Reviewers Rating: Excellent
Sandals Royal Bahamian
August 31 - September 6, 2003
This was our first trip to any Sandals resort. We have previously stayed at AI hotels in Cozumel, Cancun and Playa del Carmen. We have also been to Las Vegas and Maui, Hawaii. For an AI resort, this was by far the best. However, it was also the most expensive. But, we felt we got what we paid for compared to the other hotels we've stayed at since those hotels didn't offer numerous dining selections, name brand liquor, and good on-site entertainment.
Because of our remote location is took forever to get there and get back. We left August 29 and flew from Midland to Dallas to Houston. Spent 2 nights in Houston, then flew to Miami and then on to Nassau. While in Houston, we went to the Downtown Aquarium. This place was a lot of fun. We went through the aquarium, then had lunch at the Cinema Cafe. The tables are shaped liked boats and they face a movie screen. While you eat, movie clips are shown on the screen. We had coconut shrimp with grilled veggies and catfish strips. Very good. After eating, we went on the train through the shark tank. Very fun with a surprise at the end. Then we rode the Ferris wheel. We stopped by the Dive Bar for a drink before returning to our hotel. Didn't eat at the Aquarium Restaurant, but the place was just awesome with the aquarium setting behind all the tables.
We purchased a Fun Jet vacation package with American Airlines. The flight into Nassau was about an hour late from Miami. No problems with transfers at the airport. We got to the hotel a little after 2:00pm. They sat us down in the reception area with champagne and cold towels and provided some info about the hotel and reservation restaurants. They nicely explained that check-in wasn't until 3:00pm and therefore our room would not be ready until after that time. We were then taken over to Spices for the buffet lunch and told to enjoy lunch and the grounds until our room was ready. The lunch was very good. We then took the opportunity to make reservations for all the restaurants that required one. No problem getting a reservation to any of the restaurants. Also made tour and spa reservations. We then walked around the property to check everything out and took some pictures. The property was very nice and the greenery gorgeous. Made it back to the front desk by 4:00pm and was shown to our room.
We purchased a Honeymoon Oceanview Concierge room in the Manor block. We were given our ammenity kit and lock for the safe and taken to the 5th floor, room 510. The room was very nice, but did not have a balcony. Only a sliding window that faced directly towards Sandals Cay. Not acceptable. We understood that our room would have a balcony that faced the Manor pool with an oceanview. We nicely relayed our concerns to the front desk and was immediately taken to the 4th floor, room 406 without any problem. This room was perfect. It was on a corner and face directly over the Manor pool and the beach/ocean area. It had a nice 4 poster king bed, armoire with drawers and TV, bedside tables and a small table with chairs, fully stocked mini bar with frig, 2 closets, 2 sinks and tub/shower combo. The balcony was triangle shaped with 2 chairs with a table and a drying rack for swimsuits. The room was very nice and clean. The bar was a nice touch, but we really didn't need it. After all the alcohol we consumed down at the pools and restaurants, we didn't need to drink in our room also. Never touched any of the alcohol offered, and only drank 2 of the bottled waters and 2 cans of juice, which was promptly restocked the following day.
We ate at all the restaurants for dinner except Cafe Goombay on Sandals Cay. We enjoyed the food very much. Never had a bad dining experience. We were disappointed though in the seafood selection, as they only offered conch, grouper or shrimp. No lobster or crab. Also, the desserts are not as sweet tasting as I am used to. We enjoyed Spices mainly for breakfast and lunch. Nice wide variety of selections with daily grilled to order specials. We tried Baccarat and Casanova for breakfast once and Royal Cafe for lunch twice. The service in Baccarat for breakfast was too slow, though very good. DH really enjoyed Kimonos and we ate there twice. We were really impressed with the food and service. Much better than any AI we've been to in the Mexico-Caribbean.
We are mainly beer drinkers and usually only drink Corona and Bud Light. We tried the Kalik beer and really liked it. I drank the regular with lime and DH drank the Gold. The gold is very strong. All bartenders were friendly and we did not have to wait long to get a drink. Drinks were served in glassware at the restaurants and plastic cups at the pool. We saw lots of name brand liquors at every bar. We just told them what we wanted and they gladly served it to us. We sat at the Manor swim-up pool bar one afternoon and tried 1 of every drink on the menu hanging above to see if we could find something we like and have never had before. Our new favorite mixed drinks are the Hummingbird and the Miami Vice. DH drank a lot of Crown and coke also.
The Royal Theater had something going on every night at 9:30pm. We saw the fire limbo, the Las Vegas type show Oh La La, participated in the Mr. and Mrs. Royal Bahamian Contest (we came in 3rd), the VIP band played a couple of nights and we just danced the night away most every night. We had late night snacks at Cricketers Pub. The chicken wings were excellent. Also enjoyed the Billiard Room. Played pool and chess a few times. Had late night dips at the Windsor's hot tub, and went to the piano bar twice for sing-alongs. A lot of fun. We were never bored. We had thought of going to Sr. Frogs in town, but decided not to because there was so much to do here and the drinks were included.
