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“An excellent experience but sadly not worth repeating”

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Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
Ranked #3 of 15 Hotels in St. John's
Certificate of Excellence
wales
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
“An excellent experience but sadly not worth repeating”
Reviewed 22 November 2009

Arrived at this hotel as a part of a party of 10. Six of the party were upgraded to the Med side which was far better than the Caribbean side accomadation wise. We were assured at checkin that the remainder of our party would be moved over within 36 hours - sadly dispite numerous visits to reception this never happened and worsely nobody ever got back to me as promised!
Room service was none existent and if you requested anything it took hours to arrive. Housekeeping were very good for the first 3 days but after that there was no turndown service etc.
Eating out was ok if you managed to book into Eleanor's - which was very good both foodwise and service. The other good experience was Kimono's where Frank cooked your food infront of you on a hotplate - delicious! In the other restaurants if you expect fine dining don't book to go to Sandals.
Pool area was fantastic, as was the beach. Overall most of the staff were really friendly and couldn't do enough for you.
We all had a fantastic holiday despite some disappointments I wouldn't expect from a 5 star establishment!

  • Stayed November 2009, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank ribbonswales
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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CHESTERFIELD
Level 3 Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 November 2009

Visited resort from November 6 through 13. Pleased to be upgraded from a Venetian Suite to a Monte Carlo suite, which I believe are the same, except the MC was on a higher floor which gives a better view of large pool and bay. Samantha The room was beautiful, but somewhat cramped due to the size of the furniture. Housekeeping was excellent, although evening turndown was missed four out of seven nights. Beverages were refilled daily.The rain shower is fantastic. Definitely recommend spending the extra dollars to stay in the Mediteranean (new) vs. the Caribbean (original). While the grounds of the Caribbean are definitely tropical, there are many more geckos on the Caribbean side, which didn't bother me, but the large cockroach on the ceiling of the very small internet cafe did.

We have been to Sandals Whitehouse, Sandals Grande in St. Lucia and Beaches Turks and Caicos. In my mind, the food in Antigua was good, not great. Breakfast was good every morning, especially the omelet station, but very little variety, especially potatoes. We had Lyonnaise potatoes the first three days. Lobster tails were inconsistent. "Medium" steaks came out very well done, charred to be exact. Eleanor's did not live up to its expectations. We ate at Mario's twice. The antipasta bar is outstanding. The Tiramisu is very good. Kimona's was very disappointing versus other hibachi restaurants in the resorts named above...no excitement from the cook due to limited space. The food at Barefoot was good. We had lunch there most days. The pizza is very good at the pizza place located next to Mario's. They really hype up the Caribbean Beach Party on Monday night. Due to questionable weather, the buffet was inside and it was a disaster. It took over 15 minutes to go through the line. By the time we got through, there were no ribs and non in sight in the way. The girl carving the ham was down to the bone, again with no more ham on its way. We gave up and went to Mario's.

Another area that I was disappointed was the lack of a sense of urgency in the dining areas. Most of the service staff were very nice and In defense of the people working there, they seemed to be understaffed. Barefoot was a prime example. Reservations are not taken, so we got there at 8pm for dinner. They told us they could seat us at 9pm. We got seated at 9:45. They blamed it on a large wedding party that stayed longer than expected.

Unlike other Caribbean bartenders, the bartenders are hard to get to know. It is difficult to get their attention, especially around the pool bar. Nils was a nice guy and Gavin was a lot of fun. I'm a vodka guy and the best vodkas were Absolute and Stoly. Other Sandals have stocked Grey Goose. My friend was happy that they had Jack Daniels.

If you want to take a tour of the island, ask for Bill or Rowland Anthony. Both are really good guys. Definitely go to Shirley Heights, Nelson's Dockyard and Devil's Bridge. My friend's wife and I did the zipline, very safe.

The beach is not that nice. The water was not the typical crystal clear that you can see your feet. The main pool is fantastic, just the right size, with plenty of chairs (you do have to get out there early, 7am, to get a pool-side chaise) and floaties.

