BEACHES beware

Old Jul 9th, 2003, 05:14 PM
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**Please note**

These books/magazines are simply paid advetisements. The hotel pays or they're not listed.

Notice how often you'll find a world class Four Seasons listed? (Almost never). Think FS needs to pay those people to attract business?

There is no voting or ranking or selection process, except that in order to maintain a certain minimum standard, they aren't going to accept an application from the Albuquerque Motel 6.

They offer no measure of quality assurance above what you'll find in a travel magazine's ad section.

I've stayed at more than 150 of the places typically listed in those books and I can tell you from experience that an appearance on their pages guarantees nothing in the way of quality.
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Old Jul 13th, 2003, 02:27 PM
  #22  
davsaz
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The oringal poster mentioned that they were disappointed that there was no miniature golf at this resort. Everything I've read about Beaches T&C makes it perfectly clear that the mini golf is in Jamaica...not TC. Also, they mentioned buying soda and chips from vending machines....seems tacky that a AI would have vending machines...but who know...Was wondering if anyone else who has been to Beaches knows where these machines are located.

Last thought...I just read on another message board that many local vendors on any given island aren't that thrilled with AIs, because there goes a source of revenue out the window...I wonder if many of the negative posts on these boards aren't from local vendors who feel snubbed. Not trying to start a war or anything, but the thought did occur to me.
 
Old Jul 13th, 2003, 05:06 PM
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davsaz,
Funny, but I can appreciate your thoughts! It took me two years to figure out that all the RAVE reviews of the Sandals/Beaches resorts weren't coming from TA's. I thought for sure they were! I found it very hard to believe the lack of expectations that some would have to have to find these resorts acceptable for their hefty price to some.(I do realize that some get great prices for these resorts then I say, go for it) Note: I have discovered not all, but a whole lot of the reviews are from TA's, not that this is a bad thing, I'm sure they do reports on other resorts also, it is just something to beware of. One guy on one message board openly posts as a TA, then on other boards posts as a very happy satisfied Sandals guest that can suggest a great TA that is was very helpful to him and his wife and found them a great price. It's to funny and fascinating to see what goes on sometimes.

As for the vending machines, at beaches T&C I can't answer that for you, but for sounding tacky get ready for the best of the best in tackiness.
We paid $700 a night for the Sandals Halcyon for the two of us. That price is with our air taken off, low season. I couldn't give our room value at not a dime more then $100 and I only give it that because the room was in St.Lucia.
If you want something like chips, nuts, a bottle of water, or can of pop not a fountain style drink, you will buy it at a vending machine or the gift shop unless you have concierge, I know you can at least get a can of pop, not sure if chips or snacks would be available at all resorts for concierge guests.
No bottled water is included, unless you have concierge service, this is true for most of their resorts. In all my life I didn't think if I asked to have a bottle of water, I would be told I'd have to wait till morn. and buy one at the gift shop! I just wanted to have a bottle to take to the beach or on the dive boat, just to have one bottle. Didn't have a problem with drinking the water in St.Lucia. We also had no mini fridge in our room for that price. Not even an ice bucket. There was one of those old thermal gold plastic water pitchers, from the 60's in the room, yeepee, it was fun trying to get ice into that opening. Tacky?

Bring your own shampoo, conditioner, a bar of soap if you use one (not even a mini bar of soap in room), as for the complimentary GIFT to you of there pack with liquid soap, aloe, shampoo, conditioner is a one time deal, if you run out you will be back in the gift shop to buy another pack for $18. Tacky? Bring your own. Goodness I was wondering just what the $700 a day was going for?

Our first and LAST night there, since we had nothing for in the room I ran, to the bar that would be closing at Midnight. I have a very good watch that is right on time and yes, I made it in the nick of time, it was 5 minutes till. Can I have a couple beers please I said? The bartender points to his watch and says its midnight and we close at midnight. Can I just get a couple of pops then please? NO, we close at midnight. You will have to wait until the snack bar opens. Should I have argued that I had 5 minutes to midnight on my watch! Tacky? Rules? They must be very necessary at these resorts. I don't think I have been anywhere in my life before that I have been told that I could not get anything that I wanted at any time of day or night. To bad the gift shop wasn't open. They'd have had a good customer on our first night(last)

The three total mini umbrella huts on the whole beach with no other shade on the actually beach. Most people have to sit above the wall in the grass if you want shade. Three total umbrellas for around the whole main pool also. So generous they are with their amenities, I was tickled pink. Tacky?

