Resort review: Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau, Bahamas

Dazzling reflections from the rays of Caribbean sunshine danced off the water of our private plunge pool. Towering palm trees softly swayed in the gentle breeze, and the only sound was a fountain cascading water into my tranquil oasis at the Sandals Royal Bahamian.

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I relaxed back on my lounger and soaked up the sun, a chilled glass of champagne in hand that had been delivered by a butler just minutes earlier.

The only thing on my mind was whether I should ask for some delicious fish tacos to be brought to my room, or venture down to the main pool area for lunch at one of the restaurants–a sure sign that I had definitely slipped into full vacation mode.

When it comes to creating the type of moments where you find yourself in a state of complete bliss with everything you can think of taken care of without lifting a finger, a getaway to Sandals Resorts delivers every single time.

The Sandals Royal Bahamian resort

Sandals Resorts has more than a dozen luxury properties scattered around the Caribbean, including the adults-only Royal Bahamian in Nassau, Bahamas.

The Sandals Royal Bahamian

The Sandals Royal Bahamian

Conveniently located just a 10 minute drive from the airport and about 15 minutes from downtown Nassau, you’ll soon find yourself on the shimmering shores of Cable Beach which is one of the island’s prettiest stretches of sand.

Transfers are included for all guests, and those booked into a butler-level suite get to arrive in style in a Rolls-Royce!

Arriving in style in a Rolls-Royce

The resort has more than 400 rooms and suites, spread across two larger towers with a handful of two-storey villas in between. Two giant pools, hot tubs, bars and the restaurants are nestled in the middle, which lead out to the expansive beachfront overlooking a pier and gem-toned bay.

The quiet pool at Sandals Royal Bahamian

The quiet pool at Sandals Royal Bahamian

The Sandals Royal Bahamian

Loungers and cabanas line the sugar-sand beach, with the latter available to reserve for the day for an additional fee.

The two main pools are designated as ‘loud’ and ‘quiet’, and the more lively one is where you’ll enjoy games like volleyball and basketball in the water. There are also a couple of other smaller pools and hot tubs near the villas, so between all of those plus the private pools there’s no shortage of places to go for a dip.

A private cabana at Sandals Royal Bahamian

A private cabana

The private island

The Sandals Barefoot Cay private island

One of the best perks of staying at the Sandals Royal Bahamian is that it has its own private island, just a five minute boat ride from the resort.

The private island at Sandals Royal Bahamaian resort

Boats go back and forth between the resort and Sandals Barefoot Cay throughout the day, and even though it’s so close to the mainland the island feels a world away.

The private island at Sandals Royal Bahamaian resort

Boats to the private island at Sandals Royal Bahamaian resort

The private island at Sandals Royal Bahamaian resort

Swaths of sand wrap around the coastline, surrounded by crystal clear water that’s perfect for snorkeling in. Book a massage in one of the tented pavilions, and find yourself lulled into a state of serenity by the sounds of waves lapping at the shore.

The private island at Sandals Royal Bahamaian resort

Those looking for more of an upbeat vibe will want to hang out around the pool area where there’s a swim-up bar, infinity jacuzzi, music, cabanas and cushy loungers, while another bar and restaurant serve Caribbean faves like pina coladas and jerk chicken all day long.

The private island at Sandals Royal Bahamaian resort

The private island at Sandals Royal Bahamaian resort

Room types at Sandals Royal Bahamian

There are 33 different room categories at Sandals Royal Bahamian, with pricing starting at $387 USD per person, per night.

Sandals is completely all-inclusive, so the land-only rate includes all food, drinks, and activities including premium experiences like visiting a private island and diving. There’s also a no-tipping policy, aside from spa staff and butlers.

Island Village One Bedroom Butler Villa Suite at Sandals Royal Bahamian

Island Village One Bedroom Butler Villa Suite

All rooms feature a king size bed with plush linens, a bathroom, seating area and some sort of outdoor space whether it’s a balcony, private pool, garden or easy access to a semi-private pool area.

