We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
Nearby Hotels
Reviews (4,508)
Filter reviews
4,508 results
Traveller rating
2,600
1,121
491
184
112
Traveller type
Time of year
LanguageAll languages
More languages
2,600
1,121
491
184
112
Show reviews that mention
All reviewsdrunken duckfrench restaurantbutler servicequiet poolmain poolil cielopiano barthe publa parisienneemerald baycafe de parisbutler suitered lane spaisland routesswim up barjeremy muttonocean safari
Filter
Updating list...
4,103 - 4,108 of 4,508 reviews
Reviewed September 9, 2010

We just returned from a very wonderful and restful 1-week excursion to the Sandals Emerald Bay resort in Great Exuma. Due to the fact that Hurricane Earl came perilously close to the island, our plans to spend the week snorkelling and doing dive certification were ruined. The very high winds caused enormous waves and high seas, which in turn churned up sand particles in the water, reducing the visibility to near zero. Nevertheless, how “bad” a time can one have in a lovely, all-inclusive resort on an island with such incredible natural beauty that it takes your breath away?! Believe me, it was not a struggle to “make the best of it”!
Because of our hurricane-induced change in agenda, we took the opportunity to leave the resort on several occasions and had a chance to interact with many local Exumians. We believe that – even more than the beaches – the people are the greatest natural asset of the island. Every single person we met was friendly and helpful, relaxed, open, gracious and seemed to genuinely enjoy sharing their beautiful homeland with interested visitors.

In order to facilitate the decision of those considering a trip to Sandals Emerald Bay, here are what we perceive to be the positives and negatives of our overall experience (yes, it’s LONG, but informative, we hope):

EXCELLENT:
• the maintenance of the grounds, gardens, buildings and pools could not have been more spectacular. There is a very small section of the property near the tennis courts that has not been assumed by Sandals in which the maintenance is minimal but this will not affect your enjoyment of the facility in the least.
• the staff did their very best to provide gold-standard service with a friendly attitude at all times. This applied to every server, bartender, front desk staff, housekeeping staff, gardener, butler (more about the butlers later) and all others we encountered who made our stay so enjoyable. We would like to recognize the special attention we received from Tomasina in Il Cielo, Kerry in “the Duck”, and the charming and talented bartending gentleman at the Il Cielo bar who makes the BEST “world famous” Pomegranate Martinis EVER.
• the resort has been open for only a short time since being purchased from the Four Seasons hotel chain. Much of the architecture, interior design and furnishings reflect the elegant attention to detail that is a hallmark of Four Seasons. A brand new, extravagant “Sandals” style pool is an added bonus!
• the “Quiet Pool” is located a distance away from the main activities and music and is thus a sanctuary for those who desire peace and serenity.
• close proximity to the airport (and a direct flight from Toronto). Transport to and from the airport and hotel baggage handling was exceptionally efficient.
• we booked a Coral Reef Oceanfront Luxury suite and it was well appointed with a comfortable king-sized bed and clean and sumptuous bathroom. Since we’re not honeymooners, we spent very little time in the room anyway.
• the level of service provided by the butlers is based on how involved you wish them to be. At first, many people are unsure of what to ask of their butlers and a brief letter upon arrival explains the fundamentals of the service. However we wish to extend a very sincere thank you to Stephen, our wonderful butler and his co-butler, Logesh. During our stay, a potential medical emergency occurred at which time Stephen skillfully arranged physician and clinic appointments and transportation via a very kind and empathetic Sandals Security Manager. We regret that in all the turmoil we did not get the name of this gentleman who was just amazing so that we could send him a personal thank you note. Medical crises aside, we utilized our butler’s extensive knowledge of the island’s customs and geography before venturing off on our day-trips. Although Stephen was more than willing to bring us drinks, food, towels, boxed lunches, or draw bubble baths (!!!) we felt we could easily manage these tasks without assistance. Stephen could not have been more helpful and we feel genuinely fortunate to have spent time in his very capable care.

GOOD:
• the food was quite good but was not a memorable gastronomic experience compared to other resorts or even to other Sandals. If food is the highlight of your life, choose a different destination and/or resort, for now at least! The beach restaurant had a very limited menu but was okay for a quick lunch. Similarly, at Bahama Bay and Drunken Duck the menu choices were limited, predictable and, in some cases, not particularly well executed. The pizza place was a pretty good lunch option. Il Cielo was the best of the bunch and some of the appetizers were outstanding (scallops), as was the main course Sea Bass. Our recommendation to Sandals would be to develop at least two or three more dining options, make them interesting and innovative with at least one focussed on local Bahamian cuisine.
• If you’re a big fan of “shopping” while on vacation, Exuma is not the place for you. George Town offers a fun little straw market but that’s about it, which suited us just fine. The travel shop at the resort was very good for small personal necessities and offered a selection of books, magazines and nice souvenir items.

