Written By: Geoff Millar, Owner – Ultimate All Inclusive Vacations This month we are going to cover the remaining Sandals Resorts located in the Southern part of the Caribbean. These would include the islands of St. Lucia, Barbados, and Grenada. As all the Sandals Resorts, these resorts have the fantastic Red Lane Spa, a great Destination Wedding Dept. and Scuba diving is included for certified divers. Let’s look at St. Lucia first. This is an iconic island defined by the two peaks or pitons as they are called. It is a verylush island with its own rain forest. Tourism and agriculture are the main industries on St. Lucia. It is a very safe island and the people are extremely warm and friendly. The main airport is located at the south end of the island and is about an hour from the Sandals Resorts located on the northwest part of the island. The ride from the airport is beautiful but very curvy. There is a helicopter service to the northwest part of the island. The calmer waters are located on the west side of the island or the Caribbean side. On the eastern side of the island or the Atlantic side the water is a little rougher. St. Lucia has fantastic diving, snorkeling and sailing. Marigot Bay is a popular mooring for yachts from all over the world. St. Lucia tends to be a fantastic once in a life time destination although there are many people who return to St. Lucia many times. Sandals has 3 resorts on the island. What is nice is you can stay at one and play at all 3 of them. They have a shuttle that runs between all 3 resorts on about an hourly basis. The shuttle runs until midnight. This not only expands your activities but also your dining options. You can have breakfast at the resort you are staying at, take the transfer to the next Sandals and spend the morning and have lunch, and then transfer to the third Sandals Resort, play for the afternoon stay for dinner and entertainment and then return to your home Sandals Resort. The unique thing is that each Sandals Resort offers guests a completely different vibe. A tip, just bring a change of clothes and you can use the shower in the Spa at any of the Sandals Resorts at no charge. SANDALS REGENCY LA TOC The first Sandals Resort we will look at is the Sandals Regency La Toc. This is a beautiful resort that is spread out over 210 acres. It has some of the most beautiful lush gardens anywhere. It contains a 9 hole executive golf course. There are 3 primary areas of the resort. The first area is the area around the main resort, the Emerald area, and the second area is on what is called the Bluff and in between is what is called the Pitons Village. The bluff area does not have a beach but sits on a bluff with fantastic ocean views. The main resort area has the beach. It is a smaller ½ mile long half moon shaped beach. The one thing to remember is that there are not a lot of water activities at this resort because the water can get rough and can sometimes have strong undertows. Don’t worry, they will tell you when it is safe to swim at the beach. This is a beautiful resort, but I caution you, it may not be the best resort for people with mobility issues as it is spread out over a few hills with some long walking distances between areas. You can call for a golf cart to pick you up and transport you between the different areas. As far as accommodations at the Sandals La Toc there are many, as usual. There are 3 areas, the Emerald Village, the Pitons Village, and the Bluff. At the top we start with the Millionaire Butler Suite. These sit higher on the bluff above the rest of the Bluff accommodations and are 1,000 sq. ft with its own pool. This resort is home to the original Millionaire Suite. With what the call the Love Nest Suites we continue with the one bedroom suites that are one and two story suites with private plunge pools. Most of these are in the Bluff Section with some in-between the Pitons section between the Emerald Section and the Bluff Section. The next level is the Club Level or what I call the Concierge level. These are made up of Jr. Suites and large rooms. These are spread throughout the resort but most of them are in the Pitons Village area, and the Emerald Village. Last are the lowest level rooms, the Luxury and Deluxe rooms. These are in the buildings in the Emerald Village section of the resort. Some of the rooms with plunge pools sit behind the Emerald Village Section and I must warn you, the pool areas in this section are not very private. There is a lot more privacy in the rooms with plunge pools located in the Bluff Section. Dining at this resort is spread across 9 restaurants but remember with the exchange privileges there are a total of 27 restaurants available to your clients. The 9 restaurants at the Sandals La Toc include, International where the Buffet is and at night an A La Carte menu, a delightful French restaurant, a Caribbean restaurant, Italian, Oriental Teppanyaki, Seafood, British Pub fare, a Pizzeria, and a great Sushi