We just got back from 10 days in Saint Lucia and I wanted to post this while everything is still fresh in my mind. Overall we had an amazing trip. The people of Saint Lucia are polite, soft spoken, helpful, and friendly beyond belief. We stayed at the Halcyon in a concierge suite for the full 10 day trip from Nov 28-Dec 8th for our 5th anniversary, and I've laid out a detailed review for anyone interested.
After reading a shocking list of the 'terrible' reviews for all three Sandals resorts I just want to start by saying your vacation -- and your good time on it -- is what you make of it. We had our own ups and downs at all 3 resorts but our goal was to have an amazing vacation in the tropics and that's exactly what he had because we made it amazing. We didn't sweat the small stuff and when things weren't right we fixed them, period.
I wanted to start off with the Halcyon's staff because they're the ones who made our stay extra special. I hope Sandals offers incentives or perks for each of those we named because they've earned it. In no particular order:
Chevonic,Check-in Concierge: He made 23 hours of travelling totally worth it; he also went out of his way when I misplaced my credit card and phoned multiple shops at La Toc just to help us out.
Robert, Kelly's Dockside/Bayside Server: Our favourite server! We had many great conversations and shared a lot of laughs; he even came to find us in the lobby as we waited for our shuttle just to say an extra goodbye - we hope to see you again very soon and wish you all the best!
Agnes, Paradise Pool Bar: My husband adored you and loved chatting with you at the bar! It's clear to see when someone enjoys their work and Agnes is the perfect example of this.
Angel, Derrick, Spencer, Oneil, Tammy, Jarvis, Nelson and all staff at Kimonos/Soy: We had such great meals and a wonderful time that we went back four times! Great energy, great food, great staff and chefs... What more can we say?
Tammy, La Toc Soon Come Back desk: Thank you for answering our questions time and again. You made selecting next year's trip to Antigua a reality and saved us a ton of $$$ in the process!
Lavearne, Resort shop: You helped me spend way more than I meant to, and I had such a great time chatting with you that no price can be placed on it, converted to EC dollars or Cdn!
Anselma & Roland, Concierge: You were both so helpful throughout our trip (like the time my husband lost me and you helped with the search!) but you made everything absolutely perfect when we forgot a personal item at another resort the day of departure and you went out of your way to get a simple straw hat shuttled to the Sandals airport desk just so I wouldn't be without it after travelling with it through 3 continents and many more countries...that's exactly what customer service and the Sandals experience is all about
Once we arrived in Saint Lucia customs took less than an hour and Sandals reps took care of our luggage and guided us through to a Sandals lounge where rum punch and a place to stretch was offered. We didn't have to wait long for our shuttle before we were off to our resort. (Bring some $5/$10 US bills; they say no tipping is required for anything but a little thank you to the baggage handler and driver doesn't hurt.)
I'll also take a moment to mention motion sickness at this point because if you're prone to it be prepared! The shuttle trip is 1-1/2 hours of winding, twisting, turning roads that go up and down and every which way in between. I loaded up on gravol and still barely made it to the resort (or airport return) without being sick. I didn't know until later that a helicopter transfer could've been arranged. It would be well worth the money- won't forget for next time!
We had concierge service for our stay and this included priority check-in with baggage delivery to our room, champagne in the club lounge, cool cloths to refresh ourselves with, invitations to weekly manager's events, and a stocked bar in-room. We weren't told about or set up with free wi-fi as part of our concierge package until the day before we left, but as this trip included a complete digital detox on our part this wasn't a big deal. Just mentioning this as it should've been included with our welcome. (Just remember to inquire if you want to stay connected: Wi-fi is $15 US /day or $42/week if you're in a lower grade package.) We also made several mentions of celebrating our anniversary with our early on-line check in, as well as numerous times at the resort as we were led to believe something special would be offered, but nothing ever came about. Not a huge deal, but a bit disappointing. Check-in went very smoothly otherwise.
Our room had all the amenities we could ask for and was modern, very clean and well-kept. House cleaning services were always prompt, turn down services as well, and our mini bar was stocked with our preferences on a regular basis. We were on the 2nd floor of 500 block and had a beautiful view of the gardens and pool. Some reviews complain about street noise but we never heard anything from our room so a big thumbs up for 500 block.
Other Saint Lucia Sandals:
Sandals has a brilliant concept of 'Stay at One, Play at Three' and this let us stay at the Halcyon and enjoy all the restaurants, beaches, shops, scenery, and more at both the Grande and La Toc. Shuttles run between all three resorts starting at 7am until 11pm, and the Halcyon was great for this; being in between both resorts meant shuttles were only 15min in either direction.
Service was outstanding at all three resorts, but the intimacy of Halcyon was superb. Spectacular gardens were maintained throughout, and there were a half dozen cabanas always available to lounge in, not to mention fire pits to enjoy during the evening, (despite the temperature never needing a place to warm by!) The bars were well-stocked, but as with other all-inclusives if you want top shelf liquor you have to order it by name. We were able to order specific liquor for our room at a small charge but it was worth it.
