“You can fool all the people, all the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough”
-Joseph E. Levine
This was our first stay at a Sandals resort and second all inclusive vacation (we stayed at a Secrets property prior). We were looking forward to experiencing the “luxury included” property that is advertised as “The Most Romantic Resort in the World.” We left feeling that Sandal’s excels at marketing tactics versus providing services and we were duped!
We arrived at the airport and were herded like cattle onto a van and driven to our resort. We were classified and separated into categories by room level and directed to our area for processing. We were staying in a “Club Level” room so we were taken to the club lounge area. While we waited, we enjoyed a beverage and some snacks. Once we were escorted to our room, the trip began going downhill…
The room was nice and provided us the them amenities that we would expect: Bed, Bathroom, fridge, air conditioning… Wait… Air Conditioning? Are we wrong for expecting that to be working in the room at a beach resort?
We arrived in the room with the Sandal’s staff member. He showed us around and we all realized our overhead fan and air conditioning unit were not operating. We were assured that they would be fixed by the time we returned from dinner. We made our way out to explore the property and enjoy some dinner at one of the many restaurants at the resort.
We returned to our room from a forgettable dinner only to learn the fan and air conditioning were still not fixed! We were forced to sleep in a non-airconditioned room as the maintence staff were gone for the day. I don’t recall sleeping much that night and the room was extremely hot. This is not the “luxury experience” that I was expecting. The next morning, we went to the “Club Lounge” to complain and were assured it would be looked at promptly. Luckily this time it was fixed.
Overall the food is mediocre at best. The staff tends to overcook just about everything, especially the fish. I have never eaten a lobster as overdone as we had at Eleanor’s. Ex: We ate at Kimono’s (the hibachi restaurant) one night and we were warned by 3 out of 5 other couples joining us around the grill that “the food at Eleanor’s was “just ok” and the lobster was way over cooked”. It is hard to imagine, but obviously no one in charge at this “luxury” Sandals resort does a “quality control check” of the food. There is no way it can be consistently bad and overcooked without someone on staff acknowledging it.
The sushi rolls at the sushi bar are premade therefore the rice is hard and lacks any freshness. The food at Mario’s had the most promise but unfortunately service was awful. We had to wait 45 minutes for a table and once we were inside the majority of the antipasto table was depleted. The staff never restocked anything the entire hour we were in the restaurant. If food is advertised and offered, then it should be available at all times or if you don’t have the ability to refill, stop taking names on a wait list!
The beach is very pretty however not at all relaxing due to the many locals that are loudly yelling to purchase their souveniors or excursion trips. How does Sandal’s have the nerve to refer this type of public beach to be “World’s Most Romantic Resort”? It was quite irritating and caused us to have a difficult time fully relaxing. Sandals put the disclaimer that it is a “Public Beach” and Sandals has no control over it so it’s not their fault. This is untrue. Sandals does allow it to happen.
Example: There is a woman who has secured some of Sandal’s old beach chairs and other pieces of metal to the Sandals fence along the beach line. This woman is allowed, by Sandals, to secure her garbage along the Sandal’s fence and not have anyone at Sandals care at all. She moves the Sandals beach chairs away from her work space every morning so she has room to place numerous bags of shirts and coverups.
Speaking of beach chairs, Sandals butler service encourages the practice of saving beach chairs. The most frustrating part of this is we would watch chairs that were reserved beginning at 7:30 am. The chairs would then sit empty all day until the guests would come out to the beach at 2pm to use them for an hour and leave yet the chairs were reserved all day. All this while other guests roam the beach for a chair or spot to sit. This is a poor practice and does not support the “luxury included” concept if guests cannot get a chair at the beach. Why not introduce a policy that chairs can be reserved until 11:00 am or when you leave the beach, you need to take your towels with you or the chairs can be used by other guests actually utilizing the beach?
How do you ensure you are able to get a beach chair and shade cover? Wake up early and go to the beach before the Sandals beach staff arrives. This ensures a great spot and chairs for use while on the beach. This is also a great time to enjoy the beach without being approached and annoyed by the countless beach vendors that roam the beach all day.
Overall the property is old and really needs some updating. The housekeeping staff is medicore. The beds were made and the towels replaced but it was difficult to get anything else. For instance, we ran out of facial tissues and after 2 days of not getting it replaced, we placed the container on the bed to get them to notice and replace it. This is not the service we expected of Sandals and a club level room. Turn down service was not given two nights as well.
The staff members were hit and miss in terms of who was friendly and who was not. Overall the beach drink staff were the friendliest and we felt they did a wonderful job of continually coming around and offering drinks. The majority of attention seems to be focused on alcohol and the drinks were definitely plentiful and there was a decent variety.
There are a lot of pools around the resort and things to do. Sandals does offer daily activities throughout the day such as water volleyball, bingo, water activities, etc. They also had events at night such as fire pits, talent shows and music.
One day during our trip, I was stung by something in the water while wind surfing. I went to the nurses station to have it looked at by the staff. The nurse looked down at my leg and then said “it was probably a jellyfish, I will give you some vinegar”. As she said this, her cell phone started ringing. She picked it up and began talking and laughing all while I stood there waiting. She handed me a cotton ball with vinegar and said nothing but continued to talk on the cell phone. I walked out feeling as though I was intruding on her personal time versus getting the medical attention deserved.
Speaking of wind surfing, the Sandals water activities staff was very nice and offered lessons on how to use all of the equipment. They very helpful and made learning wind surfing a much better experience.
Overall we were very disappointed in our Sandals experience and certainly will not be in a rush to experience any of their other properties. Overall it’s a high price tag to pay for a mediocre property. I’m sure Sandals will continue to focus on their false advertising techniques that have made them successful so far. There is responsibility and action Sandals could take to provide a better experience for their guests, but that would take effort…