Nice all-inclusive experience but "Luxury Experience" is questionable. Posted Jan 16, 2013
Overall we enjoyed our stay at Sandos during the Christmas holidays but there were a few drawbacks. Upon our arrival, we were greeted with roses, delicious mango drinks and a hot towel while we checked in which was wonderful. Unfortunately, our next impression wasn't too great because after checking in they sent us over to the concierge who we thought would give us a quick overview of the hotel/facilities but instead they invited us to a welcome breakfast the next morning which we quickly realized was a one-on-one breakfast with a rep who would encouraging us to join the Sandos Club or whatever it's called. Not quite a timeshare program but I believe similar. We very politely declined and finally had to say that we were super tired and hungry and that we would let them know if we were interested in the Club. I realize that they're just doing their job but no one wants to deal with this stuff the first 15 mins at the resort! We had two rooms on the 6th floor (this premium floor has a bar/lounge/TV/music/wifi). Both rooms were very nice, clean and spacious and had great views. My daughters' room did not have a balcony though which was disappointing. We had lots of goodies in the room - bottle of champagne, candy bars, peanuts, tequila w/salt, limes and shot glasses, 3 bottles of various booze and a mini refrig with beer, soda, water. Lighting could be better in the rooms. The 4 restaurants were all pretty good, however we were disappointed to find out that Zango turned into a buffet for dinner when it was advertised to be a la carte in the evening. Apparently, they changed it because they were at full capacity during the holidays and I assume understaffed. Food was always good but I've decided that I really like to be waited on for dinner! Service in Zango for the most part wasn’t that great. It seemed that many tables were often available but we were still waiting in line. At breakfast, my husband got our juice and silverware a few times when a waiter couldn't be found. St. Trop, the outdoor bar/grill, was good although this bar closed early. An outdoor evening bar would be great. Gaijin, the Japanese steakhouse was very good. Seasons was excellent but very limited menu and my daughter was disappointed with the serving size of the lasagna she ordered - it was very tiny! Bar One was okay...there was entertainment each evening which was pretty good. We never tried room service. We were very disappointed when we discovered that we could not get chardonnay, pinot grigio or white zinfandel at the resort. Come on, these are the most popular wines in the US so you would think they would offer at least one of them in the all-inclusive deal. One night, a bar tender at Bar One said he would give me some zinfandel but not to tell anyone! If you want white wine, you’ll have to settle for sauvignon blanc (which started to burn our throats by day 3!). Frozen drinks were excellent – frozen mango margarita was the best!! The pools and beach area were beautiful. The staff worked their butts off to pamper and please all the guests. During this busy time, I had to get up by 8am and reserve beach chairs. Victor was very helpful....he would move chairs, umbrellas and provide towels. We loved the rough surf too. Santa arrived via parasail which was cool. However, we were trumped by the resort next to us when their Santa arrived via helicopter!! Entertainment staff seemed to work 24-7 and they were very good at getting people involved. There was beach volleyball, stretching on the beach, bingo, water aerobics, horse shoes, Christmas shows, casino night, various bands/singers in the evening, water volleyball. Decent music throughout the day too. One elevator was broken most of the week and one was having trouble. Spa was very nice and they offered specials throughout the week. Gym was large and very nice. The grass tennis courts looked terrible....these need to go! Wifi in rooms was horrible. We had to go to bars or lobby. We went to Senor Frogs for lunch and had a blast. Check out was easy.