We purchased the 6 night package in order to obtained the $250 credit to use in the spa. I had the body polish scrub, the moor mud masque (the mixture is painted on with a paint brush), aromatherapy hydrobath (the mud mixture was rinsed off in the hydro bath instead of the shower) and 35 minute Swedish massage. (The massage is the back part of the body only) DH is not much of a spa person and just did the 35 minute Swedish massage. Though the services were nice, I wouldn't say they were the best I've ever had especially for the price. I've had the same treatments in Las Vegas and Mexico-Caribbean for less than 1/2 the price and felt the treatments were slightly better and more personal. Even with the credit, it still cost us $95. Without the credit I would not have done any of it.
One afternoon we took the charter over to Sandals Cay. We had lunch at Cafe Goombay. Basically the same menu of selections as the Royal Cafe. The pool was very small compared to the hotels main pools. Also had a lot of debris and sand in it. Not very clean. We sat at the swim-up pool bar and ordered a few drinks than checked-out the beach. The beach area was nice. Saw a few fish as we waded in the water. We stayed 2 hours and then went back to the Manor pool. We could have skipped going there altogether, but wanted to try it. We had dinner reservations for Cafe Goombay, but after seeing the area we canceled it.
Pools and Beach
We are definitely pool people and loved the massive size of the 2 pools. We used the Manor pool exclusively since it was closer to our room and also less crowded than the Windsor pool. The water was clean and just the right temperature. The 2 hot tubs at the Manor pool were not as warm as I would have liked. The Windsor hot tub's water temp. was perfect, but it didn't have any jets. The 2 hot tubs by the spa were dirty with lots of debris. One was cold and the other scalding hot. No problems in getting towels or loungers. The towels were beach size, but kinda thin. We were able to replace them as needed throughout the day. The towel hut closes around dinner time, but we brought our own beach towels and saw some people wearing their robes after a late night swim. The beach was nice with white sand. No rocky entrance to the ocean and warm crystal clear water. It was a small beach area, but didn't feel overcrowded. Did not have anybody bug us to buy things or use the motorized and non-motorized water equipment. There were a very limited number of umbrellas for the loungers at the beach and the pools. We saw 3-4 per area.
Our Fun Jet package was supposed to come with a 2-1 Catamaran Cruise on the Yellowbird. Our confirmation stated the inclusion and I was told by my TA to just show it to the tour desk operator at Majestic Tours to book. I did show the confirmation and they refused to book the tour without a paper voucher. We ended up booking a catamaran cruise on the Flying Cloud to Rose Island instead for $95. It was a nice cruise, but definitely not worth the money paid. Take the included snorkel trip offered by Sandals to Sandals Cay. The tour desk didn't tell us that was an included excursion. We found out too late by another guest.
We also booked a combo sightseeing trip of Nassau and Ardasta Zoo and Gardens. However, we were notified later that the tour was cancelled due to lack of participants, so we just took the bus to Ardasta Zoo and Gardens on our own. We decided to go early to check out the zoo and then stay for the Marching Flamingo show. We should have went to the show first and then looked around the zoo. It was so hot that we only stayed an hour before we were about to sweat to death and left, so we missed the show. The zoo area was very nice though. Lots of animals and birds. They will let you leave and come back on the same day ticket for the show, but once we left we didn't want to have to go back.
Also went to Atlantis. We could have easily skipped this. The hotel seemed so out-of-place in the Bahamas. If we were in Las Vegas, it would have fit in perfectly. The hotel is massive and busy with people and kids everywhere. The entrance to the pools and aquarium are guarded better than Fort Knox. If you didn't have on the correct wrist band, you weren't getting anywhere near them. We broke down and paid the $25 p/p fee to the Aquarium and Digs. Though very nice, not worth $50. The Aquarium in Houston was just as nice and 1/2 the price.
We went Downtown to the main shopping area. We skipped the Straw Market since we just wanted to buy a few specific things. We liked the "no-hassle" approach by the shop keepers. Very friendly and polite. They didn't bug us to buy anything. We found one department-type store with a room of clothes that said 75% off everything in that room. We bought 5 T-shirts and 1sweatshirt for $22. We also wanted some Tortuga rum cake, but could only find Barcardi. We bought several to bring back to family and friends. The Tortuga rum cakes are so much better. The shop Solomon Mines was really great if your looking for crystal, perfume, leather, jewelry and other fine items.
This was a fantastic trip. The weather was perfect. Overcast and cloudy which took away some of the heat, but just perfect to use the pools and beach. Hurricane Fabian went right past us. It rained once, which was on the day the left. We really enjoyed the hotel, the service, the food and entertainment. In all of our trips, we have never found more nice, friendly, polite, accommodating people. We would definitely go back and recommend this resort to others. We want to try another Sandals resort next year and are looking at either Jamaica or St. Lucia. Maybe even a combo trip to both. Pictures are on our web-site at: http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn If you have questions, e-mail KR_LVN@hotmail.com
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