We take a flight down south at least once a year in the winter months. The destination always ends up being Cuba. It’s not our first choice. Ever. The thing is, we fall into the trap of looking for the lowest cost, regardless of value. So, leaving from Toronto, the best price, with kids, is always Cuba. This year it was Memories Holguin Beach Resort. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy ourselves and we by no means live in squalor for the week. It just could be more fulfilling and enriching. Sound like you, too?
We’ve also been those people who say, “Sandals? Whoa, man! What company do you think I’m the CEO of?!” Like a lot of things of great value, we, and many people like us, dismiss these options as unaffordable without even doing any sort of investigation into what the price (and value) really is.
Yes, Sandals Resorts are more expensive than you’re typical all-inclusive Caribbean resort. On the surface. But, what you’re getting from Sandals, at the minimum, is what you’d get at other resorts after all possible upgrades and options have been factored in. Even then, your experience at Sandals is going to be above and beyond.
Before you book that sub-standard Caribbean ‘all-inclusive’ vacation, you really need to take a look at what ‘all-inclusive’ actually means. We’re going to take a look at what incredible features you’ll find at most Sandals resorts. But, why not go to the source? Check out their online Vacation Planner to find out what they can fit your needs. One of these destinations has great potential to transform your relationships and even your life. The features and benefits will raise the bar on your expectations and the outcome will be a better person (and a well rested one, at that).
Also, for those of us caught in the Cuba trap, aren’t you sick of tipping for every little thing? Each year, the Cuban people become more and more aggressive about demanding tips and their expectations on the amount of those tips keeps increasing. Well, at Sandals, this will never be an issue because TIPPING IS NOT ALLOWED!
Sandals Resorts – Overview
First, the one big thing to know about Sandals is that they are adults-only resorts. For a family friendly environment, you can try the Beaches brand of resorts, owned and operated by the same company. Second, unlike other all-inclusive packages but similar to the cruise world, airfare is the only thing not included in your price. Yes, you must get your own flight to and from your destination. Third, the price is per room, not per person – unlike most resorts where the price is per person. Lastly, a minimal deposit is required to hold the room and you don’t have to pay the total up front.
However, once you’re at the airport, the transportation to and from the resort is included. Also included is transportation between neighbouring Sandals resorts during your stay. You see, when you book, you’re not just staying at one resort – you have the use of all their other properties that are nearby. Also included is water transport to the accompanying private islands that come included with your vacation.
There are now 16 resorts, all in the Caribbean. Jamaica is the most popular destination, and home to the original property, with seven resorts. Saint Lucia has three resorts, the Bahamas and Barbados both have two properties and there is also a resort on Grenada and Antigua. All have Wi-FI included in your room and in all public areas. And – the tap water is always safe to drink with water filtration plants on each and every property.
Food and Drink
No cheap beer and low quality booze at these resorts. Unlimited premium alcohol (you know, the stuff you have to pay extra for at other resorts) is available 24/7 at up to eleven bars at the resort. In fact, you don’t need to go to a bar to drink. Your room is always stocked with whatever beverages you want, including premium alcohol.
Used to spending your whole week’s vacation eating at the overcrowded buffet, waiting in lengthy lines, like a prisoner, for some mediocre cooked food, never getting to one of the limited a la carte restaurants because they’re already booked up solid? This is an impossible scenario at Sandals.
There is no buffet. Everything is served in a high quality restaurant. With up to 16 unique restaurants per resort, there is no need for reservations and you are not limited to a small window of time. Come and go as you please, any time of day, and eat as much as you want. Used to paying that extra $20 for a lobster dinner at your average all-inclusive? Not here. EVERYTHING is always included and unlimited.
Some examples of restaurant brands you will find include: Kimonos Oriental Cuisine, Butch’s Chophouse, Gordon’s Pier Restaurant, Bombay Club, Barefoot by the Sea and the Merry Monkey English Pub.
Unlimited watersports. That usually means everything except something that has a motor on it. That’ll cost you extra. Unlimited often usually means once per week and it has to be scheduled and you have to tip large. Not at Sandals.
Unlimited watersports means unlimited watersports. Including motorized, where available. They boast the largest water sports operation in the Caribbean and the largest zero entry pools in the islands. Included are stand up paddle boards, water hammocks, wake boarding, water skiing and even glass bottom boats at some locations.
Need an escape from the main beach? No problem if you’re at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Jamaica or Sandals Royal Bahamian in the Bahamas. These resorts offer private offshore islands that are completely included. These offer pristine beaches, complimentary private boat transfers, casual grill eating by day, specialty restaurant dining by night, beach parties day and night, private cabanas and hammocks, snorkeling and more.
Want to stay out of the water? These resorts also offer unlimited land sports. Most have tennis, basketball, racquetball & squash, fitness centers, indoor and pub games, billiards, ping pong, shuffleboard, beach volleyball and more. Sandals Royal Barbados even has a bowling alley. Resorts in Jamaica and St. Lucia have unlimited golf.
Oh yeah, almost forgot the big one. At Sandals resorts, the SCUBA diving is included and unlimited. The catch is that you must already be PADI certified. If you’re not, it’s not a deal breaker. You can get your certification on site but that, you must pay for.
The Last Word
So, do you see what I’m getting at? You might pay a bit more and it might be a stretch for some budgets. However, what you get for that money is exponentially more than what you get at other resorts. And, the price really doesn’t have to be that much of a stretch.
Keep an eye out. Sandals has a lot of deals and incentives that can drastically lower the price of your stay. Subscribe to their newsletter through their website. They will let you know when the sales are on. Book well in advance when one of these deals becomes available and this will give you plenty of time to find airfare that does match your budget. Given enough time, flights can be found at very reasonable prices.