We had the time of our lives at Sandals Grande St. Lucian, and I cannot think of a more perfect place to have a wedding and honeymoon. If you want a low-stress wedding in a beautiful location, then this is the place. The southern part of the island was beautiful, but if you want to get married on the beach and have tons of options for pictures, then the Grande is the best choice. They made it so easy for us to just show up and get married. Everything was perfect.
We flew Delta direct from Atlanta. The flight was about 4 hours, but not too bad overall. I would recommend flying direct, as I heard many people were stuck in Miami due to storms. They missed out on at least a full day of their trip.
We flew into the airport at the same time as the American Airlines flight, so we were all going through customs at the same time. The airport is very small, so it seemed like there were so many of us waiting. Even with all the people, we got through in about 30 minutes. I was worried about some of the items I brought in for my gift bags, but the man at customs didnâ€™t ask questions or bother looking through my bags. I had even checked â€œmedicationâ€ on the customs form, and he didnâ€™t ask me about that. When you go through customs, there is a door about 10 ft. ahead and the Sandals area is literally about 20 feet beyond that. There are guys there saying â€œSandals?â€ who will grab your bags if you say yes. Just keep walking beyond them and through the door. They charge $1.00 per bag and they are not necessary.
Sandals Desk at Airport
This is set up like a lounge. It was pretty busy when we went in, but they serve drinks and cold towels. There is a lady standing at the far door with a clipboard, and she calls out the name of the particular Sandals resort and asked for volunteers to go. If you are taking a private car, stop at the first counter as you go in the door. We waited with all the other people until someone told me where to go.
Sandals Transfer to the Grande
We paid for a private car, and it was nice, but not necessary. Several or our friends and family took the basic shuttle and had no complaints, except for the actual drive. The roads are narrow and curvy and some people got car sick. Our private car was not exactly luxury, but we didnâ€™t really care (it was a Toyota Camry). We had some friends take the helicopter, and they got to the resort in about 30 minutes (15 min. by helicopter and then a 15 min. taxi to the resort). I guess this would be worth it if you just have the cash or if you get motion sickness. The helicopter was going to be about $300, so we passed. The private car was $110.
The lobby is beautiful, and you immediately start to relax as soon as you walk in. We were told where to sit, and the receptionist brought over some paperwork. We had not checked in online, but I donâ€™t think that mattered too much. Within 5 minutes, we were off to our room. Our bags arrived shortly after.
We stayed in a Honeymoon Beachfront Luxe room on the left side of the resort. The view was over the rondovals and Rodney Bay. The building we were in backed up to the lagoon pool, and it seemed a little musty. My fiancÃ© has a mold allergy and it was definitely bothering him. We asked to be switched to another room, but we were told they resort was full and they could not move us until the next day. I actually called and talked with Jason, one of the managers, and I donâ€™t think they would have moved us if we hadnâ€™t been getting married. The next day, they moved us to the other side of the resort. The building was to the right of the lobby if youâ€™re facing the ocean. The rooms were much cleaner and smelled better on this side. We didnâ€™t have any problems after that.
The room was nice, and it had plenty of room. If we were staying at pricey resort in the US, I would have expected better, but Iâ€™m familiar with the Caribbean and thought the room was fine. The bed was so comfortable, and the bathroom was fine. I looked at some of the other rooms, and I thought an upgrade wasnâ€™t really necessary, unless youâ€™re upgrading to a luxury room, but all the lower level and concierge rooms seem to be the same, except for the views. The only thing we didnâ€™t get because we werenâ€™t in a concierge level room was the liquor in the room. We didnâ€™t really need it though, because we were constantly sent champagne and the bar was right down from the room. If we wanted extra drinks, we just left a note for the maid, who was wonderful. She came in every morning around 9:30 after we had left for breakfast and straightened up, swept, and mopped. She even folded a bunch of clothes I had left in a pile on the loveseat right after we switched rooms. She was awesome.
The resort is so well-kept and the flowers are gorgeous and everywhere! It was so easy to relax here. If we needed anything, all we had to do was ask. The staff were friendly, and everything was catered to couples, making it easy to enjoy your time together. We spent time on the beach, in the pools, doing watersports and eating/drinking a TON every day (bewareâ€¦you WILL gain weight here!). One of our favorite things to do was to get on the hobie cats and sail out into the bay. They are first come, first served, and you have to take a quick lesson. Donâ€™t miss hiking at the fort beside the resort! You just walk down the beach and through the gate of the national park. There are beautiful ruins there and it is about a 20 minute walk up to the top. Great view and photo opportunities! It was $5 each to get in.
