*Effective 4/2/2022 there is no requirement for pre-test travel or quarantine for fully vaccinated travelers. Unvaccinated travelers aged 5 years and older must have a valid negative Standard COVID-19 PCR test done within 5 days prior to arrival.
Last week, I had the privilege to spend four glorious days in St. Lucia at Sandals Grande St. Lucian as part of a travel agent training. St. Lucia is an island nation located in the E Caribbean. The country is famed for its tropical weather, gorgeous beaches, reef diving sites, scenic fishing villages, and twin volcanic peaks – the Grand Pitons. The travel days were long but so worth it.
Though it requires a bit of research and effort, it is possible to travel safely and responsibly during COVID. I highly recommend using a trusted travel advisor like myself to guide you through the process.
When St. Lucia reopened its borders in July, several measures were implemented to reduce risk, while welcoming visitors and returning residents, including:
- Negative COVID test required within 7 days of travel
- Travel approval
I assist my clients by keeping them up to date on destination protocols and advising them on the necessary paperwork involved.
Flying During COVID
The major takeaways here are that in-flight service looks dramatically different. Upon boarding, you receive a single-use sanitizing wipe to disinfect your immediate area. Once the airplane reaches cruising altitude, passengers receive a Ziploc bag with snacks and water.
Masks are required and enforced for the duration of the flight, except when eating. Please keep this in mind if wearing a mask presents a challenge for you.
I flew with Delta, which is still blocking middle seats through January 2021. (Delta later announced it would continue to block middle seats through March 2021.) As none of my flights seemed to exceed 70% capacity, I was lucky enough to have the entire row to myself on three of four legs. I may have done a little happy dance!
Cabin air filters are hospital grade and the air is recirculated every two minutes. Immediately following deplaning, crews board with fogging machines to thoroughly sanitize high touch areas. I legit got Ghost Busters vibes observing this on the ground in St Lucia.
Sandals Grande St. Lucian
Sandals is an all-inclusive, luxury brand specializing in romance travel. The hotel chain has locations throughout the Caribbean, including three in St. Lucia: Sandals Grande St. Lucian, Sandals Regency La Toc, and Sandals Halcyon. (The latter has not yet reopened.)
One of the first things I noticed when I arrived at the resort is the indoor/outdoor design concept. From the lobby to the hallways, and several dining venues, you were enveloped by sea breezes. Though masks are required on the property, they are only mandatory in enclosed spaces. You could very easily walk from your room to the pool, beach, or select dining venues without ever putting on a mask.
Currently, resort capacity is at approximately 65%. At any time of the day or night pool chairs and beach chaises were readily available, dining reservations were easily made, and there never seemed to be a bottleneck of people.
Caribbean Honeymoon Beach View Penthouse Club Level Room
I had the pleasure of staying in a Caribbean Honeymoon Beach View Penthouse Club Level Room. The room’s features include a private balcony with a spectacular view, a four-poster king-size mahogany bed, a stocked mini bar, plush robes, and complimentary room service between 7am – 10pm. It. Was. Divine. Club Sandals was available to assist me with whatever I needed, from dining reservations to securing duct tape when my hard shell suitcase was damaged on arrival.
Over-the-Water Honeymoon Butler Bungalow
I fell head-over-heels in love with the over-the-water bungalows. The accommodations allow for a unique, immersive experience. Glass floor panels with underwater lights provide under-the-sea views at any given time. Each bungalow features a private outdoor Tranquility Soaking Tub for two, an over-water hammock, hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings, a crafted king-size bed, indoor and outdoor showers, extended sun deck, and sun loungers. Guests in over-the-water bungalows receive Butler Elite service and 24-hour room service.
Grande Rondoval Butler Suite with Private Pool Sanctuary
The other room category I inspected is the Grande Rondoval Butler Suite with Private Pool Sanctuary. To me, these are equally lovely but more private. The stunning circular suites provide a secluded, tranquil hideaway. The open floor plan highlights a king-size bed at the center. On the perimeter are a living room, a spa-style bathroom. The private verandah features a plunge pool, outdoor grotto shower, whirlpool, and hammock. The rondovals are designed for the ultimate in privacy and romance. Guests in the rondovals receive Butler Elite service and 24-hour room service.
