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!
- 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
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with getaroom.com, Priceline, TripOnline SA and Evoline ltd so you can book your Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- 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