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"Another great time at Sandals Whitehouse!"
Our second trip to Sandals Whitehouse was even better then our first one. Very little construction going on. The renovations they have done are very impressive. They did a great job! Russell at the Loyalty desk was amazing with all our questions and taking care of us. Being a diver, I thought the dive shop was top notch as well. ALL of the staff are very nice, ALL the time. They are always there to give you a helping hand or answer a question. I have to give a big shout out to Alton, the dive boat captain, string bean (Carlton) one of the dive guides that I did my deep dives with, and Demane another dive guide that I did my night dive with. We also were able to have lunch with these three awesome people. Thanks to everyone at Sandals Whitehouse or should I say Sandals South coast now.... Simply Beautiful and the best vacation in a long time. Thanks guys, we will miss you till next time. Rob and Joanne Millar
"Lengthy, Honest, and Detailed Review From Travelers with High Expectations"
First, I would like to start off by saying this was our first Sandals trip ever. I had been drawn to the Sandals commercials ever since I was a young girl. I had always wanted to try a Sandals property even though I was told Sandals wasn’t what it used to be and even after I learned that such an expensive resort does not even include robes and room service for all of its guests (something rather basic for a luxury AI resort). Our vacationing background, while infrequent, includes other luxury all inclusive resorts such as the Iberostar Grand chain (very luxurious with tons of inclusions including concierge, room service, robes, separate shower and jetted tub, as well as humongous balconies for all- even basic level rooms) and Excellence Resorts (where we did upgrade to club level service with an amazing two story room with a balcony on the first level including an indoor/outdoor hot tub and a large rooftop terrace with a jetted cold plunge pool and two large sunbeds). We have also cruised in the past. Nevertheless, I had to try Sandals. I knew that if I did not, I would always wonder and always want to try one. Since my husband and I decided on Jamaica trying a Sandals was a no-brainer. Sandals practically owns the Island as this point, and Jamaica is Sandals’ home and where it opened its first resort. In selecting a property, we wanted something with privacy and seclusion: something that left somewhat less touristy. We wanted large pools and a good beach, and we wanted a resort where we could relax and do as little as possible. While the Secrets chain tempted us as did our beloved Iberostar Grand, we just had to try Sandals, and SWH was the overwhelming winner among the Sandals available in Jamaica. We stayed eight nights in November of 2016. I was sad to leave the resort.---even had we had the worst time in the world the idea of being in Jamaica versus a chilly New York is a no brainer. Upon arriving to Montego Bay we were met with a Club Mobay representative (which will be a separate review in itself) and escorted to the Sandals Lounge area. Now, the Sandals lounge is currently under construction (or so it was at the time) and we were able to use the Club Mobay lounge facilities, although not for long. When greeted by Sandals, all of our bags were tagged including carry-ons and purses and we were told it would be 20 minutes before the shuttle left (not bad!) It ended up being more like five minutes as my husband rushed me as soon as I got out of the restroom. That's not a bad thing...we got to the resort faster! The shuttle driver is from Junta Transportation (perhaps I got the name of spelling wrong). I learned that the drivers are not employed by Sandals but the company they work for works exclusively for Sandals, which is why you are allowed to tip these drivers (remember: Sandals is overwhelmingly tip-free on a daily basis for you average inclusions). The driver was alright. He did not say much and seemed to be talking to only one person from our bus who was visiting SWH but originally from Jamaica. Some say the ride was perilous and that it was the worst experience of their lives. That's all so dramatic for my taste. The drive was up narrow, windy, poorly paved and mountainous roads. The driver did his best to avoid the potholes. I would not rule this resort out for the ride. Personally, I was so exhausted from the lack of sleep from the night before that I took a nap on the shuttle. The driver did ask us all (three couples total) whether we wanted to stop for a beer and restroom break half way to the resort. While that would have been a great opportunity to try actual jerk chicken (unlike what is offered at the resort) we passed and chose instead to continue to the beautiful SWH. The shuttle itself had air conditioning and was not overly cramped. It was a pleasant ride considering the roads and sometimes crazy Jamaican driving. With that said, I never felt unsafe. The drivers do this multiple times a day! Actually, the driver we got on the ride home was very talkative and friendly and great. Wish we had him on the way in too! Once we arrived at the SWH threshold we drove through a long road of palm trees and other beautiful tropical fauna until we arrived at the lobby, which has a beautiful small garden with statutes and a water fountain in front of it. We were greeted with a cold towel scented with lemongrass (a divine scent) and welcomed home. We were seated in the lobby. The lobby reminded me of being seated in the living room of a home belonging to a well-to-do Floridian couple. It was by no means impressive or grand (Iberostar Grand is filled with marble and cathedral ceiling artwork) but you could tell from the French doors on the other side that there was something quite lovely waiting for you on the other end. It turns out all three couples were club level guests (one had a butler). We were met with a representative of Club Sandals and brought to Club Sandals for a brief orientation and check-in via i-pad. I had already done online check-in but somehow that did not register as I had to check-in on the i-pad...no big deal. Club Sandals lounge is by no means impressive. Compared to the mahogany-clad fclub house at Excellence Playa Mujeres—complete with full service bar, cigar bar (for purchase), its own huge hot service gourmet buffet, and ample tables and representatives—this lounge was mediocre at best. It offered a coffee/espresso machine and cookies along with "jumpstart" which is rum punch that can apparently only be found at Club Sandals. It is very good but, again, you get more at Excellence in terms of concierge lounge and service by far. Overall, I found Club Sandals to be a major fail. The employees were very friendly but in a forced way for the most part. We were there celebrating my birthday and my husband went to concierge in secret on the day we arrived to planned some sort of grand surprise for me for my birthday. I assume this was room decor and perhaps something else...who knows. He confirmed with Club Sandals on two separate occasions. On my