And it is well edited and not too long to watch. Thanks very much to @phikweg on instagram.
And it is well edited and not too long to watch. Thanks very much to @phikweg on instagram.
I had been driving quite a lot this vacation and wanted to chill out and enjoy the Halcyon Cove experience. Fenton the resorts activity manager was around now and it was good/funny to see him around entertaining the guests with aqua aerobics, beach cricket and volleyball. He went and found us the volley ball and at request put up the net across the pool and we had a fun game before lunchtime with some Canadian folks. Yes aqua aerobics had not been skipped either so we were burning calories too. Today was to be a mega burning day. Aqua aerobics does that great thing getting the oxygen back into the body after the alcohol of the night before seems to drain it all away. Alcohol has no good effects apart from the reason why we do it. We were all enjoying very early cocktails I like my rum runners but hadn’t had any lately and couldn’t recall why I think the last may have been in key largo.
It was a Saturday, my most recent one. Today was going to be about enjoying the sun as well and my shuffle and reading a bit too. With that mix of morning activity lunchtime came and it was over to the outdoors lunch area.
I made the mistake of taking somewhere between a sip and a gulp of shower water and it did make me susceptible to needing the toilet at times throughout the day today most notably.
It should be mentioned that this is a very pleasant place to dine with the sounds of the beach right there as you are all but right on the beach. I wonder what will happen to the Halcyon Cove and this corner of Antigua.
Sandals of course will have had their eyes on this spot for a long time and I hear they have now got it. If you have been here you will now about the white wall that is just about at waist height delineating the start of the resort grounds, small swing gates present entry to Dickenson Bay turn right and take the short walk to the end of the bay past the derelict ‘Dive Shop’ that was historic in that it was where big John started the scuba diving off in Antigua for tourists. I found out that no longer are the beach toys such as hobby cats are no longer included with the all inclusive deal.
Dickenson Bay the Halcyon Rex Resort Antigua and that white wall.
The prices are not shocking but it has meant that the guys don’t even go over and set them up as no one seems to do it anymore. The resort feels like it has decided it’s fate. Walk to the end of the bay and sit for a while enjoying the serenity. If you are in a couple it is a very romantic spot its great for wedding photos down this end. I have fished down here before and it was a most pleasant experience catching nothing as always my equipment was borrowed from my vacation rental back then I blame the line. About this spot – because it is SO beautiful I am hoping that Sandals preserve what it is today. I do find it an incredible shame the country and tourism board are letting it be sold but also it was a constant shame that no renovations were made to the Halcyon Cove still if you were leasing it from the government with Sandals wanting to buy it would you ?
The afternoon saw more drinks interspersed with cricket on the beach and volleyball. I was only ever good at bowling from memory playing cricket at school but we used a tennis ball and a plastic set and the bounce on the sand as you can imagine very unpredictable. There were some youngsters and older like me playing and a mix in-between. One young girl did extremely well bowling to all our surprise but dad let it slip she was a pitcher back home for her baseball team.
Sanchia came on board for the Beach Volley and did well. We had a competitive team member or two but it was again a great way to play sport for the fun of it. Scoring was erratic to say the least and Fenton helped make it so much fun. I just love that in Antigua you can be non Politically Correct as I feel one should be able to be within reason of course. Fenton just comes out with some stuff at times it’s priceless.
After a day of laziness I had an overwhelming desire to go out in the Falmouth area the other side of the island and would try and book it up with Raymond. Dinner was a BBQ on the beach and I had some really nice ribs and fish I love my Tilapia. Tilapia average about the size of your palm and inhabit the brackish water found behind the mangroves in Antigua. You can catch them easily on worms but take bug spray in these areas as they are thick with mosquitoes. I don’t know if they are easy to prepare or not. It’s a really sweet tasting fish.
During the course of feeding I was organising our carriage to the south and Raymond was prompt at both ends of our round trip. Very entertaining too I recommend his use for your transport requirements. On the way he spotted that there were a lot of cars on the road at a point about 2 k out of Falmouth and he said we should try that place out. I was maybe going to try it but first wanted to show Sanchia Falmouth by night with the big boats and parties. It was decidedly flat considering how much it can get going down here and this party was pulling the people away from the centre. We started at this Sushi restaurant where the views to the boats was great and a breeze was blowing through. It was a privilege indeed. We then headed to the mad mongoose crossroads and listened to live music next door in the Lime Lounge – this place would normally be a lot more busy. The band were playing and we could have stayed here and enjoyed the evening but I hadn’t planned and come so far for mediocrity. Abracadabra just up the street will tell us if the party is pulling all the people away from Falmouth. The guy at the door of abracadabra let us in as they needed people but we stayed for just one drink as it was quite empty, we did have a nice dance though. At this point we had decided to get a cab to that party. The cab dropped us at the top of the road and we had to walk down the driveway there were cars parked everywhere, when you see this in Antigua it is usually worth stopping and joining in the party. Perhaps we could have done this on passing earlier but I wanted San to see the boats by night and experience a ‘normal’ Falmouth nightlife which wasn’t to be.
