It’s been a long time coming, but here is my Sandals Royal Bahamian Review. When I say long time, I mean 5.5 years ago. However, I’ve found Sandals Resorts doesn’t make huge changes to their rooms and the restaurant choices are the same across the Caribbean islands. My hope is that through my travel photography, all-inclusive restaurant reviews and self-guided tour through the Nassau resort, you will be prepared to decide which Sandals Resort is best for you!
(The pros and cons are not in any particular order nor are they weighted. Disclosure: Some of the product links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. This helps keep my blog running!)
On a side note, if you are hesitant about booking your Sandals vacation during COVID, check out my post Sandals Resorts Reopen with Cleanliness and Safety Priorities.
Location: Sandals Royal Bahamian, Nassua, Bahamas
According to Rivage Travel, Sandals Royal Bahamian is number 8 in their 15 BEST Sandals Resorts 2020. Before Sandals claimed it as one of their own in 2012, this resort was the Balmoral Club. “A property famed for hosting the crème-de-la-crème of 1940s society.” – The Nassau Guardian This historic location has 404 rooms and suites, 11 restaurants and 8 bars, 7 pools (2 are large) and 3 whirlpools.
Pros of Sandals Royal Bahamian
1. Proximity to Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS)
When choosing a Sandals Resort, one of the first items on our checklist is the proximity to the closest airport. The shuttle trip takes only 10 minutes to whisk you from the Lynden Pindling International Airport, formerly Nassau International Airport, chaos to picturesque, seaside tranquility.
On the way back to the U.S.A., customs is on the Nassau side. This makes flying home a breeze. Everything is taken care of BEFORE you enter the states. No more worrying about missing your layover because your bag was flagged or missing. This was a huge plus for us.
2. Off-Shore Island
Photo courtesy of Sandals.com
An all-inclusive vacation at Sandals Royal Bahamian also includes the Offshore Island, Sandals Cay. There are 2 beaches, snorkeling, pool, whirlpool, swim-up bar and the seafood restaurant, Schooners. The island transportation departs at regular intervals and the last trip back to the mainland is at 4:45 pm. Afterward, the island is only open to those that have made dinner reservations at Schooners. (*Tip: Bring a sweater or light jacket for riding the boat back and forth to your dinner reservations.) The private island gives couples a much needed breath of fresh air as the mainland resort is quite small.
3. Short Flight to Nassau from the US
Another great feature of this Nassau Sandals Resort is the amount of flights arriving from the US and the length of those flights. For instance, JetBlue has a direct flight from Boston that leaves at 8:50 am and has you in Nassau by 12:17 pm. You can be at the resort for an afternoon lunch or a snooze at the pool!
4. Customs at Lynden Pindling International Airport
The one part of traveling I abhor and dread is customs. It can ruin the results of your entire vacation. Why undue all that relaxing and de-stressing? When returning to the United States, customs is on the Nassau side. Complete your checks, drop off your luggage and sleep on the plane all the way home.
5. Fitness Center
Sandals Royal Bahamian hands down has the best views from its fitness center. It is located on the top floor of the Balmoral building. We ran on state-of-the-art treadmills while looking out at the ocean and private island. If getting to the gym in the morning is tough for you, that view should motivate you!
6. Nacho and Hot Dog Bar
The Royal Cafe and Grill are located right by the Main Pool. It’s proximity to our lounge chairs was convenient for afternoon snacking. We enjoyed gluten free nachos we built ourselves at the Loaded Nacho display.
My husband also enjoyed a hot dog or two (they do not have gluten free hot dog buns). The dress code is resort casual, which means if you cover you swimsuit, you are good to go! Better yet, send your significant other to load a plate with cheesy goodness and deliver it to your pool chair.
7. Room Design
We stayed in the Balmoral Oceanview Grande Luxe category with an Oceanview. These rooms are located on the upper floors of the Balmoral Oceanfront Village and include a private balcony with views of the ocean. The room also includes wine and water, juice and soda.
I would highly recommend this room type as it was quiet, designed with a private bathroom, and additional sink by the large closet. I often used this sink to do my makeup while my husband was in the shower. The view from our room wasn’t phenomenal. It was a peekaboo view on the outside of the resort. However, we felt it gave our balcony so much privacy and a beautiful sunrise.
