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Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
Ranked #3 of 16 Hotels in St. John's
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 13 February 2013

My wife and I spent one week at the resort in January, celebrating an anniversary.
Before the trip I had read all the latest reviews; some of them were exciting like “awesome and fantastic” while others - a little bit different, sort of “will never come back”. Wondering who was right or wrong, I think I got it right by the end of the stay. The thing is – it depends on the previous experience. If someone had not experienced anything better before, they will love Sandals Grande. If they had had better experience, they may react differently.

Flight: flying in BA economy is at your own risk. If there are some issues, do not expect BA flight attendant stepping in and sorting the issues out. Premium economy is much better.

Transfer to the resort was uneventful and quick, about 15 minutes.

Location: was nice, nothing to complain about; however - to be completely honest - I liked Negril beach in Jamaica better.

Grounds: beautiful and clean.

Sandals security: were a little bit annoying, especially during the last days of our stay; were checking on us every day, asking room number and names when we were coming back from the beach or simply wanted to get drinks from the bar.

Room at the Caribbean side: typical for resorts like this, OK; had to ask for shampoo refill but got it quickly without problem. Sometimes they do not have that type of room available that you originally booked so they upgrade you; however, it does not necessarily mean a better room.

Food: was not bad, but better to be aware where not to go. Had some interesting experience at the Bistro – their cheeseburger … I thought it was the most bizarre one I’ve ever had in my whole life. However other people enjoyed Sandals cheeseburgers … so I think I’m picky. My warning is just for the picky people like myself - stay away from this place.
We went to Bayside restaurant on our first night and never came back because of their food and service. Barefoot by the Sea was much better. Our favourite was Eleanors (thanks to Vittorio and Seanna). Sushi Bar and Kimonos were good; the Pizzeria and café de Paris were nice.
For breakfast there was only buffet option; we went to Mario’s every morning trying to avoid Bayside restaurant. Mario's breakfasts were not bad, but we were recalling and missing those wonderful à la carte breakfasts at Couples Swept Away in Jamaica Negril.
Overall, food was way better at Couples Swept Away. However, Sandals serves sparkling wine with no extra charge.
One unexpected discovery – there was a very limited selection of seafood. So, the 1st thing we did after came back home from Antigua we went to Marks and Spencer to get some fresh seafood.

Staff friendliness: our Antiguan experience was very different from Jamaican one. Sandals Antigua staff were polite indeed, however many of them were cold, reserved, not chatty, and overly busy. We’ve got the impression they were understaffed or that was a cultural thing.

Sandals Photoshop: very expensive (1 photo ~£10) but not bad.

Overall: not a bad resort; you will love it if you had not stayed at a better place before. But if you did, your holiday would not be ruined anyway.

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank Anatoly G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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3,630 - 3,636 of 6,972 reviews

Reviewed 13 February 2013

This was our third stay at a Sandals property and again all round experience was excellent. However the issue of saving sun chairs was a massive problem.
My wife and I are generally early risers and tend to be at the pool or beach at approx 0730-0800 hrs each day ready to catch the sun. As we stay out all day we also make use of a sun parasol. On our first morning we managed to get both a parasol and chairs however from then on we could not get a parasol as towels were laid on all the chairs which were adjacent to parasols despite us arriving early each morning.
The irritating thing was that on our second morning the 2 pairs of chairs with parasols either side of us were not used all the time we were there 0730-1700hrs. This pattern was repeated throughout our 9 night stay. There is in fact a sign at the pool saying that towels will be removed by staff from any chairs that are not occupied for more than one hour, however this was never enforced.
We then noticed that it was Butlers reserving the chairs/parasols by leaving out a laminated notice with a room number on them the previous night and then placing towels there the next morning, on checking we noted that they were also reserving chairs on the beach for the same room numbers on the same day. This was mentioned to the Thomson's rep and an entertainments team member who both said they would raise it with management but nothing changed.
I appreciate that some guests have paid more for the Butler service but this should not impinge on the enjoyment or use of facilities of those guests who choose not to have the butler service.
For this reason alone I would not visit this Sandals resort again.

  • Stayed: October 2012, travelled as a couple
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14  Thank offawayagain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 February 2013

Just back from our trip. After a rather long quere at the airport, we arrived at the resort later than we had hoped. We were greated by concierge Danesha. She was gracious and polished. After a glass of champagne and cool towel, we were notified that our accomodations would not be near our travel companions. Not to worry. We were all upgraded. My husband and I had an Amalfi Penthouse Suite and our friends were upgraded to the oceanfront suite with private splash pool and jacuzzi. We were both on the Mediterranean side, where we were orginally slated to stay anyway. This part of the resort is beautiful, though the entire resort is extremely well kept. The staff is gracious throughout the resort. The food exceeded our expectations. The breakfast and lunch buffets offered many options, all very good.
A nice surprise was poolside cocktail service (and a popcorn vending machine). You can also grab a pastry or ice cream any time from the Paris Cafe. Nice gift shop on the property. They have everything you could need. We had dinner at Bayside, Kimonos, OK Corral, and Eleanors. All were very good. All in all, we had a great vacation and I would recommend this resort to anyone. This was our first Sandals experience but we've stayed at some pretty upscale hotels over the years (Ritz Carltons, Fairmonts, etc.) We were pleased with everything at Sandals Antigua and plan another stay at another Sandals location as a result of the overwhelmingly positive stay at this property.

