoot lived up to all it claims.
The pizza bar was ok, not exceptional, Barefoot again good and average. Eleanors had a great location but the lobster was overcooked and the rest of the meal was not overly brilliant.
Whilst this sounds a bit 'moany' it is not meant that way as we did enjoy our stay but that was mainly due to the intervention of Dianah and Shernell.
Would we return to Sandals Antigua ? I don't think so. It does not compare with St Lucia or Ocho Rios.
Staff wise I would say that the ones who do the most credit to Sandals are the girls who serve around the beach and pool as they do a great job and without doubt Evette the lady who looked after our room. The rest do their job, but when you pay a lot of money one would expect that.

We met some nice people and that is a real bonus and makes the holiday memorable. - Hi Eric and Jen.

We are going to White House in the spring and hope that is a big improvement.

Room Tip: Caribbean side can be quite noisy near to the pool as it is used for games etc.
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  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank BillsonTour
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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3,024 - 3,030 of 6,876 reviews

Reviewed 30 November 2013

Just arrived the staff in the restaurant had no interest in serving us, we didn't even get offer us a glass of water, birds flying from table to table eating crumbs, staff so uninterested. In their job. Read other reports and thought that people were just expecting too much but unfortunately it's true,I feel like getting back kntheplane to go to St Lucia Grande, it's a different world. If you are undecided go to St Lucia the service is so much more superior and everyone wants you to have a great holiday. Have only been here 3 hours, it's going to be a long week.

  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank Ethel55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lauren B, Online Review Coordinator at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 2 December 2013

I'm so sorry to hear that you aren't enjoying your stay with us. I will contact you via private message to see how we can resolve this matter while you are still on property. I also encourage you to reach out to one of our Guest Services staff members, if you have not already. They are always willing to assist and make sure that any challenge you have is resolved to your satisfaction. Please give us a chance to make this up to you. We always want to ensure that all of our guests are having a wonderful vacation and it would be nice if we were able to turn things around for you.


Thank you for your review. We look forward to making contact with you soon.

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Reviewed 29 November 2013

My wife and I just returned from our honeymoon at Sandals Grande Antigua. Overall, it was great place for a honeymoon, but it seemed like the restaurants were understaffed while we were there. Most of the restaurants where breakfast was served were buffet style, but there was still a wait sometimes despite the fact that there were many open tables. There weren't many people cleaning up and there was minimal wait staff. This may be because it was the "off season" but it was definitely noticeable. For a change of pace, one day we went to Eleanor's for the a la carte breakfast. We NEVER complain when we go to restaurants, but we had to ask when our food was coming because it took so long. When we actually got the food, it was good. My wife raved about the goat cheese omelette. There are two restaurants that require reservations for dinner: Eleanor's and Kimonos. We went to both. The best thing we had at Eleanor's was the coconut soup. They had a piña colada creme brûlée on the menu for dessert, but they were out of it on the night we went. We talked to another couple and they said it was out of this world. Kimonos is a hibachi-style restaurant. Our cook, Eric, was very entertaining. He did the typical hibachi tricks that you usually see, but he also provided his own soundtrack by singing his favorite pop hits. Funny. We both got the mixed grill as an appetizer. It was three different meats and sauces served in shot glasses. It was an interesting presentation and it tasted good. The chef made the best vegetable fried rice that I've ever had. The entrees included salmon, chicken, and steak and everyone got a good portion of each. The only bad thing I would say about Kimonos is that they were out of sake. Most of their specialty drinks included sake so a lot of people were disappointed. There was also a sushi bar called Soy that was attached to Kimonos. We went to Soy later in the week to try it out (and I was hoping that they would have sake by then...they didn't. Disappointing for sushi bar). We like sushi rolls, but we're not very adventurous so it was a good place for us. They had the basic sushi rolls (spicy tuna, California) pre-made and the chef just cut them into pieces when you ordered. The more elaborate dishes were made from scratch. We had the best Philadelphia roll that we ever had which says something considering that we're both from Philadelphia and we still live in the area. We know our cream cheese! The best restaurant on the resort, in my opinion, was the OK Corral. We both had chili as an appetizer and it was just enough spice that it gave it a kick without overwhelming the flavor. We went to Mario's for dinner one night and the highlight was the appetizer bar. The entrees were ok. From a food perspective, there are two things that stick out in my head: 1.) This might sound strange, but the pizza at Mario's was amazing.They had a reasonable number of items on the pizza menu. We had pizza for lunch on most days and we liked everything we tried. 2.) The private dinner on the beach was worth the extra $170 (US). The service was good and the food was great. The menu was mostly seafood which we both like so it was up our alley. The private dinner was all about the ambience. Table for two right on the beach with a tiki torch to provide the candlelight motif.

