Free airport transfers, parking, and Wi-Fi throughout the property
Vast property can feel overwhelming with lots of walking and too many options
Lacks the intimacy and local charm of many smaller resorts on the island
Extra charges for premium wine list
Dinner reservations required for some restaurants
Restaurants and pools can be crowded during peak times, and guests claim chairs early in the morning
Lots of vendors on the busy, public beach
Couples-only, so singles adults and kids aren’t permitted (pro for some)
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa is the epitome of an upscale couples-only, all-inclusive, Caribbean mega-resort. It offers 373 rooms scattered through 27 acres of tropical grounds on stunning Dickenson Bay Beach. Between 25 different room categories, 11 restaurants, and seven bars, guests certainly have lots of options, but they can feel overwhelming. All rooms and suites feature four-poster beds, private terraces, free Wi-Fi, and marble bathrooms. All-inclusive rates cover all restaurants and bars, including house wines and premium spirits. Posh amenities include six pools, a fitness center, and a tranquil spa (treatments are extra). As a couples-only resort, there are plenty of opportunities for romance -- they'll just be shared with a few hundred other couples. Guests looking for a singles- and family-friendly large resort experience with lots of amenities might consider St. James’s Club & Villas.
Two posh beachfront resorts in one, offering extensive amenities and romantic touches catering to couples
Made up of two distinct areas, Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa is a tale of two resorts: the sprawling, all-suites, European-inspired Mediterranean Village, and the breezy, quieter Caribbean Beachfront Village. The difference is obvious as soon as guests step into the dedicated lobby for each. The Mediterranean Village lobby is full of imported marble, sleek dark woods, and rich fabrics, while the Caribbean Grove lobby is an open-air oasis of whitewashed walls and island-inspired colors (plus parrots named Samson and Delilah, who have lived there for decades). The buildings in each area follow suit. Mediterranean Village feels like a faux-Italy with its polished villas and tile roofs (there’s even a St. Mark Square), while Caribbean Village has colonial-style buildings, island-inspired colors, and beachy touches.
Regardless of which area guests choose, they can access everything on the resort and will be treated to a pampering all-inclusive experience, starting with cold towels and welcome drinks at check-in. Grounds feature winding paths through swaying palm trees, fountains, and the occasional dolphin statue. Heavily promoted as a couples-only resort, expect lots of romantic touches scattered throughout the massive property. Secluded gazebos are tucked among palm trees, and outdoor lounge areas overlooking the beach are lit by intimate fire pits at night. Guests range from honeymooners to retirees to groups of couples, and the resort draws an impressive number of repeat customers. For some visitors, the resort may seem generic and lacking in the intimacy and local charm that the smaller upscale resorts offer.
Just because the Sandals brand is aimed at romance doesn’t mean the resort is subdued and quiet. For those seeking a party, there’s live entertainment every night along with theme nights and regular cocktail parties. Even though the property is massive, the restaurants and pools can get busy at peak times, and guests tend to rise early to claim their favorite lounging spots for the day. Because all beaches in Antigua are public, there are regularly outside vendors selling handicrafts and tours.
Surrounded by other resorts on the vast white sands of beautiful Dickenson Bay in northwest Antigua
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa is set on 27 sprawling acres overlooking Dickenson Bay on the northwestern corner of the island. The resort occupies much of stunning Dickenson Bay Beach, the longest and one of the most popular on Antigua. The surrounding area is full of restaurants and other resorts, some of which share the beach. Grand Bay Casino is across the street, and Cedar Valley Golf Club is a 10-minute drive away. The capital city of St. John’s, home to many popular restaurants, as well as attractions like the V. C. Bird Monument, the bustling Saturday market, and the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, can be reached by car in about15 minutes. V. C. Bird International Airport is a 20-minute drive away.
A wide range of room categories, including charming rondovals, suites with butler service, and villas with private pools
The resort offers a staggering 25 different room categories spread throughout the two distinct areas of its massive grounds. Rooms in Caribbean Grove feature air-conditioning, ceiling fans, king size four-poster beds, and private terraces or balconies. Flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, iPod docks, minibars, and tea- and coffee-making equipment come standard. Closets are equipped with robes, safes, irons, and ironing boards, while marble bathrooms feature walk-in showers, hairdryers, and luxe toiletries from the resort’s own Red Lane Spa. Caribbean Grove rooms have a breezy vibe, outfitted in neutral colors and beachy tones. At the entry level are the Caribbean Deluxe rooms, which have garden views.
