of TripAdvisor Travelers recommend this hotel
We stayed for a week in August. This was our first visit to a Sandals, and we chose it primarily for the location and the inclusion of scuba diving as an amenity. We had no issues getting from the airport to the resort and were warmly greeted. There were a lot of positives and a few negatives during our time there. First, the positives: The best part is by far the beach! It has the most powder soft white sand and the most stunning blue waters we've ever seen. It's very large, and during our entire stay we didn't see more than 10 people in the water at any given time. It was like having a private beach to ourselves. When we are on vacation at the beach, we spend most of our time in the ocean rather than the pool, and this was the highlight of the day for us every day. It does have waves (not a calm beach, but it's really fun) and the water is really warm. The resort is extremely well maintained. It must take a large staff to keep the plants and grounds so nice, and they do a great job at it. Most of the grounds workers are very friendly and say hello when you pass by. The pools are large and there seemed to be plenty of chairs around them. We didn't spend much time in the pools, but did take a swim towards the evening hours before the bars closed at 6 a few days. Towels were usually readily stocked in the daytime hours also. There are many restaurants to choose from with a variety of styles. The menus were a little small and didn't change much, but it was nice to see options. Some require reservations, however. The Bombay restaurant serving Indian food was the best of all. The manager was very welcoming and the food was excellent. If it wasn't reservation-based, we would've gone more than once. Scuba was available twice a day for certified divers and once for newbies. We went on 3 dives total during our stay. Extra thanks to the aqua center staff that took us sailing. We really enjoyed the chat and the experience sailing around the bay. All the drinks we had were very heavy pours. We didn't experience any watered down drinks, and the bartenders were full of energy and very pleasant. The photographers around the resort are very nice. Sometimes we stopped and other times we politely declined. It's a nice service and you can buy the pics later if you choose. They were never pushy and we didn't mind it. And the not so great: As noted above, a few restaurants needed reservations. This is not uncommon I guess, but it is inconvenient. I don't want to feel rushed around on vacation to make a time frame. Additionally, all restaurants except for a pub closed by 9pm. We did feel a little rushed to leave the beach to get ready and get to dinner before things shut down. The power went out multiple times during our stay across the property. These things can happen, but it seems like its frequent in other reviews also. It would be a good idea to look into fixing the issue. We also experienced a broken elevator in our building for 3 days. We were on the top floor (3) and had to take the steps. We're both pretty fit so we didn't have an issue, but we did see some older folks having a rough go at it. As others have mentioned, the housekeeping and bar refill service was inconsistent. We had issues getting the proper amount of towels to use, and occasionally just picked them up ourselves from the cart in the hallway. Our room bar was also not refilled the same each day, so we had to call and get additional things a few times. Not a huge deal, but for a luxury resort I would expect a little better. The front desk staff wasn't as helpful as you would expect. If you need something, plan a little extra time than you think to wait. Also a con, the beach didn't have bar service. Depending on where you could find a place, it was a bit of a walk back and forth to get drinks. If you had a butler, it may have been easier. You will also get "reminded" many times about the pre-booking office to schedule a future Sandals visit. General thoughts: As for the butler service, we didn't opt for that and were happy with our decision. We had no issue calling for a reservation ourselves, and didn't see much other value in having it especially considering the higher cost. The only benefit that would've been nice were the little coolers they allowed you to use on the beach. Overall, I didn't see the value for the price and we were happy doing our own thing all week. We had a candle light dinner on my birthday that my husband had set up. We requested the beach, but were in the Sandals tower instead. It worked out great, and we were lucky to have the jazz sax player happen to be performing from there as well. Very lovely night. The diving experience was ok. We found the staff to be a bit crabby at first and were hoping to see a little more underwater. The third dive was better, but the location didn't have a lot of sea life. I was hoping to explore a little more rather than being guided around (we are both open water certified), but it was still great to get back under the beautiful warm water. They had entertainment of a junkanoo festival outside one night. It was really fun and the entertainers did a great job of getting people involved and having a blast. I wish they had more nightly entertainment like this, as it was pretty quiet at night most of the time. The dining was also just ok. As others mentioned, it did seem to take a very long time at a lot of restaurants and we also encountered some less than friendly staffers. Other times, we had awesome servers. Kind of hit or miss. Some of the lunch restaurants stopped when the dinner ones opened, and it took a few days to figure out what's open and when. Also of note, unless you have a butler, room service stops at 11. We had to plan ahead and get food earlier to have as a late night snack a few times. Aside from the buffet, the menu options do not change daily. I wasn't wowed by the food, but it was ok. Definitely try the Bombay, it was good. Compared to other all inclusive resorts, it wasn't anything special. Overall, Exuma is a beautiful place to visit. The beach is the best we've ever seen. We really liked kicking back and relaxing on the beach everyday and enjoying the beautiful weather and waters. I'm not sure if I would stay at a Sandals again, as I'm not convinced the cost is worth it compared to other similar resorts, but we did enjoy our stay here very much.
