We arrived on the second day of the changeover. This was the resorts 4th changeover this year. The resort could be phenomenal with a few modifications.
First the bad.
When we arrived we could not locate the Sandals rep at the airport. She was located way away from the front door. I spoke with someone from Sandals once we got to the resort. A couple we met the next day said the rep was right at the door the next day. If you go the Sandals rep is near the Fun Tours Rep or hopefully they we be right out front when you exit the airport.
It took over 3 hours to get in our room. The rep kept coming back and saying they were working on it. We later found out that a lot of the cleaning staff had quit when Sandals had taken over and they were short staff. We had heard the first thing Sandals did was cut the staff's pay and put them on a 90 day probation period.
Our room was very nice ( Block 1,4th Floor ) and would have had a great view of the ocean had it not been for the evergreen trees that had been planted on the beach. They were higher than the hotel and in dire need of trimming.We were told they were planted to help to keep the beaches from eroding. That is understandable.But the little pine cones that fall hurt you feet. I do believe they will be trimmed.
The main entertainment area is directly under the first block which is the 'ocean view' block which means there rooms are noisy up until about 10:30. Our room was on the 4th floor at the other end of the block one. While the music was loud you could still function.
There was only one hot tub. It was all the way at the back of the resort with no bar service and didn't work anyway.
Olstin's-Yuck 'Flea market at night'. Too Many people. Tourist trap. Went on a Friday night, arrived at 7:45 left by 8:30. Had dinner at Yes Please. Talked to another couple that loved it. Not for me. Don't like feeling closed in. Kind'a like shopping at a Mall for Christmas.
Catamaran Cruise. This was probably our most disappointing thing about the trip. The cruises are set for Thursday and Tuesday. The day we arrived and left. Obviously we could make either. My wife had heard they may been adding one for Saturday. We went to the tour desk several times and asked. We were told nothing had been added. While we were leaving to go on our cab tour we saw a couple that we had met and ask them what there plans were. She stated that they were going on a Cat Cruise. She had checked and found one during the day. We would have love to have went. I know that Sandals works with Fun Tours but even if it wasn't through them the tour table should have been able to find something.
Now for the Good.
The food was incredible. The choices weren't many but we did not have one bad meal. The closes we came to a bad meal was we ordered chicken stuffed with crab meat and scallops and it was all rice. This was at the Dover which you need reservation's for. There only 3 restaurants we mainly went to 'Yes Please". You didn't need a reservation. The food and service was great.
The beach was great. The sand was the best I've seen or felt. The ocean was very rough but nice for body surfing.It was very windy all week. Not sure if we were there at a bad time or if that was normal. The ocean temp and clarity was great.
The bars need to be spread out better or they need to add some. There were only really two (plus the piano bar) and they were close. There were no bars at the two back pools. (the reason that we didn't go to either). The pool service and beach service was very good. I don't know how much pool bar service they do but the first day we saw the beach server come by and asked him for a drink and he took care of us the rest of the week. We spent most of our time at the beach or ocean side pool so it worked great for us.
The fitness facilities were great. All the machines worked. There was a fitness instructor there if you had questions. They had dumb bells up to 50lb. I usually would like more but with my shoulder recently being operated on it was fine. They had a yoga instructor there everyday ( Not for me but nice). It was at the back of the resorts. I like Couples CTI where it is right on beach and you can look out over the ocean while on a bike.
We booked a cab for 3.5 hours with a local independent driver. It was very nice. My wife likes light houses so we went and saw 2 of them. The island is only 14 miles by 21 miles. I think we hit 10 out of the 11 Parishes.
The main selling point to this resort was the Staff. They were super. You could tell they were under a lot of pressure from the change over. On our second day (the 8th). It was a Sandal Stripped Shirt takeover. They were giving orders all over the place and the staff was not very upbeat. You just felt the pressure.We spoke to several staff members and this was there 4th changeover this year. By Saturday and Sunday the vibe picked up. Any time we ask a staff member where something was they said, " I will show you". Every staff member from the grounds crew to the Lobby Desk staff made you feel welcome. Sandals did honor everything promised from Couples. Sometimes you had to ask twice but they did honor everything. I also believe they had some sort of "repeaters Dinner" on Tuesday but that was the day we checked out.
All in all, we had a very nice time not our favorite but far from our worst. I think by December the resort will hopping and the bugs will be worked out it will be one of the top resorts on Barbados. I can see why Couples wanted to expand into Barbados.The Barbadian people were excellent. I just do not like doing lay-overs. I know there are no direct flights from Philly to Barbados. When you don't do direct flights it seems like you pay for a day you do not get. We were in the airport at 4:30 am and finally was in our room at 6:15 pm. Ate dinner and went to bed. Lost day. Hopefully we will soon ( April 14 or Nov 14) we will be back home to CN.