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“Wonderful, perfect honeymoon”

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Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
Ranked #3 of 16 Hotels in St. John's
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 18 May 2011

Just got back from a wonderful, amazing honeymoon at Sandals! Before deciding on a room package and all, I scoured these reviews. I found so many helpful tips and advice that I promised to leave my thoughts as soon as I returned hoping I’d help someone else. So here’s my comprehensive review of staying at the resort:

Caribbean Grove v. Med Village: We stayed on the Caribbean Grove (CG) side. The Med Village (MV) side is newer and features the main pool but I’m so glad we chose CG, which was a choice that I battled with before we arrived. The MV is your typical monstrous hotel set-up. You have to go into the lobby area then up elevators to get to your room. If you’re not at least on the 4th floor or higher, you don’t have a view of much and the balconies looked quite small. On the CG side, it seemed more cottage-like. You walk out of your room and right onto the grounds. It was so convenient, and you’re next to all the major restaurants and the CG lobby where they play live music every night. It also at the same time felt very private and secluded. I never saw or heard the hotel guests in the rooms around us.

Room: We had a Honeymoon Hibiscus Walkout Veranda Suite, which didn’t even have a photo on the Sandals website but we imagined it was the same as the regular Veranda Suite but with a walkout patio instead of the balcony. No, the rooms aren’t decorated exactly how they’re pictured. We didn’t have any fancy throw pillows, palm-tree motif area rug or fresh flowers on the nightstand. But other than that, it was pretty close! We were not disappointed at all. Yes, I’m sure our room was a little more dated compared to some of the MV rooms but it was perfectly nice for what we wanted/needed. We had plenty of room, a big king sized four-poster bed, an armoire for our clothes, a vanity-type set-up where I put my make-up and toiletries and then your typical hotel-styled bathroom. I know some rooms came with nice jacuzzi-styled hot tubs. If there was one thing I wished we had, it might have been a nice jacuzzi but looking back on our week, I don’t know when we would have had a chance to even use it. We were only in our rooms to get ready for dinner and to sleep. We were in the Ixoria Building which seemed a tad newer or more updated than the other CG buildings. But everything on the CG side was located near the "action," which we found amazingly convenient.

Concierge v. Butler: We had a concierge suite and had absolutely no problems. Making reservations was not that much of a pain. Only three restaurants require reservations (Eleanor’s, Kimonos, and OK Corral) and we were able to eat at all three. We even ate at Eleanor’s twice. Yes, you do have to plan ahead to make the reservations two days in advance but we had no issue with that. Those with Butler service had an easier time getting into places last minute so if you’re not a planner and don’t want to have to plan ahead of time while on vacation, that may be a better route for you. Same goes with the poolside chairs. They were mostly snatched up by 11 a.m. But we are morning people and had no problem going out to the pool around 9 a.m. or so and finding a couple chairs. We hung out with a few couples who had butlers, and they barely used them with the exception of to make dinner reservations and/or to reserve poolside chairs. The other thing they used them for most often was room service, which was the only thing I was shocked to find out that you can’t get with a concierge-level room. I’m not 100% sure but it sounded like that was reserved for those that had butlers. I didn’t find this too bothersome though. If you have the money to go the butler route, I suggest you get the oceanview or seaside butler suites on the CG side. They are in a great location, beautiful view and one of the newer buildings on the CG side. One of the couples we met stayed in one of those rooms and raved about it. Try to get room 711 or 713. Those looked like the best locations to me.

Eleanor’s: We ate at Eleanor’s twice. The food was delicious. I got the lobster twice. My husband got the land and sea/surf and turf and then also the lobster. I’m a big seafood person and was impressed with their lobster. The coconut shrimp appetizer was also delicious as was the cream of coconut soup. The only thing not impressive about Eleanor’s was the service. It wasn’t that it took forever to get our food or drinks… one night it took a bit longer than the other but they’re on Caribbean time and we were enjoying ourselves so we had no worries. What bothered us what this was the only place on the entire resort where twice our servers acted as if it was the world’s largest inconvenience to wait on us. The hostesses were always wonderful and welcoming. The servers were not.

