Many in the hospitality industry aspire to be a real resort destination, almost a country in itself, but all too often they fail.
A lot of resort destinations are resorts in name only. Sure, they have luxurious rooms, beachfront property, and minimal amenities, but are they really a “resort?” Sandals Barbados would definitely answer that question with a hearty “No.” This sprawling campus is like a city designed just for travelers. You are both in a new and natural place, but also you are in a place where your every whim could be catered to. There is a whole island just outside of its walls to explore. Yet, if you wanted, you can stay in the resort for a week and eat a different restaurant every night. If you want to experience what a luxury cruise is like without having to live on a ship and sail everywhere, Sandals Barbados is your place.
A Little About Sandals Barbados
We will detail the amazing room options and amenities at the Sandals Barbados resort below. But first, we want to give you some background on the company and the destination. If you want to know even more about Barbados, check out our coverage of the island.
The History of Sandals Resorts
In 1981, Gordon Stewart founded Sandals, a resort company based in Jamaica. In the more than three decades since, Sandals grew into a preeminent resort company. They have sixteen resorts located all throughout the Caribbean, including a private island resort. The company has weathered some crises in the past.
They had to pay $12 million as part of a settlement in a corruption case, though they admitted no wrongdoing. The resort didn’t allow same-sex couples until 2004, though that was likely to comply with Jamaican law at the time. They’ve also been targeted for boycotts as advertisers for controversial programs in the U.S. Still, they’ve weathered the crises, and the Sandals Barbados resort enjoys overwhelming four- and five-star ratings from guests.
Why Travel to Barbados?
Centuries ago, Barbados was a paradise in the West Indies, but a horrible place to be. The island was part of the slave trade. Africans, indigenous people, and even Europeans toiled there. Today, Barbados is one of the only countries in the world to openly acknowledge that history with the statue of Bussa, the leader of a slave rebellion in 1816. Since then, Barbados has gone through a colonial period, only to emerge as an independent country in 1966. They still consider Queen Elizabeth II to be their monarch, but the governing is done by a local parliamentary body and a governor. Barbados has a relatively high standard of living and is one of the most populated Caribbean islands.
Environmentally, it’s a tropical paradise. There is a dry and rainy season, but most of the time the weather is lovely. It’s an island rich with culture and history, and one that eagerly welcomes tourists. The people are very educated, and Barbados enjoys a literacy rate of nearly 100 percent. They have a rich artistic culture, especially cuisine and music. The name, Barbados, is actually a Spanish or Portuguese word for the “bearded ones.” Locals call their home “Bim” or “Bimshire.” Descendants of the indigenous Arawakan-speaking tribes say their ancestors called their home “Ichirouganaim,” which means “redstone island with teeth.” The “teeth” are likely the coral reefs off the shore.
Who Should Go to Sandals Barbados?
Sandals Barbados is a real resort destination in every sense of the word. You could land on the shores of the island, drive to the resort, stay two full weeks never setting foot outside of it. More like a small village or a large college campus than a series of hotels, Sandals Barbados is for the affluent traveler who wants a tropical experience and doesn’t mind having others around. In a way, the other guests at Sandals Barbados are like your shipmates on a cruise. You can ignore them if you like, but there is every opportunity to socialize.
Features & Benefits of Sandals Barbados
One thing that makes Sandals Barbados a lot like a cruise is that their experiences are all inclusive. Inside the resort, the only things you will need money for are gratuity, duty-free shopping, and if you want to visit the local economy. It’s like a cruise ship that never leaves its perfect port.
1. Sandals Barbados Accommodations
The Sandals Barbados resort is a big place. There were medieval villages smaller than this. So, naturally, there are far more room options than one might normally find. Whereas most resorts offer four or so different types of rooms, Sandals Barbados offers almost a dozen. Dig in below.
Beachfront Penthouse One Bedroom Butler Suite
These spacious rooms are located in the Beachfront village, this penthouse is great for the romantic getaway. In the living area, you can sit back on the plush, comfortable sofas and enjoy the HD Smart TV. If you prefer watching television in your four-poster king-sized bed, the master bedroom also has an HD Smart TV. The bathroom is luxurious, with both a tub and a dual control walk-in shower. Some of the rooms even come with a two-person tranquility soaking tub. Guests enjoy the services of a butler, as well as VIP treatment to include 24-hour room service. These rooms also come with a view of the ocean, the pool, or both.
