Our ‘Sandals Experience’ began at the airport where we were welcomed in the air conditioned Sandals lounge with a refreshing cocktail (a taste of many more to come!) whilst awaiting our private limousine transfer. A helicopter is also available for anyone who prefers a more exciting and speedier journey. On arrival we were greeted in the concierge lounge with a very welcome glass of champagne and a personal planner for us to record our bookings for restaurants and activities for our forthcoming stay. What a wonderful surprise to find that we had already been allocated tables in the 3 restaurants requiring advance bookings.
Following a speedy check-in, we were escorted to our very luxurious and spacious suite. The resort offers extensive accommodation, ranging from the Emerald Deluxe room to the ultra exclusive Sunset Bluff Millionaire Butler Suite with private pool sanctuary (lovingly described by guests as `a view with a room`!) Within this range there are 18 different categories of suites, each enjoying unique features and all of a signature standard that befits a modern, stylish high quality all-inclusive resort. We were allocated a Sunset Bluff Honeymoon One Bedroom Butler Suite. The room and the facilities were stunning. Sandals really know how to put the `lushÇ?¶ïinto the word plush. Everything was just perfect, comprising of a lounge area with seating, refrigerator and mini bar with high quality wines, spirits and beers, fruit basket and petit fours, two large flat screen TVs, jacuzzi bath, huge shower area, top quality Red Lane products, patio area with furniture overlooking the garden and the ocean and finally a sumptuously inviting huge four poster bed. As with everything at the Sandals resort, quality was the key and we got the impression that no expense was spared to provide guests with the very best amenities that money can buy.
The whole ‘butler experience’ really did far exceed our expectations. We cannot speak highly enough of the thought that has gone into ensuring the guests have an unforgettably romantic stay. The surprises they heaped on us seemed to be never ending! Yet throughout our stay the staff were never intrusive. We were struck by how, amidst the friendly welcome, they managed somehow to retain a professional aura but without the stiff, starchy formality so often associated with this sort of role. Perhaps the key lies in the words of one of the management team who told us ‘we hire the smile and train the skill and style’. Butlers have been trained by staff from the elite Guild of Professional English Butlers who regularly visit to ensure the continuity of high standards. Each night we returned to our room to discover something new to tempt us into prolonging the evening under the stars enjoying tasty delicacies. My wife’s all time favourite was the trail of petals leading to our bath, overflowing with a mass of bubbles and with an accompanying message very creatively made of banana leaves inviting us to ‘jump in’! It had been secretly filled whilst we were enjoying in-room dining on our patio.
The dining experience needs particular comment as it really was an amazing part of our unforgettable vacation. Sandals Regency La Toc has recently introduced a new concept which they call `discovery dining`. Each of the 8 Restaurants offers it`s own distinctive culinary experience which enables guests to take a global journey enjoying a range of delectable regional specialities, each one delivering a new cultural flavour. The fun-filled evening we spent at the Japanese restaurant Kimono`s will be an everlasting memory for us. The exotic Teppanyaki-style dishes were prepared at the table with the diners very much an integral part of the proceedings.
Also deserving a special mention was the supremely exclusive Gordon`s restaurant, situated within Sandals Grande St. Lucian. To further enhance an already extensive range of experiences, Sandals offer guests the opportunity to `stay at one, play at three`. Complimentary transport is provided to all three Sandals resorts on St Lucia, providing guests with a choice of 22 restaurants and the invitation to take part in activities at all three resorts. Gordon`s is by invitation only and exclusive to butler suite residents. Dining under the stars in this intimate 14 tabled restaurant built on stilts and seeming to stretch way out in the calm crystal clear sea, was surely a taste of heaven and probably the most romantic setting we have ever experienced. The service was absolutely impeccable and every course was an unforgettable culinary masterpiece.
Being seasoned travellers, my wife and I have enjoyed a vast range of spa treatments throughout the world. However, the Regency La Toc’s Red Lane Spa proved to be a totally different experience, one which is unique to the Carribean. There is a very comprehensive menu of individualised treatments to choose from, but we were instantly drawn to the West Indian Massage which is the Sandals signature massage. We were fascinated to discover how it manages to incorporate the natural elements of the Carribean; the beautiful warm sunshine (we began the massage with a warm rock placed in our hands), the pristine sand and crystal clear sea ( our feet were exfoliated with white sea-sand) and finally the rain ( a refreshing mist sprayed on to our faces to remind us of the lush vegetation abundant in the rain forests). We emerged truly relaxed and rejuvenated, just wishing we could do it all again!
The range of complimentary activities on offer at Sandals is extensive and sufficient to keep all guests amused and occupied. There is a huge range of water sports available, a stunning 9 hole golf course neatly sculptured into the beautiful rainforest topography, a market with local people selling souvenirs and gifts and even a night street market offering an authentic (and very tasty) flavour of St Lucian culture. In the main restaurant there are daily themed menus and cultural shows ensuring that guests are entertained and experience a huge range quality foods from around the world. There is even a Sandals newspaper called The Daily Breeze informing everyone of all the events and experiences available at each of the Sandals St Lucia sites.
It would be true to say that, having had our first Sandals experience, we left with the feeling that we want more, more, more. We are not surprised that many of the guests return to Sandals time and time again as in our opinion this ranks as one of the best all-inclusive experiences that we have ever had. It is something that we will never forget and hope that some day we can join the many `sandalised` returning guests.
All Sandals Holidays can be found at www.sandals.co.uk
Disclosure: For this blog post we were able to gain access to a sample product or service.
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