We enjoyed a delightful week at Sandals Emerald Bay Oct 6-13th 2017. This was our 2nd Sandals visit, the 1st was to Grande St. Lucian. I know I read all the reviews before visiting so I’m going to try and give some helpful tips you’re probably looking for.
When we arrived, our room was having some maintenance done so we were switched to a lower category room for the first night (they compensated us for the difference). Both were beachfront villas and both rooms were very nice with excellent views (had rooms 9424 and 9305) and we would have been happy with either one. One of our rooms had bug spray in it, the other didn’t, so do bring bug spray. I did get bit on our balcony and at the quiet pool (forgot to apply the bug spray). Another nice touch was that housekeeping stopped by every evening to make certain we had enough towels.
There is a reason that Emerald Bay is touted to have the best beaches of all the Sandals resorts, the sand is like walking on powdered sugar and the water changes to the most amazing shades of light blue you’ve ever seen. Be sure to grab a cabana on the beach! Each cabana is nestled between sand dunes so they feel pretty private. The palm leaf canopy on them is large and somewhat low so you can be in shade the entire time while enjoying the ocean.
Tip: Wifi on the beach is stronger towards the edge of the resort (around cabana #65) rather than at the middle of the resort (around cabana #40), where it barely is available.
The main pool has great music playing and makes for a festive environment. The bar is pretty busy for the most part, so you need to be patient when trying to order a drink. If I may offer one suggestion to the resort, it would be to add another bar tender to the main pool bar. We were lucky in that sometimes our butler would see us there and would come behind the bar to make our drinks. The quiet pool is very quiet, it almost felt weird to speak at a normal level. My husband loved it there to take an afternoon nap. The bar was never very busy so you’ll get your drink fast. I’ve read a lot of reviews where you “need” a butler in order to get a cabana. My observation was that if you are at the main pool by 9:00am, you can find a cabana on your own. Ocean cabanas are easy to find until about 10am and the quiet pool cabanas are pretty easy to get all day long.
Tip: The cabanas at the ocean are much cooler than the cabanas at the pools due to the ocean breezes. The pool canopies can get hot inside even with the sides of the canopy open (no worries though, just cool off with a jump in the pool)
We did have butler service with two hard working butlers, Ekron and Kevin. They really did try to make sure we were having a nice relaxing vacation at all times. Extras that came with our butler service: Room is always decorated with flowers, often with cute messages spelled out, whether that’s on the door mat, the bed, the bathtub or the table. Our butler walked us to dinner at the French restaurant because he got us the best table and had it specially lit and decorated with flowers for us. They will reserve you a cabana anywhere you wish. Drinks appear magically wherever you are. They will bring you lunch on the beach or at the pool. For our excursion day they packed us a variety of yummy snacks to go. Ensured we were among the 1st to get a shuttle to the airport to go home, reducing our check-in time. The butlers will drive golf carts with the butler guests around the back 9 holes of the golf course on Sunday 4pm if you wish to see it. They gave me a special gift of surfboard earrings that said Bahamas when we left.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask the butlers for things, they want you to be happy. Want champagne in your room that evening? Ask. Want cheese and crackers in your room daily at 3pm? Ask.
We went on the half day pig excursion with Island Routes, booked through Sandals. It’s an experience! You see the pigs on the island and they are huge!! They will swim up to the boat and it can be a bit intimidating to jump in the water with them and they stingrays, but it’s fun. There were 2 baby pigs that you can hold, the mamma pig doesn’t mind. You’ll stop at a private beach to comb for shells or play in the water, stop at a place to take a small hike up a hill to see the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea on the other and stop at an island to feed endangered iguanas grapes.
Tip: Sit at the front of the boat, if you sit on the sides or back you will get soaking wet. Seriously, you’d be drier if you jumped in the ocean.
Tip: You need shoes, but not necessarily “water shoes”. People were worried they’d step in pig poop. The pigs poop in the water (not on land) and it floats away, so you won’t be stepping in it.
The golf course is stunningly beautiful and very challenging. My husband is a professional golfer and even he was intimidated by some of the holes. Hole #1 in particular, you have to hit it very straight, if it goes to the right it’s in the water, to the left it’s in the brush. He says the greens play slow, also making it more challenging. I went in the cart with him and I’d highly recommend you go! The back nine is literally right on the ocean, it’s gorgeous.
