Choosing Sandals Halcyon Beach in St Lucia For A Week
We were heading back to St Lucia for a week. We had spent a day in St Lucia on our 26 day Caribbean cruise. On that visit, we had a great jeep tour of the island and spent some time in the north end at Rodney Bay snorkelling.
This trip we would celebrate our wedding anniversary at Sandals Halcyon Beach. Hoping to scuba dive during our vacation, we even hauled our dive gear with us. St Lucia for a week was wonderful and then a major departure screw up cast a taint over the whole week!
We considered many of the Caribbean islands for our week at Sandals. Our week at Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma had us looking forward to another great week. It would have been nice to try Grenada since we had liked Grenada on our Caribbean cruise, but flights were very expensive in the summer from Canada. We finally found the right combination in St Lucia – 3 resorts that you could enjoy, direct flights at a reasonable price from Toronto and a variety of accommodations available around our anniversary date.
Concierge Level Was Worth It!
Recognizing that we really are not butler people, we chose not to book another butler suite on this trip but did upgrade to Concierge Level at Club Sandals. As we had found with our luxury travel in SE Asia, Concierge service often made the whole difference. And we were so happy with this decision!
From the moment we arrived at the resort and were whisked into the Concierge Lounge, until the minute we left the resort, the Concierge staff went out of their way to be our aides and ambassadors while we were in St Lucia for a week. Zanius gave us a quick briefing when we arrived and got us settled into our room. When our luggage was late in arriving, he personally ran around the resort to locate and deliver it. He made sure our room was stocked exactly as we wanted it. We were always greeted with smiles and offers of help whenever we went to the Concierge Lounge. When we needed something, we had only to ask and they would take care of it or ensure the message was passed to the right place. This is what makes customer service excellence!
Service With A Smile
The customer service attitude was reflected in virtually all of the staff we met at Sandals Halcyon Beach. We were continually pleased during our stay – whether it was ordering a special t-shirt from another resort, making a special design on my morning coffee or responding in Italian with a smile and teasing when we ate in the Italian restaurant. The list of people we wanted to recognize was long and we made sure to let Sandals know it.
Our room was located at the back of the resort in a quiet location – just as we had asked for. The room was spacious and even had that bathtub I crave for a luxury touch. The in-room fridge was stocked just with the drinks we wanted and our extra water arrived every day. The patio outside the room didn’t have much of a view but there were plenty of places to get that perfect sea view while in St Lucia for a week. And when we brought back our scuba gear, the patio was a great place for it to hang dry!
Travelling In Rainy Season
I hadn’t really known it was rainy season when we booked to go to St Lucia for a week in July. We travel to Bahamas in July on a regular basis and have never once seen a rainy season. Our first touch of rain hit us just as we cleared the tarmac after walking down the outside stairs from the plane. We would remember to put our umbrella in our carry on bag for the return flight.
The rain showed up several times a day during the week we visited St Lucia. The first rain would often hit in the morning and if we waited it out, we could get to breakfast without an umbrella. While it rained sometimes during the day, we could almost set a clock by the rain at dinner time. Many times we were carrying umbrellas and dodging puddles as we headed to eat. The rain was generally light and we were able to move around or even stay in the pool when it fell. But at least once per day we got blinding torrents that kept everyone in place until it passed.
The rain did tend to put a damper on how much we wanted to plan in advance when in St Lucia for a week. We were concerned about booking a hike up the Piton Mountains only to end up doing it in pouring rain. We did get lucky when we booked two days of scuba diving. Both days were the best days we had for the week.
We were leery about booking tours in the rain, but still enjoyed the Halcyon Beach resort. We even ventured to both of the other Sandals resorts on St Lucia.
Enjoying the Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort
The Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort was our home base. Reviews said this was the quiet resort. It was smaller and more intimate yet offered everything that a luxury all-inclusive resort should. The property was well maintained and the beach was sandy and easy to swim.
There were water sports or off-site tours if you wanted a little adventure in your day.
We did a small taste test of the underwater life in St Lucia with a snorkelling trip with Club Sandals. It was a small group. We headed up the island, anchored and dove in. We were provided with a preview of what was to come when we went scuba diving. We could not wait!
We made sure to take advantage of the great scuba diving we found in St Lucia. It was so much better than we expected. We were so happy that we did not miss this!
There was local entertainment each night including the famous Sandals Chocolate Buffet night. David was a bit disappointed to not get the two Chocolate Buffet nights we got when visiting Sandals at Valentine’s.