This was our 4th trip to Sandal's Emerald Bay in July, and our 9th to a Sandals resort. There were some changes since our last visit. Barefoot by the Sea and the Italian no longer require reservations with the addition of the new restaurants. We had a wonderful time, but there were small annoyances that maybe could be improved. Check in was less seamless this time. When we arrived at the resort, there were no cool cloths to welcome our group. No biggie, I know, but a nice thing to look forward to. The staff during check in process seemed distracted and disorganized. We knew to go eat lunch while waiting for our room, but there were few instructions for newcomers. Also, why only have one room key in the packet' We were told we could make our dinner reservations during check in. Unfortunately, when we tried, we were told the reservation desk was swamped and to try later. I wish there were a better way to handle making the dinner reservations. Again, trying not to waste precious vacation time. In the room, the duvet cover was covering a very soiled bed comforter. The carpet was also soiled. We had to ask for two days to restock the fridge with our requests. We had such trouble the past few visits getting washcloths, that my husband brought his own this time which is sad. However, the washcloth situation was improved. This time, it was difficulty getting beach towels. They used to restock them earlier in the day. So, we played the game and got beach towels ahead for the next day. One main thing was the major lack of beach chairs. There are very few of them for the amount of guests. People tended to save them and then keep them all day. Service was slow or inattentive at Pool bar, Italian restaurant, Cafe Paris and Bahama Bay breakfast. At Bahama Bay breakfast, we had to ask for silverware, creamer... and they tried to clear our table while we were clearly still eating. Many flies inside, too. We enjoyed the chocolate buffet and return guests dinner. However, maybe a little less push for guests to donate to the Sandals Foundation during the dinner. There were poolside crafts offered that I enjoyed. We also enjoyed the Playmakers Footloose dance! The evening entertainment was great, especially the sax player. The new Kimonos was excellent. Entertaining and good food. We walked the golf course for gorgeous views. Overall, a great experience and we look forward to a future visit.
We highly recommend our butlers Lee and Floyd. They are attentive and just wonderful people. They anticipate every want and need. Every day, they will reserve your shaded beach chairs, bring a cooler of your favorite drinks to the beach, make your dinner reservations, keep you apprised of daily activities, bring you snacks such as cheese and crackers or pizza, or drinks. They are the icing on the cake for a luxury vacation.
Overall we had an amazing time. The island of Exuma was all and more than what I expected. Hotel stay wasn't what we thought it would be. There wasn't much to do on the premises. Which is ok, if you're looking to lounge all day by the poolside. Front desk staff wasn't very helpful when it came to planning gout our days and excursions. Majority of the food we had at the restaurants had a very bland taste. Nothing out of this world, and for the price, I expected a lot more. We won't rule out Sandals, as a fellow vacationer expressed there are others with a more lively atmosphere.
"If you want all-inclusive luxury: SANDALS is the only way to go!"
Okay, I'm going to try not to sound like a Sandals ad, but, I loved this trip and they just do luxury all-inclusive just right so here goes: "Paradise" is the only way to describe it. When you spend this much money, you just want to know everything will be up to the level of service and amenities expected. I don't have the extra time and money for experiments! Sandals never disappoints! I found out that I am not very good at accepting Butler Service, but eventually loved it, just the same! I stayed at the private pool, beachfront, butler service suite. It was just as wonderful as it sounds - maybe more so. The food was outstanding (and I'm a picky foodie), trying new island drinks was fun, the suite was more than I could have dreamed up, the private pool was so glorious and maybe more than I needed - but I loved it, the butler service was awkward for me - but I got used to it pretty fast (don't judge). There was not as much on evening entertainment - but I was needing downtime - so all was exactly as it should be. Everything was perfect luxury here. In the evenings I ordered my breakfast and morning coffee sent beachside for me every morning. My butler had it all set up. She was a rock star! I did find the spa to be a bit of a scam and pushy on sales, but that I figured out that is their job. I assumed the spa was there as a service to guests already paying the big bucks (and truthfully, think that is how it should be) - but it is another way to make more money, but I will know that in the future. Be aware that even if you have spa credits, anything and everything you do in the spa will cost you extra $ (and quite a bit of it). This was the only negative I experienced there. I have recommended Sandals so several friends and without exception, all have said it was the best and most relaxing vacation they ever had! I chose the Bahamas Emerald Bay in Great Exuma Sandals location because it had more of an island theme/feeling and not so much like just a big hotel on the ocean. Also, this location was easy to fly into and out of - not so expensive or long flight - I didn't want an 8 hr+ trip and huge expense just to get there. I was there with an inexpensive and quick (couple hr) flight from Atlanta. I was there on a Monday - Friday and if I had it to do over again, would stay through a weekend, because there is more entertainment and nightlife (I think even a great local island dancing on Fridays') on weekends. Now, other Sandals locations have opened since I visited this one (a few years ago) and I am looking forward to another trip to a different Sandals location. Heck, writing this review has made me ready to go sooner!
Credit cards accepted by the hotel: Visa - MasterCard
Check-in: 2:00 PM , Check-out: 12:00 PM