As we walked down the drive I got a knock at the back door something needed to shift and was not going to take no for an answer – damn that bloody shower water had been making me go to the toilet all day and it had picked the most worst time…We hadn’t even arrived were there toilets…I started scanning for a quiet corner this could have been me on a future youtube viral video sensation…You know when something is of such importance thta your brain gets very efficient and non caring for example taking the time to be regularly polite. I am a believer in Maslow’s Pyramid and I figured I was low down it.
My phone was getting very low on credit but I could be reached by Raymond – thank god he somehow saw I was trying to connect with him and he called me. We picked a time for pickup at the full moon party. Within my situation there was a local youth being ejected from the party but I was in need of a toilet and grace of the toilet god’s right there not far in was it. Not just that but the timing was not so bad a small wait. And what was that on the side ? A roll of paper – you’re coming with me – I managed to cramp back the nile and it was my turn. Guys were peeing of course and previous to my turn 2 had been sharing the bowl – how efficient and cool they were 😉 my gain. With no intention of keeping up the efficiency of two in I stole in and bolted the door. I was left with the complaints that were sure to come as a longer than normal time passed – what would I say on leaving…I felt the truth was needed.
We had a fun time for the rest of the evening and Raymond was entertaining on the way home – he was bang on time my credit with LIME dead as.
We were dead proud to have entered back in at 3am and felt in fine state of course – Antigua has been good to us.
If these are not reason enough to choose all inclusive you might consider it better to go for a vacation rental. If you have a large group then it could be nicer to get a home rental. Privacy is perhaps one of the bigger advantages of taking a villa over going for a resort. A key point to Antigua resorts however is that you don’t tend to get the young party animals you will be at risk of getting a room next to in Barbados for example.
Check out the Antigua Resorts Page for more ideas.
Concerning the cost of going all inclusive you may feel that it is possible to do it cheaper but in our experience we couldn’t ! We tried both renting a holiday home and doing a 3 star all inclusive resort – the Halcyon Rex in Dickenson Bay. Of course there are different qualities and it is a hard thing to quantify. It may be hard to get a week for less than 1000 pounds all inclusive per person at 3 stars for Antigua. But when you factor the cost of the flight you will start to see how cheap it is compared with buying your own food in a restaurant for example.
Thanks to Sam [http://www.flickr.com/photos/99840524@N03/] for the use of some of his fantastic Antigua photos and images for this Antigua Blog Post.
I can tell you right now that one of the more economical restaurants we found was the crows nest in Jolly Harbour Sports Centre. For example there a cheeseburger was about 40 Ec (after service and tax) or divide by 4 to get pounds so about 10 pounds per plate. This being one of the cheaper places ! So if you add this up per person per day you will quickly find that all inclusive is much cheaper. Even local places like Sweet Tees in Falmouth are not much cheaper so it’s not a case of not trying, this is just what Antigua and the Caribbean costs.
If you really are after the cheapest all inclusive deal to the Caribbean then you can find that Cuba and the Dominican republic come in about 30% cheaper and depending what you are after could interest you. But the Dominican Republic out of resort is not comfortable for everyone- so you may be feeling better to stay all the time in resort. Cuba is a massive country and if you end up in Holguin expect not to easily visit Havana if you are into your culture you can find some in that region and Baracoa is a recommended destination.
Antigua gets cheaper still over 2 weeks as you still pay for the same flight – the price should not double. I also see that home rentals prices change more than the all inclusive deals in high season. In Antigua high season is from December to April roughly. Watch out for specific weeks like Antigua Race Week – when the island will be short on rental cars for example and places to stay.
Where should you look on Antigua ? After reviewing and speaking to many return visitors I can say that Dickenson Bay is a lovely spot though the Halcyon Rex is suffering from je ne sais quoi at the moment 2013-14 and though the staff are very good and interested (mostly) there is a lack of entertainment.
Check trip advisor regularly to see how it is fairing. I can still recommend this resort for other reasons however. It has maybe the best spot in Antigua for a start. Unfortunately Sandals is not a family resort and is expensive for adults. It may be your thing ? Also on grounds of ethics they have a terrible reputation that ought to be verified and cleared up. Jolly beach resort is massive, lacks charm and the beach area is not as nice as Dickenson bay – I would recommend the Halcyon over this resort having spoken to many who have stayed at both and myself having used both beaches a lot.
Over the east side of the island you have some more upmarket resorts and the region has some opportunities for hiking and some great beaches and a couple of attractions like devils bridge and half moon bay.
