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Reviewed May 23, 2011

My wife and I spent 7 nights at the Sandals Emerald Bay Resort and Golf Club from May 14 – 21st. We were married there on May 18. Our room was in one of the beachfront villas identified as section 6 in the Sandals resort map. It was one of the largest rooms in the building, which had eight rooms total. Avid golfers, one of the main reasons we chose this resort was for the golf course, which is on the property. We had a team of three butlers assisting us during our stay.

Wedding: the wedding was very nice and was exactly what we wanted – very small and private in a beautiful setting. We chose to get married on the 15th tee which is out on the peninsula with a great view of the bay. The people in charge of the golf course were all for it and were very nice. The wedding planners, Beverly and Ann, handled all the arrangements very professionally. Personally I don’t know why they call it a Martha Stewart wedding but, whatever. It was included in the price and we upgraded some additional pictures (they were just okay). The minister, Steve McQueen (lots of jokes about that one), was really cool and said all the right things. We liked him a lot, he was perfect.

Butlers: like a lot of first timers, we were a little doubtful about how much of a benefit the butler service would provide us. We had three, Donnard, Lalau and Corey, who covered the time from 7AM to 10PM during our stay. They were always just a phone call away (on the provided cell phone), did not intrude on our private time but made our stay much more enjoyable than it may have been otherwise. We loved the many extra touches and services that went way beyond any I’ve received before. I hope they read this review to know how much we appreciated them.

Food: we liked the food. I travel a lot and am used to hotel food and that’s what this is – not a 5 star restaurant but a good resort with a wide variety of tasty food. We had three dinners at Il Cielo and we also had the candlelight dinner on the beach (highly recommended). We also ate at the other restaurants as well. Some writers complain about the portion size but we found them to be just right – we didn’t want to get stuffed. Plus, there’s plenty of food to be had – you cannot go hungry.

Drink: we’re wine drinkers. The reds were pretty average Beringer and the champagne was okay French but there was no shortage of it. The room was stocked with rum, vodka, etc but we don’t drink it. We did have some mixed drinks at the pool. They have a manager’s special (upgrade) wine list in Il Cielo but they were out of the ones I wanted to buy. There is a duty free liquor store within walking distance that had a pretty good selection if you must have higher end wines. If I had found it earlier in our stay I may have bought a few bottles there. This part of the trip was just okay for me – they could have had a better selection of upgraded wines and kept them in stock if they are on the list. I realize they aren’t going to include an $80 bottle in the all-inclusive price but it should be an available option.

Golf: our luck was bad since the greens were being aerated when we were there. The back 9, with several holes right on the water, was actually closed the first day we played so we had to play the front twice. Naturally the greens were very slow and bumpy so low scores were not possible. Greens fees were reduced to $60 each per round as a result. We had pre-paid $700 for three rounds each so we had to work with them to get that refunded. The fairways are pretty narrow and, if you miss them, your ball is most likely lost in the very thick undergrowth. But the fairways were in great shape and easy to hit from. I lost more balls than I have in years on this course – leave the Pro Vs home. The back nine offers some very beautiful views of the marina and the bay. It’s worth walking those holes even if you don’t play.

Beach: perfect. The water is a color that’s indescribable. It doesn’t look real. We also spent time at the Quiet Pool – what a luxury. We didn’t hang out at the Noisy Pool (they don’t call it that), just not our scene.

Spa: my wife spent a few hours there getting a massage, manicure and pedicure. She said the massage was the best she ever got. The spa itself seemed very nice when I walked in with her.

Room: our room was huge and very comfortable. The view was great and falling asleep to the sounds of the ocean was so relaxing. The bathroom was enormous, closet space plentiful and we even had enough hangers. It was one of the more expensive rooms available (Emerald Bay Honeymoon Penthouse) but worth it. It was very clean and kept that way by the friendly staff. Huge television but no HD so the picture quality was poor.

Staff: uniformly very friendly and accommodating. With some, we had to carefully explain what we wanted – some of the challenge was language and some was misunderstanding based on cultural differences. We saw almost no rudeness or bad manners. Many of the staff are from other islands (especially Jamaica) and India.

Other: the music – pretty much a steady stream of pop music. It was not at all like Jamaica or Hawaii where you get a steady stream of local music. Grounds: fantastic. Very lush and beautiful. Reminded me of Maui, almost. Exuma: pretty flat; lots of thick scrub and sparsely populated. Georgetown, well, they try but it’s pretty poor there and the town reflects that. Adding to the look are the numerous unfinished houses that are built over years by people who want to pay cash and do the work themselves. Not the most beautiful place. But the people there make up for it – they are very friendly and open. Transportation to and from the airport: well organized and timely. No complaints. The airport, which is in keeping with the condition of the rest of the island, is about 10 minutes from the resort. Other guests: we met some very nice people there and enjoyed spending time with them. What’s with all the tattoos, though? Not attractive! Other activities: there were some and people who did them said they had a good time. Between the golf and … oh, yeah, the wedding, we didn’t have time to participate. Shopping: just a little sundry shop and a jewelry store. It’s definitely not a shopping Mecca.

Summary: I think I’ve presented an accurate picture of what we found at Sandals in Emerald Bay. In short, we loved the combination of the people, the lush grounds and the very fine golf course (next time we’ll come when the greens are in good shape). We always felt comfortable, full and slightly (or more so) inebriated. That plus the beautiful bay … what more could you ask for. We will definitely go back. With the deals they are offering, you can’t go wrong.

