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Worst Vacation Ever - Sandals Antigua

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Dec 4th, 2013, 02:17 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Dec 2013
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Worst Vacation Ever - Sandals Antigua

I am typing this on the aircraft back to New Jersey because I am too upset to wait til we get back home to get started.

Let me begin by saying our home was severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy last year. We were devastated by the loss. This past year has been the most trying time in either of our lives. And most unfortunately it occurred only a short four months after our wedding. We had just began our lives together and then it was shattered by the storm.
We vowed to rebound and decided to save up for a nice anniversary trip to try to put it all behind us. We had stayed 10 days at the Grande in St Lucia for our honeymoon. At that time, we had wanted a week in a rondoval but only 3 days were available. So we decided what better way to treat ourselves after such a difficult year but at another Sandals and this time, a full week this time in a rondoval. So we called our travel agent at Libert Travel and booked our week in Antigua.
Upon our arrival, we had expected a private car. The same private car we had gotten in St Lucia and was told came with the butler suites here as well. We did not get a private car. We brushed it off as 'no big deal', it was only one simple thing is what we told each other. We would just mention it before leaving to make sure we got the private car on the way out.
Next we enter our room and it is lacking what the same priced rondoval in St Lucia had. There was no hot tub, there was no outdoor shower, there was no indoor shower area like in St Lucia. The only shower was a small shower head in the ceiling that had no curtain or glass wall to keep the heat or water inside the area so showers were very uncomfortable. There were no cushioned chairs, couch, or coffee table. And even at this point, we were disappointed, but still tried to be happy that we were on a nice island and that we should be grateful for the opportunity. I know the travel agent mentioned that these were the original rondovals but such a considerable difference should have been mentioned.
Day 2 ended terribly. We went to the Reggae Fest in town. When we got back to Sandals, we had dinner at the Drunken Duck with some friends we had met at the resort. After dinner, my wife left her purse at the table and we went dancing. We returned to find the tables separated and her purse missing! Inside her purse was our camera with pictures of our house from the storm, my wallet that was a gift from my mother who is deceased, our RayBan sunglasses that were our wedding gift to each other, and my wife's wallet with over $600 in cash. We looked all over for the purse. My wife went to Lost and Found to see if anyone had dropped it off but no one had. We both were extremely upset and distraught that this would happen. We were supposed to feel safe. We spent a lot of money to be there and we wouldn't have if we knew how little security there was.
The next day we spoke to the front desk. We told them what happened and disclosed that we were so upset that we didn't even want to be there anymore. Shelly brought us to her office and we told her the whole story. She informed us that there are no cameras in the Drunken Duck. I could not believe there were no cameras in the place they should most be. How are people to feel safe from fights and thefts in a bar?! She also informed us that the staff is searched prior to entrance as well as departure. A policy that I hardly feel is rock solid in confirming that it was not one of the staff. And I truly don't believe a guest who paid a considerable amount of cash to stay at Sandals would have the need to steal a purse, but that is just my opinion.
Shelly let us attempt to reach our banks by phone to cancel the cards. Next a female security officer came in to take our statement. I had to repeat myself multiple times which was not only frustrating but lower my expectations of the report being done correctly or of anyone finding the purse. She would ask a question like, what time? I would reply, 7pm at the Drunken Duck. Then she would ask me where? And I would repeat, the Drunken Duck. We had pretty much given up on finding it at this point but Shelly said to not lose hope.
Things just never got better. The next day we returned to our room, after a day at the pool, to change for dinner. For the second day in a row our bed was not made. There was a cheese platter still there from the night before, a towel still thrown over a chair, and the shower had no hot water. For the money we paid for a room. It better have hot water. That was the final straw.
In St Lucia, the butlers left nice love notes, towel animals, and flower petals. We noticed this wasn't happening in Antingua. Another annoyance but we thought we could let it go. The first day the bed wasn't made and my wife called down to tell someone, their response was "so?" So?! My wife immediately said, 'Well let me speak to someone who actually cares then.' We paid A LOT of money for that room. The last response we expected would be 'so'.
So back to the final straw with the room a mess again and no hot water. We had put up with minor incidents for long enough for how much money we paid. A call went out again and Sandeep came to the room. My wife was in tears at this point. I discussed the issues with him, showed him the hard cheese plate, the towel, the cold water, the unmade bed, etc. I discussed our expectations from our previous stay including the butler messages, the little desserts that we weren't getting either, etc. He was very nice and also concerned.
I will admit that the next day we saw a major turn around in the housekeeping and butler treats. However our trip had already been soiled. We kept hearing that security would talk to us about the missing purse. I got a phone call at 830am late in the week asking if we had travel insurance. That was it. I had expected more. I was anticipating a conversation would happen the absolute latest at check out, but that didn't happen. In fact, insulting enough, I had asked our butler, Cecil, if he had heard anything new about the purse. He said he didn't know anything about it in the first place. Shouldn't our butler know our things were robbed? And this was as he was wheeling our luggage out to depart.
As the trip went on after the final straw, we heard other things from guests that really irked us. One guest had said they were picked up in a private Cadillac because they had written an email about the roads. One guest showed us there room that they had been upgraded to and the room had separate shower and a tub with jets, two sinks, and a cushioned couch/chair. I would almost say their room was nicer than ours and we paid A LOT more for ours!
It was just one thing on top of the next of disappointment and upsetting news and events. Even our last night, for our last dinner we ate at the OK Corral. A cockroach ran down the wall and onto our table, the slipped in the cracks of the table, to which I had to try to attack him through. I finally got a piece of him enough to knock him down and he scurried away. After a long, miserable week we just didn't even get phased at that point. It just seemed common for Antigua's Sandals.
At departure I asked Cecil if we had a private car. He looked surprised I would ask that and I told him about St Lucia. He informed me that it was a courtesy of other Sandals but the Antigua one doesn't really do that. He did get us one, which was nice. But all in all our trip was so miserable. My wife and I actually discussed last night not even bothering going on another trip anywhere because our experience here was do miserable.
Even on our last full day, we had wanted to eat at the Barefoot Grill. Well wouldn't you know it was shut down for a private function. A private function for travel agents who didn't pay to be there. We had PAID to be there and we didn't get to eat there.
My wife had wanted to get two massages and do some excursions. We couldn't do any of that because we had no money and no cards.
I am absolutely appalled that this trip went this way. We had planned it as a well deserved reprieve from the pain of our loss, but in turn it became a misery journey. We even saw a couple who said Rachel Ray paid for their trip because of Sandy. This wasn't our case. We PAID for our own trip. Which is why this experience is that much more hurtful to us. We saved up over a year to end up getting robbed and terrible service. I would NEVER let anyone tell me they are planning to go to Sandals without talking them out of it. In fact anytime someone mentions travel, this story is going to come out to them about Sandals.
If anyone has questions, feel free to email me [email protected]
Cordaro is offline  
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Dec 4th, 2013, 03:30 PM
  #2
 