  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled with friends
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8  Thank D C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 February 2013

My husband and I went in January 2013 with another couple. I wanted someplace warm and a direct flight. My travel agent suggested Sandals Grande Antigua. The other couple had been for their honey moon and were excited to go back.

The pro's... it is a direct flight from NY and it was warm. The buildings, pool, grounds, gardens and restaurants are al BEAUTIFUL!! it is realizing, There are plenty of lounges by the pool. They have sail boats to take out on your own. There is a definite security presence by the gates from the beach to keep off locals from selling items to guests at the pool. The food was fabulous at Eleanor's and at the Japanese restaurant. There are many restaurants, multiple pools. When we arrived there was an appointment already reserved for us at sunset with a photographer.. if we wanted.. and the room was very clean and beautiful. My girl friend and I went to the spa. The staff was wonderful and the treatments were fabulous. Our husbands went on the ATV trip and had a great time. We took out a small sail boat but had to wait awhile for one. There are 6 or 7 sail boats but only 3 were ready and able to sail.

The Con's.. when we arrived I walked to the desk to check in while the husbands took care of the luggage... a few minutes later someone walked over to the taxi and offered hot towels. Great idea but there were not waiting for us (and not a big deal), they offered us a table to sit, drinks and some type of appetizer...all very nice... they gave our friends their check in paperwork that was all filled out.. mine was not. I had checked in on line about 1.5 weeks ahead of time and my girl friend did it about a week ahead. I asked 3x's why they did not have all of my information.. and I got 3 bland stares (also not a big deal). We tried to make dinner reservations for dinner and were told that the restaurants that needed reservations were all booked already and that all of the restaurants are the same. We were told that we should have booked before arriving. Well, I had asked my travel agent before we left and Sandals told her to book on arrival. Our friends were take to our room and we sat for another 25 minutes... so now we are starting to wonder. OUr friends were give a 2-bedroom suite upgrade. A few of the staff walked by asking if we needed help.. we kept saying someone went to check on our room... and they walked off... after about 25 minutes.. my husband got up and again asked what was going on. We had a long morning, and were hungry. Finally, the intern said she would take us to our room. I never saw the woman who went to check on our room when our friends went to their room.. and its had been 25 minutes..I asked what happened to that woman and I got another bland stare...the intern then walked us across the lobby to the first door and said "Here is your room".... It was 2 minutes from where we had been sitting!!! So I again asked... Why did it take so long to see if our room was ready and she could not answer. I told them I would not stay in a room basically in the lobby. She called the desk and took us right away to another room. I asked how can 2 room be suddenly ready when we had been sitting.. and another bland stare... the intern final suggested we talk to the manager. The manager came up to the room, and was more concerned with getting our travel agents info so she could straighten out the confusion over booking reservations ahead of time. I really didn't see the point as we were already there. She apologized for the slow check in , could not answer why check took us almost an hour, and was so condescending I finally said I was going for a walk to calm down. My husband explained to her that it took an hour for us to get a room, we were hungry and tired, there is a lot of confusion. She just apologized and said she would see if she could do something. We changed, went to beach and tried to find a restaurant and were told kitchen closed!! The waitress pointed us in the direction of the pub and they were not open.

Pro: Eventually the manager called our room, made reservations for us at Evelyn's and the Japanese restaurant which were both lovely. They are not the same as the other restaurants. Then she also offered us a 2 bedroom suite upgrade for the following day to make up for all of the problems with check in. We did move the next day. We packed our bags and left them in the room and the staff moved the bags while we were at the beach.



Overall, it was a beautiful property. The bar staff at the pool was fabulous and very friendly. The weather was perfect, the pool and beach were beautiful. It was very clean. Honestly, I'm not sure if I would go back. It was such a hassle checking it. They could have told us go for lunch and come back in an hour, or taken us on a tour to get us oriented to the property. I'm still a little perplexed about it all.

Room Tip: I saw 3 rooms, they were all beautiful with great views.
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  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank Love2travelWfam2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 February 2013

My husband and I just returned from our stay at Sandals Grande Antigua, Feb 1 to Feb 7. We stayed in a Garden of Eden Premium room in the Caribbean Village in the 400 block next to St Mark’s Square and found it to be in an excellent location. It was a basic room, nothing really fancy, but it was clean and we didn't spend much time in the room anyway so it was fine.