Crystal Lagoon Swim-Up One Bedroom Butler Suite
These beautiful penthouse suites offer almost everything the above suites offer, but it also has one thing it doesn’t. These rooms are set along a long river pool, the longest on the entire island, actually! This means that you can swim out of your room and back to it. The pool opens onto a patio sitting area, complete with lounge chairs. There are also waterproof, floating loungers that you can use in the water. As if this isn’t enough luxury, you also have the option to get one of these rooms with a tranquility soaking tub, big enough for two people. Naturally, guests staying in these rooms also can avail themselves of the house butler’s services.
Crystal Lagoon One Bedroom Luxury Butler Suite
These rooms are the height of luxury, offering an independent living room and a luxurious master bedroom. You can enjoy the private balcony, with or without a tranquility soaking tub built for two. Set along the river pool, you can enjoy people-watching or get down into the water yourself. Guests in these rooms also enjoy the personal butler service, as well as VIP treatment at check-in. Of course, there is 24-hour room service and an in-room bar. The bathroom is spacious, featuring a double-basin vanity and backlit mirrors. There is a dual-control walk-in shower, but guests in these rooms also have a luxurious circular tub in the center of the room. This truly is a love nest.
Crystal Lagoon Swim-Up Club Level Room
Overlooking the pool and tropical gardens on the resort, these rooms are similar to the swim-up suites. While you don’t have a butler, you still have plenty of room and access to the long river pool. The room features a patio by the pool that leads into a very comfortable sitting area, complete with HD Smart TV. The sleeping area features a four-poster king-sized bed. The bathroom is spacious, like a spa inside your room. This room also comes with the option of the tranquility soaking tub for the patio. You can enjoy the club lounge, the restaurants, or 24-hour room service.
Beachfront Club Level Suite
The fourth floor of the Beachfront village is reserved for these luxury suites offering unparalleled views of the ocean, the beach, and the resort. You can lounge on the private balcony watching the horizon or people-watching your fellow guests down below. Some of the rooms come with a tranquility soaking tub, big enough for two. Equipped with elegant furnishings, a four-poster king-sized bed, and an HD Smart TV, these rooms have all you need to rest and relax. The bathroom is spacious and elegant, and the room’s sitting area comes with a fully-stocked bar. There are also honeymoon options for rooms of this size, so be sure to ask about that.
Crystal Lagoon Honeymoon Room
This room is an economical choice for couples who want to experience everything the resort has to offer. Located on the second, third, and fourth floors of the Crystal Lagoon village, the private balcony hosts a table, chairs, and a tranquility soaking tub for two. The bathroom is spacious and elegant, featuring a double basin vanity, so you’re not crowding each other. There are also backlit mirrors and a dual-control, walk-in shower. Enjoy Robert Mondavi wines, beer, soda, or water in the in-room refrigerator. You can finish your day in the large four-poster king-sized bed, maybe unwinding by watching the HD Smart TV.
Caribbean Grand Luxe
Occupying the ground, third, and fourth floors of Caribbean Village, the Grand Luxe rooms are the perfect blend of economical and luxurious. Like all the rooms, it has a four-poster king-sized bed and an HD Smart TV. On the ground floor, guests can enjoy a patio walkout perfect for lounging before dinner or soaking up the sun. For guests on the third and fourth floors, the walkout is replaced by a private balcony.
The Premium rooms are located on the second floor of the Caribbean village and come in regular and honeymoon styles. Each room comes fully loaded with Robert Mondavi wines, local beer, soda, and water. Each room has a four-poster king-sized bed, and plush furnishings. The rooms come with balconies, the honeymoon guests enjoying a more private one. It’s a quaint room that is comfortable for relaxation, enjoying private meals, or watching the HD Smart TV. These rooms overlook the pools and gardens in the resort, great for people-watching.
Essentially, this is the Sandals Barbados basic room, but there is nothing really basic about it. Complete with a four-poster king-sized bed, a balcony, and elegant room furnishings, this is still a luxury experience. If you plan to spend most of your time on the beach, by the pool, or out adventuring, this might be the smartest room choice. It’s comfortable to take meals or relax watching the HD Smart TV. While very comfortable, it is a room that encourages its guests to get out and experience the rest of what the resort has to offer. The room comes stocked with a refrigerator full of Robert Mondavi wines, local beer, and bottled water.
2. Sandals Barbados Dining
With so much room for guests, the food situation at Sandals Barbados has to be able to meet the high demand. While you can go outside the resort for meals, for most folks part of the fun is how close everything is. You can eat at a different restaurant every day for a week and still not visit all of them. Get the skinny below.
