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Sandals Royal Barbados - 2 resorts in one, WOW!

I've always thought it would be so cool to check off several Caribbean countries from my bucket list of travel locations. There is not a set number on my bucket list, but I have always wanted to visit several. Barbados, check! My chosen resort: Sandals Royal Barbados! This country is the farthest I have ever traveled, with 2 connections, one necessitating an overnight (because ND is so far north), and a total of 10 hours in the air. Phew, happy I got there and back.

Quick facts about Barbados:

  • it makes up only 166 square miles.

  • it is 21 miles long and 14 miles wide.

  • population totals just under 300,000 and English is their official language.

  • it is outside of the Caribbean volcanic arc, making it the eastern most Caribbean Island.

  • the island is made of coral and limestone.

  • Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) is a major Caribbean transportation hub, containing 2 terminals.

  • they accept US currency.

Hawaii, Jamaica and The Bahamas were all wonderful locations to vacation in as well, and I can't call any of these three any better than the other; just different. And Barbados fit right in with this, not better, different. One thing is for sure, Barbados most definitely has the finest, softest sand I have experienced. The water had some incredibly unique teal colors and it's nice and warm to enjoy. Since the island is so small, the resorts are rather close together along the stretches of these beautiful beaches. Customs was a piece of cake! They have all of the updated technology, and you can even complete the required Immigration and Customs Travel Form online before you visit, speeding up the process even more. Visiting this country in the Caribbean was well worth it.

I'm a Sandals Select Rewards member, so I am familiar with the Sandals resorts and this one was really nice. My favorite part about this resort was the variety and quantity of restaurants, pools, and activities. Sandals Barbados and Sandals Royal Barbados share privileges with each other, you can walk between the two with ease. It was commonly referred to as the "Royal" side or the "Barbados" side while we were down there, because full disclosure, I got lost a few times! I got to meet a fair number of staff that helped me find my way. Each side has its own pools, spas & restaurants and it was really nice to have that much to choose from for a seven-night stay. The food was great; the pools were warm; and my massage was excellent!

These Sandals locations brag 21 restaurants total, with 10 on the Royal side and 11 located on the Barbados side. Keep in mind, that some of these only have certain hours, closing down for either lunchtime or not even opening until after 6:00 pm. The app functioned very well for me while I was down there if I needed to know which ones were open when. Below is the list of the ones I tried out; I actually made it to 16! Both my husband and I really enjoyed the variety available. Also, every restaurant accommodated for seating 6, which was so incredibly appreciated by my group! The quality of the food was pretty good, depending on what you ordered at what restaurant. I really only had one meal that I had any complaints about. Butch's Chophouse & CHI were probably my favorites and my biggest complaint with food was the room service. Unfortunately, I liked very little of what I ordered for room service breakfast and once, it was quite cold. But hey, I was there for 8 days and 7 nights and I was eating constantly, these were minor bumps in my stay!

Now onto our room, my husband and I have been to Sandals Royal Bahamian and Sandals Negril. The view from our room at Royal Barbados was my least favorite of the Oceanview rooms we have experienced. The resort is set up to stretch into the island, versus along the coastline. (Negril really has me spoiled when it comes to this). We had an ocean view, yes, and it was beautiful, but we had to be entirely on our deck and turned to the side. From what I could see, except for the handful of millionaire suites with the sky pools, all of the Oceanview rooms were positioned this way. We knew this going into our booking, so it wasn't a surprise. The remaining details of our room, perfect! Everything else Sandals brags about their rooms was represented in ours. Comfortable bed, lots of storage space, room to move, large mini-bar, large deck, double sinks in the vanity, etc.

Okay, the room & food, basics covered, but what about the fun! Geez, it WAS fun!! I can't slide past the fact it had A LOT to do with my company. I am lucky enough to have a travel group of amazing family and friends. Of course, my husband; our two best friends all the way back from college (you can guess the years); and my brother and his wife (who I can't even call my sister-in-law because she's such a great friend it feels weird only calling her that). I may be biased, but the six of us really have a good time together. So, if you take away anything from this 7-minute read, find a group you like to travel with and take the time, life is short.