If you're still reading, I suspect that you think I was negative in my review. If you want to go to Antigua without the kids, I would recommend Sandals. I just feel that with the prices that Sandals charges, 95% or more of everything you experience should be outstanding and I can't say that about this Sandals. I feel that Secrets Capri on the Riviera Maya in Mexico is superior to any Sandals that I have stayed at. I also feel that your money goes a lot further at the Iberostar Grande and the Riu Palace resorts. If I do return to Antigua, I was told that the Verandah resort is very nice.

A lot of reviews have mentioned Sonya, the Director of Guest Relations. She is a very classy lady who really does a great job in meeting with the guests. I did discuss some of my concerns with her. She was very nice and sent a beautiful fruit tray with an apology note to our room. I would definitely recommend asking to see her if you have any concerns. I don't want to forget Samantha at the concierge desk. She was always very friendly and very helpful.

  • Stayed November 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Dennis395
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
State College
Level 3 Contributor
8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 November 2009

Everything is included if you pay the right price, which is really a value for this type of vacation.

  • Stayed November 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank ogereggs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York
1 review
Reviewed 20 November 2009

The only way to travel in the Caribbean. The food is excellent with a great variety, you will never go hungry. The resort is so relaxing and the grounds are perfectlly groomed. The best thing of all is all the wonderful staff that is friendly and helpful, they make you feel like family. A true vacation for your wallet. Enjoy everything without having to reach for any more money. To do all you want at another resort would probally cost a lot more in the long run.

  • Stayed November 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Belle55_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Baton Rouge, LA
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 November 2009

Go to Sandals Grande Antigua for the natural beauty, wonderful service, great rooms, and perfect relaxing vacation. But don't go expecting great food at the restaurants. Breakfast buffets are great, and room service is pretty good, but eating off the menu at any of the restaurants is very disappointing.

  • Stayed November 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank jimsboy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Jersey
Level 3 Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 November 2009

Overall, our Honeymoon was amazing at Sandals Grande Antigua! We stayed in one of the few private villa's, with private fenced in back yard with patio, pool & hot tub. The room also comes with Butler Service which is a definite plus! Almost all other couples we met were honeymooning or celebrating an aniversary.

Pros:
Check in: We were greeted with champagne, appetizers and then escorted to our villa by one of our butlers.

Butlers: He made us dinner reservations for the week, the butlers will also bring you breakfast in bed, or will set it up with fresh flowers outside on the patio or indoors in your living room, they will reserve spots for you with the grass tiki umbrellas and lounge chairs on the beach, or by the pool in the morning, they will bring you breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks, coolers with beer, you name it. They do expected to be tipped, but with the amount of effort they put in, it is well deserved. They also set up (without being asked) a bubble bath with fresh flowers and rose petals and candles as a surprise. They also give you a cell phone to call them wherever, whenever. It was a great way to call if you needed something from the beach or the pool. We tried not to bother them too much, but they always come to check on you as well to make sure you don't need anything! They were EXCELLENT! We reccommend Wendel and Cecil!

Food: (CAN BE TRICKY)

Pizzaria pizza was amazing BUT the wait is LONG if you have your butler put in the order, we waited for over 2 hours one day, if you want pizza, go order it yourself.
Barefoot: Great lunch, fresh fish and chips is mahi mahi, DELICIOUS. Dinner, I was not overly impressed with. Get there early and place your name down, they do not take reservations, you WILL wait at least an hour if you dont get there early. The lobster is very salty. side dishes were good, my husband loved the mahi mahi dinner.
Cricketers: Great for lunch, dinner or snacks. Not a huge selection but it's a pub atmosphere with pub food. We like this as a hangout spot.
Kimonos: NEED RESERVATIONS: Great experience. I reccommend that you do this one of the first days you are there, if your butler or yourself can plan out your meals, try to get into kimonos when you first get there, it's a great way to meet some people while you are there and it's a really fun time. They DO serve soki but they don't advertize it. If you ask, you'll get it, warm or cold, it was fun to add with dinner!
Sushi: Not a huge selection but decent sushi.
Elenors: NEED RESERVATIONS: BEST RESTAURANT! and most romantic spot for dinner. TRY The Lobster there, it was cooked to perfection, they also let me try a typical jamaican dish: Curried Lamb on the side. If you ask, they will combine anything for you to try.
Bayside: Breakfast was amazing everyday, so many things to choose from. We used our butlers to bring us regular eggs in bed, we decided to try it the 2nd to last day and wished we had been eating there all week! Dinner at Bayside: Don't Bother... not worth your time...
Ok Corral: NEED RESERVATIONS: Dinner only... we were not impressed. Nachos were good though.
Marios: NEED RESERVATIONS: Also... Dinner only, we were not impressed...

