Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sandals Site Inspections

Ben and I took the opportunity to schedule site inspections of two Sandals resorts while calling on the ports of St. Lucia and Antigua. (Visit and use the drop-down menu to select the appropriate resort.) Although we specialize in and primarily book cruises, we will also book all-inclusive resorts like Sandals, Beaches, SuperClubs, and Riu Cancun, as well as land tour packages such as Tauck, Trafalgar, and others for our clients wishing another type vacation. Of course, there’s nothing like visiting these properties to gain personal knowledge of them, and we never pass up the chance to do so.

Sandals operates three separate resorts on St. Lucia: Regency La Toc, Grande St. Lucian, and Halcyon Beach, each with different pluses. When deciding which resort is best for you, it’s important to weigh these differences, although no matter where you stay, the Sandals “Stay at one, Play at three” exchange privileges allow guests access to the amenities and services of the others. Since we’ve got honeymooning clients booked at the Regency for next March, we chose that resort to tour. It is absolutely beautiful! Regency features an on-resort nine-hole golf course—a key point for golfers since those staying at the Grande and Halcyon must take the Sandals shuttle to the Regency to tee off. (Green fees are included in the resort price; nominal caddy fees are additional; equipment rentals are available.)

Although our sales rep, Tammy, gave Grande St. Lucian the edge as the best beach on the island, the Cliffside Bluff Suites at the Regency offer the most magnificent, unobstructed ocean views. Guests can enjoy their one-bedroom suite with private plunge pool while enjoying incredible scenery. Another plus is the resort’s close proximity to the airport, a short ten-minute ride. Regency is also home to the magnificent exclusive private Millionaire Suite that was occupied and unavailable to tour, unfortunately.

Halcyon is a more secluded and less busy resort located on a beautiful beach with a laid-back atmosphere. Not as many activities onsite, but also a more economical option, though guests still receive “Stay at/Play at” privileges at the other two St. Lucia properties. It’s also home to the renowned Pier Restaurant serving gourmet cuisine on a pier over the ocean that is a favorite of Regency and Grande guests, as well.

Sandals Grande Antigua wins high praise for its location on the island’s best beach in Dickinson Bay. Home to the original Sandals “Rondovals,” this resort was renovated in recent years and now boasts two different sections. One lies in a lush tropical area called the Caribbean Grove where those beachside suites-in-the round, or Rondovals, can be found, each with private plunge pools. The other is the newer and more sophisticated Mediterranean Village, home to elegant suites—both in new four-story main building offering expansive views, as well as in individual villas boasting private plunge pools. Plunge pool or view—that’s the question to answer there! What we liked about the Regency in St. Lucia was that you can have both a view and a pool in those Cliffside Bluff Suites. I’m there!

Sandals is not limited to these properties, of course, offering several in Jamaica (Montego Bay, Royal Caribbean, Negril, Grande Ocho Rios, Dunn’s River Villaggio, and Whitehouse, which is currently closed while undergoing renovation). Ben and I spent a few days at Ocho Rios about a year ago as part of an agency advisory board meeting, and were able to tour/dine at Dunn’s River and tour/lunch Beaches Boscobel. (Beaches all-inclusive resorts are designed for families, whereas Sandals properties are strictly for couples only.) The newest and most exclusive Sandals property is the Royal Bahamian Spa Resort and Offshore Island near Nassau. Book one of the select top suites there and get Rolls-Royce or Mercedes-Benz transfers. Hmmmm.

Wedding packages remain very popular at all Sandals properties, which, along with optional spa services, incur additional fees. During our visits this week, we saw a mixture of young, middle age, and older couples, an indication of the resorts’ wide appeal.

Looking for a truly all-inclusive (including sodas and unlimited premium liquor) Caribbean resort? Sandals might be right for you!

1 comment:

maria said...

There are many types of cruises designed to cater to a variety of interests, personal preferences or special needs or of the cruise voyagers. in case you need a theme journey like sea safari or yoga voyage, honeymoon or may be family cruise with special amenities , educational programs and fun animation for children of any age. The choices are almost limitless.
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