Note: out of the 3 Sandals on the island, this one definitely had the best beach and the most convenient amenitities...Regency had the nicest restaurants but things were a little more spread out and hard to get to. Halcyon was small and quiet, but we felt somewhat unsafe there.
I have no complaints about the food. We are pretty particular, and there was always something for us on every menu. We went to Bayside most mornings for the buffet breakfast, but Toscaninis also has a nice breakfast. Lunch was usually Bayside or Barefoot by the Sea. Bayside is always buffet, but they do different themes every day. Barefoot by the Sea had quick food like nachos and sandwiches. They also had a grilled fish of the day with mango salsa which was always good. For dinner, we ate at Bayside the first night everyone flew in (weddings department made reservations for us), and everyone thought it was great. The house wine is free and it was fine. We had our rehearsal dinner at Toscaninis, and everyone also thought that was great. Toscaninis is a bit nicer than Bayside. You can also go to Jasmines for pizzas and crepes (we did this on our first night when we wanted something quick). We also went over the Regency and ate at La Toc (French). It was good, but not as good as everyone says. Some of our friends went to the Regency and had good meals at Pitons and Kimonos. Late at night, we go in the London Pub for some wings or sandwiches and drinks.
I had everyone so stressed about the dress code, as Iâ€™d heard they would turn away guests for not having on the right shoes. Bayside was very relaxed, and the guys could wear shorts and flip flops. Girls could also wear flip flops for dinnerâ€¦.very casual. Toscaninis required long pants for the guys, and it said no flip flops, but they didnâ€™t seem to mind if you were nicely dressed. During the day, everyone just wears their bathing suits and a cover upâ€¦no real dress code.
The beach was absolutely beautiful. The views were amazing, and there were many quiet spots of busy spots, depending on what you wanted. We always walked down the left side, near the pier, and we were usually only 1 of 2 or 3 couples in the water. There were rocks and pieces of coral occasionally, but the water was clear so you could see where you were stepping. My favorite thing to do was pull a lounge chair down to the waterâ€™s edge and just lie there relaxing. There were vendors on the beach, but only a few, and they would leave you alone if you said no thank you.
The main pool was really busy and there was a DJ there that was really loud (and a little obnoxious). Luckily, there were plenty of quiet pools around. Our favorite was the lagoon pool in the back, as there was rarely anyone back there. We would grab some drinks for the bar and swim there late at night as well, and most of the time we were the only ones in the pool. There were such beautiful flowers back there, and there was always a raft or two floating around.
We met with Monica, the wedding coordinator on the second day we were there. She walked us around the property and we chose the beach for the wedding and reception. We then went back to her office and filled out all the paperwork and went over the details we had already planned. She asked us if we wanted extras but was not pushy. When it came time to talk about the photographer, I was worried she might have a problem with us since we brought our own, but she was very nice about it. She asked if we wanted a photographer to come anyway (they offer a free 5x7) and we declined. Iâ€™m so glad we did, because I thought the photographers and videographers to be very cheesy and a little pushy. Iâ€™m sure he would have gotten in the way of our photographer. Something we didnâ€™t know is that we had to come back the following afternoon to meet with the lawyer and sign some more paperwork. This would have been a problem if we had planned an excursion beforehand. Anytime I had a question, I would just walk down to the wedding office (by the spa) and ask, and they were always very patient and accommodating. I was a bit worried because of the loud DJ at the main pool, and they also had a volleyball game scheduled for the time of our wedding, so I asked about that and Monica assured me she would call and take care of it. On the day of the wedding, my husband had to go down to the wedding office 30 minutes before the wedding and Monica came up to get me about 5 minutes before.
The ceremony was on the beach at 4:00 and it was hot! We had the chic and natural arch, and I thought that might provide some shade, but it didnâ€™t. In retrospect, the $500 for twilight time might have been worth it, because we were dripping sweat. There was a slight breeze every few minutes which helped. I chose to upgrade my bouquet to the Island Paradise theme and it was stunning! I had Monica split the included orchids bouquet in half and give to our mothers. The officiant did a great job and it was a very simple and sweet ceremony. Remember to smile, even if the sun is in your eyes! I wish I had thought of that, because it looks like Iâ€™m frowning in so many pictures. We had the steel drum band, which was a nice touch. Immediately after the ceremony, we cut the cake and had our champagne, and the videographer made us do some stuff for his video (pose, play steel drums, walk, etc.) This was a little irritating because it was hot and we didnâ€™t really want him there. Iâ€™ll discuss the video a little later. After that, our guests went to cool off and we went to take pictures with our photographer.