How do you choose, right?!
Ah, so many wonderful options. Where do I begin…
Breakfast at Toscaninis, the Five-Star Diamond Award-winning Italian cuisine restaurant, is my personal favorite. Their steak & eggs (sans eggs for me) was cooked to perfection. Bayside Restaurant serves continental fare and has an omelet station. It was OK. Of course, Room Service is ideal for lazy mornings, and my private balcony was the perfect place to enjoy it! If a sweet breakfast is for you, then Josephine’s Gourmet Creperie is a must visit.
The lunch menu at Bayside is much more to my liking. I loved the fish escovitch! The jerk chicken at the Jerk Shack was phenomenal! I could not get enough!! On my excursion day, the resort prepared a box lunch of sandwiches, pastries, and fruit. I wish they’d sent jerk chicken. Ha!
At a tasting, the agents got to sample sushi from Soy, and spring rolls and samosas from Bombay. Everything was delish! Barefoot by the Sea was a nice casual option steps from the beach. I could hear the waves crash with every bite. Their surf & turf was splendid, as was the pumpkin cheesecake. Again, Toscaninis shined. The seafood risotto was amazing, as was the shrimp scampi. I’m not a big white chocolate fan, but I really wanted to try the Semifreddo Al Cioccolato Bianco, and am so glad I did.
Gordon’s Pier Restaurant is Sandals Grande St. Lucian’s signature dining restaurant and is described as elegant pier dining featuring white glove service. I had high expectations and it did not disappoint. This is a must visit!!
As part of its Luxury Included service, guests can enjoy everything from PADI-certified scuba diving and non-motorized water sports to golf and tennis. Certain nights have themes, e.g. Friday night is white night. Many of the younger couples took advantage of this. Sans the DH, I enjoyed more of this:
Select excursions are available to book through COVID-certified providers. More on that in my next post!
Getting Married at Sandals
Whether you’re getting married or interested in a vow renewal, picture yourself walking down the aisle of this beautiful little white chapel.
I would love the opportunity to be a small part of your forever story.
Part of the charm of Sandals Grande St. Lucian is the lush surroundings. Every square inch was immaculate! In the early mornings, you’d see staff members pressure washing sidewalks, combing the sand, and preparing the chapel for ceremonies. All throughout the day, the grounds crew attended to plantings. But at night is when the grounds really came alive. I loved taking evening strolls just to listen to the crickets and tadpoles sing.
Just before the trip, the DH saw me looking at the massage offerings online. To my surprise, he booked one for me as a surprise. (He’s a keeper, y’all!) While my hot stone massage was thoroughly enjoyable, here are a few things to note:
- Both the masseuse and myself were required to keep our masks on. I was allowed to pull it down once I was on my belly.
- The masseuse wore thin, latex gloves. Initially, I noticed the sound they made with every movement, but after a few minutes, it was long forgotten.
- The plunge pool and steam room in the spa are closed because of COVID. The resort is using this time to renovate these areas.
That said, none of these things took away from the experience, and I wouldn’t hesitate to book another service.
Sandals Platinum Protocol of Cleanliness
Rest assured that the resort is doing everything possible to enhance guest safety. The new Platinum Protocol of Cleanliness includes:
- Certified Sandals sanitized guest rooms
- Triple-Check Guarantee
- Restaurants and bars feature adjusted layouts to increase social distancing
- Pristine pool and beach areas
- Increased protocols in the Red Lane Spa & Fitness Centers
- Team Member Promise to wear face masks at all times and carry out necessary precautions when assisting guests
Sandals Grande St. Lucian was a gracious host. I felt perfectly safe during my stay and am looking forward to visiting again…with the DH.
As a full-service travel agent, I would love to be of assistance to you. I am passionate about what I do and pour that energy into crafting perfectly planned itineraries for you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.