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Reviewed April 25, 2011

Sandals Grande Antigua is pure heaven! We were there April 16-23. Our room wasn't ready when we arrived so we went to the Bayside restaurant and had lunch. Room was ready shortly thereafter. We had reserved a Garden of Eden Honeymoon cottage but were upgraded (at no charge) to a Honeymoon Orchid Grand Luxe room in the Flamboyant building. The room was lovely, spacious and well appointed. Very comfortable king sized bed and a beautiful bathroom. The only maintenance issue we encountered was when we first walked in and noticed some water on the floor around the refrigerator. The person who had escorted us to the room had a maid there to wipe it up within 5 minutes and someone from maintenance within 10 minutes who advised that the door had probably not been closed tightly causing some defrosting/condensation. No further problems with that. The room has a patio with table and chairs which opens to a lovely pool which we shared with perhaps 12 other rooms. Very secluded, private and quiet which was exactly what we wanted. If you want lots of action that's available too at the main pool on the Mediterranean side.

The food was as beautiful as it was delicious. I'm wishing now that I had photographed some of the dinner entrees. A lot of thought is put into presentation. We never had a disappointing experience in a Sandals restaurant, and Bayside was our favorite for breakfast.

We took an excursion cruise with Creole Cruises - don't go out with anyone else! Small, fast boat, 15 guests and 3 crew. Snorkeling on a coral reef and at a starfish habitat, hiking to the top of Bird Island and a grilled lobster lunch prepared and served on the beach - washed down with a fabulous rum punch. 10:00 a.m. til 4:00 p.m. - a perfect day.

The grounds are beyond gorgeous. We arranged for a photo session with one of the Sandals photographers for our last full day there. With a choice of beach settings or garden we chose garden and the results were beautiful. We picked up the finished photos about an hour after they were taken. I know they didn't have time to photoshop us so it must have been sheer talent on that photographer's part to make us look as good as we did!

There have been comments on this forum about the staff being unfriendly, but I must say I have never been anywhere where the folks taking care of us went so out of their way to be friendly and helpful. Most encounters went beyond "Hello". We were often asked what we had enjoyed that day, where we were from, etc. The conversations were not perfunctory courtesies - they were conversations!

The only fly in the ointment (speaking of flies - the mosquitos can be bad - I'll bring repellant next time) was that the internet service was sporadic during the first part of our visit. That was annoying, but no great tragedy.

This was the most wonderful week - we booked for next year before we left!

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank cam-blm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed April 25, 2011

My wife and I stayed at Sandals Grand Antigua from 04/16/2011 through 04/23/2011. We loved it, the food was excellent, the grounds and accomadations were remarkable, the staff was very friendly, no bugs, the Red Lane Spa was great. The only thing we were EXTREMELY dissapointed in was the Dive Staff, if your going to Sandals Antigua to dive, forget about it, they were rude and unaccomadating, they didn't have fresh water on the boat, you had to lug your own gear and the dive sites sucked... I would go back to this resort as it was the most relaxed vacation we ever had... no worries there, but to dive , nope ... the only other negative was there was not much in the way of entertainment ... the vacation gets a 8.5 out of 10

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank finleon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed April 23, 2011

