Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort

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    Sandals Grande St. Lucian in a Nutshell

    Sandals Grande St. Lucian beach
    ••• Sandals Grande St. Lucian beach with Rondovals in the foreground. Sandals Resorts.

    Ed Note: Prince Harry spent two days in Saint Lucia, the third stop on a tour of seven Caribbean nations with historic links to the monarchy. This is where he stayed on the island.

    What follows is a first-hand account of a newlywed who honeymooned at the property before his visit:

    The word honeymoon means something different to everyone. For us, it connotes relaxation in the tropics. So after friends suggested we look at Sandals Grande St. Lucian in St. Lucia, we liked what we saw and booked our ten-day honeymoon.

    This all-inclusive resort is set on a peninsula, surrounded by the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Together the mountain and ocean views create a paradisiacal panorama.

    Beachfront Sandals Grande St. Lucian features almost every land and sea amenity a couple could want, and you'll often hear the slogan "no pressure, no problem" from staff when you make a request.

    An appealing aspect of the Grande St. Lucian is the Stay at 1, Play at 3...MORE feature, which allows you to visit the other two Sandals properties (the Regency La Toc and the Halcyon Beach) on St. Lucia. Free shuttles travel to and from each every hour on the hour until midnight, and additional ones go during the dinner rush hours.

    All the resorts are about an hour and a half drive from the airport. I researched each before we booked and determined that the Grande has the nicest beach of all three.

    The Regency La Toc (about a half hour drive from the Grande) is the largest of the three Sandals, with more rooms, restaurants, and pools. When surf there gets rough, they close the beach for swimming.

    The Halcyon Beach (about a fifteen minute drive from the Grande) is the smallest of the three Sandals resorts on the island.

    My husband and I both agreed the service at Sandals Grande St. Lucian was flawless. We were well taken care of and often greeted by the staff using our first names. They also made dinner reservations for us, convinced us to try some excursions, lent a hand with our bags, offered drinks, and provided anything else we needed.

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  • 02 of 10

    Guest Rooms at Sandals Grande St. Lucian

    ••• Honeymoon Grande Luxe Beachfront guest room. © Jason Berger.

    Sandals Grande St. Lucian features 191 rooms and 110 suites, many of which overlook the Caribbean Sea.

    We stayed in a Honeymoon Grande Luxe Beachfront room on the third floor. On the small side, it was clean and cozy, perfect for two on a honeymoon. We loved it; we were in the middle of everything yet our room was so quiet and serene it felt as if we were the only ones around.

    The room features  a huge four-poster king-size canopy bed, big flat screen TV and balcony with a view of the large pool, beach, and sea. There's a love seat, coffee table, and desk in the room with a coffee pot as well.

    After check-in, we were escorted to the room by a staff member who helped acquaint us with the property. Daily at 8:30 am and 5:00 pm there are tours of the hotel, a great way to become familiar with the resort.

    Waiting for us in the room were two free Sandals T-shirts, champagne on ice, and rose petals on the bed. The mini-bar is stocked every day with cold sodas, juices, and bottled water. If...MORE we had booked a Club level room, beer and alcohol would be provided, too. But we decided that since it’s an all-inclusive and drinks are readily available, we passed on the upgrade.

    The bathroom has two sinks (which made getting ready for dinner easier), a bathtub (alas, just for one), and counter space to fit all our toiletries. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and aloe (which was much needed after a day at the beach) were provided from the Red Lane spa.

    The balcony was our favorite part of the room. It had two chairs with a table and a bird’s-eye view of the Caribbean, the big pool, and gardens. In the distance, we could see a small fishing village. We ended each night on the balcony, discussing the events of the day.

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  • 03 of 10

    Dining at Sandals Grande St. Lucian

    ••• Cheesecake dessert at Toscanini's, the Italian bistro at Sandals Grande. © Jason Berger.

    There are 12 restaurants at the Grande and we made it a point to try all of them. Bayside is an open-air buffet for breakfast and lunch that converts to an à la carte menu at dinner. My husband referred to the omelets as "phenomenal" and I savored the salad bar most days for lunch. Each day for lunch there was a different theme—one day it was Asian-style food, the next was Mexican food, so we had a great variety.

    One of our favorite dinners was at Gordon's on the pier overlooking the water. Although guests have to pay extra here (unless you are on the Concierge level), it's worth it. The menu specializes in fish and seafood, but also has filet mignon and chicken. The service, presentation, and flavor of the food set this restaurant above the rest. If you're lucky, you'll see tropical fish as you dine—the staff shines lights into the water to attract them.

