I’m married… with children. Three children in fact. My life consists of dirty diapers, soccer practice, common core math assignments and lots of nighttime hugs. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love my life. I love my kids. But guess what? I was someone before my kids arrived. I was a woman married to a man and we were very happy together. We dated. We showed a little PDA when we were out on the town. We vacationed quite frequently. And… we slept late on the weekends. WHAT?! Yes – it’s true. It did happen. It wasn’t a dream. I swear!
12 married years later and I decided it was time to break away from the family unit and reclaim my stake on this marriage. My children wanted to come along of COURSE. But grandma promised them lots of fun and cookies and that was the end of that! Off we went – Antigua! In order to make sure that we would get the MOST out of our couples vacation, we opted for Sandals Grande Antigua.
Bill and I sat down with a Liberty Travel travel consultant from the Garden City branch and told her all of our needs. We wanted to vacation somewhere warm, that had a direct flight from NYC, offered up activities for us to do, promised a nightlife, and had lots of restaurants to try out. The choice was easy! The planning was easier. We did NOTHING. We sat back and let Allison do all the work. She was simply amazing. Read my full review here. And BOY were we happy that we let her make the choices — because just LOOK at what she set us up with:
Here is our room. Can you stand it? The Mediterranean Honeymoon Romeo and Juliet Oceanview Penthouse (One Bedroom) was a dream come true. I shot a video so you can check out the full walkthrough. This room level comes with butler service. Can you imagine?
In order to write this post up, I asked my readers on social media what they would want to know about Sandals Grande Antigua. These were the questions I was asked. I think this pretty much sums it all up!!
Explain The Sandals Butler Service:
I was curious about what butler service meant when I first heard about it. I actually thought the butler would STAY in the room with us which would have been totally awkward. LOL. But that’s not the case. You are given a phone to reach your team during reasonable hours – I believe it was something like 7AM to 10PM. It’s a huge chunk of time. You can call on the butler team to set up chairs at the pool / beach, order you food, bring you food / drinks wherever you are, make reservations at the spa / restaurant, handle front desk or tech issues, set up travel plans, etc. You name it and they take care of it. If you don’t know where you are going then they will walk you to your destination. They will even unpack / pack your bags! Amazing!
The best part about the service HANDS DOWN was how the butler team reserved the best seats at the pool for you. I mean – the ones you wanted! Right there – waiting for you with a cooler filled with your favorite drinks. Totally amazing!
One night we even went back to our room and found that our butler had left a special surprise for us. A bubble bath with champagne. How romantic! In fact – everything was romantic. The entire property. Everyone was holding hands. Everyone was just a little bit closer than normal. You couldn’t help but cuddle up with your partner. Even if it wasn’t the norm.
What’s The Atmosphere Like?
It varied. There were newlyweds, groups of couples, older couples, – every walk of life. But one thing remained constant. Everyone was having a really great time. When Bill and I landed, we kept commenting on how crazy it was that every couple was holding hands. I started to take pictures of it all but then I deleted them because I felt like I was invading something pretty personal.
My husband and I don’t really hold hands that often in public. Maybe it’s because we have three kids and we are too busy managing all of THAT. After one night on the property – however – we were arm in arm and falling in line with the rest of the group. Just like the good ol’ days.
When the photographers would ask us to take a picture – at first we would smile. But then they would ask us to squeeze in a little tighter and it would make me giggle. Because even though we’ve been married for 12+ years… it’s been a while since we’ve snuggled up like that for a pic. At least that was my interpretation of it all. If you are in need of a reboot — this is the vacation for you. Sandals Grande Antigua really brought my husband and I back to the basics – which was… US minus the chaos, the kids, the schedules, the bills. It was just us for 5 days and 4 nights.
What’s The Difference Between The Mediterranean And The Caribbean Side Of The Sandals Grande Antigua Property?
The Caribbean side was built FIRST – so the buildings only go up two stories. There is a island vibe on that side of the property. Several of the main restaurants and the spa reside on this side as well. The walk between the two sections is about 3 minutes long. So, please – do not think there is a HUGE divide. Because there isn’t!! And the walk is along the beach. It’s very visual regardless.
The pools on the Caribbean side are smaller and spread out sporadically. Some of them have music playing and some of them do not. I believe I saw one with a lazy river as well.
The Mediterranean side has one pool and it is massive. It’s the staple build that you see in all of the Sandals properties – the one with the swim up bar. L-O-V-E-D I-T. Despite being almost 100% full, the resort never felt crammed. EVER. It always seemed empty which is a TRUE sign of luxury travel. My husband and I alway note this when we travel to an upscale hotel. The pool is the tell-tale sign. As busy as the hotel was, the pools felt empty because the layout was done right. There were enough places to go that not everyone needed to be in the main pool. Perfection.
For those of you that need shade (like me and my Irish husband), there were PLENTY of umbrellas and overhangs. And guess what?! The cabanas were only $99 for the DAY! WHAT?! That is a FAIR PRICE if you ask me!!! I’ve been to countless resorts where cabanas can run a guest more like $300 a day which is completely out of line.
The Mediterranean section has 7 floors which means those that snag a room on one of the top floors will have an amazing view. We were on the 6th floor. BLISS. This picture was taken from our balcony and greeted us every morning and night. Such a great memory!!
How Does The Dining Work At Sandals Grande Antigua?
No matter which side you stay on – you will find breakfast waiting for you in the AM. You don’t have to stay in your section. No one will stop you from walking over to another restaurant. It’s not about proximity. It’s all ONE resort! Remember that!! You can either order in room service or you can head on down at your leisure and grab a bite to eat when you are ready to start your day.
