Can it be possible that the tender, buttery escargots at Sandals LaSource’s Le Jardinier restaurant were better than those I’ve eaten at the home of a chef in Bordeaux? In the mountains of Andorra? Improbable, but at the risk of losing credibility with you, dear reader, I have to tell you, these escargots were the best I’ve ever eaten. And just think, Le Jardinier is not even this Sandals’ signature restaurant.
When Sandals’ chairman Butch Stewart, and CEO Adam Stewart, cut the ribbon for their newest property on April 29, they declared that their goal had been to create a more luxurious experience than they’d done at any previous Sandals resort. They’ve succeeded, too: This 225-room complex on the former 17-acre LaSource resort is, in many ways, a new phenomenon.
“I have been to Sandals LaSource twice since it opened, and I was even more impressed the second time,” says Sarah Kline, president of Time for Travel, Ltd. And why is that? “It’s sexy! From the moment you step into the open-air lobby—or living room, as they call it—you see comfy couches, swings, dark woods, and lighting that give this resort a more modern sexy feel than any other Sandals.”
Of course, the living room is hardly the only setting for lounging around. There are bars and pool decks (each with a different vibe), the beach, daybeds, a lazy river, evening bonfire circles, outdoor soaking tubs and/or plunge pools on room terraces, and a living room surrounded by a swimming pool.
20 room categories, simplified
In addition, “Sandals is famous for its room categories, and this resort has a room for everyone,” says Kline. “Just counting the butler suites, there’s a wide range of options,” adds Terri Flood, owner, Escapes Unlimited. But how can agents easily sort out 20 room categories? Here’s the key:
- Pink Gin Village, one of three villages in the Sandals makeover, occupies the site of the original LaSource buildings. Its rooms are not the most opulent of the resort’s options, but they’re positioned right on, or almost on, the beach. Off-season rates start at $335 pp, with air credits up to $355; steer clients who want beachfront to the Pink Gin Beachfront Walkout Club Level Room with Tranquility Soaking Tub (from $435), or the Beachfront Honeymoon Club Level Suite (from $463). Sure, passersby might be able to see your clients relaxing in their terrace tub, but remember the wisdom of Oscar Wilde: Living well is the best revenge.
- The new, 5-story Italian Village offers especially elegant accommodations with, as Kline puts it, “some of the most impressive views in the Caribbean” as well as several room categories with plunge pools. “I love the modern design and clean lines of these and the other guest units,” adds Flood. Rates start at $513 pp, but we encourage clients to consider the Italian Swim-up Bi-level 1 Bedroom Butler Suite, which has both a soaking tub and access to a long, infinity pool (from $544). Or a top-of-the-world Italian Oceanview 1 Bedroom Skypool Butler Suite with Veranda Tranquility Soaking Tub (from $732). The butlers are trained by the British Guild of Butlers, and they lend your clients a cellphone with which they can summon their assistance for anything short of stock tips.
- The South Seas Village rocks by day but goes quiet after dark, as it should, because South Seas has some of the resort’s most romantic rooms. Off-season rates range from $329 to $713 forHoneymoon, Millionaire, and Rondoval suites. All have plunge pools as well as designer tubs, and the Honeymoon and circular Rondoval categories offer private gardens.
the dinner bell
The nine onsite restaurants range from sushi to seafood (cooked) to steaks. Here are four things that struck this hungry reviewer:
- Butch’s Chophouse is the first-ever steakhouse at a Sandals. Make sure clients reserve dinner there, and expect to see the Chophouse soon at other Sandals.
- It’s not just the escargots at Le Jardinier…the scallops, the rack of lamb, the tarte with sabayon sauce—everything is sublime.
- Neptune’s, the only restaurant that’s actually on the beach, specializes in seafood, but it also serves a jerk chicken that will convince the pickiest connoisseur of authentic Caribbean cuisine.
- The pastries, ice creams, and coffee at Cafe de Paris rival goodies I’ve eaten in Greenwich Village.
What do guests do when they’re not eating or sleeping? Part of the answer to that is unprintable in an R-rated publication, but we can say this: The watersports, fitness center, Red Lane spa, fitness classes (there’s a lovely outdoor yoga platform, among other amenities), entertainment, and excellent Island Routes excursions (for these, as with spa treatments, extra charges apply) are overseen by staffers who are friendly and welcoming, and there are so many of these diversions that even honeymooners might almost forget the business at hand. Almost.
“Agents are the engines of our business,” Butch Stewart said to me one day, and Sandals’ encyclopedic program of specialist courses, bonuses, co-branding capability, agents-only room rates, and other incentives proves that he and Adam are serious about that.
what travel agents are saying…
“This property takes the traditional Sandals product to the 21st century, offering things that Sandals had never done before. They have raised the bar on luxury.”
—Terri Flood, Owner, Escapes Unlimited
Sandals Resorts: (800) 487-7324; sandals.com or taportal.sandals.com