Eating Our Way Through The Sandals Resorts
At the Halcyon resort there were options to eat at any time of the day. Breakfast started early in the morning in the buffet and was even open in time to eat before our early scuba diving pickup time. The beach bar opened through the day and then back again at 10:30pm to handle late night nibblers. In addition to an a la carte menu for dinner at the buffet restaurant, our resort had 3 specialty restaurants – Japanese (with a separate sushi bar), seafood on the pier and Italian at Mario’s. We tried them all and never failed to find a good meal while in St Lucia for a week.
Once we spent the day at the Sandals La Toc resort. We started our day with a great lunch and high view at the Italian restaurant (Armando’s). After enjoying the pool and a dip in the Caribbean sea, we enjoyed our reservation at the La Toc French Restaurant in candlelit romance.
Another night we took the Sandals shuttle to the Sandals Grande resort. Arriving before sunset we found a good spot on the beach to watch the sun go down behind the hills. A great dinner on the pier at Gordon’s finished up our night.
Starting and Finishing Up Our St Lucia Week Was Less Fun
The sad part of a one week vacation is that you lose pretty much all of the days you travel to and from your destination. With longer vacations, the travel days are much less of a percentage of your total vacation time. Airports, transit and waiting time kill your travel days.
We arrived at the St Lucia airport as the last of 2 or 3 other flights that all seemed to come in together. The line for International visitors snaked through 7 turns and moved at a snails pace.
It was the worst Caribbean island entry I have ever experienced. Even with the delay, our bags were not there when we hit the baggage hall. With our bags finally in hand, we knew to pass on the pushy porters since the Sandals lounge was mere steps from the baggage hall. While we travel with too much baggage, we are always sure we can manage the bags on our own.
It was a short wait in the lounge before our shuttle arrived for the 90 minute ride to the resort. If you get queasy on steep, narrow, twisty mountain roads this won’t be the trip for you. But several people made sure to stop up on roadside beer before we got too far into our 90 minute drive. Hitting Castries at rush hour slowed us down when all we wanted was to get to the resort.
We were pleasantly surprised when we left Sandals in a private car rather than a shuttle bus. With a 90 minute transit from the north end of the island to the airport at the south end, it was a great way to finish off our week of great service.
Arriving at the airport to a very long checkin line, we should have known there was a problem. The line barely moved. My grumbling must have caught the attention of the woman ahead of us who promptly told us that the flight had been cancelled.
Quickly logging into the airport wifi I found the email time stamped just as we arrived at the airport. This email didn’t not acknowledge the extreme problem that a full day delay would cause but simply asked us to accept the flight for the next day. Did we have a choice? When we ultimately checked on the problem, we found that the airline knew there were issues with the flight before we even left Sandals. Surely an earlier notice might have let us try to resolve the situation from the comfort of the Concierge Lounge?
It was a reminder that you should always check on your flight status before you leave your resort. Don’t assume that the hotel or transportation service will have done it. And don’t assume your airline will actually contact you in a timely manner. While you could check on the airline website or app, we prefer to check on the Flight Aware app. Had we done that, we would have seen our flight delay and in fact would have seen that the plane was returning to Toronto!
Staying An Extra Day in St Lucia
We were lucky to have great staff at the Sandals airport lounge help us sort out the problem. They checked on our options before we finally hit the front of the line. We were very disappointed to find that we could not go back to Sandals.
We were dismayed to find that they were shipping us like cattle back to the far end of the island again. Even though the transportation voucher said “any taxi”, it was clear that the taxi service on St Lucia was going to ensure we went the way they wanted us to. The taxi van was packed with passengers and luggage. On our return to the airport the next day, they insisted on picking us up almost 6 hours before our flight.
Our new accommodations for the night would leave much to be desired. You know you have stepped down from Sandals class when the view from your room is a wall with broken glass on the top.
We finally did get a flight home the next day after having lost two days of travel time. Our great week in St Lucia was tarnished by two days of major aggravation. But then, maybe we were luckier to have been stuck in St Lucia than the people still in Toronto missing a day of their vacation! The airline did address the issue with an airline credit but the money could not erase the tarnish.
We Will Remember The Better Days in St Lucia
The flight out provided us with our last view of St Lucia. That is what we wanted to remember of St Lucia.
As we sorted our pictures, it brought back us back to a happier time of being in St Lucia for a week. We were back at home and each picture was another memory. I probably could have done without some of the 4,000 memories in David’s pictures. But once we sorted them down we would have enough to fill this blog and share with our friends.
It had been hot in St Lucia. It was hot in Toronto when we returned. And we would be heading south to Bahamas in a few weeks. You might say we liked it hot!
Have you visited St Lucia for a week? Did you go in rainy season? What was your favourite thing to do that should be on any return visit list? If you stayed at Sandals in St Lucia, what was your favourite resort?