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Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
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Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

My husband and I chose Sandals Antigua to do a re-tie the knot ceremony. We got married only 5 days before our re-tie the knot ceremony and had loads of trouble communicating with Sandals before we arrived.
Once we arrived we had a wedding co-ordinator quickly go through our options for the ceremony location, (we chose the garden gazebo), our flowers etc. We then met Cassandra in the wedding team to finish off the arrangements. Cassandra was wonderful, she spent extra time and gave us loads of additional options. Our evening meal couldn’t be on the beach (Sandals offer a candle-lit dinner) as the beach was being re-built with a bulldozer and most of the restaurants were shut as it was BBQ night. Instead she arranged for the Barefoot gazebo to be decorated with drapes, and we paid extra for a themed table decorations. We were so impressed with Cassandra we asked if she would be our co-ordinator instead.
On the day of the ceremony Cassandra was exceptional, everything ran smoothly, my rose bouquet was perfect. The minister was a larger than life Caribbean minister, who was so passionate about marriage he carried out a traditional wedding ceremony as we had only recently been married. We thought he was perfect and good fun.
I was a bit worried that Sandals might seem a little bit manufactured or corporate as a wedding venue, I could not have been more wrong. Cassandra ensured our day was romantic and personal. Everything ran smoothly and effortlessly. I smiled the whole day! The gluten-free wedding cake was delicious and we shamelessly ate it with champagne for breakfast the next morning!
The evening dinner was exceptional. I highly recommend the gazebo dinner and pay extra for personalised decorations! It’s worth it. I attach some photos. The on-site photographer took amazing photos of us having dinner and all our friends were impressed (its better than dinner on a public beach, more romantic).
Shenel served us for dinner and she did a great job.
We personally thanked Cassandra and her manager Irose for making our day incredibly special and unforgettable!

Stayed: March 2018, traveled as a couple
Thank harrym401hgy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

We stayed here for 6 nights and it was amazing! The resort is really beautiful! The beach was really nice and the water was great! The beach vendors were really kind and respectful, a simple no thank you and they move on. All the restaurants were pretty good, the staff throughout the resort were impeccable. Our butlers were Karen and Vanessa who were great. Vanessa was not feeling well most of the week so we had Karen most of the time and she was absolutely amazing. Our room was the Butler rondoval with private pool and it was really nice.

Stayed: March 2018, traveled as a couple
1  Thank Lena G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Just returned from 2 weeks at Sandals Grande Antigua with my wife, which we found very good but there were some things which prevented us from scoring the resort higher. I would like to say that we are not 'serial moaners' and that the comments provided reflect an honest appraisal of what we found.

We'll start with the good points (not in any particular order):

* The Mediterranean Walkout Suite and bathroom was lovely with plenty of towels and toiletries.
* Well stocked mini bar with a whole range of spirits.
* Tea and coffee making facilities in room.
* Beach towels were plentiful.
* Resort was spotless.
* Large main pool.
* Gardens were beautiful.
* Food was generally good.
* Cleaning staff were very pleasant.
* Room service was good and very prompt.
* Bar staff very efficient and pleasant.
* Plenty of coffee machines throughout the resort.
* The restaurants we found best were Barefoot on the Beach, Mario's, Kimono's, The Bistro and Bayside.
* Cafe de Paris was great for a coffee, patisseries, crepes or ice cream with pleasant staff.
* Security on the beach were very efficient and pleasant.
* Very pleasant reception staff in the Sandals Club Lounge.
* Resort Manager 'G' was very welcoming, helpful and pleasant.