We never had a problem getting drinks at the multiple bars on the resort. The bartenders were all friendly and fast. There was a "drink of the day" every day and it was usually pretty good. The popular drinks were the chocolate monkey, BBC, and the banana sip-sop. Of course they had the typical daiquiris, piña coladas, Miami Vice, and every drink that's made with Blue Curacao. There was some variability with the drinks depending on who made them, but that's to be expected. My wife's go-to drink was the frozen mojito which was actually made with mint and not just some mix. When I wanted a tropical drink, my go-to was called a dirty banana. The local beer that they had on tap was called Wadali Lager. It tasted like Heineken to me. They also had Carib Lager in bottles and, if you never had it before, it tasted like Carlsberg. There was a bar called the Drunken Duck that opened at 5pm and was open until 2am. It was an English style pub so they had Guinness, Bass, etc. in bottles. There was a DJ every night and karaoke on Sundays and Thursdays. It also had a dart board and three billiard tables. We enjoyed our late nights at the Drunken Duck. It was a fun spot especially on karaoke night.

We wanted to relax for the most part so we only did two excursions. We went on the sunset cruise and we did the zip line canopy tour. The sunset cruise was on a catamaran and they played the usual Caribbean and served rum punch and other such drinks. It was a 2 hour cruise around part of the island at sunset. Great scenery as you might expect. The zip line tour was great. Apparently there was a special through Sandals so we did 11 zip lines instead of the usual 6 and we also were able to do the challenge course. I wouldn't recommend the challenge course if you're afraid of heights.

The beach was nice, of course, but if you've never been to a Caribbean island be prepared to be harassed by people trying to sell you stuff. There are no private beaches so anyone is allowed to roam around selling tours (jet skis, horseback riding, fishing trips), jewelry, hair-braiding, etc.

This was my first experience with Sandals and my wife's 4th. It was a great time, but the service at the restaurants could have been better.

  • Stayed: November 2013
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4  Thank mmcgraw80
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lauren B, Online Review Coordinator at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 30 November 2013

Thank you for your review.
We are pleased that overall you had an amazing time at Sandals Grande Antigua.
We appreciate all of your feedback and will be forwarding your concerns to our resort management team for immediate evaluation.
We look forward to welcoming you back for an even more amazing time.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 November 2013

This was our first visit to Antigua though we had stayed at Sandals Halcyon Beach in St Lucia previously. The location is beautiful. Easy trip from the airport, followed by a lovely welcome at check in. With a minimum of fuss, we were soon being taken to our room in the Caribbean section.

The gardens here are beautiful, and you soon find out that the whole resort is well maintained. Colourful plants abound, lawns are looked after on a daily basis and it is lovely just to stroll round the paths taking in the beauty of the grounds.

Then there is the important part, the beach. It is lovely. Some complain about the local vendors, but they were never a problem to us. Just be polite and they appreciate that and move on. We spent most days on the beach but we often found it difficult to get beds with shade. This was also the situation at the main pool. Butlers appear at the crack of dawn to reserve these. I have no problem with this as this is what has been paid for but it is very annoying to find these beds still unoccupied at the end of the day. If you are not going to use them, do not reserve them!

We ate at all of the restaurants except the OK Corral. The food is good, particularly the lobster in Eleanors. The best fun night was in Kimonos. We were lucky to be included in a great group and we had a fantastic night thanks to them, our chef Teddy and his amazing staff. Barefoot on the Beach is a lovely location for an evening meal. We ate there twice and it was a wonderful experience. Thank you Onica for looking after us so well.

We did not go to breakfast on a daily basis but when we did, we were disappointed that there was very little effort to stop the birds getting on to food platters in the servery area. We also had breakfast in Marios and this was fine. For lunch, we often went to the grab and go and this is a really good facility. I should also say that drinks were plentiful from the staff that operated on the beach.

We attended the returning guests dinner and had a really enjoyable evening but found the menu to be a bit strange. We doubt very much that pork chops would be universally accepted!

