Travelling During the Pandemic: Jessica Fioriti Reviews Sandals Grande Antigua


The wonderful Jessica Fioriti, also known as @mckenzie_interiorscapes on Instagram, stayed for 8 luxury all-inclusive nights in the Caribbean’s most romantic resort, Sandals Grande Antigua at the end of May 2021. Antigua was on the UK Government’s Amber List at Jessica’s time of travel, however it is now on the Green List, along with Barbados and Grenada, meaning those arriving back into the UK with a negative COVID test will not need to quarantine.

Jessica’s interior design work has been featured in Ideal Home, Grazia and Real Homes UK magazines, but she swapped her usual surroundings for a white sandy beach adventure. She joined us on the sunny island of Antigua to celebrate an overdue anniversary, as well as her 30th birthday! This was Jessica and her partners first trip since the first set of travel restrictions had lifted in the UK. She has kindly shared her experience with us and what it’s like to go on holiday during a pandemic…

Picture: Jessica and her husband enjoying a drink from the Swim-Up Pool Bar in Sandals Grande Antigua.

How did you prepare to travel during a pandemic?

Apart from the usual holiday prep, I was of course checking travel guidelines and restrictions regularly, and I ensured our relevant COVID tests were booked well in advance for peace of mind.
Each island has their own set of arrival protocols, we recommend heading to their government website for all the entry requirement information. The list of islands can be found here.

Did you travel to Antigua with COVID included travel insurance?

Yes, I did. We acquired ours from the Post Office.
Please note, it is important to book your travel insurance as soon as you book your Sandals stay. Top tip: read the small print and ensure your insurance covers COVID medical assistance.

Picture: Couple on the beach in Sandals Grande Antigua.

Travelling during a pandemic could be quite nerve-wracking. How was your experience of the airport, flight and arriving in Antigua?

It was surprisingly extremely straight forward – there were only 10 flights leaving Gatwick – and it only took 15 minutes to get through to departures. Everything was thoroughly and constantly cleaned too, which made me feel at ease.

I would recommend leaving extra time though, as our COVID tests needed to be checked before going through border control. But this probably only added an extra 30-45 minutes to the entire process.

What were your first impressions of the new ‘Platinum Protocol of Cleanliness’ at Sandals Grande Antigua?

I was able to take my mask off as soon as I got to the resort which was fantastic, as guests are not required to wear face coverings in open spaces. All guests require a negative test result before entering the country, so I felt very safe knowing that everyone in the resort had been through this process too.

The resort was also spotless! There was extreme cleaning and the standards were higher than expected with the Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness in place. Staff wore masks throughout our stay. Once you leave the resort, all travellers need to wear a mask, so I suggest bringing a few to rotate throughout your stay.

Picture: Jessica and her husband enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner on the beach in Sandals Grande Antigua.

What was your favourite thing about Sandals Grande Antigua?

Our private candlelit dinner for my 30th birthday was one of my favourite life experiences so far! The ambiance was beautiful, and the food was exceptional – to be honest, I didn’t have a bad meal at any of the restaurants I visited in the resort. The food was my favourite part of staying with Sandals, we are BIG foodies so often save to go to the best restaurants we can afford in London and honestly, Sandals’ quality was on par. I especially enjoyed Elenaor’s Pan-Caribbean restaurant (I recommend the Rosemary Marinated Grilled Lamb Chops) and Barefoot By The Sea (the Chorizo and Shrimp Kebab was so good we ordered it twice!)

What was Antigua like for a holiday destination?

Zen. Totally relaxing. It is a destination to unwind, reset and have fun. We travel a lot but truly appreciated this holiday more than most after the stresses of COVID and working full-time with both kids at home. We barely left the resort and didn’t even realise, as there was so much to do. We made friends with other guests and the lovely staff, and had a really great time every single day. My husband’s favourite part was the jacuzzi. He was in there until 8pm every day and I would have to drag him and his new found friends out so we could eat dinner!

Picture: The beach in Sandals Grande Antigua, the famous Dickenson Bay

Talk us through what was involved regarding organising your 2nd COVID-19 test within resort.

It was very straight forward. When we arrived, we were given a day and time to go and book our resort test. This is all planned for you by the resort staff to ensure it is within 72 hours of you returning home to the UK. The test was taken in the resort itself, which was super convenient and didn’t interrupt our holiday. Once booked, we just came back at our allotted times and took a nasal test, we then collected the results when instructed to.

Do you have any top tips for travelling in a pandemic?

Try not to worry! Despite what the media can portray, it is extremely straightforward and easy, just ensure you have planned and booked the correct tests for the island protocols at the time of travel. Once you get to a resort like Sandals, you completely forget there is a pandemic and can truly enjoy an amazing holiday.

Thanks for joining us, Jessica. One last question, do you feel confident and comfortable to travel again?

Of course! We have already booked the next adventure and we are taking the kids away for the summer holiday.

FCO travel advice to Antigua

As you may be aware, the islands that Sandals and Beaches Resorts operate in also have their own entry requirements and protocols that all visitors need to adhere to. These differ according to the destination and may change at any time.

Please remember to check the entry requirements for the destination that you’re travelling to before departure on the relevant Government website. All information and links to these websites can be found on our website.
Travel advice for Antigua can be found here: https://visitantiguabarbuda.com/travel-advisory

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