The Four Seasons Resort Hotel5 star
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My wife and I just returned from what turned out to be an absolutely wonderful 8 days at Sandals Emerald Bay (Feb 20-28). How great is this place? Well, I suppose the best evidence I can offer is that we met with the Sandals ‘Soon Come Back’ team on our last day and booked another 8 days for next year!
I will preface this report by saying that we were quite nervous about this trip after reading the early reviews on TripAdvisor. We knew there was some risk given the resort had only opened a few weeks earlier. But, we figured we would ride with Sandals reputation for excellence and the fact that this resort was built only a few years ago as a Four Seasons. They had also given us a deal that we couldn’t refuse so we were willing to tolerate a few rough edges here and there.
In hindsight, the trip turned out to be an incredible value. Whatever kinks they had there were certainly worked out by the time we arrived. They say the best defense is a good offense and it must have been applied here. I can honestly tell you that we were met with perfection everywhere we turned.
My wife and I travel quite a bit for business and leisure. We are also from New York so I think it is fair to say that our expectations are stereotypically high. Accordingly, I would rank this resort as at the top in almost all categories. My wife is the ultimate gauge and her repeated comments were “this is by far the best vacation I have ever had.” I could only agree.
Rarely have I been compelled to take the time to write a review such as this. But we are easily swayed by TripAdvisor reviews so it is important that this resort get its due credit. I also think the staff there needs to hear that their efforts are greatly appreciated.
So where to begin...
My big priority. Fishing. We selected this Sandals location largely due to the rumors about stellar Bonefishing on the island. If you are a fly fisherman addicted to Bonefishing like I am -- look no further. There are ENDLESS flats here. It makes Islamorada look like a joke. I fished three full days and barely scratched the surface. The bones here are BIG and MANY.
We were greeted at the airport and immediately swept off our feet. Our bags were taken off our shoulders and showed up in our rooms. The hotel is a 15 minute bus ride from the airport. We were greeted at the front of the hotel by the staff with champagne and a very nice ‘tropical’ cookie of some sort. We were greeted by one of our butlers (I will come back to that) and escorted to our ocean front villa. There was none of the typical checking-in nonsense. We were on the beach within an hour of landing. Nice!
The room could not have been better. We were in an ocean front villa. It was roomy, clean, well appointed, and right smack on the beach. There was a small refrigerator stocked with wine, beer, soda, champagne, and juices. There were even some top shelf bottles of liquor stocked in the room. My wife loved the nightly fresh towels and turn-down service. The bed was cozy and comfortable. I would estimate that there are about 10 or so of the ocean front villas with two or four suites in each. The bulk of the other rooms are located in the main buildings which are set back from beach a couple of hundred feet. They are nice, of course, but I highly suggest you go for the ocean front villa if you can swing it. You may wind up with ‘villa envy’ if you don’t.
The beach is exquisite. It has only one rival in Grace Bay at Turks & Caicos. The beach is horseshoe-shaped and stretches for about a mile or so. Sandals is positioned right in the middle of the horseshoe. The sand is white with a slight pink hue and has a super fine floury texture. It is also firmly packed and great for running on which my wife and I liked to do each evening. The water is brilliant turquoise and clean. There are very few shells but we would up with enough little pieces of coral and shells to thrill our little guys when we got home. There is a towel stand right on the beach though the butlers will come down and set you up if you like. They had kayaks, Hobie Cats, and snorkel gear as well.
The weather was just right. It was generally in the mid-seventies all week. We had one night of rain and a few drops here and there but otherwise clear. It was cool a couple of nights so it was good to have a sweater. But for the most part, the evenings were warm enough to be comfortable in just a shirt. The noseums (bugs) came out in force on the warmer nights. One of the locals suggested using baby oil as an alternative to bug spray. We woke up with several bites so we highly recommend you prepare in advance.
The grounds are well maintained and the landscaping is beautiful. I know there were reports of construction going on but we saw nothing more than the typical maintenance you would expect at any major resort. Whatever work was being done was largely discreet and in no way disruptive to the overall experience. The main pool is the centerpiece of the property. Most people seemed to favor hanging out by the pool instead of on the beach but there was plenty of room at both. We never once felt crowded.
The service was downright outstanding. The place is literally crawling with staff. I am guessing the manager brought in some of his top lieutenants to get the place up and running as a lot of the people we spoke to had previously worked at other Sandals resorts.
We really never waited long for anything. Everything we asked for – which to us seemed like an awful lot – we got within minutes of asking for it. It was somewhat surreal. We are finding it hard to get back to normal. Having to do things yourself and pay for everything is way overrated. : )
Everyone single staff member – every one -- went out of their way to cater to your every want. There is no tipping at Sandals which is hard to believe given how attentive the staff is. I don’t know how they do it. The culture of service is like no other resort we have ever been to. There can be no exaggerating the level of service here. This was our first Sandals experience. We had heard how great Sandals is but words are words. You have to experience it for yourself. Sandals Emerald Bay definitely raised the bar for us.
