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Sandals Grande St. Lucian Report April, 2006

SmarterTravel

Author: Host DebbieH103
Email: DebbieH103@aol.com
Date of Trip: April 2006

Getting There:
We left on a flight departing Houston IAH on Friday, March 31 at 7:20 pm. We were due into Miami at 10:32 p.m. We booked the Miami International Airport Hotel in terminal E. We had some confusion because on our last flight wher we did this, we had to claim our bags. We went to claim them, and they never came. We found out after all the bags were off that our bags went on to St. Lucia.

We had our carry-on stuff, and we got to our room at 11:15. We watched a little TV and went to bed.

The next morning our next American flight was at 10:25. We didn’t board until almost time to leave, and it was quite crowded. We got to Hewanarra with no issues. We claimed our bags after standing in line at customs. Nobody this time had a “thing” about laptops, etc.

We arrived in 90 minutes to Sandals grand, right at 4:30 pm. On Sat, April 1. We’d been transported I a van with 3 other couples. There was also another van. Both were loaded to the gills.

Check-in
We checked in at the lobby. We were given cold towels and champagne. We were given only one room key (card) but were able to get another before leaving the lobby. We identified our bags, and since our room (2006) was two rooms into the building that is just off the lobby, we were settled in rather soon, at 5:10 p.m.

Our room
It was a 2nd floor room above the swimup pool. We could see the ocean from a distance but mostly had a pool and garden view. We had a fridge with bottled water, 2 diet cokes, 2 off brand colas, and 2 off brand clear sodas. This was never stocked during our stay. I called and asked for concierge and was denied, but someone brought 2 more Diet Cokes and some beer and gin (don’t know why they picked those things, etc.). The TV was, indeed a 20 inch one.

There was an icemaker near the room and stairs that lead to the lover’s pool where they had the cushioned chairs with the cabanas. The beach was behind that.

The room had a marble double sink and a decent sized tub with built-in shower. Past the bed, there was a table and two chairs where you could sit for the continental breakfast or whatever.

We also had a balcony with two chairs and a table.

There was construction past the next building, this appeared to be the upcoming area for the new rondovals.

They were in the process of putting in flat screen TVs and doing other renovations, so they were banging on the room next to us from time to time.

Evening of April 1
I watched what I could of the sunset before it hid behind the hill and then got a big club soda and looked for just the right hot tub. Up in the lobby, they had fried wings and fried fish but first I was too early and then we were both too late. We did have cheese and crisp veggies. Lots of people just hang out in the lobby.

For dinner we went to Barefoot by the Sea at 6:45. By then, there were several tables of people. You sit at cushioned picnic tables. Half the men wore t-shirts, which bothered me. Todd was the only man in long pants I think.

Wait staff were white gloved and very attentive and cordial. They could tell how tired we were.

The appetizers and make your own Caesar were at a self-serve table. I had mussels, and Todd had fish fritters for appetizer. The croutons in the salad were exceptional.

For soup, we had seafood chowder that was tasty. We were going to share surf (shrimp) and turf, but I was full when it came and so tired. We had ordered it medium, but it was well done and tough. I had heard to order medium rare but forgot. I just ate veggies, and Todd did what he could with the entrees. The potatoes were a mix of sweet and regular and then there were some stir fried ones.

I ordered a tropical mousse for dessert. I ate a few bites. It was OK but not special.

Todd was antsy to see basketball. He watched both of last night’s final four games. I went to palladium to see what was going on but everyone there was watching the game on the big screen. Nothing else going on except lots of people playing pool or sitting at the pub or the lobby.

I headed back to the room and watched part of Frankenstein reborn until I was sleepy enough to sleep thru basketball.

April 2
The time changed overnight back home. We had been 2 hours off from home but were now only one hour off from home.

We got eaten alive at Barefoot by the Sea on the previous night. We did not know it at the time but felt it by morning. These were sand fleas.

We ordered continental breakfast using the room service ticket that you leave on the door. I picked 8:30-9:00 a.m. They arrived at 8:03 a.m. and seemed surprised we were still in bed. I ordered fruit and cereal. I also ordered juice.

I went walking around the resort. I checked out the hot and cold plunge pools by the spa. They were nice temperatures. I also noted that the showers were in good shape. I visited the fitness center. They had water and towels and a lot of machines with TVs scattered around. It was a good time of day to work out, though there were several others in the center. I rode an exercise bike and used some of the weight machines.

