Grenada 2022 - Sandals
Review of our two-week stay at Sandals resort in Grenada, in May/June 2022.
As we had an early flight from London Gatwick, we’d chosen to drive down the previous afternoon, park our car at the excellent APH off-airport car park, and stay overnight at the Hampton by Hilton hotel (recommended) in the North Terminal. In the morning we took the shuttle from North to South Terminal to check-in for the flight.
The flight was in many ways the highlight of the holiday. We’d already booked the holiday last year, travelling premium economy, but then Linda had spotted an unbelievably good deal on Business Class flights. We’d never travelled Business / Club Class before, as it was always several thousand pounds more each. But BA were desperate to attract punters during the Covid air-travel slump, so had reduced the premium for Club to just a couple of hundred pounds each. We grabbed it with both hands.
At Gatwick we therefore had access to the separate BA Club check-in desks, and also BA’s exclusive Club lounge with comfortable seats, food and drink, and a great view over the airport.
So, on the Boeing 777, we turned left for the first time ever. The spacious, well-designed seating module contained a motorised seat and separate footstool which could be adjusted from upright to a comfortable, completely-flat, full-length bed – with the supplied big blankets, brilliant for the overnight return flights. I normally have difficulty sleeping on flights, but I managed four hours’ shuteye this time. There was even a good-sized, handy drawer in the module for storing water, books etc.
The food was brilliant – an elaborate menu card provided more choice of food and drinks. The food was tastier - and a bigger tray, metal cutlery and glass wine-glasses added to the experience. The cabin crew were very attentive. It was good to be among the first to get off the plane at the end of the flight, as well.
Well done, Linda, for spotting this brilliant deal – an experience we’ll remember for a long time. Sadly, BA have now returned to their usual eye-watering prices for Club Class, so, unless we win the Lottery….
This was our fifth visit to Sandals Grenada – please see our report for 2019 for further information about the resort and our room.
After a lengthy queue at Immigration and the baggage carousel, it’s just a five-minute transfer to Sandals, and, since we’d booked a Club-level room, we were taken to the Club Lounge to check-in, and then quickly to our room, number 1219, in the Pink Gin block right on the seafront, with a massive patio and great views across the beach and over to St George’s, the capital, across Grand Anse bay.
We’d requested room 1219, as it’s where we’d stayed on our previous visit in 2019, and we’d loved it. It’s ideally positioned just 30 seconds from the beach and the dive centre. There was a bit more drawer-space this time, which was the main problem last time. Once again, please see our 2019 report for a more complete description of the room, together with photos. The only remaining problems were, firstly, the room-safe, which was mounted above head-height, which meant having to climb onto a stool to see inside it, and secondly, the shower - we had to wait for two minutes before the water turned hot. Minor problems.
We got married at Sandals Ocho Rios in Jamaica in 1989, and we were to celebrate our 33rd anniversary on this trip. We’d told anybody who’d listen when we’d have our anniversary. Usually this prompts Sandals to make it a special occasion – perhaps decorate your room or your dining table with flowers, maybe a bottle of fizz in an ice-bucket delivered to your room. However, there was absolutely no response. We dined in Le Jardinier on our anniversary, watching as another couple celebrated their 12th anniversary with a lavishly-decorated table. A few days later, we communicated our disappointment via the Loop, and one of the very helpful Club Lounge staff, Antonio, decorated our room with flowers himself, and arranged for a bottle of fizz to be delivered. Thanks, Antonio.
Thanks also to Juliana in the Club lounge, who helped with some queries.
We didn’t venture off-premises this time – we’ve had trips around the island before. We were hoping to book the “Sunset Cruise” on a lovely big catamaran called “Shadowfax”, which we’ve done several times, but we were dismayed to find that it was no longer offered by Island Routes (Sandals’ on-premises tour operator). They offered a massive gin-palace cruiser instead, which didn’t look as nice as “Shadowfax”.