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Like most complaints of this nature, I don't believe a word of it. Do people still book rooms without knowing what facilities it has and book without knowing if they have a private transfer or not? Why would you go somewhere with $600 cash and various valuables in a purse and leave it unattended to go dancing. As they say, a fool and their money......
Odin is offline  
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Dec 4th, 2013, 05:34 PM
  #3
KVR
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
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I have to agree. What was also surprising to me is all the praise you gave Sandals Grande St. Lucia. The most horrid, overpriced vacation we ever experienced. To each their own. Next time do way more research. And, would you ever leave your purse unattended anywhere at home? Why do you think to do so in a foreign environment and think it was safe. Common sense should not be checked at the door before entering.

So sorry for your troubles, but looks like you brought them on yourself.
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Dec 4th, 2013, 07:24 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
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Why would anyone take a purse filled with cash & credit cards at an all inclusive where everything (I mean you could leave your wallet at home if you didn't want a spa treatment or tour) is included. The cockroach story is funny!
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Dec 4th, 2013, 08:39 PM
  #5
 
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Not the best advert for your travel agent is it?

Libert Travel? I'll know to avoid them.
alya is offline  
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Dec 5th, 2013, 03:46 AM
  #6
 
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This is a worse vacation ever? Wow do I have some stories for you! ;-)

First off, in all seriousness, sounds like you've had a string of bad luck, especially with hurricane Sandy. I hope for you a speedy recovery.