Barefoot by the Sea: Barefoot by the Sea didn’t require reservations but because it doesn't, it fills up fast once it opens! If you want to get in right away, get there a few minutes before it opens and wait. It is worth it! Beautiful location… it’s right on the beach with the ocean in the background. The food was delicious. I ordered both the lobster thermador and the grilled lobster. They rivaled the lobster at Eleanor’s and I’d almost say with the great service, Barefoot by the Sea is better than Eleanor’s. The staff were all wonderful. Both my husband and I ordered the lobster bisque, which was our only disappointment with Barefoot by the Sea. It was a little bland. Other than that, no complaints!

Kimono’s: When I walked into Kimono’s, I thought it was going to be more of an American-style Japanese hibachi restaurant (where they cook a big pile of rice in front of you and serve that delicious shrimp sauce.) Instead, you get a bowl of white rice to share between the two of you and then just your meat is cooked hibachi style in front of you. It was still delicious though and the perfect amount of food. If you’re a social couple, try to book Kimono’s earlier in your stay. It is a great way to meet other couples as we discovered! We met two couples our first night at Kimono’s and spent time with them throughout our vacation. We never got a chance to eat at the sushi place that’s adjoined to Kimono’s but heard wonderful things about it during our stay.

Mario’s: We didn’t eat all that much at Mario’s but what we had was delicious! They have an amazing antipasta bar. We ordered the lasagna and shared it. Service was very fast and our server was a nice as can be. Mario’s doesn’t require reservations but reservations are optional. We got there as soon as it opened and didn’t have an issue with getting in right away but as we left, there was already a wait. So plan accordingly.

OK Corral: I was surprised that OK Corral required reservations because I wouldn’t rank it up there as one of the resort’s more coveted restaurants but that’s just me. The food was quite good though. The fajitas were delicious, and my husband ordered the BBQ ribs. I’m not a big ribs person but they were fall-off-the-bone perfect. If you like Tex-Mex styled food at all, you’ll love OK Corral. Great service there as well!

Bayside: We ate at Bayside the first night we arrived. We arrived late in the evening and weren’t in the mood to feel our way around the resort and just ate at the first place we came to. It was one of their “theme nights,” which translates into “buffet at Bayside.” It being our first night there, I felt let down that our first experience with the food was at a buffet-styled restaurant. But it wasn’t all that bad. Just neither of us were that impressed. The only other times we ate at Bayside were breakfast or lunch, which were also buffet styled but good (especially the breakfast.) Apparently, Bayside has a la carte dinners but we never made it there on those nights. I never really heard spectacular things about it either. But a decent place if you can’t make any other dinner plans work.

Cricketers: Cricketers is definitely the place to go late night at the resort… the disco night and karaoke nights were particularly fun. I think my husband and I, along with the group of couples we met, closed down Cricketers a couple of times. Beyond the fun night life, the seafood chowder might have been my favorite dish while at the resort. I’m a huge seafood bisque/chowder person and I absolutely loved theirs!

The Piano Bar: The Piano Bar is a little hidden... it's above the stage area in the CG lobby. We discovered this place the second to last night we were there and we loved it!!! The bartender didn't seem to mind at all if members of our group got behind the bar and mixed and made drinks. We had a blast doing this! And I don't know if the person playing and singing the piano was an employee or not but they were great and we just loved the fun atmosphere. It's a little smaller and seemed like it would be best if you've got a little group with you. I wish we had discovered it sooner!

