Tag Archives: resort

Sandals Royal Bahamian: Our Resort

As I mentioned, several times, we stayed at the beautiful Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau, Bahamas. I feel pretty lucky to have stayed there as I think a Sandals would typically be out of the ol’ price range over here.

Past resorts that I have stayed at and written about are the Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton in Lucea, Jamaica, and also the Brisas Guardalavaca in Holguin, Cuba. I like to get detailed about the resort not only so that I can have a record of where I stayed, but also for other people who are thinking of staying there and are looking for info about it (a blog reader actually stayed at our resort in Jamaica after I wrote about it, and maybe she was humouring me but she did say it was because of my review).

Let me tell you I wish there was a blog post like this one when I was researching about the Royal Bahamian before we left. Sure, you can check out Trip Advisor, but I find the reviews on there are pretty hit or miss. You never know who the reviewer is, and some people just like to complain, ya know? I like to know what to expect.

Anyway, let’s get to it. It was pretty ridiculously beautiful. If you are into the whole sun, sand, and being pampered kind of thing.

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Which I am. And I feel like this is my climate.

This is apparently the oldest Sandals location and people in our group did say it was the most run down Sandals they had been to, and I also read that in some reviews. I am probably not the best person to ask about that because it looked friggin’ nice to me and I was impressed…but just keep in mind that it’s been around for a while. It seemed to me like they did a pretty good job with the upkeep, and most of it has been refurbished.

Our room was great.

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Just fabulous. I love a good four poster bed.

And I was quite a fan of this:

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This is my third all-inclusive and I have never had a bar in the room like this (in Jamaica there was beer in the fridge but that was about it). Evan saw this and was all “Whoa, we be gettin’ crunnnnnnked!” but in reality I think we had one glass of rum each. We barely spent any time in our room. Though I did have a few cans of beer from the fridge while I was getting ready for dinner activities in the evenings.

Here was the view from our balcony:

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So no complaints about that!

The resort had two main pools. The one our room looked onto, which we called the party pool because there always seemed to be a party happening in there…

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This picture was taken before 9am so the party pool wasn’t quite happening yet.

And the quiet pool.

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Pretty much the same as the party pool but…quieter.

Evan and I both preferred the quiet pool and spent two afternoons hanging around there with various coworkers of mine. Both pools had swim-up bars, which are very important in an all-inclusive resort pool (look at me talking like I’m a pro, about two years ago I had never even been away anywhere!)

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The service was great. All around, not just in the swim-up bars. The staff were fantastic.

Both pools had floating rafts which I actually had a little nap on one afternoon…

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And in the quiet pool area there was a waterfall and this angry god.

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Evan would be recreating this beautiful picture from Cuba…

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He likes to shower with random statues (who doesn’t).

We were in the Royal Windsor room complex, but some of the more private villas had private pools.

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For all the lovers, you know. And yes I felt like a supreme creeper in the bushes taking that photo…

But the most important part of any resort is the beach! The beach was very beautiful and the ocean was warm and lovely, but the beachfront was very small.

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The beach is separated by a big pier in the middle, and you can swim and leisure on either side, but it is still very small. Our resort was very contained and there were other resorts (one actually might have been a private residence) on either side of us.

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They do have all the fun water things you can rent, like kayaks, water trikes, sailboats, etc. We tried to rent a water trike one day (because they are hilarious and look like big tractors), but unfortunately it was too windy to take it out.

The other thing about the beach is sometimes when you were swimming in the water you could smell a strong sulphur scent. Evan had actually read about this before we left and was explaining the reason behind the sulphur smell…but still, even if there’s a good reason, sulphur smells like rotten eggs and it is not a dream scent while in paradise.

To make up for the small sulphur beach though, this resort has a private offshore island and a water taxi will take you there every hour (or you can rent a kayak). The private island has two insanely beautiful (and big) beaches. One that faces back to the resort…

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And one that looks out to the deep, blue sea of forever.

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This beach was my favourite. The water was so incredibly clear and the sand was nice and…sandy.

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Photobombed.

About 8 of us took the earliest water taxi over there on our last full day and spent hours there. It was a dream.

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In addition to the two beautiful beaches on the island, there was another pool with a swim-up bar and a seafood restaurant called Stew Fish (more on that in the food post).

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I didn’t go in this pool at all, but it looks pretty nice.

Evan and I also went snorkeling on our first full day. You can borrow masks, snorkels and fins from the main resort beach and they will take you in a boat about a kilometre off the island.