bar. There is something to suit everyone. Food here is good. I personally don’t think it is Gourmet level, but it is very good with a wide variety, Sandals has always prided itself on the number of restaurants they have while some newer resorts are now cutting back on the number of restaurants but increasing the food quality. As far as activities most of them are land activities and the watersports are better at the other resorts. The do have an executive 9 hole golf course on the property, tennis, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Board Games, and nightly entertainments. There are a lot of watersports but most of them, take place outside of this resort or at the other Sandals Resorts. There are 2 main pools at the resort one in the Main or Emerald Village section and one in the Bluff section, each with a swim-up bar. There is scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, paddle boarding, wind surfing, wake boarding, and waterskiing. The resort also has a great fitness center and the world famous Red Lane Spa. This resort would be good for your clients that want to take a romantic vacation, a honeymoon, anniversary, destination wedding. It has a more romantic feel than active but if they want active, they do have the exchange privileges with the other Sandals Resorts. SANDALS HALCYON BEACH Let’s move on to the next Sandals Resort in St. Lucia, the Halcyon Beach Resort. This is a smaller, and quieter resort sitting on a beautiful beach and has some of the most beautiful gardens of any resort. This resort is a favorite resort of Europeans who take 2 and 3 week vacations. It is the perfect resort for people who want to relax, sit in a beautiful garden or on a great beach and read a book. This resort sits about half way between the Sandals la Toc and the Sandals St. Lucia Grande. It is also the lowest priced Sandals Resort on St. Lucia. As far as accommodations, at the top there is the Beachfront Honeymoon Butler Room with a private plunge pool, Honeymoon Butler Room with private pool, and the Beachfront Honeymoon Crystal Swim-up room. These are the only Butler category rooms at this resort. In the middle are the rooms with the Club Level description. These are the Concierge level rooms. At the lower level you have the Deluxe and the Luxury level rooms. This is a low rise resort, so it tends to feel a little more intimate than some resorts. Dining at this resort consists of 6 restaurants but remember with the exchange privileges it brings the total number of dining venues up to 27 restaurants. The main restaurant, a Caribbean restaurant, at the Sandals Halcyon sits at the end of a pier with fantastic water views. There is also an Italian restaurant, a Teppanyaki Oriental restaurant, an International Cuisine restaurant which is also the buffet for Breakfast and Lunch, a Sushi restaurant, and the Bistro restaurant serving Grilled fare. Remember to take the shuttle to one of the other Sandals Resorts for many more dining choices. Activities include both water and land choices. In the water there is scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaks, sailing, windsurfing, and two pools. As far as land sports, you have, shuffle board, beach volleyball, chess, board games, tennis, and a fantastic Red Lane Spa. Remember there is golf at the Sandals La Toc. This resort is good for extended stays, relaxing, romantic, smaller resort lovers, beach lovers, garden lovers. SANDALS GRANDE ST. LUCIAN The last resort we will look at, in St. Lucia, is the sandals Grande St Lucian. This resort is the most active of the 3 Sandals Resorts. The Sandals Grande St. Lucian used to be the Hyatt Resort before Sandals took it over. It sits on one of the best beaches, in St. Lucia, on a peninsula just outside of town. On the beach side of the resort is Rodney Bay and on the other side of the resort is the open Atlantic Ocean. There is no beach on the ocean side and remember that any of the rooms on the ocean side look over a garden and a road to the ocean. This is a large resort spread out along the beach. They are the third Sandals Resort to now offer their over the water bungalows. Depending on the time of year they will run from $17,000 – $20,000 for 2 people for 7 nights. This resort has a more extensive water activities program than the other 2 Sandals Resorts on St. Lucia. This is also the most expensive of the 3 Sandals Resorts on St. Lucia. As far as accommodations, at the top are the over the water butler bungalows. Next in line is the President Clinton Ocean Front Penthouse Two Story Butler Suit. Then comes the Beach Front Grand Rondoval Butler Suites with private pools. After those you have a variety of Butler Suites. We then come to the Club or Concierge level suites and rooms with everything from Beach Front to swim-up Club Level rooms and suites. At the lower levels you have the Luxury and Deluxe Levels. Remember if the room category says Beach it faces the beach on Rodney Bay and the