Misc: The Med Village pool is where the fun is at during the day. Water volleyball was a blast to watch and the swim-up bar was a very popular place to be. If privacy is more your thing, there are a couple other smaller pools on the CG side that, from what I could tell, was frequented only by a handful of people each day. (And the pizza place next to the MV pool makes the perfect pizzas for a quick, poolside lunch!) If you are looking to rent a cabana for the day, do it! It was so worth it! You are served breakfast and lunch, have a lounge bed in the tent with lounge chairs to pull out into the sun. You also get a cooler of beer, waters and soft drinks. We were in ours until well after 5 p.m. The service stopped at 5 p.m. but we were able to just hang out and enjoy it! The resort offers several excursions while on the island. My husband and I didn’t participate in any but several of the couples we were with did and enjoyed themselves very much. At each of the restaurants requiring reservations, you will probably be approached to purchase one of the premium bottles of wine. We did not feel harassed to buy one at all but one night we did just to make it more of a special night. If you do decide to purchase a premium bottle, keep an eye out for Ken. He knows his wines! When landing in Antigua, there are people in yellow shirts waiting to grab your bags. In some reviews I read, they seemed very aggressive. They weren’t super aggressive with us, coming or leaving, but I definitely noticed their presence and wandering eyes. Keep your bags with you at all times when in that airport! Also, when leaving, there is a departure tax that we were aware of. We had close to exact cash ($60) but the woman at the counter said she didn’t have any ones (after we just watched the couple in front of us hand her several $1 bills.) We felt this was a losing battle and just told the woman to keep the change. Apparently, this is how they make a little extra on the side. So just an FYI that you may want to have EXACT change if you don’t want to forfeit a few bucks.

In closing, we are not a demanding couple with crazy expectations. We’re a young, laid-back couple just looking to relax and enjoy our honeymoon. And that’s what we got… a relaxing, laid-back honeymoon. The resort is very much on “Caribbean time”… it’s best to just go with it and have fun!

  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled as a couple
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28  Thank Kristin714
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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4,549 - 4,555 of 6,972 reviews

Reviewed 18 May 2011

Well for the 4500.00 for an eight night stay in a mediocre room,with holes in the wall where a TV once was,and a view of the air conditioner units,this along with sub par food and birds eating off the spoons at the breakfast buffet ,was not worth the even considering going back..
There were some high points,the staff was accommodating,new addition pool was really nice and the pool bartenders were wonderful.All this being said I have been to resorts in Mexico and Punta Cana where the food,grounds and accommodations out shined Sandals by a long shot and for half the price.Sandals Antigua is an OK resort but not for the money. Pay your money take your choice???? Sandals has been offering 65% off for two years now??? according to them my 4800 dollar vacation should be over 6000.00. They are like a mattress company always having a sale. I don't know how they stay in business.Like I said OK resort,not worth the money.

  • Stayed: January 2011
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12  Thank mumson2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 May 2011

From the moment we entered the property we realized that all the things we had expected had already been blown WAY out of the aqua water. The staff and fun makers are there to make your stay exactly what you want it to be. You don't have to do anything you don't want to do. But, there is so much to do on the resort property that you can and will be busy the entire time you are there. It is completely up to you!!
The staff works VERY hard to give you the best grounds you will ever see. I can almost promise you that it will be just that. It grounds allow you to be alone just by going around a corner or they can open up and allow you to be apart of the whole group. Again, its up to you!!
The beach and beach activities are great! The beach is spotless and was NEVER over crowded. It is closer to an empty beach than a full beach, that is for sure. The water activities are all easily accessible and the tools needed were always in working order and clean.
The food and the service staff are exactly what you are hoping it will be. You have so many more choices than you could even think of. The food is accessible most of the day. There is no reason to ever be hungry or thirsty. The staff does all they can to keep the food and drink flowing, with a smile. They were all there working and a part of the experience. It is so amazing how you will miss those servers or host that you have seen day in and out. They do make a difference.
lastly, I will say that the rooms are BEAUTIFUL!! I did see a couple and they were both perfect in there own way. We loved our room and all it had to offer. When purchasing your room, get what you ofcourse can afford but get what you like. That is key!! If you want a cabin on the beach...go for it. If you want to be in suite or whatever room you pick, just come knowing it will be beautiful and the picture is exactly what you will be getting. Go loving it!!! You will be happy you did.

Room Tip: its not the room, its what u make of the room.
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  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank bryantravelers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 May 2011

My husband and I stayed here for our honeymoon from May 1, 2011 through May 8. Let me start off by saying that the grounds are beautiful - the gardens are maintained and are absolutely breathtaking. That said, the staff was EXTREMELY rude. We only met two staff members that were pleasant...Patrick, the somolier and a waitress whose name we can't remember.