Sandals Barbados: Bombay Club
The first restaurant to choose from at Sandals Barbados is the Bombay Club which serves authentic Indian fare. Food from this region of the world is as much an aromatic experience as it as for your taste buds, and this place doesn’t disappoint. Enjoy meticulously prepared favorites like Chicken Tikka, Samosa, Butter Chicken, and others, all made from the finest ingredients. Watch for chef’s specials, because those are a unique treat not to be missed.
Sandals Barbados: Butch’s Chophouse
The resident steakhouse on the Sandals Resort, Butch’s Chophouse honors the founder of the company. Gordon Stewart went by the nickname “Butch,” and thus this steakhouse hearkens back to him. This is a fine-dining experience, so don’t come in for a meal in your swimsuit. They offer the highest quality meats, from Black Angus to Wagyu steers. Along with the delicious sides, the steaks come with sauces to enhance their flavor. After dinner, stay and wash down the meal with a couple of cocktails.
Sandals Barbados: Café de Paris
This French-themed café will be your favorite spot for breakfast or any time you want to sneak away for a treat. Designed to resemble a French patisserie with tiny tables and “jaunty” umbrellas, this is a place you wouldn’t mind relaxing with a book or your computer. The café serves desserts and pastries, like pecan tartelette or fresh croissants. You can also get a specialty Jamaica Blue Mountain Blend coffee drink from the trained barista. It’s as close as you’ll ever get to a Parisian café on the beach.
Sandals Barbados: Dinos Pizzeria
Sometimes, even when faced with a plethora of fine-dining options, you just want to kick back and grab a slice. Dino’s Pizzeria is named after Dino Cavallo, a master pizza chef from Naples brought to Sandals to train their chefs. The pizzas are made to perfection in a wood-fired oven. You can order one of the signature pies on the menu, or the chefs will put together a pizza made-to-order. From authentic Margherita pizza to Hawaiian to Jerk Seafood, you can find any toppings to satisfy your hunger.
Sandals Barbados: The Merry Monkey English Pub
The original Merry Monkey pub in Great Britain is world-famous. Sandals opened its own version in homage to this classic British gastro pub by opening their own. It offers a little slice of home to Sandals’ UK Guests or offering a window into another world for everyone else. Of course, even those who love England know that their food is not the pinnacle of their culture. Still, chefs at Sandals are able to offer British food that both evokes the tastes of the Isles, but it is also of the highest quality and a delight to eat. From classic fish-and-chips to a unique spin on braised pork belly, tuck in at the Merry Monkey.
Sandals Barbados: Kimonos Oriental Cuisine
Half the fun of hibachi cooking is watching the preparation of it. If you want to see skilled chefs building onion volcanos, flipping scallops right into your mouth, or catching mushrooms in their hat, this is your place. Of course, watching the food preparation is, indeed, only half the fun. The other half will be diving into these wonderful meals. With a design that honors Japanese style, Kimono’s is a place in the Caribbean to get an authentic helping of far East cuisine.
Sandals Barbados: Soy Sushi Bar
In the states, many hibachi restaurants also double as a sushi place, though the two meals aren’t similar. In fact, the subtle, flavorful sushi might suffer caught up in the smells of all the other food cooking out in the open. That’s why at Sandals, the Soy Sushi Bar is its own thing. Open all day, guests can enjoy traditional sushi favorites or try some of the contemporary creations of the chefs. Or, if you want, you can skip the sushi altogether and enjoy a nice warm sake nightcap.
Sandals Barbados: Portofino’s Italian Restaurant
Any resort with more than one eatery has to have an Italian restaurant, right? Well, Sandals is no different, but their Italian restaurant is. This isn’t an Olive Garden at the beach, but rather a carefully cultivated menu honoring the Liguria region of Italy. Yes, you can your favorite pastas and sauces, but there is much more than that. There are Italian seafood options and creations by the chefs that are incredible. Portofino’s also features an open exhibition kitchen so you can watch as your culinary masterpieces are created.
Sandals Barbados: Schooners Seafood Grill
There is no shortage of seafood options on any of the menus at Sandals’ restaurants. However, Schooner’s is the kind of high-class place that makes a steakhouse seem like a hot dog stand. From the exquisite lobster bisque to the giant swordfish steaks, you can eat a lot and eat well. Our attentive staff will offer wine pairings with your meals, and the location is divine. As you indulge in the excellent food the sea has to offer, you can watch the sun set or the tide go out as you eat.
Sandals Barbados: Spices Caribbean Cuisine
Sandals greets guests from all over the world, all who have differing palates. It makes perfect sense that they would offer the cuisine variety they do. However, the Caribbean is a region that is also known for it’s flavorful and special cuisine. At Spices, guests can try dishes and specialties from all around the Caribbean, not just Barbados. As the flagship restaurant of the resort, it is right on the sea. Guests can enjoy their pan-Caribbean delights while watching cruise ships and sailboats pass by on the ocean horizon.