    Our favorite lunch place was Barefoot By The Sea, where the tables are literally set in the sand. It serves...MORE nachos, burgers, even traditional Creole meals.

    And we frequented the Olde London Pub, even catching the Yankee game one evening.

    Toscanini’s is an elegant Italian-style bistro featuring an antipasto bar and Italian favorites such as lasagna, ravioli, and chicken parmesan.

    On Monday nights, most of the restaurants close down for the Beach Party, an endless buffet right on the sand with games and dancing.

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  • 04 of 10

    Destination Weddings at Sandals Grande St Lucian

    ••• The set-up and location for a beach wedding overlooking the Caribbean Sea. © Jason Berger.

    We saw at least one destination wedding each day we were there, and they were beautiful. The ceremony takes place on the beach in a pristine spot with an amazing view of the Caribbean Sea and the mountains.

    One special thing Sandals Resorts provides in the wedding package is dinner on the beach for two. It's a four-course gourmet meal at a table for two lit with candles. It is very romantic! (Honeymooners and other guests at the resort who’d like to have a private dinner on the beach can do so for an additional cost.)

    If you book a Sandals wedding package, you'll be assigned a personal wedding consultant. The basic package includes a certified copy of your marriage license, one 5x7 photograph, "Just Married" T-shirts, a wedding cake, marriage officiant, reception for bride, groom, and 2 guests, continental breakfast in bed, bouquet and boutonniere, and a wedding photographer. For a price, Sandals can also arrange more elaborate weddings that feature more amenities and...MORE accommodate larger guest lists.

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  • 05 of 10

    Honeymoon and Romance Packages at Sandals Grande St Lucian

    ••• Private dinner on the beach. © Jason Berger.

    The majority of guests at the Grande are honeymoon couples.

    They receive the basic honeymoon package, which starts with a bottle of chilled sparkling wine on ice. On the first night, turndown service features flower petals on the bed. And one morning breakfast in bed served with fresh flowers.

    Couples can upgrade to honeymoon packages which include much more. For example, the Honeymoon Luxury Package includes private transfer from the airport a 50-minute in-room couples massage, and other niceties.

    Everyone can take advantage of Sandals’ free photo sessions available during the day and evening. All you have to do is make an appointment and a photographer will take you to different locations at the resort to serve as backgrounds to your pictures.

    We booked a photo session for before dinner one night, timing it so we had sunset pictures on the beach. They turned out beautiful. There is no fee for this (couples simply pay for the pictures they buy).

    We often took walks around the property...MORE after dinner. We never felt like the resort was crowded and we enjoyed spending alone time on the beach. The weather was wonderful; it was clear almost every night on our June honeymoon.

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  • 06 of 10

    Activities at the Sandals Grande St Lucian

    ••• Beach activities include water skiing and sailing Hobie cats. © Jason Berger.

    The great thing about the Grande is that there are so many activities yet many places where you can be alone.

    The main pool is near the beach, so we often chose a spot between them so we had easy access to both. We never had to get up super early for a seat, although couples who want a cabana (a hut in the shade with two lounge chairs) have to get up fairly early to grab one of those. There's a hot tub by the main pool and also a swim-up bar.

    The main pool area pumps reggae and island music and there are announcements of games and entertainment during the day. There is a smaller pool off to the side with a volleyball net. Other pools are quiet spots. There are four hot tubs as well. Golf at the Regency course is included as an amenity; caddy and greens fees are extra.

    Most activities are on the beach: volleyball, table tennis, games. In and on the water there’s water skiing, hobie cats, water bikes, kayaks, snorkeling, windsurfing. Couples who want to rent jet skis deal with private...MORE vendors unaffiliated with Sandals.

    We packed workout clothes but once we got into honeymoon mode, we decided to skip the indoor gym and do active things outside.

    The Red Lane Spa services and treatments are not part of the all-inclusive price. We booked a 50-minute couple’s massage, which was intimate and relaxing, thanks to the lighting, the flowers, and serene background music.

    In the evenings, challenge your spouse to a game of billiards. The resort also has events such as a talent show open to staff and guests, live bands, and karaoke. And you can stop by the Grande's piano bar after dinner and sing your favorite songs along with everyone.

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  • 07 of 10

    Nearby the Sandals Grande St Lucian

    ••• The Pitons, highest peaks on St. Lucia. © Jason Berger.

