Sandals Royal Bahamian Reviews – Nassau Bahamas – Debbie's Caribbean Resort Reviews

December 2002

My wife and I went to the Bahamas in mid November and stayed at the Sandals Royal Bahamian for four days. My wife and I have 2 small kids and so our goal was to simply relax, that is partially why we chose an adults only resort.

Arrival
Due to some connections within the travel industry we had arranged a limo pick up for us which is a service provided by this resort. This was a nice touch, definitely better than taking one of those buses crammed with other sweaty and tired travelers. The airport is fairly small and is filled with the usual assortment of bag handlers and taxi drivers. Most travelers will simply look for a sign toting from their respective travel company and hop on a bus, which is fairly standard for most destinations. I believe the limo pick up is arranged if your pre-booking one of the higher end rooms. One of the interesting things of note is that I tried to tip the driver and he refused stating that there was no tipping at Sandals Resorts. This remained true for the restaurants as well.

Check in
The Check in area is small and comfortable. You will be given some basic paperwork to fill out and a glass of champagne. Your bags will be immediately transported to your room as your information is processed. The whole process takes about 5 to 10 minutes which seems like an eternity after traveling for the better part of day. I liked the fact the check in area was not chaotic, you won’t find any of the traditional check in counters.

Our Room
As I mentioned we had some connections in the travel industry who hooked us up with a Royal Bahamian Ocean view One Bedroom Suite which from my understanding is the second best room in the complex. It was a beautiful 2 room suite with a separate living room/dining room quarters. The bathroom had nice his and hers sinks and a soaking tub. We also had a very large balcony which spanned both rooms and overlooked the ocean. The one complaint we had was that the air conditioning system was very loud. Our building was a conscierge serviced building which meant you could usually find an individual near the entrance to get resort advice from, place your restaurant reservations, and get Movies. Each of the rooms in our block had a VCR, but the overall movie selection was fairly limited and old. The overall vibe from others was that the rooms were pretty nice overall.

The Beach
The beach in this section of the Bahamas (Cable Beach) was very disappointing, it’s small and was usually covered in seaweed. They did have a clean up crew but it wasn’t until about noon that they were finished. This is not an Aruba or Cayman Islands caliber beach front, it seemed as if the beach area was a bit of an afterthought. Furthermore there is not much beach to walk on, you can only walk about 5 minutes in one direction before you have to stop and turn around. We were really interested in checking out the private island but we were delayed because the bad weather made the water too choppy to use the ferry. When we did get there the beach was not much better than on the resort although it was bigger. Most of the ocean floor was covered in rocks and stones, but they did not seem to have the same problem with seaweed. There is only one snack restaurant on the island, plus a small pool with a side Jacuzzi. Do not go there expecting some lush tropical retreat, it’s a decent change of scenery but not much else. The nice thing about the island is that there is no one harassing you to buy something, it is very private in that sense. The resort beach was also pretty quiet with the exception of the water sports people who occasionally asked if you wanted to rent a seadoo.

The Food
I have certainly tried worse food at resorts and as far as all inclusives go this was probably one of the best I have tried. It all really depends on your standards, my wife and I eat a lot of fine dining (almost weekly, $75+/person) so my standards for food are quite high. What I find with a lot of these “Luxury” resorts is that they try and give you high end service and ambiance but the food usually falls far short of true fine dining fare. If your eating standards are a little less snobby than most of the food will suit you just fine. My suggestion to you is to book your reservations with the restaurants that require it ASAP, otherwise be prepared to eat dinner at 9 PM or worse yet not get in at all. If your room has concierge service you can use your concierge to make reservations. The restaurants we ate at were as follows;

Baccarat (Dress Code and Reservations):
This was probably our best meal on the resort. The restaurant itself is actually nicely appointed and unique. The service was also very good, with experienced wait staff. The food was not bad, just not in keeping with the service and the esthetics of the restaurant. I had some sort of beef dish which was decent. I also ordered a pasta dish which my wife and I shared, once again not bad but not great.

The Crystal Room (Dress Code and Reservations):
This was large rectangle shaped room with a huge Crystal chandelier in the middle of the room (hence the name of the restaurant). Aside from the Chandelier the room was not really all that attractive. I had the blackened chicken dish which was not good at all. We also ordered a seafood pasta dish which was also poor. Service was good, the staff was trying and most seemed experienced – it was not as good as the Baccarat. There is a dessert table just under the chandelier which served cafeteria style desserts that were not very good. My advice, don’t bother with this restaurant.

