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Sands in T&C w/toddlers-Trip Report

Old Dec 13th, 2004, 04:25 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 55
Sands in T&C w/toddlers-Trip Report

We just returned from a great week long stay at the Sands. We traveled with our 2 children, ages 1 and 2. The Sands was a great hotel. Going through the airport was easy and there was a shuttle from the hotel there to meet us. No one at the airport, or anywhere on the island for that matter, harasses you for anything. When we arrived at the Sands we checked in in about 5 minutes. It was only 1pm but we were informed that our room was already ready. We had a 2 bedroom gardenview room. Basically the garden rooms are on the 1st floor and the oceanview are on the higher floors. The 1st floor was great with kids. The suite was very large & very well equipped. Our only issue at check in was that the cribs we had called about several days earlier were not in the room. I called immediately & they said they would bring them over. Two hours later, still no cribs & 2 very tired kids. We called again & they fianlly came about half hour later. Their cribs are full size which is great, however, most of the people we spoke to had the same problem, they don't fit in the bedroom doors so they end up in the living room. For us, they managed to get one in a bedroom & then returned with a smaller metal crib for the master bedroom which was fine for our little one. The grounds are beautiful and very well maintained. 2 of the pools are very small & no one really ever used them. The main pool is by the beach & the restaurant. There is a great kiddie pool built into the main pool which our kids loved. You can get food & drinks by the pool which was great. It was slow, but you're on vacation so who cares. The beach was absolutely beautiful. The water was just a little choppy, fine for adults but my kids were a little scared at first. There were plenty of umbrellas and chairs on the beach and the chairs by the pool had cushions whcih were very comfy. Both the pool & ocean were a little chilly at first but very refreshing. We ate breakfast every day in our room and almost all of our other meals at Hemmingways. Lunch was great, lots of good choices so we never got bored. Dinner was very good. Our only complaint was that you always had 3 or 4 people serving you so you never knew who your waiter was. We also ate at Sharkbites which was okay-it was very quiet the night we went and we thought it was pricey for the atmosphere. Also nearly impossible to get a cab back to our hotel, it took nearly an hour for one to arrive. Calico Jacks was pretty good & very kid friendly, my kids loved it. We did a half day island tour through the hotel. They recommended this highly for kids but it was awful for them. We thought it would be a slow moving boat, it was like an 8 person speed boat with no shade. The kids loved Iguana island & the deserted beach we stopped at but the ride there was definitley not worth it! We had been debating between the Sands and Beaches but were very happy with our choice. We walked through Beaches & I think it was just sensory overload for them, they seemed overwhelmed. This was a wonderful family trip. Watching our kids dance under the stars to a steel band with their new friends was just an experience we will never forget. Just one of many great memories. Sorry this is so long, let me know if you have questions.
matkat is offline  
Old Dec 14th, 2004, 03:51 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 437
Thanks for the trip report. We had the same issue with the servers at Hemingways.....we never knew who to order from. Consequently, one of our orders was never put in. We've heard a lot of good things about Hemingways, but we were underwhelmed.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2004, 09:02 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 951
Hi Matkat,

Great trip report. Thanks! Knowing that you have been the Buccaneer (I forget how long ago), how would compare the Sands to it? We are always trying to find a new place to try but can't find a two bedroom arrangement like the Family Cottages at the Buc. How would compare the size of the place? availability of good restaurants nearby? family feeling? Our kids are now 8 and 10 and we'll be back at the Buc in February for our sixth trip.

Thanks!
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Old Dec 22nd, 2004, 12:35 PM
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We loved both resorts and would go back to either one without hesitation. Its a little hard to compare the two as we went to the Buc before we had kids, so the vacations were very different. However, here are some thoughts. I'm not sure of the # of rooms but the Buccaneer felt larger & definitely more spread out to me. Maybe because of the hills. We were at the Buc 3 years ago the week before Christmas & it was very quiet, I'd say maybe only 40% full. The Sands was pretty full when we were there. Neither one ever felt crowded though. The Sands is definitely much more compact. I think there were more activities to do on-site at Buc. We loved having the golf & tennis there. The Sands had 1 very nice tennis court but I never saw anyone use it. The pools at the Sands are a little bigger. The main pool is probably comparable to the pool at the Buc by the snack bar. We never saw anyone use the other pool at Buc, we're not even sure it was open. The Sands has another sort of lagoon type pool which hardly anyone used but I think if more older kids are there it probably gets more use. Food was comparable at both resorts, we thought both were good. However, the Sands only has 1 restaurant. There are a few other restaurants you can walk to, but we didn't bother much with the little ones. The beach at the Sands is beautiful, really just a "wow" experience when you first see it. We loved taking long walks on it. We thought the beach at Buc was nice too, but it just didn't have that "wow" factor. One thing I liked at the Sands was that the beach was right in front of the main pool so it was easy to go back & forth (as my daughter made us do at least 5 times a day). At the Buc, as you know, the main pool and the main beach are somewhat far apart. I think for the ages of your kids, the Buc is probably the better choice. It actually reminded us a lot of an old New England resort, it just sort of has that homey-family feel to it. I also just think there is a little more to do there. But if your kids are pretty content with a nice pool and a beautiful beach, they would have a great time at the Sands as well. I can't really compare the rooms as we just had a basic room in the main building at the Buc. It was nice but it was just a room. We had a 2 bedroom suite at the Sands, which was very nice and very well equipped. I would say service at both was comparable, the people were reserved but helpful when you needed it. Several people knew our kids names by the time we left the Sands so it does have some of that family atmosphere. We liked the town in St Croix, there were some fun bars & restaurants. T&C doesn't really have any central area where you can walk around & shop & eat. We felt very safe on both islands. We will definitely reurn to the Sands, probably next year. We also definitely plan to return to the Buc when our kids are a little older. Navigating those hills with a stroller seems like too much work for a vacation right now. Let me know if you have any other questions.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2004, 03:55 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 951
Dear Matkat,

Great comparisons that were very helpful. A trip pre-children and one with two toddlers are very different experiences! But it sounds as if the Sands would be fun for us as well. My guys (husband and 10 year old) like to golf a bit and we all enjoy some tennis so the Buc may be the best bet for us now. But it sounds as if the Sands would be a good other choice. And I have heard that the beaches on T&C are to die for.

When you go back to the Buc, be sure to get a family cottage--one of those units on the hill leading from the beach to the Great House. Room 168 is our favorite with 170, 169 and 171 right behind for the great view of the Caribbean. Can't wait to go back in two months!

Happy holidays to you and your family.
Carol
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