Since opening its first resort back in 1981, the Sandals hospitality group has been providing guests with high-end, all-inclusive vacation packages that prove to be even more fun than the catchy commercials you’ve probably seen.
My last adventure brought me to the all-new, all-suite Sandals Royal Barbados, which hosted me for a few nights. While Barbados is already home to an existing Sandals resort—the Sandals Barbados—this newest Barbados property has gone above and beyond to provide luxury accommodations in a casual yet chic environment with several fantastic pools, a wide range of activities and multitude of fantastic dinning options. The property is incredibly cared for and manicured—as are its guests.
Whether you’ve included more travel as one of your 2019 resolutions or you’re simply looking to escape to the Caribbean, the Sandals Royal Barbados should be on your radar. Here are 10 reasons why:
1. “Stay at One, Play at All”
Located in St. Lawrence Gap on the southern coast of the island, the new resort was built adjacent to the existing Sandals Barbados. One great benefit of this: the “Stay at One, Play at All” policy, which allows guests the opportunity to take advantage of everything offered on both properties—including, most notably, a combined 17 fantastic restaurants…
2. 17 all-inclusive restaurants
Like many travelers, I count the dining options as a key component in determining the success of any vacation. After hearing stories of limited options at other (non-Sandals) all-inclusive resorts, I was eager to see how much Sandals’s claimed emphasis on gourmet dining would mean. It means a lot, it turns out. The combined 17 restaurants on the two properties offered diverse, delicious menus in varied and beautiful settings. (Note: The staff makes a point at the start of every seating to accommodate diners with dietary restrictions.)
That said, as it was my first time dinning at an all-inclusive resort, I must admit that the system took a little getting used to. I found it almost surreal to not be limited to a certain number of items on the menu and, if I favored a particular dish, to have the option to order it several times (with no judgement from the Sandals team). Once you’ve had enough, you simply get up, thank the staff and make your way out. It took me a few meals, but once I’d adapted to the “all-inclusive” way of vacationing, I could understand why couples return to Sandals year after year.
Note: There’s no tipping at the resort.
Access to so many all-inclusive dining options accommodates indecision or multiple cravings. If you’re having difficulty deciding between sushi or a more progressive French menu, you can start by going to Soy on the Sandals property and then walk around the corner to the fantastic La Parisienne at the Sandals Royal Barbados for chateaubriand hand-carved filet.
Note: While some restaurants don’t require reservations, there are several that do, and La Parisienne is one of them. Be sure to check.
And if breakfast is the most important meal of the day for you, you’re in luck. Both resorts offer fantastic healthy buffets and a la carte options. If breakfast isn’t your thing and you prefer to start with just a coffee and a pastry, Cafe de Paris—nestled in a garden between the resorts—has got you covered.
Here’s the full, 17-item list of restaurants to choose from:
At the Sandals Royal Barbados (6):
At Sandals Barbados (11):
- Bombay Club
- Butch’s Chophouse
- Café de Paris
- Dino’s Pizzeria
- Merry Monkey
- The Mariner
3. The pools
When it comes time to relax by the pool, the Sandals Royal Barbados has a bit of everything. (It’s a resort designed primarily for couples, so if you’re planning a vacation with your kids, Sandals’s sister brand—Beaches—is a better choice.)
Because the Sandals “Stay at One, Play at All” policy also applies to the pool and beach areas at both resorts, pools at both properties are open to you as a guest. While a few are designated only for guests with “swim-out” rooms, the majority of Sandals’s sun-soaking options are yours to consider. For starters, the main pool at the Sandals Royal Barbados is located beside the beach. It attracts guests looking for a social atmosphere that includes music, which is provided by a DJ, and a great circular outdoor bar just steps away.
Next up is a first-of-its-kind for Sandals: an infinity rooftop pool overlooking the resort. Here you’ll find peace and quiet plus the great Sky Bar if you’re up for a drink. The view is pretty amazing, as well.
The third pool is for those who want to saddle up to the bar without having to leave the pool. There’s music at this location, too, but it’s not so loud that you can’t read or get in a snooze.
The last of the larger pools at the Sandals Royal Barbados has been deemed the “international pool.” I’m still not sure what makes it international, but one thing is for certain: It’s very quiet and ideal for those who want to hear nothing but an occasional bird.
Also available to guests of the Sandals Royal Barbados is the larger pool at the Sandals resort. Complete with a swim-up bar, it provides a social setting and is another viable source of poolside entertainment.