birthday he wound me up for a wonderful surprise that never came. He was so mad. When he called concierge they stated it was because the room light was "red" and not "green" (lights to be explained below). However, the room light was "Green". Not only did we see it "Green" when we entered but I personally turned it "green" as we left the room for dinner. We did not appreciate being lied to. I believe in honesty is the best policy as we are all human. If Club Sandals simply stated that an error had been made and they are sorry about that than that would have been less disappointing than being lied to over a red light versus green light (and again- IT WAS GREEN). Overall, I did not find the Club Sandals staff helpful. They did not know the answers to any of the questions I asked. In order to book the spa for us or snorkeling or anything else, they had to call and first request availability or call and find out information. When I asked about dinner reservations (which are not required- not that I knew at the time) they looked at me as though I was somehow disrupting their day and as if I had six heads- heaven forbid I ask!. That said, there is one Club Sandals employee who deserves a shout out: Kadesha. She greeted us on our first day (and hugged be on our last) and although she was not our concierge she booked a cabana for my birthday immediately because she said there were only two available due to construction and space was limited and she wanted to make sure we got one. With that said, Club Sandals/Kedesha never told the cabana concierge it was my birthday and the concierge was a bit disappointed about that. I suppose she would have decorated differently (either way, it was wonderful- more to follow on that below), but Kedesha and her incessant flirtation-like compliments just made us plane-old happy. Also, we never found out who our concierge's were. I did get a daily call from Romain, so I presume he was one of them, but I never met Romain. I felt, overall, the service did NOT warrant the $600.00 price tag. I did appreciate the extra daily club events with personal invitations but we never went to any of the events except for the concierge snorkel session, although the only difference between concierge snorkeling and regular snorkeling was. I do believe we got the catamaran cruise for free because we were club sandals members though and that was AMAZING (see below re: catamaran cruise). Now, let's talk about the room itself---for some like me this is super important. We were lucky to be in room 1105 in the Italian Village: a brand new renovated room with less than a handful of stays in it before we got there. I requested room 1101 and was thrilled not only to have gotten a room close to the one I requested, but this room—beach view with easy IV hot tub access—but a room away from the jerk shack construction that was occurring immediately in front of room 1101. Lucky us that the room request worked out even better than anticipated! Our room was a beautiful club level walkout room. It was the entry-level club room and featured a four-poster king-sized bed with a very firm yet tolerable mattress, large flat screen television with USB drives attached to its dresser, a small couch with coffee table, and a single-sink vanity with a bathtub. The bathroom had a great mix of wood and modern sea-colored tiles. The room was simply beautiful—not too fancy and not too simple. The balcony/walkout is small (and I knew that prior reviewing photos and TA reviews)—in comparison to Iberostar and Excellence it was downright tiny and without the jacuzzi’s those resorts had me accustomed to—but I was not bothered because I could walk do the IV hot tub not too far to my right or to the beach directly up front. In fact, we were right in front of Great Big Mabel! Note: we did have an issue with the sewage system somehow causing our toilet to overflow a bit one morning (or something like that) that was VERY inconvenient and smelly but the issue was resolved by housekeeping the time we finished breakfast so I did not pay too much attention to that. My final thoughts on the room—while you get less than you would at one of the Spanish-owned resorts (of which there are basically only two options for luxury AI adult-only) the new IV rooms are plenty good for me. I will tell you on our last day we were switched to an old room in the French Village for a hot minute as our plane took off at 5:50 p.m. and we had a late departure from the resort. I would NEVER stay in a room in the DV or FV that was unrenovated as the IV rooms are. I was appalled at the state of the room and mainly, the bathroom. I have stayed at Holiday Inn’s with greater amenities. Really: those rooms are awful and had poor lighting. However, the newly renovated rooms are an A and I would happily stay again. Now let’s talk about some other specifics --- Food/Restaurant Service/Drinks: The food ranged from good to excellent. Overall we really enjoyed all of our meals with, perhaps, the only exclusion being desserts all around at the restaurants. Nevertheless, Café Du Paris took care of that problem for us in a jiffy! Overall I found the staff was either indifferent/rude or that they went out of their way to help you and enhance your experience. There was a huge divide in the service you received from staff. Let’s break it down: Eleanor’s: Breakfast—Good to great service and humorous atmosphere if you sit outside and have to deal with the birds. We LOVED it here for breakfast. We liked the different offerings you could get here in comparison to Bayside and the fact they also had the classic favorites too. We enjoyed being able to indulge with portion control provided by an a la carte style restaurant without the worry of, “I see food and thus am programmed to eat it because it looks good.” We loved the eggs, Jamaican pancakes, and the stuffed French toast which we ordered one day to share. SO GOOD! I warn you though: beware of the birds. One took a piece of bacon off of my plate as I ate. Usually the birds pounce as soon as you leave but there was one aggressive one who hung around Eleanor’s in the morning to snag bacon and smoked salmon off of people’s plates. Great choice for breakfast though, really! Dinner—The server was awful. I do not know what her issue was but she hardly looked at or spoke to us and we felt like an inconvenience to her. She was rude. That said, they were quick to replace our drinks and dishes when we were done eating, and somehow managed to find me mango (which apparently is impossible to do here) for my mango mojito. The food itself was delicious though. The curried lamb was amazing and the jerked pork chop was very good. I really did love the food though. A +. Jasmine’s: The service was magnificent. We even got the meet the chef. The food was delicious. Even the dessert too (order what is essentially a banana spring roll with ice cream and you will never be disappointed). I tried sushi as well as the Korean beef dish with fried rice. Skip the unnecessary and not so Asian lemongrass bread (hard as a rock) and you are all set. In all my travels, I never met an Asian restaurant at an AI that