St. James, Almond Beach Club & Spa Reviews

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An all inclusive hotel on the Caribbean island of Barbados
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“march 2009 my partner and i came to Almond Beach Club...”

Written on: 14/09/2009

march 2009 my partner and i came to Almond Beach Club & Spa for a weeks break after a hard years work, we had a terrible time. the weather and staff were lovely but that was it, we couldnt wait to get back 2 days into the holiday.there was no entertainment and when there was it was just a boring band.the food was not good atall which was a shame because we love carrbean food, there was no beach at all and its full of old people. if you are under 40 i really do not recomend this resort even the old people were moaning about how much old people that were there.

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“The setting of Barbados is beautiful. We were not...”

Written on: 29/04/2008 by R Battersby (1 review written)

The setting of Barbados is beautiful. We were not allocated the type of room we had booked and wasted part of the first day as a result. Because of this for our stay we had experience of 4 rooms (including the hospitality suite).
You can eat a lot if you so choose. Food is generally repetitive (the dessert menu of 5 options was repeated for 5 days one week, 3 another and the buffet rarely changes). Expect canteen style quality food rather than good restaurant food. You won't go hungry but I don't think you have to be too picky to realise there is a lot better tasting food out there. Think Spain in the 70's for food standards. Pesto means parsley at this hotel, tomato sauce for pasta is remarkably like tinned Heinz soup, Black Forest Cake on the evening menu is chocolate cake with mock cream from lunch with a "cherry vanilla sauce" -I highly recommend that if you don't like the food to go to the Village for your meals where the restaurants are cooler, service good, relaxing and very good tasty food of which that hotel can be proud.
Expect smoking throughout the hotel. There are smoking and non-smoking areas of the restaurant - but the non-smoking area is downwind of the smoking side. Don't leave your food unattended as birds fly throughout the restaurant (due to the restaurant being open at one side) and you might well find a Minor bird or Finch helping themselves. Long trousers are listed as essential for evening wear for gents - only on one night did this appear to be enforced. Expect dress to be very casual.
The sand terrace is a rock base with sand sprinkled on -some areas are more generously sanded than others so be careful if walking with bare feet. There is access to Sandy Lane beach - but the tides make it inaccessible for at least part of the day. One access down is more available with the tides but there can be a longish drop down from a rough rock. If you have mobility problems you may find access very difficult to this beach. It is beautiful beach though and wandering along is fantastic. The "sellers" are not too pushy - all they do is ask if you want something and then leave you alone if you don't. If you have trouble getting down steps or need to sit down these hawkers are delighted to help you. Don't expect the sort of selling you get in India or Kenya - they are NOT a problem.
The sunloungers aren't that comfortable (but not too bad either). If you sunbathe in the gardens expect to have to lift them down from piles made by the staff nightly - not easy if you are a short woman like me or infirm. They are a bit old and you will see and smell mildew on quite a number and some long term staining from suncream. You are provided with one towel to cover it (which means about half of it can be covered unless you take your own as well). You can bathe around the pool or on the beach, but even the shades don't provide much relief from the sun as the shade moves through the day but there won't be room for you to move your lounger to that shade. The pool is cleaned daily and I think the water quality will be ok - but it is grimy at the edges. This was in April though so it might be an end of a season problem and there was once a half-hearted attempt to wipe it. Part of the hotel on the Spa side has only been partially repainted white - unfortunately by this I don't mean with one section finished but random patches in the middle of walls and part way across and up walls which make this fact unmissable.
The rooms were obviously once very well furnished - but the finish (especially of obvious repairs) is poor. All bathrooms I saw (4 of them) had slatted wood shutters in place of windows which you could adjust. Unfortunately these did not shut to provide an air-tight closure and a lot of mosquitoes came into the room at night. I recommend a plug-in mosquito killer as well as DEET cream. Some of the suites have very nice-looking decorative screens. Unfortunately these are open to the outside and you again have a mosquito problem and in only one of the four rooms I saw the air conditioning was rendered almost completely ineffective because of this. Expect baths to be chipped unless you are in a newly refurbished room, small leaks, damaged bathroom shutter windows and mirrored wardrobe doors that constantly have to be lifted back on the tracks (because the rail underneath was bent into a curve for two flat doors) - they are only minor faults but can be annoying if you stay two weeks. There wasn't any evidence of mildew that you can get in Carribean hotel rooms in those rooms I saw.
The drinks are usually excellent. If you want premium brands though you do have to specify that on ordering (and they are generously given). The bar areas (though not the bars themselves) aren't cleaned well enough. The tables are sticky and you will again be affected by smoking there due to the location and wind-flow. The gardens are tropical and some plants have labels.
There are various activities and the activities desk are generally good at arranging whatever you want or telling you how to get it. Reception staff are quite good too. Waitresses try to be friendly and are quite pleasant though a very small minority can be slow or surly as in most hotels really. If you like golf you can play at the Village, I think both have tennis courts and watersports are plentiful.
Security isn't that good at this hotel - there is a guard on the gate but there is open access from both sides from adjoining properties and no staff there to ensure the property isn't entered by authorised personnel. Good luck and honest people rather than good security made no incidents during my stay of which I am aware.
The Spa is lovely and the service excellent. The leaflet of treatments available combines both sister hotels and is confusing - please note that the full list is available at this hotel - such as a very good hairdresser etc. A few wedding parties stayed here - but they seemed to prefer to have the ceremony at the Village. I saw a wedding at each hotel but these were well arranged so that they did not interfere with the other functions of the hotel.
The shuttle bus runs on time and is very efficient taking approx 15 mins between sites. The morning driver is a bit grumpy but not unpleasant - the afternoon and evening one very friendly. Expect hotel staff and maybe friends of the driver to be picked up and dropped off on the way. It won't inconvenience you however. The driver also dropped off guests part-way when requested and agreed to pick them up on the next trip.
You can keep your room if available when you leave for a few hours - the cost is US $100 for an extra 2 hours and then a full day rate. You have to give in all your towels at 12 noon and there were no clean towels in the hospitality room (where previous occupants had been smoking, drinking and had been in the bed and made the bathroom floor very wet).Fortunately a maid walking past did have one clean towel for my partner and I to use.
In summary the natural setting and location are beautiful. The service can be excellent when you have a problem you wouldn't expect a hotel to solve for you, but then lets you down on things you do expect as standard. I would rate them 3 stars and don't think they are good value for money unless maybe if you usually spend an awful lot on food and drink. Although I've pointed out faults, you certainly won't have a holiday from hell here - but in my personal opinion it won't be as good as I would expect from the class and price. I think the Village is a far more pleasant place to stay and you can have the shuttle bus so that you can walk on Sandy Lane Beach everyday if you want - just make sure you know when the tide will be out first.