We had a fantastic stay and it was hard to find fault with anything. Thinking back about some recent reviews we read on Trip Advisor, we can't believe some of the negative comments that were posted about this resort! So glad we weren’t there at the same time as some of those complainers. Everyone we met was just so nice, and we made some new friends that we will keep in touch with.

The weather was just perfect, sunny and warm every day with low humidity. They spray for bugs at this resort so there were no pesky mosquitos, at least none that bothered me and I usually get bit often.

We made dinner reservations for the restaurants we wanted to eat at as soon as we arrived, which I would recommend that you do since there is limited space available. We couldn't get a reservation for Kimonos. We thought that the food overall at this resort was pretty good.

The Playmakers (entertainment team) always came up with fun ways to keep everyone entertained. We participated in the pool games one day which was a lot of fun.

The beach was gorgeous, so beautiful to look at! The beach vendors did offer us excursions and souvenirs but they left us alone when we said "no thank you".

The only time we left the resort was when we did a circumnavigation cruise around the island with Wadadli Cats, which was fun. Great crew and good lunch was served. We booked this online 2 weeks before our trip and got a good price.

My husband and I travel a lot, and we give Sandals Grande Antigua high marks in every category. For the most part, the staff was friendly and accommodating. The only exception was the water sports guy on the beach who was rude to us when we wanted to use one of the hobie cats. He didn't give us any instructions at all on how to use it as he pushed us out to sea.

It was also disappointing that Sandals charges for WiFi service. That really should be included in a 5 star resort.

This trip will be hard to top. We will definitely come back here again!

Room Tip: Rooms in the 400 block of the Caribbean section are in a good location.
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  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank SunsationalVacations
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 February 2013

This resort was one of the most beautiful resorts we've ever been to. The resort food was amazing. BUT, it was way under staffed. We were told the day after we arrived that there were no reservations left in the restaurants that required one - really. We paid for a top resort and couldn't even get into the top restaurants. There was a beach party with very limited seating. We stood up to eat. When we went to the " other" restaurants to eat there was an hour and a half wait time. The pool water was freezing. Pool and bar restrooms ran out of toilet paper, soap and rarely had hand towels. It just came up short for being a " Sandals" .

Room Tip: The guest that paid extra for a butler service got reserved seating by the pool, good seating at the...
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  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank Gayleone
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 February 2013

Where to begin!

Pro's: The property is every bit as good as the pictures. The place is kept very clean, is very nice looking, and given the setting by the beach - is truly a little piece of paradise. The included activities were a BIG bonus: snorkeling, paddle boarding, kayaking, sailing, tennis, volleyball, etc. were all free and readily accessible. We were never bored! The entertainment staff is hilarious: Emmanuel and Antonio kept the mood quite festive. Can I mention the grounds again? What a tremendously beautiful place. There were several food options and drinks were more than readily available (all kinds of concoctions!)

Con's: 1) Too many rules to get food at night! If you are not wearing recommended attire (IE shorts) at night and don't have reservations, it is actually hard to get food without waiting a long time for a table. This was frustrating on the first day as we couldn't actually find a place that would give us food. After finally finding the one place that would serve us without a long wait, it still took an hour and a half to actually get our food. Then it was small portions (we learned to order two entrees for every meal). I ended up begging a bartender for a banana that night. :-( 2) Inconsistent service. There is complete truth to the reviews that reflect some poor service here. Don't come to Sandals Antigua expecting service that's at the level of basic restaurants like Chili's or Applebees - you won't get it. It's more like McDonalds. Friendly enough, but in no hurry to really meet your needs. Don't get me wrong, there were several staff members that were very friendly and looking out for us, but just as many or more that were just there to do their job. I greeted everyone with a smile and a "how are you"? But often was reciprocated by blank faces; reducing our communication to more of a 'what do you want'. 3) Noise, whether you like it or not - you are up at 9:00 am (on the Caribbean side) as they start their site maintenance promptly at 9:00 am local time. Leaf blowers, hammers, what-sounded-like-chainsaws were in full use making sleep impossible after 9:00am. 4) Long check in process (30 - 45 minutes)

Overall: Once you learn the rules of food (especially dinner), are aggressive about making reservations early to fill up your nights and learn what staff members to work with - this can really be a bit of paradise! I wouldn't go again as a couple (too expensive) but as a group, it was really amazing.

Hope this helps!

Room Tip: I wouldn't pay much for a room as you're spending most of the time outside of it! The Cari...
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  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled with friends
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4  Thank Nate R
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 Luxury Hotel in St. John's
#3 On the Beach Hotel in St. John's
#4 Romantic Hotel in St. John's
#5 Business Hotel in St. John's
Price Range: C$690 - C$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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