I liked. Well now I just did! Wonderful choice. Bayside: Bayside was likely the biggest disappointment in terms of food. For breakfast and lunch it was buffet and for dinner it becomes the French restaurant (now sans escargot). Breakfast—food is delicious but there are some issues. The bacon tend to be overcooked and cold, the sausage tends to be undercooked and cold, the selection of meats and cheeses is very poor with only two meats and two cheeses per day. The fresh eggs and omelets are scrumptious and made with local eggs. The fresh pressed tangerine juice is a must and you are offered the best coffee in the world (Jamaican blue mountain), mimosa, or bloody mary upon arrival. That was great. I had a mimosa on my birthday. The pastries are all just okay and included somewhat dry but still delicious banana bread. The one thing they got right (and perhaps too right) were the croissants. They were so darn good! I at so many it was just awful of me. Sometimes they came in different shapes so I wasn’t sure whether they were made with frozen dough or in house but I just simply did not care. They were delicious. They need a larger selection of cheese though, more yogurt including greek yogurt, and more importantly, they need to work on their fruit selection. The fruits were AWFUL. I am a huge fruit person so this was a disappointment. The watermelon was off all week, the pineapple was almost white like snow, and the two melons were fine but boring. No berries. No mango. Canned overly sweetened peached. Just tons of papaya. I know there’s mango somewhere…please don’t hide it. Better fruits lead also to better smoothies. I LOVE the smoothie section of the very short buffet but I was not pleased with the fruit selection. Overall, the buffet is small. Plenty of food to satisfy you, don’t get me wrong, but I like a greater selection. In comparison to Iberostar Grand and Excellence…well, there really is not comparison on the buffet front. Lunch—we only did it once or twice. It was not our facorite for the same reason as breakfast. Selection was small. Food was pretty good but often cold before you got to the table. Also, an FYI, do NOT eat the hot dogs. I am from NY so I love a hot dog but when I opened up the buffet server to find pale hot dogs swimming in water with sausage and peppers I nearly keeled over in shock and disgust. Hot dogs, like burgers, should be GRILLED. Also know that the buffet takes a daily theme for lunch- no burgers unless it’s Route 66 day. If you want burgers go to Neptune’s or Bluefield’s. They were amazing! That was mostly where we ate for lunch. Lunch should also offer more salad options than it does not and some sushi too. Again, compared to Iberostar Grand and Excellence you get A LOT LESS. In Excellence you could get grilled lobster for lunch at an over-the-pool restaurant and you could get sushi for lunch along with a slew of other buffet items in a very large buffer restaurant daily. In Sandals some return guests got special lobster lunches because they knew the chef but that should not have to be the case when you pay tons of money. At Iberostar Grand, there is grilled lobster, filet mignon, lamb chops, all made in front of you. They also have a cold raw seafood bar that is plentiful and for breakfast and lunch, all the cheese in the world! The options are just so much more upscale and the price of what you pay in both Excellence and Iberostar Grand is the same as with Sandals (at least SWH). Dinner—Dinner was overall delicious with pretty good service. I had only minor complaints. First, they got rid of escargot (no doubt to save money) three months ago without changing that on their website. They replaced the escargot with scallops. For a French food lover such as myself, this is a bait and switch crime. No French restaurant should exist without escargot. The french onion soup was also very delicious but almost done got in our bowl, which was less than half full. The crème brule was nasty—too sweet and had an overly liquid consistency. These are things that should not happen in a French restaurant. That said, the rest of the food was delicious and the service, while very slow at first, was good overall. We got to sit outside and listen to the amazing singer Michael-David who really enhanced our dining experience. He is AMAZING! Bluefield’s: Lunch—Fries have wonderful seasoning on them. The view of the beautiful FV beach is lovely and the birds are so entertaining. The jerk pork quesadillas are delicious! Not a fan of the jerk chicken burger, but that was just me. I tried by first Jamaican beef patty and it was pretty good. The best part of Bluefield’s though is really the view. Dinner—again, the view is lovely. The food was very delicious. I had the Caribbean sampler for an appetizer which was scrumptious (but the fish super salty) and the lobster with shrimp for dinner. The lobster was much better in taste than the one I got for my candlelight dinner and the garlic butter dipping sauce was DIVINE. The mashed potatoes were yummy but possibly out of a box. Overall the food was good. My husband had the curried oxtail and he really enjoyed it even though he does not eat curried dishes a lot and usually does not like curry. We loved our meal and were unable to stay for dessert as the chocolate white party was calling our name. Guissepe’s: Lunch—wonderful thin-crust personal pizzas that taste best when eaten pretty much as close to right away as possible. They’re very good. I am from NY and while it’s not NY pizza it’s still darn good. You can order it on the phone for pick up or on the spot and within 10-15 minutes you will have a to go box filled with goodness for you to eat on the beach, by the pool (or for some, in the pool), or on your balcony. Dinner—service was super slow and the bread was so-so until I discovered the amazing cheesy pizza-bread, which I still crave to this day (DELICIOUS). I should have gone for what I originally wanted which was the risotto or something less average but I went with the chicken parm. That was a bust but I would totally go back as my husband’s lamb chops were delicious and their other dishes looked good! The anti pasta station was very small but plentiful. I tried the zucchini soup too. It was not for me but my husband ate it all. For dessert, the tiramisu was layered in a cup and I thought it was delicious until I tried my husband’s chocolate “Tarte” which took 20-2 5minutes to make….Bummer. But WOW. It’s no tarte- it’s a lava cake which I usually hate but this one was absolutely fantastic and swam in vanilla ice cream. I stole the last of his desert because it made my delicious tiramisu look bad and I just could not stomach it ☺ Neptune’s: Lunch—the burger served with curly fries is darn good! We had it with a greek salad to share and turned the bacon blue cheese mushroom burger into an American cheese bacon burger. My favorite lunch! Great view of the boats, beach, and some fountains. Met a lovely little cat friend there too. Also try the fish burger which is actually a fried fish filet sandwich and not burger, but nevertheless wonderful. Dinner—Mediterranean! We love Mediterranean