Sandals resorts

Old Mar 17th, 2003, 01:13 PM
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Sandals resorts

Wife and I are looking into Sandals for our 20th next year. Only been to the Caribbean once (on a cruise) so not familiar as many of you are. We like all the stuff they have on their web site to keep us busy. Is it all as they make it look on their brochures? Which of these resorts would you good folks consider to be the nicest (beaches, food, programs) and most romantic for us? Thank you
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Old Mar 18th, 2003, 10:31 AM
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As with any tourist attraction, you can't trust Sandals' brochures as being true to what they offer. That goes for any hotel.

Lots of folks love Sandals. They have a very devoted following. Their formula for vacation isn't something I'm personally compatible with. Before you commit to Sandals, you should make sure that you'll feel comfortable there. Talk with your travel agent about the 3-4 most important aspects you're looking for on a vacation. Then talk to us us here on the forum. We'll give you feedback based on your specific interests.

Sandals may be just right for you. It might not be. But since you're going for your 20th anniverary, you owe it to yourself to make sure you'll love it BEFORE you go!

Think about the following and rank them in your mind in order of importance:

Food, beach, water sports, other activities, accessibility to off-site excursions, spa on site, golf, pampering, personal service.

What kind of island do you want to visit? Lush and green, like Jamaica and St. Lucia? More arid, but with the most gorgeous beaches, like Antigua? (Those are the 3 Sandals islands. There are others, too, that offer beautiful rain forest and/or beaches in abundance.) Do you want lots of local history for site seeing? Duty-free shopping? Quiet nightlife? Or bustling nightlife? A wide variety of food within walking distance?

Think about it and post again. We'll tell ya where to go!
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Old Mar 18th, 2003, 11:06 AM
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Many people love the Sandals because they are all-inclusive. I went to the Sandals Halcyon in St. Lucia which. However, I think that if you want more of a feel of the islands, go to a different type of resort that has a lot to offer. Last year my husband and I went to the Royal Hideaway Resort in Playa Del Carmen, 40 miles south of Cancun. The resort was all-inclusive, with various restaurants to dine out with 5 star quality food, beach service where they serve you drinks on the beach and/or by the pool. Very romantic atmosphere and right on the beautiful Caribbean Sea. Plus they offer numerous excursions/tours say to the ruins, etc. The water is all filtered so you do not have to worry about drinking the water or have drinks with ice. I HIGLY recommend this resort especially if you like that everything is already included (besides for extra tours, etc.) Check it out!
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Old Mar 18th, 2003, 04:53 PM
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EJ did a great job in answering. I might add one thing. Which islands did you go to on your cruise and which did you like/not like and why? Sandals does offer many activities, so if you want to stay active, you will have the opportunity to do so. I think the brochures paint a slightly better picture than the reality. We have been to four of them, MoBay, Bahama's, Antigua and St. Lucia. We liked Antigua the best. MoBay had better food, but overall, Antigua is the best.
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Old Mar 18th, 2003, 06:54 PM
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We did St. Marteen and St. Thomas. Ddin't like the first one cause the people were pushy and seemed to "attack" us as we came off the ship. Made us very uncomfortable.
As far as our order: Beach would be first. We'd like a nice, quiet beach with calm water. Romantic would be second. We want a place that we can enjoy each other. Activities/Food would be tied for 3rd. The place in Antigua had a list of restaurants that appealed to my wife (Italian, Tex-Mex, and so on) Activties would be great too. We're not scuba divers but we'd like to try snorkling, paddles boats (or something like them), casino is something my wife likes but not required. We're not party animals. I don't drink at all but my wife likes her Kahlua once in a while. What are the drinks they include with all-inclusive? Nice pool. Not interested in doing "the town" daily but maybe once or twice. (we love fleamarkets) LOL
Thanks for all the great info. You folks are great.
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 06:43 AM
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What a coincidence. We are also looking for the perfect destination for our 20th anniversary in October. I have now narrowed it down to 1- Royal Hideaway PDC, 2- Alaskan cruise, 3- Galley Bay Resort Antigua, 4- Xphu-ha Palace-PDC or Florida Keys-Little Palm Island. I have had several people discourage us from the Sandals experience, even though that was our first thought as our honeymoon twenty years ago was in St Lucia and we thought it might be nice to return. We were in PDC Mexico last year at Adventura Spa Palace and liked that area. We have also done cruises but hubby didn't think they were his cup of tea. I understand your concern as this is a very special decision.
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 06:54 AM
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jbro,
Just my humble opinion, but out of your (eclectic choices, I'd go with PDC.
We found the people of Antigua to be a little less friendly than the rest of the Caribbean, the Xpu Ha is an ecological nightmare (built on top of turtle nesting grounds and blasted out of rock cliff), and Little Palm is a bit too remote from activity (and water doesn't compare to Caribbean) for my tastes.
I have heard NOTHING but good things about Royal Hideaway, and the whole area is gorgeous.
We're headed back next month for 2 1/2 weeks, so I'm a little prejudiced!
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 08:40 AM
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I agree! I can't say anything bad about the Royal Hideaway. Its definitely worth checking it out. Beautiful, beatiful place. This year I am going to try out a "non-AI" and going to Caneel Bay, but as far as value and the cost the Royal Hideaway definitely has its advantages (less expensive then other caribbean islands) I would go back but I wanted to try something different this year, but I will have to return there sometime! (The RH that is)
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 08:45 AM
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PS - I still have pictures of my vacation at the RH from last October on my computer so if anyone would like, I can email you some of the photos so you can see for yourself how beautiful it is.
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 09:24 AM
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If you don't mind emailing the pictures, I would really appreciate it.
[email protected]
Thanks again,
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 11:21 AM
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I would like to see them too. Thanks. [email protected]
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Old Mar 19th, 2003, 12:32 PM
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Melmg: If your top priority is a nice, quiet beach with calm water, then you probably shouldn't consider a Sandals, or at least not the ones in Negril, Antigua, or the Bahamas. (I don't know the other locations well enough to say.) Though they are on beautiful beaches with generally calm waters, they are not particularly quiet. They are on the most developed beaches on their respective islands. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if you want quiet you might want to look elsewhere.

