My husband and I have been together for 25 years, which is no easy feat. So, we decided we deserved a getaway. The Sandals Grande Resort was our destination…
Elliot and I have had our ups and downs over the years and it has taken some effort, but we have been together for two and a half decades now. Our relationship has grown deeper and more passionate as time goes on.
When our 25 year anniversary came up last month, we decided to treat ourselves to a little break somewhere tropical and gorgeous. We had both been working hard and we felt we needed to just forget about the rest of the world for a while!
We wanted to stay at a place where we could completely disconnect and simply enjoy each other’s company. That’s why we chose the Sandals Grande Resort in St. Lucia, as it is designed for this very purpose.
The resort is located on a peninsula on the edge of a white, sandy beach, surrounded by dramatic mountain peaks. When I arrived it took my eyes a moment to adjust, as I was used to the cold, dreary winter scenery back home. Compared to the world of grey drizzle we had left, the Caribbean sunshine was so bright, the water was so blue and the sky was so clear.
Everything was illuminated with a warm glow, the light sparkled on the sea and the cool breeze blowing in across the water felt perfect on your skin. To the east was the Atlantic Ocean, to the west there was Rodney Bay and in the distance we could see the green-clad volcanic peaks. It truly was love at first sight.
Arriving At the Resort
The airport in St. Lucia is tiny, but when you are staying at a Sandals resort you’ll have access to their lounge where you can relax with snacks and drinks.
We opted to take the 15 minute helicopter flight from the airport, as we wanted our vacation to start right away after we arrived. Plus, the helicopter ride was a fantastic way to see the island from above. If you didn’t want the extra expense of the helicopter, it was a two hour drive to the resort.
I spoke to other guests who took the drive and they said that it was very bumpy and they wished they had brought car sickness medication. I’m glad I didn’t take the drive, as I am prone to motion sickness and I would have felt awful. After all, the resort is in a remote and unspoiled location and the roads are not in very good condition!
When we arrived we were introduced to our butler, Giselle. (I’ll tell you more about her later!)
One thing I noticed right away was how quiet the resort is. After all, it’s a couples resort and not a family resort, so there are no children. Don’t get me wrong, I love children – my husband and I raised two of our own!
However, our children have grown up and moved out now and we are done with the “family vacation” stage of our life. We are used to peace and quiet now and I wouldn’t want a crying baby interrupting a romantic meal or children splashing in the pool while I am trying to relax and read a book. All of the other guests at the resort were couples just like us, looking for a tranquil break.
When I was planning this trip I was originally going to book within one of the standard suites at Sandals Grande Resort. After all, they are certainly nice enough! However, then I saw the ridiculously romantic Rondoval Suite with a grotto shower, private whirlpool, hammock and the services of a personal butler. I figured, a 25th anniversary is a once in a lifetime event so we may as well celebrate it right!
I was glad we chose the Rondoval Suite. It’s the little finishing touches that make a stay like this special and this suite certainly had them, from the high end toiletries to the fresh flowers scattered around the edge of the bathtub. We loved slipping into the his and her robes and we were pleased that the fridge was already stocked with cold drinks.
On the first day we arrived Elliot and I hopped right into our private whirlpool hot tub for a soak with a glass of wine. All of the tension of the flight and the long lines at immigration completely melted away.
My only complaint about our suite is that our pool was somewhat in the shade and the water was quite cold, so we didn’t use it that often. If we come back again, I would consider staying in one of the overwater bungalows. We met another couple who were staying in one of them and they let us have a peek at their room. The bungalow had hammocks out over the water and a glass floor panel so that they could peer down into the ocean and watch the fish!
Friendly Butler Service
Let me tell you – having butler service at our suite was incredible. It made me never want to go back to having a vacation without a butler again. Giselle, our butler, was fantastic at making sure our every need was taken care of and she did hundreds of little things that made our stay more comfortable at the Sandals Grande Resort.
She reserved our beach chairs everyday, drew a bubble bath for us, made sure our fridge was always stocked with wine and beer, made all of our dining reservations and she even provided us with a recommended itinerary for meals as well as times blocked off for excursions if we wanted to book them. Every time we left the room she did something special, like leaving chocolates or other yummy treats or bringing fresh towels folded into the shape of cute animals.
I told her that I loved my coffee in the morning and she made sure that I had a cup of high quality Blue Mountain Coffee to start off every day. I wake up earlier than my husband, so I would sit out by our pool and sip my coffee while enjoying the fresh air and listening to the tropical birds.
If we needed anything, all we had to do was ask and Giselle would take care of it for us. Of course, you don’t need butler service to have a great vacation. The experience at Sandals Grande Resort would have been wonderful enough without it. However, not having to worry about anything but relaxing and enjoying ourselves was a pretty great feeling.
Excursions and Activities at the Sandals Grande Resort
If you wanted to do nothing but lie on the beach and relax all day, this is certainly a beautiful place to do that. Elliot and I did plenty of just lounging around and doing nothing. On several of the mornings during our trip we simply woke up, went for a leisurely breakfast at Toscanini’s and then made our way to the beach. (By the way, the service at Toscanini’s is wonderful and Kelvin was always pleasant and attentive.)
However, we are both the type of person who can’t sit still for long and we were also eager for things to do. Fortunately, we had a lot of options to choose from when it comes to activities and entertainment at the resort.
The resort offers up a full program of daytime activities, such as pool volleyball, reggae dancing, trivia and more. Also, there are many sporting experiences that are included, such as water skiing and paddleboarding.