food back home and for an AI resort in Jamaica this was not half bad (although the baklava was all too lacking in the insane amount of honey and fat appropriately required of baklava). My husband and I both had the lamb two ways dish and it was delicious. The service was so good too! I could not decide between deserts at first and ordered only one and the lovely waitress brought us both. So sweet of her! The rest of the food was good too, but there is room for improvement. Café du Paris: Delicious crepes! I only wished there were real strawberries instead of strawberry jam as a filler option. There’s a huge different in taste! The ice cream is delicious too! Soft serve and limited to three flavors, although rumor has it that will eventually change ☺ Cookies are delicious and include chocolate chip, peanut butter, meringues, and short breads. The pastries ranged from okay to amazing. They actually nailed the pumpkin pie for thanksgiving. I loved the ice coffee and cappuccino’s. I would suggest they not place pastries in brown paper bags though as they get all mushed together. That’s a bummer. Overall, delicious option that will hit the sweet tooth right away. My one real suggestion is to add more nutella in the nutella crepe—who doesn’t want more nutella lol'! It’s actually really nice to sit outside of Café Du Paris and enjoy some coffee and sweets while watching the peacocks pass and the hummingbirds come by. You see the pool and ocean and the beauty of Jamaica and SWH. Great place to sit in awe and if it rains you can have some sweets while taking shelter in the umbrellas that cover the seats there. Did I mention they make a mean milkshake too' It’s THAT good. Room Service: The menu is limited which beckons the question was Club Sandals worth it' Eeh probably not. We did room service breakfast only once. It was delicious actually. The other two times I ordered out of principal. I thought, “oh jez I’m not using this service I paid a lot for so lets order something and test it out.” Breakfast, again, was wonderful! The only think is asked for a basket of croissants and got a basket with two croissants and a ton of bread that went uneaten. But the eggs and meats, fruits, etc. were all very fresh and delicious. The juice was also very good although not freshly pressed like the kind I loved from Bayside. Pool Bars/Bars/Drinks: Bartenders were all super friendly and they did NOT skimp on the alcohol. Personally, I’m a light drinker so I had to order with a caveat that the drinks be made light and they did so for me mostly every time. Huge should out to Willis! Great guy! Try the banana drink and a mojito! Loved the mojito! I also developed a newfound love of Red Stripe beer. The martini bar needs a facelift though- décor was off and it sometimes smelled like something really really wrong. Also it was too cold there. Candlelight Dinner: The candlelight dinner had its ups and downs. Overall, did I think our experience was worth the extra $180.00 cost' Absolutely not. That said, we did enjoy ourselves. It was my birthday and the evening was super windy. We chose the 8:30 p.m. dinner both for privacy and in order to enjoy the most of our cabana which was serviced through 5:00 p.m. that day. It was pitch black outside and as we walked to Sandals Concierge our waitress met us outside. We were the only ones on the beach at this time eating dinner. The waitress did not know it was my birthday. She said she knocked on our room door all day to try and catch us to see if we wanted to move to a less windy location on the beach with a roof and she decided to keep us in our selected location (at an open jetty) in front of the DV pool even though the wind was bad because she could not reach us. Of course, had she asked concierge, they should have been able to tell her we rented a cabana for the day and could be reached there. The idea of us sitting in pitch black darkness having dinner over the ocean alone was amazing. In actuality it was both amazing and uncomfortable. Things kept blowing from the table. The candles were electric, and we had no regular butter with out bread because sand got into it. When I asked for more butter I was told the restaurants were closed and she could not get any butter. We were given a glass of champagne and offered wine with the meal, but only had water aside from that and were not offered other non-alcoholic or other alcoholic beverages. The wind was INSANE. Service was alright, although lacking common sense. We had to guard our $200.00 dinner from the sand!!!! (We gave a $20.00 tip nonetheless mind you). My husbands vegetable salad was mediocre but my goat cheese pear salad was downright disappointing. Dressing was lacking, pears appeared to be from a can and too sweet, and the goat cheese was actually feta cheese. I know cheese and I know gourmet salads so you cannot fool me there. This was disappointing. For appetizers I ordered a watermelon feta tower which was mediocre but my husband ordered an AMAZING shrimp cake which I gladly stole off his plate. My husband entrée was a salmon shrimp combination he enjoyed (although he said he had better) and I had DELICIOUS STEAK with DISGUSTING INEDIBLE LOBSTER that was too salty and grimy and had no dipping sauce to balance the flavors. The dish came with mashed potatoes, which were great but again, possibly out of a box. My husband ordered an amazing mini triple dessert consisting of peanut butter mouse and liquor. So good. Stole that from him too as my lychee mango cheesecake (which is so me) tasted awful. SWH just lost entirely on the cheesecake front everywhere we went. But we are New Yorkers and cheesecakes are our specialty so perhaps that’s why we are so particular. We were never offered the coffee or tea from our menu. We knew the dinner ended ten minutes after I was gifted a single red rose. We were blindly waiting for coffee (which we checked off on the menu) and turned around to see the waitress with her hands behind her backs. We realized then the experience was over and headed over to Café Du Paris for much needed coffee. Beach & Cabana: The beach is visually stunning. It is very long and stretched out. It is beautiful to look at. In terms of swimming it was hit and miss. At first, the water was not overly murky and I felt comfortable swimming. We always used water shoes to avoid sea urchins, but on murky days I could not see my own feet or my black water shoes. I loved the warm salty water and enjoyed so much swimming in the seemingly waveless beach, but sometimes felt a faint bit of anxiety as I was afraid an urchin or jellyfish lurked where I could not see him…I am always weary in a situation where I cannot see my own feet. I saw sandbags appearing in an area of the DV pool and found portions of the IV beach to be extremely rocky. Never made it out to swim by the FV but I heard it was a tad better with the off property beach being the best (but beware of sting rays and small baby sharks). I LOVED my time in the ocean and wish the water were clearer for me to spend more time there comfortably. I also felt like I was sinking at some points in mud as I entered the water….only at