Prior to the world shutting down, my last trip abroad was to Sandals Emerald Bay. It made nice symmetry that my first international trip in over two years would be to Sandals Royal Barbados!
This resort is actually right next to Sandals Barbados- the maps are a little misleading, but the two resorts are so close together they are at times difficult to distinguish from one another. Luckily, visitors to either resort have access to the full complex, so it’s like getting two resorts for the price of one.
We were technically staying at Sandals Royal Barbados, so we checked in at our appropriate Club Lounge and were escorted to our room. We were staying in a Royal Seaside Oceanview Crystal Lagoon Club Level Barbados Suite with a Balcony Soaking Tub for our stay- and yes, all of the room categories are this much of a mouthful. The room was clean and very modern, with a lot of cream and gray tones and a huge comfortable king bed. The bathroom did have a huge window leading from the shower to the bedroom, but there was a large curtain-like painting that we could conveniently roll in front of it. Our room was located in the Wahoo Building and had a large balcony with a soaking tub that overlooked the Main Infinity Pool, which I initially disliked until I realized just how conveniently located we were!
The room we were staying in was just a minutes’ walk from the beach, the Main Infinity Pool and right next to the border of Sandals Barbados. While the resort complex was huge, we didn’t seem to find ourselves walking all too far. In fact, the only areas that seemed excessively out of the way was the South Seas Village area which was set much farther back than the rest of the resort and mostly play home to the more private Rondovals.
We spent the majority of our time on the resort’s huge stretch of white sand beach. There were plenty of lounge chairs on the beach and around the pools, but the resort seemed to have a bit of an issue with seat saving- it’s best to wake up early and grab a chair before you lose it! It was incredibly windy for the majority of our visit, which kept any bugs away but did make the ocean a bit rough despite the stone wave breakers protecting the beach.
Between the two resorts, there are 11 pools available to use. I adored the rooftop pool that was located at the top of our building. Possibly as a result of the wind, there were rarely other guests there so it was a lovely spot to relax in peace and the friendly bartenders at the Sky Bar took great care of us. The Main Infinity Pool, the South Seas Pool and the Main Pool at Sandals Barbados seemed to be the most popular options during our stay- in part, I’m sure, because of their large size and the swim up bars located in the latter two. The water was a little chilly with the wind though most of the whirlpools were almost uncomfortably hot so it was easy enough to hop back and forth between the multitude of options.
There are 20 restaurants to choose from varying from quick bites to fancy sit down meals, and while I did my best to try as many as possible, it just wasn’t a long enough stay to repeat any restaurants- let alone get tired of the food! I highly recommend making a reservation at Chi and the American Tavern (though that might be my American blood coming through). I found it to be extremely easy to stick to my dietary restrictions as each menu was conveniently labeled with common allergies such as gluten and dairy which took a lot of the guesswork out. I certainly never got hungry!
Compared to Sandals Emerald Bay, this property was much more about the resort itself. There was so much to do and see that we didn’t even feel the need to go on any excursions. We didn’t even get a chance to try out the Lover’s Lane Bowling Alley and Bar! I’m pretty sure it’s exclusive to Barbados so I’m pretty disappointed to have missed it! We did, however, manage to squeeze in a few visits to the Sweet n’ Salty’s Gourmet Donut and Coffee Shop. Priorities, you know?
I also found this resort to be much more lively than it’s Emerald Bay counterpart- we had a lovely night out at the English-style Merry Monkey Pub that momentary tricked my brain into actually thinking we were in England for a moment (which I’m sure was a crowd-pleaser for the predominately British visitors at the resort). We also walked home through the surprisingly rowdy Piano Bar, which was apparently the place to be at night!
As my first international trip since COVID first hit, I was prepared to be pretty anxious about my health. At the time of my visit, Barbados had a strict COVID quarantine policy where you’d not only be confined to the room (which is fair enough), but you’d also have to wear a GPS ankle monitor! Definitely not something I was looking to try out! Once we arrived, my worries were put to ease- it was mandatory to sanitize your hands after entering any building (which seemed to be a country-wide requirement) and masks were required when inside public spaces or interacting with the Sandals staff, who wore masks at all times. The hotel seemed a little short staffed, but everyone we spoke to was incredibly kind and polite so it was no hardship to be a little patient with them.
The US was requiring negative antigen tests for our return flight, and Sandals made that super easy for us. We simply made an appointment through a link attached to a QR code and the test itself took us less than five minutes between the two of us. We got our results just a few hours later and were able to fly home without any issue.
Overall, I was extremely pleased with my visit to Sandals Royal Barbados! It was a beautiful resort with a ton of amenities to entertain all manner of visiting couples. I had been looking forward visiting this resort for years and it didn’t disappoint- I only wish we had been able to stay longer!