When going to Sandals Resorts, we have taken excursions with Sandals and outside of Sandals.
When deciding whether to book an excursion with Sandals or through an external provider, there are several factors to consider, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a breakdown to help you make an informed decision:
Booking Your Excursions with Sandals
- Convenience: Booking directly through Sandals is straightforward and can be done either before your trip or at the resort. When you arrive at a Sandals Resort all you have to do is go to the Island Routes desk and sign up for the excursions you want.
Additionally, all of the cost is added to your bill so you do not have to worry about paying until it is over.
- Trust and Safety: Sandals excursions are vetted for safety and reliability, offering peace of mind, especially in unfamiliar destinations.
Additionally, the vendors that take you on the Sandals excursions want to maintain good standing with Sandals and seem to treat you better and make sure you have a great experience.
- Support: If something goes wrong or plans change due to weather, Sandals will handle the adjustments or refunds, providing a layer of customer service and support.
- Cost: Excursions booked through the resort may be more expensive than those booked directly with local operators due to markup for convenience and commission.
- Limited Options: The variety of excursions offered by Sandals might be limited compared to the full range available in the area, potentially missing out on unique experiences.
Booking Outside Sandals
- Cost Savings: Booking directly with local operators can be cheaper, as there’s no middle-man markup.
- Variety: You may find a wider range of options, additional availability and unique experiences not offered through the resort.
- Local Impact: Directly supporting local businesses can have a positive impact on the community making sure what you spend goes directly to local businesses.
- Research Required: You’ll need to do your vetting for reliability, safety, and quality, which can take time and effort.
- Logistical Coordination: When you book an excursion from an outside vendor, they may have trouble getting into the Sandals Resort to pick you up.
- Risk: There’s a higher risk of miscommunication, cancellations, or no-shows without the backing of a reputable resort brand.
Making the Decision
- Consider Reviews: Look at reviews for both Sandals’ excursions and external options. Sites like TripAdvisor can be valuable for comparing experiences.
- Assess Value: Beyond cost, consider what’s included (e.g., meals, transportation, guides) and the value of the convenience and support Sandals provides.
- Understand Policies: Familiarize yourself with cancellation policies and flexibility, especially if your plans might change.
- Safety First: Prioritize safety and reliability, especially in activities that involve a higher degree of risk.
Ultimately, the best choice depends on your priorities, comfort level with arranging your activities, and how much you value the convenience and support provided by booking directly through Sandals. Some travelers prefer the peace of mind and simplicity of going through the resort, while others enjoy the adventure and potential savings of finding their excursions.
Our Experiences With Outside Vendors
We decided to go with outside vendors when we visited Sandals in Jamaica, Antigua, and St Lucia.
When we went with Sandal we always had a great time and enjoyed our excursions. There was only one time with an outside vendor that we had a bad time. Here are some more details on our experiences.
Our Experience in Jamaica
When we were in Jamaica, we found Chukka with an online search. We booked a full-day excursion and were picked up by a driver at Sandals. Throughout the day we were taken to each activity but had to purchase lockers at several stops and forgotten about a few times.
When we booked with Sandals it was also an activity through Chukka. They allowed us to leave our things on the bus so we did not need lockers and we were never forgotten about or left waiting around. In the future, we will book through Sandals or even try out one other vendor that we have had recommended to us.
Our Experience in Antigua
When we went to Antigua we wanted to do a cooking class that was not available through Sandals. We booked a cooking class and had an amazing time. The only thing that was not great was our transportation was not about to get in the gate at Sandals since they did not have our room number.
Our Experience in Saint Lucia
In Saint Lucia, we knew the shuttle ride to the resort would give us motion sickness. When looking for alternative options we found there was a ferry option that you could not book through Sandals. We had an amazing time and everything went seamlessly.
On our way back to the airport we took the helicopter. Booking through Sandals was more expensive. Once again, the only difference we noticed was communication. We had to tell Sandals a few times what our plans were to make sure our luggage pickup would happen seamlessly, but other than that it was not a problem.