some parts. All these issues are due to the fact this is a man made beach and I understand the beach murkiness and overwhelming sea grass (which also made be afraid to swim or stand near) is an ongoing issue Sandals is working on taming. I hope they fix the problem again soon. I understand it’s hard to work with unpredictable mother nature, but I loved swimming in the ocean. I cannot wait to do it again. I just wish I felt more at ease with the conditions. The cabana was $125.00 for the day and you could use it all day long but service was only offered from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Our cabana concierge met us at Club Sandals and offered to order us breakfast. We had already eaten and declined. We were walked over to a beautifully decorated cabana with ice, a cooler with drinks, two loungers, and a table and chairs for lunch. Also included were two loungers out front without shade in case you wanted to tan. The cabana concierge brings you drinks periodically and checks in from time to time, not too much. She also ordered lunch for us. You can pick anything you wanted and we ended up with a combination of menus from Bluefield’s, Neptune’s, and Guiseppe’s. It was awesome! LOVED the cabana! Water Sports & Snorkeling: The snorkeling team does a great job. The trip is 30 minutes in the water and 45 minutes total. You sign up in advance and are sent to the rehabilitated reef. I have to say it was the most uneventful snorkeling I have seen yet but perhaps that is because I was having a flipper issue on both occasions and did not get to swim as far out as I would have hoped. I did hear I missed a stingray on our second trip. Next trip I will bring my own flippers for comfort. I am a strong swimmer so I usually go pretty far. That said, I had a blast snorkeling. I become so enthralled just from being in the water and when I see fishes even more so. The snorkeling was great and if you do have your own mask and fins etc. you can reach the reef on your own if you are a strong swimmer. The boat ride from the resort dock to the reef is also just so beautiful. You really get an expansive look at the large size of the property and the lovely European architecture and tropical fauna. It’s beautiful and wonderful to know it’s just us SWH folks there and not a slew of other resorts like on the Cancun strip or even in Negril where 7-mile beach—albeit far superior to the SWH beach—is lined with resort after resort after resort. The water sports guys seemed alright too. We didn’t do too much but we did do Great Bib Mabel, aka tubing. It was my first time ever doing anything like that. I have been missing out! It was so much fun!!! I loved it!!! Pools: We love that SWH has three large pools! The Riviera pool in the IV was the largest and we basically spent all of our pool time there. At first, the pool did not seem as the photos made it look but it’s a really big pool and fun too. There are plenty of loungers and we always found a seat. Most of the time we even got shade too! The water was nice and cold. I believe the pool and pool bar do need to be re-tiled/re-grouted. I think they should go with dark blue and light blue contrast tiles with Sandals written in white tile. Excellence did something like that and it looked great. It would also match their new bathroom tiles a bit and create a sense of continuity in design which the resort currently lacks. The IV pool is the best of the three though! DV pool has a not so hot hot tub with strong bubbles. Overall the hot tubs had issues, with the exception of the separate IV hot tub. We did not go to the FV pool but I hear it’s super fun and I know it has a swim-up bar. On the day we arrived we went to the DV pool at 4:00 p.m. and swam with mosquitoes. They were all over the dead pool. I had to pick them out of my bathing suit after. I was appalled. I think all the pools need to be cleaned better with better filtration systems though. Hot tubs included. People go from the beach to the pool and vice versa and there are a lot of trees near the pools as well as mosquitoes and bees and these things should not be floating around for too long. The filtration systems also need some work. Spa: The red lane spa is alright. It was likely the least impressive series of massages I had ever had with pressure either too hard or too light with no appreciation for my actual input. I also did not appreciate being asked at the end by my masseuse whether I wanted her to do my next massage. I said yes to her because she asked and I did not want to be rude but she was not any good. The rooms themselves and the spa facilities were tired but had potential. One word of what was missing and included easily in Excellence and Iberostar Grand: HYDROTHERAPY. Hydrotherapy pools are a must in this day and age. The entire Red Lane Spa needs to be re-worked! So much potential here. I enjoyed relaxing a bit for my massages but they were not the best I’ve had…they were among the worst. Glad that I had a lot of spa credit to cover most of the cost. Also, the fact the spa ladies go everywhere asking you to book is so annoying- please stop. I know you’re there and I find it so incredibly annoying that six of you came up to me within a span of two hours. Six! Island Routes Catamaran Tour: AMAZING!!!!!!! AMAZING!!!!!!! AMAZING!!!!!!! Bar, music, light food, amazing views of the sunset, swimming in the open ocean waters and meeting my first starfish!!!!!!!! AMAZING!!!!!!! Did I mention the waterslide on the actual boat to lead you into the ocean' AWESOME!!!!!! Entertainment and Entertainment Staff: The entertainment staff work SO HARD and SO LONG. I don’t think they get more than 3 hours sleep and I see this because I note what time I see them in the morning, afternoon, and evening. HUGE SHOUT OUT TO CHRISTOPHER M. for being AWESOME. He made it!!! And the wonderful female manager has an INCREDIBLE singing voice. Much of the staff sing and dance so well. They are so talented. I learned this during the talent show which I myself partook in. so much fun! The team is wonderful!!!!! They have great volleyball games and entertain you during shows and do a great job, really. The evening entertainment exceeded my weary expectations. The singer Michael-David needs to set up a stage and sing there daily! I was in AWE! The violinist and saxophonist were great as well! We loved it! Management: I thought about approaching the resorts manager Adrian Whitehouse while there. I recognized him from Facebook and saw him at least once just about daily. I did not. I did not know what to say. On the one hand I have so many wonderful things to say and on the other hand I had many other things to say. Given you pay for SWH the same as Excellence in Mexico or Iberostar Grand (Mexico, Jamaica, DR, etc.) why couldn’t I have mango or other decent looking fruit, or lobster, or filet mignon, or cheddar cheese' It sounds gluttonous and vacations are not all about food but we don’t get to go bi-annually or annually like others so we want to know that IF we want the lobster, it’s there. IF we want the filet, it’s there. We ALWAYS want fresh fruit, so that was disappointing. If