So the best part….the butlers. On arrival we were given a cell phone with three numbers burned into it. Butler service doesn’t mean you get ‘a’ butler, you actually have a whole team of butlers. You want cheese and a bottle Pinot Grigio at the hot tub at 8pm? You got it. A cooler full of bottled water and a burger on the beach? Done. Midnight munchies? No problem. Breakfast on the beach? Oh yeah! Want to return from dinner to a candle-lit room with a filled hot tub strewn with rose petals? We got that too (and didn’t even ask for it – what a surprise!!!). Everything was white glove and genuine. We were spoiled like royalty for a week. Our main butlers, Tony and Sheldon, were fantastic. I supposed they serviced a lot of folks, but it never seemed that way. It felt more like they were exclusive to us. We did tip the butlers a couple of hundred dollars. Hopefully that was enough.
The food was excellent. We ate. And ate. And ate. And ate some more. Bahama Bay is a walk-in restaurant where we ate most of our meals. The buffets there were very enticing. There were oysters, mussels, lobster tails, and king crab legs a few nights. I am a bit of a fitness nut but wild horses couldn’t drag me away from the dessert table. Oh man those coconut macaroons were tasty! And the morning pastries were delectable. They also have a pizza oven where your pizza is made fresh to order. Lots of options. All good. Barefoot by the Sea was great for stepping off of the beach for a quick bite. We went to the Italian restaurant, Il Cielo, for dinner three times. It was a nice dress up for dinner once in a while. The dessert bar there was also a magnet.
The Drunken Duck Pub was good for after dinner drinks and a late night snack. The steak there is reportedly very good but we never got to it. There are some nice pool tables and a dart board in the game room. The band that play there played out on the veranda on Friday night. We danced for an hour and had a blast!!!! Oh, and the Junkanoo (sp?) parade was a lot of fun as well.
The Berringer Stone Cellar wines were surprisingly good. We figured the house wines would be sub par but the opposite was true. They were well matched to the fare and seemed to fit nicely to any occasion. The resort had other options on the wine list at Bahama Bay and Il Cielo but we really didn’t feel the wine needed upgrading. All of the drinks we ordered from the pool bar, Il Cielo, and the Drunken Duck Pub were just right.
We racked up a nice little bill at the spa. The services there are what you would expect for a higher end resort. Right next door was the gym which we used every day. We work out a lot and this gym had pretty much everything we needed to keep up our routines. Rainmont, their fitness specialist, is made for his job. Good energy. Do the daily ‘Eco Walk’ with him if you can. He walks quit briskly through the marina and golf course. It is a great way to start the day. The views on the point are incredible.
We didn’t play golf but the course looked just awesome. Several holes are right on the ocean with waves smacking up against small cliffs. And no pressure from behind! Very lightly played. It looked like about as nice a place to play as I have seen. I plan to play next year for sure.
We heard that Chat n’ Chill in George Town is worth going to, but we really didn’t feel like we wanted to leave Sandals (except for the fishing of course). I was back and forth on the island to the fishing grounds so I got to see everything there is to see – which isn’t a whole lot. The island has very little else on it. George Town is not a destination for tourists by any means so don’t waste your time. It is also about a 30 minute cab ride which isn’t cheap. It cost me $60 each way.
We didn’t do any of the tours but we heard rave reviews about the 007 tour. Next year. The spa, fishing , and chilling out were our priority for this year.
Oh yeah….there are no kids! Or cars. Or any other things that resemble normal day to day life. There was Wi-Fi internet which was fine for the occasional check-in but we felt no need to poison our trip with a link to reality.
The entire atmosphere is geared to romance and relaxation. There is no pressure to intermingle. A hello here and there, but everyone pretty much sticks with their significant other. It really felt like a second honeymoon in a lot of ways.
One of the things we really liked were the photographers they had roaming around. They came by at all of the right times and snapped some pictures of us doing our thing. That was good as we were often too lazy to do it ourselves. We also had one of their photographers do a shoot for us on the beach so that we had some posed shots. They came out great! We paid about $300 to get them all on a CD and a printed 8x10 but it was well worth it.
When it was time to leave, there was no thinking involved. They had everything outlined for us that morning. We relaxed. Soaked in the last bit of rays. They came and got our luggage and got us to the airport and we were off.
It was hard to leave for sure.