We only did two trips. The first was the Sandals exclusive catamaran trip around the island. The second, a guided taxi trip around the island. Both were enjoyable but the land trip was excellent. Our driver was marvellous, taking us to all the places we needed to see and allowing us enough time at each. He was full of information and went out of his way to look after us.

Some reviews have complained that the staff are not helpful. We found the opposite. Courtney the general manager looks after his staff and guests alike and showed a tremendous enthusiasm to ensure that everything went smoothly. Antonio is a star and it is great to spend time with him. However, the best by a long way is Teshana in Café de Paris. She is a gem and deals with everyone with a smile which is infectious. We would go out of our way to visit the café when she was on shift. She is a credit to Sandals and to herself.

A long way to travel but well worth it.

Room Tip: This is Sandals and all of the rooms are good value.
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  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank Jim P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lauren B, Online Review Coordinator at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 30 November 2013

Thank you for your review of Sandals Grande Antigua!
We are delighted that you had such an amazing time on your first visit to the island and that our staff took great care of you! It sounds as if you had a perfect stay from beginning to end!
We look forward to welcoming you back to this beautiful property soon!

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Reviewed 27 November 2013

This resort was beautiful, the beach was always very very clean. The property in general was amazing, we staying in a walkout suite on the Mediterranean side. This seemed to be the newer side of the resort, however it was more hotel feel and less Caribbean feel to it. We did not mind as the walkout levels make you feel like you are in the Caribbean anyway with the landscaping.

Over all the week was excellent, the best parts of the trip however were leaving the resort itself and getting out onto the island. We did three trips and recommend 2 of 3.

1.) Shirley Heights Sunset party (sunday nights only) - This was an amazing trip, we were driven to Shirley heights which is a cliff area with a stone house. They had locals cooking amazing food and a steel band orchestra playing into the sunset. I wouldn't hesitate to do this again.

2.) Stingray city - Let me be the first to say this was the most mind blowing part of the trip. We though we would just get taxied to a place with stingrays, float with them then leave. Boy were we wrong. We were taken down to st john to meet with our tour guide john. John was an amazing guy, he had rum punch for us and gave us an off road tour of the island before getting to stingray city. once you get there you skiff out to a floating dock and feed and take pictures with massive stingrays, then are given an hour to snorkel (which was amazing). On the way back john took us to Bettys hope plantation to have a private lunch, another tour then to devils bridge before returning us. Over all for the cost it is a MUST do.

3.) shopping in St john - this was a total waste of time. the vendors are crazy (as expected) but the thing was, almost nothing was locally made, it was all junk with stickers that said antigua on it. Not really worth the time over ziplining or something fun.

Back to the resort, everything went pretty well on average, the only downside was the staff. Over all, most treated you like an inconvenience or that they were over worked. We saw several pregnant employees standing all day in 90 degrees. The check in process was extremly slow as well. The staff is really the grind here. We felt like there was a 2:1 ratio of upbeat helpful employees to bad ones. On a resort that size, it should be 100:1.

I would like to note someone in specific, someone who all employees should be modeled after at that and other sandals resorts.

Teshana Orleasea who works in Cafe de paris (coffee shop) - Every time we saw her she was incredibly happy and willing to do anything to make you smile. We enjoyed seeing her everyday as that is what we expected from all the staff at a resort at this price level. She was extremely redeeming for the brand overall. On our way out we stopped to get ice cream and she hugged my wife and I and told us safe travels, we truly feel like she cared how people felt.

So overall, the trip was great, staff could have been miles better. I don't feel as though i would go back vs going to another destination over the staff issues though. Although the island culture and the islands people were some of the nicest I have ever met.

Room Tip: medderterannian is newer and more hotel like but cleaner and more modern, get a walkout if you choos...
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  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank ChrisWaldron
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lauren B, Online Review Coordinator at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 30 November 2013

Hello and thank you for your review of Sandals Grande Antigua, Chris.
We are happy that you enjoyed our resort and had a great time enjoying the beautiful island. However, we were disappointed to hear that you felt there was inconsistency with the quality of our service. We have many guests that boast of our staff's professionalism and we regret to hear that your experience was not similar.
I will be forwarding your concerns to our management team for immediate evaluation and action as needed. We appreciate your feedback, as we realize there is always room for improvement and we strive to provide our guests with the perfect vacation experience.
We hope to welcome you back soon for an even better time.

