Reviewers Rating: Fair
Like some other reviewers this was my first visit to the caribean staying in a hotel (21st August 2002), having previously been to the region on a cruise, which in my opinion, when all expenses and the service is considered, the cruise was the far better option.
Before mentioning the Royal Antiguan let me just prepare you for the airport customs process, it is lengthy (took an hour in line) and don't expect a welcoming smile from the customs officers.
On arrival at the RA the check-in was notable as the worst I have come across in over 20 years of foreign travel. It took over an hour for everyone to be checked in, without any apology for the delay from the staff. The staff are clearly inadequately trained in customer service and attempt to either deal with several issues and people at once, all poorly and extremely slowly, or deal with none and stand there looking vacantly into space. The manner of the staff is fairly typical for the island, initially very laid back to the point of rudeness and then suddenly beam into a broad smile at the end of dealing with you that totally disarms your frustrations with them.
Initially we were in a room at the rear of the hotel which have no view and no balcony. We upgraded after 2 days and the view is certainly worth the extra money. The rooms are functional rather than luxurious.
The hotel food seems to focus on all-inclusive packages, which we were not on. The hotel advertises having 3 restaurants but in practice 1 is extremely expensive and has to be booked at least a week in advance and for which there is a surplus charge if you are on the all-inclusive package. The Andes by the beach is very nice but again needs to be advance booked each day and is not open every day. The Lagoon is where the majority of meals are taken and is only average and is a self service buffet style. If not on the all-inclusive deal, breakfast for a family of four will come to $30 (US), lunch $30 with one round of drinks and dinner will come to about $100 with one round of drinks.
The food is adequate only. If you are on a pay as you go package you can eat better in St John's (or even get a taxi and bring back a KFC)and more cheaply even after taking into account the 24 dollar return taxi fair (try the Vitners, The Big Banana, hemmingways, etc). An excellent pizza meal for 4 with drinks and taxi would cost $70.
The taxi drivers are excellent by the way and hiring a taxi for 4 hours is the best way to see the island.
In the evening at the lounge bar I suggest you buy 3 rounds of drinks at a time as it takes so long to get served at the bar and you will then have difficulty finding somewhere to sit when it is busy.
The beach and its facilities are excellent and make up for many of the downsides with the resort.
My advice is that if it is a cheap break from the USA the RA is ok, if you are travelling from the UK save up a little longer and pick another hotel (or a cruise).