The property is pretty and clean. There are lots of different dwellings from high-rise buildings, to motel-like rooms, to single occupancy huts. There are lots of walkways through the jungle, and facilities are spaced apart, which is not a bad thing when your goal is to lie around for a week. Unlike many resorts, you don’t need to wear a bracelet, but they do give you an ID card that you supposedly would need to present when asked. We were never asked.
For early February we had days mostly in the low 80s and nights in the low to mid 70s. It is a tropical climate so it rains a lot. But most days, the rain would last for an hour and then there would be plenty of sun. There were plenty of clouds too.
Pool area and beach
The pool was a little cold when we went for the 2nd week in February, but it was refreshing. There's a large hot tub in the pool at just the right temperature, and it was great to jump back and forth between the two. The swimup bar is like every other all-inclusive swimup bar: understaffed and limited in beer selection, but big on tropical drinks. You can ask for an extra shot of alcohol, although as is typical for resort alcohol, it doesn’t seem to work. (My theory is that it is watered down because you never see a sealed bottle, only those with the pouring spouts.) Unfortunately, if hanging out poolside, no one comes to offer drinks or take away empties. There aren't many trashcans, and there was a day when there were no towels available for several hours. By the way, you must get out there at around 8:00 to reserve chairs. “Not allowed,” but everyone does it anyway. Warning: Some umbrellas are poorly secured to their bases. One gust of wind can detach them, and I was slammed in the foot by a large one that flew by me as I was reclining several yards away. No employee came to my aid, but I was okay after a little ice to the area. You can rent “cabanas,” which are tents, for $110US a day. They are nice if you want respite from the sun or rain and include a cushioned double lounge and a cooler that’s filled up at the beginning of the day with beer and water. You also can get lunch delivered to the tent.
The beach is pretty, and the water is turquoise and calm. We did not see many people who were not associated with Sandals, other than a few vendors. The beach is a public area and it’s probably not the best idea to leave your stuff unattended.
Our room (Monte Carlo level) in the Mediterranean Village (high-rise) was nice. The bathroom was very large and one of the nicer ones we’ve had, but the whirlpool was disappointing in that it's a one-seater. There were drawers, shelves and closets enough for all our clothing and personal items. We had a flat-screen TV, but no movies on demand. All rooms in the building are pool/ocean view, and we could watch the sun set each evening from our 4th floor balcony. Towels in the room were never an issue. The only problem was the dirt and junk under the bed, which were removed after about the third day. There’s an in-room bar featuring 5 types of liquor, along with beer and wine that gets replenished daily.
Food is the usual all-inclusive fare. We're vegans, so we had to order off menu at the specialty restaurants, and three of the five restaurants accommodated us beautifully and enthusiastically. The best dinners we had were at Mario's and Bayside, where the chefs went out of their way to do something special. Unfortunately, I'm allergic to butter (mentioned to the waiter), and the entree at Eleanor's was loaded with it. The Japanese place is not a sushi restaurant; it's a hibachi place, and they seat you randomly with a group. The best thing about it was that we were seated with a really nice group. At all the restaurants, the house wine is swill, unless you want to pay for a bottle of anything that isn't Beringer's. Sandals should do what other all-inclusives do: 1) There should be more of a selection at the lunch and dinner buffets; and 2) there should be food/snacks available throughout the day. There is a pizza place open from 11-5, but how much pizza can one eat, especially if one has already had lunch. Sometimes you just want some salsa and chips!
The spa service was exceptional, but expensive. We each had an 80-minute massage, which came to US$170 before tip. It was, however, wonderful. The spa itself is nice but nothing special, and we were more impressed with the facilities at the Aventura Spa Palace in Riviera Maya, Mexico. But the massages at Sandals were better and more professional. They did work hard.
Staff / Service
Service in the restaurants was very good, although sometimes slow. I guess people are on "Caribbean Time," but sometimes we'd ask for a glass of water and it would take 10 minutes or a second request. The staff are generally friendly (with the exception of a rude towel kid), and mostly they all say hello when you pass (as they are obviously instructed to), some clearly not so thrilled with the task. A special shout out to Hamanshu, who helped us arrange our
- 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