Our biggest problems with the trip? Um, let’s see. Our safe got stuck closed so they had to drill it open for us. They had been having some problems with the computers that control it. They ran out of swordfish one night. Really. There is not much I can be critical of. They really won us over.
So there you have it. I am sure I left out a lot of other features. Please reach out if you have any questions and I would be happy to respond.
And thank you Sandals!!!!! We can’t wait to come back.
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We have just returned from Sandals Emerald Bay after a stay of 12 days. We have witnessed the improvement of that resort from day one of our stay. At this rate they will be #1 very soon. I won't waste your time writting about the place because it is absolutly beautiful. The beach is out of this world. (By the way, for those who complained about not enough shade, they builted about 24 palapas in a few days) .They have more chairs than you will ever need. The pools are spectacular. One is called the quiet pool which means all that it is. The other is huge and plenty of comfortable chairs around it. You even have a lot of space between them.
The rooms are spacious and the restaurants absolutly beautiful. But, if you are reading these reviews it is because you want to know what is wrong with the place.
Sure, there were things that needed improvement and they did improve them and are still working really hard at it. They had people coming in to help from other Sandals and it was great to see the changes over the days. The managers are there constantly to make things run smootly. They have hired people from all over the caribean and other countries as well. Exuma has only a population of 3700 people so it was hard to find all the good qualified employees they needed so they hired people from all around the world also. (Croatia, Holland, Greece, India, etc..)This is something we found really interesting. We met such hard working young people, they litteraly run to make sure your needs are met. You can't go there and not notice Maja for exemple, who will listen to you and hug you every day if she feels like it. She will make sure she talks to the right people if you have an issue. Angela, at the Coming Soon desk, will also be remembered as someone who is very hard working. We did not need to be convinced to return to a Sandals (we have been at other Sandals resorts) but still we talked with her many times and she was so kind and professionnal. Even in the restaurants where I think most complains were, we have witnessed such improvement, it was amazing. At the end, we were probably asked 3 times if we had ordered before receiving our meal. Thank you Stavros for the great service (efraristo!!!) this is thank you in greek I think.They were all working TOGETHER to make sure you were served promptly . I emfasize TOGETHER because this is what striked me the most at the end. They had so many people coming from so many different places but at the end they were all helping each other . Sure, there are still working to improve the place. They are building new boardwalks for the beach, they are renovating some other places but you are never disturbed by their work. They make sure to build walls around them so you hear almost nothing.
When it was time to leave, so many employees just came to say goodbye. They are honestly so very friendly.
It is a small island but don't hesitate to go on excursions. The "007" is a must. You will see things you will never forget. I won't spoil the surprise by telling you what you will see but GO. I didn't do the Chat and Chill but I heard it was a must also. And if you feel like having a meal from Exuma, you need to go to "Big D's". It is 5 minutes away and you will meet the people from Exuma at their best. So friendly. The place is great for the conch salad and have the grilled lobster or shrimps. Very simple and good.
So this is it, I am probably forgetting something but overall I wanted you to know that this place is extraodinary and the service will be just as extraordinary in just a LITTLE while.
Thank you Sandals again for a memorable vacation!
PS.. I forgot to talk to write about the Golf. Absolutly a "must" also. If you don't play it, go walk . Many holes are right on the ocean. Beautiful!!!! Go meet Bryan, great guy!
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The property is still undergoing some renovations. It will be wonderful once it is completed. Some of the restrooms at the restaurants/beach could use better cleaning, but they too were under some construction. The beach was fabulous. The water sports are fun. All the staff is friendly and willing. The time it takes to get service is a bit much. We waited 75 minutes for room service breakfast. They are supposed to be getting twice as many butlers this week though so that should improve. We went to the managers coctail party and met with a lot of the managers. They are all nice and have great ideas for the resort. The food at all of the restaurants was good. Barefoot by the Sea is very romantic and has great seafood. Dino's pizza has awesome pizzas. I ate one every day. Il Cielo is good too. Bahama bay was my least favorite, but nothing was bad. The spa is very nice. I would highly recommend a massage. It was super relaxing and worth every penny. Overall a nice experience. I hope to go back in the next year and see it all done. It will be fantastic when it is.
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The reviews posted generating the amazing experience at this Sandals resort are so far from accurate it is laughable. Obviously, the reviews were based on either the week we were there or close to those dates. We traveled with our friends February 15-22, 2010 after spending weeks convincing them this would be a vacation of a lifetime. Now, the guilt we feel for wasting their time and money will be with us forever. Quite simply, Sandals is not delivering what they are selling. We stayed in a penthouse beach front villa, our friends in one of three story walk ups and there was no difference in the room quality despite the insane additional cost; sparse at best. Every promised amenity on the web site was non-existant including terrible butler sevice, two hour room service delays,, three hour dinner deals despite reservations, running out of food, a cold pool that they finally decided to heat midway through our vacation, no Plasma television or DVD player in the room, no "luxurious" bathrobes, running out of standard bar fare, rare meat despite ordering well done, a beach dinner for an additional fee that all four us walked out of half way through, the list is endless.
