When you take a luxury vacation to an island destination, it can be shocking how quickly the cost of food, transportation and activities can add up. It’s no fun to have to settle for less because of budget. You want to do it all, or surprise your partner with the special experiences he or she deserves. At Sandals, they say "love is all you need" because all the other stuff is already included. Sandals is the ultimate couples-only, all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. But, really, what’s included in a Sandals vacation? And what's not included?
We are hoppy to say all your meals, drinks, transfers, tips and activities are included. But there are a few extra add-ons that you may choose to pay for, so don’t necessarily leave your wallet at home. (You'll need to present your credit card upon check-in anyway.) Let’s hop to it and discuss what’s included in a Sandals vacation and what costs extra so you can be prepared and know when to have some cash or plastic on hand. And stay tuned — we'll be offering some hoppin' deals on Sandals vacations soon!
What’s Included in a Sandals Vacation?
One of the best parts about visiting a Sandals Resort is that the amount you budget for your vacation is exactly what you’ll spend. This way, you do not come home to a credit card bill reality check. Your vacation includes all your meals, drinks, water sports and activities. The friendly waiters and staff cannot accept tips for their excellent service. (If you get Butler Service accommodations or visit the spa, those are instances in which you can tip.) For the most part, that means you can leave your wallet in the safe and almost never have to bring it out until it’s time to check out.
So how is everything included in a Sandals vacation? The cost of your room covers it all. The price is per person per room, and this cost varies greatly based on your budget and expectations. You can get anywhere from a luxury hotel room to a large suite with its own private pool. No matter what kind of room you book, all the following come with your Sandals vacation. Let’s go over the big-ticket items that can really add up if you were to, say, visit a different resort.
Meals, Snacks and Fine Dining at Sandals Resorts
All of your meals and snacks are included in your Sandals vacation. Like a cruise, your food is included. But unlike a cruise, you can dine wherever you like and whenever you like. You are not tied to a table, server or dining time, and you do not tip your server.
Each Sandals Resort has a number of restaurants to choose from. From buffets to teppan tables to white-glove service, you can have it all and even enjoy seconds or thirds if you desire. Do you want to try a bit of each dessert? Go for it! You can eat your way around the resort.
A few popular restaurants need reservations, so be sure to book those as soon as you arrive. Keep in mind, a few fine-dining restaurants have evening dress codes so bring some nicer outfits for the ladies and long pants and dress shirts for the men. No flip-flops or sneakers are allowed at those restaurants (but sandals are always OK at Sandals!). You can find out which restaurants have dress codes before your trip. If you have allergies or you require special meals, such as Kosher meals, contact the resort in advance. Here's the expected attire:
- Resort casual: Shorts or jeans, T–shirts or polo shirts. Cover all swimwear. Wear shirts and footwear.
- Resort elegant in the evening: Dress pants or jeans for men, long or short sleeve dress shirts (with or without collar). Wear dress shoes or sandals. No shorts, T–shirts, sleeveless shirts, sneakers, flip flops or slippers. No hats or caps.
The Sandals attire is resort casual by day, resort elegant by night (in some restaurants). So while the sun is up, your shorts, tank tops, swimsuits, short-sleeved shirts, sundresses and light slacks are the perfect attire. As the sun sets and you set out to enjoy the evening, proper attire is required (although elegant dress shorts are permitted in some restaurants).
Food and Drink at Parties and Theme Nights
Chocolate buffet? Included. Beach party? Included. Wine and cheese reception? Included. You’ll want to check the weekly schedule at your resort to find out all the hoppenings while you are there. The events and games vary slightly per resort, but there’s no additional fee to jump in on the fun.
Raise a toast to the one you love the most! You do not pay for any beverages. All drinks are included in a Sandals vacation. That includes adult beverages and premium spirits. You can enjoy 5-star premium liquors and Robert Mondavi Twin Oaks wines that are exclusively for Sandals Resorts. Welcome to island time, where nobody cares if it's 5:00 ever. All rooms have juice, water, soda, wine and beer available — you do not have to worry about minibar fees. If you book a top-tier room, you can also enjoy a fully-stocked bar.
Tipping, Wi-Fi and Hotel Taxes at Sandals Resorts
The Sandals no-tipping rule truly makes for a nice vacation. You don’t have to pay money to get good service. The friendly employees are hoppy to take care of you. You do not have to wonder, “Should I tip for this? How much is appropriate?” It’s so nice and easy to hit the beach or pool without carrying money or worrying about keeping it safe in your pocket or beach bag. There are a few exceptions to the no-tipping rule. If you have a butler-service room, you may tip your butler, and if you go to the spa, you may tip your therapist.
Hopfully, you plan to unplug from the real world, but it’s also nice to know that Wi-Fi and taxes are already included. That way you do not discover surprise charges upon checkout. All room categories have Wi-Fi in the room and in all public areas.
Sports, Activities and Entertainment at Sandals Resorts
All the fun stuff you want to do at the resort and more is all there for your enjoyment. Do as much or as little of it as you like. But you won't be shelling out a dime for the water sports, land sports, games and entertainment.