We joined in for a few of the games and had a lot of fun – it was a great icebreaker for meeting the other guests. We also did a few of the activities that were not included in the all inclusive deal, such as riding horses on the beach. In my opinion, this was absolutely worth it as we were able to ride our horses through the surf and it was so exciting!
My only complaint when it comes to the entertainment is that they repeated some of the same activities within a one week period, such as trivia, golf putting and cornhole. However, this wasn’t too much of a problem – if you had already done that activity before you could just go for a swim on the beach or go for a hike to Pigeon Island instead.
If you are super passionate about diving, this isn’t the resort for you. The diving is included if you have your certification. However, to be honest St. Lucia isn’t a top diving destination and there isn’t as much to see here as some other places in the Caribbean. There is the option to pay $100 for a resort certification which would allow you to dive right off the beach, but considering you can only go on shallow dives it isn’t too exciting. The better option is to stick to snorkeling, as there is a snorkeling boat daily and it is included within your resort rate.
When the sun went down, the nighttime entertainment began and it was a delight. They had live music at dinner time and then either a show, a DJ or a karaoke performance. We went to the piano bar after dinner and listened to Gemma play a few tunes. He is a fantastic singer and he really set a romantic mood as we sipped our cocktails and watched the sunset.
I realized that Sandals resorts offers a “Stay at 1, Play at 3” program which means that if you are staying at Sandals Grande Resort, you can also enjoy the activities and entertainment at any of the other two resorts on St. Lucia – Sandals Regency La Toc and Sandals Halcyon Beach. This meant that our choice of places to go in the evenings expanded to 27 restaurants and 21 bars.
At first I thought that would mean that we had to get our own taxis between each resort, but then I found out that roundtrip transfers between the resorts are also included in the all inclusive rates. Halcyon Beach is about a 20 minute drive away and Regency La Toc is 20 minutes further than that. So, we spent an evening each exploring what these who other resorts had to offer.
A Meal for Two
What kind of romantic getaway would it be if we didn’t treat ourselves to a special meal? When you are with someone for a while, sometimes the romance gets lost in the routine of day to day life and those special “date nights” get replaced with evenings dedicated to pajamas, popcorn and Netflix. There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable, but it felt really good to get dolled up for a meal at the wonderfully atmospheric Gordon’s on the Pier.
When we arrived, I felt a flutter of excitement. The sky was lit up with pink and lavender as the sun set over the ocean and the refreshing breeze was just perfect. The restaurant is located on a pier that extends out over the water, offering a panoramic view of Rodney Bay. the design of the restaurant is open, with a thatched roof overhead, warm lanterns and candles and fresh flowers on each table.
I really love seafood, so this place was a treat for me. I was expecting the food to be great, but I was also blown away by the service. Our server was called Lance and he obviously takes pride in what he does and he has such a warm and welcoming personality.
Chef Walter Staib focuses on Mediterranean inspired cuisine made with fresh ingredients, I had the Swordfish Fillet – it is their signature dish and Lance recommended it. The swordfish was delicate and flaky and it came with shaved fennel and a Ponzu butter sauce, which gave it a unique and interesting flavor.
Elliot is not as much of a seafood fan as I am, so he ordered the Grilled Lamb Chops. With wild mushrooms, asparagus Fricassee and sauteed bell peppers, it was a combination of rich and hearty flavors. He shared a bite of his lamb with me and it was mouthwatering – simply falling off the bone.
For dessert, I was tempted by the Chocolate Chunk Espresso Brownie, but I wanted to try something different. So, I opted for the Carrot Cake, served with cream cheese frosting, walnut and candied rum raisin relish and vanilla sauce. It was a delightful mix of flavors, complex, sweet and wonderfully satisfying.
What Makes This Place Special
Sometimes, you don’t realize how much you need a break until you get one. When Elliot and I arrived at the Sandals Grande Resort, we felt ourselves fully relax in a way that hadn’t for quite a while. I felt the tension leaving my body as soon as I arrived.
This place takes away any stress that you could imagine, leaving nothing but pure relaxation. The only other guests were quiet and friendly couples just like us, so we could socialize if we wanted to but we could also have time for ourselves.
The butler service meant that we didn’t have to think about anything. We didn’t have to stock our own fridge or book our activities, we just had to let Giselle know and she would take care of it for us. This was important for Elliot and I, as we are used to high levels of responsibility in our daily jobs. It was incredible to let someone else take care of the details and to simply spend time enjoying ourselves.
Another aspect that makes this place amazing is the setting. It is surrounded by tranquil beaches with the most impossibly white sand that feels like powdered sugar under your feet. I loved watching the sunset over the water and waking up every morning to the sound of the birds. Some of the other guests complained that there were cats and birds around the property – but that’s not too big of a deal. After all, it is a tropical island!
However, the thing that really made this place special is the way it made me feel (not only the resort, but Saint Lucia as a whole).
There was a moment one evening when we were dining at Gordon’s on the Pier where I felt like we had time traveled back 25 years to our first date. Fully relaxed from the sunshine and tired from a full day of activities, we giggled and joked over dinner and then followed it up with a couple more glasses of wine, just lingering there all evening. My cheeks were glowing and I felt warm, content and happy (I’m sure it wasn’t just the slight sunburn)!
We didn’t glance at our phones, we didn’t check our watches, we didn’t stress about work – we just looked into each others eyes, held hands across the table and shared a deep conversation about the life we shared together and our plans for the future.
It sounds cheesy, I know… but it really was magical. When’s the last time you took the time to really look at your partner, share your innermost thoughts with them and truly listen to what they have to say? On that night on the pier, I realized that I had been blessed with a kind, thoughtful and patient man by my side for 25 years and I remembered why I had fallen in love with him in the first place.