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Just back from Sandals Antigua -- Questions?

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We just returned from our 8 night honeymoon at Sandals Antigua. If you'd like any information about the resort, let me know.

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    Hi! We are going on our Honeymoon there also next month. Any info you can give us on the resort and island would be helpful. Did you enjoy your stay at Sandals, how was the island, did you go anywhere outside of the resort that was nice. How where the restaurants in the resort, what was the general dreess code? How was the beach and water sports? Thanks for any info!!!!!!!!!!

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    Mike,

    We just got back from our honeymoon on May 4. We booked the beachfront honeymoon suite for 8 nights and had a fantastic time. You didn't say what room category you booked, but the suite concierge level is pretty nice, if you can afford it. You can check at the desk to see if you can upgrade when you get there. A lot of other couples did, some without additional cost. I bet they'd let you upgrade at a discount, depending on how full they are. If you pay for a rondoval, make sure you get one that fronts the ocean. If you do get the concierge service, don't be afraid to ask for anything. We were never turned down. We asked for lobster one night at dinner, we got a bottle of champagne in your room every night, a bottle of Absolut for our room, stuff like that.

    As far as restaurants, Il Palio had the best food by far. We ate there 4 out of our 8 nights. Kimono's is fun, and the food is good but not great. OK Corral was disappointing, so we ate there only once. There's a beach party dinner once or twice a week, and that's pretty fun. Bayside, where you have breakfast, lunch and dinner w/o reservations, was generally very good. The grill is also a great place for between meal snacks.

    Activities: The only trip we went on was the Wadadli Cat day cruise, which was disappointing, to be honest. It cost $65 per person, which got you a trip to Cade's Reef (2 hours each way) for 1/2 an hour of snorkeling and a so-so lunch on the boat. It was fun, but it took too long. Other couples did the Sandals snorkeling trip (to the shipwreck), which was free, only took about 2 hours, and got you back in time for lunch. A few couples had done both, and said the Sandals one was actually better. We also heard the Pirate's Cruise and the Champagne Sunset Cruise were fun, although we didn't do those. Also didn't get around to doing the scuba trip, but other couples liked that too. It's pretty easy to get certified at the resort -- it takes a morning to do it. The water-skiing, sailing, etc. was all fun, convenient, etc. It was never a problem getting a boat, or getting a chance to water-ski. Down the beach, you can rent jet skis for $45 for 30 minutes (for two passengers). If you jetski, be sure to get the maroon-colored ones, which seemed to be the most powerful.

    It's worth taking the trip to St. John's for a day of shopping, although the shopping is only average. Every store seems to have the same stuff. It cost $10 per couple for round trip transportation from Sandals. King's Casino is right there in St. John's too, although you need to be careful. We played blackjack and they seemed to have trouble counting the cards, and the mistakes tended to be in their favor. I don't think they were doing it on purpose, but you need to watch them. One time, my wife accidentally hit a soft 20, and the dealer immediately gave her another card. If that had happened in Vegas, the dealer would never allow her to do something that stupid.

    We met some other couples that did the Sunday trip to Shirley Heights, and they said it wasn't worth it. By the way, I wouldn't go horseback riding either. We saw a couple at full gallop on the beach one evening at sunset. The woman got thrown from the horse and hit her head. Her boyfriend jumped off his horse at full gallop to help her, and he broke his wrist and they both ended up going to the hospital.

    My wife went to the spa one day and she got a swedish massage and really liked it. The exercise facilities are OK, but nothing spectacular. As far as night activities go, the Karaoke bar was pretty fun.

    While we were there it was sunny every day (low 80s) and warm every night (maybe low 70s). I took a dinner jacket and several long pants, which I wore only once because it was too hot. I wore shorts and a golf shirt to dinner every other night, as did most other men, even though the brochures said no shorts were allowed in the nice restaurants. I wouldn't worry about dressing up for Pirate's night or formal night -- there were only one or two other couples that did so, and it's not worth the extra packing.

    Make sure you take stuff you need, like batteries, cameras, film, suntan lotion, etc. It's pretty expensive in the hotel shop. Don't forget one of those waterproof disposable cameras.

    By the way, the fourth day into our honeymoon, Sandals brought in a large crew to do photo shoots to update their brochures, etc. Everyone was inconvenienced for about 3 days -- they closed down the main bar one day, had helicopters hovering just off the beach, camera crews in the restaurants, etc. As far as we could tell, anyone and everyone that complained was given a letter entitling them to at least 2 complimentary nights on their next Sandals stay. We were inconvenienced more than anyone else, because the staging area for the shoot was in the suite right above ours, so we asked for and received a complimentary 7 night stay, which we plan to use for our 1 year anniversary. While it was unfortunate, we were happy with what Sandals did to make up for the inconvenience. This was our first trip to Sandals, and it definitely won't be our last.

    Bottom line is that you will get pampered and have a great time. The employees are very nice, the food is good, and the weather is great. Also, not having a million kids running around is great too. The water is calm, clear and blue, the sand is nice and white, and the beach was not crowded at all. There are a lot of vendors trying to sell you stuff on the beach, but if you tell them you aren't interested, they're not pushy.

    If you have any other questions, feel free to e-mail me back!

    Dean

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    Dean, I read your post and thanks alot for the info! I have a couple more questions for you though...