One of my favorite amenities where the two plastic stackable green resin chairs and table on the balcony for our $700 a day vacation. Don't forget the luxury they offer!

Just a bit of our less then 24 hr. experince at the Sandals Halcyon.
At $2,500 with air for two, bravo Sandals great place. Paying any more? Know just what your getting into.

Anyway as you said that the mini golf is located only in Jamaica, this is true, but for most people when they book these resorts, they do get confused after looking at the various brochures, etc., and really don't know exactly what they are getting until they get there. I had looked at the pictures over and over again and still you sometimes see what you want to see and combine the different resorts room/look, etc., into your own imagination.

Remember, this is not an all-inclusive issue with me as I think an all-inclusive vacation can and do fit the bill for many of us at different times in our life, etc. No problem with that.

Just thought maybe this chain had something going, above the budget all-inclusive, thought, maybe they were offering a real 4/5 star resort packaged into the all-inclusive?

No wrist bands, they do have that going for them!

Great resorts for the right price, for the right people!

Donna
Wife, mother, business owner here in the US, not affiliated with any vending businesses in the Caribbean. LOL


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Old Jul 14th, 2003, 07:13 PM
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Local vendors aren't thrilled with AIs, that's true - unless they're one of the handful of lucky ones invited onto the property to sell their wares (which, I believe, costs them $ anyway).

But your typical vendor of goods on a Caribbean beach on an island with lots of AIs (such as Jamaica) is not going home to even electricity most times and if they had it, would not have a computer and if they somehow had access to one, would be unlikely to pay for an internet account (or rent time from a cybercafe) just to post negative things about AIs on the fodors bulletin board.

I think most people who post that they didn't enjoy the AI experience are tourists that just didn't enjoy it.
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Old Jul 15th, 2003, 05:38 AM
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Hi Sailor!
Just read your post -
As you know I am a TA, but I do not like the entire Sandals/Beaches because of VALUE. I know there are so many other places to visit, for the same or less money. Many times this can be achieved thru a TA, but you, as a consumer must first educate yourself. I know TA's are a dying breed as many people can research and book their own vacations. The first thing to do is your research. Pick a destination, use this board, ask questions, and believe what you read. Second - price the trip on your own, call the resort yourself, use expedia, orbitz etc to price them out. Get your best price based on VALUE (is breakfast included, better room, added meals or specials ie: free night) Third call a TA, give him/her your best price and see what they can find for you. I have said it before but wholesalers can beat many prices, they can only be booked thru a TA. Think of it as buying a car. It's your hard earned money, just don't throw it away on schlock and inedible food. When on vacation the word "no" should never be spoken by staff to a guest, espically when its for soda or water!

Just to give you one example of what deals are out there now, to compare AI's with AI's: Jumby Bay is having a Summer Special $650.00 per night in a rondaval, pay for 6 nights and get the 7th free. That's $50.00 per day less than what you paid. As you know Jumby is an All inclusive offering 3 gourmet meals, top shelf liquor and wine, superb service and all sports for 80 guests at a time. So do your homework, there are great deals at top notch resorts to be had. Even if sometimes it comes out to be a little more than Sandals, you are guranteed better VALUE for your money.

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Old Jul 15th, 2003, 09:19 AM
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Excellent points, SandyFeet.
Especially the Jumby Bay comparison.

I don't think anyone is necessarily critical of AI's like Beaches just because they're AI's.
Criticism is because of the poor VALUE factor. They simply aren't a good buy when you look around at the high quality alternatives which exist for similar $$.
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Old Jul 15th, 2003, 10:26 AM
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I agree with the original post!!!! The Beaches and Sandals Resorts are over-rated. They have a huge advertising budget and as a guest you pay for it. Stayed at the St. Lucia property and had similar expericnces to this poster. Had freinds stay at one of the Jamaica properties for their hineymoon and they came home 4 days early because they were so disappointed and discusted with the services. The only good part of their trip was that Sandals refunded them for the time they did not stay.