Next, I signed up at the front desk for the internet use in the business center. If you bring your own laptop, it is $40 for your entire stay, though it is on the honor system. If you don’t pay, you can get in if it is empty, but if full, I am sure people will be questioning who did and didn’t pay (I mean guests will). If you don’t bring your laptop, their system is $5 for 15 minutes.

I paid my money and went in. The “center” is a small setup in the administrative offices out by the copy machine, and it is a busy area. Look for the power strip in the floor if you want to plug in your machine w/o relying on the battery.

We had lunch at Bayside. Since our trip last September, they have added fishing line to keep the birds out. Before, they passed out water guns for guests to spray the birds! The birds can still fly in over the top and do, but there are not that many.

We had carved roast beef with gravy. I had mine on a nice hard roll, great bread. We enjoyed this and sampled some vegetables and salad.

In the afternoon, we checked out the lover’s pool near our room. They have double loungers with a cabana roof you can raise by tying the rope to the lounger or leave them down for sun. We raised ours, a setup near the ocean in front of the pool. We spent most of the afternoon here relaxing and doing soduko puzzles and watching the ocean.

The lover’s pool has a zero entry at one end, and you can easily hop in at the other end. There were never more than 4 couples here, and you can easily get a lounger. The hot tub was plenty warm, but the jets did not move much. They should put a soda fountain or something down there.

We went to the beach briefly and also waded. We later went to the pool behind the waterfall pool.

At 5:30 or so, we went to the happy hour buffet. They had egg rolls, beef kabobs, fried fish, chicken wings, cheese, fruit and veggies. Snacking on this made me sleepy, and I looked at the time, it was only 6:09.

We had dinner at the Italian. We waited 45 minutes. Come here when they open or at 8. I know I’m crusty, but PEOPLE … if you want to visit with people, sit together. If you meet someone and there is an empty table, MOVE. I didn’t enjoy being 12 inches MAX from the 2 Canadian couples that met chatting ACROSS tables next to us that gabbed SO loud that I was pierced. After waiting forever to get in, I wanted to relax. The place was half empty, and there was a table for 4 2 feet further down. Why they insisted to shout across their two tables, I don’t know.

I really enjoyed the salad at the antipasto bar. The greens and dressing were lovely. They listed mussels on the menu but instead had raw oysters. We dont eat those.

We skipped appetizers and soup. Todd ordered steak medium rare. It came barely pink and was doable. I ordered veal scaloppini. It was quite good, but I couldn’t hold all of it. He also ordered grilled shrimp. They forgot, and he didn’t remind him, but when he was almost done, 9 grilled shrimp arrived. He loved them and did his best.

They had disco/retro music in Palladium. Nobody was there, but we should have stayed. We went back to the room to wait for Desperate Housewives to come on. TV was from Denver, and everything was on so late.

About 9 pm, someone knocked on the door with some welcome chocolates, hand molded at the resort. Most were white chocolate. They had a lot of shapes, but most were similar. There was a raspberry sauce and some other fruit sauce, and they brought a bottle of French white wine.

April 3
We got up after a good night’s sleep. We had breakfast at Bayside. Todd had an egg sandwich and I had bacon and fried eggs. Watermelon was good again. Here you can get mimosas or have a champagne breakfast if you desire. At Josephine’s you can get “healthy” breakfast, including smoothies. Their menu is shown on a wall near Bayside, along with some of the other restaurant menus.

We tried to snorkel that day but could not get a slot. We did get a 1 pm slot for the next day, so we took that.

Instead, we took out a catamaran. The weather had been great the whole trip and continued to be phenomenal our whole trip. We sailed back and forth a number of times, enjoying the crystal clear water.

We enjoyed watching the tubers that were being pulled behind the waterski boat and also looking at yachts that were offshore form the resort.

We had lunch at Bayside again. We picked a few selections. We had planned to play bingo, but we missed the start. Instead, we hurried off to get ready for the shuttle to Regency.

Todd had a 3:30 tee time at Regency. There was a car accident, and it took us 50 minutes to get over there. They took him anyway. I went with him to make sure he was in and then went off on my way to enjoy laying around.

I went to the pool by Herbie’s piano bar, a favorite hangout and chatted with a couple there from the comfort of a raft. The hot tub there was drained. They were doing something to it.