Some suites in the higher-end category also have luxe touches like separate living rooms, butler service, patios, outdoor tranquility tubs and ocean views.

Island Village One Bedroom Butler Villa Suite w/ Private Pool

Island Village One Bedroom Butler Villa Suite w/ Private Pool

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a room type: price, location and amenities.

I stayed in the Island Village One Bedroom Butler Villa Suite w/ Private Pool, and was obsessed with the secluded private pool area and appreciated its quieter location away from the main pool area. However, this might not be ideal for someone who prefers an oceanview, and there’s not much soundproofing between levels.

Island Village One Bedroom Butler Villa Suite w/ Private Pool

Island Village One Bedroom Butler Villa Suite w/ Private Pool

Other top room categories are the West Bay One Bedroom Swim-up Butler Suite with Patio Tranquility Soaking Tub, and the West Bay Honeymoon Hideaway Swim-up Crystal Lagoon Zen One Bedroom Butler Suite.

The pool behind the West Bay Honeymoon Hideaway Swim-up Crystal Lagoon Zen One Bedroom Butler Suite.

West Bay Honeymoon Hideaway Swim-up Crystal Lagoon Zen One Bedroom Butler Suite.

Both are beautifully decorated with a light, airy vibe, have huge bathrooms and closets, a separate living space, patio and tranquility tub, and a swimming pool only accessible from about a dozen other rooms.

While stunning, the West Bay One Bedroom faces the loud pool, so may not be as good of a choice for those looking for quiet and solace as the Honeymoon Hideaway which is much more private.

West Bay One Bedroom Swim-up Butler Suite with Patio Tranquility Soaking Tub

West Bay One Bedroom Swim-up Butler Suite with Patio Tranquility Soaking Tub

West Bay One Bedroom Swim-up Butler Suite with Patio Tranquility Soaking Tub

West Bay One Bedroom Swim-up Butler Suite with Patio Tranquility Soaking Tub

The East Bay Beachfront Swim-up Butler Suite has a good mix of everything, as it has an infinity pool only shared by a handful of rooms for more privacy, is on the quiet side of the resort and faces right onto the beach for spectacular water views.

The East Bay building

Sandals Royal Bahamian restaurants

Fancy a platter of fresh sushi, a hearty plate of British fish ‘n chips, or perhaps a filet mignon topped with Caribbean lobster? You’ll find it all here, with 10 restaurants to choose from.

La Plume

From the dreamy decor inside French-inspired La Plume to the wildly entertaining, skillful chefs who serve up dinner Teppanyaki-style at Kimonos, each eatery provides a unique experience no matter what you’re in the mood for.

Kimonos

Dinner at Tesoro

La Plume in the evening

Dine on seafood at Aralia House on the island or while perched over the water at Gordon’s, nosh on wood-fired pizzas at Tesoro, and tuck into comfort foods like flame-broiled burgers at the Calico Cafe.

Tesoro

There’s also a couple of food trucks for grab ‘n go fare like conch fritters, fish tacos and sweet treats like cake, crepes and lattes–and yes, it’s all included.

Sandals butler service

One of the best parts of a stay at Sandals is the butler service included with certain room types. You’ll have three of them working on rotating shifts throughout your stay, and they’re all just a quick phone call or text message away on the supplied phone (I like to call it the ‘Butler Batphone’).

The joke around here is that they can help you with just about anything…as long as it’s legal.

Two of our butlers, Sterling and Zhaly

It’s easy to get used to the responses of ‘certainly’ and ‘always a pleasure’ you’ll get when requesting things like a bottle of champagne in the room, lunch delivered straight to your beach chair, and assistance with dinner reservations, tour bookings and spa treatments.

They can also unpack your luggage if requested, bring breakfast in bed, and reserve your preferred spot at the pool where you’ll arrive to find towels set out and a cooler stocked with bevys.

Butlers also go above and beyond with sweet surprises: it’s not uncommon to arrive back from dinner to find a steaming hot bath drawn in your tranquility tub, rose petals on the bed, or even a plate of your favourite cookies waiting to be devoured.