NOT GREAT:
• the elevator was broken for the entire duration of our stay (and we suspect for some time prior) and we were on the 3rd floor. This was not a huge deal for us since we’re fairly fit but we sure felt sorry for the guys who had to lug the suitcases!
• as other reviewers have noted, there were numerous small glitches in the everyday functioning of the resort. Nothing terrible but many small, minor annoyances. For example, we received inaccurate information on when various off-site tours would run; the resort orientation did not go ahead as planned; communication between the front desk and the watersports building was repeatedly hampered by phone problems; several wines and foods listed on the menus were unavailable once ordered; room keys malfunctioned and had to be recoded regularly etc. As we’ve said, these small inconveniences did not pose significant hardship and we feel they will be resolved with time. However, in the meantime we would seriously question this resort’s ability to handle important details – brides beware!!!
• you won’t believe how hard it is to find the fitness centre! It’s hidden at the back of the spa with no signs pointing the way. Having said that, it’s worth seeking out. It’s super-clean and well arranged with a nice, private pool, including hot/cold plunge pools and a great selection of machines and weights etc. We didn’t find out until too late that exercise classes of various types are also offered in the centre. ☹
• the lighting in our bathroom was abyssmally bad. Trying to put on makeup with only one small lighted magnifying mirror (mounted way too low) was a special adventure.
• the housekeeping staff offered a “turn-down” service in the evening but unfortunately, they always showed up around 7 pm just as we were getting ready for dinner. It would have been much more appreciated had it been scheduled for later in the evening.

TROUBLING:
• the vicious, biting sand flies (not sand fleas) were the most serious issue we faced. They are worse in the morning and at dusk, especially on calm days and are particularly prevalent near beaches where seaweed has washed up, although we were also bitten around the pool. These flies are SOOOO tiny you can barely see them and even though the gardens are fogged daily it is clearly not adequate, during this season at least. In some people they cause a reaction similar to a mosquito bite but are much itchier and longer-lasting. Some guests looked like they had a very severe case of chickenpox. Arrrggghhhh!
• the truly exorbitant cost of the Sandals tours and excursions was of concern to a great number of guests we spoke with. Having been warned ahead of time, we made alternate arrangements and booked some private, non-Sandals-sanctioned tours which were GREAT at less than half the cost.
• We believe it is vitally important that Sandals promote this resort as a premier diving and snorkelling destination and put in place the requisite facilities and amenities. Many people are unaware of the tremendously beautiful aquatic resources that the Bahamas (including Exuma) have to offer.
• the profound lack of evening entertainment was unfortunate. Even though musicians were on stage every night, their performances were short and half-hearted. DJs took over at the Drunken Duck around 10:30 but most people were dissatisfied with the calibre of music (and excessive volume) and left after a short time. While it is a significant challenge to appeal to a crowd comprised of either young honeymooners or middle-aged travellers, more needs to be done to make the evening hours shine. Sandals Emerald Bay is not a “party place” and shouldn’t be. However, even those seeking a tranquil, relaxing vacation getaway do not wish to be bored senseless every night. Would it not be a reasonable compromise to develop an “oldies” bar that would play classic hits, dance tunes, piano singalongs, or even karaoke until a reasonable hour (say, 2:30 am)?

In summary, we would not hesitate to vacation again at the Sandals Emerald Bay Exuma resort in a few years' time. Certainly we felt that the managers with whom we spoke were committed to resolving the few minor problems and further improving the resort (and all it offers) in the coming months. Once the “growing pains” of this new Sandals property have been dealt with, we’re confident it will develop on par with other highly successful Sandals. With the tremendous advantages of a world-class, highly professional staff and the natural beauty that Exuma offers, how can it lose?

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
9  Thank schwabcc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed September 7, 2010

It is a beautify location, just stunning. That would be the only reason I would go back there. After the looooong plane ride to get to Great Exuma it was a lovely arrival and we got to our rooms pretty quick. We had a butler! Unfortunately, we only saw him when we arrived and when we left but other people seemed to see theirs more.

We could not find food! For the first 3 days we lived off of room service because every time we went to go eat, nothing was open!!! We couldn't figure out the times (there was no clock in our room oddly enough) and no one was helping us. We finally figured it out by the second to last day that you go to the buffet for dinner because that is the only really satisfying place. At one point, we went to the irish pub and they tried to distract us from our 1.5 wait for food (from when we ordered it) by pulling one of our friends on stage for some ridiculous game.

Still, it was beautiful. Nothing can take away from that beach.

