Friday, December 9, 2016

Thanksgiving Week in Grenada

We originally booked our Thanksgiving Week vacation at Sandals Emerald Bay in Exumas, Bahamas. Hurricane Matthew changed those plans when the Bahamas (especially the Out Islands) got hit pretty hard. The resort received enough damage to close for a few months. Rather than leave guests stranded, Sandals gave us the option to choose another Sandals resort, cancel the booking, or honor quoted prices into 2017. We chose the option of switching to another Sandals resort on the island of Grenada (new country for us). Problem was our flights were booked to Exuma. Sandals paid the difference to change our flights - the cost of the incremental airfare and change fees. Six weeks out this was not cheap. Going this extra mile shows how committed the brand is to their guests.

We flew to Miami the night before with no incident. We were not so lucky the next day. After boarding we were informed that they were moving our flight crew to another flight where the crew had expired. But, they replaced our crew with an expired crew (which sounds fishy - what computer allows that to happen). So we had to wait for another replacement crew, and they were arriving at their gate "any minute" (we were tracking that flight and they were nowhere near a gate). Eventually we left over 3 hours late and ended up at our resort at midnight. We ordered room service burgers, waited for our luggage to be delivered and went to bed. Bah!

The resort: Sandals LaSource was once an independent resort. Sandals purchased the property a few years ago and performed a major expansion. Some of the higher end rooms have their own infinity pools on the balconies. We did not have one of those. However our room was nice: king bed, 2 large tvs, sectional sofa, large bathroom, balcony with ocean view, and a bathtub on the balcony. Our room included a stocked bar and butler service (more on butlers later).

The beach was not the best we have seen, and we were slightly disappointed. The Emerald Bay beach is quite large and gorgeous. The break wall and dock here limited our field of view. Much of the property was crammed in and consisted of a lot of walkways and concrete - very few grassy areas.

Amenities were still nice and the gardening crew did a fantastic job on the plantings. The resort offered many different restaurants with set themes - French, Caribbean, NY Steakhouse, Japanese, etc. We also had a French pastry "shop" (it's all-inclusive) and a gourmet hot dog cart for lunch. The dinners were some of the best we have had at Sandals properties.

We've had butler service with Sandals a few times since some of the resorts we visited were 100% butler. We finally learned how to get the most of this service. Before our trip Sandals asked us to fill out a preference form for our butler - in-room bar liquor ,dinning options, etc. We indicated our beverage choices and stated what restaurants we wanted to dine in with the times. On arrival our fridge and bar was stocked and all our dining selections were booked at the right times. Awesome. The butlers will reserve your beach/pool chairs and give you a cooler with water and other beverages. Our other beverage was beer. Once empty they would be restocked. Nice. They booked our excursions for us so we never had to leave our chairs. They'd check on us during the day and if we needed anything we could call them on the cell phone they gave us.

We loved sitting by the fire at night surrounded by the pool

Even though we did an excursion and two boat trips our favorite activity was feeding the fish. Day one about twenty of them approached us in the water. They had no fear and would take nibbles on your outstretched fingers. These fish were trained. Everyday after that we came out with bread and watched the show. It was great from the float rings - we'd watch them all swarm while sitting in comfort.

Excursions: Our first trip out was the 3pm glass bottom boat tour. The ride took us along the coast and into St. George's Harbor (the largest town and capital). We got a great view of the fort, churches, and colonial buildings.

Our other boat ride was a sunset catamaran cruise. We took vans to the harbor and boarded a nice cat. The crew did a great job making sure we always had drinks. We sailed very slowly towards the resort and the setting sun before arriving back dockside in the dark. It was a pleasant evening event and no one was out of hand.


Our "big" excursion was the 1/2 day Adventure Jeep / River Rafting tour. We were picked up in a pickup truck/jeep that had some roll bars to keep us in. We were encouraged to stand the whole way as our guide pointed out local sites, plants, and told us about island life. It was apparent that we were going well into the interior and gaining altitude. We probably rode for 90 minutes up the eastern coast before reaching our first destination: Clabony Sulphur Springs. We took a short hike through the rainforest to find a dirty pool of water. It was a natural toxin releaser (so he said) and we got in. Fortunately we did not stay in long.

Our next stop was river tubing. Our guides outfitted us with helmets and life vests. We hit several areas of "rapids" and it became apparent why we had helmets - rocks everywhere. The scenery was terrific and the entire group had a great time. We were served some rum punch at the end of the trip.

We drove back towards the resort via the Grand Etang National Park. We stopped for refreshments - local beer and chocolate.

The US military extracted US medical students in the eighties as the government was in turmoil

The Grenadians were very friendly and a pleasure to talk to. We had a nice week on-property and during our excursions. We feel like we got a good overall impression of the island and would recommend it as a destination for those looking to go beyond the more-touristed islands.


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