Not all restaurants are open every day. But you will know which ones are open and closed the night before thanks to a newsletter you receive in your room at turndown. This newsletter lets you know everything that is set to happen the next day. This includes restaurant information, nightly entertainment, daytime activities and even weddings! So much fun! At least 2 couples married every single day I was there. It was always so nice to read what names were getting hitched.
As far as reservations are concerned – I would talk to the front desk when you arrive and ask them if they think any restaurants need them. I had a set schedule so I can’t speak about this piece unfortunately!! I will say that the hibachi restaurant Kimonos and Eleanor’s were two places that I noticed a lot of people were checking into.
Yes. It literally means all-inclusive. Your food. Your drinks. The bottles of vodka and rum in your room. The room service. The second helpings. Every bar on property. All 11 restaurants. It’s all paid for. It’s all taken care of. How wonderful!! You don’t have to worry about anything once you check in. What a wonderful feeling.
If you want to have dinner on the beach – that is extra. But honestly, there aren’t many things that are extra at Sandals Grande Antigua!!
Was The Sandals Grande Antigua Beach Public Or Private?
The beach was public. There are vendors on the beach trying to sell you things. I want to make that clear. The residents of Antigua kindly walk around the beach and attempt to sell the tourists anything from jewelry to head massages. But the water and the sand were enough to keep me put. At a constant 80 degrees all year round, you KNOW that water was inviting and perfect!!
Talk About The Nightlife:
There is always something to do! Both the Caribbean and the Mediterranean sides host event festivities. So believe me!! You will find something right up your alley. It was always so fun to see what we were going to jump into. There were talent shows, newlywed games, singing shows, bands, dancing — and MORE. We LOVED the nightly activity. Every Sandals is different. Some are very low key and some are really high energy. Sandals Grande Antigua is somewhere in the middle. I think it was a perfect mix. Exactly what we were looking for!!
Did You Check Out The Spa?
You know I did!! Bill and I did a couples massage and I was so nervous that he was going to fall asleep because it was SO relaxing. The spa has a special perk to it. If you book a service, you can go in and use the sauna or the steam room whenever you’d like for the remainder of your stay! How fabulous is that!? Remember that for your visit and book your service nice and early.
Feeling like you want to ramp up the romance? How about opting for a massage on the beach?! WHAT!! Out of control fantastic. There is an amazing menu just waiting to be leafed through. You can see how much I look like jelly in the above shot – I’m pretty sure I went right to sleep after my massage was over.
How Was The Food… Be Honest!
I’ve gone to a few all-inclusive resorts and some were a hot greasy mess. I would walk around for hours attempting to find a green vegetable. Must. Find. Nutrition. But that wasn’t the case at Sandals Grande Antigua. The food was really delicious and the options catered to everyone’s needs. If I felt like grilled fish or if I felt like a hamburger – I could find it. If I wanted Caribbean zest it was there too – and we went for that type of food the MOST BY THE WAY!!! But if we weren’t in the mood, there was traditional American or Italian right at our fingertips. Something for everyone – like I said. You will not be disappointed in this department.
Would You Go Back To Antigua?
I’m not one to return to the same place twice. I figure that the world is so big that it doesn’t make sense to go back to the same resort again. Well hear me on this — I WILL RETURN to ANTIGUA. That’s all we kept telling everyone on the last day. We took a tour of the island and I felt so safe and so at ease. The island is warm and beautiful and filled with good hearted people that cannot wait to welcome you into their home. Yes. I will be back. Yes. Yes. YES! Sandals Grande Antigua was the best host around — couldn’t have asked for a better stay. So, when the time comes that we make our way back — you better believe it will be to stay at Sandals once again!
One More Note Before I End This: Promise Me If You Go…
There is a special trip that you can take if you stay at the Sandals Grande Antigua.The Sandals Foundation allows guests on property to actually visit a handful of schools on Antigua for a small fee (that gets donated to the school) as part of their “Reading Road Trip“. You can then meet the children and enrich their lives as part of their “Community Routes Program”. Tell the kids a little bit about yourself and where you are from and then read them a story!! The children range between 3 and 10 years of age. It is the most wonderful opportunity.
Sandals has decided to give back to the communities they are apart of ALL throughout the Caribbean and has extended the invitation to their guests. PLEASE DO THIS!!
** You can bring new or gently used books to the school library too!! In case you want to plan ahead and pack some goods for the school students.
Tour Day: Thursday
Tour Time: AM
Duration: 2 hours
Price: $20 per person
You Sold Me! Now What??
End result — you HAVE TO GO. Do you hear me?! You have to pack your bags, grab your spouse / significant other and just GET to Sandals Grande Antigua. Safest bet would be to head to Liberty Travel and tell them that you want to book a vacation. Let them do all the work. I told you in my previous post. I couldn’t find a cheaper flight than my travel consultant — and I LOOKED!! Why make yourself crazy? We walked in and out and felt 1000% confident that we made the right decision after working with our representative.
It doesn’t cost extra to use Liberty Travel’s services. In fact… I feel like it saves you money and time! When I book a trip for my family, typically I spent countless hours hunting down the best deals on the net. For this trip, that weight was lifted OFF MY SOUL. Our travel consultant not only had an unbelievable amount of knowledge of the property (because she personally had visited it before) but she was also able to compare it to multiple Sandals resorts as well. The Liberty Travel team does their homework! It’s not just about memorizing facts from a book. It’s about flying out and visiting the places they are promoting so they can speak FIRST HAND about every single detail.
I hope you enjoyed my memories. Please take a look at the videos as well — I had a lot of fun making them!!
* I reviewed the Sandals Grande Antigua property on behalf of Liberty Travel. No compensation was earned. However, my flight and accommodations were waived in exchange for this write up.