The owner was at the resort the week we were there obviously to see for himself how bad it really was and I wish I had a minute to outline these issues to him personally but he was being hit from fall sides by guests. Finally, the buzz around the entire resort including Sandals own staff was that the resort sucked and so did the service. In the words of the pool bar bartender, "we all know the service sucks here so why start now". Unbelievable.
This was our first Sandals experience and our last.
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We recently just returned from a romantic quick get away to the new Sandals Resort in Great Exuma. Being avid beach lovers we could not wait to leave the dreary snowy north east winter. We met with our travel agent(laura at Exclusively Honeymoons) who had planned an amazing anniversary trip to Sandals for us last year. Knowing how much we love the beach she recommended the New Sandals in Exuma. We did a little research on Exuma and we were in. We were even more thrilled that we were going back to Sandals.Our travel agent had said that Sandals had outdone themselves this time Upon our arrival we were amazed that Sandals actually had out done themselves with this resort (how was this possible?).
The resort itself is very different from other Sandals Resorts, it has a very modern feel to it, very South Beach MIA Clean lines and modern furnishings. Everything is so elegantly designed even down to the sitting areas. Our favorite was the Terrace outside the Main Lobby . The restaurants offered a very upscale dining experience we had no issues at all with the food. . The ILCielo was our favorite, the food was out of this world Our favorite was the parchment paper wrapped sea bass. At night we loved the Drunken Duck which is a great place to just relax have fun and enjoy a great after dinner cocktail We also loved eating outside in the mornig at the Bahama Bay Restaurant for Breakfast.
Our days consisted of relaxing afternoons on the beach. The beach at the resort has the most sugary white sand I have ever seen it s incredible the beach itself its almost surreal. Most afternoons we would have our Butler bring us lunch on the beach ( highly recommend the cheese plate and chardonnay) We would then head up later to the main pool where we would sit in the Cabana's around the pool soaking up the amazing views and sun. The Cabanas to our astonishment were free of charge and your Butler could stock them with your favorite beverages and snacks!! Some afternoons we would head over to the quiet pool area next to the Mojito bar ( try the mango mojito), We loved just relaxing on the daybeds . We stayed in the oceanfront jr suite. Thoroughly impressive and spacious The views again were incredible, the water is such an amazing blue like a Tiffany Blue.
We loved the colors scheme in our suite too, the tans and seafoam greens and the white plantation shutters gave it the most relaxing beachy feeling. Our Butler was the best. Anthony checked in on us often, unpacked,packed, ironed and had an afternoon snack waiting for us in our room every day after the beach. . I wish we could have taken him home or at least on vacation with my kids.
I would have to say that this was by far the best vacation we have ever had. We did reluctantly venture off the resort one afternoon to see the island which btw is very laid back. We had a great driver JJ who took us around to see this incredible place. He told us some fun island stories.
Exuma is like no other place in the Caribbean, you truly can save yourself the long plane ride to Tahiti.
Exuma is the definition for untouched and the Sandals in Exuma is the definition of decadence. The staff was so amazing. They truly pampered you. its no wonder they ever get anyone to leave. We can't wait to for our travel agent to plan our return next year!!!
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We stayed at Sandals 2/5/10 to 2/12/10. It was the first week they hosted paying customers. There are still some construction projects going. For example, the "barefoot bar" was not open yet. It's a tiki style bar on the beach. The construction is minimally invasive and didn't bother us too much. We requested an oceanfront room but got an oceanview. They did move us to an oceanfront when we complained, but depending on how booked they are I don't know if this would always be possible. The first thing you should know is to pay the money and get the villas closest to the water. The "second row" two story condo units are pretty far from the beach and don't have that great of a view. The pool was freezing. I didn't see anyone in it for long the whole week. So much for the swim up bars. Time of year?
The room and the butler.
