After my first vacation at an adults-only all-inclusive Sandals resort, I naively thought that each of the resorts in the Sandals brand portfolio would be fairly similar.
Like visiting a Starbucks! Sure, the ones in New Mexico have a Spanish-style roof, but overall the experience is nearly predictable.
Sandals has 17 resorts spanning 7 Caribbean islands, and there two most popular are: Sandals Grande St. Lucian & Sandals Grenada. My husband and I have now visited both, and WOW they are not the same! It’s more like visiting a Starbucks & a Subway! Of course local flair will differ island to island, but I was able to keep a pretty lengthy list of things that stood out to us that made the two experiences very different.
*We visited both resorts in the month of June. Grenada in 2021, and St. Lucia in 2023. Both resorts at the time were not affected by the Covid pandemic; we could travel freely around the property and did not need vaccines or prior quarantining.
Okay, let’s get to the Pro’s & Con’s of each property! Below that, I will list things that are similar between both properties!
Sandals Grenada – Pro’s:
- Huge variety in styles of rooms and price-points
- Modern style and decor of rooms. The interior of the suites was more luxurious and modern than Grande St. Lucian.
- 5 minute shuttle ride from the airport (yet you don’t hear airport noise on the resort)
- A free/included daily harbor boat tour with views of the capital and neighboring beaches, plus a designated stop to jump in the ocean and swim/snorkel.
- Friendly, warm, personable customer service from all resort staff members (this really impacts your overall experience!)
- More wildlife – Grenada has monkeys & large iguanas, which St. Lucia does not.
- So safe. The entire island has very little crime, and is overall an incredibly safe place for tourists.
- Snorkel gear included – I didn’t realize this was a pro until it wasn’t included in St. Lucia. The snorkel gear is available to use whenever you would like
- Shaded lobby bar is open all day in a very central location.
Sandals Grenada – Con’s:
- No ocean-front or pier restaurants.
- Less water sports and land activities (no wake boarding, water skiing, or golf)
- No other resorts on the island to go explore.
- Nightly entertainment was repetitive and simple.
Sandals Grande St. Lucian – Pro’s:
- Better view from property – lush green mountains in the distance
- More watersports and activities – hobie cats (sailing), paddle boarding, kayaking, water skiing, wake boarding, golf greens fees*, croquet, pool, life-size chess, volleyball.
- Three resorts on island with different features and a free shuttle to take you to each of them any day
- More restaurant options – 12 restaurants at this location plus 15 at the two nearby (some are repeats though)
- Gordon’s Restaurant is located over the water on a pier, with stunning 360 degree views, especially during sunset. Grenada does not have an over-the-water restaurant.
- Option to stay at over-the-water bungalows. Grenada does not have this room category.
- Nightly entertainment was more elaborate here than at Grenada, more of a production.
Sandals Grande St. Lucian – Con’s
- Very poor customer service from majority of the staff, as if they absolutely did not want to be talking to you. Not sociable.
- Less variety of room styles, and most decor is outdated and bland. Some exterior buildings weren’t what I would expect from a “five star luxury” property, and the main lobby was very run down in areas. Here are some examples:
- No daily harbor boat tour
- No free snorkel mask usage – a shame because they have plenty and there are SO MANY fish right there off the shore. Grenada allowed us to use their plentiful snorkel gear freely, but that was not allowed here. Guided snorkel tour sign-ups only.
- 2 hour shuttle ride from airport to resort through mountain roads – car sickness nightmare!
- “Free” golf greens still require you to pay for club rentals ($75 per person) and a mandatory golf cart ($50.) If you don’t show up in a collared shirt, you’ll need to buy one there which start at $110.
- Lots of large groups, less of a romantic couples’ getaway destination. Sandals is marketed as a romantic destination for couples, but we experienced multiple groups of corporate sales teams that earned this trip with 100+ other coworkers and detracted from the romantic vibe of the resort.
- Constant sales pitch to spend more money on add-ons: We were asked multiple times a day by several staff members to book excursions, tours, spa treatments, private boat tours, private dinners and other add-ons. This became quite annoying.
- Josephine’s Creperie (coffee and ice cream) is only open from 11am-9pm. I’d rather have coffee much earlier than that, and ice cream later! The open times seem silly.
- The lobby bar is closed during the day time and opens at 4pm. If you want a drink at any point during the afternoon before then, you have to walk to the main pool bar which is quite a ways away from some of the beach and the smaller heart-shaped pool.
- We noticed security guards walking around the property each day, which we never saw at Grenada. I preferred Grenada where we didn’t see uniformed security, because their presence made you wonder why it was necessary.
Here are some qualities that both resorts – Grenada and Grand St. Lucian – both offer:
- Swim-up pool bars have a good atmosphere.
- Great pubs with late night options.
- Beautiful beaches with gorgeous views.
- Huge variety of restaurant and food options.
- Both resorts require you to claim your beach or pool chairs early in the day, otherwise they are all claimed.
- Scuba diving included with interesting dives – my husband did scuba diving at both resorts and had good experiences at each of them.
- Daily entertainment activities at the main pool with little prizes
Overall, our experience at Sandals Grenada was much more romantic because the resort was full of other couples on honeymoons and vacations together, rather than a large corporate sales conference or earned trip. The staff at Sandals Grenada was so much more friendly to interact with, and we were not hassled constantly to sign-up for more costly activities. We would love to return to Sandals Grenada, but would not say the same for Sandals Grande St. Lucian.
Let me know if you have any questions I can answer in a comment below!
You might also enjoy my post on the primary differences between Secrets and Sandals resorts here!