Stay away from Sandals & Beaches and don't get sucked into the advertising glitz. Therre are hundreds of resorts in the Caribbean with much nicer properties, food and services and at ALOT cheaper prices that what you pay for a Sandals vacation. Do a little research and you will find that your money will be well spent somewhere else.
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Old Jul 15th, 2003, 07:46 PM
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We just booked 5 nights at Jumby Bay during December, oceanview Courtyard Suite (3 upgrades from basic room) for $595 per night for 2 people, all food/drink/activities included.
I'm guessing most Beaches/Sandals etc would cost a lot more and provide a lot less.
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Old Jul 16th, 2003, 12:16 AM
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Sandyfeet,

OK, really rub it in! I lost my mind for a moment OK! LOL

Seriously though, I've been booking trips for 27 years for my husband, self and kids. Most often then not my research is the most obnoxiously intense. Until recently discovering the wide world of the Internet, all was done by foot, TA's, books, etc., the good old fashion way. I still use and will continue to use my TA for many of our trips.
But one thing over the years I was used to, whether I booked myself or my TA booked for us. We always, always, always, felt that we received goods, and services for the price we paid!!! There were very many times the deals we received were more then great. But there have been many times that we booked places at close to rack rate, just because we wanted, what we wanted (exact room, category, etc.) the time of year, last minute, etc., etc. Never in 28 years, ever did we feel we were taken advantage of by any Resort or Hotel. Yes, we have been frivolous in some of are stays places, but in those cases if you want to play, you pay. I truly feel that most first class 4/5 star resorts are fairly price traded, give or take for the great deal, but with most resort when you get a deal, you are really getting a deal. When you get a great deal with a Sandals/Beaches say at 40% off that's all probably even more then you should have to pay ever! It's not a deal.

OK, then for our 25th anniversary decide St.Lucia was where we wanted to go for romantic, lush, and diving. We most always get a cottage at a resort or a villa on the beach on most islands that we visit. And as you probably know, there aren't a whole lot of options for cottages ON the beach in St.Lucia. Sandals Halcyon was the closest, I could come up with, that LOL, was in the higher price range, higher priced? better? LOL. Oh my, what was I thinking? Had never ever thought of staying at a Sandals before, had always been bugged by their adds, thinking why would a resort put their name all over everything, everything? LOL. Cheesy, tacky it all came to mind. But, thought for the prices they where charging that just maybe they'd be putting on the Ritz in their own cheesy way. Kinda liked the idea of couples only, thought it might be fun to experience one of these resorts for a change. Well, as you know, we booked, and we weren't even able to get the beach front room, they were booked full. Actually we booked 6 months ahead and every TA, web site, broker I called only had the second best room category available the Grande luxe beach/ocean view left in the whole resort. Everyone came in at the same price. This was before the Hyatt opened as the Sandals Grande and the two Sandals resorts in St.Lucia were so over booked they were bumping people all over the place. The only deal anyone was offering at the time was air for $299 p/p with the package low season rates.

Well, you know it, every emotion imaginable came to mind when we walked into the less then motel 6 room? How any company, could charge anybody, anybody, those kind of rates, whether they are totally off the wall naive as I was about them, and pays full price, is as close to criminal as I have ever seen in my life. I really can't believe they were able to get away with this. Seems like the Halcyon has been running at 40% off now that the Sandals Grande has opened. And for the couples that we met at the Jalousie Hilton (an outstanding resort we moved to) that had been bumped there from the other Sandals on the island all where talking prices for their week of upwards of $8 to $10 thousand dollars. Hello??? I think they may have gotten, bottled water and a mini fridge in their rooms for those prices LOL I shouldn't laugh, as I do find it sad.

So... I really think that travel planning could never be more difficult then when planning a Sandals/Beaches vacation. You must really, really know what your in for.

Donna
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Old Jul 16th, 2003, 04:20 AM
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Donna,
I hope you did not get the wrong impresion, as I was not trying to make you feel bad. If I hurt your feelings I'm sorry.