Some areas could use things like new furniture and other updating as they're beginning to show their age and wear/tear. The Bayside dining area especially could also use a facelift and I think this would do wonders for the resort as a whole because it is the centre of most activity. Overall though the resort looked great: linens were always being replaced, grounds pruned, and everything looked cared for and maintained.
I've read about terrible bugs, and I wonder if this is a seasonal problem during the summer months because my husband and I got a total of 1 mosquito bite each. There were geckos and frogs, not to mention some cats wandering the grounds, and this was just fine by me as it kept the bugs down to basically zero. We also received notice under our door one day that pest control would be spraying to keep pests down and we simply stored things off the floor for that morning. No left over smells or irritants bothered us.
Food & Drink:
Overall the food experience was quite good, and again - you have to be open to the culture and country's offerings. There was a ton of fish offered at every meal and a lot of stews that were melt in your mouth delicious. We learned a pastry chef was on site and he made some very tasty creations my husband loved. Again, I would recommend Halcyon update some of their services like adding the self-serve coffee bar like the Grande/La Toc has, and even investing in new furniture and presentation stations. (Presentation counts!)
The Bayside breakfast and lunch buffets at Halcyon were good but not great, and we tried both buffets at the Grande and La Toc and found them to be much better. A lot of menus will have signature dishes and recommendations and I suggest you take them up on it - these are the dishes they've perfected and you won't be disappointed. Kelly's Dockside at Halcyon was delicious and the service was great both times we went. The BBQ banquet at the Grande was fantastic and one day my husband even had roasted lamb for lunch... talk about a spread! Toscanini's (Grande) was incredible Italian (best seafood risotto ever - more seafood than risotto!) and the French restaurant La Toc with white glove service was lovely. (The best filet mignon I've ever had!) One of my favourites was Neptune's (La Toc) as we got to have lunch overlooking the ocean and indulge in calamari, greek salad, amazing onion rings, and thin crust mediterranean pizza. The portions weren't huge and I really appreciated this; 3-4 onion rings as an appetizer is all a person needs, and not some greasy basket that requires you to be rolled out of the restaurant afterwards!
Bar service was always prompt and there were good standouts. Agnes was a complete doll at the Paradise Pool (Halcyon) and George was a wicked server at La Toc. La Toc should keep both of their bars open during the day as it is awkward to walk all the way around the grounds to get to the bar (otherwise you have to go to the bar through the pool). We never had issues with watered down drinks, but we also didn't venture into a lot of bizarre mixed drinks, just stuck with top shelf liquor. Remember, if you want top shelf, order it by name or be stuck with things like 'Old Tom' gin, etc.
Each of the 3 resorts seems to have a 'party pool' where Sandals Playmakers play music (much too loud for my liking) and a 'quiet pool' where you can laze around and relax more. I do think the resorts need to scale back the party atmosphere at these pools as it seems like more couples are there to relax together than to listen to dance hall music and partake in bingo games, water olympics, etc. This was the general consensus for most couples we spoke with so Sandals needs to take note of this and adjust accordingly. (I will say they did turn down the music when weddings occurred and I did think that was a thoughtful gesture.)
The pools themselves are very well maintained with beautiful scenery, and plenty of bar service close at hand. Some seating was tight on certain days, and I can imagine seating everyone is a real challenge when the resorts are full. We never had trouble finding loungers at any resorts, though, and despite 'no reserving of seats' everyone does it, so get used to it and get on board. Also, Sandals could invest in more umbrellas at all pools.
Overall I would highly recommend Saint Lucia as a whole and the Sandals chain of resorts here as well. We're already looking to our next vacation and Sandals will be part of the planning, whether it's elsewhere in the Caribbean or back to Saint Lucia and it's great people. Make your vacation yours and don't let the little things bother you - and don't get hung up on nasty reviews either. If we all listened to every terrible review out there we'd never go anywhere, and I wouldn't have missed Saint Lucia and our Sandals experience for anything.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- •Friendly to the physically challenged with low rise architecture •Fully air-conditioned Caribbean cuisine restaurant on its own 150 ft pier over the •Caribbean Sea •Houses 169 Rooms with true personal service and intimate experience •English-style afternoon tea served at the Paradise pool •Tableside service at the Beach Bistro •“Stay at one, play at three” free shuttles to Sandals La Toc Golf Resort & Spa and Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort•Sandals Resorts “World’s Leading All Inclusive Company” 16 years in a row •Sandals Resorts “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand”, 18 years in a row ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sandals Halcyon Beach St. Lucia Hotel Castries
- Sandals Halcyon Beach Castries
- Sandals St Lucia
- Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort St. Lucia/Castries