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

Absolutely beautiful property. Might be my favorite Sandals (with respect to beach and ocean - we've been to 7 of them). Very well maintained. Food was not good. Service was off as well. Nothing major happened to ruin our trip, but many little things were not what they should be.

As I've said, we've been to 7 Sandals Resorts. We know what to expect. The food is never 5 star... but good, reliable, many options to choose from. This was not. Very few choices. Actually, the best food we had all week was at the Junkanoo street fair Friday night. The Pub was second... and that's burgers and fries; not what I expect for vacation. Some employees were very friendly, but many were happy to tell us that the resort was better as a Four Seasons. Nice thing to tell a guest.

It's quiet, the beach and turquoise water are fantastic. The pool is beautiful as well. Warning though if you've been to other Sandals... there are literally about 6 pool floats and some guests hoard them so you'll never get a turn.

I loved the property itself. The food is a major drawback. The service is a drawback too. We did not get a butler because I don't expect to be waited on hand and foot - that I don't need. I can make my own dinner reservations. But I do expect someone to come to our table and take my drink order during meals. I do expect to get a glass of water/coffee at breakfast. I expect to get silverware in a timely manner so that my food doesn't get cold while I sit there looking at it. And I don't expect a restaurant to be out of numerous menu items when it's already a very limited selection. Things like this happened consistently throughout the week and various places.

I'm torn whether or not to recommend this property. It's beautiful... but there are a lot of little disappointments. They have quite a bit of work to do to bring this up to par.

  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank blkrover04
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed May 22, 2011

Go to the swimming pool bar and ask for Denrick! He will serve you great drinks and keep you laughing all day.
Then ask for Chovosky and have him make you a "K-9" .... He should know what that means..
Overall the experience was great! Have fun and wear sunscreen!!

  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank K922
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed May 22, 2011

My wife and I went to the Sandals Emerald Bay the first part of May and had a GREAT time! We've been to several other Sandals resorts over the years and have always found them to be very nice and a decent value.

The airport is small but the process went reasonably well. I think it took us about 30 minutes to get the luggage and go through Customs. Once outside, there was a Sandals representative there to greet us and arrange our transportation. Note: the commute really is only 15 minutes from the airport. The drive is unimpressive and even the entrance to the resort itself is "modest" but once you actually arrive at the main complex you'll see why you chose this destination.

We arrived at the resort about 1:00 pm and the room wasn't ready so we were escorted to the buffet for lunch and a brief tour of the grounds. Tip: pre-register on their website to make the check-in more efficient.

The layout of the resort is teriffic - everything is easy access within several minutes walk. It's probably the best designed and maintained grounds I have seen. Our room was beautiful and we stayed in one of the lest expensive. We are not accustomed to Maids/Butlers but we talked to other couples who said they enjoyed that experience. We had an "Oceanview" room and it was fine. I would estimate we were about 200 yards from the water. Naturally, there are closer rooms but be prepared for higher costs. I'm sure Donald Trump would have been disappointed with our room but I think most folks would find it at least acceptable. I would add that we found the service to be very good. Yes, we had an occasional contact with someone who obviously did not want to be there but for every one of those there were 10 who really tried to make our stay enjoyalbe.

The beach is fantastic! It is huge and has VERY soft sand that you will really enjoy. The main pool is beautiful and has all the things you would expect to see at a first class resort. We really enjoyed the "quiet" pool which was about 100 yards from the main complex. As the name implies it was restfull and away from the noise and action in the main complex.

Let's talk about the food for a moment......My wife and I both agree that the food was at least good and oftentimes very good. In addition, you can always find something given the various dining options. If you're accustomed to and expecting Morton's type steaks and portions you will be disappointed. Remember, it's in the middle of the Carribean - not New York. The only thing I might quibble about is that we feel they need another restaurant, especially if you are staying a week or more. We were told another one is coming some time within a year so that should help improve things. Tip: Consider having appetisers at one restaurant and going to a different one for the actual meal.

The spa is wonderful and we both though the service received was excellent. Again, they are not giving anything away in terms of price but you will have a professional experience and walk out feeling great.

The golf course is absolutely spectacular! The front nine is fairly representative tosome of the better courses in Myrtle Beach. In orher words, you know the ocean is close but you don't necessarily see it. The back 9 is completely different. - 6 of the last 9 holes are literally right on the water and the views are breathtaking! We were told in the Pro Shop that Sandals is going to start heavily marking the resort as a golf destination next year and that Greg Norman plans to have the Shark Shootout there in 2013. Note: the entire course has a unique type grass which is resistant to salt water. It also grows straight up allowing it to be cut closer so it makes for a wonderful playing surface. Note: Greens Fees are expensive ($175) but there are several discount options available. If you are a serious golfer you have to play this course!

Conclusion: Sandals is a beautiful facility and unless you are used to the "very best of the best" you will enjoy yourself.

  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Satchel7426
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed May 22, 2011

Wow is all I can say when it comes to Emerald Bay! My husband and I just got back from our 30th anniversary and what a treat it was. This is our second sandals that we have been to and the trip was just about perfect! It was an easy trip out of ft. Lauderdale into Great Exuma. I heard this used to be a 4 seasons so figured the infrastructure would’ve been impeccable which it was but the Sandals touch made this resort that much better.
This was a great trip for us as we are both avid golfers and played just about every day. The course still needs a little work but it is coming along nicely. The views are spectacular! We topped off every round of golf with a cold beverage at the Druken Duck which was always a happening atmosphere and always a smile on the bar tenders face.
We are planning to come back sooner than later!

  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Arleth_R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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