This is our review on this hotel, we visited the property at the end of June, utilizing the LL packages. We stayed for 8 nights, hope it's useful!
Beautiful hotel, with several beach and hillside cottages and a main area where the lobby, restaurant, bar and pool are nestled. All of the cottages offer the same amenities of air conditioning, a safe box, plasma TV, cable/satellite TX, DVD and an iPod dock with speakers with remote control. The iPod can be a problem if you or your neighbors have the music too loud. The hillside cottages are a little larger in terms of area since they have a plunge pool.
The beach cottages (5 of them, same floor plan) are sort of like a junior suite with a seating area, bed and the bathroom behind. Its all an open area, except for a partition behind the bed that separates the bathroom area (loft style). Has a nice terrace and huge doors that when opened you have a beautiful view of the beach. They also have an outside shower and a large tub inside. Most of them are oceanfront except #16 which is behind #15.
The hillside cottages are sprawled over this hill and they all have the same layout as well. The only difference is that some cottages have the pool on the right versus the left and except for some (2-3) that are not directly facing the west it really does not make any difference in terms of sunlight. The A/C living area is smaller than the beach cottages since the seating area is outside near the pool. The air conditioned area is the bedroom and the bathroom, and unlike the beach cottages, the bathroom is completely separated with a full wall with doors.
The pool area is nice with the adjacent bar and the restaurant is within the same building a few steps away. The restaurant area is not air conditioned but there was a nice breeze always and the upper level of the restaurant (it has 3 levels and al fresco just outside), have several fans that circulate the air. The beach is not so nice compared to some other beaches in Antigua. It looks much nicer that what it is. Most of the beach is actually made of broken shells although there are several nice areas of sand only, which are quite enjoyable. Not too nice to walk on, wear beach shoes.
We did not encounter problems with any kind on bugs while staying in the beachfront cottages, even at dusk when we would sit down to watch some nice sunsets. They would come every evening with a fogger and went all around the cottages and fumigated the place. Stuff did not bother us. However I must say that the hillside is another story, even going up the steps youll get bitten. Just standing one day out in the balcony one day and I got several bites on my legs and feet.
The food is quite good, the breakfast and lunch menu offer the basics and they do not change although they offer a lunch special everyday. The lunch menu covers a little bit more since they offer starters (appetizers), soups, salads and entrees as well as deserts. The dinner menu changes every night. Most of the food that we had was quite good if not excellent, portions are not big but adequate enough, considering you can have a 4 course meal. There is no dress code for any meals although most of the guests did wear regular evening casual wear (long pants, collared shirts, dresses, etc.) for dinner. They have live music 3 times a week. Nice music, no bands, just slow, jazzy, easy listening type of music. Music is from 8 to 10PM. If you are looking for night entertainment, this is not the place. Night activity consisted of having an after diner coffee or drinks at the bar/lounge area and socialize with other guests. Most guests retire after dinner or after a post dinner drink at the bar. Bar closes at midnight.
The hotel was officially opened on Tuesday June 26 to which several important dignitaries were attending including the Antiguan Prime Minister. After the ribbon cutting ceremony guests were asked to proceed to a set up tent right in front of the pool area, for a reception where they provided music, drinks and hors-duvres. A note of curiosity is that the resort guests were not invited to attend the ceremony/reception event and were asked to watch the ceremony from behind the partition in the back of the pool/lounge area. I just found it odd being the hotel so small they would leave the guests out.
The hotel offers the same amenities whether you are in a hillside cottage or in a beach cottage. The question comes as to which to choose. Here unlike many hotels on the islands the higher you are the more it costs, the closest you are to the beach the less. To trade a beachfront cottage for a hillside with a plunge pool depends on your likes. Just keep in mind that a walk up the hill is not easy and if you have any type of walking handicap this might not be the choice for you. With the heat and the humidity it can be a challenge, and although they have some golf carts to transport you, the island time schedule might not be necessarily ideal for you. The pool is nice and you can have more quality time together and in private. Also as mentioned before, we noticed that the bugs bite more on the hill than on the beach.
There have been previous comments on the landscaping but there is really not much that they can do. If you travel throughout the island you will see that there are many areas that look like that sort of dry and arid. They are adding some shrubs along the paths but the overall effect I dont think that will change much.
So why does my rating drop? Unfortunately the hotel lacks the charm and coziness of a well run establishment. The pool area have no music and is rather dull/dead (nice music, low volume with hidden speakers would make a big difference!). Even the staff members that we mentioned it to agreed, on this one. The service is overall good. The staff although extremely polite and courteous is not as friendly as you can notice in some other establishments. They are too serious and too dry (better term to explain what I am trying to say); some are shy and only after coming in contact with them for a while, then you can see that they become warm and more human. I do not know if this is management training or that is the way locals are, but certainly not good in the hotel business. We had several mishaps scheduling massages, requesting moving to a hillside cottage, etc. There is not a lot of communication amongst them, so its like if the right hand does not know what the left one is doing and vice-versa.
Maybe with time the hotel will improve and is able to achieve what it lacks. I certainly hope this considering the rates that they post. Perhaps its too early to judge. The hotel has a great potential and it needs to concentrate more on the details rather than the entire scope for its in the details where you will begin picking up the pieces. Its just like polishing a gem after being cut, it should be brilliant! Would I return? Not really, there are too many other islands and other fine hotels to visit in the Caribbean (including Antigua) that this one is not worth yet for a return! Only time will tell! (Sorry for the length on this one!)
Thanks so much for the detailed review! I had bid on this property and missed out, but it was still under consideration for the future. I'm glad the hear the insects weren't much of a problem, especially if you're not in a hillside room. Your comments about the beach area really make me think twice about this resort. I'm sure they will work out some of the service details in time, but in Antigua you would really expect a top quality beach. Glad you had an enjoyable vacation in any case. And your review is much appreciated!