Having said that, either the lack of research or the hurricane has you stressed as to expectations are completely unrealistic.

You are talking about 2 completely different countries. Even the same chain is going to have a different price structure. The countries are different enough. You can't pay at one, even the same company, what you pay for another, and have it equal. McDonalds in States has $1 menu. The same items in McDonalds in Caymans is $3-$4.

Ritz in Naples Fla, beachfront is $1069 nightly, in Caymans Ritz beachfront is $637 nightly. Bottom of the line categories equal type rooms, what a difference a country makes! Even within the Sandals chain, Beaches resorts. In TCI Beaches resort costs a lot more for rooms with butlers and hot tubs and private transfers, than Beaches in Nevis. Up to 3 times more for the same category.

So what you get in St. Lucia is not the same as what you get in Antigua for same monies. Even for the same brands.

Also, when you get a Resort room and your paying, you get a receipt for what you're getting. So if hot tub, private transfers, etc weren't on receipt, then you didn't pay for them. If you were going bottom of the line rooms hoping for an upgrade because "poor me went through a hurricane" and didn't get it, then you should have paid for the room and amenities you wanted in the first place. If these were items you paid for and didn't get (and not just assumed you'd get them because for same price years ago you got it in St. Lucia) then you have recourse to ask management for a refund.

If the water truly didn't warm up, then again, you had recourse. You should have spoken to a manager and either demanded a room change with warm water (do you really want it hot on a Caribbean island?) or a room that had it. But sounds like you accepted it so it's too late now.

Sounds like your other complaints were addressed immediately. For example, maid service.

Your butler would only know you got robbed if you told him. How would you expect to otherwise know? Why wouldn't you have told him yourself anyway?

Who carries a purse with cash at an AI? When there's a safe? Who doesn't download what you consider important pictures before traveling in this day and age?

Maybe you expected Rachel Ray to pay for your vacation too?

Everybody has drama/problems in their lives. Everybody wants/expects a great vacation for their money.

If you can afford a vacation at Sandals after a hurricane, then you're ahead of the game. But you can't expect it to be better than others because of the hurricane.

Worst vacation ever sounds extremely dramatic and entitled. If you pursue a partial refund (and only not having hot water is actionable, the rest is just annoyance) then when you contact them leave out the personal drama, it won't help you.

And Sandals is not responsible for your purse and contents. They provide you with a safe. Why at an AI would you carry so much stuff and leave it unattended? This would be the case even if staying at a hotel in New Jersey.

I do hope some of my tips will help you in future travels.

Don't leave purses unattended
Have print of what your price covers (private transfer, hot tub, etc which would be in the room category description)
Something like water not hot enough, demand action right away
AI restaurants, when offering numerous ones, have a right to close 1 for private function such as wedding. If there for a week, then only 1 night closed is not inconvenience. You could have gone a different night. Happens in every resort and every city anywhere from time to time. That's just whiny

I'm not saying your vacation was perfect. I'm sure being robbed, nothing would feel right after that. But really, worse? Sounds like glass half empty. Sandals rectified everything you complained about (private transfers, not cleaning room).

Sounds like you're jealous that others got free upgrades, vacations paid for, and you didn't. That doesn't make it "worse" it makes your expectations "worse"
blamona is offline  
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Dec 5th, 2013, 04:56 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
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How many people are going to continue booking bigtime over-priced resorts like Sandals? I see they sucked another tourist in with their fancy pictures of paradise online. With an ounce of research, I think it's fairly easy to figure out resort like Sandals & Beaches with their ultra pretty online pictures are complete ripoffs. So many other resorts that are much better for 1/2 the cost....I just shake my head every time I read a report about Sandals.

The whole money getting stolen out of the purse is ridiculous. Anyone who leaves $600 cash unattended is just plain stupid. Do it in a foreign country, and you are REALLY stupid. Sorry, but that one is totally on you!!