others do it for the same price as Sandals, why can’t Sandals' Still, I wasn’t having a bad time. I was having a good time and was really enjoying myself. Even this review took a while to write because I struggle with my wallet and my heart and at the end of the day I loved my vacation on the whole but had a few really disappointing experiences and overall probably got a bit less than I would have elsewhere. But that didn’t change the fact I did have a good time. It’s strange and difficult to explain. But if I wanted to speak to Adrian I could have. He was there. He was around. That’s a lot more than I could say for others. I didn’t know who the manager was at Excellence, and I only knew the manager at Iberostar Grand because I fell and he wanted to give me spa credit in exchange for a waiver. Grounds: GORGEOUS!!!!!!! No other words needed. Seriously. Loved the fauna, fountains, different birds and trees and plants and flowers. We took the garden tour with Oshoi and learned to much and got to see so much. He is wonderful. Some of the construction did affect our view of the gorgeous grounds, but if it were not for how beautiful this resort is the construction would have ruined my stay. The beauty of SWH saved me in a sense. It just made me happy to be surrounded by so much beauty. Only quasi-complaint: why did some of the fountains never work' Loyalty: Amanda from loyalty met us early on while we were on the beach. At first I was annoyed at being “sold” something but she wasn’t pushy. The team’s daily letters were but she was not. She mentioned a huge discount and said don’t worry about it now I’ll contact you later in your stay. Thank you Amanda! When we approached her to re-book for June 2018 she asked how my birthday went. She remembered! She recognized me while we were outside and she was with another customer (how did she and all the other amazing staff remember us all by name'!). She came out and called us by name and said she remembers us from the beach and will be with us shortly. Soon enough we re-booked club level at Sandals Antigua for 11% off. If you book your next stay while on property it’s a $200.00 deposit and 10-12% off depending on your room category. That’s on top of the online package price. It’s the cheapest way to go. If your plans change you can switch your dates or resort and Sandals can book your flight and order you trip insurance too. It’s a pretty nice deal: gave me something to look forward to. I also suggest you join the free loyalty group, Sandals Select, as you continue to receive discounts and points and ultimately—should you hit a 70th paid night—a free week’s vacation at one of their resorts! Construction: This was the only “real” issue we had. On our first day it was surprising how much work was being done….A LOT. FV, DV, and IV beaches and areas. IV pool for sushi on the sound. Mud everywhere. Clanking. Jackhammering. It was a real bummer shock. Definetley saw trucks on the beach on the daily. On day one I was kind of appaulled and horrified and disappointed…too much so to even express myself to anyone including my husband. As you can see from my review, I’m not quiet. I was THAT upset and shocked. I was just so darn STUNNED and the amount and magnitude of the work being preformed that I could express myself. But here’s the thing…eventually it did not bother me that much at all. The beauty of SWH calmed me so much. Really, it did. And looking at photos now I see that some of the projects moved real fast and are progressing really well. Some are already finished since I left. This is good news. While I wish I did not have to experience the construction and walking on planks past sushi by the sand to get to the pool I was not really bothered after the first day or two. I settled in and saw the beauty that was already there in front of me. That said, I believe the proper thing to do is inform guests. While I believe they won’t follow my advice (which is also the advice of others), Sandals should really hut down for 4-6 weeks and work 24/7. They can re-do the entire resort this way. They need to. The DV and FV rooms are absolutely overpriced for what you get in the room. It’s appalling, really. The martini bar needs work as does the main pool and main pool bar, which is the heart of the daily activities of the resort. They need new filtration systems and new tile and grout. They cannot do this while the resort is operational. Also, the DV is the perfect place for swim-out rooms, which have been rumored. This should not be done while the resort is operational. I am surprised they have done as much as they have with the resort fully operational. I spoke with Sandals-lifers who considered never coming back because they were THAT disrupted by the construction. The construction is much-needed. This place has the potential for greatness. Soon they will be adding over the water bungalows in the FV. I could see from the loyalty desk that the prices go up annually and with the prices for 2018 I can tell you that without all of these improvements, the price is not justified. This is especially in comparison to the Iberostar Grand and Excellence chains. With that said, it is also somewhat unfair to some people (or even all people- although some were never bothered) to disrupt someone’s hard earned vacation with unsightly boards, fencing, mud, and the sounds of construction jackhammering and other banging. This may be okay for someone who goes away once a year or once every two years, but our last vacation was our honeymoon two and a half years ago. This was an expensive trip for us and we saved hard. I felt it was unfair to have to deal with some of the construction under the circumstances. I really did. While we were asked to take a verbal survey over by the IV pool in person regarding this, I did not feel comfortable sharing how I feel in front of other guests and Sandals employees. The forum was inappropriate. This is the truth—this review—the good and the bad. And at the end of the day we are still looking forward to Sandals in 2018, hoping, off course, that we can make it in 2018 and don’t have to stretch it out to 2019 for whatever reasons (hard to plan two years ahead). With all the good and bad said we did have a great time and I miss it greatly. I desperately wish I was there now. I also wish Sandals management and Adrian whitehead would read this review and take some of my thoughts into consideration. While these appear to be my thoughts, they are not mine alone. I have spoken to many guests past and present on these issues. Again, some die-hards like SWH the way it is and are not bothered by the construction. It appears they would jump off a bridge if Sandals asked them to as Sandals can do no wrong (I say to jokingly and in light hearted spirit). I have been “Sandalized”, as they say, to an extent. I am looking forward to more trips again in the future, but hoping to see continued improvement that would not create a cost prohibitive vacation experience. Hoping to be back at SWH soon---If I loved it then I can only imagine how much I will love it when the renovations are complete and the work is all said and done.