I went down to the main hot tub and also the large pool. Had a good time and took picks of the renovated room buildings.

After a bit, I went up to the manager’s cocktail party. I had simosa, fruit, cheese and a few other appetizers. Todd came along shortly and got beef skewers. We chatted with someone he had met while playing that happened to work at his company.

Todd rented clubs and played 9 holes. His caddie seemed unhappy with $20 tip for 9 holes. He was able to ride in cart, etc. and round took 90 min. so not sure why he was not happy.

The shuttle trip back was not as eventful, but the shuttle was quite full from Regency. The people at Halcyon did get on since some at Regency were going there for dinner.

We went to the beach bbq, which we don’t do anywhere usually. We did this since Todd wanted to watch the end of the basketball final four. We could have dined elsewhere, but we did not know the game did not come on until 9 in St. Lucia due to the Denver TV.

We first sat at a table by ourselves, and others were placed there immediately. Some people were quitel loud behind. I got up to get some seafood soup, and Todd followed. We were back in a couple of minutes, and I wanted to move to the next table. When we got over there, my camera battery compartment was empty, and my batteries had been removed. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find them. I went back to the room and retrieved the other camera.

Todd took a full plate of food — ribs, steak, etc. He was supposed to be getting me something or other, and I soon realized he had gone to the room! He ended up eating none of his dinner.

I had only the seafood soup and salad. None of the entrees suited me. They had the typical stuff these buffets have — grilled to order pasta, grilled meats, carved pig and other carved meats (prime rib) and desserts, along with an open bar.

The steel band was very nice, and the limbo dancers and fire breathing were very good. They involved the audience.

They had a great band/group at The Palladium that night. Eighty people were in there, and 60 were dancing a lot of the time. The other 20 were TV widows like me, with about 4 of them dancing, as I should have.

April 4
This day was our 13th anniversary. We didn’t tell anyone or anything.
We laid around all morning doing nothing. We read at the pool and played our games.

We headed down for our snorkeling trip before 1 p.m. We didn’t know it was going to be a 3 hour trip, but it was. We headed off in the dive boat with the divers to Anse Cochen. I’ve snorkeled in the area before. The water was so clear, and we saw so many fish and a lot of colorful coral. The water was cold, but we got used to it. We stayed out there for 50 minutes. We saw some fish we had not seen before. It was worth the trip down, but do find out when they will snorkel up at Le Sport and when they will go down south if time is important.

We got back and were ready to eat something. We rinsed off and stopped by Barefoot by the Sea. They were set up outside on the sidewalk even though it was 4 p.m. We had skipped breakfast, and we were ready to eat. Barefoot has great lunch we tried shrimp quesadillas, fried fish fingers, grilled cheese, pizza, and they also had, jerk chicken, club sandwich, nachos, burgers and a number of other offerings.

We went out to the swim-up pool. I wanted to make sure to hit this pool since it was the only one we hadn’t been to. It was really nice.

We went to the Bayside lover’s dinner that they have on Tuesdays. We had to wait 20 minutes. Todd wanted to just go back to the Italian, but I wanted pumpkin soup. After the wait, we found out they were out of pumpkin soup!!!

They had that same seafood soup that they have all around the resort. It was good, but we’d had that. I had greens and tomatoes, and Todd had Caesar salad. I ordered mussels. The cream sauce was too heavy for me, but I did find one or two that weren’t too saucy. I don’t eat rich foods. Most people would have loved these. Todd had steak and shrimp.

We went back to the room and did some packing, trying to finish most.

April 5
We had a 6:30 a.m. departure. We finished our packing, bathing, etc. right on time and had a bellman come. We had no charges except the internet, which they put on our card on file after our permission. The bellman at the lobby desk made us schlep our own bags from the lobby desk to the van even though he was right there. We did so.

This flight was at 8:45 from George Charles in Castries. We arrived fairly quickly and were put in line. We had every bag searched, every device turned on.

When we got out to the departure lounge, they checked my purse again, even smelling my Altoid mints.

The flight was absolutely packed. We were seated next to a nice lady, across from a crying baby and its parents.

We were due into San Juan at 11 a.m. We arrived at 10:25. Customs was easy here, and we were in a van on the way to our cruise ship by 11 a.m.

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