Debut: The Mediterranean Village at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa

I’m back from the grand opening of the Mediterranean Village at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa, which opened last week with probably three of the greatest grand opening parties the industry has seen. Shaggy, Sean Paul, DJ Splyce and other headliners entertained guests, who were also feted with beach parties on Dickenson Bay, lawn parties and other dining extravaganzas that showed off the $70 million expansion to the resort’s existing Caribbean Village.

Here’s the lowdown on what I experienced. I stayed in Suite 4501 (the Mediterranean Village is all suites, but this actually fell into the Mediterranean Penthouse One-bedroom Oceanview Suite category). What I loved: I had two butlers, Maureen and Clifford, who took care of dry cleaning, pressing, late check out and every other request I had; they even offered to pack and unpack my bags, an act I was only too happy to spare them of.

The suite is extremely spacious; with an expansive living room and a separate butler’s pantry, which was extremely well thought out; it has a sink with a mini-bar whose offerings are all complimentary (these amenities supplement the full-size bottles of liquor provided in the bar in the living room). The pantry also has a large closet for the ironing board. All told, it is a great addition to the room layout as it keeps some of the more functional facilities out of sight and out of the way.

The suite’s bathroom has his-and-her sinks on opposite sides of the room, a layout that provides a true sense of space. The balcony is large enough to hold several chaise lounges, as well as a table and chairs, and I liked that it was accessible from both the large bedroom and living room.

The dining in the Mediterranean Village was also a home run; guests during the grand opening heavily frequented the British Pub as well as the elegant Italian restaurant. We were also treated to a wine tasting by an executive from Beringer, the wine company with whom Sandals has an alliance. We hear that this will also be available to guests on a regular basis.

The Mediterranean Village is an elegant retreat. I suspect that aside from attracting loyal Sandals’ fans, it will also draw the affluent, hip Gen Y crowed who will want to “see and be seen” at the fresh-water pool with the swim-up bars and luxurious cabanas (which are equipped with Wi-Fi).

At the same time, guests I spoke with loved the fact that the quaint Caribbean Village was just steps away. This 30-year-old property, which Sandals has upgraded continuously over the years, is old-style Caribbean, with little smaller buildings that house the guest rooms. It’s cozy and charming and it’s great to float around one of its intimate-size pools with a rum punch in your hand while gazing up at the new Mediterranean Village in the distance.

By the way, agencies that were invited and were represented at the grand opening weekend were: A Time to Travel, Cook Travel, Etherson Travel, Preferred Vacations & Cruises, Beach Bum Vacations, Ultra Vacations, Penny Sheldon Travel and Patti La Bella Travel.