Our friends had the Balmoral Honeymoon Beachfront Butler Suite because they always book rooms on the ocean. They opted out of the butler but said their room was fantastic. They were one floor up from us with a balcony overlooking the beach.
8. Misting Pool
One unique feature of Sandals Royal Bahamian was the misting pool. The weatherproof, outdoor chairs inside a shallow pool made for insta-worthy photos and a great spot to cool off while tanning in the sun.
Cons of Sandals Royal Bahamian
1. Check the Rainy Season
We booked our Sandals all-inclusive vacation for mid-November. The best time to plan a trip to the Bahamas is mid-December to late April. The rest of the year is considered the rainy season. We find booking our Sandals vacations mid to late November gives us cheaper room rates with a slight chance for rain.
Unfortunately, over half of our 8 night stay was windy and rainy. (*Tip: I would highly recommend checking average rainfalls before booking your Sandals vacation.)
2. Offshore Island, Sandals Cay
Due to the inclement weather during our Sandals Resort vacation, all transportation to the private, offshore island was cancelled. This is certainly something to consider when booking your travel to this particular resort.
3. Small Resort Location
The stormy weather placed a magnifying glass on all the negative features of Sandals Royal Bahamian. With all boat travel to the offshore island cancelled, all guests were on the mainland.
We lost the restaurant, large pool, whirlpool and two beaches from the island. Everyone crowded into the two whirlpools and the few indoor billiard tables were never available. All water sports and pool activities were postponed or cancelled. There wasn’t anything to do to pass the time. This resort is just too small to handle all the guests during poor weather conditions.
4. Small Beach
If you prefer a couples only, all-inclusive resort with walk-able beaches, this resort is not for you. (I’d suggest Sandals Grande Antigua. It’s a shared beach, but perfect for long walks.) The water is great for swimming. However, the ocean was so rough, the water was filled with seaweed and the waves were too intense for us.
5. Never Enough Java
I am not sure why this was a problem, but every coffee machine on the resort was out of caffeinated coffee beans! There was plenty of decaf, for those of you that prefer it. It did not matter what time of day we checked, the coffee maker was empty. The blue mountain coffee at Sandals Resorts are half the reason we visit. ha ha! When you are at an all-inclusive resort, you don’t want to work for a cup of coffee.
6. Lack of Shaded Lounge Chairs
If you read the reviews of any Sandals Resort, the lack of covered lounge chairs is a problem at every location. With the small size of this resort, we found it even more difficult. My husband burns easily and finding shade is extremely important.
7. Restaurants are better at other locations
We have been on 6 Sandals vacations. The restaurants at every other location were far better than at Sandals Royal Bahamian. This includes the service and quality of the food. At the time we were there, Gordon’s Pier Restaurant was extra $$, which means with the loss of the private island, we were down to 9 restaurants. Butch’s Steakhouse is not at this location and is one of our favorites.
Unless they have updated the Crystal Room, I would not recommend making reservations there. It is supposed to be the “Caribbean’s Most elegant Mediterranean dining experience”. The restaurant is located inside a building without any windows. It is dark, smells musty and the quality of the entrees did not meet the hyped expectations.
SANDALS Royal Bahamian SUMMARY REVIEW
Nick, my husband, and I are seasoned Sandals Resort guests. I’ve listed the all-inclusive Sandals Resort locations we’ve visited in order of preference:
- Sandals LaSource Grenada – 2017 & 12/2019
- Sandals Grande Antigua – 2011 & 2016
- Sandals South Coast, formerly Sandals Whitehouse – 2012 (Sandals website. Photo tour coming soon!)
- Sandals Royal Bahamian – November 2014
Sandals Royal Bahamian is at the bottom of our vacation list. If the weather had been better, it would have beat out Sandals South Coast. However, the service, restaurants, size of the resort and lack of amenities during poor weather made this all-inclusive resort one we don’t plan on returning to.
This review of the Sandals Royal Bahamian resort is not a sponsored article. I have personally paid to stay at this resort and all opinions are my own.