Now for the not so good at the '5 star resort' (again not in any particular order):

* Having been to lots of 5 star hotels (including Claridge's and The Grove in the UK), this, although close was not quite there. I would give it 4.5 stars though.
* Sunbeds - unless you were an early riser (and I mean 6 am latest) you would not get a sunbed with shade either at the main pool or on the beach. Sandals have a rule that if any sunbed is left unoccupied after 11 am the belongings would be cleared - we never saw any evidence of this.
* The music at the main pool was excessively loud and you could not hold a conversation so we spent the rest of the holiday on the beach. Also, the childish games were totally out of place, in our opinion, in a 5 star resort.
* Beach sellers can be a persistent nuisance but once you say no they go away. Resist buying T shirts until you go into the markets in St. John's!
* Early one morning we were prevented from taking the last two towels for the beach by a security guard who said they were for the butlers. May I respectfully suggest that they get up a bit earlier like we did if they want towels!
* On that subject, we booked a taxi at the Club Lounge to take us into St. John's but after a twenty five minute wait we went back to the desk only to be told that they'd forgotten to book the cab!
* The lady on the trips desk, Esther I think her name was, was very rude and unhelpful, again giving the impression she would rather be elsewhere.
* The shower in the room had a very weak flow and it took ages to get sun cream and soap off.
* The offering in the OK Corral was very poor. We were told we could get 'succulent steaks' there but the menu we were offered only showed 'surf and turf' (unless there was another menu were we not provided with?).
* At the beginning of the 2nd week our internet was cut off (presumably they'd forgotten we were there for two weeks?).
* Room key had to be constantly reprogrammed (5 times in two weeks), and no, we never kept it close to our cell phone.
* Staff in the flagship restaurant Eleanor's, were rude and pushy. The lady with the orange hair and yellow jacket was extremely rude and unwelcoming and lead us to our table without a word being uttered, (a fact that was also observed by another couple). We ordered a $50 bottle of rose wine, which they didn't have and we were told that Prosecco or Riesling was similar, which we know to be factually incorrect, (one is sparkling for a start!). It was quite clear that they were just pushing for a sale. A very bad experience which senior management need to address. If staff don't want to be there, they need to go. Furthermore, we were asked to re-use our cutlery for the next course which, given we both had seafood and followed this with a meat dish was highly unusual, and something we'd never experienced before in a 5 star restaurant anywhere in the world.
* The replenishment of stock in the mini bar and coffee tray was very hit and miss. Some days we would get plenty of stock and other days we weren't re-stocked at all. Had to go to the front desk to get water to avoid dehydration.
* Cats in the restaurant - don't get us wrong, we are both animal lovers and understand the need to have cats on the resort to keep the mice population down, but what we objected to were guests feeding them from their table in the restaurant. You could see staff wanted to say something but felt uncomfortable in doing so. I raised the subject with the front desk and also on Sandals Loop but nothing changed. This needs to be addressed as, putting food on the floor is dangerous and a potential slip hazard.
* Mosquito's - The hotel did try to minimise these by 'fogging' but my wife (and a great many other guests we spoke to) were 'bitten to death' and had to buy cream from the resort shop to relieve the bites. The mosquito's were definitely in the bathroom, and may be getting in via the vents in the toilet that are adjacent to the corridor?
* The patio of our room looked terrible, with paint splashed all over the plastic patio doors and the overhead pergola (again not what you would expect from a 5 star room).
* Guests above our room would throw rubbish out of their balcony, which would drop through the pergola onto our sunbeds. Indeed one morning I found nail clippings on the sunbed, which was absolutely disgusting, and makes you wonder how these people had been brought up! Think twice before you book a walk out suite!
* The island SUV tour was great and Barry, our tour guide was very pleasant and informative. We enjoyed a lovely lunch time meal by the beach to add to the experience.

Wow, that sounds like we have had a major rant but I hope the comments are taken in the spirit in which they were given! As I said, overall the resort was good but we do feel that by a small improvement it could be wonderful. With regard to the staff, on the whole they were very pleasant, but some individuals need additional training. We were at Sandals Barbados last year and the staff there were really great. Come on Sandals, up your game a tad and we might consider giving another of your resorts a visit.

Room Tip: Mediterranean Side is quiter
  • Stayed: March 2018, traveled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank eagleboy1234
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Visited Sandals March 24 – 31, 2018. Our room was centrally located on the Caribbean side of the hotel. This was our 5th Sandals location and our first time in Antigua. If we rated this hotel among the others that we visited, it would rate at #3, behind Exumas and South Coast (previously Whitehouse). The hotel is stunning with rooms set among beautiful gardens. There weren’t many complaints. Food was good, the people were warm and the beach was amazing with the most beautiful blue waters.

