Friday, May 3, 2013

Sandals Grande Antigua - Part 1

Sandals Grande Antigua first opened in 1991, but it was expanded 6 years ago. Now it has two distinct sections - the original “Caribbean Grove” side with cozy, gingerbread-trimmed buildings and lush gardens and the new “Mediterranean Village” side with a huge swimming pool and modern, luxurious rooms. It is like two resorts in one - the best of both worlds.

Saturday was a long day of traveling, starting when we left the house at 4:30. We had a 3-hour layover in Miami, and when we took off for Antigua, we could see the Port of Miami and the tiny cruise ships below. I thought of Mama and Daddy, who had just gotten off one of those ships that morning. The skies were clear over the Bahamas chain but by the time we landed at the VC Bird Airport, it was cloudy and drizzly. Booo! Finally, we made it to the resort and checked into our room. But surprise, it wasn’t the Caribbean Grove room we had booked. We had been upgraded to a second floor ocean view room in the Mediterranean section! The room was gorgeous. It had a king-sized 4-poster bed, a sitting area and a mini-bar stocked with water, soda, beer and several bottles of liquor. The bathroom had double sinks, a whirlpool tub and a separate shower with a “rain” shower head. From our small balcony we could just see the ocean beyond the main pool.
We unpacked and got showers, then wandered down to Bayside, on the Caribbean side of the resort, for dinner. The food was good (broccoli soup, seared scallops and mussels in white wine); the atmosphere was great. After dinner, we walked around the property, getting lost a couple of times in the Caribbean Grove. The tree frogs were out and singing loudly. I couldn’t wait to see the resort in daylight!

flying over the Bahamas

Venetian Oceanview Suite
our room

sitting area


I woke up before 6 and it was already light outside but still cloudy. Booo! I sat out on the balcony for a while, listening to the soft coo coos of the mourning doves and watching the chair hogs sneak down to the pool to claim their chairs. Seriously people, there are enough chairs for everyone! Besides, with all the clouds it didn’t seem like finding a shady spot would be a problem.
Ron was still sleeping so I threw on some shorts and snuck out of the room in search of caffeine. Eventually I found my way to Café de Paris, a little coffee and pastry shop tucked away with the gift shops and tour office. I ordered a cappuccino and two chocolate croissants. Yum!!

Cafe de Paris
Cafe de Paris

cafe sign

coffee drink

When I got back to the room, Ron was up so we went to breakfast at Mario’s, the Italian restaurant. It had a wonderful breakfast buffet and I soon became a big fan of the breakfast pizza. I’d been researching Sandals Antigua for months and was itching to start exploring with my camera, but I knew it would be better to wait until the sun came out. I would have to be patient a little longer. Instead Ron and I spent the day at the main pool. Yes, it was cloudy but at least we wouldn’t have to worry about getting sunburned on our first day. And lo and behold, by mid-afternoon the clouds parted, the sun came out and it stayed out for the rest of the week. We were really lucky. We heard that it had rained for the past three days straight!

by the pool

Sandals pool
the Mediterranean Village pool

Sandals pool

dolphin fountain

That night we had dinner at OK Corral, the Tex-Mex restaurant. This was the restaurant I had been least excited about, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was an open-air restaurant above the bar in the Caribbean Grove courtyard. The kitchen was in the middle of the restaurant so we could watch the food being prepared and also enjoy the night sky and the lights of the boats on the water. I had the habanero shrimp appetizer and seared tuna. The specialty drink was a frozen raspberry margarita. It was so light and refreshing that I had two. :-)
Before heading back to the room, we sat for a while by the fire pits on the beach and then called it a night. A very relaxing first day.


gazebo kiss
before dinner at OK Corral

continued on Part 2

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