Sandals Barbados: Mariner Seaside Bar and Grill
Even when it’s a meticulously planned resort, when it comes to the food business location is everything. The Mariner is a bar and grill close to the water, and it’s that location that’s most appealing. You can enjoy typical bar and grill fare, though more seafood options that most folks would feel safe ordering in a bar. Nonetheless, the food is as high-quality here as anywhere. This is a great place for groups who want different genres of food. The Mariner serves burgers, salads, locally-inspired dishes, and finger foods. Wash them down with a cocktail or cold beer, never too far from the action at the water’s edge.
Outside the Resort Dining Options
If the eleven restaurants on the Sandals resort grounds aren’t enough for you, then feel free to look outside of it. You can tour the Barbadian economy, finding secret delectable treasures from the locals or trying out the other fine-dining options aimed at the tourism class. In fact, Sandals Royal is not too far from Sandals Barbados, so you could try any of the seven restaurants there as well.
Not too far from Sandals Barbados you can find a second Sandals resort, the Royal. On their campus they have six restaurants to choose from. It’s easy to travel from one resort to the other, so if you want a change of scenery but within the Sandals resort system, you’re in luck. Of course, there are also local restaurants to choose from as well. There are fine-dining options and secret spots on the locals know about. If for some reason the 11 restaurants at Sandals Barbados are not enough for you, you still have plenty of choices.
3. Sandals Barbados Amenities
Wonderful though they are, swim-up rooms, loads of restaurants, and bars aren’t enough to occupy your time. Luckily, Sandals Barbados realizes that some guests will want to be active, while others might want to relax. They’ve got plenty of options for both.
Sandals Barbados Fitness Center
The Fitness Center at Sandals Barbados is a great gym, even for a relaxing holiday. You can maintain by doing light aerobics on the machines. You push yourself with a specialized personal training session. You can take group classes, like couples stretching or the Caribbean Beach Shred workout. Of course, you can take your fitness regimen outside the gym, too. Jog along the beaches, do laps in the pool, or play any number of sports. As with everything else, even the fitness options are myriad.
Red Lane Spa
The Red Lane Spa inside the resort is perhaps the highlight of the amenities offered at Sandals Barbados. There are so many options for treatments and pampering, it might truly be difficult to choose. You can get treatments like the sweet coffee body scrub or a Caribbean seaweed body treatment. They have many different styles of manicures, pedicures, and facials to choose from. They offer no less than half a dozen massage options. You can lounge in the Salt Bath Soak or the freshwater Nature’s Embrace Experience. For individuals or couples, this is a great place to take your relaxation to the highest level.
Private Beach Dining
You and your loved one can have the meal of your dreams out over the water or right on the beach at Sandals Barbados. Yes, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. But this experience is different. In a private, gorgeous location, you and a guest will have an intimate dinner for two. Your ever need will be met by a white-gloved waiter. Enjoy unique settings such as under a wicker umbrella next to the ocean or out over the water on covered dock. Sandals’ house wines are from Robert Mondavi Twin Oaks line, offering six varietals. If you’re not sure which to choose, your butler will recommend a pairing. Naturally, there are only a limited number of these experiences available each night, per resort.
If you’re in Barbados, you’ll definitely want to do some shopping on the economy. There are wonderful local shops and stores that are a wonderful contrast to the homogenized feel a grand resort like Sandals Barbados can sometimes have. Yet, don’t miss the shopping opportunities in the resort. Local vendors, luxury brand-name items, and various sundries are all available in the Resort Boutiques, duty-free. You can even pick up fine jewelry in the resort. Colombian Emeralds International, a luxury jewelry dealer that’s been in business for 35 years.
4. Sandals Barbados Activities and Adventures
If you’re going to be at Sandals Barbados for more than two days, you’ll want more than just soaking up sun, working out, getting massages, and eating well. Thankfully, there are plenty of options for the Sandals guests to get active and social.
Local Adventure Tours
Sandals Barbados probably has every you need for your entire stay. But, if you don’t leave the resort, you miss out on all the rest that Barbados has to offer. Knowing this, Sandals offers nine adventure tours you can’t miss. These are not included in your package, so they will cost extra. You can take shopping tours of the local economy or spend a night out on the harbor. There is a golf course where you can play 18 holes. You can also explore nature with the Caves and Critters tour or the Deep Jungle Safari. There is even a lunch cruise on a pirate-themed boat.
