Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa has been voted the Caribbean’s Most Romantic Resort for the last four years by the prestigious World Travel Awards, and so I was excited to be staying at the resort during my recent visit to Antigua. Located on the shores of Dickenson Bay Antigua’s most famous beach, Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa which opened in 1992 has 373 rooms and sits on a twenty-seven-acre site. This sprawling and highly rated adults (couples!) only all-inclusive luxury resort in Antigua is just fifteen minutes from V. C. Bird International Airport and ten minutes from the capital of St. John’s.
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa – First Impressions
After my near nine-hour flight from London to Antigua, the first sight of Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa brought a massive smile to my face. The Mediterranean Oceanview Village where I would be staying was very European (really Italian) in design with numerous columns and a red terracotta tiled roof. As I stepped into the lobby, my grin got even more prominent as I was warmly greeted by my Butler (yes, I kid you not!) with a warm towel and a glass of champagne. She helped me to check-in via iPad which was rather seamless, and before you knew it, I was off to my room on the 7th floor of the Cypress Tower Building.
Note: There is a second entrance to the Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa. This second entrance is for hotel guests staying in the original part of the hotel, the Caribbean Beachfront Village which is just as charming but less formal in decor.
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa – Mediterranean Oceanview Penthouse, One Bedroom Bulter Suite
My one bedroom suite with butler service on the 7th floor of the Cypress Tower Building at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa was huge. In fact, it was almost as big as my first apartment in Chicago. Room 7703 has a large living room beautifully furnished with a plush sofa, chaise lounge, writing desk and a well-stocked bar with high premium alcoholic drinks. This led out to a balcony with panoramic views of the Mediterranean Oceanview Village and Dickenson Bay which is a perfect spot to sit with a glass of orange juice (or wine!) to watch sunrise and sunset. A nice touch was the welcoming fresh fruit and sandwiches platters along with a chilled bottle of champagne.
Exploring beyond the living room in my Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa butler suite, I noticed the large bedroom with four-poster king size bed which also has doors leading out to the balcony. Both bedroom and living room have large flat-screen televisions. The bathroom features a roman whirlpool tub with separate walk-in overhead rain show and double sinks. Beyond this, there is a small kitchenette, with a mini-fridge stocked with a range of soft drinks and beers. And so with the beautiful ocean view, plush furniture, unlimited WIFi and access to 24-hour room service via butler mobile phone, I was almost tempted not to leave the room as everything was in place for a quiet relaxing vacation. But alas, the outside world beckoned!
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa – Food & Dining Options
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa has seven bars and eleven restaurants including Bayside (French Brasserie), Eleanors (Pan Caribbean Cuisine), Mario’s (Italian Cuisine), Barefoot By The Sea (Seafood), and Drunken Duck (British Gastropub). There is also Kimonos (Japanese Teppanyaki), OK Corral (South Western Cuisine), Soy Sushi Bar, Cafe de Paris (Fresh pastries), Courtyard Bistro, Bella Napoli and Doggies (New York Style hot dog cart). Some restaurants require a reservation. This includes my favorite Barefoot By The Sea which has tables right in the sand on the beach. All the restaurants serve up delicious food in abundance so if you are on a diet, pause during your vacation so that you can sample as many of the options cooked by a global team of master chefs.
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa – Dickenson Bay Beach
Dickenson Bay Beach is a mile long white sand beach lined with numerous hotels, restaurants, beach bars, and water sports concession. Like all beaches in Antigua, Dickenson Bay is public and one of the best on the island so it does sometimes get crowded though not during the time I was there. However, there are plenty of lounge chairs on the beach in front of Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa that are only for use by hotel guests.
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa – Pools
For those who don’t want to lounge at Dickenson Bay Beach, there are six freshwater pools and six whirlpools scattered around Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa. Two of the pools have swim-up pool bars, and the Mediterranean pool which is the place to see and be seen at the resort is approximately 15,000 square feet and the largest in the Eastern Caribbean. On one side of the Mediterranean pool, butler service is provided to those who sign up to use the large private cabanas with plush lounge chairs. The deck of the Mediterranean pool at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa is also a great place to relax and take in views of the resort and Dickenson Bay Beach.
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa – Activities & Amenities
For those who want to do more than lounge at the beach or by a pool, Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa has a range of activities. There is the Red Lane Spa that offers a variety of relaxing spa treatments. For those who want to ensure they don’t gain any weight from eating all the delicious food, there is a state of the art fitness center with outdoor tennis courts. Beyond this, complimentary scuba diving with unlimited water sports (i.e., canoeing, Kayaking, etc.) is on offer though this wasn’t available when I was there due to unusually rough seas. For such occasions, there are land sports like beach volleyball, croquet, bocce ball, table tennis, etc. Local cultural and adventure tours are also available via Island Routes Caribbean Adventures. One I would recommend is the Road Island Road Trip. Organized in partnership with Sandals Foundation, this is a fun and rewarding two-hour activity as you will interact with local school children helping them to improve their reading skills.
Note: beyond day-time activities, there is also a full schedule of nightly shows with live entertainment. The nights are themed with a Casino Royal on Sundays, Antigua & Barbuda Day on Mondays, Sandals Festival of the Arts on Tuesdays and Caribbean Carnival Beach Party on Wednesdays. Also, Enchanted Evening on Thursdays, All White Gala on Fridays and Reggae Fest on Saturdays. There are also a number of cocktail parties during the week. For example, the Culb Sandals Cocktail Party is on Sundays, the General Manager’s Cocktail Party is on Mondays and Sandals Select Cocktails & Dinner Party is on Tuesdays. For Club Sandals, there is a Wine & Cheese Tasting on Wednesdays and the Butler’s Cocktail Party is on Thursday. So all in all, Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa offers lots of activities day and night to keep hotel guests active and entertained.
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa – The Verdict
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa is a beautifully well-maintained all-inclusive luxury hotel in Antigua. And because it’s vast and sprawling with lots of activities, even with lots of couples about, it doesn’t feel crowded. Plus the rooms are high spec, and the meticulously groomed gardens with pools, fountains, firepits, hammocks, and hidden gazebos make for an inviting and romantic atmosphere. This is in large part due to the well trained and hard-working staff, a lot of whom have been working at the all-inclusive luxury hotel for a long time. In fact, most of the staff (team members) I randomly spoke to as I moved around the resort had been there for ten or more years.
Overall, I’d recommend the Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa to couples for their honeymoon, anniversary or even wedding. I actually stumbled on a couple getting married, and this was but one of 500 they do each year. That said, my one bedroom suite with ocean view and 24-hour butler service was just one of the 28 room categories.The room categories include one-story cottages with patios on the Caribbean side to one bedroom suites with private pools and a butler on the Meditteranean side. So based on your vacation budget, I’d recommend choosing a room that allows you to stay the longest. There is so much to do at the resort and in Antigua, that you really should try and stay for as long as possible. Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa is indeed a romantic vacationers paradise.