The hotel has 7 restaurants for dinner, but not all were open every night so be sure to check the daily newsletter to be sure your choice for the evening is open. Our favourite was Mario's with a great antipasto buffet. We also loved the Cafe Paris for cappuccinos' and fresh baked scones in the morning.

Sandals offers diving and snorkelling excursions free of charge but don't really seem to advertise. If you do go out on the snorkelling excursion, don't bring anything you don't want to get wet, like a camera or cell phone with you because you have to wade out to the boat. I am 5’7” and the water was up to the top of my shoulders by the time I reached the boat,

Antigua is a beautiful island, rich in history and culture so we wanted to get out and explore. We took the SUV Island excursion through Sandals, which took us to all the island highlights. Our favourite was Devil’s bridge and Shirley Heights, overlooking English Harbour, it is breathtaking. The beach vendor’s also offer the same tours, for a little less than Sandals, but they don’t take credit cards.

The only complaints we had were what most other people have already mentioned, the loungers and the vendors on the beach. The loungers with shade are snatched up very early in the morning, mostly by the butlers. I was up and out by 6:15 and by that time there were usually about 4-6 to pick from. They were completely gone by 6:30 and then no one was around until about after 10:00. Frustrating, but not enough to ruin our holiday as the lounger situation always seems to be a problem at a lot of resorts.

Would we go back? Absolutely! We have many more places to explore but hope to one day come back.

  • Stayed: March 2018, traveled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank KennisisSerenity
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Just returned from 2 weeks in Sandals Grande Antigua which overall my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed, but it was not without some issues which I feel need to be addressed by the hotel management.

This was our first time at a Sandals all inclusive resort, but we have stayed at a few comparable all inclusive resorts over the years and for the purposes of this review I would hold this hotel in direct comparison to the flagship Iberostar Paraiso Grande in Mexico.

In overall comparison against this hotel it comes up short in some areas, however there are still a lot of positives of which I will touch upon below.

Resort & Grounds:

The resort quite simply is stunning - grounds are spacious and filled with an astronomical amount of tropical plants and flowers which are meticulously maintained. Building designs are also very pleasing on the eye, and I especially loved to relax around the Mediterranean area which we based in. I feel that the resort grounds themselves really are the strongest selling point of the Sandals Grande Antigua Resort ahead of the much-vaunted beach (which I will get to below).

Beach:

Such a disappointment. The beach has sadly fallen victim to an ever-changing climate and a good stretch of it at high-tide was unusable and the water is now threatening the outer wall of the resort. Exposed pipes, concrete and foundations of parasols presented a hazard to the unwary.

In an effort to replace much of the washed away original powder-white sand (which Sandals continue to use in much of their marketing) a large amount of lesser quality rough yellow sand has been dumped and spread out across the beach, which actually makes the beach more similar to the Canary Islands rather than the Caribbean.

I cannot and do not blame Sandals for this sad situation, but what I do expect is transparency in regard to this situation. Nowhere will you find any reference to the current plight of the beach anywhere on the Sandals website, and I feel that the hotel management really need to come clean here and accept that this 'best and most famous' beach really is currently in a state of transition.

I do also expect Sandals to be able to take care of the things they can control, and that includes the removal of seaweed. There really was an unacceptable amount of the stuff left strewn over the beach throughout the 2 weeks we stayed, and with a plentiful number of gardeners I would have expected someone to have been tasked with cleaning this up.

One final nasty surprise was the resort right next to Sandals - the Rex Halcyon which had quite possibly more sunbeds per square foot than San Tropez and cared even less about the seaweed issue. A walk up and down the 'best beach in Antigua' usually ended right about here.