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Reviewed 26 November 2013

Having travelled to Sandals Whitehouse last January, we were looking forward to spending my 70th Birthday at SGA and comparing the two resorts. No question they are both top-notch resorts, but Whitehouse is a little more formal. We were more than pleased with our room at SGA, everything was immaculate and the furniture did not look worn as it did at Whitehouse. Karen, our lovely Loyalty lady got us settled in no time and made sure we knew that she was available if we needed anything. We were Concierge level and found that was sufficient. There was never a problem getting into restaurants for dinner as I understood that Butler Level could make reservations at any restaurant. Everyone else could only make reservations at Eleanors and Kimonas. The food was very tasty at all restaurants including buffet. Marios and Bayside for breakfast buffet had anything you could possibly want. Eleanors had ala carte breakfast that offered a lovely variety to choose from. We only had issues one evening at Mario's because a very rude loud chef was screaming at his staff and the wait staff. Our table was quite close to the kitchen area and we found his ranting very upsetting to the point we had to leave. After speaking with management, they assured us they would investigate the matter. Sandals prides themselves on being like family, they claim to treat their staff with respect, but this was a very unsettling situation, Human beings do not deserve to be humiliated like that. The Customer Service dept. reassured us they would deal with him, but I am not all that confident he will change his ways. Not after what we saw and heard. Enough about that, and on to the wonderful people like Violet in Bayside, Dave @ Drunken Duck, Ken & Gus @ Marios and all of the staff at the Main pool Bar. Maurice the intern from the Netherlands took time to explain the wonderful opportunity afforded him by Sandals, to learn the Hospitality business. Speaking of the pool, don't worry about towels, there are tons. The problem is lounge chairs!! If you do not go down and put your towels and books etc. by 6:30-7:00 am you will find them all taken by 9 am. and empty for at least 3-4 hrs while people do God knows what. There are signs posted not to do this, but they are ignored and no one enforces. Same goes for floats, people grab them early and hang on to them all day. If you are subject to allergies, watch out for the sand fleas and noseeims that are a serious problem. I was covered in bites even after spraying day and nite. The Barefoot restaurant serves a lovely lunch, but everytime we ate there, I managed to get bit. The bites swell like a blister and are extremely itchy. Bring bug spray even tho they fog every nite) and bring aloe gel, cortisone ointment for the itch. Despite the bugs, we had a fantastic vacation and met some of the most friendly people from all over. There were weddings almost every day and the grounds surrounding Sandals Antigua are magnificent, making for a beautiful backdrop for pictures. I truly believe that Sandals sells service and they do deliver. Other than a few quirks here and there, I would not hesitate to recommend this resort.

Room Tip: We were in 5309 main bldg. Mediterranean - lovely!
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  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank 944bev43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lauren B, Online Review Coordinator at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 30 November 2013

Hello and thank you for taking the time to write a review of Sandals Grande Antigua!
We are honored to have hosted your 70th Birthday celebrations and that you had another wonderful Sandals experience with us! We are sure that our management team was able to resolve that issue with the chef and I will follow up with them as well. We are all one big family, both guests and staff! We appreciate all of your feedback and will continue to improve our service so that we can provide all of our guest with the perfect vacation experience.
We look forward to welcoming you back soon!

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Reviewed 26 November 2013

My wife and I just spent a week, for our 30th anniversary, at sandals Antigua resort. All we can advise is go see it yourself. Just amazing! The staff, the grounds, the food, the beach, the weather, the drinks, the pools, the restaurants and bars, the spa, WOW! And everything else. Absolutely perfect! The best vacation (out of many) that we have ever had! our room (813) was wonderful, and big. It was a sunset bluff, poolside, walkout. Secluded, yet centrally located. We met such nice people, and just had the time of our life! Truly ready for another sandals vacation! Don't want to go anywhere else. Thanks to all of the staff that made our trip extra special, and keep up the good work! Jim and Debbie Frase, Burton Mi. Visited 11-9-13 through 11-16-13.

  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Jim F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lauren B, Online Review Coordinator at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 30 November 2013

Hello and thank you for your review, Jim!
We are thrilled that you had an amazing time at Sandals Grande Antigua and had the perfect 30th Anniversary celebration! Our staff will be so grateful for all of your kind remarks and to hear that they were able to make this stay such an unforgettable one!
We certainly hope to welcome you back soon and look forward to making many more wonderful vacation memories with you!

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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: £424 - £846 (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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