    Sandals Grande organizes off-site excursions for a fee. These include adventure cruises around St. Lucia, tours of the Pitons, dolphin and whale watching, horseback riding, zip-lining adventures through the rainforest, Jeep tours, and booze cruises.

    Feeling adventurous, we signed up for the zip-lining tour. The rainforest is about an hour's drive away. We got our own tour guide who pointed out landmarks and even stopped and picked fresh coconut, mango, and cocoa leaves for us to try!

    In the rainforest, we were equipped with essential gear (helmets, harness, gloves, etc.) and then set off to walk up stairs to a balcony for the first of 11 zip-lines.

    After watching everyone go before me, I knew I could do it — and it was the most exhilarating experience! Soaring above the trees provides a spectacular view of the rainforest.

    The employees of the tour group will take pictures for guests; we had one use our video camera so we could have a life-long memory of this excursion (it provoked much...MORE laughter from our loved ones when they watched it with us at home).

    We also took a tour on a speed boat. It included snorkeling between the Pitons, a tour of the historic town of Soufriere, a dip in mineral pools, and a walk through the volcano. It ended with lunch at the guide's aunt’s house for an authentic St. Lucian cuisine. There were about 8 other couples on the tour with us.

    Pigeon Island, a National Landmark that covers 40 acres, is within walking distance of the Grande. In the 18th century it served as a British fort. As you hike up (entrance fee), you’ll see ruins from the days of battle. It’s a strenuous climb, but worth the scenic views of Rodney Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

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  • 08 of 10

    What Could Be Better at Sandals Grande St Lucian

    ••• Serenity on the sand. © Jason Berger.

    There isn't anything negative I can say about the resort. There are a few things that could be improved, though:

    • Better transportation between the airport and hotel. Sandals offers free shuttle buses to and from the airport, but it takes an hour and a half each way. There is only one main road. St. Lucian drivers are aggressive, and the wind and mountainous lanes create a bumpy ride. Couples can also opt to take a helicopter ride to an airport a bit closer to the resort, but it is expensive.
    • More casual restaurants at night. We enjoyed the food and service at every hotel, but it would be great if there were one we could go to at night in our bathing suits to spend the entire day and evening at the beach. Although most of the restaurants ask guests to don "resort casual" attire, we found ourselves preferring to eat a quick dinner on some nights so we could spend the rest of the evening in our bathing suits by the water.
    • Room service. It would be great to have room service...MORE available for every room level. On our visit it was only available to Concierge level rooms. When we wanted to have a relaxing dinner in the room, or a late-night snack, we would grab food from the Pub and bring it back to the room.
    • The gift shop at the resort is useful if you forget something from home. But it’s expensive. We tan easily and had only packed SPF 15 and 30 sunscreen. After a sunburned first day, we picked up SPF 50, which cost $20 in the gift shop. We wore 50 every day after that and still came home with nice tans.
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  • 09 of 10

    Sandals Grande St. Lucian Vibe

    ••• Hammocks beckon on a lazy afternoon. © Jason Berger.

    On our visit to Sandals Grande St. Lucian, the majority (at least 90 percent) of vacationers were couples also on a honeymoon. We did meet a few pairs who were celebrating an anniversary.

    Overall, the resort attracts a fairly young crowd, predominantly couples in their 20s and 30s. And it is definitely a place for couples; we rarely saw a group of friends traveling together. Editor’s note: Children are not permitted at Sandals.

    What is impressive about the resort is there is something for every type of couple. If you're looking to make friends, you're certain to encounter other couples who are happy to meet new people. If you're looking for a party vacation, there is always something to do at night, like the club and bars. Or if you're looking for a romantic trip, just you and your spouse, you can have privacy whenever you want.

    Our honeymoon was the first time we went away from home for 10 days, and the length turned out to be just right. It took a while to travel from...MORE our home (we had to fly to Miami and then onto St. Lucia). Add in the long shuttle ride from the airport, and travel can consume an entire day. But it was definitely worth it!

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  • 10 of 10

    Sandals Grande St. Lucian Info and Reservations

    ••• The main pool area features a swim-up bar, daily entertainment, and a hot tub. © Jason Berger.

    Sandals Grande St. Lucian
    Pigeon Island Causeway, Gros Islet
    Box 2247, Castries, St. Lucia
    Phone: 758-455-2000 or 1-888-SANDALS