, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This year, my hubby and I are celebrating 15 years of marriage. Perfect timing for the tropical second honeymoon we’ve been promising ourselves for years. On the recommendation of a family friend, we went to Sandals Antigua.
Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (9)I don’t know what’s taken me so long to blog about my holiday to Antigua; perhaps because it was such a wonderful escape to paradise that it’s bittersweet to look back at the photos now that I’m back to boring old daily life in Canada.

Sandals is known for its romantic, luxurious adults-only resorts.  We wanted to get to an all-inclusive and just relax knowing everything would be taken care of. We were also told that Sandals is a place that will go above and beyond for their guests so we could be assured that we would get a variety of excellent vegan food, which was crucial for us. It’s no vacation if you can’t eat the food you want!  Sandals was fabulously vegan-friendly.

I’m please to report that we were completely thrilled with Sandals Antigua (and I haven’t been compensated in any way for this review).  Here are Our Top Ten favourite things about Sandals Antigua:

1)      The location: on Dickinson Bay, a half-mile stretch of pristine white beach on turquoise waters. (Check out the rainbow!)
Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (57)2)    The very best, and happiest, staff: I asked several staff why everyone there is so wonderful; is it the training from Sandals or are Antigua people on a whole just so darn wonderful?! I think it’s a mix of both – everyone we encountered in Antigua including the airport staff was warm and friendly, but the Sandals staff seemed truly happy to be of service to the guests. None of the wait staff looked at us like we had three heads when we asked if they had any vegan options; they would always happily say yes and bring the chef over to our table to plan a dish to our liking if there was nothing vegan on the regular menu. The top notch service started the moment we arrived: instead of waiting in line to check in at reception (the LAST thing you want to do when you’ve just arrived in paradise!), we were led to couches and tables where fancy appetizers and drinks were served, and the check-in staff came to US to check in, while our bags are brought to our room. Yup, we were spoiled rotten. (I didn’t take photos of the staff in case they were camera-shy).

3)      The FOOD! I’m pretty confident that Sandals would accommodate any dietary request at all, so everyone would be happy there. We enjoyed plenty of satisfying vegan food like hummus, tofu croquettes, beans, veggie burgers, smoothies and pasta. See more photos below.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (58)4)      The ease to get there: it’s a direct 5-ish hour flight from Toronto, and then just 20 minutes from the airport. Our travels were stress-free.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua from the plane5)      The perfect weather: not too humid, not too hot, not too cold. It really felt like paradise.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (4)6)     It’s a 5-star resort: marble bathrooms, luxurious linens, king-sized bed, entertainment, free water sports, and everything was always spotless.  We stayed in the Mediterranean Village, which is the 6-star accommodation at the resort. We never travel so fancy but the more modest rooms were already booked up. The Caribbean Grove side was also beautiful, just a little cuter and cozier. I’m sure you can’t go wrong with any of the rooms there.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua by Sarina (2)7)      The lack of insects. Yup, no mosquitoes or other pests, thanks to the daily fumigating of the entire resort. I am conflicted about the awesomeness of this because I imagine the fumigation was toxic and we tried to keep away from the sprayers when we saw them and the plumes of smoke coming…but did we ever enjoy skipping the mosquito bites on a tropical holiday! And this way you don’t have to use any toxic bug spray on your skin. (But if you do take a day trip into the jungle, I hear you need to prepare to experience lots of bugs).

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (79)They do have plenty of stray cats to keep you company though!  They might even join you  on a lounge chair at the beach.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (55)8)      The SPA! I had the most amazing blissful spa experience ever with Sarah in the Red Lane Spa. It’s the most beautiful spa I’ve ever seen and the products used are not tested on animals (same line used for the full-sized luxury toiletries in the hotel rooms). Spa services were extra but not terribly expensive.
February 2014 Sandals Antigua A (126)9)      The giant hot tubs. So even when it’s chilly in the mornings or the evenings, you can enjoy a soak, and they are big enough to stretch out on floating bed. February 2014 Sandals Antigua A (215)10)   The weekly beach party: music, dancing, and drinking from coconuts sliced open in front of you (with optional rum to add in).

???????????????????????????????Now for the food! Some of the great meals we enjoyed…

Breakfast at the buffet, overlooking the ocean: toast with peanut butter, sautéed spinach with walnuts, plantain, fresh fruit and vegetables and a melon-banana-oat smoothie.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals breakfast Lunches:

Pizza from the outdoor pizza oven: mushrooms, pesto and red peppers on the left; pears, red onion and walnuts on the right (pears on pizza, who knew they’d be so awesome?!)Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (13)

Deluxe salad from the buffet with chickpeas, mushrooms, roast potatoes, hearts of palm, balsamic vinaigrette with rice on the side.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (24)Lunch on the beach! Tofu croquettes with mango chutney and Asian slaw; crisp pita with roasted pepper hummus at Barefood By the Sea.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (35)Dinners:

Roast vegetables and quinoa cakes with a red pepper coulis: outstanding! This is a regular menu item, no special vegan request required.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (16)Our spectacular Teppanyaki dinner at Kimonos: corn and pea fritters, breaded tofu triangles and vegetables in a Teriyaki sauce.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (41)Salad, red pepper soup and fried tapioca cake appetizers at Eleanor’s. The cakes don’t look like anything special in the photo but they were totally outstanding and we asked for seconds.

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (51)There is also a vegan veggie burger with vegan fries at the Drunken Duck Pub and both were very good.  I didn’t get any good photos there due to the dimly lit restaurant.

There were no prepared desserts for vegans except for mango sorbet, which was just fine, and there was always plenty of fresh fruit. You can order fresh fruit smoothies all day as well, and tea and coffee can come with almond or soy milk. You can even get vegan hot chocolate from their Parisian themed cafe.Earthgiven Kitchen smoothie SandalsOther things to be aware of if you’re planning a trip to Sandals Antigua: all beaches are public and vendors are everywhere, who are not associated with Sandals. Most are sweet and will leave you in peace after a “no thank you” but some are a nuisance, especially the ones selling jet-ski rides. There was a sweet jewellery-maker on the beach named Hazel from whom I bought gorgeous turquoise necklace and earrings. There are many excursions you can buy, but we were happy to just enjoy the resort and the free water sports offered, like snorkeling. Everyone speaks English in Antigua and you can drink the tap water, making it an easy place to visit.

I highly recommend Sandals Antigua for anyone looking for an adults-only resort to relax in tropical luxury. We can’t wait to return one day….

Earthgiven Kitchen Sandals Antigua (2)One last note friends: I’ve finally joined Instagram! Join me here:
instagram sarina_jw