We stayed in room 9206 and it was nice. It was a little odd for a married couple as this room had two double beds but it worked out ok. This unit and the few near it are in my opinion the best on the property. There are ground floor and second floor units. We didn't see a inside a second floor unit but I assume it was like ours. I imagine the view would be much better from the second floor units. If I went back, I would be tempted to get one of those. The first floor units have a partially obstructed view of the beach and ocean due to a thick, wide, tall swatch of sea grass nestled on top of a small dune. I know the environmentalists will hate me cause the grass prevents beach erosion, but I would plow it all up (if they wouldn't let me do that, I would at least cut larger paths through it so people staying in the villas had a better view). The grass is also a home to many biting insects which are so small as to be hard to see. They are bothersome enough that you can't use the porch at night. We did not have "off" bug spray so I don't know if this would have worked against them or not (they were not mosquitos). You must be careful to keep the doors closed or they get inside (screens are no match as they are so small). The room had a shower and large tub and the beds were comfortable with good mattresses and comforters. The "buttlers" come with the room. I have never had a buttler, so I didn't know exactly what to do with one. In all honesty, it is a lot like a cabin steward on a cruise ship. They run around and help many people, not just you......so it's not really like a true personal buttler. They don't hang around waiting for you to ask them to do something. I fact, you could go all day without seeing them much. They do swing by a couple times a day and ask if they can get you anything. My suggestion having just done this for a week is to decide on a routine and communicate your wishes to your buttler on the first day. For example, you might say "we would like our breakfast every morning at 8:45. We would like two fruit plates and two eggs over easy with toast and extra crispy bacon and two black coffees. We would like one glass orange juice to make mimosas, as we like to make our own. Please knock, then let yourself in and set breakfast up outside on the porch for us. We would like lunch at 11:30 each day, also on our porch."
If you take time to do this sort of thing, then every morning they will please you with exactly what you like. You can ask them to bring you cocktails the same day each day at the beach, or to set up a cabana at the pool for you. While you are at dinner you can have them set up a candle light desert for you back at your room. They will unpack for you and press one article of clothes as long as it is not a suit jacket or fancy dress (extra charge for this). They can assist in excursions for example packing a lunch or champagne. Having said all this, it feels like they have a high staff to guest ratio and there are lots of people around to help you with anything you need. It does not feel like a personal butler who services only you (which is ok). The service is as good or better here than anywhere we have ever been.
The beach is the best. Creamy soft sand, shallow waters and turquois waters that seem almost flourescent at times. This beach and grace bay in turks and caicos are the most beautiful I have ever seen. Nothing hurts your feet in or out of the water. There is almost no sea grass in the ocean, there is no coral, just lots of "white"' sand (not white like copy paper, but a very light creamy biege). The lack of sea grass means nothing dead or stinky on the beach. It is clean. They rake it daily and keep it very nice. At the very far end there is a little debris, but this is probably off sandals property. Unfortunately lots of trash washes up on shore on most caribbean islands and over time pockets of it collect in the areas that are not constantly cleaned. Sandals does a great job keeping its beach (and a fair amount that probably doesn't belong to it) very clean and beautiful. The water sports are hobbie cat sail boats, windsurfing boards, Aqua Kites. There is no real snorkeling on site or diving on site. There is no coral in the bay, just a few patches of sea grass and a few rocks. We did an excursion for snorkeling but it was pricey $350 for two. The weather was bad that day and the visibility was terrible making our snorkel trip a bust. The sail boats were fun. I had the staff take me out two days, and then felt comfortable going by myself. The color of the water is amazing and changes every day (sometimes every hour). I have never seen more beautiful water or beach. Turks and Caicos grace bay or at the leeward end of the island near the nikki resort come close but in the end Emerald bay Exuma is just gorgeous..
The food is very good. I have been to many all inclusives, the food here was very good. Most all inclusives put out large quantities of average food. Here they have fewer choices, but each of a better quality. I prefer this. I would suggest to Sandals they make Pizza available more hours a day (like room service). You could get pizza something like 11am to 6:30pm. I am a big fan of a midnight pizza on occasion. The hamburger on the beach place would have been a plus but the barefoot bar wasn't finished yet for our week. You cant get a burger at noon at the other burger place (the drunken duck) cause it doesn't open til 4pm. It has good fish and chips, a nice chicken pot pie and good fries (fat ones). Room service has skinny fries like McDonald's which my wife prefers. Both come with genuine Heinz ketchup which is the key. Of everything they do, they struggle with deserts the most. I don't know why, but I find this everywhere. Cruise ships, fancy restaurants, all inclusive resorts always have below average deserts..Sure they may look good, but they never taste that good. I recommend they go back to basics and offer up some homemade chocolate chip cookies, some under cooked brownies and some ice cream and call it a day. They have a seafood buffet on thursday night at the casual dining restaurant. Its probably something you dont want to miss. It is all the shrimp, crab legs, lobster tail, muscles, oysters, tuna )sushi(, and snow crab claws you can eat. Its really good, but I prefer my lobster warm instead of cold. Also the caribbean lobster is not as firm a meat as the maine lobster but I am not that picky.