I cannot explain the bustling business at Sandals, as there is no bargain at all! I just went to their website to check prices. I looked at Sandals Antigua, which if I had to pick a "best" Sandals or if someone insisted they go to one that is the one I would choose. They price per person, which I think is another lure because when pricing vacations most other resorts charge per night. For 2 people in the best room - villa is 682.00 (341.25 per person) per night! Wow that's a lot of money and that's with the discount. Considering you can go to Biras Creek for 625 in an Ocean Suite (alcohol is not included at Biras) but that's a big savings per night for a memorable beautiful vacation. You can take the 60 you save and buy a few drinks!

I do however know that some TA's push their clients to a Sandals/Beaches vacation, due to the higher commission they pay. They may not personally like Sandals, but they pay more - which also adds to the rip off rates along with the "glossy" advertising!

As far as the prices at Jalousie at 8-10,000 per week - what!?! The King villa is $580.00 per night and that is for Holiday week 12/27, which is the most expensive time to go! Rates are usually lower before and after that week, but that is primo high price, and it still doesn't add up! Maybe they had too many rum punches or most likely full of it! They also run many specials so I think someone was pulling your leg or maybe they were staying for a month LOL.

Hey live and learn, we all make mistakes when it comes to $$. If it's not vacations, its something else. Just think of all the stuff you have around your house that you bought that did not live up to its promise! I have a "few"! One thing for sure though, there's always someone on the other end willing to take your $$ with a smile!

rwilliams: I loved reading your recent posts about JB and CJ....I guess you really loved JB if you are going back, who wouldn't for that great price There is a great article about JB in September's Caribbean Travel & Life you might want to see. Beautiful pics and a rave review!
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Old Jul 16th, 2003, 07:55 AM
  #31  
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I can't imagine a room at the Sandals Halycon costing 8-10k a week?! My husband and I honeymooned at The Sandals Golf and Spa and paid about 4k AND we stayed in a 2 story villa with concierge service and a view of the ocean. Also, our room was very nice... definitely NOT motel 6! Halcyon must be nothing like the Golf and Spa. I know we went to Halcyon one day for dinner and did not like it and thought ours was much nicer with more to do, more restaurants etc. Obviously the Sandals/Beaches resorts do well and have repeat business because they keep opening up new ones! I know alot of people who've done the sandals/beaches things in st. lucia, antigua and turks and loved it!
 
Old Jul 16th, 2003, 08:32 AM
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OH NO???!!! NOT the Jalousie Hilton did they they pay $8,000 to $10,000. That is what they paid for there package at the Sandals St.Lucia!

Sandals bumped them to the Jalousie Hilton. We met three of the bumped couples when they came to the Hilton. They were very happy,happy campers at the Hilton! But... they were VERY,VERY distraught and angry that Sandals could charge them that kind of money, collect it months before then and then, just BUMP them somewhere else??? Another great practice by Sandals.

Sandals St.Lucia was the Name of the larger one, they have now changed its name to The Regency at La Toc, something like that.

Donna
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Old Jul 16th, 2003, 10:09 AM
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Oh, I'm sorry...it ws early in the AM and was not finished with my coffee
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Old Jul 16th, 2003, 05:34 PM
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Thanks for the tip, SandyFeet.
I'll be sure and find a copy of C T&L.
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Old Jul 16th, 2003, 07:29 PM
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np--

sorry for your lousy trip....

I have been using the same TA for years and NEVER was pushed to buy an ALL INCLUSIVE.....

I am not a super heavy drinker and HATE buffets--as that is what most of the AI offer....Unless you are into that type of partying/eating, NEVER take an AI....

I always go for a 4 star resort, rent a car and explore the island and find out where the locals eat....and can do just as well on my own....


As far as Sandy's post on TA's--yes, a lot do try to push AI because it is an easy sell, easy commission...but a GOOD TA will get you what YOU want and NOT what she/he will make more money selling.

Next time, do a lot of research and get a good TA who will work with you....

All Inclusives are HIGH due to the people wanting tons of unlimited drinks- and lots of medicore food..the accomodations sometimes are good and sometimes terrible..as are the locations..

I personally HATE Sandals,Beaches and SuperClubs....But I am NOT an all-inclusive type person...

As far as someone trying to sell me a cruise-well, YES!! As it is the BEST deal going for a super terrific vacation.....
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