Arrival Experience: There are two lobbies at the exquisitely located, beachfront Sandals Grande Antigua resort. They are divided between the Mediterranean and Caribbean sections of the resort, and arrivals should notate their room location before hopping the free airport shuttle to avoid any confusion. Once at the resort, the proud staff is happy to give a tour of the resort and introduce guests to the hotel’s resident parrots that also like to make their presence known. Open-air lobbies and friendly staff meet all arrivals making a wonderful first impression. The hands-on manager is often seen interacting with guests and handling special requests.
Dining: Being an all-inclusive property, the plethora of dining options is an expected highlight. Perhaps unexpected, however, is the high quality of the food and beverage options throughout. A waterfront restaurant on the Caribbean side features breakfast and luncheon buffets that include cooked-to-order stations for everything from smoothies to omelets. Mario’s specializes in Italian food with decadent buffet fare and live cooking stations, and Kimono’s Japanese restaurant (across the street from the Caribbean side) features teppanyaki grills and sushi menus. A grill spices the options with everything from fried local fritters to sticky ribs with French fries. The resort staff can arrange for private, romantic dinners in the sand upon request, and the British pub and piano bar gets busy after hours with karaoke-fueled excess. The free booze tab helps to keep the party going until the wee hours of the morning. Snackers can stop in to the free hamburger bar and deli, ice cream and coffee shop, or beachfront bar with fresh popcorn.
Rooms: The rooms here feature niceties like four-poster beds, robes and amenities baskets with Red Lane Spa products. Accommodations include handmade rugs, Jamaican mahogany furniture, and travertine tile floors. The Seaside Rondavels are the most popular given their beachfront location although curtains must be drawn in the evenings as guests can peer in from outside. All rooms come with iPod docking stations, flat-screen cable TVs, phones with voice mail, coffeemakers, oodles of bottled water, and complimentary minibars. Bathrooms feature rainfall showerheads, hairdryers, and thick towels. With so many room types, there are plentiful options, and honeymooners are often invited at a discounted price to visit the resort in advance to plan their nuptial experience. The recent expansion at the hotel added the Mediterranean Village with six room categories, another freshwater pool, a swim-up bar and whirlpool. Concierge-level rooms benefit from private reception service, evening turndown and additional en uite amenities.
Amenities: Palapas shading lounge chairs are reserved for guests in certain room categories, and staffers patrol the beachfront with vigilance. With five pools, numerous whirlpools, lighted tennis courts and an outdoor exercise area, there is reason to protect the interior extravagance here. Meeting space is plentiful with free wireless high speed Internet and space for large social functions across the property. Airport transfers are included in the rates. This resort has something for everyone with its lengthy stretch of sand offering beach chairs and shaded cabanas to dining facilities offering a global repertoire of recipes. The management team here aims to please, and the all-inclusive offering provides significant value for the North American and European-centric clientele. This is the largest employer and resort on the island, and its top-notch status is deserving thanks to top-notch staff.