I love being in the Travel business for many many reasons – one of them is I get invited to see amazing properties in such wonderful countries.. This time is was Sandals in both Saint Lucia and in Antigua.
So having visited Jamaica in April for my own holiday – that says something – if you follow where the travel agent goes for his holiday – i was already a fan before i even went..
Meeting at Gatwick at the British Airways Check in – before our direct flight to St Lucia of 8 hrs 45 minutes – we were all presented with Club Seats – Phew – i don’t remember the last time i flew long haul in Economy – this was a real welcome gift indeed – thank you British Airways.
Both BA and Virgin operate direct scheduled flights from Gatwick to St Lucia – both operate economy, premium economy and business seats (neither operate First Class as such)
With the 6 hour time difference from the UK you leave in the morning and arrive into Saint Lucia early afternoon – it’s still light – time for your first cocktail by the pool before dinner.
Arriving into any airport (now my 111th country) where there is a Sandals means your vacation starts from the minute you hit the arrivals area of an airport, being whisked away to an Sandals Arrivals lounge where your bags are taken away – tagged for your room – which is when you see them again…
Saint Lucia has three resorts: Sandals Grande Saint Lucia, Sandals Halcyon Bay and Sandals Regency La Toc.
We were lucky enough to be staying at Sandals Regency La Toc – my room was a Butler Suite in the Sunset Bluff area – up on the hill with amazing views of the Caribbean. We arrived to a private check-in area and was showed to our rooms. I had a Sunset Bluff Ocean View One Bedroom Butler Suite (RP) on the Sandals Website My room was the usual huge Sandals size, with 2 x sofas in the separate lounge area and a massive bed with tub for 2 and shower as big as a standard bathroom with rain forest shower – with a gorgeous ocean view form the balcony where i took my breakfast on both mornings.
There are many different room types in any one given Sandals resort – Hideaways for that romantic break – or deluxe entry level for those couples traveling together that will spend the majority of their time out of the rooms with others. Duplex, Soaking Tubs on Balconies, walk outs with huge terraces, sea views, pool views, butler, club – it can be a mind field – but each room type is there to make sure you have the best experience.
Now where to eat? Another of the many reasons I love Sandals – you have such a choice of food outlets (rather restaurants) to eat in. None of them actually feel like you are eating in the resort – you always feel like you have really gone out for dinner. At La Toc you have the choice of 9 – yes 9 restaurants to choose from. And that’s just in La Toc – with all Sandals resorts – you can dine around in other locations (In Saint Lucia there are three resorts – therefore giving you the choice of 27 different restaurants eat in every night. Some require a reservation (if you have a Butler – they can arrange that for you) some require you to dress smarter than others, so are just really casual – again – it’s that great CHOICE option you get within Sandals. My favourite 2 restaurants (if i really HAD to pick favourites) would be Kimono’s the Tepenyaki Restaurant with its live cooking demonstrations and very social tables of 10 or 12 (Ideal place to go on your first night to get the gossip on the resort – best place for a subbed for shade, or for sun all day, best cocktail bar staff – who will make it stronger if you want it etc) and there there is the Bombay Club – we all love Indian Food – and the Bombay Club prepare the most sumptuous of Curries.
I have always said that the beauty of any Sandals Resort is the choice! You can go to any amazing hotel with the most WOW factor room – yet there is no atmosphere in the resort itself. If there is an atmosphere it’s going to be either – peace and tranquility (Which can get boring after a week) or a Spring Break feel – with banglingly good tunes – which after three days can also be too much. Sandals resorts have the option to do both – chill out or party! There are pockets within each place where you can lay on a comfortable sun lounger with your book (or kindle for the cool people) cocktails by your side (topped up all day) – or you can go to the swim up bar and that with those that want to party! So you can sing Bye Bye Miss American Pie for some of the day, then Bye Bye everyone – I am off to chill on my own for the remainder of the day.
Whilst on Saint Lucia we got to see the other 2 resorts – Halcyon Bay – which is the smallest resort with a long stretch of beach and a very intimate feel to it. Again, 2 pools – one large one with its swim up bar and the other very chilled relaxed pool – that also gets the sun all day. There are many rooms being renovated here – now to include the infamous Sandals Soaking Tubs on the balconies and terraces – and a few with their own plunge pools. The famous Kelly’s Dock Side restaurant is housed here – at the end of the jetty over the ocean – (this is where it is rumoured Aimee Winehouse got married) along with 5 other outlets to choose from if you don’t want to leave the resort.
Saint Lucia Grande is a further 15 minutes away – sat on the end of the peninsular with water both sides, so which ever room you are in you have the view of water – the feeling that you are in the Caribbean of course. You have the choice of 12 restaurants here – so to come for 7 days would be a killer!
Saint Lucia Grande has many lagoons therefore many room types offering the Swim Up option – these rooms are away from it all and offer lots of peace – of course – if you go for the Club Option – you can utilise the rooms service between 7am and 10pm have ALL of your food delivered and not even leave the room. You have full sized bottles of spirits along with an endless supply of mixers, beers and wines in the room – you really don’t have to leave!
