When our 10th anniversary was getting close, we talked about taking a trip to celebrate! While we would love to ramble around Europe for a couple weeks or fly off to Tahiti, we still had the 2 little ones at home and weren’t comfortable with being so far away (and gone for a long time) just yet. So, we planned on going to Key West for a quick getaway. I know anyone reading this is now saying… “Key West?… this post is about Sandals Grande Antigua!” You are right. Key West got scrapped because of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that happened right before our trip. Predictions were indicating the oil might get in the current that would loop around to Key West… not exactly the surprise we wanted on our first trip there. So… literally weeks before our trip, we looked for travel deals and found a great last minute deal to Sandals Grande Antigua… one of those, if you come on a certain day, we’ll give you 1-2 nights free type deals. It was decided… Antigua it was!
This resort is basically 2 resorts in one. The Caribbean side is what I would consider the “original” resort. The Mediterranean side was definitely the newer part of the resort with more modern amenities. However, I will say… since it was basically like 2 resorts combined, the grounds were expansive! Great on some accounts, but it definitely made for long walks if you were on the edge of the Mediterranean side (like we were) and wanted to get to the spa on the far opposite side of the resort. No complaints… just an observation.
On our last Sandals vacation to Jamaica (read about it here), we opted for a standard room. This time, since we were already getting a free night, we decided to upgrade to the Mediterranean Walkout Club Level Suite (formerly the Portofino Walkout Suite), which included concierge service. The suite was beautiful, and service from the minute we arrived was impeccable!
Our room had a beautiful view of the gardens with the ocean in the far background. It was so peaceful. We also took advantage of the yoga offered just across the garden in the gazebo. And may I add a side note, we are not “yoga people”… but starting the morning off with yoga outside with the ocean waves in the background is enough to make anyone try it for a couple days!!
The beach at the resort was very nice but different from what we had come to expect at Whitehouse in Jamaica. That resort was private for Sandals guests with guards at each end. The beach in Antigua was half private with a fence separating the two… meaning the the half closest to the ocean was somewhat public and the half closest to the resort was for guests only. If you are one that does not like to be haggled and approached by local vendors, this was much different. We were offered everything throughout the days we visited the beach… jewelry, scarves, handcrafted projects, shirts, aloe directly from the plant (which actually came in handy after the hubby burned one day), and even pot… yes pot. Sandals, of course, asks that you report any illegal or harassing offers, which we didn’t. We figured it was just part of the experience.
While staying at the resort, we dined at my new favorite Sandals restaurant Kimono’s (the hibachi/sushi restaurant) along with numerous other restaurants on the property. Another couple we met at the resort raved on and on about getting a couples massage. You don’t have to ask me twice to get a massage, but the hubby usually isn’t a fan. After some convincing, he finally relented and we scheduled a massage. This is my only negative review of our experience!
While the spa was beautiful and very relaxing, the massage was crappy at best. They gave us personalization forms to help get to know our massage preferences. As a frequent massage patron, my muscles need some serious digging to work out my stress, so I marked “heavy/deep tissue” on my form. I was informed “today’s massage would be light to medium pressure”. Awesome. Then, during the massage, after asking if we wanted this or that, they would do it whatever they already had planned regardless of our answer. I walked away with muscles that were only more tense, and the hubby said it would probably be his last massage. Augh!
We took a catamaran snorkeling excursion for one entire day and had a blast! It went all the way around the island and the sights were beautiful! The following day, due to the previously mentioned hubby’s burn, we decided to rent a cabana by the main pool. This is one of the only extras (outside of the spa) that is not part of the all-inclusive package. However, it was worth it!!! It was equipped with a misting fan and included a server to provide breakfast and lunch service and all drinks.
As we concluded our last full day on the island, we took in one final sunset from Eleanor’s outdoor restaurant. The view was breathtaking!
Overall, we decided Sandals had officially hooked us in. We love the familiarity and ease of the resorts and the amazing courteous staff. And, of course, the island of Antigua was gorgeous!!