My husband and I stayed at Sandals Grande Antigua from April 15-22, 2011 on our honeymoon. Overall, it was a wonderful trip! The highlights and low-lights are below:
Beach:
The ocean is the most magnificent shade of turquoise! The water was a comfortable temperature and the waves were small, but we couldn't see our feet near the shore (I LOVE being at the beach, so this was disappointing to me). The hotel has a fairly long stretch of beach, but every beach is public there, so there are vendors on the beach. They can be annoying but really aren't a problem - just say no thanks. Guards are always around, too. Sandals keeps the sand very clean, but it is difficult to get a shaded area on the beach. There aren't many, and we saw butlers reserving them for their clients at sunset each evening in spite of the posted signs that said no reserving chairs...
Pools:
There is a large, main pool and a few smaller pools that feel more intimate. The pools are cool and clean and most offer drinks nearby, if not in the pools themselves! Again, shaded spots are hard to find at the main pool because they are quickly reserved by butlers and other guests. (Pool-side cabanas are available for an extra charge - around $100 US for the day). If you want more towels for the beach/pool than you get in your room, you have to walk a ways to Water Sports - the resort is very spread out. Also, sometimes finding a bathroom near the pool/beach was difficult and most of the individual restaurants did not have separate restrooms.
Rooms:
From what we saw, there are quite a few different "levels" of rooms. Our room, in the Cypress Tower of the Mediterranean Village, was great - we had a jacuzzi tub and an ocean view. While the Mediterranean Village is new, the rooms in the Caribbean side did appear much older from the outside but seemed to be adequately maintained. Our room was not cleaned completely every day (the floors didn't seem to be washed daily), but other than that, housekeeping was fine. Most nights, we missed the turn-down service because we were getting ready for dinner (reservations seemed to be available very early or very late).
Service:
This was the one category that I was a bit disappointed in for a five-star resort. While some staff members were wonderful, courteous, and pleasant, a lot of them seemed pretty glum. The staff at the Japanese restaurant was great, and the snorkel crew was really friendly too. The concierge staff was pretty helpful, but we did have a few snafus (our room key didn't work well all week and we had to have it reprogrammed a few times, our bags weren't brought to the lobby before our departure, etc.).
Food/drink:
My husband and I have pretty simple (err...child-like haha) taste, so we frequented the pizza shop outside Mario's and the cafe next to Bayside for French fries a lot! Only three restaurants required reservations. The lobster at Eleanor's was great, Mario's had tasty chicken parmesan, and we really liked OK Corral too. The Bayside buffet had a lot of "fancy" selections like lamb, various fish dishes, seafood salads, etc. My favorite meal is breakfast though, and I must say that while I loved the French toast, I was surprised to see a very limited pastry selection. Also, papaya and melon was plentiful, but kiwi and pineapple wasn't available every day. And no mango (my favorite!). The drink selection was great, and most bars had cute tropical drink ideas posted on a menu.
Bottom line
After that very detailed review, bottom line - would I go back? Yes. Would I recommend this resort for honeymooners or couples? Yes. Am I happy to be back home? No :-(

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Katie M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed April 23, 2011

I have travelled throughout Europe,the Americas, SW Asia and Africa on business and pleasure. Sandals Antigua is the nicest place I have stayed. The staff is friendly, polite and helpful. The food is excellent. Our room was spacious and well appointed with a semi-private pool and close to the beach.

Before we booked at Sandals we checked reviews on all the places we were interested in. A vast majority of the reviews were always positive. However, there were reviews that we highly negative. All I can say is... Those people must be crazy. This is THE place to stay if you are looking to unwind and relax. There are ample activities and tours (if that is what you wish) to satisfy anyone. We took the Creole Lobster Lunch Cruise and Captain Glen and his crew were fantastic. If you are here over a Sunday, attend church @ St. Barnabas, Anglican. It is the oldest church on the Island and a beautiful building with a fantastic pastor.

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank MSGTBLM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed April 22, 2011

My wife and I stayed here from April 16th-21st and had a good time. We thought the food was great, the weather was perfect all but our last day, the staff was very friendly, the room was nice and clean, and the grounds were beautiful. There were a few negatives that gave Sandals a 'B+' instead of an 'A' in our books. Keep reading if you would like to hear about our specific experiences on this trip...........

We were pleasantly surprised that the food was so good for an all-inclusive place. The breakfast buffets at Bayside were great, consisting of an omelete station, about 8 hot dishes, all kinds of fruits, cereals, bagels, juices, fish, sandwich meats, and cheeses. Our interpretation was that Mario's had the same food for breakfast, it just depends on where your room is. Marios had Italian food which was good, but the antipasta bar made it REAL good. Barefoot had delicious lobster, OK Corral had great shrimp quesadillas, and Eleanors made a real nice Jerked Hen and Blackened Snapper. The pizza at the pizza place was really good if you don't mind waiting 20 minutes for a personal pizza. We didn't get to eat dinner at Cricketeers or Bayside. Didn't care for Kimonos (see below) and thought the lunch buffet at Bayside was pretty weak (the fish and meat tasted terrible, although the salad bar selection was good).

