"I was wrong about all-inclusives..."Barbados Review
Check out fashion blogger, Emily Johnston’s, experience of her luxurious stay at the all-inclusive Sandals Barbados…
So, I hate admitting when I'm wrong. I pretty much hate it more than anything else in this world. When a friend or family member attempts to argue any topic with me, I'll work until I'm blue in the face to prove my point of view to be the correct one. But, on the rare occasion that I'm wrong (we all know it isn't that rare, really), I will hold my hands up and declare it so. Today, on the 18th of October, 2017, I hold both my hands in the air and shout, "I was wrong about all-inclusives." It took exactly 7 hours, four Pina Coladas and a mouthful of sushi to come to this conclusion, after arriving at Sandals Barbados, a couples only all-inclusive resort. The rest, as they say, is history. Only, I feel like today I'm on a mission to share the full experience of being a member of the all-inclusive luxury community and the myth busters we came across while in residence.
Let me start from the very beginning. The story starts on a cold and grey day in London Town. I'm sitting at my desk and I receive an email from a lovely young lady asking me if I'd like to spend a week in Barbados. I look out the window, take a moment to breathe in the chilly air and the rain that's coming in so hard it's hitting people from every direction, and it takes me exactly 30 seconds to draft an email reply. "When do you need me there?" Of course, after sending the email there was a moment's pause. I've never been to a Sandals before. In fact, I've never done the all-inclusive thing at all. While I'm excited, I'm also nervous. I've heard rumours about all-inclusives and my mind goes into overdrive. Will this be a luxury experience or more of a Holiday Inn vibe? I truly have no clue at all. So here's what I decided to do. I was going into the whole experience thinking, "I'm lucky as all get out to be going to Barbados at all. Worst case scenario plays out with me enjoying myself, my frozen drinks and the sand in my toes." Nothing can take away from that picture. Only, ladies and gents, I was so wrong about needing to prepare myself for the worst. And I'll apologise in advance as I'm pretty sure I'm going to say this a few dozen times throughout the course of this little ditty. But, we had one of the best holidays we've had in a long while.
Checking into Sandals Barbados is like checking into a rehab centre for your soul and for your relationship's health- honestly! Upon arrival we were led into the Sandals Club where we were told that one of our three butlers would be greeting us shortly and taking us up to the room for an introduction to the space and services on offer throughout the week. We were also handed a mobile phone that would stay with us throughout our stay and act as a direct dial to any one of the butlers. It could be used to request a daiquiri or it could be used to schedule scuba diving, and just about everything in between. While the phone was a nice touch, we only used it a handful of times over the course of the seven days. That's the thing about having three butlers -they get to know you pretty quickly and tend to know what you need before you yourself know it. Oh, how I wish I could take such services back to London with me. Life would be so much easier.
But, before we go further with the butlers and their service throughout the week, let's talk accommodation. Now, we didn't get to see too many of the other rooms on offer, so sadly I can only speak of our room. But, I have it on good authority that every room comes with its charms, whether it's an ocean view or a room that has a swim up patio. You pretty much can't go wrong here. Our room was a corner suite. We had a king sized bed and I have to tell you I haven't slept so well in years (although that could have also been the rum's assistance... in full disclosure). The bedroom led into the bathroom, which had a bathtub big enough for three or four people to hop in. Through the bathroom and down a short hallway, we also had a living room with a veranda that overlooked the lagoon pool. The patio also had a bath. This one was built for two and all week I referred to it as the "stargazer tub" as it had a killer view of the stars at night. The room was spacious, comfortable and also came with a killer bar, which surprised me. So, this is a nice lead in to talking about the food...
The bar in the room was epic and I was surprised by this because of the fact that literally everywhere we went there was a barman or butler taking drink orders. It seemed almost ridiculous to make your own drink at your room bar when you had a cocktail master just a few steps away. The same could be said for the in-room menu. We had the Butlers Elite menu for in room dining and it was a pretty stellar selection. Only we had to laugh as it seemed we were eating all day when out and about. Sandals Barbados has 11 restaurants and 7 bars ready to welcome you to eating and drinking heaven. It seems regular visitors were well prepared for the excessive eating and drinking. We were rather cluelessly stumbling along, wondering how on earth our stomachs could continue to fit in so much. Mr. FFG and I were also quite different in our preferences. Over the course of the week we ate in all 11 eateries and had a drink from each of the 7 bars. Mr. FFG absolutely fell in love with the Indian restaurant, claiming it was actually better than a few of his London favourites (this is epic... he's a massive fan of Indian food). I sided with their sushi restaurant, which truly did knock my socks off. After a few Saki bombs I was telling the sushi chef he should really look into asking Nobu London for a job. But then again I thought, I want him to be here for me in Barbados forever, in a place where I don't get a £400 bill at the end of the night. And yes, one night we had so much sushi that I'm sure it would have racked up to this total had it been a night out in London. That's the great thing, again, about an all inclusive - no surprises with enormous bills at the end of the week. It was even suggested to us that we eat our appetizers in one restaurant and main in another. That's how open they are to the eating situation.
Ok so we've covered food - it's all delicious, every single bite. We've covered staff - some of the nicest I've come across in my travels. Now, let's talk guests. I feel like there's a big question mark in the sky about the "people" that book all-inclusives. I've heard these people being called lazy, lacking imagination or just plain boring when it comes to holiday planning. My goodness, I just can't imagine using any of those words to describe the people we met. And we met a lot of people. Whatever pool we were floating in, whatever ocean lounger was our bed for the day, there were people who were all too happy to strike up a conversation about you and your stay. And everyone was so nice and the age range was even and varied. We chatted to everyone from honeymooners aged 25 to couples celebrating anniversaries at 65. We shared drinks, offered up restaurant recommendations to newbies and talked about other Sandals resorts visited. This is where things got really interesting. There seemed to be only two categories of visitors while we were there. We were either meeting people who were there for their first visit, or there on their tenth. Seems once you get on the Sandals holiday train, it's tough to disembark. This is a holiday that really gives you a break. You don't need to think about anything at all, and that's exactly what we needed.
I was wrong. I was wrong about every single thing I had heard about or thought about all inclusive resorts. And Sandals, you guys totally blew my mind in the services that you offered, the staff that were on hand and the quality of people that were also in residence enjoying the same experience.
So I'll just say this and be done with it. If you are looking for a holiday that really feels as if you are taking a break from the grind, I can't recommend this highly enough. We came back refreshed, renewed and ready to work. I also came back being able to fit into only one pair of trousers I had brought out, but it was well worth it. I'm writing this as I walk on a treadmill. It may take a few weeks to recover, but I'm still dreaming of my first taste of a Miami Vice (half Pina Colada and half strawberry daiquiri - best thing ever).
Take a look at Emily’s photo gallery from her trip here.
The original post appeared on Emily’s blog, Fashion Fois Gras.