I think you could have an amazing vacation here but it isn’t as dense with places to visit like restaurants or things to do, you can’t just make a half day in the capital for example. If you plan to just enjoy the resort for a week which is fine then this is not a concern. In the south we are talking about Falmouth and English Harbour. Here you will find everything you need with many bars and restaurants good beaches and scuba diving. I would recommend an all inclusive in this area as well. The resorts here err on the side of boutique resorts and if you have a young family then I would check out the things to do for them like entertainments for the younger members. Swinging round towards the the south west and full circle to Jolly Harbour there are couple of top resorts I couldn’t really tell you much about them they are very much closed books until I can get a closer look. When you start to get further closer to Jolly Harbour then you get restaurant options again but here note that there are some of the best beaches in Antigua.
I hope this guide has given you some food for thought. But make sure you don’t overthink it either make the bigger logical decisions based on who is in your party and what they will need. I am sure you will enjoy Antigua.
If you have other reasons why to visit an all inclusive resort that we didn’t mention here we would like to hear about them so please comment – your email is never published and you can unsubscribe if you decided to subscribe very easily.
it’s been a rewarding but protracted period of commute, career, maybe family commitments and you deserve a break away for a week or two. Let me walk you through a destination where you and yours will be treated as royalty. That destination is ‘the ridge’ Sugar Ridge in Antigua.
Turn off from your high touch world as much or as little as you like. With omnipresent Wi-Fi you won’t be limited by location, pool, restaurant, room, gym etc. Catch up on your reading or use your laptop or tablet while relaxing in the infinity pool on top of the hill at the renowned Carmichael’s restaurant. Just Instagram that view and watch the followers flock in !
Carmichael’s you should absolutely reserve, and anticipate the experience. Often serving Antigua’s most important dignitaries and famous, with Caribbean fusion dishes created by the head chef. Carmichael’s position on the ridge was chosen for the views which are simply unparalleled, out across to the uninhabited Redonda and to St Kitts and Nevis.
Carmichael’s is not the only restaurant at Sugar Ridge, the Sugar Club bar and restaurant is tastefully contemporary in design – let’s describe it as Caribbean informal chic.
Throughout the resort rests generous and comfortable ergonomic designer furniture. Poolside and throughout the Sugar Club you will find your own style of lounging- as the locals say ‘limin’.
Villas are also available to accommodate larger parties and families, but let’s get back to YOU. Rooms (lower with plunge pools) with clever spaces are 4 to a building; apple device docks and designer fixtures will accommodate you and your family in style and comfort. I felt the room more like a suite than a room because it is more than a single room with a dining area and balcony and my own entrance and private path. Whisking me around the ridge are the resort’s green electric buggies.
Dare I say the whole resort smells great ! I have no idea how they do that – it’s aromatherapytastic.
A full week of relaxation also involves some activity for the body and mind ensuring that you return to self. Try some yoga or Pilates in the fitness studio or elect to hit the iron with their state of the art machinery and free weights.
If, like me, you like running on the beach and (Antigua is known for its beaches) within minutes you can be barefoot on some of Antigua’s best.
Other Antigua activities include a new clay pigeon shooting range, ziplining or simply hike a part of Antigua’s nature on one of the many trails. Visit the charming Antiguan interior with its sugar mills and historic dockyards once manned by Nelson himself. Antigua of course has water-sports galore, jet-skis and hobbie cats to scuba diving. Not your thing? Charter a boat for a day (crew or no crew) sail. On Sunday don’t miss the Shirley Heights BBQ attraction where Steel Band meets views atop Nelsons Dockyard and English Harbour.
One of Antigua’s most popular tours is the getting married in Antigua tour ! And Sugar Ridge has your most special day covered. Brides are treated to in house makeup with the specially trained Aveda makeup artist using ONLY their range of high end AVEDA makeup products. Sugar Ridge is arguably one of the best spots to say ‘I do’ in the world.
The Aveda Concept Spa, the only one in Antigua is part of Sugar Ridge Club.
A full range of massages and treatments is available, for example; the hot stone massage a personal favourite. Look your best for Carmichael’s with a stop at the hair salon and beauty parlour.
So there you have it – your next holiday planned. The sorting out is also easy; flights to Antigua are easy to find and represent great value with both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways competing for this route from Gatwick. Decide on the room basis you would like from ‘All Inclusive’ to ‘Bed and Breakfast’ and pick your dates – luxury at Sugar Ridge is 12 hours away door to door.
Calvin Crane is passionate about resorts and relaxing in style in the Caribbean.
3/9/2013 © copyright calvin crane all rights reserved.
We struggled to find a good video that shows Sugar Ridge and opted for something related but a little different..