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BAHAMAS / TURKS & CAICOS TRIP – SEP 2014
We left London Heathrow with British Airways for a direct flight to Nassau, I travelled World Traveller Plus which I found very comfortable. As usual, BA’s onboard entertainment was excellent and the food and meal service very good.
On arrival in Bahamas, we were greeted in the immigration queue by a steel band – what a welcome, definitely put us in the mood for our trip.
A short transfer on very good roads with British road signs and we arrived at Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort. Sandals is an adult/couples only Caribbean hotel brand offering Premium Luxury All Inclusive. Once a private club for 1940’s high society, previous guests include the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and The Beatles.
First impressions, beautiful resort, intimate feel even though a large hotel, lovely welcome and reception area. Lots of very friendly staff always with a warm smile. A strictly NO TIPPING policy means all guest receive genuine good service where nothing is too much trouble.
My Club level room was in the Windsor Tower and was beautiful, Club level allows you access to the Club lounge, and means that even your minibar is included and there are no miniature bottles here. I had a full size bottle of rum, vodka, whiskey and gin along with a minibar stocked with all the mixers, beers, Beringer wine and even champagne! Being British the first thing I did though was to put the kettle on.
Site inspection of the hotel, so may fab rooms for all requirements, my personal preference was the Royal Village. Rooms are set in two storey colourful blocks around lovely tropical gardens, it was very quiet here and offers the best prices mainly because it is approx. 5 mins walk to beachfront, however you are still only a couple of minutes walk to all the hotel facilities.
Other rooms are beachfront where you are just steps away from the sand, and swim up rooms, which as the name suggests means pool access directly from your terrace, a very nice touch for that special holiday. Sandals is also famous for its Butler rooms, where you will have a personal butler to take care of your every need whilst away, you will be given a mobile phone so you are able to contact him/her at any time. There services run to bringing a cocktail to you at your sun lounger, making table reservations and running a bath.
Royal Bahamian boasts an offshore island which is accessible from the pier by complimentary shuttle boat. Once across on the island there is a spa, Stew Fish restaurant and a swim up bar so the all inclusive experience continues.
Weddings are complimentary if you stay 6 nights or longer and with several locations to tie the knot at Sandals a very attractive option and with a fantastic honeymoon built in great value for money. There are also options to customize your wedding to suite every bride’s requirements.
Watersports are also included such as Hobie Cats, Kayaks, Paddleboarding, Water trikes, Windsurfing and snorkeling. Even Scuba Diving is included for certified divers and beginners can arrange a course from just 90 US$.
Alongside the watersports there are many land based activities from tennis, volleyball to Croquet. Also based in resort ‘Island Routes’ can arrange many excursions for those who want to go out and about, from the hotel you can also take the local bus into Nassau.
Altogether there are 10 dining options available at Royal Bahamian, ranging from the wonderful Royal Café with its help yourself nacho bar, to Kimonos – a Japanese restaurant with show cooking and sushi bar where I tried Eel. There are no limits on how many times you use a restaurant so if you want Japanese each night that’s fine.
We also got to experience Gordons on the Pier – this is the only restaurant that incurs an extra charge, but at 170US$ per couple for that special treat is well worth it.
The Piano Bar is very special with lots of photos and memorabilia showing the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s visits. Great atmosphere with the pianist getting everyone involved for a lively evening.
Having never been to a Sandals property before, I had a slight concern that the resort may be a little stuffy, however I couldn’t have been more wrong. You can certainly dress up for that special evening and enjoy a candle lit 4 course meal, but if a pizza and a glass of wine is all you want this is also possible. A really lovely atmosphere, unpretentious and NO WRISTBANDS – I think you would have to go a long way to beat it!
Next stop – Turks & Caicos and the wonderful Beaches Resort
Beaches is a sister brand of Sandals for family holidays – still offering luxury all inclusive.
I immediately fell in love with this resort when I arrived, set up as four ‘villages’ – Italian Village, French Village, Caribbean Village and Key West offering something for every type of family. The range of accommodation is staggering and the new villas in Key West Village are out of this world. I had a kids suite in the Italian Village which gave me two rooms, the second room with amazing bunk beds, X box and a dressing table with built in chess board.
Stunning location, on Grace Bay, ranked one of the top ten best scuba diving destinations in the World, beautiful aquamarine seas with a massive array of activities including a fantastic waterpark complete with lazy river. The kids have their own swim up bar which is set in a pirate ship also home to the diner and ice cream parlour. Sesame street characters also add to the fun with entertainment for the children throughout the day and evening. Facilities for teenagers are also outstanding with Club Liquid and UNDER 21yrs club and DJ Scratch Academy.
Altogether a staggering 19 dining options ranging from Caribbean, Japanese, Italian, Seafood, Cricketers British pub and a Parisian style Café. The highlight for me was a fantastic Caribbean beach party with lots of little huts serving everything from Jerk chicken, plantains and goat curry and conch, a real chance to savour some local specialities.
My favourite restaurant here by Barefoot by the sea, as the name suggests, your feet are in the sand as you sit under a thatched canopy to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner. We visited at lunchtime and couldn’t decide on what to have so the waiter bought us a selection of all the dishes and we then ordered more of what we liked best! Sweet potato chips, green thai curry, crab cakes and conch fritters, all to be recommended.
Again watersports included and with a reef accessible from the shore means that fantastic snorkeling can be done without the need for an excursion. Good quality equipment can be borrowed from the watersports desk for no charge and a 10 minute walk down the beach gets you to the best area for great snorkelling.
The same inclusions as Sandals follows on for Beaches so no tipping, no wristbands, no supplements for dining and no restaurant restrictions.
It was refreshing to find such a lovely high quality resort for families. There are adult only areas for those who want to escape and I would certainly also recommend for clients without children.
In fact if you do take the kids here I don’t think you would see much of them anyway!