There are 15 Sandals Resorts in six different Caribbean countries. Each resort offers toadally fun water activities. You don’t have to “get your money’s worth” when trying a new water activity. If paddling around on an aqua trike for 15 minutes is all you need, you don’t have to keep going because you paid for a two-hour rental. It also makes it easier to try a new activity. It’s quite freeing to try new water sports when money is not a factor. You might decide you love paddleboarding or give scuba diving a try. If you are a certified diver, bring your dive card for two dives each day except your departure day. If you are new to scuba diving, you will need to pay for an introductory class. Once you complete the class, you are free to dive at that resort.
My wife, Flora, and I are avid snorkelers and scuba divers. (It comes naturally with being amphibians and having great built-in flippers!) At Sandals, we can dive and snorkel every day of the trip except no diving within a day of flying home. On any other trip, we have to pick and choose our dive trips more carefully because we have to pay hundreds of dollars for each dive. But at Sandals, we do not have to pay extra for diving!
Your Sandals Resort may offer some of the following fun watersport choices:
- Scuba diving (two full tanks per day for certified divers)
- Aqua trikes
- Hobie Cat sailing
- Waterskiing, tubing, wakeboarding and kneeboarding are available at select resorts
- Glass-bottom boats at select resorts
Land Sports and Games
You have the opportunity to play as a couple at Sandals. We always say that couples who play together, stay together! There’s something for everyone at Sandals. Activities vary per resort but may include the following:
- Beach/pool volleyball
- Land chess
- Board games
- Pool tables
- Table tennis
- Fitness centers
- Competitive games set up by the playmakers at the resort
- Golf (at limited resorts)
Do you golf? A few Sandals Resorts offer golf. You do not pay greens fees or for transfers from nearby Sandals Resorts; however, you may need to pay for caddies and golf carts. You can golf when visiting the following resorts:
- Royal Plantation
- Regency La Toc
- Halcyon Beach
- Grande St. Lucian
- Emerald Bay
A Sandals vacation includes entertainment. You can attend parties, live shows, themed nights, piano bars, cocktail parties, nightclubs, beach parties, live music, talent shows and special events. You might consider the vibe and entertainment when choosing a Sandals Resort. Some resorts are more lively than others.
You'll have no worries about getting between the airport and your resort. Airport transfers are part of what's included in a Sandals vacation. Sandals will pick you up and arrange your transportation back to the airport. You can arrange your transfers when you do your online check-in.
Weddings at Sandals Resorts
Did you know that on stays three nights and longer you can get a free wedding? Your wedding includes the following:
- Picturesque ceremony location
- Bouquet and Boutonniere: a bridal bouquet and a groom’s boutonniere of fuchsia Dendrobium orchids
- White cushioned chairs for all guests
- Pre-recorded musical accompaniment of your choice
- Complimentary 5x7 wedding photo
- Honeymoon dinner with white-glove service in a specialty restaurant
- An immediate start to your honeymoon because you are already there!
- Breakfast in bed with mimosa on any morning of your choice
- Romantic turndown service with flower petals on the first evening of honeymoon
You can have a low-key Caribbean wedding with none of the stress or expense of a big event back home. Even though Sandals is a couples-only resort, wedding guests do not need to be couples. The more people you bring, the more perks you'll receive.
What Is Not Included at Sandals?
While almost everything is included at Sandals, you might find a few optional add-ons. But do not worry. You will not feel pressured to spend another dime once you arrive. As you can guess, there is so much hoppening at Sandals that you do not need to jump for the extras. But you might enjoy some pampering at the spa or want to go on an excursion outside of the resort, and that will cost a little extra. The following services usually cost extra. Hop over to the Sandals extras page to book tours, spa, scuba, golf, photos and more.
Should you need some pampering, spa services and therapist tips are an additional fee.
If you want to head out on an adventure or do some sightseeing, you can book excursions and tours. But they will cost you.
As mentioned, select Sandals Resorts offer golf or free transfers and green fees for golf. Greens fees are included, but you may need to stay a minimum number of nights to qualify. Going golfing may incur add some additional minor fees. Caddies have a cost, and carts cost extra. You may need to rent shoes or clubs if you froget to bring your own. But golf expenses are very low, especially in relation to the cost of golf anywhere else.
Butler Service – Tipping Is Optional
One of the only exceptions to the no-tipping rule is if you have butler service with your room. Your butler will greatly appreciate it, but he or she will not solicit a tip. You are not required to tip. There’s no rule, but for average use, tip your butler about $20 per day. You might want to modify if you never use your butler or have your butler doing a lot for you (or you received exceptional service and want to show your appreciation!).
Club Level and Butler Service level room guests may also be invited to additional cocktail parties or events.
You may want to capture your vacation and sun glow with professional photos. Look for photo deals when shopping for your vacation.
Even though all of your food is free, you might want to surprise your partner with a white-glove private meal. There will be a fee to set up a romantic dining experience on, say, the beach or your balcony.
Scuba Dive Certification Courses and Resort Course
Certified divers dive for free (two full tanks per day). However, people who are new to the sport take a three-hour resort class for $100 before diving at the resort. People who wish to complete their scuba certification to be able to dive anywhere in the world can reserve that in advance. Certified divers who would prefer a refresher course can reserve that in advance, as well (for a fee).
Hopfully, you now have a good sense of what's included in a Sandals vacation. The more you do, the more value you get for your money. Speaking of a good value, don't pay top price for a Sandals vacation. Your favorite froggy friends can help you save some green when booking your trip!