I had snapper and swordfish as entrees in the fancier restaurant Celio. Both were good. The lamb was not good, nor was the filet mignon (both were tough my night and over cooked) I don't think the filet was really filet. My wife had pasta most nights and liked it. She loved the chicken dish in the casual restaurant. It was much better than the chicken dish at Celios. We didn't do the romantic beach front dining available for $170 cause I was worried about being eaten alive by the little biting beach bugs that come out in the evening ("no see ums?). My legs looked like I had a mild case of Leprosy by the time I got home.
The drinks are good, tell them how you like it and they try to please. they serve one pino grigio and one chardonnay (Beringer). They serve one champagne, its not great but we love champagne even if its not a great one. The website lists all the brands they carry.
they have a really nice greg norman golf coarse. I am not all that crazy about golf, but I really enjoyed this coarse, especially the back 9 along the ocean. I lost on average about 2 balls per hole. This was pricey as they were $12 for a sleeve of three.
We did snorkeling in the bay. The weather was poor, the waves big and the visibility poor. The sand banks were interesting to see at low tide. All in all I would recommend staying home (at Sandals) and enjoying one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and not spending the money on the day trips. Also be careful. The people at the desk want to sell you these trips. We told them we were there a whole week and asked that they not send us on a trip if the thought the weather was going to adversely affect the trip. They assured us it was going to be a great day and fine since we were in the bay. It was not. However, later in the week the weather settled down and I imagine the same trip would have been much better. I suggest you not take their word for it and check the weather yourself (if you feel you must go anywhere at all).
Gorgeous beach, great service and golf, good food and drinks and decent price. We ended up paying about $750 a night. I like Turks and Caicos as well. I stayed at Coral Gardens, Villa Rennassance, Point Grace, Grace Bay Club and visited Somerset. Most of these are probably the same or maybe a little more expensive since they don't include food and drink. Its perfect if you just want to lie at the beach and soak up the views. But there are so many places I still want to see, I am not sure if I will go back. On my bucket list are Eleuthera, Utilla, and someday the Maldives.
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My husband and I decided to spend his birthday at Sandals, Emerald Bay – we arrived on February 7 for 5 days. We travel extensively (both for business and pleasure), but we’ve never been to a Sandals and we are not in the travel industry. I make this point because there appeared to be a lot of people in the industry at the resort which is probably very typical for a new opening such as this. I would guess that the place was less than half full which we found to be a nice compliment to the beautiful, remote nature of Exuma. In fact, I read in the local Bahama paper that Sandals is considering the January opening as a “soft opening” and is planning an official “grand opening” later this year. As such, you should keep in mind that the resort is not functioning at 100% yet – I’d give them something between an 85-90% which is still pretty good.
Exuma International Airport is a tiny airstrip and we had no issues with getting our luggage and finding the Sandals transportation reps. They were waiting for us right out front and we were quickly put into a nice van and given water for the 15-20 minute ride to the hotel. Upon arrival, we were greeted like celebrities by multiple staff members and immediately whisked away by one of our butlers to our room with champagne in hand. He basically “checked us in” right in our room and told us to leave a credit card imprint with the front desk at our leisure. He gave us a cellphone with three different butlers’ names already pre-programmed and offered to help us unpack. Our luggage arrived within 15 minutes and we were ready to start enjoying our vacation.
The property and landscaping are beautiful. I don’t know exactly how much renovation was done post-Four Seasons (the main pool is apparently brand new), but I have nothing but wonderful memories of the surroundings. Our room, Palm Bay Oceanview Luxury, was clean and beautiful – tiled floors, sunken tub and separate shower, plenty of fluffy towels, L’Occitane products, balcony, cable tv for those of you who are so inclined and a fully stocked mini-bar with soda, water juice, beer, champagne and a few bottles of premium liquor. There is also a full size coffee maker in the room.
“Oceanview” is arguable, although we could definitely see a sliver of water to our right. Note on the views: the majority of the rooms are in three story buildings that sit back from the beach with beautiful large palm trees that somewhat obscure the views of the beach. This did not matter so much to us given the amount of time we actually spent in the room, but if you are hell bent on an ocean view and you’re not springing for a villa, you may want to ask some additional questions about the exact location and view of your room. From what I could see, the only completely unobstructed views of the beach are the villas – and they are gorgeous!
The restaurants – As of February 12, the Barefoot By the Sea restaurant was not open. I don’t know what the issue is, but there were three up and running restaurants, Il Cielo, The Drunken Duck Pub and Bahama Bay – Gordon’s Pizzeria is a bit of a misnomer, it’s actually part of Bahama Bay, it’s not really a separate restaurant, it simply have a separate pizza menu. The beach and the pools also offer a short menu that is available from Bahama Bay. Since the resort was not fully occupied, we had no issues with reservations. The Pub can get busy and they do not seem to have enough seating, but I am from New York and am used to being crammed in everywhere.