The food is fantastic! Our top 3 restaurants were:
#1 Bombay- Surprised it’s #1?! So were we! Do try it, even if Indian food is new to you. You’re sure to find a few dishes that will knock your socks off. They serve small dishes of each entree and it’s served family style so you can easily try 3 entrees. The manager, Sarkar, has a passion for the restaurant and has got it running like clockwork.
Best dishes: Goan shrimp curry has shrimp with coconut and a hint of heat form the curry and the butter chicken is a milder dish that is so rich and creamy. Get naan to mop up the decadent sauces.
#2 Il Cielo: The Italian restaurant is pretty fancy and has the dress code where men wear long pants and no flip flops. We didn’t see anyone there who didn’t adhere to the dress code. Our server Sonia was a true delight, very interactive with excellent recommendations on what to order.
Best dishes: Spaghetti Carbonara is so creamy and the egg coating on the noodles glistens. Bacon added some salt and more richness to finish the dish. Cacciucco is a Tuscan seafood stew with a generous portion of mixed seafood topped with a tomato based sauce and red pepper flakes for a bit of heat, served with crusty bread.
Tip: At the bar outside Il Cielo be sure to see Rasheen for the mint chocolate chip cookie shot or a “Rasheen B52” shot. He’s will make your drink order more of an experience rather just ordering a drink at a bar.
#3 Jerk Shack: Caribbean food at its finest and the best place for lunch. They have a sitting area with small picnic benches and umbrellas for you to have lunch, or you can take it to the pool. Even the mild sauce has a kick of heat to it and the hell-fire sauce is called that for a reason… Drinks arrive quickly and a food manager stopped by each time we were there just to make sure it was all going well.
Best dishes: Order dumplings (who knew?!?). They are a bread dumpling that taste like the sweet corn bread coating on a corn dog at the fair. They will help balance the heat! The jerk pork is the top winner of the meat choices, but all of the food is good.
Tip: order the sauce on the side (not coating the meat) to help control how much spice it gives to the food.
Honorable mention: Breakfast buffet at Bahama Bay.
Best dishes: See Montess at the omelet station, makes crazy good food and she is a joy. What a smart lady to remember everyone’s complicated egg orders and she seems so happy to be doing it.
Leaving you will be taken to the airport in taxi’s, 2 couples per taxi, and then undergo the extremely slow process of checking in. I tell you this, so you will know ahead of time that this is going to be a process, maybe bring a magazine. This includes being questioned, in a conversational fashion, things like” What’s in your suitcase?” “What type of work do you do?” “Where did you go on the island?”. They then manually check each person in at the airport. Once you’re checked in you can go across the street to Kermit’s Airport Lounge and grab a drink or a last-minute souvenir. Kermit’s is not air conditioned but the waiting area past the security in the airport is.
Tip: You can purchase Wifi in the airport waiting area for $3.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- •NEW!! Jogging Trail on property - 2.6 miles long •Greg Norman designed 7,001 yard golf course with 6 signature oceanside holes•Three fresh water pools including the Caribbean’s largest zero entry pool with a central fire pit•24 hour room service to all rooms and suites•Seven exciting dining options to choose from•Red Lane Spa with sixteen extensive treatment rooms•Personalized off resort excursions arranged by our Island Routes Tour specialists•Sits on 1 mile of the Exuma’s best powdery white sand beaches•6 Har-Tru tennis courts including a sunken stadium court•Voted Sandals Resorts “World’s Leading All-Inclusive Company” 16 years in a row•Voted Sandals Resorts “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand”, 18 years in a row•Voted Sandals Emerald Bay “Caribbean’s Leading Luxury All-Inclusive”•Awarded #9 spot in the 2012 Readers' Choice Awards "Top 12 Resorts in The Atlantic" ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sandals Emerald Bay Hotel Great Exuma
- Four Seasons Great Exuma
- Great Exuma Four Seasons
- Sandals Emerald Bay Golf, Tennis And Spa Resort Great Exuma, Bahamas