Sandals have their own Golf Course at La Toc – which can be used for ANYONE in a Sandals Resort on Saint Lucia. Green fees are again part of the all inclusive package. You just pay for a cart and a caddy if you want one. I highly recommend the caddies – I had Bob in Jamaica and he really improved my game – it still needs further improvement – so I feel another week coming on!. There is a 9 hole course at La Toc – truly beautiful with a couple of challenging holes – again your Butler can arrange this – or you can call the pro-shop direct to book a Tee time.
After a few nights – drinking premium spirits (you can literally ask for the type of Gin you want – Beefeater, Gordon’s, Hendricks, or Smirnoff, Absolute, Sky) etc – it really is premium Drinks – and the wines they offer as part of the all inclusive include over 6 varieties of Robert Mondavi not to mention the famous Appleton Rum – it was time to head over to Antigua.
As a travel Agent – I was surprised to learn there are 2 airports on Saint Lucia – I did say it was the first time I had been. The main one where the larger international flights land and take off, (approx an hours transfer depending on which resort you are staying in) and a much smaller one, very close to all of the Sandals resorts (approx 15 minutes) where you can take the smaller island hopper type planes – making Saint Lucia and ideal base for a twin or more) centre holiday.
We flew Liat on a much larger place than I suspected – 4 seats across – with heaps of room and no smaller luggage allowance than on British Airways or Virgin. So unlike the Maldives you don’t get penalised for taking smaller aircraft. Just a short 50 minute flight and we were soon landing in Antigua – my first time back in 9 years having been there for Penny and John’s wedding.
There is only one Sandals Resort on Antigua – The Sandals Grande Antigua – and Grande it certainly is! Just a 15 minute transfer from the only airport in Antigua and we had arrived.
The all too usual very smiley welcome from all the staff – just so many happy faces – genuinely welcoming you to their resort. There is a great sense of pride with ALL the staff in any sandals resort – they are often voted as the best company to work for in the Caribbean – this shows on their staff.
We saw our bags, but weren’t allowed to touch them as they were being dispatched directly to our rooms – you really are on vacation (I am still trying to convince myself this is a work trip) the minute you step right off the plane!
We were ushered to the Club Lounge as we had all been given Club Rooms – I had a Caribbean Honeymoon Beach Front Grande luxe Club Room with a cracking view of Dickinson Bay Beach and ocean! Big four poster bed – all very much wasted on me on my own some!
Again there are so many different rooms types here – all offering the perfect room type for the individual requirements of the people staying here – there is something for everyone.
Sandals grande Antigua is home to 11 restaurants – so again so much choice, there is a Kimon’s here and another of my favourites (that’s three so far) Cafe Paris (to be said in a French Accent of course – makes it sound a little more cosmopolitan) – a visit here really shows you the true scope of the all inclusive – a coffee shop on par with Costa or Starbucks – with amazing coffee’s a fine array of teas and just the best home made ice creams pastries and anything else you want to indulge on. You just drop in and order – all part of the same all inclusive.
We toured the hotel, and it was time once again for cocktails and dinner (again this is a work trip – but how can I recommend without trying things for myself?) like the other Sandals Resorts – the choice is amazing – you really are spoilt for choice. Grande Antigua is a large resort with a small intimate feel – I am really not sure how Sandals manage it – but they do.
I loved the Barefoot restaurant on the beach – resort causal with amazing food – the Nutty desert was to die for – and as usual you can change things to have it exactly as you want it – I went for mine with ice crease – as I could not decide what to have – so had both.
We also had the chance to go on an Island Roots day tour – snorkelling on one of the reef’s – having snorkelled and dived in some of the worlds best sites I was sceptical – but how wrong was I? The sea life was incredible, warm waters and so so clear. Sandals Resorts also run Island Roots Tours as part of the same company- they are extremely safety conscious, the food and drinks were both tasty and plentiful with proper crockery! None of this plastic plates knives and forks for Sandals guests! My other piece of advice for this trip is to take sun cream (unlike me who burnt to a cinder)
Like every Sandals Resort – water sports are included if you are PADI qualified your diving is free too. If you want to take out a boat etc – it’s included – paddle boards – included – Sandals really are ALL INCLUSIVE.
We had a late check out and were able to use the departure lounge, lockers to store your bags if they need the room before you leave and great showers to freshen up after your last rays before heading back to the airport…
We flew back on BA again in Club – the perfect end to a perfect holiday – I mean work trip!!
I am back now – really looking forward to my week to the Bahamas in April 2017 – of course – I may just manage a cheeky week away in the meantime – I really do recommend Sandals Resorts – there is one right for you. I have now stayed in 5 different Sandals resorts and have visited 11 of them in total – all very different but offering the same level of luxury and all inclusive offers. I will be able to guide you onto the right one for you..
Right now I am home – peeling – and looking at some of the incredible deals I have for both Saint Lucia and Antigua – in some cases – 45% off the regular price including direct flights and 7 nights including transfers and of course – ALL INCLUSIVE
ANTIGUA – 7 nights – CLUB LEVEL 01 Sept – 22 oct £1599pp a saving of £1416 pp
SAINT LUCIA – 7 nights Regency La Toc same dates £1649 pp a saving of £1526pp
ANTIGUA 08 NOV – 13 DEC £1739PP saving £1276
SAINT LUCIA – HALCYON BAY 7 NIGHTS £1649PP saving £672pp
Call me on 07990 018 018 or drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org for the above and many many more different offers.