I think Galley Bay on Antigua might be a great choice for you. They are located on a beautiful, isolated beach about 15 minutes away from St. Johns, the main shopping area and capital of the island. They offer the usual water sports and when I was there, very good service.

Another possibility is Peter Island, a private island resort in the British Virgins. Lots of beaches ringing the island, you can be dropped off at a more private one for a romantic picnic, or use the main beach with all of the facilities. Pretty good food there, but for major activities you would have to go off island. You could take day trips to Virgin Gorda and Tortola, or the USVI, too.

Biras Creek is a rather upscale place on Virgin Gorda, also in the BVI. Worth your consideration.

You might like the west coast of Barbados. There are several hotels there, Cobbler's Cove being among them, that offer what is called "exchange dining": a group of hotels get together and for a meal plan at one hotel, you can dine at the others without paying extra for the food. The beaches there are beautiful and the hotels are casual but elegant. Again, the usual watersports offered.

If you want to stick with an all-inclusive route, you may want to consider Le Sport on St. Lucia. They offer loads of activities as well as spa services, all under the AI pricetag.

Consider the Golden Lemon on St. Kitts and get a villa with a private plunge pool. The food here is good, the atmosphere is romantic, and it feels like an elegant B&B. They offer a couple of different packages on their website, one emphasizing romance and another emphasizing activities. The beach isn't quite as lovely here, though.

Anguilla is an island best known for its beautiful beaches and water (and also unfortunately for its prices). Cap Juluca and Cuisinart are two ofo the top properties on the island.

In general, if you don't want to be accosted by hordes of people, either tourists or locals who are pushing their wares, stick to the islands that are less dependent on tourism. Anguilla, St. Barths, BVI, etc.