main pool area. If it says Ocean it faces the other way toward the Ocean but the view will be over the gardens and the road toward the Ocean. Dining choices at the Sandals Grande St Lucian is spread over 12 restaurants including, a Continental Cuisine including the Breakfast and lunch buffet, an Italian Restaurant, a Creperie and Coffee House, Seafood Restaurant, an old English Pub serving great Pub fare, A white glove Seafood Restaurant located at the end of the pier, a Pizzeria, a restaurant serving a variety of grilled items, A newer Indian Restaurant, an Oriental Teppanyaki Restaurant, and a Sushi Bar. Don’t forget the other 15 Restaurants available with the exchange program. As far as activities the Sandals Grande St. Lucian has more water sports than the other two Sandals resorts on St. Lucia, they have scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, paddle boarding, wind surfing, wake boarding, water skiing, Kayaks, Hydro Bikes, 5 swimming pools, and a great swimming beach. Land sports include, tennis, beach volleyball, pool tables, board games, and don’t forget with the exchange privileges, golf. There are a lot of off-site tours and activities on St. Lucia. This resort is great for weddings, honeymoons, and couples who want an active vacation and love the beach and water sports, with a wide variety of accommodation selections, as well as the stay at one resort and play at three. The only drawback with these resorts is getting there, especially from the west Coast. Although several airlines fly there the only non-stop flights are from cities on the east Coast. SANDALS GRENADA Next, we’re going to move to another Island, the Island of Grenada. The new Resort of Sandals Grenada provides not only a top quality resort but a unique vacation experience on a beautiful island. Even the resort is unique with some features that other resorts don’t have. This resort is the newest in the Sandals family. Grenada is known as the Spice Island for it’s production of spices such as nutmeg. One of the drawbacks of this resort is, again, getting there. There are non-stop flights from NY, Atlanta, and Miami. Coming from the West Coast will require a connecting flight and for some an overnight in a connecting city. Accommodations at the resort are one of the thing that are unique to this resort. At the top of the accommodations is the Ocean View 1 bedroom sky pool Butler Suite that sit on the third, fourth, and fifth, floor and have an infinity pool on the balcony. They also have 1 bedroom private villas and Rondovals with their own pool. The have the Club level, Concierge, rooms and suites, and at the lower price points they have a Jr. Suite Level room as well as the luxury and Premium rooms. The dining options include, French, Mediterranean Seafood, Oriental Teppanyaki, Sushi Bar, International Buffet, Italian, Steakhouse, Pizzeria, Parisian-style Patisserie, and British Pub Food. All restaurants and menu items are included. The included activities are numerous and varied. In the water they include, Scuba Diving, the new Snuba is available at an additional cost, it is a cross between scuba diving and snorkeling and you don’t need to be certified, Snorkeling, Paddle Boarding, Sailing, Wind Surfing, kayaks, 5 pools, one with a swim-up bar. A very nice beach. Remember that the beach is on the smaller side and is on a large ocean fed lagoon rather than directly on the ocean. On land the resort has, tennis, beach volleyball, pool tables, board games, and bocce ball. This resort, as all sandals resorts has the wonderful Red Lane Spa. At night the resort comes alive with a very nice party atmosphere including, talent contests, beach party night, Lovers night, Street party night, also shows and live music. This resort would fit the couple looking for a slightly different, more exotic vacation on a beautiful island that is a little off the beaten path with an active upbeat vibe. Great for Honeymoons and Weddings. The last island we are going to look at is the island of Barbados with 2 Sandals Resorts. SANDALS BARBADOS The first resort is the Sandals Barbados, which used to be the Couples Barbados and before that the Casuarina Beach Resort. This is an older resort that has had some quality issues because of the age. In fairness Sandals has built a new section that they are billing as a new resort the Sandals Royal Barbados, will be covered in a later section of this article. They do have exchange privileges with each other. This resort sits on a very nice beach, part of which is protected with a rock seawall. They do have vendors on the beach as most islands in the Caribbean do since, on most islands, all beaches are public. The resort is surrounded by a jungle area where you can see monkeys playing. Again, a drawback is that all the non-stop flights are from points on the East Coast, Boston, New York, Charlotte, Atlanta and Miami. It makes traveling to Barbados a little harder from the West Coast. One of the biggest