And last but certainly not least there’s also a private “swim-up” option for guests of certain rooms. These guests can literally step outside their room and into a private secluded pool area reserved just for them.
Four rooming options include this swim-up option at per-person room rates ranging from $396/night to $621/night. You can take a closer look and sort through them using this handy tool (with 20 on/off filters) on the resort’s website.
4. The beach
If you’re more geared toward life on the beach, there are plenty of places get your feet in the sand and hang you hat by the sea. Keep in mind that chairs and umbrellas are available on a first-come, first-serve basis so it’s important get down there early to situate yourself for the day. Same goes for the pool areas, unless you have the Butler Service (see below), with which your assigned butler will arrive early to reserve chairs and hold them for you until 10am. Hopefully by then you’ll be out of bed.
Even though most of these beach spots drew interest from guests during my stay, there were almost always places to get away, like the two hammocks above. It’s just a matter of seeking them out.
5. The rooms
When it comes to rooms offered at Sandals Royal Barbados, there are simply too many luxury suites and vacation deals for me to write about them all. Among the highlights are the Beachfront One Bedroom Sky Pool Butler Suite w/ Balcony Tranquility Soaking Tub (from $935/person/night) and the South Seas Royal Rondoval Butler Suite w/ Private Pool Sanctuary (from $677/person/night).
Yes, the room option you choose will affect the overall price of your stay, but from what I saw there isn’t a miss among them. And once you’ve headed out for the day, the playing field for all guests at the resort is the same, anyway—unless you take advantage of the Butler Elite Service…
6. Great staff—and optional butler service
The Butler Elite Service by Sandals is only available to guests of the highest level suites at each resort, but for those who pay up it offers a serious accent of luxury to the experience. As you might have guessed, as a butler-level guest, you’ll be assigned a personal butler prior to your arrival.
Here’s a topline overview of how the service works:
Upon your arrival, your butler will:
- Escort you to your suite and coordinate luggage handling
- Provide you with all information regarding hotel facilities
- Handle private check-in comfortably in your suite
- Orchestrate any personal accommodation preferences
- Supply a cell phone to reach him/her when needed
- Provide a private resort orientation
- Offer to unpack your luggage
- Press your first nights clothes complimentary.
During your stay, your butler will:
- Make all dinner reservations, tour bookings, on property activities and spa treatments for you
- Serve you your favorite drinks/lunch while you lounge on the beach or pool
- Liaise with housekeeping regarding the servicing of your suite
- Ensure that your suite is kept in perfect condition and arranged the way you like during your stay
- Expedite all room service orders
- Ensure your table is arranged in the restaurant of your choice for dinner
- Arrange a perfect romantic dinner for two in the privacy of your suite or your patio
If you don’t have a butler to guide you through your days, fear not: The staff at the resort was during my stay incredibly kind, helpful and efficient. Get to know them; there’s a very good chance you’ll be seeing them a lot—including at several of the restaurants!
7. A social environment
Guests at Sandals Royal Barbados tend to be very social. While you can of course choose to do your own thing, the environment is one that facilitates and encourages socializing. On several occasions, I interacted with groups that I assumed had known each other prior to arriving only to find out that they’d met in Barbados. Nearly every couple I met told me they’d become friendly with guests they hadn’t known before arriving.
8. A free wedding with a three-night stay
When you stay three nights or longer at the Sandals Royal Barbados, you’re offered a free Sandals wedding. The resort offers a myriad of wedding services to ensure each wedding is carefully planned, including a romantic location of your choice, a reception at a resort location of your choice, and a personal wedding team (with a pre-travel team and an on-resort team). Alternately, with a six-night stay you’ll get a $500 credit toward a wedding of your own design.
9. The spa
If some high-end mind and body pampering is your thing, know that the on-property Red Lane Spa will take care of you. I’d recommend taking advantage of the massage services set in fantastic private bungalows. You can see the full menu of available treatments and costs here.
10. The entertainment
While each Sandals Resort offers a unique array of activities for its guests, the Sandals Royal Resort is home to the brand’s very first four-lane bowling alley. Lover’s Lanes and the accompanying craft beer bar is a great way to spend a night socializing with others guests.
After you’ve rolled your first perfect game, don’t forget to head over to the nightly show offered at the outdoor theater. It’s a great way to wrap up the day before heading back to your room to rest up for what tomorrow brings (because at the Sandals Royal Barbados, each new day brings a lot).