The island: Gorgeous. Very lush, great scenery, lots to do and see. 1.5 hour ride from the airport to the resort. The ride it’s self gives you a pretty good feel for the island-banana plantations, small towns etc en route to the resort. People are generally friendly and approachable. Castries is a $12 cab ride from the resort. Typical souvenirs in town, but the straw market (bags, spices etc.) is more specific to this island. Vendors were not overly aggressive. Didn’t feel unsafe or vulnerable in town even when I wandered off the main road to find a bank. There is a Royal Bank and a Scotia Bank in town for Canadian visitors. Used the Royal ATM and it provides currency in EC.
Resort: Used to be the old Club Splash resort.
Overall, I’d say this is a solid 4 star resort. It’s food is better than average, the class of guests is a little more “upscale” (i.e nobody getting plastered and doing dumb things), accommodations are average, pools mid-range, and staff-better than average. I’d come back, and I don’t think paying the extra money for a place like Le Sport or Sandals would be worth the extra money.
Pools: 5 pools-2 of which are family pools, 2 are adults only, and one pool near the gym is for doing laps. One of the family pools has a 2’ section, with the rest of the pool being around 4’ to 5’ in depth. None of the pools are more than around 5’ in depth. The family pools have various toys such as blow up dolphins, rings, balls etc that are free to be used. Plenty of deck chairs and lounge chairs available, but the umbrellas go pretty quick. Pools and beach are directly beside each other, and therefore you can use either the pool or the beach without having to haul your stuff from one location to the next.
One new pool with a waterslide is being constructed, and this pool is away from the beach –situated nearby the “row house” accommodations.
Beach: It is black/brown sand and the water is not the nicest. If you walk more than five feet out it gets rocky in spots. There are plenty of lounge chairs on the beach. Two guys on the beach selling private boat tours-we took Typhoon’s tour for a half day tour of some of the bays, snorkeling etc-well worth the money. A couple other vendors but none are pushy. Beach sports are the standard kayaks, wind surf boards, hobby boats etc. Also have water skiing and a banana boat. One of the advantages of this beach is that it is specific to only this resort. Unless you pay a lot of money to be at a place like Le Sport, you’ll have to share the beach with other resorts and many sailboats (even Sandals St. Lucia shares the beach with other resorts).
Accommodations: The accommodations are all grouped into rows of adjoining one level “row house” type suites. A number of these rows of suites will be grouped together and given a community name. The single room rows are grouped in one area, and the two-room suites are located in separate areas. The two-room suites are not really any closer to the main building/pools. I have walked around the resort with my daughter in the stroller a number of times, and I would estimate that it is about a maximum of a five minute walk from any of the suites to the main buildings.
We paid for the standard single room. We were “upgraded” to a garden suite. I think it is a gimmick because all are garden suites. All are ground level with a walk out patio that overlooks the next row of suites. Rooms are basic, but clean. Water pressure isn’t the greatest, but air conditioner works well. Free, in-room safe. TV picks up a Toronto station (CityTV), a number of American channels, as well as some British channels (Hey, they know their customers!) Don’t bother to pay extra for a water/beach view.
There is only one row of these suites (currently being renovated), and your view will actually be the rows of kayaks and paddle boats that are parked on the beach for the night. Daily housekeeping-they do a very good job.
Bell boys are happy to show you to your rooms, where to go etc. There are also little “mini-mini vans” and shuttles that are supposed to be available to pick you up or take you to your room if you are hauling a bunch of kids or luggage to/from the main building. It is, however, challenging to actually get through to reception to get a shuttle. Also, the receptionist seemed a little put out that we were requesting a shuttle and told us it wasn’t available. So, we didn’t try again since it wasn’t a long walk.
Towel Exchange: You are provided with two beach towels in your room and exchange them at a hut near the beach/pools. To try to get two additional towels for a family of four is a bit of a hassle, but they begrudgingly give you the additional two. It is a convoluted process in which some of the time you have to sign a receipt and in/out registration of towels –and then other staff members just give out the towels. This is a bit of an irritant as it appears the management thinks that their guests want nothing more than to come to their resort to steal their towels!! Almond Morgan: I don’t want your towels! I promise I’ll give them back! Anyways, they can’t fit in my luggage!