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“This is a personable, intimate adult resort set in...”

Written on: 04/07/2007 by AshleyJS (3 reviews written)

This is a personable, intimate adult resort set in beautiful, well maintained gardens, with lovely pools, and an elegant main restaurant with friendly helpful staff - and everything is close to hand. The location was perfect for us (see later)
You can also use the facilities at the sister hotel, Almond Beach Village, via the regular shuttle bus service - which we found always ran on time!

Food: Sunset (main restaurant). Beautifully set, right by the sea, with proper table cloths, napkins and silver service at every meal. The food is excellent with loads of choice. The breakfasts allow you to truly break the fast with every type of cooked food and loads of fruit and cereals. I have never tasted such smooth porridge! Lunch is either ala carte or from the buffet - and the fried fish at the buffet is really tasty - but there are lots of other hot food available. Dinners are fine dining experiences with candle lit tables - part of the magic at night!
The other part of the magic at night comes from the coloured lights focused on the trees and the Christmas like white lights attached to the trucks of their Palm Trees.

Italian Restaurant at Almond Beach Village: such a stylish place as well, with great food and service. An experience not to be missed.

Self service coffee and tea are available at all times, and at 3-4 pm they serve afternoon tea/coffee with refined, crust cut off sandwiches and cakes. Scones with jam and cream etc.

You will not be disappointed unless you are a real picky easter.

Staff: At first we found a few staff either shy or surly - but as the days progressed they warmed to us and were all very chatty towards the end. But they were all very efficient and never left you waiting for a request.

Entertainment: There was a band or some other form of entertainment right by the restaurant every night. Very good singers - very enjoyable.

Rooms: We had a superior deluxe room that we were delighted with, including the efficient but quiet air conditioner. It was very well serviced daily. Many thanks to the people at Guest Services for your very warm and friendly help with our room change - which helped make our holiday so special!

Maintenance: Anything we had a problem with was attended to immediately. My wife lost her earring and one of the members of staff found it for her in the U-bend under the hand wash basin.

Location/Beach: why we love this place!
The beach is small but you can swim there and furthermore only a few strokes from the beach are sea breaking boulders where loads of fish can be seen via snorkeling. And wrecks with more flora and fauna not far away for a good swimmer.

Sun lounge area: There is a sandy area for sitting out just above the sea, protected in part from the heat from the sun by trees. A very nice area which we found never got really crowded as many other guests preferred to be around the pools or gardens.

But a few steps and you can be on one of the most beautiful beaches in Barbados: Sandy Lane. And what is more you can walk past this beach and stroll by the waters edge for about half an hour via various bays, with the trees over hanging the water's edge. You will see lots of the locals enjoying the area as well as all as all beaches are open to the public. We met quite a few interesting locals to talk to - We loved early morning and before sun set walks as it was cool at both times. Fabulous!

Security: There is always a guard on duty on the beach which deters the hawkers, jet ski trip sellers etc from pestering guests. Although the latter take a polite no and leave you alone. However, we saw many guests enjoying jet ski rides.