There were cockroaches in one of the lobbies and an exterminator spraying 10 feet from where my husband and I were trying to enjoy a cocktail one evening. The beaches were beautiful, but are filled with local vendors who don't allow you to relax. We're all for supporting the local community, but literally as soon as you step onto the beach you are bombarded by vendors. We ended up spending 99 percent of our vacation at the pool rather than the beach because we weren't able to relax on the beach.

Additionally, the vendors are not supposed to solicit you through the fence but they do anyway. The security guards that are supposed to be patrolling the property and are located along the fence that divides the property from the beach stand there while the vendors offer you drugs through the fence. We were offered drugs at least three times a night through the fence, each time with a security guard standing right there.

Housekeeping turned down our bed only once our entire stay. We stayed in the "venetian" room and were supposed to be given fresh beach towels every night - we only received those once. Our bedroom was kept fairly nice, but the bathroom was filthy. The toilet area, which is seperate from the rest of the bathroom, had dead bugs scattered along the windowsill and there was dust and dirt all over the floor. We also had a mosquito infestation in our room and my poor husband left Antigua with about 20 huge bites. The fan in our room was broken, as was the air conditioning. The air conditioning was leaking so bad that we had to cover our floor with 5 large bathroom towels. Even then, the tiles were slippery. Our room, which was advertised as an oceanview had absolutely no view of the ocean.

My husband and I also visited the spa during our stay. We got a couple's massage, which was terrible and I got a manicure, which was even worse. They charge $45 for a manicure which is outrageous to begin with, but since my nails were so chipped from all of the water I figured "why not". Let me tell you, my nails looked better before the manicure than they did after. She filed them completely crooked, and used the rough side of the file on the TOPS of my nails - completely destroying them. Not only did she paint my nails, but she painted all of the skin around my nails too. I had to go back to our room, cut all of my nails down because of how thin she made them, and take my polish off.

We made the best of it because it was our honeymoon, but were insanely disappointed and would never recommend this hotel to anyone!

  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled as a couple
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15  Thank ALuongo416
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 May 2011

Our gang of 6 recently visited the Sandals Grand Antigua in May7-14,2011. We have also stayed at the Grand St. Lucia, beaches Turks & Cacios. First of all we were all upgraded at arrival. However, the service of the staff at the bars and restaurant are lacking or just plan slow. We did not experience the at the Grand St. Lucia where we had outstanding service for the entire staff. However, the Playmakers again made all the difference to the trip. Morrison ( MO JO ) , King David, and not to mention Andre ( Lil Wayne ) made sure that each day was packed with new games and adventure for us and the other guess to enjoy. So it you are planning a trip here make sure you look them up and I assure you a great time. Tell them that the NC gang says hello for Rickybobby, Joybell, Mean, Sweetgirl, Just Jill, and Mindy. im sure that they will remember this gang for awhile based on the fun we had with them.
We are now heading over to the Sandals Whitehouse to check it out...... Can hardly wait

Room Tip: We stayed in the 600 block . Nice Rooms
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  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled with friends
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6  Thank Tarheel-2629
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 May 2011

