August 24th 2015
I had never been to Barbados before but the warm Caribbean welcome I was given by the Sandy Lane team definitely made me feel like I was coming home.
Actually, the welcome started at the airport! All guests staying at Sandy Lane are met airside and fast tracked through security by their VIP greeter who guides you past the queues through customs to the luggage carousel then through to another Sandy Lane person and on to your transfer. Great way to start any trip!
It’s around 30 minutes drive to Sandy Lane and actually it’s a smaller resort than I would have imagined. The team have big smiles for you wherever you go and a great sense of warmth and humour. With this in mind it’s also less stuffy than I thought it might be for such an institution! On arrival, we had some sort of delicious, refreshing fruity punch and then we were taken to our rooms. All the rooms are decent in size and I think you would be happy in most, if not all of the room categories but we were given the Deluxe Ocean View rooms which looked out directly over the beach. In the morning I would simply press a button to open the drapes and sheers, open my French doors onto the balcony and just listen to the sound of the ocean lapping and the birds singing. What a great way to wake up!
The rooms have a large flat screen on the wall with lots of TV channels and movies. The mini bar has fresh milk which is delivered daily, a Nespresso coffee machine and the bed is huge and fabulously comfortable. The bathrooms have a large bath and full size Sandy Lane products which are refilled on a daily basis. Also in the bathroom is self flushing toilet with the softest toilet roll I have ever encountered anywhere!
The lead in category are the Orchid rooms and some of the ones on the ground floor have direct access from the patio to the beach. You simply use your room key to get access to the gate and can come back through your patio door. Then there are the Dolphin Suites which are 2 bedrooms, one with a king bed and one with 2 twin beds plus living room…great for families! It’s worth checking their deals they offer throughout the year as sometimes you can pay 50% on a 2nd connecting room when they run their Family Escape Package. The largest accommodation type however is a 4 bedroom penthouse which belongs to one of the owners. This is on a request basis only. All the rooms I visited where absolutely pristine and Sandy Lane obviously take great care to keep all areas of the hotel looking fresh and clean at all times.
The beach is a real hub for Sandy Lane guests and it was great to actually be there after seeing so many celebs in the press over the years. I did ask about paparazzi and it seems that the photos that are taken are from a long lens out to sea. Although that might put some people off, I think Sandy Lane is about seeing and being seen but in a relaxed kind of way.
After your first day you can chose where you want your sunbed made up with their signature pink towels and the team there will prepare them in the same location every day if you like. You can also swim out to the fuschia pink pontoon for a bit of relaxing and people watching. If you want anything from the staff then you put up your flag and someone will come to take care of you. There are water sports such as water skiing, banana boat rides and kayaking. The beach is actually public, as are all beaches in Barbados and although you don’t see the locals sunbathing, you do have the odd beach vendor. Many of the guests take advantage of the services on offer such as reflexology and the Aloe Vera man who applies the gel of this healing plant to sunburn (for a small fee). My favourite however was the apparently world famous, “Original Pineapple Man” who despite not owning a computer has his own facebook page and You Tube videos! All good fun and part of the spirit of the Caribbean!
As well as the other water sports mentioned above you can also go catamaran sailing where you can swim in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean. Keep your eye out for the hotel’s Romance Package which includes this trip. We were lucky enough to be taken out from Sandy Lane Beach on Seaduced with captain Casper who guided us out to a local wreck (placed their deliberately) so we could do a bit of snorkeling. It’s no Maldives to be fair but there were thousands of little fish for us to see.
We then moved on to where the local turtles hang out and thanks to our guide who fed them we were able to get up close and personal to 3 friendly turtles who let us stroke their shells. Back on the boat we drank delicious rum punch and ate freshly made canapés. On the way back we also stopped off at the fabulous Lone Star which is a really cool bar/restaurant on the beach plus 7 lovely rooms and a 3-4 bedroom villa if you fancy something more boutiquey. Lone Star used to be a gas station 40 years ago and the restaurant continues this theme with the staff wearing gas station uniforms.
Back at Sandy Lane we hit the pool area which has a cascading waterfall and this is also where you will find the spa and fitness area. The service around the pool is great and they will offer you little treats throughout the day to keep you cool and refreshed. In addition, they have cabanas by the pool which are free of charge and are offered on a first come-first serve basis.
The fitness centre not only has a great gym but a full schedule of classes to get you beach body ready. Thanks to the General Manager’s wife a couple of us also got to visit the yoga studio next door to the hotel for a full on Angsana Yoga session in a 2-walled incense infused studio.
As well as the beach bar and restaurant where you have breakfast, there is also L’Acajou which is the fine dining option was is formal but not fussy. At night you can ask for a table on it’s large balcony area and look out to the ocean…very romantic! Incidentally, you can also order to your room and there is no delivery charge. All the food I had whilst there was amazing and they mix it up so that you don’t have to eat the same thing twice. Whilst there my favourites where the Asian Buffet, the barbecue area and an unbelievable Sunday brunch with, I think, the most food I’ve ever seen!
If you have family, then you can’t fail to be impressed with the Treehouse kids club which runs inclusive activities such as cooking. Sometimes they will show a kids movie on the lawn or a kids beach buffet. Once a child has been to the club they can join their Facebook page where the kids club team will continue to engage with them. This is obviously a private page and only those who have visited can see it. For older kids and teenagers they also run excursions as well as having a teen area with pool table.
The Piece de la Resistance of Sandy Lane is however the famous Green Monkey golf course named after the local animal whose fur apparently has a green tinge to it. We were given a golf buggy tour and although I’m not a golfer, it was pretty impressive! The Country Club is a fabulous affair with views out over the course and a large golf shop filled with Sandy Lane and Green Monkey branded items. If you’re a guest at the hotel you can purchase the exclusive Green Monkey merchandise otherwise you can’t! Golf carts and clubs are free but you need to pay for a caddy which is around $40USD…my favourite was the Rasta Caddy complete with dreadlocks. The course is extremely well taken care of and whilst we were there they were replacing all the bunkers with white lime sand to keep it looking crisp and pristine. In fact it apparently costs 1.2 million USD a month to keep it watered! The tee times are every 10 minutes within an hour and a half period only from 8am to 9.30am! This serves to keep it very exclusive. If you are a hotel guest it costs around $380USD for a 4 ball and $4000USD if you’re not a guest!
There are around 700 staff for maximum of 275 guests. As I mentioned before the staff really make the resort and it’s what stands out. The staff will play golf with you if you want some company and they remember your name and your preferences . This really is a well-oiled machine run by the lovely GM Mr Randall Wilkie who is a Barbadian who originally hails from Scotland. The resort also has 24 hour security for your peace of mind.
There are loads of great restaurants outside of the hotel including the famous Cliff Restaurant which now has a new beach club! For an up-to-date list of recommendations just ask one of the Limelight Team. For those who like their shopping there is also Lime Grove shopping centre which features a host of designer stores.
Sadly my trip was too short! On checking out, guests are given a glass of champagne before tying up their bill (which I’m sure helps). The farewell is as warm as the welcome though which is a really nice touch! We were taken back to the airport and into the Jet Centre Lounge which is away from the main terminal. There are 2 lounges there, one of which is only for BA First Class passengers and one is for business class (although you can pay extra if in ecomony). There you will find a TV plus complimentary drinks and snacks. If you like to shop at the airport then this is not for you as you are whisked from there when the time comes to board and are taken directly to the airplane steps.
I am delighted that I finally got the chance to stay at this iconic Barbados Hotel which is really like no other on the island! It was great to meet all the team and I really hope it’s not too long before I get to go back there…
Nadine :) x
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