A note on restaurant service – the service at the restaurants is attentive, but definitely on “island time”. If you want your first course in 10 minutes and your main course in 20, you may want to adjust your expectations. Personally, we enjoy lingering over dinner and prefer it to being rushed out, but at times, it was frustrating especially since the resort was half empty. Sometimes we were only one of three tables at breakfast or lunch and it took 30 – 60 minutes to get our food. This seemed to be the case at Bahama Bay mostly and there just doesn’t seem to be an acceptable reason for it. Bahama Bay has a cold buffet going at all times so you won’t starve, in fact, you may end up overeating by the time your entrée actually arrives!
On a positive note, we found the quality of the food at all of the restaurants (and room service) to be excellent, especially at Il Cielo. Il Cielo ranked right up there in atmosphere, décor and quality with any fine dining experience we’ve had. Portions are more European sized than American which we were very happy about. It also has a beautiful indoor and outdoor bar area with fun bartenders to entertain you with their cocktail making skills. My husband asked for a drink that they did not know how to make and the next day we ran into one of the bartenders and he told us to come back that evening because he had learned how to make it which I thought was very sweet.
OK, have to take a break…part two coming soon in which I will describe the butler experience, the spa and gym, other activities and our offsite experiences! If you have any specific questions, post them up and I’ll try to answer them.
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Just returned from 5 days 4 nights at the New "Sandals Emerald Bay" My husband and I went from Feb 10-14th, and stayed in the Coral Reef Ocean Front Luxury Suite. It was, just as others have reported NOT an oceanfront but oceanview instead. Originally we were taken to a Room in Bay 1 Building that had 2 double beds- we had requested a King Room. No problem, they moved us within 15 monutes to a room on the ground level that was sufficient, clean and well decorated. But not Ocean Front. I was very disappointed, but having just arrived, did not complain.
The Resort is a work in progress. Do not go by the information you find on Sandals website because it misleading. Parts of the Resort are under construction or are simply not open. The Tennis Club is abandoned and it looks a bit lost and neglected in the backside of the property (if you can even find it.) We stumbled upon it by chance on a walk around the grounds on day 3 of 5.
There are 2 pools. The Main Large Pool that centers the property ( and plays loud party music all day long) and "the quiet pool" located on the south side of the resort nestled between the beachside villas and the Villages.
We preferred the Beach and found it lovely and restful. The beach sand is soft, white and wonderful and the ocean water absolutely gorgeous. Because the resort has just recently opened we felt like we were on our own private resort at times. In fact ,there were several mornings where my husband and i walked the beach and we were the only two around! Amazing. This will change once it gets up and going to capacity I'm sure.
All that was said before about the Bulter Service was true. Who is my Butler? Turns out we had three and two of them we never actually met! We learned to rely on getting around the whole Butler service and doing for ourselves for the most part. I think they should just increase the staff in specific areas and have those staff members cater to guests directly. If you are at the Beach- have a beach staff help etc... When we arrived at the beach the first morning we wanted an umbrella and lounge chairs set up for two. The response was, "Call your Butler" ...Frustrating. Once we did get set up however, our Butler brought us a nice light meal of cheese, meats, crackers and fruit and a small cooler filled with cold beverages of our choice. We had to request this of course, but it was done nicely and with little delay.
The food at the various Restaurants was okay. We are foodies and can be picky about cuisine so I could write a small novel about this subject. I will keep it short. Two foods we really liked: the warm bread pudding at he Drunken Duck Bar (yummy) and the woodfire pizza at Dino's Pizzeria. Actually, make that three foods- my husband had a pretty great steak at the Drunken Duck as well. Everything else was average. I looked forward to my mid day cheese tray every day. Brie, water crackers and thin cut Italian salami and grapes. Not bad.
Looking back, we had a very nice stay.The weather was glorious. (we are from Minnesota so we were just happy to be in the warm sunshine.) We chose this resort because it had been a Four Seasons and knew the property would be beautiful and it was. I don't know that I would stay at another Sandals property for the reasons mentioned above regarding quality of food and service. Having said that, the staff are very very warm and hospitable people and truly want to help if they can, it's just not a well oiled machine yet and may not be for some time to come.
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We stayed from the Feb4- 12 and booked a ocean front room. Ocean front is not ocean front, I consider it ocean veiw and so did most other guests. Staff were freindly and the butlers were good. We made the mistake of giving our butlers a partial tip a couple of day into our holidays,after that we did not see to much of them. On the bright side it did save me the rest of their tip. We have been to three differant Sandals and the food was great. We were tired of the menu after four days and the food was not the greatest. If we were there any longer we would have eaten off the resort. We found that room service forgot one thing everytime you ordered so order extra. Air port transfers were easy, we were having a drink on the beach 45 mins after landing.Everthing considered we had a good trip, We will go back to Exuma for sure we just wont stay at Sandals.
