My Honest Sandals Halcyon Beach Review (Pictures)

Today I’m writing the review I wish I would have read prior to booking our trip to Sandals Halcyon Beach. I won’t sugarcoat things or leave out any positives; There’s only so much room on TripAdvisor, so I’ll include photos throughout as well!

Many people love Sandals resorts and their marketing team is pretty top-notch. This was the first Sandals experience for me and my wife; if you’ve had a better Sandals experience at another resort let me know in the comments—I am by no means anti-Sandals despite this resort not living up to my expectations in certain areas.

In this review, I’ll share our experience staying at this resort for 5 days so you can make the best decision for your family–all photos are my own. Overall it was a really beautiful place to be!

Overall value

Sandals advertises Halcyon as a five-star resort on all the travel site aggregators. By United States hotel standards this is a 3-star hotel at best. I love staying at 4-star Westins in the U.S., and it was a notch below that.

Room service and room quality is comparable to a Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn, so just know that before you book here. St Lucia is a developing country which becomes pretty obvious as soon as you land and enter customs, I just wish the star rating of their hotels would reflect that.

I have heard Sandals Grande is the best Sandals resort on the island but can’t speak to the overall experience there.

Our rating: 5/10

Reception and departure experience

What we liked

The coastline on the drive in is beautiful, and you will be driven through Castries, pretty much the only city on the island. I wouldn’t venture out into St. Lucia via a rental car for safety reasons, so pick a large, highly rated resort you will feel comfortable at for the duration of your stay. There are a couple other than Sandals. We stayed at the Harbor Club by Hilton one night, and was very clean.

What we disliked

The airport is nearly 1.5 hours from Sandals Halcyon, the shuttle ride is pretty terrifying, to put it bluntly. Lots of curves and turns and drivers are pretty crazy. Take some nausea gum if you have a sensitive stomach!

Once we arrived, we were given a cold towel and escorted to the Sandals Club Lounge with other couples. We attended an orientation the next day that lasted 20 minutes that included being handed a few brochures and cards from vendors. A little weird compared to what I had envisioned, but uneventful.

Since we arrived early we were able to eat lunch on the property and explore a bit; this was nice since our room wasn’t ready until 3:00 pm.

Our rating: 5/10

Rooms

sandals halycon room

What we liked

Our room was clean, about what I expected after doing research. Anything less than club level I wouldn’t recommend, because free room service (although a bit disappointing) ensures you don’t have to leave your room at night for food if you don’t feel like it. The unlimited room service is nice even though the food wasn’t my favorite.

The large soaking tub was great for relaxing at night…just close the curtains and bring your laptop if you want to watch your favorite show. We had a great view of the ocean and captured some great sunsets and pictures.

Our rating: 7/10

What we disliked

There are no vending machines on the property for late-night snacking, so be sure to hit up the gift shop snack bar for Pringles, candy bars, and a larger variety of sodas you won’t find in your mini-fridge.

We also didn’t receive robes in our room as promised when booking online. A small detail, but details matter if you’re going to mention ‘robes’ on the website.

Entertainment

sandals halcyon pool

Sandals caters to the older crowd so I had low expectations for entertainment; it’s not the reason I booked here. Bob Marley/Raggae night was one night I believe; It seemed no one here really cared what music was playing or the entertainment in general.

A couple of pool tables and TVs at the pool bar and that’s about it most of the time. It was NCAA tournament time—something Sandals could have capitalized on by piping some games to make the atmosphere better. Random cricket and soccer games just didn’t do it for me.

Our rating: 2/10

Dining and food

sandals halcyon room service

I knew to expect a few corners would be cut with all-inclusive dining but was pretty disappointed with the food quality and experience. Everything tasted frozen and even had our chef joke about how our meat was fresh from the freezer.

There are only two restaurants that require reservations —Kelly’s Dockside and Kimonos; all others were open at pretty weird hours. Most were half-empty despite their strict reservation policy.