complaints is one that covers most of the Sandals and that is the fact that higher room categories get preferential treatment. The complaints are that this kind of treatment covers basic services and makes the lower room category clients feel like second class citizens because they can’t afford the butler level. I can understand both sides. Things like Butler level can reserve loungers by the pool and on the beach while clients in the lower level rooms cannot. Other resort chains handle this by having totally different sections and pools for the butler level as well as certain restaurants set aside just for the butler level clients. As far as accommodations the resort has one bedroom penthouse butler level suites, also they have the standard Club or Concierge level suites and rooms and then the entry level Deluxe and Premier rooms. Many clients think that because Sandals Resorts are billed as luxury level resorts, all rooms at every level contain the same level of luxury. I am not saying they should, but it is all about setting the correct client expectations. Part of the problem I see reflected in the complaints is a lot of bookings are made by the client directly with Sandals so they either set the expectations higher than they should or they set they no expectations at all. One of the complaints I saw reoccurring was, when it was a problem occurred with the air, Sandals took very little, if any, responsibility. One of the responses from Sandals about air was “we don’t control the air, we only do air as a courtesy”. Dining at the Sandals Barbados consists of 11 restaurants at this resort and with exchange privileges another 6 restaurants at the other Royal Sandals Barbados. The 11 restaurants at this property are a mix of, Indian, a Steakhouse, Parisian-style Patisserie, a Pizzeria, British Pub style dining, Oriental Teppanyaki, Italian, Seafood, a Sushi Bar, International Buffet, and Seaside Grill fare. As far as activities, all non-motorized water sports, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Sailing, Paddle Boards, Kayaks, Glass Bottom Boat Ride, and 3 pools, one with a swim-up bar. On land your choices are, Beach Volleyball, Cricket, Bocce Ball, Board Games, and Pool Tables. The resort also has a fitness Center and the Famous Red Lane Spa. At night the resort comes alive with, live music, shows, Barbados Street party, the famous Sandals Chocolate party, Beach Party, and Caribbean night. This is a great resort for couples looking for a lively resort that is also romantic in a more exotic destination. Great for Honeymoons and weddings. The beach is very nice. SANDALS ROYAL BARBADOS The last resort we will look at today is the new Sandals Royal Barbados. This is billed as a new resort but is more of an extension of the Sandals Barbados Resort. It sits on the same beach as the Sandals Barbados Resort. It is a more luxurious all suite resort with Sandals first roof-top pool and bar, a Craft Beer Bar, a bowling alley, a barbershop, and the skypool suites, like they have in Grenada. They have also added the Millionaire Suites. It has a 15,000 Sq. Ft Red Lane Spa. Guests also have exchange privileges with the Sandals Barbados. It takes their Barbados offering to a new level. Accommodations consist of all suites and at the top are the Beachfront 1 Bedroom Butler Skypool Suites, there are also a wide variety of Butler Suite choices. They also have the One Bedroom Millionaire Butler Suites; their entry level Suites are the Club or Concierge Level Suites. They do not have the Standard Sandals Deluxe or Premium Level Rooms. Dining at the Sandals Royal Barbados consists of, Seafood/Steakhouse, Asian Fusion, American Comfort Food, French, Mediterranean Seafood, and Caribbean. You can expand your choices by 11 more restaurants with exchange privileges at the Sandals Barbados. As far as activities at the resort, you have, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Sailing, Boogie Boards, Kayaks, Paddle Boarding, windsurfing, 3 pools with 1 swim-up bar and their new Rooftop Pool. On land you have a Bowling Alley, Fitness Center, Beach Volleyball, board Games, Bocce Ball, Pool Tables, and Cricket. At night you can indulge yourself in, Live Music, Piano Bar, Live Shows, Sandals famous Chocolate Party, Caribbean Night, and Beach Parties. This resort would fit couples with the same interests as the Sandals Barbados but want to experience it at a higher level of Luxury, a lively resort in an exotic location. Great for couples, honeymoons and Destination weddings. We have now ended our look at Sandals Resorts, some of the top level Couples only resorts. Sandals are very nice resorts, but you need to keep in mind a lot of the things at a Sandals Resort are not free, but they are included. An example is Scuba Diving is included but if you are not a scuba diver you are still paying for it in your price. Until next month when we look at another impressive set of Resorts. Safe Travels and Good selling.