Our Stay: Couple in a standard room during November 2016 for a week.
The bed was a large king size bed with a comfortable mattress, is it just me on my double back home where my left arm is on the edge ! I might have liked a bit more desk space to put stuff on but throughout our single week we just had a busy worktop and it was adequate. The air-con was noisy until it got going but worked well. We had a nice balcony area we didn’t get to use and the humidity didn’t allow us to dry much at all. Our view was across to the wedding
thingy pagoda and the gardens in the resort are really lovely. Something often unmentioned across Antigua is the pride taken in landscaping and the Jolly Beach Resort is well curated. The radio alarm unit has a usb slot so you can charge your device and also and aux function that allows you to play your music in the room – it really was quite clever apart from telling the wrong time, even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day.
There is no free safe and it isn’t big enough anyway to store your laptop. There is an ironing board iron and hairdryer and ample space to hang your best frocks and tops. We didn’t have hot water initially until we mentioned it and it was turned on immediately. The shower was powerful and lovely washing away the week’s salty residue. The toilet was good I have yet to review a bad one. We had daily room service and towels were great and replaced as required. The bathroom was spacious enough and bright with the light/extractor on.
It should be noted that there was no wifi in the room as standard but it is available to purchase. There is wifi available for free in the comfortable and convivial lobby area.
The Activities and Entertainments
Enabling all age groups (which this resort seems to attract) to take part through an exciting and really enjoyable programme the JBR entertainment team really excelled. The highlight for us was the Hobby Cat and Aqua Aerobics followed by Water Polo. The evening shows were quite beyond what we expected from beach BBQ to Steel Pan we simply had a joyous time. There was fire breathing at the beach BBQ and Limbo dancing something the regular entertainment staff get in on. Can you really pretend you know how to do fire eating and commentating/disc jockey on your cv? These guys have many talents. They entertain you around the pool side area during the day with chatter and Antiguan antics. It’s all in good taste and appropriate for all audiences.
We enjoyed the games room fun with pool sport and movies are also shown in here.
A few other examples of entertainments are volleyball cricket and football on the beach, bingo, sunset hikes and yes cup cake eating. Oh yes coconut bowling too. The aqua aerobics was very good indeed from differing entertainers it also varied. It was a fun way to meet our fellow guests.
All staff were happy and efficient and were not placating us if presented with our problems (we had few). They work super hard behind the bar and grills and always smile. In an all inclusive the bars can take a hammering and it’s I can imagine frustrating seeing people having such fun in front. All staff were super friendly as I find Antiguans are. As stated before the entertainment staff were, additionally talented and fun.
Restaurants and Bars
We mostly had buffet style all-inclusive dinners and breakfasts in Hemispheres. The food is varied and should suit most people some items such as pancakes never seemed to come out well and the bacon was tasty but very streaky. I managed to eat healthy more than not this week, which improved my overall enjoyment. They also could use a helper for the egg station, as that was popular having the option to have your own style omelette. There was a decent selection of fish most evenings and alternative meats and a kid zone that I enjoyed on occasion myself. You can book in for the a la’ carte restaurants which are included in your plan we did UTSAV an Indian restaurant which was very pleasant however they had some interesting art work inside. There was only a bar near hemispheres outside and the pool bar which sufficed, but there was no bar that you could sit at inside an air conditioned area. At lunchtimes there is a grill which serves beach style food hotdogs burgers and fries that kind of thing but the chilli jacket potatoes are worth trying too. It was really nice food just hot in the sun. I thought they could have gambled and cooked stuff ready to finish off as they cook to order fresh there can be a bit of a build up but nothing unpleasant.
Jolly Beach runs down left or south down to cocos hotel or right towards South Beach and Jolly Harbour. It is regarded as one of the best beaches in Antigua.
It certainly is clean and seemingly had a low sand fly count from feeling them less than I remember some other beaches. There are some areas of shade but not many. The water is excellent and hopefully the jetskis know very well here that there may be swimmers in the water – there is a purpose roped off swimming area. The area is too sandy to offer much for the snorkeler and there seem few fish for anyone wanting to fish (we tried). The water is calm.
It’s hard to separate the annoyance of some of the touts from a resort. Beaches in Antigua are always free to roam on and therefore the resort have little to no control. There is some amount of cooperation required between the resort and touts and here we found no issues beyond the normal selling or touting. The catamaran tour they can book is well reviewed however we didn’t make it aboard this time.
Things to work on?
Nothing is perfect and at the value for money price point I am certainly impressed.
But you might like to know what is lacking from experiencing the resort for a week so here are my gripes:
- More shade around the pool ! There are umbrellas and areas in shade but there are not masses and only when you need it do you realise it.
- There could be a closer toilet block to the main pool I had to trek to the reception area toilets or head to the sea; what you go in the sea!
- Seating around the bar.
- During the manager’s evening you can sit out on the lawn for dinner – this felt special and to have this option more often would be great.
- A yoga session on the beach (we did our own).
- Windsurfing as well as Hobby Cat.
- More parking at the weekend.
- Wifi in other public areas if not in all rooms.