We ended up eating at the Beach Bistro about 5 times because it was the only non-buffet style option we could walk up to and eat at all day. We found no pizza, iced coffee, or chicken tenders either…something else you’d expect.

They had decent quesadillas, burgers, and a couple of other items, but no fancy fresh-fruit drinks. The closest to this was a strawberry daiquiri drink poured from a slushie machine, and I didn’t see any fresh fruit or ice cream the entire trip. No ice cream?!

After asking around we did find out they only have chocolate ice cream (I did have to ask), but it’s not what you’d expect. They also didn’t include anything like daiquiris, cakes, or ice cream on any menu we saw which was really strange.

I personally go to the tropics for fresh food and drinks, so to not see people walking around with fresh pineapple drinks or smoothies (yes, simple smoothies) was disheartening. A smoothie stand or menu by the pool should be a given at a place like this in my opinion.

One of the waiters joked by saying ice cream is a secret here, and to ask for it. Again, not what you want to hear at a place you’re paying $1,000/night to be at.

Our rating: 3/10

Beach

sandals halcyon beach candlelight dinner

What we liked

The candlelight dinner was the only part of the beach we enjoyed. It was $199, but the best moment of our trip. The food was better as well, I had a nice filet mignon. Surrounded by tiki torches, it was very romantic and as advertised.

What we disliked

The blue water you see in the pictures was not at all reality at the shoreline—not a dealbreaker for me though. The water is blue a few meters out. The beach wasn’t powdery white as you see in the ads, but a brown color and littered with some kind of seaweed.  I’m not very picky about this type of stuff, just an observation.

sandals halcyon beach

We’ve all seen the commercials of couples laying by a beautiful beach in uninterrupted peace. The reality was quite the opposite and the most annoying part of the trip. We constantly were approached by guys with clipboards who roamed the beach searching for tourists to pitch their excursion experiences to.

I was also approached several times by locals (we did buy some handmade bracelets from them though), who continued to prey on tourists the entire time and offered drugs on one occasion. After this beach experience on the first day there, we stayed by the pool and inside the resort.

There’s probably a quarter-mile of beach at Sandals Halcyon and they do have security guards for what it’s worth.

Our rating: 3/10

Resort experience

What we liked

The Sandals staff were generally very friendly for the most part. No tipping is allowed unless you have a butler; for this reason, asking for extra cake (or more than one of something) was met with annoyance occasionally. Most were really understanding though.

What we disliked

Sandals has a lot of people roaming the property: landscaping and maintenance, massage therapists, photographers, and promoters. They offered my wife a massage several times; it became very annoying and we learned to avoid roaming certain parts of the resort because we knew we would be approached and pitched something.

Unless you walk anywhere in a hurry, you will be offered messages, ‘free’ photo sessions (though to take photos home requires purchasing a package), and excursions by tour companies. Vacation is supposed to be relaxing, this made it less relaxing.

We left our room with a purpose: to get to our favorite cabana, a restaurant, or the gift shop…because we didn’t want to get stopped and sold to by the same people we rejected earlier.

Our rating: 5/10

Overall takeaway and advice for traveling to St. Lucia

The room we stayed in was a decent $200/night room, in my opinion, but there’s no way the cost of food/view/entertainment was worth $800 per day. Not even close. I’d gladly pay $100 per meal, per person for better food, and don’t think I’d come close to spending that amount anywhere else.

If you get a group rate or go here for free as part of your company’s President’s Club or something like that, I think it would be a lot of fun. I’d definitely feel safer with a large group.

If I had to do it over again, I would personally find a top-rated NON-INCLUSIVE hotel with great food and entertainment. We paid around $1,000 per night, and feel for the money we could have easily found another resort for $300/night and gladly paid a few hundred per day for better food and a better beach.

Let me know how your trip to St. Lucia goes in the comments below!

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