"Great resort but needs improvement."
I will give very detailed specifics of the entire resort of the pros and cons. Overall impression, Let’s start with the arrival. The sandals lounge area is under construction which was very disappointing as we were there a year ago and it was beautiful. As an avid traveler to Sandals resorts and a travel agent, why shut the entire lounge area for the guest just to stand outside the entrance without comfort and a beverage. Nothing was offered but told we could go outside the airport and purchase beers, which we did for $6.00 ea. It was a 20 min wait for others to fill the small van. The ride over was horrific and took a little over 2 hours. We love to see the island, but this there’s a section in route that was unsuitable for anyone to travel. Potholes that were too large to go over and fuel trucks on a road that was big enough for 1.5 cars to travel/pass on needless to say a tanker won on the road scaring the living sh%t out of us. There wasn’t enough beer to be bought for this trip to Whitehouse. I know this is a poor country, but Sandals should help to repair that road if they are going to drive guests on it daily. It’s dangerous! You can purchase a 15 min helicopter ride right to the resort for a price of $650.00 one way which our friends took and even the pilot was showing them how dangerous the road was while flying over it. Finally, arrived and given a cold hand towel and champagne. The check in was seamless except the guide who was to take us to our room. She vanished so many times we didn’t know if we were to stay or leave. We are daily divers and first asked her to take us to the dive shop. She said she would be back in 5 min to take us to our room. When we finished signing paperwork and signing up to dive the next day, she was nowhere to be found as we waited for an additional 15 min for her to come back for us. The staff was hit or miss with friendliness. RESORT We found this resort was beautiful, LARGE, and with a lot of construction going taking place. We were taken to our room in the French building as we don’t usually get a club level room. The difference is liquor in your room (which you can get anything you want at the bar and take back to your room), concierge service in booking reservations but at this resort, you don’t need reservations for dinner, room service and robes. I have only found that to be the difference in spending $140.00 per night, so we go with the basic unless it’s a special occasion then we go bigger. The French rooms are the furthest away, and our room faced the very loud construction area. We aren’t in our room often, but when we are in the room, we don’t want to hear all the noise. We don’t mind construction as it’s only making the resort nicer, but they were doing a lot of landscaping, painting all over, the chapel being built, sushi on the beach, and over the water bar being built. Large Caterpillar machinery driven on the beach, which bothered many ppl. The mud in the back between the gym/tennis courts and French building was horrible. We went back to the front desk and asked to be moved to the Dutch building as it’s more in the middle and less construction to be view or heard. That was like pulling teeth….we are platinum members, and after this stay, we have 59 nights with Sandals. We travel to a Sandals resort twice a year. The service in the front lobby was not to our liking. They told us they didn’t have any additional rooms available but the resort was 80% occupied. Stated they didn’t have our room grade. I asked to be upgraded then. No perks at this resort after the thousands of dollars that we spend at sandals, you would think they would have upgraded us at no charge. They refused. I went to the loyalty office to explain our situation and she stated we needed to talk to the manager. She agreed we should be moved. We NEVER saw the manager, but after about an hour of complete frustration, they told us we could be moved to the same room grade the next day. We were moved the next morning to a much better view and less noise. The Italian building is the newest renovated section. Absolutely beautiful. Like I said, the resort is huge. We played at the French pool one day, and I forgot my camera from diving that morning. I was gone 20 min from the time I walked to the dive shop back to the other end. NOW, here’s where we were a little concerned…we decided to extend our trip as we talked friends to join us over the Thanksgiving holiday. When we asked the front desk about how much as paid per night to stay, they would give us a straight forward answer. Told us we needed to call the corporate office to discuss extending out stay and pricing. After my husband was on hold in the lobby waiting to discuss our extension with corporate, all of a sudden the front desk gentleman was able to assist us in the price we paid and taking care of our extension. My husband asked his if he would like us to take our business elsewhere and we got NO response from him. Very poor customer service at the front desk and was complete frustration and confusion. We always do “come back soon” as the offers are excellent, but we found out that day our friends paid $130.00 a night less for a room that was above what we booked. I even went online and did a quick book to see how much it would have been if I book directly and it would have been $150.00 per night cheaper. They would not accept the difference in the room price. Again, we have been to 7 resort and never have we been treated like this. We asked to see the manager, NEVER CAME OUT. I couldn’t even tell you what he looks like. At the other resorts, the management was visual daily and always wanted to make sure your stay was up to standards. GM wasn’t seen here either. However, we did we see some management during breakfast and the three of them discussing an issue were loud and rude to each other and staff. Heard one of the manager's yells at the staff very rudely. Not the way a manager should be talking to their team members. Terrible customer service all the way around. Yes, they have cats and peacocks. They don’t want you feeding peacocks, but they encourage you to feed the cats. I bring cat food on every trip. One staff member states that they aren’t properly fed. That’s sad if you are going to have them on the grounds. I also witnessed a cat that looked to be blind. I only wish that