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank ABrad05
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed September 6, 2010

We just spent 8 fantastic nights for our daughters wedding at Sandals Emerald Bay with a total of four families in our group. It could not have been a better experience as the Sandals staff bent over backwards to make sure our stay was fantastic. From GM John Keeting and the entire staff we were always greeted with a smile and how are you today. This is an fantastic resort and setting that will fullfill your every need from privacy to as much excitment as you would prefer. Great food,drinks and exceptional beauty to surround you. We were there as huricane Earl went by and didn't even interrupt any of our fun. I would highly recommend this property as an exceptional vacation experience in all enclusive style love or relaxation. The spa and golf are fabilious as well.

  • Stayed: September 2010, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank blarance1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed September 6, 2010

My hubby and I just returned from a week at SEB. We were there for our honeymoon and it was the first time we tried out a Sandals. Before booking our trip, I read all the reviews I could find on TA and elsewhere and I had found all of them to be helpful, the good and the bad comments. They gave me a perspective on what to expect, what to look for, how to handle the butlers, etc...I am glad that I spent so much time researching this particular resort as I arrived there armed with a few tricks and very open minded.

The best word I have to describe this resort is SPECTACULAR. From the minute we set foot onto the property until the last day, there were glitches. Nothing major or catastrophic, but glitches occurred every single day. Did we care? NOPE. Did it damper our vacation mood? Not a bit. Will we be returning back? ABSOLUTELY and we are already planning our next year's vacation.

If you go there expecting perfection, you will be catastrophically disappointed. The glitches and the little mishaps that occurred could have happened anywhere, with any major hotels, at any given season. The minor annoyances were by far outweighed by the gorgeous scenery, the fabbbbulous beach, the pampering and the perfect weather. Overall, our experience at SEB was awesome and we went away feeling completely satisfied and overjoyed with our honeymoon. However, for most of you who have not been there yet or are still considering the options, I will endeavor to give as many details as possible.

Firstly, I booked a room on the third floor in the 1st BLG (called the Pinksands Penthouse I think) and we were upgraded to a 1 BDR Suite in Blg 3 bcuz we were honeymooners. The room itself was fabulous, but the location terrible. It was facing the outdoor band and right next to the Drunken Duck. Noise, noise, noise. Granted, the night activities often stopped at around 11 pm but if you are sensitive to noise, DO NOT book in blg 3. The come and go of the Drunken Duck could still be an annoyance even after the band has stopped playing.

Secondly, the requests you make through the butler info centre DO NOT and NEVER will get to your butlers so do not expect things to be ready the way you want them to be upon your arrival. One of the girl who works at Sandals even says so. If you have special requests, it is directly to your butlers that you need to make them on the first day. Speaking of butlers, although ours were smiley and kind, we rarely used them. I find the whole butler thing to be a hit or miss! My hubby and I were very self-sufficient and we pretty much ran our own errands every day. We did make 1 or 2 requests at the beginning to ensure that certain meals were brought to us everyday at a certain time but other than that specific routine, we never called on our butlers for anything.

We still gave them their tips though, the "compassionate tip" we called it even though on some days, we saw neither butler bcuz we felt that they still deserved something for doing the kind of work that they do, in that atrocious heat . Hey, we were on vacation, lucky to be able to spend so much money on a luxury package so we figured we could at least spend a little more on another person. The butler coordinator also explained to us that the butlers do not participate in the pool of the general tipping that is available for the rest of the staff. When you pay for your Sandals package, the resort allocates a portion of that money as "tipping" and uses it to pay the staff's salary. The butlers are excluded from that pool and they make up for that by and through their personal tippings with their clients.

I have also found the food on the resort to be sub-par, very comparable to the all-inclusive Club Med or cruises' foods. Nothing was gourmet, including the Italian restaurant Il CIELO, which, by the way, is very, very, very SLOW. Little variety too. Overall, do not go there thinking you"ll have a gastronomic experience as you won't, in my opinion. However, there is plenty of foods, and enough options between the 4 restaurants to sustain you for an entire week. After that....well, I do admit that perhaps the limited menus would have started to be boring.

My hubby and I did not have any bug issues the whole week we were there and that was my MAJOR concern before arriving. I brought SKIN So SOFT like many suggested and hardly got bitten (I did have some minor tiny ones but they are hardly noticeable).

We did the golf tour (did not play though) and that was cute.

The best feature of this resort is its REDLANE Spa. My hubby and I were there every day. I had booked treatments after treatments and all of them were heavenly. Those ladies just know how to massage people!!!!!

We are now looking forward to returning to SEB next year.

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank madywitzell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed September 5, 2010

We stayed at the Emerald Bay Sandals Resort for one week to celebrate our marriage and honeymoon. We were overwhelmed by the service from our arrival and on. WE LOVED YOU "STEPHEN THE BUTLER"!

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank joelphif
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
View more reviews