Bars: Service at the bars was pretty quick.
Usually only had to wait for a couple of minutes. Can’t comment on the quality of the drinks as I’m not a drinker.
Restaurants: Breakfast and supper was buffet or beach grill, and supper was nightly reservations at one of the al a carte restaurants. One of these restaurants had a nightly kid’s buffet (fries, burgers, hot dogs, pasta etc.) I would have to say that the quality/variety of the food was quite good (not “excellent”, but better than the average resort food).
Excursions: Plenty to choose from. It’s a beautiful island with lots to see!
Check-In: Slow and not well organized. Despite knowing of our arrival (around 30 of us of the larger charter came to this resort). However, excellent once you were processed –bell boys took you to your room and carried luggage (In our situation since we were pushing strollers one of the chefs and a waitress walking by insisted on carrying the remainder of the luggage with the bell boy). Fast check out at the end of the week.
Staff: Almost all were very friendly, happy, obliging and genuine. Most seemed to take a special effort in talking to the children at the resort and making people feel at home. I didn’t get the “I resent you because you are a tourist” type feeling that you sometimes get at a resort.
Traveling with Kid’s insights:
Nursery-available. Didn’t use it, but by all appearances the nursery staff seemed to do a good job. Observed them pushing infants around in strollers, feeding them at the restaurant etc. Kid’s Club-beside the restaurant and the beach. They separate the kids into age groups and have age-appropriate events all day, with the exception for lunch. A daily/weekly “menu” of events is provided and you can drop your kids off for specific events or for the full day.
Note: The staff were great, and, as opposed to some kid’s clubs I’ve seen where it’s obvious the staff members would rather be doing anything except interacting with the kids –the staff members here are energetic and seem to genuinely like their jobs. They get to know all the kids by name, etc.
Even if you don’t want to use the actual kid’s club staff/activities, you can bring your kids there to play around on the equipment. There is a two level building that looks like a medieval castle (Really…it is kind of boring because you essentially walk to the second floor, look around, and then come down again). Also have a number of Step 2 type small plastic slides and forts. Have three caged parrots that talk which are pretty entertaining. Have three separate activity rooms, depending on the age of your kids. Apparently the resort was pretty full during our week and I’d estimate that about 30% to 40% of the overall guests were families. There seemed to be a lot of good kids with very few of the types of kids that ignore the rules, run around or play in the adult pools, cause trouble etc. When we were there I’d estimate that the main age of the kids was from 2yrs to 10yrs old. Not really many teenagers (I think they’d be bored as most activities were geared for young kids). We used two cheap, folding push strollers. No real problem pushing them around the resort, except of course for the beach. Most places had ramps, although a few places you had to bump up and down stairs. Plastic shovels, pails, toys were provided by the resort and were scattered on the beach and pools (Note: If you want to buy toys etc there are some on-site vendors but it’ll cost you! Water wings are $8.00 USD and a plastic ball or a water gun you’d buy at the dollar store is $5.00 USD) The resort seemed to switch between Carnation or powdered milk and the “real thing”. We found it best to fill up the milk bottles at breakfast and then put them in our room fridge. No microwave in the room, and nowhere to really heat them up at night. We tended to leave room in the bottle and just pour in some hot water to provide a “luke warm” milk bottle at night. Worked fine! No plastic cups/table wear for kids at any restaurants. It wasn’t a problem, but if your kids are the type that are clumsy, you have to keep a good eye on their plates! Two of the TV channels are Nick and Discovery Kids. The walls between rooms are pretty well sound proof! However, the front door/bathroom is not soundproof to the walkway outside. However, there is no issue in terms of hearing your neighbour’s conversations (or their screaming baby) at night –as is common with many resorts (i.e. when we stayed at FDR Pebbles in Jamaica).
Kid’s club: I recommend it. Staff are enthusiastic and seem to be quite trustworthy. Very good at keeping the kid’s engaged and interested.