sandals could take better care of the resort cats. They have 4 pools. The main pool and French pool is where all the activities were. Shout out to Phillip at the main pool bar. Never laughed so hard. Great service from him Food The food was excellent! Bayside had buffet breakfast and lunch, and French cuisine in the evening. Neptune’s was great for lunch and dinner, café great as always, Jerk Shack is open on the beach, Eleanor’s (men need pants to eat inside, but nice short are welcome, but you will eat outside), Jasmine’s Asian inspired, Giuseppe’s had pizza for lunch and Italian for dinner, and Bluefield’s Beach Club on the far end in front of the French section and was delicious. Divers We dove every day, and as the dive staff was excellent, the organization of each dive was frustrating. The boat allowed 30 ppl, and they would fill that boat with every bit of 24-28 divers. We have our own equipment, and you can store your personal equipment in a secure area. The dive spots were within in mins of leaving the dock than a very brief briefing; then everyone was to be suited up. My husband and I asked continuously, who is our dive master and they would say, we’ll figure that out once in the water. After the first experience with that, I talked to one of the dive masters to please organize that with AOW and OW divers together so the more advanced divers could enjoy a longer dive. Then in between dives, the speed boat would bring out more divers for the second dive. If it we didn’t love to dive, we wouldn’t have dove at SWH. The staff was incredible and knowledgeable, but they need to get organized. Shout out to “string bean” and the King who showed extreme professionalism at all times and took our suggestion before getting in the water with dive groups. Come Back Soon… We have always booked a trip with come back soon but not this trip. We talked with the ladies in the office a couple of times and found that there was some conflicting information on details about the packages. I would ask about booking a certain resort, then go on line to look at the rates and found it was $100.00 a night cheaper to do it online. I’m a travel agent and have booked with them, then transferred the booking to my agency. After witnessing our friends that joined us during this trip and having a room category above ours paying $130.00 less, I will always book independently. Return dinner was the worse I have ever had. The food was cold, and terrible customer service and I would not attend to a return dinner at SWH again. Shout out to the entertainment staff Chris and the ladies made your afternoon fun. Shot of love guy…well we have a love/hate relationship. I just couldn’t get that game done correctly so I did a lot of shots. Really, they a great job!! Gym was nice and they even have a yoga studio. Nice tennis courts. Overall, it’s always nice to get away, and Sandals is our first choice. We will not return to SWH as we have been treated much better in every way at the other resorts. We have been to 7 resorts, and we have found Antigua and Barbados were by far the best resort for customer service, atmosphere, and the manager’s care. SWH is beautiful and looking forward to seeing pictures of their new construction.
We had a wonderful time and would definitely go back again. The resort and grounds are beautiful and very well kept. There was construction, but overall the resort was peaceful and quiet. We always found beach chairs in the sun or under the shade of a palapa and spent time up and down the beach every day.The views are incredible. The staff was friendly and always helpful, it's nice when they remember you and stop to ask how you're doing. The wait staff was great, if we were having trouble deciding what to eat they gave suggestions and several times brought appetizers for us to try.The entertainment crew were very fun, Christopher made sure we knew when the next event or show was going to be so we could make plans. The bars were well staffed, even at the main pool bar we never waited more than a couple minutes. Rowe at Neptunes bar went out of his way to make sure we were happy and made our stay really nice. The bus ride to the resort is an hour and a half but the end result is worth it!
"Fun trip in a nice resort"
My husband and I traveled with my brother and sister-in-law to Sandals Whitehouse. It was our 2nd Sandals experience, having been to St. Lucia last year at the Sandals Grande St. Lucian. Certainly, the best times at Whitehouse involved the entertainment staff. I want to thank Meldon, Roman, Kimberly, Reshema, Sherine, Chavel, Christopher, Remaine, and Jani. Ashley, you have a great group! Everett at the beach activities desk nicknamed me the kayak woman.We had fun on the big tube, the Hobie Cats, and I loved kayaking out to the reef. My new friends at the Cafe du Paris were kind and compassionate. Thank you so much for your hugs, Denese and Arnella. And thanks for your great specialty coffees! At the Red Lane Spa, Stacia provided a terrific massage. At Guiseppi's, our very first meal, we met Ashani. He is a jewel and I hope he goes far in the career he has chosen. He is cute, funny, sassy, (which we liked,) and we could dish it right back to him.. Appreciated the help for my sister in law at the Neptune Bar in seeking out Crown Royal one night. And to the desk staff and security supervisor who found my passport and got it on a taxi to me on our departure day...Many thanks!!!! I missed my flight but got on the next one and got back to the US later that evening. The construction on the property was not a huge issue. A few glitches, but nothing that stands out, and everthing was settled and rectified satisfactorily. The food was good. Not great, but good. The grounds are gorgeous and the walk on the bay off the property is special. Saw sting rays and a barracuda on our stroll. The upgrades on the property will definitely be lovely once they are completed. We stayed in the French Village. It is a long walk to the beach activities and main pool and restaurants. But the pool in the French Village and the Bluefield's restaurant are right outside our door. Great housekeeping staff. Sunsets were amazing every single night right our of our ocean view window on the 2nd floor. We spent 9 nights and that was just right.
Credit cards accepted by the hotel: Visa - MasterCard
Check-in: 3:00 AM , Check-out: 11:00 AM