Room:

We stayed in the Mediterranean walkout suite and the room was modern, clean with plenty of amenities which worked perfectly during our stay. The bed was large and very comfortable, the minibar was stocked to the rafters with drinks as well as a bottle of Wine/Vodka/Rum. In-room Coffee machine was welcome and the coffee of a good quality. The only complaint here was that there were no snacks of any kind which in an all-inclusive resort I do expect, and the inclusion of some Pringles/M&M's for example would make all the difference.

Service:

One of the reasons I came back to the Caribbean after nearly 18 years was the service, and overall I was not disappointed. Most interactions my wife and I had with the Sandals staff were very enjoyable, and we were greeted with smiles and a very helpful attitude. Nothing was too much trouble for them, and we made a few requests (stuck outer door, stuck toilet door and requests for certain types of wine) all of which were all resolved very quickly, and although there were a few exceptions that does not detract from yet another very positive experience from the Caribbean.

Food:

Overall I think that the food here was really good, and for an all inclusive resort exceeded my expectations. I did not have any occasion where my wife and I had cause for any complaint, the food always arrived very quickly and cooked to order.

We visited all the Restaurants, and although none disappointed the highlights for me were Eleanors and the Bayside Restaurant. In particular the Bayside really is a hidden gem offering French Cuisine and the best steak we ate in the Chateaubriand which they absolutely nailed. Big shout out to Eugene and Gus the Waiters who were true Gentlemen.

The Snack Bars were mixed. Although Cafe de Paris was most marvellous and offered gorgeous and tempting treats in the form of pastries and ice-cream, the Courtyard Bistro needs some management attention. Due to no effective ordering system people had to wait for an entire lifetime - which I don't mind if the end result is worth it, but neither of us ended up getting what was advertised and as a result we never returned and stuck to room service.

Pool and Amenities:

Contrary to previous reviews, I am happy to report that we had absolutely zero issue with availability of sun loungers and that includes those with parasols. 7.30am usually guaranteed you the best spots, but also from 8:00-9:00 you will at least be able to get what is left without any issue. Generally we stayed during what I would call a less busy time right before Easter, so you may need to revise the rough timings accordingly but the occupancy seemed to be on the low side.

Entertainment:

The daytime entertainment was quite mixed. I enjoyed the pool games, but for a couples resort with the average age of around 35-65 I would expect more musical variety to suit all tastes and also more of a structured program like other resorts. For example, 10-12pm would be best served with some chillout to help the hangover, 12-4pm maybe some retro hits and maybe from 4-6pm some more in the way hip-hop/ club stuff as more people become inebriated.

Too often from 10AM the music from the pool aerobics was stupidly loud and quite honestly, terrible for someone like myself over 40 years of age. From 11AM it was just a mix of someones personal mp3 collection which had various degrees of recording volume, which meant that with songs you had your eardrums blown inside out and others you could barely hear. Having just 1 speaker to serve the entire pool does not help with the acoustics, and I would suggest the resort does something to address this.

It should be noted that if you don't like the noise at the main pool, at least you always have the option of finding one of the other smaller, quieter pools which we quite often enjoyed relaxing in.

Evening entertainment was good, the steel drum and reggae bands were excellent and overall I had no complaints as I don't look for much more than this during such holidays.

A small gripe was that the pub quiz at the Drunken Duck was cancelled twice during our holiday, something we were quite looking forward to.

Other:

For the amount of people at this resort, there were not enough toilets in my opinion. On several occasions especially at the Caribbean side I had to wait around before giving up and bolting for the gym/Spa toilets. On 2 seperate occasions my wife found all the cubicles at the Drunken Duck blocked and in a nasty condition.

Conclusion:

I would return to a Sandals resort, but I have to say it would not be at the top of my list as I believe there are better all-inclusive options available at similar/better prices. This matters less of course if you are a regular points holder, and a lot of guests particularly those from the US have been long term members and continue to benefit from discounts that would make this destination much more attractive in terms of overall return on investment.

Although overall I enjoyed the Sandals experience, I did expect a little more.

  • Stayed: March 2018, traveled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank Sonny_Crockett
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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