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We have been to several Caribbean Islands and I think Great Exuma is one of the most beautiful! They have some of the most beautiful white sand beaches and the bluest water we have ever seen. The Island is very clean and the people are incredibly friendly! We would highly recommend Great Exuma for anyone wanting a quiet, relaxing, sun filled vacation. Taking a tour of the Sandbars and going to Chat-N-Chill is a must! (Don't purchase the tours from the Hotel.......they are almost three times the cost of going to February Point Marina and booking your own! The Hotel was $184/person for a 4 hour boat tour. We found Graham with G. Sea Adventures for $70/person and he was AWESOME!)
We chose the Sandals Emerald Bay for our family trip this year (three couples). Sandals had just taken over and renovated the formerly Four Seasons Resort and we were the first week of paying customers. We decided to take advantage of their 55% off opening special, which was still quite a bit more than we would normally spend on a 4 day family vacation. However, the amenities we were promised combined with the location we decided to splurge.
The property is beautiful! It is small (183 rooms) and sits on a gorgeous stretch of soft, white sand. Food is good, cocktails are excellent. The SPA is beautiful and it's services are wonderful! The fitness center is very nice with all of the newest cardio/weight equipment. They also have many fitness classes to choose from all day long with one of the best instructors I have ever encountered (Thanks Jessico!!)!
We realize the hotel has only been open for a short time and we fully expected some glitches in the system and services while they are getting up to speed. However, the service was horrible. It went beyond 'new hotel opening' and 'Island time'. Let me emphasize that everyone was VERY friendly!......'Yes' was the answer to everything, but nothing was followed through on. There are supposed to be 3 pools....there are only two........the 3rd hasn't been started yet.....or maybe it was where the jackhammers started at 8 a.m. and the sand pit was in front of our room. 5 restaurants.....only 3 were open. 7 bars...???...the Drunken Duck was fun, but outside of that the 'bars' are in the restaurants......that would be 2 more and one we know of on the beach that isn't open yet. Not sure where the other 3 are. The golf course is gorgeous!
We were booked into a Pink Sands Penthouse Oceanfront Luxury Suite. Their definition of Oceanfront and mine are different. In my book it was Ocean View, not Front. Prior to your trip they e-mail you a form to complete for your preferences of liquor/food so they can stock your mini bar. That was a waste of time because none of our three rooms were stocked with our requests.
The website boasts plasma t.v.'s, plush his and her robes, daily fresh fruit menu, afternoon hors d'Oeuvres, amenity kit, 24 hour Butler service, pillow menu, etc..etc..etc...(you can see why we were enticed to try the resort!). We experienced none of these! The Butler service was a joke. IF they answered their cell phones (provided to each guest upon arrival) you were lucky to have your request filled within that day if ever. There was no cocktail service by the pool. You either called your Butler or walked to the bar. We thought that was a bit strange for a Resort.
The manager, John, is incredibly nice and accommodating. We hope Sandals Corp. will send him some experienced Sandal's employees from other resorts to help him get things straightened out. It would be a shame to have such a beautiful property fail.
Our biggest complaint is the price we paid for the amenities/services ADVERTISED on their website that were NOT available. They should have been proactive in letting us know what was NOT finished yet and either offered us a discount or let us reschedule to a later date. That would have made all the difference in this review. To date the Sandals representative is ignoring our travel agents calls.
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Although this is a lovely hotel, comfortable and located on a beautiful beach it should not be called Four Seasons. It is in no way up to status of Four Seasons. I understand I'm on an outisland and everything is a bit slower, and perhaps a bit more difficult, but there is no excuse for bad service. My family and I stayed in a very expensive (almost 5k a night) 3 bedroom residence. The service was not only bad and slow but it often came with attitude. We had no beach service at all. We had to ask 4 times and wait 2 hours to get beach towels. There is not a descent meal to be had on the premises. In fact everything was overdone, bland, cold, or undercooked.... just bad. I would think a hotel like this could hire some experienced chefs. It is a beautiful island with some amazing beaches. Maybe one of the smaller, rustic, less expensive hotels, without the promise of luxury would be more realistic for the island. Four Seasons Exuma is just a waste of money full of false promises.
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The Four Seasons Resort Hotel also called
- four seasons great exuma
- great exuma four seasons
- sandals emerald bay
- sandals emerald bay great exuma
- Address: Queen's Highway, Emerald Bay, Exuma Island EX29142, Bahamas
Explore areaClosest airport: Exuma (GGT) 1.4 miles
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