This is our fourth Sandals stay with the previous three being in Jamaica. Overall, we found this resort definitely meeting our expectations. We were upgraded to a Junior Suite in the Mediterranean Village and it was the best room that we have had at a Sandals to date. Many folks have commented on the food but from our perspective, we thought the food was very good. The trick is making sure you make the phone call for the reservation. I found that to be a little bit of a pain but something easily lived with. One of the staff indicated the resort to be 96% full for our stay but you definitely wouldn't feel that way. The resort layout was such that we had plenty of space even with the high occupancy. The one definite difference with this resort compared to other Sandals was the lack of 24 hour availability of food and drink. In the early morning, you could not find coffee or muffins, etc, until the buffet opened at 7:30 so early birds need to drink from the in-room coffee machine and go hungry until 7:30. Fortunately for me, I had Diet Coke (my morning coffee) and Water available because I was Concierge. I ditto the comments about loungers being unavailable at the main pool but that is mainly due to guests reserving them all day with their towels and only using them a couple of hours or less. As usual, we found some staff that went above and beyond and others who were cordial but not acting very excited about their jobs. If I were just judging a return visit on this resort, I would definitely go back, however, it will take us a long time to forget the airport fiasco which will deter us from visiting this site in the future. We had a 4:30 flight and left the resort for the 10 minute drive at 1:30 per Sandals schedule. When we arrived, it took about 20 minutes to get checked in (which is outside I might add) and then came the nightmare. We stood in the security line from just before 2:00 until 4:30 most of which was outside in the sweltering heat. The line was enormous and rarely moved. We kept hearing our flight being called for boarding but knew they would just have to hold the plane since many of the other guests we knew were on our flight and were behind us. We thought this must just be some exception, however, when we asked about the long lines with airport employees, we found it apparently is this way every Saturday and they really did nothing help move it along. When we finally made it through security, we immediately hustled outside and the plane had already been boarded. They were missing 36 people so they went and found them in the security line and got them on the plane with about a 1/2 hour delay. No one had time to get any drinks or snacks before boarding so you better hope your seat is in the front of the plane or the cart will be sold out of food by the time they get to you. It was a long four hour flight. We found the situation at the airport to be the worst airport experience we have ever encountered and we travel to various destinations frequently. If you pick this resort, just recognize that your airport experience will likely be beyond ridiculous.

  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank JTZ04
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 May 2011

My wife and just got back from a week long honeymoon at this so-called voted best honeymoon resort. Even though we both had a great vacation and the resort was beautiful, there were a few things that we didnt like. For instance: room service. We stayed in the Monte - Carlo suite and after a long day of travel that included multiple flights,we had jet lag and fell asleep. We woke up late at 1am and figured we would just stay in the room and order room service. To our surprise this wasn't a option for our room category. In fact, the only food option was from a bar that was closing in a half hour. I guess spending several thousand dollars to stay in a suite in the Meditteranean Village doesn't entitle you to room service.
Another dislike of this resort was that there are 3 restaurants that you need to make reservations for. If u didn't make them 48 hours in advance, which is the limit, theres a good chance that you wouldn't be able to dine there. When you are on vacation the last thing you want to do is feel rushed. Sometimes you want to play things by ear.
The last negative comment i want to make is about the nightly entertainment. My wife and I have been to many all-inclusive resorts and this one by far had the least amount of options. You either had to listen to the same band playing the same songs or go into the bar and listen to other vacationers sing karaoke. You would think that a prestigious place like sandals would be able to provide its guests with at least a comedy show or something.
There were some positive comments as well. I have read some other reviews stating that some of the staff was rude and sometimes unproffessional. That could be more wrong. Every employee was a more than willing to bend over backwards to make sure your stay was as enjoyable as possible. Althea at the main pool, Shannon at Marios, and Denzil at Cricketers pub were great examples of this.
All in all this place is amazing with its great staff, perfect landscape, and great location. Its only problem is dollar for dollar it can't compete with other all-inclusive chains.

Room Tip: Stay in the Mediterranean Village
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  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank derek1567
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa

Address: Dickenson Bay, St. John's, Antigua
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Antigua and Barbuda > Antigua > Saint John Parish > St. John's
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Top resorts Hotel in St. John's
#3 On the Beach Hotel in St. John's
#3 Luxury Hotel in St. John's
#4 Romantic Hotel in St. John's
#5 Business Hotel in St. John's
Price Range: $690 - $1,855 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 373
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
•A European Hotel in the Six-Star, all-suite Mediterranean Village •Exotic Rondoval with private plunge pool and butler service •1,400 square foot Mediterranean villa with private plunge pool and butler service•Houses the East Caribbean's largest pool (1 of 6) •Offers 9 dining options and 8 bars including an English pub •Voted "World's Most Romantic Resort" 14 years in a row ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sandals Grande Antigua Hotel St. John`s
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort And Spa
Sandals Antigua
Hotel Sandals Grande Antigua
Sandals Grand Antigua
Antigua Sandals
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa Saint John Parish

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