The Andaman Odyssey - Summer Sands Beach Resort @ Neil Island - A review
With a population of about 4000 people, Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) is a tiny gem hidden in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. With turquoise blue waters, pristine white sand beaches, laidback lifestyle and exotic underwater ecosystem, Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) is a must visit on your Andaman trip. We published ‘A complete travel guide to Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep)’ in our last blog post where we detailed everything about Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) with recommendations on how to reach, places to visit and activities to experience. We mentioned Summer Sands Beach Resort as our recommended option of stay at Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep). In this post, we review Summer Sands beach resort and provide a detailed account of our stay.
The series of travel blogs - The Andaman Odyssey will serve as a one stop travel guide to you and give you all details along with recommendations to ensure you can plan your own trip.Our other blogs of the series - The Andaman Odyssey will help you understand and plan your trip to Andaman Islands and give you a good idea of Havelock (Swaraj Dweep) and Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) with recommendation on places to stay and activities to do.
4. Review: Summer Sands Beach Resort at Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) - Current blog
As you would have understood from our last blog post, Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) is extremely secluded, minimalistic and simple place; hence there are a very few hotels or resorts that offer a lavish stay. Summer Sands Beach Resort located on Ramnagar beach offers one such luxurious stay option. Though we had seen some pictures on the internet, we were quiet skeptical before booking any place on Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep). The remote location of the island meant they have to transport almost everything from Port Blair, right from cement to most food items. So we were not sure if the services and facilities would be as claimed on internet. With our fingers crossed, we reached Summer Sands after onboarding Makruzz from Port Blair and hopping on rented scooter from Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) Jetty. The resort was easy to reach as it is right on the road as you go eastwards towards Sitapur beach. What followed next was such a pleasant surprise.
Summer Sands Beach Resort:
We parked our scooter near the gate of the resort. Summer Sands has sufficient parking area on both the sides of the road. We were quickly helped with our luggage and were welcomed in a traditional style with red tikka applied to our forehead. Open from 3 sides, the unique design of reception is welcoming. It is very well maintained, is open, airy, bright and spacious. The lounge in front of the reception is huge with comfortable sofas, table fans and magazines to read. The reception’s backdrop is beautifully decorated with old wooden logs. It just took 5 minutes for doing all formalities while we had our welcome drink and then we were taken to our rooms.
Heading to our rooms, we loved the layout of the resort. It is extremely well planned with garden in the middle and rooms at two edges forming a right angle. Water canal meanders through the gardens and ground floor rooms. Small bridges are placed to cross over from one end of the canal to other. The canal joins the aesthetically designed pool at one corner. Everything at Summer Sands felt new, fresh and well maintained which gave us a very positive feeling of our stay from the very beginning.
Casa Air Room - Summer Sands Beach Resort:
We had opted to stay in Casa Air rooms on the first floor at Summer Sands. The Casa Air rooms are big, neat and clean. As the property is new, we felt that the room hasn’t been used at all. The rooms are air-conditioned with sufficient lighting. The bed is big and very comfortable. In-room amenities included a TV, a mini-fridge, two mineral water bottles, tea/ coffee maker, bedside lamps, mosquito repellent, luggage rack with hangers and lounge chair. The bathroom was spacious with separate bath area and basin area. It had high quality fittings and included a geyser, hair dryer and sufficient toiletries. Two chairs were laid in the room balcony which offered a beautiful view of the canals and garden below. The resort spelled much more luxury than what we expected.
Amenities - Summer Sands Beach Resort:
After resting for a while, we decided to explore the property. The balconies of all rooms face the resort gardens and reception while the common corridor faces farms and trees. The ground floor rooms were called Casa Aqua. They were similar in design to our Casa Air rooms the only difference being their balconies opened to a small canal. The balconies have steps that directly lead you to canal where you can swim or dip your feet to relax. The canals run all across the property through the gardens and eventually meets the swimming pool at one end. There is a poolside bar which offers variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. A few balls are kept across the canal and main pool for one to play and enjoy. It seems that Summer Sands beach resort is one among very few properties in Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) with a pool.
We learnt that Summer Sands beach resort is spread across two sides of the road. The land side of the resort is where the main reception, restaurant, canals, pool etc. is and where we were staying while the beach side of the resort opens up to Ramnagar beach. Towards the beach side, Summer Sands has two rows of one storeyed houses facing each other with a garden in middle. They have planted a number of coconut trees in rows that give a very lovely look to the property. The layout is very well planned and aesthetically pleasing. Due to government restrictions, there is some gap between the rooms and beach but one can easily walk to the water whenever one feels like. Ramnagar beach is much more rocky compared to other beaches in Neil (Shaheed Dweep) but relaxing on private beach lounge chairs close to your room can have its own charm and advantages.