We chose the 2 hour plated dinner for our reception. It was set up under a tent (no extra charge and we were not given the option to not have one, in case it rained) on the beach. We took our Ipod and Iâ€™m so glad we didnâ€™t pay extra to have a DJ. The only thing I regret was not taking Ipod speakers. We thought we could find something there, but the only option was to rent the wedding sound system for $100. We had beautiful beginnings tables, which were fine. We chose the shrimp appetizer, tropical fruit salad, beef tenderloin, and baked Alaska for dessert. This was by far the best meal we ate while we were there. The wedding cake was served last and honestly not very good (we chose chocolate). After dinner, we would get up and dance occasionally, but it was a very laid back reception. After dinner, we went back to our rooms and then met up a little later to go into Gros Islet for the Friday Night Street Party. This was a lot of fun! Lots of food and Piton beer. The Island Routes desk will call for a cab, or someone at the front desk can do it too.
We brought our own photographer (Katherine Thomas Photography www.katie-t.com) and were so glad we did! She did an awesome job and after seeing some or the resort photographerâ€™s photos/style, I am so glad we did not just go with them. The Sandals pictures are really expensive too! One thing I do regret is not taking pictures inside the national park next door. We didnâ€™t realize how pretty it was until we went hiking a few days after the wedding.
We did not originally want a video ($500) but the coordinator told us they would send one anyway and we could have the option to choose it after the wedding. I really wish we had told her no. The videographer made me do really cheesy things, and I felt he got in the way of my photographer. For the entire ceremony, he knelt right in front of us, so my photographer could not get any great shots without him in it. After the ceremony, he was so pushy, and I really just wanted to enjoy the time. At that point though, we felt like we couldnâ€™t really tell him no. If we said we didnâ€™t want to do something, he would just say, â€œOne more time.â€ He also made us play with the steel drum band, which would have been fun for a minute, but he made us keep playing the whole time, because it was â€œgood footage.â€ Ughâ€¦he was really annoying and I am a pretty laid back person. We went to watch the video the next day and it was pretty awful. First of all, he shoots up at you during the ceremony, so the angle is just not flattering. Almost have the video was just scenes of St. Lucia, and he even got our names wrong (not just spelled wrong, but different names). If I had to do it again, I would have bought a video camera and had one of my family members just record it for us. We did not order the video, because the wedding seemed so magical and video made it seem so cheesy. I could go on and on about thisâ€¦my only real gripe about the whole thing.
Simon Says Boat Tour
Do this! $110 per person. We booked through the Island Routes desk for our whole wedding party. We went the day after the wedding, and it was such a fun way to spend time together exploring. We got on the boat at about 9:00 and returned around 4:30. We saw the island by boat, snorkeled at Jalousie and took some pictures in front of the Pitons. We went in the mineral baths and mud baths and had lunch at Simonâ€™s house. There were souvenirs all along the trip, so take some cash.
The spa was a nice treat. Two guests bought me massages, which I thoroughly enjoyed. They are a bit pricey, and there is a 12.5% fee on top of the price. I got my hair done for the wedding, and although she did a good job, it was $90 and I really could have done it on my onâ€¦just curls.
Sad day! I did NOT want to leave. It was so easy to get used to the pampering and beauty of the Grande. We spent our last morning at breakfast and on the beach, then we came back and showered and had to have our bags ready by about 10:30. Someone came to pick them up and sat them in the lobby with everyone elseâ€™s stuff. They shuttle you by flight, so you just listen for your flight number and then grab your bags and get on. The shuttle back to the airport was not bad. We had plenty of room. The guy in front of us did get car sick and we had to stop a few times. The airport is small, and we had to wait a couple of hours for our flight. There are some restaurants upstairs and we just sat next to the window until we saw our plane arrive.
Overall, I was very pleased with all of our choices, from the resort to the actual wedding/reception details. This resort was full of honeymooners, and several other couples got married while we there, but we still felt very special. It was so easy to just relax and enjoy the moments together, as we knew everything was taken care of. We canâ€™t wait to go back and celebrate our anniversary in 5 years! Worth every penny!