I have to suggest if you can: Book a private candlelit dinner on the beach. It was the best time of our trip. Very romantic and just perfect service.

Spa: Is a must! You can talk them into things... they gave us the couples massage and added hot stones for free, extremely relaxing!

The Staff was AMAZING! Our butlers were Wendel and Cecil and they went above and beyond for us. They made our trip so enjoyable! Also, the waiter, Ken, great personality! Extremely helpful with wine and food selection!

CONS:
Be careful of when you are booking your trip here: we waited 2 months after our wedding because we wanted to wait for hurricane season to be over... apparently in november it is Antigua's rainiest season and jellyfish season. I was stung twice, and eaten alive by bugs.
Be careful which restaurants you choose. Try out ones that you think you might want to go more than once to, early on in your trip so that you have the chance to book dinner there more than once.
ALSO: They do NOT Sell phone cards at the resort... they said I could make calls from our room using a credit card or collect call. The collect call home would not work, I used my credit card... a few times the operator got on the line and said there was a problem with my credit card, they asked me to verify my info, then told me that my card would not work and asked if I had another... I was stupid, I gave them my debit card... when we returned home I had been a victim of Identity Theft! They had taken both accounts and charged all week long to both cards to the same fradulent company... this past week after our trip I have been going through hell canceling and starting over ALL of my accounts... If you can, bring a calling card OR set up your cell phone before you leave... I was stupid and didn't do this... it was a learning experience to say the least.

  • Stayed November 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Musicianlala
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
England
Level 5 Contributor
55 reviews
52 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 November 2009

On arrival at the Caribbean side we were given the registration form to fill in, only to be left waiting for the person to return, which they didn’t so we had to go seek help. We enquired about our luggage in the car at the Mediterranean side and whether someone would go and get it, to which they advised bring the car over.

We then walked back to collect the car and luggage, no-one helped with the luggage when we brought the car over, we were then told the car had to be parked back over the other side! A far from perfect arrival and check in process.

We stayed in a Rondoval right next to the beach which was very nice we could not fault the room. The complex was huge, a bit tired in places in the Caribbean section. The beach is fantastic!
There are several pools throughout the complex from the main pool to several smaller pools dotted about the Caribbean section. You need to reserve sunbeds very early to get a space.

The grounds are really nice with well maintained gardens, very spacious so never felt crowded.

Restaurants – the standard of food was a big disappointment only to be made worse by poor service, service was very slow to order drinks and food. We ate in several of the restaurants and they were all dissapointing.

When were checking out we had a letter to say the check out procedure, times etc. The letter stated to have suitcases ready by 9 so a porter can collect. We phoned through by 8.30 to say they were ready for collection, after we came back from breakfast they were still there so at 10 we gave up waiting and took them ourselves to the Check In Chill Out area.

On check out day we had a late flight, in the Mediterranean area you can use the departure lounge where you can store your hand luggage and have showers to freshen up.
This was a bonus so you can enjoy your last day, but you need to ask about it otherwise you wouldn’t be told about it.

Sandals provided our transfers back to the airport, they picked us up at 13.30 for a 16.30 flight when we had already checked in using Check In Chill Out, this time seemed extremely early

In summary the complex grounds and rooms are great and there are lots of daily activities, it is such a shame the food and service lets it down.

  • Stayed September 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank K1000M
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

Property: 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 On the Beach Hotel in St. John's
#3 Luxury Hotel in St. John's
#4 Romantic Hotel in St. John's
#5 Business Hotel in St. John's
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
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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