We soon left to explore Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep). We arrived back to Summer Sands once it was dark and were delighted to see how the beauty of the resort was enhanced by tactfully placed yellow lights. The canals, the pool, the trees and the rooms, all lit in chorus gave a wonderful vibe. We felt silly recalling our doubts of booking Summer Sands and at the same time felt captivated by the beauty around us.
Types of Rooms - Summer Sands Beach Resort:
On our request, the manager of Summer Sands, Mr. Roy was courteous enough to show us various types of rooms in the property. Summer Sands has 62 rooms spread across 5 categories of rooms. We were already staying in first floor rooms of Casa Air and were familiar with Casa Aqua which were right below us opening to canals. Both of these were lined as 2 edges of a right angle. Casa Earth were located on intersection points of the right angled lines. They did not open to canals and had restricted views. All these 3 rooms are otherwise similar from inside and have basic luxuries one would need.
We were most eager to see the rooms towards beach side and like everything else at Summer Sands, they succeeded in surprising us. The beach side of the property has Neil ocean suites which are extremely spacious, have mini-bar and a swing inside the room offering a luxurious stay. The bathroom too is as big as you can imagine with two basins.
At the very end of the property and very close to the beach are 4 Beach mansions which take luxury to another level. They have a private pool and provide lots of personal space. All the rooms at Summer Sands have wonderful wooden interiors and exteriors with high quality furnishings. We got to know that rose wood is used for all the woodwork. Apart from the well thought of design, the tastefully done lighting adds a lovely charm to all the rooms.
After taking yet another round of the property, it was dinner time. It is extremely difficult to find a decent restaurant in Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep). Summer Sands beach resort has a restaurant named Organickhaa above their reception which offers mouth-watering delicacies. The restaurant uses organic ingredients in all its food preparation. Grills and barbecues are also served in the restaurant. There is also one coffee shop in the lounge area between the reception and pool that serves high-tea and refreshing coffee throughout the day. Both the restaurant and coffee shop have adequate seating capacities and provide a pleasant ambience. Music is being played at all times giving a relaxed feel. They also have a second floor above their reception which serves as a diner for parties or events.
The menu covers a wide variety of different cuisines and serves both veg and non-veg food. There are many tempting food items that one can order, all at a very reasonable cost. We had opted for a room+meal plan with breakfast and dinner included; hence we did not get a chance to try ala-carte. However, the buffet breakfast as well as the dinner was delicious and the spread was exorbitant, neatly arranged and had many choices. The food was light on stomach and gave a homely feel. The restaurant staffs were kind and welcoming. All the meals stood out well for the price we paid.
The next morning we went to Sitapur beach to watch the sunrise. That is yet another advantage of being in Summer Sands. You just have to drive 5 minutes early in the morning dark (Around 4:45 AM) to reach the sunrise point. Once back, we had quite a few interesting conversations with Mr. Roy about Neil Islands (Shaheed Dweep), the locals, their main occupation and many more. He very politely answered all the questions that we had with the best of his knowledge. Overall, the whole hotel staff was friendly and offered very good hospitality. We felt extremely well pampered having stayed with them.
We also learnt that water activities like scuba diving, snorkelling or others can be arranged by the resort on request right from their help desk. They also arrange for a two-wheeler or a four-wheeler or jetty pick-up or drop on request. They also have laundry services and a back-up generator. Arrangements for a candle light romantic dinner can be made right on the beach on request. Summer Sands beach resort also provides spa services in their separate spa centre located at the very end of the property near the beach. Though we did not try it, we are sure a spa/ massage would be extremely relaxing after several beach hoppings.
Overall, we had a wonderful stay with Summer Sands beach resort and we would recommend everyone visiting Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) to stay with them. They do not have good Wi-fi just like every other hotels / resort in Neil island (Shaheed Dweep) but the management can hardly do anything about it. Also if you want wi-fi at Neil for usual emails and social media checking or posting, you are clearly missing the point of even visiting the emerald islands of India.
We loved the entire setup of Summer Sands. The gardens and canal bridges are wonderfully maintained. The wooden roofs, bridges and stairs all blended seamlessly with nature. The open spaces all around from reception and cafe to the ground floor balconies made the place more lively. Some of the rooms were extravagantly luxurious. Add great service and food and Summer Sands becomes one of those places where staying one day just wasn’t enough. We would want to go back there for sure.
Summer Sands beach resort at Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) is a brand new property of Sing hotel group. Their chain of luxury properties include Symphony Palms at Havelock (Swaraj Dweep) and Hotel Shompen at Port Blair. We also stayed at Symphony Palms on our visit to Havelock (Swaraj Dweep) and will write a detailed blog in due course. Hope you are as impressed by Summer Sands as we are and would like to stay there during your trip to Neil Islands (Shaheed Dweep). You can also book Summer Sands beach resort through online travel portals here.
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What do you think of our review of Summer Sands? Do let us know in comment section below.
Note: All opinions expressed in this blog are our own and not influenced by Summer Sands beach resort in any manner.