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Not THE BEST snorkeling, but not too shabby at all. We saw some pretty fishies, and that’s all that matters.

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The only annoying thing about the snorkelling was that you couldn’t borrow masks and snorkels from the offshore island, you had to get them from the main resort beach. But you also couldn’t borrow them and then take them over to the island by yourself, you had to go on the snorkel boat and do the snorkelling at a scheduled time (and our boat was full so my coworker friend and her husband weren’t able to come with us). I wish I had known this in advance because I honestly would have brought our own equipment. People who had their own equipment on the island saw an eel, a stringray, a lobster and a turtle just off the beach and I was jealous. I saw no such things.

Some other cool things around the resort… Many, many statues, and many fountains…

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And many gods…

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I originally thought that was Zeus, but since we’re near Atlantis Paradise Island I am going to say it is probably Poseidon. Either way, that statue was huge.

There were also little coal fires everywhere along the beach.

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Which were very nice at nighttime when they were lit and you could lounge around them.

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Tres romantique!

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That is actually a professional photo that a resort photographer took while we were chilling by the fire one night. They also offered to do a complimentary photoshoot with us around the resort, which was very nice, but unfortunately the timing didn’t work out for that. Apparently they offer it to all their guests, but no one in our group took them up on the offer.

The only thing about the Bahamas, or maybe just Nassau, the area we stayed, is that I don’t feel like I got an authentic island experience like I did in both Jamaica and Cuba. Off the resort is very Americanized. I’m sure it would still be fun to explore (we didn’t have much of a chance), but it’s difficult to picture the culture when just beyond the gates of your resort there is a Domino’s Pizza, a dentist and a Dairy Queen.

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I don’t feel like there was a ton to do at this resort aside from laying around on the beach, which don’t get me wrong, I enjoy…but I don’t think I could have done it for another day so we were there for the perfect amount of time. If I was going for a week I think I’d pick a different location so we could do some off resort adventuring and experience some culture.

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All in all though, it was very nice and we had a VERY fun time. I would definitely recommend the resort. It was very popular for young newlyweds, so if you didn’t just get married be prepared for everyone you meet to ask you if you are on your honeymoon.

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I know this is misleading but we are just on a trip with my coworkers.

And now you have a background of where we stayed and I can move onto the fun things 🙂

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Brisas Guardalavaca, Our Resort

Alrighty, as mentioned in my last post we stayed at the beautiful, all-inclusive Brisas Guardalavaca outside of Holguin, Cuba. Here is a map if you are unfamiliar where the Holguin region of Cuba is (I was).

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Way down at the bottom right. As you can see it’s at the opposite side of the country from Havana. I would looove to visit Havana sometime and do the whole Hemingway tour and see legit Cuban city city, but I think it was about an eight hour drive from where we were, so, next time. Where we stayed was pretty cool also. Guardalavaca is about an hour from Holguin city, where our plane landed, and the bus ride to the resort was basically a bus tour. I could not stop looking out the window (more on the way home as we arrived in the dark).

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Just such a different way of life. It’s fascinating.

Brisas Guardalavaca seems to be the kind of resort that people go to once and then keep coming back.

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We had people in our group that were returning for their 8th time (and staying two weeks, lucky duckies), and I mentioned that Brotherman and Kelly were returning for their third time. I think because Cuban resorts can be hit or miss, especially in the food department, when you find somewhere you like you stick with it. I understand that mentality but I like trying new places so I think it will be a few years before I go back to Cuba, and when I do I think I would do closer to Havana, just to check it out. And speaking of food, our resort food was fine. It wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t bad (and I have heard horror stories about Cuban food). It was fresh and I could always find something I liked, though it wasn’t anything to write home about. But I sure will write an entire blog post about it!

The lobby was pretty (though a bit dated) and had live plants hanging around.

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And it was open to the pool and beach area beyond.

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Lots of wood everywhere, throughout all the corridors and at the entranceway in our room, which gave the hotel kind of a cruise ship feel.

I actually do not have any pictures of our room, but it looked exactly like this:

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Pretty standard. Definitely dated and not fancy in the least, but it was clean and comfortable. We did not spend a lot of time in our room anyway. My only complaint is that there were two double beds instead of a King, so we pushed them together and pretty much just slept on one. I did wake up and find myself in the crack between the beds a few nights, but it was no big D.