Upgraded rooms add pool, beach, or sea views, while suites also include living areas. Some rooms and suites are located in charming rondovals -- individual round buildings with conical ceilings and exposed beams. Most rondovals have private fenced-in patios, and some also include private pools. The various classes of upgraded suites add high-end perks like private plunge pools and butler service.
Mediterranean Village offers suites only and has a distinctly different vibe. Rooms are decorated with classic dark wood furnishings, tile floors, and custom fixtures imported from Italy, India, and Turkey. In addition to the amenities that come standard in the Caribbean Grove suites, the Mediterranean Village suites include Italian marble bathrooms that have two sinks, whirlpool tubs, and rainfall showerheads. Luxury villas in this part of the property include secluded yards with private plunge pools and hot tubs, as well personal butler service.
Standard room rates are all-inclusive. Club Sandals rates add concierge service, while Butler-level rates come with personal white-gloved butlers to attend to guest needs, complete with a cell phone to contact them. Club Sandals and Butler-level rooms also include premium liquor in the rooms’ minibars.
A wide range of cuisines at 11 restaurants, plus seven bars, six pools, a tranquil spa, and a modern fitness center
Standard all-inclusive rates cover meals at all restaurants, room service during limited hours, minibars with non-premium spirits, premium liquor at all eateries and bars, and glasses of house wine. The resort has a partnership with Robert Mondavi vineyards to provide a range of house wines by the glass. A premium “managers’ wine list,” with wines by the bottle, comes at an extra cost. Butler-level packages also include 24-hour room service.
One of the biggest benefits of the mega-resort is that there’s no lack of variety in the food and amenities, and Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa is certainly no exception. There are 11 eateries for guests to choose from, ranging from a coffee shop to fine dining. For Caribbean fare, there’s the open-air Bayside Restaurant and Eleanor’s (dinner reservations required), both overlooking the sea. Barefoot by the Sea is right on the beach, with a sand floor, and serves light fare during the day and upscale seafood dishes in a romantic candle-lit setting at night. For Asian food, there’s the sleek Kimonos (dinner reservations required) and Soy Sushi Bar. Guests will find Italian dishes at Mario’s and Bella Napoli Pizzeria. The outdoor Courtyard Bistro serves sandwiches and lighter fare overlooking the beach. Tex-Mex joint O.K. Corral, the Drunken Duck British pub, and Cafe de Paris (serving coffee and pastries) round out the dining picture. Room service is offered during limited hours.
There are seven bars on the property, including some in the restaurants and two swim-up bars. One of the swim-up bars can be found at the 15,000-square-foot main freshwater pool -- with the massive Sandals logo prominently displayed at the bottom. There are five other freshwater pools and six hot tubs scattered throughout the grounds. While there are plenty of sun loungers, umbrellas, and cabanas to go around, guests also tend to rise early to claim their favorite lounging spot for the day.
There are plenty of activities offered on both land and sea. A 24-hour fitness center features Life Fitness equipment and exercise classes by certified trainers. The resort also has two vibrant blue tennis courts. For an extra fee, guests can choose from a wide range of massage, wellness, and beauty treatments (including couples’ massages, of course) provided in dimly lit rooms full of fresh flowers and candles at the soothing Red Lane Spa.
Dickenson Bay Beach is the stage for non-motorized water sports including paddle boarding, kayaking, catamaran sailing, snorkeling, windsurfing, and scuba diving. Certified divers get unlimited dives, while first-timers can take intro courses for a fee. Spectacular sunset views keep the beach busy into the early evening. Back on land, guests have plenty of options for keeping busy: croquet, bocce, pool tables, table tennis, board games, and lawn chess, to name a few. There’s live entertainment every night of the week, along with regular theme nights, cocktail parties, and food tastings.
For those in need of some retail therapy, there are two boutiques and a jewelry store selling Colombian emeralds. A tour desk will book excursions for a fee. The conference center offers over 5,000 square feet of meeting space for guests mixing business and pleasure. Parking, airport transfers, and Wi-Fi throughout the property are free.
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