I hope other people read this story, and these responses. Maybe, just maybe, someone will learn to do their homework, use some common sense, and prevent things like this from happening. Unreal....
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Dec 5th, 2013, 07:21 AM
  #8
 
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Sorry to hear about your troubles and the fact that your vacation did not meet your expectations....always a bummer. I quickly looked up the rondoval rooms at St Lucia and Antigua and you can tell by the pics online that the Antigua one has no outdoor shower or hottub. The room also looks smaller with no sitting area. I think the problem with travel agents is that some simply don't know enough about the properties and you have to do your own research before booking a vaca. We also avoid all inclusives and would never stay at a Sandals or Beaches type resort. Way overpriced for what you get. One can do much better at a non-all inclusive (and avoid the masses). I hate having to come back to a room that hasnt been cleaned until late in the afternoon so those comments I feel are justified but sounds like the manager did something about it which is good. I hope you have a better vacation next time.
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Dec 5th, 2013, 08:28 AM
  #9
 
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I think part of the problem is that some of these resorts are charging such high prices and promoting services that they create very high expectations ("we paid ALOT OF MONEY for this!")-- and few Caribbean resorts can meet these expectations consistently. If you need a butler for your vacation, it might be better to go to another part of the world. The more you keep it simple in the Caribbean, the better time you'll have.
Jimmie is online now  
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Dec 5th, 2013, 08:56 AM
  #10
 
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Amen Jimmie!! Your last sentence says it all man!! Add in a little research & common sense, and vacations like above are less likely to happen. First thing I do when I get off the plane on any island is get my brain into "island time".....get a drink...and chilax!!
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Dec 5th, 2013, 12:02 PM
  #11
KVR
 
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"If you need a butler for your vacation, it might be better to go to another part of the world. The more you keep it simple in the Caribbean, the better time you'll have."

I so agree with this. I do love AI resorts/vacations, but when they started introducing butler service and Preferred Club amenities for exhorbant prices I was not impressed. No way would I ever pay good many for that. The commericals and advertisements hype this to the hilt, but when you read the reviews most people found the services completely worthless.

I learned this the hard way with Sandals Grande St. Lucia. We actually wanted to go for the pool, the service and food were terrible and "we paid a lot of money" for the lowest category room. Just give me included decent food and drink and I will be happy. They can keep the rest.

When Sandals Dunn River in Ocho Rios changed over to the Jewell, we booked there for a 1/3 of what Sandals was originally charging and had the best vacation. Just goes to show you can really get much better somewhere else at a much better price than what Sandals offers.
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Dec 5th, 2013, 12:10 PM
  #12
 
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Robbery is when items are taken from you personally. Theft is when something is stolen when you aren't there.
eastenderusvi is offline  
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Dec 6th, 2013, 11:19 AM
  #13
 
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I would have been on the phone with Liberty the minute my private transfer was a no show. As another poster said and I agree....you did not pay for the things you assumed you were entitled to. End of story.

Excellent response from Blamona.
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Dec 11th, 2013, 08:49 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
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I think Odin hit the nail squarely on the head. This is bogus, otherwise they may have just replied back by now.
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Dec 12th, 2013, 04:12 PM
  #15
 
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I won't even address the resort-specific stuff, but you certainly can't blame anyone for the fact your wife had $600 cash in her purse and left it unattended.
suze is online now  
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Dec 13th, 2013, 04:36 AM
  #16
 
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@KensBeach....Either that or they were so upset that they didn't get a bunch of sympathy here, so they took their toys and went home? ;-)
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Dec 13th, 2013, 06:35 AM
  #17
 
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This person just joined Fodors to post this and has never come back. Can you say "troll"?
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Dec 13th, 2013, 07:50 AM
  #18
 
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And he caught a bunch of us!! LOL
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Dec 13th, 2013, 08:42 AM
  #19
 
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It's suspicious because I swear I've read similar complaints posted before. Especially the part about them being so upset about no security cameras (or none working) at the resort. Just seems a weird detail to have mentioned (on multiple occasions).
suze is online now  
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Dec 13th, 2013, 08:55 AM
  #20
 
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Even if he caught us all, I would rather defend a property in Caribbean than let it go.

I think he was just mad that Rachel Ray paid for Hurricane victims vacations (really? I would think she'd help re-build first?) and didn't get upgrades and sympathy for the story he used about Sandy.

His complaints aren't even "worse" vacation material.
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