You can order food and drinks without even leaving your pool chair!

Amenities at Sandals Royal Bahamian

Between all of the pools, the private island and the beach, it’s easy to spend an entire day at Sandals simply soaking up the sun. However, there are also plenty of on-site activities and amenities, including a gift shop, tennis courts, pool tables, lawn chess and beach volleyball.

All water sports are included, with kayaks, water trikes, snorkel gear and hobie cats lined up on the shore. Even guided dives are included for those with their PADI certification, up to twice a day with a single tank or once using a double tank.

Work off all those calories from the buffet at the penthouse gym: while it could use a facelift, it has pretty much every type of equipment you’ll need and also has one of the best views in the entire resort.

The view from the penthouse gym

Unwind with a session at Red Lane Spa, which has 17 different treatment rooms offering couples massages, facials, esthetic services and body polishes.

I indulged in the 90-minute Raindrop Dreams treatment where seven essential oils are applied along the spine and followed with a full body, scalp and foot massage, and it was absolutely one of the top spa treatments I’ve ever gotten!

The Red Lane Spa

The Red Lane Spa

There’s also entertainment throughout the resort all day long, with activities like cornhole tournaments, flip cup, dance classes and trivia competitions filling up the day while nighttime brings pianists, karaoke, steel drums, silent discos and even fire dancing.

Fun things to do around the Nassau Bahamas Sandals

Sandals Royal Bahamian is just a 15 minute drive to the bustling downtown area, which makes it easy to head off the resort for a day of exploring.

You can book a driver or taxi, but it’s actually just as easy to hop on the #10 or #12 bus right in front of the entrance and the ride is just $1.50 per person.

The waterfront in Nassau, Bahamas

The waterfront in Nassau, Bahamas

Cruise ships dock near the Straw Market, and the waterfront is lined with souvenir shops. Get a bit off the beaten path and walk up to the Queen’s Staircase which dates back to 1974, then see Fort Fincastle which is just a bit further up the hill.

The Queen's Staircase in Nassau, Bahamas

The Queen’s Staircase

Fort Fincastle in Nassau, Bahamas

Fort Fincastle

Visiting the Graycliff district is a must: everything along the colourful street is actually owned by the same group, and centred around the iconic Graycliff Hotel which has hosted the likes of Sir Winston Churchill, The Beatles and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

There’s also a well known cigar factory, winery, chocolate shop, museum and restaurant.

Graycliff

One of the best things to do in the Bahamas is head out to the pristine Exumas, where celebs like Johnny Depp and Tyler Perry own entire islands.

Island Routes has a tour office at Sandals, and can book fun excursions to see pink sand beaches, feed iguanas, swim with pigs and pet sharks!

The Island Routes tour office at Sandals

The Island Routes tour office at Sandals

Pig Island in the Bahamas

Pig Island in the Bahamas

Swimming with sharks in the Exumas, Bahamas

Compass Cay

Here are some of the top ranked tours:

 

Allan's Cay in Exumas, Bahamas

Allan’s Cay

Sandals Emerald Bay

There are actually two Sandals resorts in the Bahamas, with the other one located on Great Exuma.

Sandals Emerald Bay boasts 11 restaurants, a golf course, a spa, a mile-long white sand beach and three fresh water pools including the Caribbean’s largest zero entry pool.

Bahamas Sandals Emerald Bay

Sandals Emerald Bay/ Supplied

If you’re interested in staying at a Bahamas Sandals and have a week or longer, it’s worth considering splitting up your stay between the two resorts for a change of scenery and to see the differences in the islands. It would also be easier to do one of the fantastic Exumas tours from the Sandals Emerald Bay, which saves time and money since it cuts down the time spent on the boat significantly.

No matter which resort you choose, Sandals vacation packages are the perfect way to enjoy the best of the Bahamas.

Bahamas Sandals Emerald Bay

Sandals Emerald Bay/ Supplied

Globe Guide experienced Sandals Royal Bahamian as a guest of the resort. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles

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