I have been staying at the hotel next door for 25 years every Decmeber so I can give you some reliable info.
Sandals is in the middle of a huge construction undertaking. They are building an ENORMOUS new part of the hotel which is prob equal to the orig hotel in size. It is several stories tall which will stand out on Dickenson Bay because previously there was nothing taller than a palm tree. It is prob very nice and from what I have read people staying there seem to be happy. Keep in mind Sandals is more like an institution than a boutique hotel and you might not get the personal attention you want there.
There are several restaurants that are good and the beach is considered one of the finest on the island. All beaches are public in Antigua so you should be sure to take a car and go to others. Ask locals where to go. Be sure to go to Shirley Heights on Sunday for great music, food and drinks. It is an all evening party every Sunday. Try Eli's eco tours. They are amazing. The beaches are pretty safe at night and there is a beautiful bar/restaurant called Coconut Grove just down the way.
The casino at the hotel will prob not be ready in time fro your visit but there is one in town. I dont recommend it though. It is depressing. If Le Bistro is open when you are down and you can (it is very expensive) it is considered one of the best restaurants on the island and it is one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten in. They have amazing rack of lamb (or at Christmas time they do, perahpa the meat isnt as good earlier) but well worth the try.
Any other questions pm me and I'll be happy to help out.
Thanks for the info...not so much worried about personal attention...as long as the place is nice we really just want to be left alone to relax...been a stressful few months. We are staying in the new section so hopefully alot of the kinks have been worked out...might check out the tours but we'll see my finacee just had knee surgery so not sure how she'll feel about that but thanks for the tip
I hope you have a great time. I think the new section is close to being completed but Im sure you will see a lot of construction areas closed off. If she just had her knee done you could still take his boat tour that circles the island. Some of the beaches are picture perfect. Antiguans are kind, warm people and you should enjoy your stay. It has been my second home most of my life and I love it there. I have many friends who work on Dickenson Bay. If you werent doing all inclusive I would give you a laundry list.