We had originally booked our wedding in Barbados, the Couples resort that Sandals had acquired. Due to numerous complaints, we were advised that Sandals Barbados was to be closed for complete refurb, and on this basis, we were kindly given the option to travel to alternative Sandals resort. We chose Sandals Grande Antigua.
Firstly, I have to say a MASSIVE thank you to the Wedding Team who made our day so special. Our wedding coordinator Lydia was so friendly, warm and attentive, and went the extra mile for us. The wedding team as a whole (Sara, Irose and Andrea) always made themselves available for advice and any information we needed, and together they made our day very special, very memorable. They listened to exactly what we wanted, and went all out to make it happen. Cannot thank them enough! These ladies are a real asset to Sandals.
Secondly, to Michelle at the Spa who managed to calm down a very nervous bride-to-be with some champagne and laughter, you were just wonderful. She did my hair and make-up, and made me feel a million dollars. The manager of the spa was also fantastic, calling ahead of my appointment to make sure they understood what I wanted, and after the wedding to ensure I was happy with everything. Wonderful service!
Our wedding photographer Marion was very patient with us and took some superb photo's on the day. Thanks Marion! We saw Marion around the resort several times after our big day and she would always take time to stop and talk to us. Elke who assisted us with the viewing of our wedding photos was lovely too, very informative and approachable.
The resort itself is stunning. The gardens/grounds are beautiful and well maintained, and the pools kept immaculate. The beach was gorgeous, idyllic, quiet mostly, but ruined I felt by a continual stream of locals trying to sell excursions, jewellery etc. We fully appreciate that everyone needs to make a living, but it became very intrusive at times and eventually we just avoided the beach area. No fault of Sandals however, the beach is public and everyone has access.
What lets Sandals down here I think are the restaurants. They are fairly average, and the service in this context was variable throughout the resort. For example, the service at the Drunken Duck was quite dire the evening we were there, and it was a fairly quiet evening with very few people in. They took ages to take our order, and there was a serious gap of approx. 50 minutes between starter and main course. When it did arrive eventually with various items missing, it took another 10 minutes or so to locate a waitress to rectify the situation. In addition, we discovered we had no knives/forks, so had to wait for these to brought too, another 5 minutes or so. On this basis, we didn't attempt another meal in the Drunken Duck.
Our evening meal at 'Barefoot on the Beach' the night before we left was pleasurable. The service provided by Toya and Cynthia was outstanding. Toya knew her menu well and was very attentive. This is the kind of service you expect from Sandals when you pay the money you do. Thanks guys!
We had a few meals at the Bayside, and the service was variable here too. Fairly good selection of food for breakfast/lunches and dinner. The older lady (never got her name unfortunately) who made the eggs in the mornings (omelettes etc) for the duration of our stay never bothered to smile once despite us trying to make polite conversation with her. It leaves you feeling quite uncomfortable. The service was very slow at the Bayside at times, frustratingly so. There never seemed to be enough serving staff available.
Eleanor's appears to come with the reputation of being the best restaurant on the premises, but is overrated and average at best. The service is slow here too. I must say however that we had our wedding meal at Eleanor's and the menu/meal on this occasion (pre chosen and pre booked as part of our wedding package) was delicious! Just the slow service a let down. We queued on two separate mornings for breakfast, and having waited for over 10 minutes in a queue of approx. 6 people, (with plenty of available tables inside!) we just left and walked over to the Bayside breakfast buffet.
We paid $170 US for a 5 course romantic meal on the beach. Service started off great, but by our 4th course (entrée) the waitress had all but forgotten about us and disappeared. We waited for approximately 40 minutes between third and fourth course. Not acceptable when paying so much money. As we were leaving with not a waitress in sight to say goodnight to you, I noted two waitresses hidden in the dark, leaning casually against a tree, relaxed and scrolling on their mobile phones. Their disappearance seemed to make sense. Not something I'd pay $170 for again.
The selection of drinks and cocktails was superb. We used the bar just outside the Bayside for the most part, and the staff were efficient and friendly with consistent service. If you wanted a particular cocktail not on the menu, they would happily make it for you. Nothing seemed too much trouble. Austin was a really nice guy, thanks for the great service! Tried so many different cocktails and loved them all. Try the Coconut crush with lots of Irish cream in for measure. To die for! Fab Mojito's too!
The reception staff are very friendly and efficient too. Shawn always went out of his way to assist us. Thanks Shawn! Some of the security staff too were lovely and took time to chat us as we walked past them at night after dinner.
Antigua is paradise. We hired a car for a few days and toured the island. We stopped at Shirley Heights, Nelson's Dockyard, Half Moon Bay etc. The island has a rich and interesting history and exploring ourselves was a great experience. If you do hire a car however, beware. The 'right of way' rule does not apply in Antigua and it seems to be a case of every driver for himself. Cars will suddenly pull out in front of you, and drivers talking on mobile phones whilst driving seems commonplace.
We hired a car from Lions Car rental at Sandals. When we had finished, we had to refuel/refill the tank, which we subsequently did. We paid $73.00 US dollars to fill up half a tank at a local garage. We asked the lady at the service station if she was sure this was the correct amount and she insisted it was. We later learned that it should have been 73 EC dollars, so we had been duped. If you are in Antigua and renting a car, be very wary about what money you hand over to
petrol attendants. I suspect a scam going on. No blame attributed to Sandals for this whatsoever, but worth noting if you are traveling to Antigua. We did raise the issue with Lions car rentals who stated they would investigate further but we were leaving the following day. In addition, stupidly, we had no receipt and on that basis, no evidence really. It wouldn't happen a second time. Lesson learned.
We went out on the snorkelling trip that comes free with your sandals holiday. Not much to see however and we were left quite disappointed. You can spend a day at Long Bay (the Grand Pineapple, part of the sandals group on the other side of the island) and the snorkelling there is much better. Beautiful beach too.
Overall however a great holiday despite the let down of service on some occasions, which I've highlighted. We had a very relaxing time, meeting many wonderful people, both staff and other tourists. Not sure I'd return to Sandals Antigua, but would probably try another sandals in the future.
- 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