There are people on this board who have had bad experiences on every different island. Like anyplace else in the world, you'll find pushy and/or unfriendly people on each island. However, most of the folks who live in the Caribbean are far friendlier and outgoing than people at home in the States, even in my native Mississippi, the hospitality state. I personally loved the Antiguans I met during my several visits to that island, someone above had a different experience. It's all a matter of taste, preference, and scenario. Hope this helps. Email me with specific questions if you wish. [email protected]
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Old Mar 20th, 2003, 02:17 PM
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We honeymooned at Sandals Antigua last year and really enjoyed it. We read mixed reviews before we left but once we were down there, it was perfect. I will say that I would not pay full price to stay there, but with the 30% discount it was worth it.
About the resort - the grounds are very lush/tropical and well kept. The beach is large and spread out so you never feel overcrowded. The water is very calm and perfect for swimming/watersports. We enjoyed having access to the watersports equipment anytime we wanted. The service/food/drinks were good. The food was not spectacular but you don't visit an all-inclusive for the food (it was good but nothing to write home about). The resort also had a spa, which we didn't get a chance to check out but other guests commented on how much they enjoyed it. They also have nightly entertainment which is usually a local steel drum band, so there is always something to do.
If you are looking for a relaxing vacation, I think all-inclusive is the way to go. We enjoyed not having to think about finances for an entire week! Also, this resort seemed to have a laid back, romantic feel to it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
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Old Mar 20th, 2003, 02:21 PM
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I would also like to add that the people in Antigua were very friendly. We actually made friends with one of the vendors and enjoyed conversations with the locals.
There are also many excursions to enjoy around the island. And as far as the resort looking like the brochure, I found it to be pretty close. The Caribbean is beautiful, and a vacation is all what you make it!
Good luck in choosing!!
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Old Mar 22nd, 2003, 10:24 AM
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EJCROWE, sorry, I didn't mean a "quiet" beach that way. Guess I should have worded it better. We want a beach that is calm water. Quiet in that sense. LOL
Want to thank everyone for all their insight. It is so helpful for those of us who have never been to these places before.
Anyone care to get into safety on Antigue and Jamaica? I realize you don't go out at night but what other pieces of advice can you pass along. Thanks again.

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Old Mar 22nd, 2003, 11:04 AM
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I do go out in Jamaica at night, all the time.

I use the same safety precautions I would in a US city. I avoid dark and empty streets and beaches at night, take taxis after 11PM or so (unless the beach is bust at that time which can be the case in Negril), leave the fancy jewelry home, don't go off alone with strangers to buy drugs or anything else, and keep aware (meaning I don't get really drunk and stumble around an unfamiliar area).
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Old Mar 22nd, 2003, 11:05 AM
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"unless the beach is bust at that time "

should be "unless the beach is busY at that time "
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Old Apr 27th, 2003, 07:01 PM
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My husband and I went to Sandals St. Lucia (Golf and Spa) for our honeymoon and had a great time. Before I recommend it, I would ask what you expect when you travel. I am not a travel snob, so I really liked Sandals. I liked lying on the beach with a pina colada in my hand. I liked the all-inclusive, no thinking required vacation. I didn't mind the average cuisine and the average rooms. Usually when I travel it's rush to the museums, rush to the restaurants, rush to the sites.....I LOVED not having to worry about doing anything but relax at Sandals. There were a few things I didn't like: I didn't care for the frat-type activites that went on. Who wants to participate in a beer chugging contest unless you're 20? Also--at age 29, I think I was one of the oldest women there! Every girl had a french manicure and every guy was fiddling with his new wedding band! 90% of the couples there were very young newlyweds. I DO recommend Sandals St, Lucia just because I had fun just being with my new husband. Regarding your question about which would be the nicest resort, I've heard the best things about The Royal Bahamian, the resort we stayed at, and Turks and Caicos. (Also--don't expect the white sand beaches! The brochure lies!)
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Old Apr 28th, 2003, 02:53 AM
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Most brochures look better than the resort, this is true. Except in the case of the Sandals Grande St. Lucia. We just got back from there and no picture can create the feeling you get at this place. It is absolutely beautiful. The setting in Rodney Bay with the sail boats, mountains and carribean sea is breathtaking. As in most AI's the food is just good, nothing spectacular but we don't travel for food. The resort is fantastic with a great staff. And ST. Lucia itself is a beautiful island with the freindliest people I have ever met in the carribean. The resort is very romantic with lots of quiet places to hang out. It's got all the water sports you need and can arrange anything else you may want. The beach, while not the white sand and real blue water you may be looking for is still very nice. the water is still very clear, but the setting is what makes it so nice. I would highly recommend you look into this place. I'd be happy to answer any specific questions you may have.

Paul
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