As a golf car, festooned in flowers, pootles around the resort, you can hear it sound its horn every now and again. People start to applaud when it is signaling that someone is getting married. It happens all the time, and I start clapping along with it, much like I did when I was a kid watching Peter Pan in theatres. Only this time, there is a cold beverage next to me. For this is Sandals, where happiness and romance is the resort’s whole essence.

After 18 months of pandemics, Sandals’ 16 Caribbean resorts seem like an easy concept. This beach is in Grenada and can be found to the south-east of Spice Island. There are many villas, hotel rooms, bars, restaurants and large swimming pools beyond.

As I arrive, bougainvilleas and frangipani greet me, along with occasional hummingbirds. Behind one of the cabanas there’s a nutmeg tree with beautifully scented leaves and flowers. And everywhere has the sort of tropical heat you don’t find in Europe.

Bliss: The Mail on Sunday's Sarah Turner describes the beach at Sandals Grenada as a 'crescent of golden sand'

Bliss. The Mail on Sunday’s Sarah Turner refers to Sandals Grenada beach as a “crescent gold sand”.

Night falls and the sounds of tree frogs mix with music. Everybody is happy. Everyone’s wearing cheerful, colourful clothing.

As I explore, I feel all the confidence of a company that really knows what it’s doing. Sandals is one of travel’s strongest brands; a celebration of romance and a belief that all-inclusives can be luxurious.

It feels authentically Caribbean. There is little to no prescription, and there’s a lot of acceptance. It’s not a size 6. You’ll feel fine. You might want to try another beer. No one will be offended. You don’t want to get dressed up? Do you want to dance? That’s fine.

Finding the right room is perhaps the most difficult part about Sandals. There are a mind-boggling 27 different room categories to choose from – do you want a swim-up room, private pool, soaking tub, or sea views? You also have the option to choose a village. Pink Gin is on the beach and dates from when the hotel was a La Source hotel, while Lover’s Lagoon Hideaway is the newest, with rooms that have their own patio and a delightful simplicity.

Next, you will need to choose whether concierge or butler service is desired. They provide round-the clock room service and indulge in romance by serving you private meals, bubble baths, and petal-strewn bedding.

The resort has a number of swimming pools, explains Sarah - some are party pools with music and swim-up bars, while others offer quiet relaxation

Sarah explained that there were a few swimming pools in the resort. There are some with music, others have quiet areas.  

Everything feels so simple and lovely after this. It is easy for everybody to have access to the same restaurants. Many of these are open-to-all and do not require reservations. Butlers do add niceties such as reserving sunloungers and tend to pop up with snacks, but they’re not essential. 

Every day there was fresh fruit on sale at a beach stall. Waiters were always available to help you with your drinks and food from the restaurants and bars.

Although I start by bonding heavily with my sunlounger, if you want to get active there’s a highly chilled and well-equipped gym as well as clay tennis courts where the Grenadian national team sometimes practise. Watersports are part of the package, even including scuba-diving (with the caveat that if you’re a beginner, there’s a charge for initial training).

Sarah managed to tear herself away from her sunlounger to visit Grand Anse, regularly voted one of the most beautiful beaches

Sarah was able to get up from the sunlounger and go to Grand Anse. This beach is regularly voted as one of the best.

My most blissful moment comes when I’m snorkelling near the beach and find myself in the middle of shoals of different fish, suspended in gloriously clear water. Simply wandered to the watersports area, and borrowed an mask.

Actually, there are 2 Sandals. There’s a party Sandals and a quieter one, each centred on their respective pools. Everyone is friendly, cheerful and fun at the party pool. I find myself mostly heading to the quiet pool, because it’s close to the beach and Neptune’s bar, although everyone falls into conversation with people.

You can’t really generalise about the average Sandals customer. I meet doctors and teachers and a delightful Swedish woman who’s a linchpin of the Ipswich Women’s History group, all of whom are repeat visitors. Everyone here is in couples, except for me, through circumstances – as they say – beyond my control, but despite this I don’t stint on the experiences. A wonderful massage was given to me in a pavillion along the walkway that leads out onto the ocean at sunset. I also enjoy the canapes and snacks.

Island flavours: Sarah went to a local spice market where she stocked up on with fresh nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon

Sarah discovered island flavours when she went to the local spice market and bought fresh ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

I’m often sniffy about the food at all-inclusives, but Sandals genuinely surprises me. Of the ten restaurants, the three standouts are Spices, which serves deeply delicious Caribbean food, and Soy, which has every imaginable type of sushi and sashimi, all wonderfully fresh, while Butch’s chophouse – named after Butch Stewart, the Jamaican who founded Sandals 40 years ago – specialises in steak and lobster.

Sandals doesn’t stint on its drinks offerings either. They have all the big-name brands and bartenders happy to concoct every sort of cocktail, but I’m a bit disappointed that there aren’t more local offerings, such as classic Caribbean soft drinks like Ting, or some of the local brews from the West Indies Brewing Company in St George’s, or more than just one Grenadian rum in the bar. There are only six wines, three red and three white, on the house list, but it’s a minor quibble.

I’ve been to Grenada before and I love it. It’s a joy to explore, with 120 square miles of rainforest, villages and beaches, partnered with almost non-existent crime. It has a wonderfully fertile soil so it is home to many small farmers as well as artisanal producers such the Organic Belmont Estate which produces cocoa and Renegade Rum that has its own sugarcane fields.

One of the Sandals staff told Sarah she must visit Annandale waterfalls, above, during her time on the island

Sarah was advised by one of the Sandals staff to visit Annandale waterfalls during her stay on the island 

Travel Facts 

Sandals welcomed Sarah Turner. Seven nights for two people in a Butler suite, with all-inclusive accommodation and 24-hour room service, return flights with Virgin Atlantic and transfers, starts at £2,485pp. Seven nights for two in a Pink Gin Grand Luxe room starts at £1,765pp, with all-inclusive accommodation, return flights with Virgin Atlantic and transfers (, 0800 597 0002).

The biggest criticism of all-inclusive hotels is that they don’t encourage you to head out, but Grenadians are so proud of their island that I get a welter of recommendations from the Sandals staff. Camille in the spa tells me I should go to the Annandale waterfalls; Antonio tells me about the rum distilleries, especially River Antoine, and Umbrellas bar on Grand Anse beach; Chrystelle urges me to head up to Welcome Rock near Seven Sisters, where there are panoramic views of Grenada, including a lake that appears heart-shaped, and Kelly’s Hot Spot in Gouyave on the west.

Grand Anse has been consistently voted as one of the most stunning beaches. Here, posh hotels are mixed with tiny bars and spice markets. It is stunning with its pure white sand and gentle waves, and it’s dotted with sea grape trees and palms. I also love the Grenadian feel, which I can still recall from my previous visit.

The country has taken the pandemic seriously. Even though it’s open-air, my temperature is checked before I can go into the spice market, but I emerge with fresh nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon.

Perhaps there are grumpy people in Grenada but I certainly didn’t meet any at Sandals, Grand Anse beach or in the local supermarket when I went in search of locally made pepper sauce – those made by Baron have a cult status among my foodie friends. Sandals’ generosity is also very Grenadian.

On my last day, I ask Rachel at the coffee shop for my usual almond drop biscuits – and I have to stop her at six, which she wraps in a napkin.

‘You’re not wearing beach clothes, so I can tell that you’re leaving,’ she says.