Water sports at Almond Beach Club: Hobby cat, speed boat trips, water skiing etc are available: we much enjoyed the water sports.

Water sports at Almond Beach Village: We really enjoyed taking out the smaller, single sail cats there ourselves. Thank you to the boys helping us out there!

Almond Beach Village: We have stayed there before and found again that it is a very well maintained property with many room areas set apart from each other by pools and gardens in almost hamlet style. So you didn't get the impression of a sprawling complex. And we never heard any shouting or crying children. It all seemed so calm! And there is an old mill that seems to make a perfect setting for weddings.
We saw how hey had set out a barbecue in a court yard one night with beautiful lighting and entertainment at hand. Looked great!
Areas for improvement:
House white Wine - ok , light and quite drinkable. Red wine was a but acid to my taste, but I was able to buy very acceptable wine from Australia for £7.50 a bottle - not bad considering the distances is has to be carted from.

Music: We were disappointed yet again (we were here in 2004) not to hear any steel bands - the music of which we consider to be an integral part of the Caribbean. We did hear it though on Sandy Lane where the hotel had a 5-6 piece band for a barbecue. So if it good enough for the guests at Sandy Lane!

What is on at Almond Beach Village: I found out by chance when visiting here that I could have attended tennis lessons, and my wife would have liked to have attended one of he Bajan cooking lesson sessions. At the briefing of guests at the club they should be given out a copy of the seven day programme for the Village as well. If not, why not visit the Village and find out for yourselves!
Sunloungers: Like three other nearby hotels, cushions would have made the loungers more comfortable to lie on.
This is a great, well managed and friendly resort. We consider it to be a home from home and will certainly be visiting it again. We have just booked to go back for Christmas this year.

Long may it prosper!
PS: We found the Bajan people so friendly and helpful: if you wanted to cross a busy road by the hotel, it was the locals who stopped to signal you across, unlike obvious white tourists in hired cars who drove by, even when you were standing at a pedestrian crossing!
Tiami Catemaran Cruises: We had a great day out with them with snorkeling, swimming with turtles, great food and all you wanted to drink. We were particularly impressed with how good they were with children. One crew member took a poor swimming boy under his wing, so to speak, and guided him to where the best snorkeling was. Well done!

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“Visited Almond Beach Club & Spa briefly last week....”

Written on: 01/02/2006 by jivebaby (1 review written)

Visited Almond Beach Club & Spa briefly last week. Very glad not to be a guest. Cramped, under-staffed and plastic, decor and people.

Nasty, definitely not recommended.

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“Recommended Almond Beach Club & Spa by Virgin as a...”

Written on: 26/01/2006 by roons (1 review written)

Recommended Almond Beach Club & Spa by Virgin as a beatiful 4 star hotel. It was horrible, the room which was a deluxe garden room was small, damp, dirty and shabby. It was infested my mosquitos as there was no glass or grills at the windows; the air conditioning smelt very badly in a way that would make you feel ill; and the room was next to a makeshift gym so you were woken at 7am by the thumping of running machines.
The hotel is small, there is no beach as such, there is not enough room for sunbeds and they are all taken early. The staff are unfriendly and unhelpful.
We immediately asked to move hotels - this is not a 4 star hotel. We met many people who were staying there and hated it and wished they had moved. A couple who had arrived there on their honeymoon the day before were nearly in tears and were desperately seeking to move.
The reps there describe the hotel as 'tired' - it is past that. The local taxi drivers know it as a place people are always leaving.
My overall rating is 1 because the room had a bed and the hotel had a pool!!!
My recommendation is DO NOT STAY HERE.

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“St James Almond Beach Club & Spa - Myself and my...”

Written on: 08/06/2005 by Mrs M crossman (1 review written)

St James Almond Beach Club & Spa - Myself and my husband arrived at the airport - where the staff had to clear the plane and get me off in a wheel chair on a cargo lift. I had very bad travel sickness (which I have had all my life). The airport staff for a start just treated me like royalty, I was first through the gates and whisked quickly off to a taxi. The taxi took us straight to the hotel and on arrival, the hotel staff all carried me in to reception and looked after me whilst my husband got the bags, etc. The manager insisted the staff carry me to a different room to what we were booked in, so that it was cooler and easier to get to ice machines etc. They checked on me every day for three days to make sure I was eating and was ok. Anything my husband requested was done straight away - they are very very caring people. The beach, food, facilities and whole holiday was wonderful - even after spending nearly a week in bed with no food staying down! Oh, remember that if you want lemonade, they throw sugar, water and a lemon into a glass, you need to ask for it by make! You may get men on the beach asking to rub some aloe vera into your sore bits and your partners, just buy some off them if you want but they may also try and sell you illegal items but decline politely and they will just say hi every day after that, they won't bother you too much. If I could be put to sleep for 9 hours I would return, but I'm afraid I don't think I can see myself ever returning unless a new form of very quick transport is invented.

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