Unlimited Land Activities
In case you don’t want to spend all of your time in your room, the restaurants, or the water, Sandals Barbados offers unlimited land activities. You can play all kinds of sports from bocce to cricket to golf. They have volleyball courts, where swimwear is the proper uniform. They also have more low-key games, such as cards or dominoes. You can enjoy racquetball in the fitness center or pool tables in one the pubs or game rooms.
Beach Parties and Live Music
With all these bars, restaurants, community areas, and white sand beaches, Sandals Barbados is the perfect place for a party. Of course, the staff puts on parties every single day, all day long, like if Trimalchio bought an island. The entertainment varies, but there is always something. You can find fire-eaters and acrobats one night and a band playing the hits the other. Each resort has theme nights, including those that celebrate the local culture of Barbados. With the elaborate costumes and infectious music, those are the best ones to go to.
Pool and Water Sports
This resort is just lousy with pools. There are a half-dozen (or ten, depending on how you’re counting) to choose from on the resort. Yet, if lounging by the pool, playing Marco Polo, and soaking in the hot tub aren’t enough, there are plenty of water sports. There are scuba experiences for divers at every level, and plenty of experts to help you learn what you need to. You can go waterskiing and wakeboarding on the crystal blue waters of the ocean. There is windsurfing, Hobie Cats, and Aquatrikes. You can also take a trip on the Sandals fleet out to sea. They have dive boats, for the most experienced scuba divers, glass-bottom boats, and speedboats.
What People Have to Say About Staying at Sandals Barbados
The overwhelming majority of guest reviews for Sandals Barbados rate it four stars or higher. People rave about the friendliness of the staff and their attention to detail. Each review essentially turns into a story about their visit, rather than list of bullet point likes and dislikes. This is a sign that come what may, you are truly having an experience. The resort is large enough, and you won’t feel crowded. The real trick they have to pull off is making it also feel small and personal enough that guests don’t just feel like part of the affluent traveler herd.
If your ideal vacation spot is a luxury bed and breakfast far from other people, Sandals Barbados may not be for you. The negative reviews for the resort all mention different things, but they fall into a singular theme. The down side to this giant resort backed by a large corporation is that your interactions can feel impersonal. Especially if you’ve had a problem or a disappointment, feeling like just another number in a sea of numbers adds insult to injury. Luckily, it seems that most staff interactions are the opposite of this. Still, if you want something different, check out the alternatives below.
Alternatives to Sandals Barbados to Consider
Sandals Barbados is not necessarily for everyone. While it is an all-in-one resort, there are no shortage of those on this island. Whether it’s too crowded or too new, there are other options for the discerning traveler below.
1. Sandy Lane
Sandy Lane is another huge resort, but unlike Sandals it’s less of a small village and more of a private enclave. They have five-room villas surrounded by lush, luxurious gardens. All guests are driven to their private entrances, so you don’t have to see anyone you don’t want to. While they have fewer restaurants, the ones they do have offer the finest cuisine and go-to favorites everyone likes. Sandals is a place where you might stumble onto a party. Sandy Lane is a place where you go to have a party and not be disturbed.
Perhaps your desire for privacy is more about the person you are with. Every couple has a story about going on a romantic getaway only for the atmosphere to not be that romantic. The House by Elegant Hotels specializes in romance and couples’ activities. Whether for a honeymoon or that destination wedding, this place will let you live out your tropical island wedding fantasies. While anywhere can be romantic with the right person, this hotel tries to help that along every way they can.
It might be that Sandals Barbados is just too modern for your tastes. For travelers who yearn for colonial style, the Coral Reef Club is here. The resort sits on meticulously manicured gardens, the kind that would seem at home in the aristocracy scenes of Pirates of the Caribbean. You can stay in the Luxury Plantation Suite, complete with four-poster bed, spacious living area, and a covered terrace. They have lots of activities including polo and cricket.
Sandals Barbados is a true resort in every sense of the word, designed so that you don’t have to leave the grounds once if you don’t want to.
One of the appeals of the grand resort is that it encompasses an all-in-one travel experience. You have everything you need just a few steps from your door whenever you want it. While this is what every resort aspires to be, Sandals is one of the places with the size and staff to be able to do it.
While it can feel impersonal at times, this grand resort is a great place to spend your holiday. It has options for every sort of vacationing style. You can go out into the wilderness and explore natural splendor. You can take historical tours full of fun facts and island secrets. You can lounge about the beach and the pool, only bothering to put on pants when you actually have to go in a restaurant. It’s a singular experience that can only be brought to you by a company as large and experienced as Sandals.
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Related Article: Barbados Hotels: A Look at Six of the Most Luxurious Resorts