We had a room on the Caribbean side, and I totally disagree with some of the other reviews. We thought the location was great (near fitness center, most of the restaurants, main bar), the room was very clean and modernized, and there was no noise problem. Bathroom was stocked with decent products, huge tub, nice balcony, comfy bed. We definitely preferred this over the Meditteranean side, which was further away from everything except for the main pool, Marios, and Cricketeers.

The weather was perfect, around 80-85 during the day and 70 at night. Sunny all the time with some rain on our last day, but off and on. Nice tradewinds near the beach.

The staff was generally friendly and helpful. We thought the waiters/waitresses were exceptional considering they weren't getting tipped for their services. The bartenders were pretty quick and there was almost never a wait for drinks.

The landscape was really nice with lots of flowers, grass, and walkways. Birds and lizards ran free, along with a few cats.

We weren't thrilled with daily scheduled activities; karaoke and piano bar were fun, played pool volleyball, several games of billiards, but most of the other stuff we found corny. Also, everything was closed down by 11pm with the exception of cricketeers and the piano bar (see below). However, in the end, our mission was to sit in front of the beach, get tan, drink, and relax, so the lack of good activities didn't phase us.

The worst thing about our trip was check-in. We got to Sandals around 1pm and everyone's luggage was dispersed amongst the lobby. We were told to sit and wait for a representative to talk to us. We waited and waited while the rest of the guests were given champagne while we had none and I had to ask twice until someone finally brought it to us. We were then given a packet to fill out and told to come back to the lobby around 3pm...but we could not access our luggage, were in our 'northern' clothes, and had no room. So we explored the complex, found all the restaurants, sat on the beach, came back at 3pm...room was not ready. Came back at 3:30, room was not ready. Finally at 4pm our room was ready, we went to it, but our luggage didn't get there until 5:30pm. So our advice is to bring a change of clothes with you in a backpack or pocketbook so you can enjoy the facilities while you wait for your room.

Some other negatives:
1. Pool/beach towels, at least as far as we noticed, were only available near the Mediterranean pool and water sports areas. So if you entered the beach near the Caribbean side, you had to take a nice hike to get towels.
2. The fitness center: very hot inside. We went every day of our vacation and all the patrons complained that they felt they were going to pass out because it was so hot inside.
3. Getting bottles of water: Bottled water was only available in the concierge office. I left a note with our maid to please restock the water each day. She restocked it that day, and then never again.
4. Kimonos: I thought the food here was HORRID. The atmosphere was authentic, the service was adequate, but HORRID food. The salad dressing tasted spoiled, the miso soup tasted like bad lettuce, and the meat was swimming in a sauce that is usually reserved as a dipping sauce, I did like the salmon and the shrimp, but if you are accustomed to decent Hibachi food like we are, skip this place.
5. The piano bar's lack of a bartender: We went here twice. The first night the bartender up and disappeared while the piano player was doing his sing along, so the customers went behind the bar and made their own drinks. I thought this was ridiculous. The second night we went there, the same thing happened, so I went behind the bar and made drinks. I complained about this to a bartender at the main bar, and he said that the piano bar bartender always leaves her bar and gets away with it because she is tight with management.
6. Birds: We understand the restaurants are partially outdoors and birds like the beach. But we saw birds walking on the buffet and eating food, flying over to tables, walking around the floor at your feet, and on our last day, landing on my wife's chair and pooping. Be mindful of the birds!

Overall, a great experience and we definitely recommend. Hopefully you can learn from some of our mistakes so you don't experience them yourself!

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank geetarbrad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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