I don't have to elaborate much to explain how fun it is to just hang by the pool, pool bar, beach, play sand or pool volleyball, dance to DJs, swim in the ocean, and just overall skip the whole "adulting" scene. Going to resorts like this without kids is something I recommend to everyone to let loose and recharge.

But this resort, man, so many things to do! The Main Infinity Pool was large and really great. It was what our group called the "party pool" because for most of the afternoon a DJ was playing music and the Playmakers were running activities. This was by far the busiest part of the resort, and the pool bar reflected that (I'll get to my opinion on the service later). Then we had the South Seas Pool; more chill; no music; still a pool bar with all sorts of ledges and features and a hot tub. It was right by the Jerk Shack, which was convenient for a quick lunch, but nowhere near the beach and ocean. We also spent some time on the Barbados side at their main pool, where the pool volleyball happened each afternoon. Then, we all even enjoyed a little time in one of the swim-up pools connected to my brother's room. Ordered room service snacks and relaxed in the shade.

Like I said before, the beach and ocean are excellent in Barbados. However, this resort is not built to capitalize on that. It had great sand, warm, beautiful water, and a jetty built to help calm the water down for swimming. The area of the resort located on the beach though was very small. If walking the beach is your thing, you run out of room pretty quickly. And the beach chairs were very crammed together, making it hard to enjoy yourself being so close to strangers. We enjoyed one day in beach chairs but got unlucky that it was a pretty windy day. So, by late afternoon we were in a pool. Overall, not my favorite Sandals for the beach, which is unfortunate considering how great the beach is in this country. I can say, I felt very safe there, so I would definitely be comfortable walking the beach off Sandals property or even staying at a different resort. From my position on the beach, the resorts I could see all had the same set ups for the beach. Barbados is a small country and no doubt lots of resorts want a piece of the beach.

The unique part about Sandals Royal Barbados, we had a bowling alley! That's right, a 4-lane bowling alley directly connected to a craft beer bar. We had a blast, bowling shoes and all. Silent discos are evidently getting pretty popular now too (did I just age myself?) and we all really enjoyed that too.

Disclaimer: here is the "cons" section of my spiel. I would be doing a disservice if I didn't touch on how poor the service was at this Sandals. The resort was very busy while I was there, so I expected to wait, yes. But to be completely honest here, I felt like I was annoying our bartenders by even ordering a drink. Pretty sure my group felt similar. To even get an acknowledgement of our presence was difficult at times. Keep in mind, I haven't been out of the U.S. or to an all-inclusive since before the pandemic. This may not be a unique experience anymore in the under-staffed world we live in now. The resort was also definitely battling to keep up with the crowd while I was there. The bowling alley had long waits and was even broken down one night. Sandals does experience technology issues too!

**BUT, hold on, there is a silver lining! We chose a Butler Elite room, and our Butler team was great! I have to give a shout-out to them, they were fantastic. And our room was cleaned every day, without fail. Reservations for 6 people every evening, to our restaurant of choice, done perfectly as well.

Last, but certainly not least, we got off the resort and took a snorkeling catamaran cruise. WOW, WOW, WOW, the service! We definitely learned that it is not a Barbados norm to give the service we were getting at the Sandals resorts. I cannot say enough about Silver Moon Catamaran Cruises! They are based out of Bridgetown and gave us a great day. We stopped at more than one shipwreck to snorkel and cruised the coast with an open bar and lunch included, all with the cost of the cruise. Our appetizers were brought right to us, no matter where we were sitting on the catamaran; our drinks were refilled constantly (even by the captain when we were anchored); and lunch was delicious. I give a "highly recommend" to this excursion if you make it down to Barbados. We enjoyed the 18 and over, adults-only cruise.

Well, that does not cover it all, but I could talk for ages about this great vacation!

Get ahold of me, I'll tell you more!

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