All Inclusive Resorts Are Alright

Welcome back, to Part II where you get to listen to me talk about my trip to St. Lucia more.  Riveting.  Our journey began at 3 AM in Somerville, where we bid farewell to Zelda, hailed a Lyft, and made our way to Logan to catch a 5 AM flight to JFK.  Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from Boston to St. Lucia, so a plane change was our only option.  Luckily, we both enjoy early flights, so aside from a brief crisis where we had to take 5 extra pounds out of our checked bag to avoid being charged 3 million dollars, the flights were rather uneventful.  Unfortunately, upon arriving in St. Lucia, we were both pretty much dead.  We’d had no coffee, and barely any food, and it was basically just the worst.  Luckily, Sandals had a resort right in the airport, and we were able to get some (pretty OK) coffee and a small snack.  They tried to push beer on us, but we weren’t having it.  Not with how tired we were.

One of the drawbacks to St. Lucia is that the airport is 90-120 minutes ground transport to the resort.  Sandals provides “complimentary” airport transfer (remember that you’re ACTUALLY PAYING FOR EVERYTHING), so we were at least glad we didn’t have to arrange transport.  However, said transport ended up being a 20 year old van of, uh, questionable quality.  With barely working air conditioning.  But we clambered in with the other guests heading to the Grande, and enjoyed our brief tour of the island as we made our way from south to north.  We bonded with our fellow guests and the driver, as we took a horrifying ride driving on the left side of the road along roads with some of the steepest grades and sharpest curves I’ve ever driven on.  It was fun!  I just wish we had air conditioning.  There were some beautiful views along the way, especially of Dennery, a fishing village situated in a bay among some cliffs.  Apparently they have a big fish roast there every weekend, too bad it’s too far to go to from the resort.

Enjoy this picture that I didn't take

We arrived at the resort around 3 PM (AST, since St. Lucia doesn’t observe daylight savings time).  Both thoroughly wiped, we went through the check in process, and then took a brief tour of the resort.  I’ll admit, I was impressed!  Since it was our honeymoon, I had opted for the highest tier of room at the resort, that came complete with a butler, or rather, set of butlers, who’s main job was to act as a personal concierge for your entire trip.  So not only did we get a very, very nice room, we also always had a covered set of chairs on the beach, a cooler of drinks, 24 hour room service.  Pretty fun!  I’ll admit, I probably will never get the butlers again.  I (and Katie) are not people who love having stuff planned around us, and prefer to handle our own scheduling, etc.  However, I can’t speak highly enough of the resort staff, especially the butlers.  They were all very helpful, incredibly nice people.  A special thanks to the room service people who brought us french fries whenever we randomly ordered them, much appreciated.  Katie made you a playlist.

The resort itself consisted of a really beautiful beach, in Gros Islet, at the northern part of the island.  Right next door is Pigeon Island, a nature preserve and the historic site of both a British fort and a U.S. Navy signal station.  We’d visit later in the trip.  To the other side are a few resorts, and beyond that the capital of St. Lucia.  It felt very secluded though, and the views, especially the sunsets, were gorgeous. We felt very lucky to have found such a nice spot, though I was pretty nervous about the all-inclusive thing, since I had no idea how it works.  How did you, uh, get stuff? Katie didn’t actually know either, and we approached one of the (many) bars to get a drink.

Turns out all-inclusive (at Sandals, at least) works like this: at the bars, just literally order as many of everything you want.  At the restaurants, do the same, just give them your room number and last name.  That’s it!  Honestly, the entire system and complex of resorts represents a fascinating supply chain optimization problem, which being huge nerds Katie and I discussed at length (we’re pretty sure all the resorts have the same stuff).   The quality of the drinks was excellent, and the quality of the food ranged from good to great.  All of the restaurants were themed, from a British pub, to an Indian restaurant, to a restaurant that served only Jamaican jerk-seasoned food.  The only thing we thought wasn’t that good were the desserts.  They look fantastic, but they just didn’t taste that good!  One of my favorite things was the island food like stewed saltfish.  They also had those delicious fried fish fritters that Katie really loves.  We ate a lot of those.

Our routine for every day went as follows: wake up, go get lots of breakfast/coffee, maybe go to the gym (once we played tennis), then go down to the beach, where our butler had prepared chairs and drinks for us.  We spent 70% of the time on the beach, 10% of our time in the pool, and 90% of the time eating and drinking.  I was fat when I went down to St. Lucia, and I swear to god I put on 10 more pounds. Don’t go to an all inclusive resort if you’re worried about your weight! (I totally am, but figured screw it for the duration of my honeymoon/vacation).  Sandals had all sorts of watersports and such included, like floats, Hobie Cat catamarans, snorkeling, even scuba diving.  We took most advantage of the float recliners anchored in the ocean (they have cupholders), and the swim up pool bar.  There was a guy there named Peter that just kept slinging drinks all day long. Whatever you wanted.  We had a lot of hangovers.  We also bonded with a few different couples over the course of the trip, which was nice, though I’ll admit we weren’t overtly social.

This is a picture of the resort I took (all the red buildings and waterfront)

Notable highlights of our on-resort time included the decorations and such that the staff would do in our room most nights.  Flower petals everywhere, bottles of champagne, etc.  Since approximately 80% of their guests are honeymoons and anniversaries, they really play up the “love” thing, and the sexual subtext is hilarious.  Katie and I won a bottle of “baby making rum” on our first night there in a honeymooner’s raffle, which we didn’t open, and are taking home as a souvenir. They have all sorts of contests and entertainment for guests to take part in, from a couple’s  “Dancing With The Stars” to a big beachside BBQ buffet with a live steel drum band and dancers.  Honestly it’s all very well done.  The food in the three restaurants that require reservations was also exceptional, better than the normal food.  Katie and I get Indian at home all the time, but the food there was better than what we normally get.  The hibachi Japanese place and the seafood restaurant on the pier were excellent as well.

All in all, we had a great time at Sandals, and we even booked our anniversary trip to one in Jamaica next year!  Not butler that time, though, and we’re bringing a bunch of friends.  In my next post, I’ll talk about the stuff we did off-resort in St. Lucia.  Though we spent 90% of our time on resort, the 10% we spent exploring the island was absolutely beautiful, and if we hadn’t spent money on the all-inclusive stuff I definitely would have liked to explore more.


Chris DeFlumeri

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