This was our first time visiting Sandals Grande Antigua, and I am sharing our honest review of Sandals Grande Antigua to help future guests.
This review is for the dates of 5/13/2022 to 5/21/2022.
Before We Reached Sandals Grande Antigua
We booked the Fast Track services through the ABAA for both arrival and departure. While we probably didn’t need it for arrival, it was nice to have to get through customs & immigration. Since we arrived on 5/13, there was no pre-arrival Covid testing necessary because we are both fully vaccinated. We just had to show our vaccine information (we used the digital copy from our hospital and it was accepted without issue). We were escorted to the front of the line after completing the medical check, and were through customs in under 10 minutes. The wait for the luggage took the longest, but I have to say that the Antigua airport really knows what they are doing when they put the luggage on the carousel.
We had nothing to declare so we moved right through. Our representative escorted us through to the Sandals desk so we did not use the Red Caps. They can be pretty grabby with your bags if you let them. However, they are trying to earn a living so if you feel moved, allow them to take your bags. The ABAA person is not a Sandals employee, so they can be tipped.
Always remember to check with the Antigua Travel Board for any updates on travel conditions or necessary testing. Currently there are no restrictions, but always check with a travel agent or the travel advisory board.
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Transfer To The Resort
Once we got through the airport, it was a short walk across the road to the Sandals desk for shuttle check-in. Both the ladies working the desk were pleasant and efficient, and it was only a matter of 10 minutes until we got our shuttle to the resort.
The ride itself was in an air-conditioned van with 2 other couples besides us. It was a short 20-minute ride to the airport. Since the shuttle drivers are not Sandals employees, they can be tipped. Once we reached the resort, we were greeted by staff, given a cold towel, and escorted to the Club Sandals lounge.
Honest Review Of The Check-In Process At Sandals Grande Antigua
After we were escorted to the lounge and shown to seats, we were given one of the signature drinks to enjoy until it was our turn for our check-in with a staff member. Because we did the online check-in, we only had to confirm our credit card on file. Please note our other check-in experience below regarding Club Sandals services.
As always, we book a club level room for the Club Sandals services. One of the things about Club Sandals that has become a negative is the use of spa staff to escort you to your room. This is the second time (first time was at Sandals Grande St. Lucian) we had a spa person do our check-in, and I find it disappointing. We are paying for the Club Sandals services, so to have someone other than the lounge staff do our check-in and room tour is not appreciated. In fact, this time the spa person just handed us our packet and as soon as she found out that I did not want spa services, she left. We escorted ourselves to our room and did our own room tour.
Club Sandals At Sandals Grande Antigua
But the Club Sandals services were not all negative. They were wonderful to work with to get all the dinner reservations that we wanted/needed and made it easy to rent our cabana for our anniversary. The Club Sandals also acknowledged our 25th wedding anniversary with a decorated bed and a nice note. That was greatly appreciated. And that is the kind of service that makes us book the Club Sandals services.
Our Room At Sandals Grande Antigua
We stayed in the Mediterranean Club Level Walkout Suite in the Almonds building. It was a great location, and the room was very functional. It was clean and everything worked the way it was supposed to. Unlike some YouTube reviewers have mentioned, I did not find that the shower was lacking in power and strength. The temperature was easily adjusted and we never ran out of hot water, even when we showered back-to-back. I did not use the soaking tub, so I am not able to comment on that.
We always had clean sheets and turn down services as well. The only minor problem we had was having to call most evenings for washcloths. I believe that they weren’t ready yet by the laundry services, rather than an issue with our housekeeper. A quick call to the Club Sandals lounge and someone brought them to us so we could get ready for dinner.
I have detailed room review from our stay in this room review post.
About The In-Room Beverage Service
One of the positives about the beverage staff is our fridge was always filled. We never had to call to have it replenished, and they always had a good amount. We always had clean glasses as well. After a disappointing beverage service at another Sandals Resort, this was definitely a great positive to have what we needed. All the club beverage employees need to praised.
Housekeeping Services Review (HINT: It Was The Best)
Our housekeeper was FANTASTIC!! We stayed in the Almonds building on the ground floor and Lisette always had our room neat & tidy in a very timely fashion. We generally eat breakfast by 8-8:30 am. If we had to run back to our room after breakfast, our room was almost always done. Compared to other times at other resorts where it wouldn’t be done until later afternoon, we were very happy with our housekeeping services. In fact, she probably spoiled us for other resorts.
Honest Review About The Food At Sandals Grande Antigua
As always, talking about food on a resort can be a touchy subject. There were some really great dinners and there were some that were just so-so. That can happen anywhere, even at home, so I did not feel the need to run to social media and complain about the food.
And some servers were friendlier than others. But those that seemed a bit standoffish quickly warmed up once they learned that we wouldn’t be jumping down their throats or being completely demanding if something wasn’t perfect or immediate.
Out of all the restaurants on the resorts, Mario’s was by far the best and a favorite. I loved the salmon there, as well as their chocolate lava cake.
We also enjoyed the OK Corral, the food was good and the atmosphere was lovely.
I want to address something about reservations. We were able to get reservations to the OK Corral without issue. However, the night of our reservation, we were seated late. Was this an issue? No. There were many large parties that evening. We headed to the piano bar and had a drink while we waited for our table. It wasn’t a big deal.
Barefoot and Eleanor’s were ok as well. While I didn’t like the dish I ordered, it would not and will not stop me from eating there again. I just know not to order that particular dish again. It definitely is not enough to make me run to social media and voice my displeasure. I could have a bad meal at home, so I was very grateful to not have to cook dinner. I could have asked for something else but it was not a priority. I just enjoyed the parts of the meal that were great and moved onto the next course.
