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Hotel & Resort Reviews: Antigua & Barbuda
Jolly Beach Resort 01/10/03
Reviewers Rating: Great
My family, including my husband and two adult children ages 18 and 20 recently spent a lovely two weeks at JBR over the Christmas and New Year's holidays. I don't usually write reviews but this newsgroup was so very helpful to planning our vacation I would like to share our experience.

We are Canadian and have traveled to Jamaica several times, Grand Cayman, Turks and done a few cruises. We have usually stayed in all-inclusive resorts rated 5, including Beaches Resorts. While the food and the wine and beer are not 5 star at JBR the value is still great. We frequented the Jolly Harbor facilities where were able to find a very good selection of wine at excellent prices. We also ordered from the menu on occasion. The table wine in the Italian restaurant was much better than at the bars where I couldn't drink it. However, we enjoy good wine so this is certainly a personal opinion.

The food was always good and sometimes very good. There was plenty of variety at breakfast and lunch. We almost exclusively ate at the a la carte restaurants at night. We never had any difficulty getting reservations and enjoyed the calmer atmosphere of a sit-down restaurant for evening meals. The Italian and the Greek were both very good. My family is not fussy and we all enjoy new experiences so that may have influenced our opinion. The servings were just right in size for us and our son is a football player with a good appetite. Remember you can order 4 or 5 courses! Lydia's, the seafood restaurant was also fine but our least favorite but then again we are from the east coast of Canada so are very used to the best of seafood. We ordered items that required a supplemental charge on several occasions and were never disappointed. We always found the staff very pleasant and eager to please. On only one occasion was the service not great but our waitress was training and her pleasing personality more than made up for the slower, less than accurate service. Remember, you are on vacation. As compared to other resorts the variety was somewhat less and the breads and pastries were a bit limited but overall I would say we were very satisfied.

We stayed in rooms in the mid-category, Oceanfront standard. We were in St. Vincent block. The space was adequate for my husband and I. We had a king-size bed and lots of hot water and linens. The rooms very clean. Our kids had two single beds and they were less than a foot apart and couldn't be moved any further. They were fine but it wasn't the greatest arrangement. Maybe two supersaver rooms may have been better for them but they didn't complain and we enjoyed having them next door since it made it easier to arrange meals and things. The rooms were quiet during the day but during the evening entertainment it was quite noisy until about 11pm or sometimes later. You had to close your patio doors and run the air-conditioning if you wanted to cut down on the noise levels to sleep. We usually watched the evening entertainment so weren't too bothered with it but it may be a concern for some. In that case you might want to consider the other end of the resort near the Italian restaurant rather that near Lydia's where our rooms were located.

The entertainment was mostly to our liking; Many local choirs and a children's dance group as well as the usual bands and some light comedy shows. We enjoyed the local talent and thought it was good that the resort was able to invite these groups to perform over the Holiday season. The entertainment staff worked very hard and was keen.

Our fellow guests were mostly English, some Europeans, a few Canadians and very few Americans. The English were very pleasant travelers and we enjoyed sharing the facilities with them.

My husband and son are certified scuba divers. My husband did one dive with Jolly Divers. It wasn't much to his liking-the dive master didn't give an orientation to the site and dive buddies weren't issued. He is used to a move organized level of scuba and the conditions weren't great either so he decided not to try again.

The grounds were beautiful at JBR; we often saw the gardeners working early in the day to make everything just perfect. The pools were kept clean and the Fantasy pool is just beautiful. The bar, restaurant and entertainment staff was all very friendly. They work hard and we appreciated their service. There was never a problem getting a spot on the beach and the vendor's were no problem. A simple "no-thank-you" was all that was required. Security also kept a close eye on things.

We did Eli's Tour and it was well worth it. We all had a great day. I highly recommend this tour.

It isn't always easy to choose a destination when travelling with young adult children. However, both our kids had a great time at JBR. They met other young adults and found the resort to be safe and a lot of fun. The New Year's eve Party was especially great and we were pleased to see the staff getting to enjoy themselves too.

Overall, JBR isn't a 5 star resort but we found it very much to our liking and wouldn't hesitate to return. The difference in price also meant that we were able to stay for two glorious weeks. Who can argue with that? We all had a simply wonderful time. Thank-you JBR.

Nancy Littler

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