Kimonos (Teppanyaki)
– If anyof you have been to a Teppanyaki place back home than you sort of know what to expect. A party of 12 people sit around an open grill while a chef prepares your food right in front of you. My wife and I frequent a really nice teppanyaki place in Toronto where the chefs are Japanese trained and we love the food. The Kimonos really focuses on fun rather than wowing you with teppanyaki technique. Most of the chefs prepare your food while singing and hitting there utenstils on the grill in soca rhythm. The food is decent but it’s not like your traditional teppanyaki restaurant. I recommend the Kimonos for the decent food and the fun atmosphere, we had a blast.

The Cricketers Pub (English/Irish style pub)
– This is the resorts late night restaurant all decked out in its best impersonation of an English Pub. Most of the Menu is made up of traditional pub grub, fries, hot dogs, fries, pizza etc… This is where my wife and I ate our first meal, nothing fancy but decent food. They will also pack your order so you can take it back to your room which we also did late one evening. The burgers and fries are good, the pizza wasn’t that bad either. Service was slow and inattentive but we did get the right order. No Reservations or Dress Code Necessary.

The Royal Café
– This is an outdoors style café that serves basic food, very similar to the The Cricketers Pub. It’s not really right by the ocean as the brochures state. The service was OK, not bad but not great. If your looking for a quick lunch snack this place is fine.

Café Goombay
– This was the restaurant on the private island which was basically replica of the Royal Café’ (see above) without the sit down service.

Spices
– This is a buffet style restaurant. We ate breakfast here and it was also decent but not great. One pet peeve was that they didn’t have any jam. They had an area where they made you omelets to order, that was nice. There was an area near the omelet station which had a whole bunch of open face sauces, one of which I thought was blueberry jam. What I tasted was not sweet and odd tasting, oh well no great loss. The food is average and is fine for breakfast; we did not try the lunch buffet. The baccarat offers a higher end, sit down breakfast which we did not try. The staff here seemed upbeat and nice. The ambiance reminded me of your average Denny’s or Golden Griddle (if your from Toronto). No Reservations or Dress Code

Casanova (Italian Restaurant)
– did not eat here, did not here anything about it. It looked nice from the outside.

The Spa
– My wife had 3 sessions at the spa. If you have visited spas back home this was not much different. The spa was nicely decorated but seemed thoroughly used. The common complaint my wife has with almost every spa that we visit on vacation is that they seem to scrimp on the time, her experience was no different here. My wife complained after the first session and they gave her extra time on her next session. The treatments are very expensive and are no better or worse than what you would typically receive at home. If you don’t mind paying the premium the treatments are reasonably good (so my wife says).

Pools
–There are two moderately sized pools on the resort both with swim up bars. The pool closest to the front of the building had a heated Jacuzzi just off to the side. As with most resort pools they were both pretty cold, which is fine when the whether is blistering hot, but we encountered a fair bit of cooler weather. The pools themselves were basic and well maintained but nothing to write home about. There seemed to be enough lawn chairs for everyone but I don’t think it was busy season while we were there. I could see the lawn chairs getting snapped up pretty quickly during high season.

Staff
– Overall I was quite pleased with the staff we encountered, most seemed to be in a decent mood and easy to get along with. You can tell the resort has been around for a while as most of the staff new what they were doing.

Overall Impression
– this was a relatively expensive trip, we ended up paying about $1800/person CDN for four nights. We cold have easily paid that much for a week in a decent resort somewhere in Mexico, Cuba or the Dominican . The only reason we got the upgraded room and limo service (to and from the Airport) was because we had connections. The one objective we set out to achieve was to relax and that was most certainly achieved, no screaming kids on the resort seemed to help although I don’t think know that it made that much of a difference. The feeling I got was that this is a resort that has seen better days.

Most of the grounds are well maintained and clean and the staff are nice but it’s just that everything seemed well used. Everything seemed to have that repaired and painted look as opposed to that new and properly maintained vibe. Unfortunately, I can’t say I feel that the resort was worth the money. When we were booking this trip I was oscillating between this resort and the Atlantis. The only reason I went with the Sandals resort was because of the Adults only clause. My wife and I did manage to go see the Atlantis one evening and after visiting I can’t help but feel that I made the wrong choice. I estimate that we could have stayed at the Atlantis on roughly what I paid for our trip to Sandals. If I knew then what I know now I would definitely choose the Atlantis, it was literally one of the most stunning resorts I had ever seen.

Most of the crowd there seemed to be younger couples, many were on their honeymoon. It’s not much of a party atmosphere which suited my wife and I just fine, we like to party but that was not the intent of this vacation. I liked the Bahamas, it was my first time visiting and I thought the people were friendly and accommodating. We were hit with some pretty crummy weather during our stay, it was mostly windy and cold for all but our last day. As with any trip, it is what you make of it, I believe that you can have a great time at Sandals and overall my wife and I enjoyed ourselves. If you are going there and expecting something extravagant and breathtaking than your money is best spent elsewhere. I also believe that you can get better value for your money.

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