I started off my third day in St Lucia by visiting all three of the Sandals resorts on the island. If you’ve done your research on Sandals or are familiar with the brand, you know that they target honeymooners and couples looking for an ultra-all inclusive romantic escape. The service, quality of accommodations and amenities are consistent across all resorts. No matter which resort you stay at, you have access to the sister properties (Stay at 1, Play at 3). So which Sandals resort is right for you?
Sandals Grande St Lucian Spa & Beach Resort – the furthest north outside of Rodney Bay
This is probably my favorite Sandals resort for a beach vacation. The beach here is long, clear and mild. The swim-out rooms and romantic Rondoval Suites make it an ideal honeymoon hot spot. This resort feels very open and airy with one of the larger Red Lane spas and fitness centers. The main pool area is very lively and winds around through the room buildings. So no matter where you stay, you’re close to the water. There are several wedding gazebos and a very large indoor reception/meeting area that would work well for larger groups. I also liked the little hidden nooks throughout the property. You’ll find a private bench or hammock for two tucked away between the trees. Perfect for spending an afternoon away from the beach but out of your rooms. Thankfully it was a sunny day so I was able to take quite a few photos.
Sandals Halcyon – a boutique beach retreat
On the other side of Castries is Sandals Halcyon. This is the smallest of the three resorts (169 rooms), also with a lovely beachfront location. I really like the smaller atmosphere of Halcyon. While there is not a full Red Lane Spa onsite, guests can take the shuttle to one of the nearby hotels for full services. I really liked the smaller, almost cottage like vibe that the rooms have. Most of the accommodations are tucked back in the gardens which are lush and filled with beautiful flowers. There is a row of rooms closest to the beach that would be ideal if you want to be closer to the action. The patios however here are not private at all as they open right out to the lawn and public areas. Inside, the rooms are quite modest decor wise of the three. Nice bed, bathroom area etc. but not super luxurious. Comfortable though. I had lunch in the main buffet which was quite good with plenty of salad options. Of the three Sandals property this resort had a more mature feel. There were still plenty of young honeymooners but I also saw more mature couples looking for that ultra-all inclusive romantic getaway on St Lucia. The main pool is quite lively with music, entertainment and of course a swim up bar. On the back side of the property is a quiet garden pool near the rooms. So even if you opt to stay in one of the lower priced room categories, you’ll still be close to a pool and because the property itself it not very large, it’s just a short walk to get anyway.
Sandals La Toc — the Grand Dame of St Lucia
So I have a little trouble describing this property. It’s just soooo big with just over 210 acres! I think the main reason you would stay at Sandals La Toc is if you’re a golfer. This is the only resort on the island with a 9- hole golf course. Green fees are included (mandatory caddy/cart is extra). The resort also has the largest pool in the Caribbean! This is a good thing because the beach (while half a mile long) is super narrow and a bit rough given the rocky coastline that most of the property hugs. All of the lower tiered rooms are near the main resort building. You may not have a view but you’ll be closest to the restaurants, pools, bars, etc. If you look at the property maps, it looks like there is a second beach in front of the Royal buildings (12) but the beach washed away in a storm a few years ago. So the only sandy beach access is near the main access to the resort. The Royal section of the resort is where you’ll have the top tier rooms including concierge level rooms, ocean front butler suites. It’s almost a resort within a resort as there is a separate pool area for this zone. If you’re looking for really quiet, larger accommodations with butler access and don’t mind being a 5 min golf cart ride away from the beach, this is a great option. Rooms are all very lovely no matter where you stay. The resort just involves a lot of walking which I normally don’t mind at all but there is a lot of golf cart traffic and it just seems “busy”. I can see this being a good option for larger destination wedding groups with the variety of room type options, numerous venue locations and onsite activities like the golf course.
So to recap – a Sandals is a Sandals. You can be confident that you’ll receive the same high level of service, attention to detail, ultra-all inclusive amenities including food, beverage, gratuities and onsite activities. The real difference is location, and the specific room type you can get at each resort within your desired budget. You might find you’ll be much closer to the beach at Halcyon which is more important to you so you’re ok with a more modest room. Or you might find you want a much larger suite, don’t mind not being right at the beach because you want R&R with some golf through in, in which case La Toc is perfect for you. Or if you love the beach and want a more lively atmosphere with a healthier budget – do a Rondoval suite at Grande St Lucian.