Still a highlight for food quality, but perhaps not quite as good as in previous years.
We enjoyed good quality menu items at Butch’s and Le Jardinier. I decided to give the Wagyu steak a second chance at Butch’s, but it once again disappointed, being much more chewy than advertised - and the fries were soggy and limp. On our last night, Linda's "medium" steak arrived extremely rare, dripping blood. However, the Filet Mignon, the Surf and Turf, and other choices were generally ace.
It was good to chat to Marie Donna in Butch's - we both remembered Latoyah, the restaurant manager from Le Jardinier in 2017, who entertained us in Gordon's on the Pier in St Lucia.
A snotty maître d’ at Le Jardinier tried to refuse us entry, as I wasn’t wearing “closed-toed shoes”. She thought my sandals didn’t meet the required dress-code, despite Sandals’ own app clearly stating that sandals are acceptable – we knew the dress-code better than she did. We insisted that she was wrong, and she eventually let us in.
Perhaps the best menu was Neptune’s at lunch-time – thoroughly recommended for great salads, tasty mains and delicious fries, all served up with marvellous views over the Caribbean. The evening menu was unfortunately nowhere near as good.
I usually enjoy the diving at Sandals’ Grenada – there are beautiful reefs, easy dive sites, and interesting wrecks. Plus, it’s part of the all-inclusive package, so doesn’t cost anything more. Water-sports manager Boota recognised me from previous trips and came over to say hello, as did Sean the boat-captain.
I hadn’t dived during the Covid pandemic, so I had to do a check dive in the lagoon, for which I was charged an outrageous US$140.
However, the whole dive experience this year was not as good as in previous years. The main problem was that the usual dive boat was away being repaired. The water sports centre had provided an alternative, but it was hopeless. It was built for glass-bottom boat trips, not diving, and there was just no room for divers to get their BCD, tank and fins on. The dive boat was crowded because hotel occupancy was high as Covid travel restrictions had been eased. We were all jammed together, and there weren’t enough tank-holders to go round. Hopeless. Because of this, and the fact that there were no rinse tanks on board, I didn’t take my underwater camera with me.
Sean, the skipper, and his crew did their best, but I eventually got fed up with it, and abandoned diving after just four two-tank dive trips.
In addition, in our second week, the weather was a bit overcast and windy, which did nothing for visibility underwater. This meant that I was taken to the ‘Japanese Garden’ dive-site three times, as they reckoned visibility was generally better there than at other dive sites.
On some of the dives I noticed small areas of bleached coral here and there this time: this was new since 2019 – another worrying consequence of climate change. Nowhere are coral reefs going to be immune from warmer sea temperatures.
The dive sites I did were:
- Black Forest: A pretty reef, some fish, medium visibility. My BCD kept filling up with air and needed continual emptying – a waste of my air. Another diver reported the same problem. Perhaps maintenance had started to suffer as the dive centre was so busy.
- Japanese Garden (3 times): Pretty reef – lots of coral, some fish, stingrays, turtle, big lobster, moray eel.
- Purple Rain: Another pretty reef, stingrays, Sharptail eel, vis not so good.
- Purple Sand: Next to Purple Rain, Stingrays, sand flats, nice coral.
- Sponge Valley: Stingrays, lobster, some bleached coral evident.
- Tyrell Bay: Three wrecks on one dive: Tyrell Bay, an ex-Grenada coastguard patrol boat deliberately sunk, plus an ancient-looking Cuban boat made out of pre-stressed concrete, plus the mangled remains of an old fishing boat. On the patrol boat’s bridge deck you can sit in the helmsman’s seat and pretend to play with some of the instruments.
Thanks to dive leaders Tyrone, Kimshon and others, plus Anne-Marie in Reception, plus the ever-cheerful boat-captain Sean and his crew.
No photos this time – please see our 2019 report for plenty of photos of Sandals’, our room and underwater.
Another excellent holiday in Sandals’ Grenada, marred only slightly by the poor dive boat.