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Antigua & Barbuda Hotel, Resort & Villa Reviews
Jolly Beach Resort 11/16/2003
Reviewers Rating: Great
My husband and I, who were just married in September chose the Jolly Beach Resort as the destination of our 2 week honeymoon. It came highly recommended by our travel agent as one of the best values in the Carribean. Never having been to the Carribean before, my husband and I were not sorry we chose Antigua as the island to break our proverbial virginity. It is serene and beautiful, and an especially good place for those that prefer exploring, to being confined to their resort. The people are typically friendly and the island itself is quite safe. I did much research before our vacation and found some of the best excursions on the island. I strongly recommend all of them: Eli's Eco tour, Jolly Roger Pirate Cruise, Sun-Fire stables horseback riding tours and Shirley Heights on Sunday night. The island can be expensive and taxi rides are $8.00 one way per person, so I recommend the buses which cost $1.00. You most likely will be the only tourist on the bus and may be packed very tight with many school children and workers but if you're more of a traveler than a tourist that's the best way to get around. We met many nice locals that way.

The Resort was very nice in general, with a beautiful long sandy beach and a wonderful pool that was brimming with activities, good food, great drinks and a nice staff. We went in September which is the off season so if you're looking to party you may be happier during the peak season when the place is hopping. The evening entertainment was not show-stopping but was still a lot of fun, especially Karoke night and the dance shows. Being one of the few American couples at the resort, we were able to meet with many people from all over the world which was great.
There is plenty to do on the resort; shopping at crab vilage, watersports, drinking in the water at the pool bar, and daily activities. The hotel also provides a tour desk for booking excursions. Don't let them scare you though. Some of the locals sell tours on the beach, which the hotel claims to be dangerous scams, but we took our chances and found the tours we booked from the locals to be of the best value and some of the best excursions we had on our honeymoon. If you do purchase a tour from a local just be sure they're liscensed. I recommend Wesley.
We had one rainy day on our stay, which could've been a drag but the entertainment staff made sure everyone was having fun. We played darts, pool and had several delicious specialty drinks that made us forget it was raining. Most of the staff was professional and kind. We especially liked Charlie and Heidi from the Pool bar, Junior and Ann Marie from Activities and Kherry from the Pool Grille.
The standard rooms are pretty small so we upgraded to a King Superior for $500.00 when we got there. It was clean spacious, had plenty of drawers and a nice big balcony. Only one problem.....the bats. I love most creatures and was delighted by the numerous crabs, lizards and mongoose that occupied the resort but I am terrified of bats. After 5 days of terror when having to pass the large swooping fruit bats in front of our room, I asked to move. The first move gave us a tiny room with a leaking a/c and it didn't solve the bat problem, but the hotel eventually made up for it by upgrading us to a junior suite in another building with a breathtaking panoramic view that I have missed ever since returning to New England. That goes to show that the resort isn't perfect but management does it's best to be sure their guests are happy.

As for the dining experience, my Husband is a classically trained executive chef so we tend to be difficult to please but overall we were very satisfied. The breakfast buffets at Hemispheres were usually very good but were somewhat lacking in variety. The birds were a nuiscance but the whole experience was pretty funny, especially the obese one-legged bird who prayed on the sympathy of guests. I must say that after 14 days I was seriously craving a good cup of coffee, so if you're a coffee lover it may be a good idea to bring your own. Lunches were excellent, especially the chicken, burgers and fries at the pool grille. If you crave healthier food, the buffet always had fresh and delicious salads to choose from. For dinner, the A'la carte restaurants were all excellent and the ambiance was very nice in all three. Lydias especially was romantic and elegant, as it is on the beach and open to the elements, complete with ample candlelight and the sound of crashing waves. Olives, which I am sad to say is no more, was our favorite. They specialized in greek food which was authentic, fresh and delicious. There is now an Indian restaurant in it's place which I am sure is equally as good. Bocciolos, the only indoor restaurant was also excellent and had a wonderful antipasto bar that we never tired of. Hemispheres which serves buffets, was good for breakfast and lunch but was rather lacking in it's evening meals. Some of the Carribean dishes were rather good but most were bland and strange. It was still worth experiencing but I recommend you get the restaurant schedule and plan your evening meals ahead of time. Reserve 1 or 2 nights at both Lydias and the Indian restaurant, 2 to 3 nights at Bocciolos and eat once or twice at the Buffet. Lydias Sunday Brunch is a must-do. The variety is unbelievable, the presentation very nice and the steele band excellent. Other must do's are the Carribean grilled lobster at Lydias (worth the $15.00 surcharge), the pork dish at Bocciolos and the jerk chicken at the grille. Overall the dining was very good and based on the cost of our all-inclusive package, we found it an excellent value.

To sum it up, let me say that just like in life, whether you enjoy yourself or not is strongly dependent on how you look at it. If you're looking for the bad things you will surely find them but if you look to the good things you won't be disappointed. In response to some of the previous reviews, I frankly, can't understand how someone can be miserable in paradise, but to each his own. My husband and I had an enjoyable experience and can say it was well worth the money spent.

Jennifer

Jennier

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