My girlfriend and I stayed at the above named resort. Promises, promises. So much to look forward when looking through the brochures and the website. What a waste of good money. Below is a list of the things we went through on our trip between March 13th and 20th of this year.
Thursday – March 13th:
Arrive at Sandals Grande Antigua. We are greeted, checked-in, and upgraded to a Concierge Suite.
Friday – March 14th: We attend the Concierge guest orientation and are told to fill out our Reservations form to have the Concierge team take care of booking excursions and dinners for us during our stay. – We complete the Reservations form and hand it in at the Concierge office. Our reservation requests are as follows: o – Three dinner reservation requests: § – OK Corral – Monday, March 17th § – Kimono’s – Tuesday, March 18th § – Mario’s – Wednesday, March 19th We are informed that a yellow reservation confirmation card will be left in our room for each dinner. o – Two off-resort excursions: § – Sandals circumnavigation tour of Antigua – Sunday, March 16th § – Shopping in St. John’s – Monday, March 17th
We are informed that before Sunday, we are required to present ourselves at the Tour Reservations office to sign the documentation for the Sandals circumnavigation tour only.
Saturday – March 15th:
We present ourselves at the Tour Reservations office to sign the documentation for Sunday’s (the following day) Sandals Circumnavigation tour, as instructed by the concierge team.
Sunday – March 16th (morning): We arrive early at the main lobby (8:45am) for the Sandals Circumnavigation tour, which is set to depart at 9:15am. 45 minutes later (and after confirming with two different staff members that we were in the correct place for the tour), we find ourselves still waiting with no shuttle or tour guide in sight, and eventually decide to ask a third staff member (a front desk attendant) for assistance. Leon (front desk attendant) tries to contact the tour reservations office by phone, but after not being able to reach anyone for 15 minutes, he decides to walk with us to the tour office. At this point it is 10:15am and we have been waiting around for almost two hours. Upon arriving at the tour reservations office, Leon explains the situation to the attendant who promptly informs us that the circumnavigation tour for Sunday had been cancelled early Friday morning due to lack of interest.
Not only did the Tour desk not let us know that the Sunday tour was cancelled when we tried to book it on Saturday (a day after it was supposedly cancelled), but they went ahead and booked us for the Wednesday tour without letting us know! When we explained this to the tour desk attendant, she became defensive and condescending, informing us that we must have asked for Wednesday as that’s what we had been booked for. Only after escalating the point further were we presented with the option to either go ahead and take the tour on Wednesday, or if we wanted, they would cancel our reservation without penalty. If we decided to take the tour, we were told nothing further needed to be done – we just had to show up Wednesday morning at 9:15am for the shuttle.
Sunday – March 16th (afternoon): Not having received the level of service or courtesy we would have expected from the tour reservations attendant, we decided to speak to the concierge office. After all, if the Sunday tour had indeed been cancelled Friday morning, our concierge should have known this and passed the information on to us. Failing this, the tour reservations attendant should have informed us that it was cancelled when we were there on Saturday to sign the documentation! We spoke to the concierge manager, who was apologetic but offered no solution and, like the tour reservations attendant, tried to convince us that we had requested the booking for Wednesday so the error was ours. After more frustration, we let the concierge manager know that we were still going to take the circumnavigation tour on Wednesday. It is interesting to note that at this point we were also told, contrary to the concierge’s original instructions on Friday, that we had to sign papers at the tour reservations office for the shopping trip to St. John’s, scheduled for the next day. So we ran back to the tour reservations office, only to discover that it had closed 20 minutes early that day, and we would have to wait until tomorrow morning to get our shopping trip papers in order.
– Tired, frustrated and still unhappy with the day’s mishaps (and the fact that we had lost a good portion of a vacation day trying to straighten out these messes), we decided to try and get some sort of resolution over the mishandled booking and the apparent lack of ownership on the part of those we had dealt with. We spoke to the general manager on duty, Mr.Winters. After explaining our entire situation yet again, Mr. Winters assured us that he would look into it and speak to the concierge manager to see what could be done.
Sunday – March 16th (evening): Returning to our room later that evening, we discover a bottle of wine and a plate of cheese & crackers left for us along with a note that read "We apologize for any inconvenience caused" from the concierge team. At the risk of sounding petty, a free bottle of wine at an all-inclusive resort where our room was re-stocked daily (so that we had at least a bottle of red and white wine, champagne, four different liquors, bottles of water, cans of soda, and various fruit juices) seems like an empty gesture.
