Fodor's Expert Review Sandals Barbados
Maxwell Coast Rd., Maxwell, Christ Church, Barbados See on Map Fodor's Choice
Romance is definitely in the air at this truly magnificent, adults-only, all-inclusive Sandals property. The resort faces Turtle Beach, one of the south coast’s magnificent beaches, and surrounds an 8-acre garden and the longest “lagoon pool” in Barbados. Couples of all ages (honeymooners, in particular) love it here. With so much to do—the options for onsite dining, activities, and entertainment all seem endless—it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole island to explore!
Since Sandals is all-inclusive, everything (except spa treatments) is included in your room rate. And while it’s expensive, there are often very attractive promotional rates.
Rooms are located in three general sections of the property. Crystal Lagoon Village offers spacious suites, each with a separate sitting room and stocked bar, an oversize spa-style bathroom with an enormous soaking tub (for two), swim-up suites on the ground floor, and upper-floor suites with a second soaking tub (also for two) on the balcony. Beachfront Village rooms have all of that and are also steps from the sand; the balconies offer panoramic views of Turtle Beach and the sea beyond. Caribbean Village is convenient to the pool and cabanas.
As a special indulgence (in upgraded suites), a personal butler will provide attentive service—including drawing a bubble bath complete with champagne and snacks, making dinner reservations, reserving a particular pool chaise, setting up tours, and more.
There are so many room styles that it’s hard to generalize—except to say that everything is high-end and classy. Caribbean Village rooms have traditional bathrooms in both size and layout, but still very nice indeed. The large bathrooms in Crystal Lagoon and Beachfront Village rooms, though, each have a separate toilet room, dual-control walk-in rain shower, double basins in the vanity, claw-foot tub or large soaking tub for two, and a dressing area; some rooms have a second soaking tub on the terrace or balcony (with a privacy curtain to shield you from the outside world).
YOU SHOULD KNOW You can’t be shy in the premium rooms. While the toilet room is private, the rest of the bathroom is not. Perhaps that’s why, in many rooms, the tub is big enough for two.
The lobby is quite large, with a reception desk, lots of seating, a small shop, and a private air-conditioned lounge available to guests in certain room categories. The lobby opens directly into the gardens.
The resort has three outdoor pools, two by the beach and one within the gardens. In addition, a lagoon pool meanders through the gardens in front of Crystal Lagoon Swim-Up suites.
The Red Lane Spa offers massages and facials, body scrubs and treatments, soaks and polishes, aromatherapy, hot stone therapy, reflexology, manicures, pedicures, and more for individuals, couples, even mothers-to-be.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The spa is about the only amenity here that is not included in the all-inclusive rates.
The air-conditioned fitness center has all the usual workout machines and complimentary group classes (fat-burning, stretching, ab molding, jammin’ to music, water aerobics...).
You can also have one-on-one sessions with a professional trainer, who will enhance your current workout or establish a new regime for you.
Guests have a choice of 11 dining venues: Bombay Club, serving Indian cuisine; Butch’s Chophouse, a New York-style steakhouse; The Merry Monkey, an English pub; Kimonos, a Japanese hibachi restaurant; Dino’s Pizzeria, on the beach; Portofino’s, for regional Italian cuisine; Spices, serving Caribbean specialties; Schooners, a seafood grill; Soy, a sushi bar, and The Mariner, a seaside bar and grill.
If 11 restaurants are not enough, guests may walk to six more at the adjacent Sandals Royal Barbados resort, which has American Tavern for regional American comfort food, La Parisienne for French cuisine, Neptune’s Mediterranean Seafood, Chi Asian Fusion, another Butch’s Steak & Seafood, and The Jerk Shack.
There’s no problem finding a cool drink or a frosty beer; it’s all available, included, and unlimited. Several of the dining venues have bars. Plus, there’s a beach bar, a swim-up bar in one of the pools, and a piano bar.
Turtle Beach is one of the prettiest on the island, with pure white sand and a calm, turquoise sea. But there’s more here than sea and sand. Sandals offers a full range of complimentary water-sports activities, both motorized and non-motorized, plus complimentary instruction. Guests are welcome to use the canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, snorkeling equipment, Hobie Cats, boogie boards, and water hammocks. There’s a glass-bottom boat for excursions, as well as towboats for water skiing and dive boats. Yes, scuba diving is included in the all-inclusive rates.
Turtle beach is a favorite nesting place for turtles, hence it's name; if you're lucky, you may see hundreds of tiny hatchlings emerge from the sand and make their way to the sea...nature at its best!
The local bus service is reliable, and the closest bus stop is a five-minute walk from the hotel. It’s also a five-minute stroll to either St. Lawrence Gap or Oistins. Be advised that it’s not easy to call a taxi FROM Sandals, as the hotel will try to hook you up with its own tour operator, Island Routes, which is more pricey than taxi transportation. Airport transfers are complimentary.
Hotel guests have a choice of 17 different places to eat—11 onsite restaurants and 6 next door. And since the hotel is all-inclusive—and you’ve paid a dear price for your stay—it’s unlikely that you’ll eat elsewhere.
There’s plenty of nighttime entertainment at the hotel. If you want to explore St. Lawrence Gap, try The Old Jamm Inn or Scoopie's Jazz (10-minute walk or 5-minute drive) for drinks, music, dancing, and a convivial crowd. (See Getting Around regarding calling a taxi from the resort.)
WHY WE LIKE IT
If you’ve seen one Sandals, you haven’t necessarily seen them all. Couples love Sandals, and this property—one of the newest—is particularly attractive.
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