Spending Christmas and New Years in the Caribbean is amazing and I would recommend it to all my sun loving friends. However choosing the Sandals Halcyon to do so, not so much. It is not all doom and gloom, don’t get me wrong but when you spend money, there is an expectation of the quality and level of service. The way I review the hotels I visit, is in accordance to the price they charge, and their positioning on the market. So please do not think I am obnoxious, spoiled brat that does not appreciate the beauty of the Caribbean and how lucky I am to be able to be there. I 100% loved the island, what I did not love was a hotel, charging a premium, for perceived luxury. This is why I am sharing my experience, so then when you decide to book, you have my view.
First thing is first – defining these resorts as luxury is nothing but a legacy from the 80s. There is absolutely nothing luxurious about the hotel. The area, the sea/ocean and nature were beautiful though.
The check in process is a mess. I was one of the people affected by the drones in Gatwick, meaning delayed flights, stress etc… Getting from the airport to the hotel takes 1h 30min (FYI). There was a roadblock, so it took 2h. After a 9h flight + 2h in a taxi, all I wanted was the key to my room, hot shower and sleep. You think any hotel would have figured this out, but no. I had something called Club Sandals, so they made me go in a room to fill in forms, with my information – surely they already had this given all the information, I provided when I booked? Then I had to walk with a guy showing me to the room, after he took 2 more people to their respective rooms. This process took about 45min. Finally in the room – guess who did not get their luggage, as it went somewhere else 🙂 Anyway, I fell asleep after this but seriously, how bad can the service get? I actually do not think I have had a worse check in experience than this.
When I booked originally, I booked a Caribbean looking room. When I arrived, I got given a room (called an upgrade) that looked like any business hotel in Western Europe. You can feel the disappointment in experiencing the Caribbean this way. The windows were small, no light was coming in and the ceiling was so low I felt like I was sleeping in a coffin – no joke. Cherry on the cake was the 4 days of leaking bathroom ceiling, testing my skills of taking a shower and not getting electrocuted. Bedding quality was cheap the room lacked details and personality and overall looked meh.
I did love the grounds though. A lot of areas to lounge and chill, not too many people around. Unlike Antigua, where one had to fight for a seat and an umbrella, Sandals Halcyon offered enough space – so I was truly happy about that.
The food outlets were good. The main restaurant had minimal variety on a day to day basis but to be honest I do not mind that. There was something called coco bread which tasted like heaven, so food was fine for me. The service though was a disaster. I actually am not sure what it is, do Sandals do special training for their staff telling them how are they supposed to act, or something like that? It feels staged, unnatural and in all fairness uncomfortable for me as a guest. It is difficult to put it in words, as it is a vibe more than anything else but every time I wanted a double espresso instead of the standard filter coffee in the morning, I felt bad for asking. I do not think a luxury hotel should give you that vibe and given the number of hotels I have been to, I am telling you, this is something special.
The resort is small but I liked that. it is very secluded, private and no partying. I really enjoyed the grounds and the area but that is about it. The wifi was amazing as well, so 10 points for this 🙂
It is a pity, when resorts in beautiful places like this, do not use the local culture and nature to develop their properties. I think there is so much potential to create the hotel in a way that represents the Caribbean and add those details to the rooms and outlets. I am not going to the Caribbean to experience fine dining in an air conditioned hall, there is enough of that all over Europe and the US. I want to experience the beauty of nature, the warmth, the local traditions etc… I guess this is where I learnt my lesson, to not book anything that looks too much as mass travel, going forward. It is disappointing in comparison to the price but it is also sad to see, how little incorporation of local craftsmanship and tradition there was.
Overall, I am disappointed, would not do it again and would not recommend the place, if you expect a luxury experience.