    My reservation is in September and my fiancee is very interested in things like calypso bands, steel drums, reggae music etc...basically the feeling of being in the Caribbean. Can you give me any info on how often bands like that come to Sandals or where we can go to listen to these types of bands?

    Are there any lush/rainforest type places to visit? Waterfalls?

    Any info is greatly appreciated!

    Mike

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    Mike,

    They'll have steel drums playing at the calypso night and beach party at Sandals. They do have some bands playing most nights in the courtyard that play that kind of music too. For the authentic stuff, you may want to try the party at Shirley Heights on Sunday, which we didn't go to. I also think there are some places off-site that may play that type of music. I did see a flyer for a bar called Putters that has music -- it is within walking distance from the resort. May be worth looking into.

    I don't know whether there are any lush/waterfall type places to visit. The island itself is fairly dry and underdeveloped, so you may have to do some driving to get up into the mountain areas to find that type of stuff. I didn't hear of any from the other couples we talked to. They have a tour desk that can probably help you out with that.

    Good luck and have fun!

    Dean

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    I haven't been to Sandals, but I have been to Antigua twice. The party up at Shirtley Heights is reputed to be great fun. I've been up there at other times and it is certainly gorgeous. Its worth the ride up just for the view.

    The "Fig Tree drive" is the road through the supposed rain forest on Antigua. Its quite lush, but really pretty boring. I wouldn't bother with it, unless you drive through it to get to another beach. There are nice beaches other than your resort. Half Moon Bay is very pretty, and Dark Sand (that's not right... but its Dark something, Dark Wood maybe?) was really calm and completely empty. I'm not aware of any waterfalls.

    My absolute favorite restaurant on the island was Chez Pascuale. Its in the 5Islands area, not far from the Galley Bay resort. The food is French, with local ingredients, the wine cellar reputed to be the best on the island and the service was outstanding. Its also high on a hillside with a great view and very romantic.

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    congradulations! It sounds as if you had a wonderful honeymoon. We are thinking of Sandals Antigua for next spring. We won't be honeymooners however. what was the age range while you were there. will we be the only "old married" couple around? Did you talk with anyone that did scuba? My husband is padi certified and would like some good diving. I've read alot of negative things about the condition of this resort, what did you think? We just returned from Sandals Dunn's River and found that to be better than we had heard. thank you for all the info!

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    We went to Antigua last summer and LOVED it! Although we didn't stay at Sandals (we were next door at The Rex Halcyon), I can answer some of the questions:

    The best steel drum and reggae party is Sunday night at Shirley Heights. GREAT scenery and the food and music is also entertaining. The entire island shows up- what fun!!

    No, no waterfalls on Antigua. If you do a little research, you'll discover that Antigua has a desert climate due to the British deforestation a couple of centuries ago to farm sugarcane. The windmills, which were necessary for the sugarcane production, are all over the island, and one (Betty's Hope) has evne been restored into a museum. Another one near the airport is now a restaurant! Keep this climate in mind and try to conserve water while you're in Antigua.

    If you'd like to see some history, go to English Harbour and see where Admiral Nelson headquartered the British fleet in the 1700s. The Admiral's Inn makes a mean banana daquiri!!

    The BEST restaurant on the island is HOME, just outside of St. John. Be sure and make a reservation, as it is very popular with locals and tourists alike, and it is a very small place. The food and service were both outstanding.

    Definitely skip the horseback riding! I've been riding for most of my life and never have I been as scared as I was with these horses. The guides didn't properly saddle my husband's horse and he fell off. Luckily, he wasn't hurt...

    One good thing to do is the Bo TOurs jeep tour around the island. They will show you the entire place, inlcuding some secluded and out of the way beaches. We loved Half Moon Bay- it was SO nice!!

    I could chat forever about Antigua. We already want to go back!! Email me if you have questions.

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    Kathy,

    There were a lot of honeymooners, but also a lot of older and non-honeymoon couples too, so I don't think you'd feel out of place. I'd say a quarter were in their 20s, half in their 30s, and the rest in their 40s and 50s. Everyone that I talked to that did scuba liked it, but all were first timers that seemed to like it more for the experience rather than the quality of the scuba diving. There may be non-Sandals dives that go to better sites, although I never checked into that. If you are experienced scuba divers, you may find the Sandals dive disappointing. The resort was in great shape, as far as I could tell. Everything worked in the rooms. The blenders in the bars had seen better days, but that's about it.

    Dean

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    What was the general dress code at all the restaurants? What drinks were good? Did you go anywhere away from the resort, how was the Sandals snorkling trip? Thanks

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    The dress code at the restaurants was generally pretty casual. Khaki shorts and golf/tropical short sleeve shirts for men, sundresses for women. The most popular tropical drinks were pina coladas, banana sip-sap (but make sure you ask for rum if you want it, because I think this is normally a non-alcoholic drink) and Howard's Special (another fruity drink). They didn't have any strawberries the entire time we were there, so nobody could get a strawberry daquiri. We didn't go on the Sandals snorkeling trip, but other couples said the dive out at the shipwreck was fun. Other than going into St. John's one day for shopping, we didn't leave the resort. Hope this helps.

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    My Husband & I have been trying to get a drink recipe for about 8 months since we left there. I forgot to copy it off the sign. It's called the Howard's Special. We can't wait to go back! But the drink would help us keep the great memories we had while we were there :) Do you have it ? Please Help !

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