But the view from our balcony was AMAZING.

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Our hotel had two areas, the hotel section and the villa section. You could use the amenities of both from either section, and the entire resort was not huge so everything was very easy and quick to get to. One thing I will say about the hotel section was that it was loud (villa section is quieter, and the rooms are a bit nicer and a LOT bigger). Our oceanview room faced the entertainment stage and the beach bar, and the entertainment usually went until about 11pm and obviously people were partying until all hours. It honestly did not bother Evan and I at all and actually I liked it because we could watch the entertainment directly from our balcony if we decided to have an early-ish night.

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So that was handy. But most often we watched it from the beach chairs beside the pool.

If you are a light sleeper then people yelling at 3am may bother you but for the most part I didn’t notice. I DID notice an interesting “OO-AH! OO-AH!” sound at 6:30am on our very first morning there and Evan and I were both like “WTF is that?” I thought it was some kind of exotic bird, but later found out it was Roberto who makes the pizza in the snack bar beside the pool. I found this out because he made that sound all day long whenever someone he knew walked by (older ladies in particular, and they loved it) and you could hear him from pretty much wherever you were on the resort. It was like his mating call. It kind of became the soundtrack to our vacation. That and Chan Chan.

We tipped our maid well and she was really great. We had a new towel animal every day we were there!

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But we spent most of our time outside, so let’s get to that. We were on the top (fourth) floor and just outside of our room were outdoor stairs to get down to the pool, as well as a lookout over the water and Guardalavaca countryside.

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It was fun to watch the road from there because there always seemed to be things happening on the road, and a lot of old cars driving by.

The beach, as I mentioned, was incredible.

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The wedding gazebo!

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(the Porpoise showering with the porpoise)

You could rent snorkel equipment (for free) from a hut on the side of the beach, so we did that and went on a beach snorkel adventure.

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It wasn’t crazy fantastic or anything but it was decent. There were a few sea urchins, but the nice ones, not the scary black spindly ones.

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You could also rent a car paddleboat for free and take that around the shoreline.

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Evan and I did that also and paddled it further away from the resort where the snorkeling was a bit better.

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We found a coral reef, which was definitely dead but still pretty awesome to explore.

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And we saw some colourful fish, so I was happy to at see a least a few because our big snorkeling trip got canceled due to weather (more about that later).

There were two big pools at the resort, the main pool that our hotel room looked onto…

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Which had a swim up bar!

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And the full bar and the snack bar were just off that pool.

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Which were both open 24 hours a day, but I will talk more about that in my food post.

We spent more time in the pool over on the villa side, which was a bit quieter than the main pool.

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And also had a full-sized bar and a swim-up bar.

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My favourite bar though was the Havana Club. It was right beside Brotherman and Kelly’s room, so we would often all meet there for a drink before dinner after we were all showered and ready.

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They only served Havana Club rum, but I liked it so that was alllllright with me!

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I loved that the Havana Club had a panoramic view of the resort and the surrounding area.

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It was a great lookout spot.

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Brotherman agrees.

The resort was incredibly scenic. You could walk along the beach over to a tourist-y market on the far side (the market was after another resort called Club Amigo) and the walk itself was a beautiful adventure.

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And there were other fun things around, like the Tea Garden, which we did not really visit, just took photos around…

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And a John Lennon garden, apparently some sort of symbol of peace…

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You can see the write up for the reasons why here. I’d paraphrase but I don’t really know what it’s going on about.

The entertainment was absolutely fantastic.

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There was usually a different band playing every night, followed by a show. The water ballet was seriously amazing. We were all in awe. My camera did not get any decent pictures, but if you click here you can kind of get an idea of what it was like.

And there were some interesting critters around, like crabs, fat lizards…

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Which you would expect, but there were also a few resort dogs kicking around.

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This one was sooo friendly and nice. He came over and sat beside me for about half an hour when we were at the beach bar one evening. I don’t really know where he’s been, but I couldn’t resist petting him. He was just a little muffin.

And I could not resist mildly harassing this cat!

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I think she lived on the resort also, and I have to say I don’t think I’d mind being a resort cat. She would set up shop right outside the main buffet every evening so I brought her fish a couple of times and I basically made a new best friend. I noticed people did this a lot. She was well fed, that is for sure. 

So now you have a bit of a background on the area and resort we stayed at and I can get to the shenanigans. Dolphin swimming and our catamaran adventure are up next 🙂