As a mom of 3 boys, I know, and know well, the value of a good girls' trip! I am a huge advocate of moms getting away from the chaos of home life on occasion and I try to do it annually with my UGA sorority sisters. Typically we escape for a long weekend to a close destination like 30A or St. Simon's Island, both an easy drive away from ATL. A Girls' getaway weekend checks several boxes: wine time, getting a much needed break, catching up with friends, having adult conversations/girl talk (i.e. NOT about golf, home repair, robots, cars, farts or football...well, unless it's UGA football - that is allowed) wine again, eating great food in nice restaurants with NO KIDS, and of course, there are the added perks of abdominal workouts from belly laughing and, more wine. Oh, man, that reminds me...I could use a good girls' trip!
I love traveling with my sorority sisters from UGA so, this past May, I planned a girls' trip to celebrate all of our BIG birthdays! This was a special trip, to celebrate a special occasion so as a new travel agent, I had just the place in mind for us to go relax, rejuvenate, pamper and indulge ourselves all the while giving our husbands peace of mind - SANDALS! That's right...that romantic spot, with all the gushy honeymooners, vow-takers and anniversary celebraters...also the perfect spot for 8 happily-married girls wanting to escape reality without being bar targets!
So, here is my summary of Sandals Emerald Bay...oh Great Exuma, how I love the, let me count the waves! Great Exuma is served by Delta and is only a short 2 hour flight from Atlanta. We were sipping a cocktail in the concierge lounge by 1PM on arrival day and most of us had our rooms by 3. We unpacked and stood in awe of our view:
I know the reputation...all-inclusive = sub-par cuisine. Not so at Sandals (or in fact, at either of the other all-inclusive I've visited this year The Finest Playa Mujeres or UNICO 2087) and we were all pleasantly surprised with the dining experience during our stay at Sandals Emerald Bay. Since we were only on a short trip, we did not have the chance to visit all the restaurants....but that gives us reason to RETURN! Here are the restaurants we tried:
- Barefoot By the Sea - You seriously do dine barefoot in this beachfront setting as you kick your shoes off and choose your table in the sand! This causal spot serving fresh seafood and lobster is perfect for arrival day and we all loved our dinner choices, ranging from the Signature Lobster dish to Mahi Mahi with your choice of preparation and sauces, to Seafood Linguine with mussels and prawns. For those that don't care for seafood, steak and chicken are also available.
- Il Cielo, Italian - We really enjoyed the Italian restaurant, Il Cielo for dinner (and breakfast.) All of our appetizers and entrees were fantastic, and our service was as well. I particularly loved the Lasagna Bolognese and the soft, warm Focaccia was to die for!
- Soy, Sushi - Sushi, Sushi, Sushi...YUM! This place left us wanting more...literally, we kept ordering, and ordering, more and more delectable sushi rolls, until we could not order any more, because they closed the kitchen on us, LOL! Even though we were disappointed we weren't allowed to order rolls number 473 and 474, it's a good thing in the end since we would have had to roll ourselves down the hill to the Drunken Duck Pub, but more on that later!
Breakfast is as you would expect, an exceptionally lavish buffet spread or room service...both were great. Other restaurants on site include: La Parisienne serving fine French Cuisine, Bahama Bay Bahamian Cuisine, Bombay Club Indian Cuisine, Kimonos Oriental Cuisine and for quick bites, the Drunken Duck, Dinos Pizza, Cafe de Paris, Jerk Shack Caribbean Grill...all great choices.
- Travel Tip - With the exception of Butler service, tipping is NOT allowed at Sandals! In order to maintain excellent service, Sandals has an employee recognition program utilizing an app. Simply scan a QR code and compliment your server via the app.
Oh the fun we had at Sandals Emerald Bay! We did not receive the sideways glances we expected to receive as 8 fun-loving college ladies reuniting loudly over tropical libations. In fact, we were very warmly received by the staff and guests! Everyone we met told us how wonderful it was that we were on a girls' reunion and how they hoped they could do the same someday! Within a day of arrival, we were referred to as "The Georgia Girls" and we had the signature cocktails flowing! We were always served with a smile, and on occasion had service so good we had to ask for a break in the rounds of cocktails being delivered to our beach set up, kindly arranged by our Butler Lamon.
Nightlife at Sandals Emerald Bay was equally appealing! We loved the piano bar after dinner and you cannot leave this place without visiting the Drunken Duck Pub. Living up to its name, the DDP was the place to go if you are up for late-night action while on vacation (which always is a challenge with all the daytime sun and fun!) Envision a great DJ, line dancing, pool tables, ping pong, darts and pub fare all served up in an Irish Pub setting. Everyone up for a good time is in one of the 2 rooms of this lively place, and it's a good thing it closes at 2 or else....well, I'm pretty sure I don't want to know the or else! 8 of 8 girlfriends agree...when at Sandals, do the DDP!
I've been fortunate enough to visit the Exuma Islands on several occasions and there is nothing more breathtaking than the views one is afforded by cruising the waters and islands of the Exumas. I knew we had to get out on the water, and I had Stocking Island and it's funky beach shack "The Chat-n-Chill" on my must do list! I also wanted to show my friends the beautiful islands and experiences of Compass Cay (nurse sharks) Big Major Cay (the famous swimming pigs) and Allen Cay, home of the white cliffs and iguanas. Unfortunately, the weather prevented us from traveling that far by boat, but the weather did hold out for us, allowing us to visit the local swimming pigs, sandbars, and (YAY) the Chat-n-Chill. We hired a super fun local guide for the day, Salt Life AJ (@salt_life_AJ) and he entertained us all along the way across the numerous cays and sandbars and even jumped in to show us some giant starfish!
To sum it all up in 3 words...GO TO SANDALS! I don't care who you are, or who you're traveling with, you will LOVE the Sandals Emerald Bay! The food, friendly staff, fun times, good food and THAT BEACH! OH MY!! Nothing beats the Exuma blues and you will have your fair share of that on this spectacular beach, with swings, hammocks and water sports like kayaks, SUP and sailboats to boot. I will definitely be recommending this resort to traveling groups, couples and girlfriend groups without question, and I can't wait to return to Sandals Emerald Bay on Great Exuma!
Cheers to #nationalgirlfriendsday and HAPPY TRAVELS! Don't hesitate to reach out to me with any travel questions you may have...I'm always up for travel talk!