Many people complain about how long it takes to get your food. We didn’t find that to be an issue. We enjoyed each other’s company, enjoyed our drinks, and just slowed down. You are on an island. The resorts are designed to make you relax and enjoy each other. If quick service is a priority, then another resort chain may be a better choice for you.
The hot dog stand at lunch time was fun, and a change of pace. They were good, too!
Returning Guest Dinner
We attended the returning guest dinner. The food was good and the company was nice as well. It was nice to hear about the awards for other guests, as it gave you some goals to work towards.
I have also seen reviews where guests complain about the returning guest dinner because they spend time introducing the various teams that run the different areas of the resorts. I think it is great to acknowledge the people you don’t see because, let’s face it, without them you wouldn’t be having your vacation. They deserve the shout-outs and applause.
Our Honest Thoughts About The Grounds At Sandals Grande Antigua
SGA has some of the most beautiful grounds. From the gorgeous beach, to the pretty flowers, it was wonderful to walk around. I especially enjoyed my early morning walks because it gave me a chance to see everything. I loved talking to staff and I want the groundskeepers to know that they do an amazing job, and it was nice to see that they really enjoyed talking to guests about their job. Things were always clean and there was always someone working on the landscaping.
A note about the cats: there are cats on the resort. Lots of them. As a cat person, I loved interacting with them. I had several favorites that would sit with me or follow me around. I never allowed them in our room because that is wrong. I did notice that they did not go near the people that didn’t want them, and quickly left if they were shooed. But an important point I want to add: we never saw any rodents. Ever. Which means the cats were doing their job.
What To Know About The Main Pool & Swim-Up Bar
Let me start with the pool chair situation. It is a large problem on the resorts, not just SGA. There are not enough seats that have umbrellas or shade. There is no reason for that, and it is definitely something that Sandals needs address and to improve on at all of the resorts. For me, I never had an issue getting any seats because I am a morning person. I have no problems getting up at 6 to get the chair I wanted. I love sitting there and reading before we head to breakfast. If particular seats are important to you, my best advice is to get a butler who will do the work for you.
There have been many mentions in the Facebook groups about the lack of towels available in the afternoons. I did not see that. When we would clear our chairs between 4 and 5 in the afternoon and take them to the towel bins, there were towels available at most stations.
SGA has one of the best pools. The size of it is great, and you never felt crowded. The only thing I missed were the blue floats. I did bring my own float, so I always had something to relax in.
The pool bar was great. However, there was not a lot of consistency with the drink recipes. And as some guests noted previously, sometimes the drinks tasted like they were watered down. Depending on the bartender, different alcohol brands were used for the same drink, which is why there may have been different tastes. I found that Celestine was the most consistent bar tender, and her drinks were always as they should be.
We did not venture to hang out on the Caribbean bar at that swim-up bar, so I can’t comment on how the service was there. But it is certainly a very pretty spot!
Activities At Sandals Grande Antigua
We really enjoyed the activities at the main pool on the Mediterranean side. The playmakers for the activities were wonderful, especially Charity. As were Rakeem, Lenard, and a few others. We enjoyed all the trivia games as well. We also participated in the tye-dye station for the Sandals Foundation, and we have a wonderful memento for our trip. We also had a lot of fun at the foam pool party. I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but it was a fun activity.
Be Sure To Book A Complimentary Photo Session
We had our free photo session with our photographer Joshua, and we were able to get several great photos that we purchased. Being Sapphire level, we were able to get a discount on our photos. Getting them digital also earned you a small discount. Once we got home, it took just a few moments to access them on the website and get them downloaded.
Review Of The Loyalty & Travel Office
This is one of our favorite places to visit on resort. Shellon helped us to book two trips for the future, and she made the process easy and enjoyable. Her smile is fantastic, and she always greeted us by name even before we booked our trips.
Having future trips booked really makes it slightly easier to leave paradise.
Our Honest Review Of The Beach/Vendors At Sandals Antigua
The beach here is gorgeous. We loved walking along it, and the sand is so pretty as is the water. It was always clean, and I always saw employees cleaning and raking it. We did not spend a huge amount of time on it, as we are pool people. While some mention that the beach vendors can be quite persistent, the few that did interact with us were pleasant and we only needed a simple “no thank you” and they moved on.
On the day the vendors were on the resort in the St. Mark’s Square, they were polite and respectful. Because of that, I purchased two lovely handmade items as souvenirs that I will cherish.
Poolside Cabana Rental Review At Sandals Antigua
For our anniversary, we rented a cabana for the day. It was nice to be able to sleep in a bit instead of fighting for a lounge chair. Our server was wonderful, and we were checked on several times. I liked the cabana because we had food and drinks brought to us and not constantly hovered over.
We even had a cabana buddy!
I was absolutely appalled by the women in the cabana next to us yelling that she had to wait for her pizza. The pizza place was a very busy place and you can only back so many pizzas at once. There are people using it besides those in the cabanas. My husband had no issue waiting for his pizza, though.
Be aware that the cabana rentals are not included in your room cost, and there is an upcharge for them.
Final Thoughts In Our Honest Review Of Sandals Antigua
As always, we always enjoy our trips to Sandals Resorts, and Sandals Grande Antigua is no exception. Yes, there were some minor problems but they weren’t enough to get upset over. Caribbean 5-star is NOT the same as Europe or even the US. You need to know that going in. And you also need to go there with an open mind, and not look for the negatives.
You will just end up ruining your own vacation. Be kind. Be patient. Be understanding. Your vacation is what you make it, and you need to go and form your own opinion. SGA will definitely be a resort that we will gladly return to in the future.
Do you have anything questions about my honest review of Sandals Antigua? Want to know more? Have you been here before? Leave a comment our take a moment to contact me, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.