the luxe life Clients will find plenty of ways to luxuriate at Sandals: laying by its two pools, the active one with the music and swim-up bar and the “quiet” pool surrounded with cabanas; dining on Italian cuisine at Il Cielo, or on local seafood dishes with your feet in the sand at Barefoot by the Sea; or enjoying a glass of wine on their balconies. But the most pampering aspect of vacationing here is the butler service. At check-in, butlers provide each guest with a cell phone they can use to call them and request just about anything—spa appointments, dinner reservations, even a cooler of drinks to accompany them to the pool. And it’s not just for requests. If a customer has a question about how much something costs, what tours are available, or where exactly something is on property, butlers are happy to assist, and clients have a direct line to them all day long.
Even Sandals’ most casual establishment, the Drunken Duck Pub, has an elegance to it. Recreating the look and feel of an authentic Irish pub, the bar and restaurant is decorated in stained glass and dark wood; if not for the Kalik beer on tap behind the bar, you’d think you’d stepped across the Atlantic. Next door, a games room gives clients the chance to try their hand at darts, snooker and pool.
explore the exumas There’s no place like the Exumas, a destination where the concept of stress practically doesn’t exist. Where else can you ride out into the ocean to discover a 2-mile-long sandbar in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by warm turquoise water and peppered with sand dollars and colorful, unbroken shells? And that’s just the beginning of the journey clients take on the 007 Thunderball tour, which ranks as one of the best tours we’ve yet encountered in the Caribbean. After sinking their feet into the powdery white sand of the sandbar, it’s off to the next adventure: snorkeling inside Thunderball Grotto, a cave that was once used as a film site for the Bond film “Thunderball.” It’s exciting to visit an iconic film site, but even more exciting to swim through narrow corridors and through underwater doorways to witness schools of colorful tropical fish. Just a few more links down the chain of Exuma Cays, wild pigs swim out into the ocean to greet the boat in exchange for a few bites of bread. Clients can jump in the water for a unique photo opportunity before heading to lunch at Royal Plantation, another upscale resort on its own private island, dotted with villas and serving up rum punches at the bar. Stops to swim with nurse sharks and to soak up the last of the sun on a beach fronting a palm forest round out the experience.
The tour takes a full day, from 8 a.m. until about 5 p.m., and costs $395 pp—more expensive than most Caribbean tours, but it’s time and money well-spent for a series of unforgettable, unique and picturesque experiences.
Rates at Sandals Emerald Bay start at $300 pp per night for a 7-night stay.