– Later, when we decided to open the wine we discovered, to our dismay, that there was no corkscrew to be found anywhere with the wine or in the room. We called the concierge desk a little before 9pm and were told by a very disinterested staff member that they would "try to find a corkscrew somewhere" and bring it to our room. After having waited over an hour, we called the concierge desk again and got no answer. Fed up, we walked from our room to the front check-in desk to get our corkscrew – which the clerk was able to find for us in a matter of moments. At no point during the rest of the night, or our entire stay did anyone from concierge show up with the corkscrew we had requested.
Monday – March 17th (morning):
There is no hot water in the room. There is in fact not any water, hot or cold, running when the hot water tap is turned on.
Monday – March 17th (afternoon): We return to our room in the afternoon following a swim to find a yellow dinner reservation confirmation card for Kimono’s on Tuesday. Finding it odd that we did not get a card for our requested reservation at OK Corral for Monday evening, we decide to call the dinner reservation desk. We made three attempts to reach them by phone, all within a five minute span, and no one ever answered any of our calls (it was no later than 4pm, and they are supposed to be open until 5pm each day).
Sensing that we are wasting our time trying to phone, we decide to walk over to the dinner reservation desk only to find nobody sitting at the desk. Already skeptical due to the service we had received to date, we took a seat in the chairs in front of the desk and decided to wait for someone to return. After approximately 15 minutes, the only person that bothered to come by and speak with us was a gentleman who was cleaning and had seen us waiting there for a while. It should also be noted that we were not the only couple waiting at the desk. The gentleman who was cleaning, and decided to help us, went off to look for the reservation attendants, but came back five minutes later, alone. Sensing our growing frustrating, he graciously tried to help us himself and was attempting to locate the dinner reservation books from the desk when the ladies finally returned. After waiting 25 minutes, all we were greeted with were very non-apologetic and not very friendly responses to our queries. Finally we were able to confirm that we did have a reservation at OK Corral that evening, even though they had no explanation for why we did not receive a yellow dinner confirmation card.
Tuesday – March 18th (afternoon):
The water pressure for the hot water taps returns, along with the hot water. This means that we spent over a day and a half without hot water in our room.
Wednesday – March 19th (morning): Once again, we arrive at the lobby of the hotel at 8:45am for the circumnavigation tour departing at 9:15am. The fact that the lobby was full of people looking like they were waiting for their tour was encouraging. Just before 9am, an attendant from the tour office arrived to gather receipts for those boarding the shuttles for their tours. She announced two tours, neither of which was ours. After she had gathered information from everyone else, we asked about the circumnavigation tour and she told us that someone had called the tour reservation office and cancelled our booking a few days earlier, removing the charge for the tour. After protesting for a few moments that at no time did we request from anyone we spoke with to cancel our booking she cut us off to say that the tour itself had been cancelled anyway due to rough sea conditions. This was understandable, as the sea was rough that day. However, we wondered why no one had bothered to let us know, as we would not have woken up early and spent more of our own time waiting around the lobby had we known. She then added that if we had not cancelled the tour (which, again, we did not), someone would have called our room to let us know about the bad weather and the cancellation that morning. She continued to insist that someone from concierge had called her days earlier to cancel our tour and so she had done so.
The charge for the circumnavigation tour still showed up on our room bill when we received our check-out package later that day (the charge was not removed until Thursday morning when we checked out at the front desk). Clearly the tour was never cancelled "a few days ago" by some mysterious request from concierge and this was just another example of an indifferent employee not willing to admit fault (that no one had called our room earlier that day to let us know the tour was cancelled due to rough weather). Instead, we wasted another couple of precious hours from our vacation being given the run-around.
Wednesday – March 19th (evening):
Knowing that we had a confirmed dinner reservation at Mario’s that evening (as per the yellow card we received earlier in the week), we arrived for dinner promptly at 6:30pm. The host informed us that we were not on his reservation list, and after we told him that we had a confirmed reservation for 6:30pm, he grudgingly seated us at a table, muttering that he had some openings anyway so he could fit us in. Considering the mix-ups and poor service we had received all week, this was just another frustrating (yet sadly, not surprising) item to add to our list. Truly, it was almost laughable by this point.