|Quoting OA260 (Reply 7):|
You cant go wrong with Sandals but my favourite is the St Lucia Grande. The food is great and the service is good. Alot of these All Inclusives can be touch and go but Sandals is consistant.
I disagree. If you are very "couple-y," then Sandal's is great. If you like to mix with people other than just couples, it might not be for you. It felt so strange seeing man-woman parties everywhere.. no families, no groups of friends, big or small. With just couples, I found the atmosphere unusual, and not particularly sociable. It depends what you are after. I became "turned-off" by the seemingly enforced "romance" that they try to create.
Sandals Antigua is nice, but it's by no means the best that Antigua has to offer. The beach there gets fairly crowded, and you'll get more hassle there than you would on other beaches on the island. Food and rooms were fine, but again, certainly not outstanding.
Antigua is a nice island though, but my preference was the Pineapple Beach Club. The beach is wonderful, there's a nice choice of restaurants and pools and a mix of people which meant the atmosphere was sociable without being raucous.
Riu hotels are generally fairly good. As mentioned, they offer the all-in minibar which is good, and they usually have a wide range of entertainment.
Looking back at the all-inclusives I've done over the years, the best yet was actually in the Dom Rep. Antigua, Mexico & Barbados were all nice, but I was able to afford a top room in a great hotel in Dom Rep, whereas the costs were higher in the other Caribbean islands. The other benefit of staying in the Dom Rep was that it actually felt very different from the other islands.... Spanish, not English... Salsa, not Reggae. It was different, and I liked it. If you like surfing, the North Coast of the Dom Rep (Puerto Plata airport) should suit you well. Plenty of good all-inclusives in the area, including Victoria Resort, Riu Mambo & Casa Colonial. There is a superb beach for surf called Playa Grande (Rio San Juan), about an hour from Puerto Plata. The beach is one of the best on the island, and is good for surf. There's also a great golf course if you are so - inclined. It's a quiet area, so make sure that you would be happy with that. We stayed at the Occidental Allegro Playa Grande which is on the golf course and has direct access to the beach.
(Taken on a calm day.. the surf can get pretty high!)
Without a doubt, one of the most relaxing, enjoyable holidays that I have ever had.
Good luck with your choice.
[Edited 2009-07-13 02:32:40]