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Just Starting to Research - Any tips?

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 30
reviews: 1
Just Starting to Research - Any tips?

I've just now stumbled upon this little gem that appears to be Montserrat and I want to go tomorrow. I've begun research for a girls trip (two professionals, mid-30s) and am just looking to relax and experience some old world charm - away from the hustle and bustle of commercial living.

Are there any tips for things to do, see, stay? Since we are single ladies we would like to be somewhat close to bars/restaurants. Just to clarify, we are NOT looking for some wild party spring break type of vacation. More like a relaxing, belly up to the local watering hole with a beer and share good conversation vacation.

We do not mind a little walk, and have no problem renting a car either, but I'm not sure which would be best. We see ourselves hiking and exploring or taking a break on the beach with a beverage by day. And continuing to relax and enjoy the Montserrat atmosphere at night.

Any pointers for a first-timer would be GREATLY appreciated!!

Maple Glen, Pa.
posts: 76
1. Re: Just Starting to Research - Any tips?

irishautumn, You are in for a treat. Montserrat is a lovely place to relax, hike and enjoy. It is very safe. We just came back from our place on Sunday and already can't wait to return. I can't think of a place where you could stay and easily walk to bars, though. I suggest that you rent a car to explore the island. It is much easier to drive to the beaches, shop for food, go to restaurants, volcano observatory, etc. that way. If you are traveling from Chicago, it can be a long day getting there. You may wish to check into airline schedules first. My wife's cousins (from Chicago) stayed at our place and it was challenging for them.

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 30
reviews: 1
2. Re: Just Starting to Research - Any tips?

Thanks for the info! The more I read, the more intrigued I become. And the bars are definitely not a deal breaker. The island itself just seems so interesting.

When you say it could be a long day, how so? I've read different things. One being that you could get stuck in immigration in Antigua longer than the length of your entire stay on Montseratt. Another that flights to/from Montseratt are very sparse (on that note, are there specific airlines, I seem to be having a hard time searching and several articles I've read are outdated with airlines that may no longer fly there referenced).

I'm beginning to think it's necessary to spend the night in Antigua before and after. But I love the various descriptions of the guest houses I'm reading and know this is exactly the kind of low key place we're looking for.

Maple Glen, Pa.
posts: 76
3. Re: Just Starting to Research - Any tips?

There is a seperate line in Antigua for connecting flights (short), so going through customs and immigration are not problematic. You then need to go outside and get in line to ticket and check bags for the flight to Montserrat, then reenter the ariport by going through security again. This whole process may take from 30 to 90 minutes, depending upon how busy the airport is. Two airlines service Montserrat from Antigua...SVG and Flymontserrat. You can check their respective websites. Both have late day flights to Montserrat and early AM returns to Antigua. There is also a ferry on some days. Links and a schedule are on the Montserrat Tourism Board website.

The problem coming from Chicago is that you are crossing time zones and losing an hour or so getting there. I don't believe that there are any direct flights to Antigua, so you will need to connect somewhere. This makes it challenging to get to Antigua with enough time left to make the plane to Montserrat. You will need to check the flights to Antigua first and see how soon you can get there. I expect that you will need to get up early in the AM to make it happen.

The additional challenge to get to Montserrat is perhaps why it is so unspoiled. What time of year are you considering going. I will try to check it out for you? Do you fly out of O'Hara airport? Does it matter which airline that you fly (i.e. need to use airline miles)?

Columbus, Ohio
posts: 1,041
reviews: 15
4. Re: Just Starting to Research - Any tips?

My husband and I will be visiting Monsterrat in April. We are staying at Wind Chimes in Antigua the night before we fly to Montserrat. It looks like a nice place to stay and it's affordable. It's close to the airport too. I was leary of trying to cram all of the travel into one day. I'd hate to miss a flight. Good luck and I hope you have fun.

We booked Fly Montserrat for our airline from Antigua to Montserrat. It was easy booking online followed with an email confirmation.

mfcav is a wealth of knowledge and gave us tons of pointers.

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 30
reviews: 1
5. Re: Just Starting to Research - Any tips?

We're thinking about going for a long weekend as well, just not sure when. Likely a Thursday - Tuesday. Are there any recommendations on places to stay. Since the flight is a little on the expensive side we were trying to keep costs down and are not at all picky about accommodations.

I was just looking at Gingerbread Hill and that looked great! It's getting a little hard to research since there doesn't seem to be a lot of post-volcanic eruption travel information out there. Not even on Lonely Planet. Any pointers and places to look/research/peruse?

Dayton, Ohio
posts: 138
reviews: 3
6. Re: Just Starting to Research - Any tips?

My boyfriend and I are staying Gingerbread Hill the week after next. We chose it based on the reviews here on Tripadvisor and the 360 degree views on Gingerbread Hill's website.

I've been doing my research, and Fodor's website seems to have the most recently updated information I've seen. I also took a chance and purchased the Kindle book by KC Nash. Unfortunately the information in it seems to be outdated despite its 2012 publication date. It's a shame because it seems like it probably was a decent guide.

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 30
reviews: 1
7. Re: Just Starting to Research - Any tips?

We were looking at Gingerbread Hill and also possibly Erindell B & B just because the hosts sounds so fun and hilarious! Gingerbread Hill looks so nice though. Which part are you staying in?

Maple Glen, Pa.
posts: 76
8. Re: Just Starting to Research - Any tips?

Irish, How much are you looking to spend and do you need one or two bedrooms? Do you want a villa, hotel, or B&B? I hear nice things about the owners of Gingerbread Hill, but have not seen the property personally. Watermelon cottage may be another place to consider. I believe that accommodations there include breakfast and are very reasonable. I'm not sure about the views during the day, but we love it for dinner at night. Good luck and let us all know how things work out.

Almostperfect, be sure to read what I wrote about the separate line for connecting flights in Antigua. It could save you 30 minutes or so.

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 30
reviews: 1
9. Re: Just Starting to Research - Any tips?

Thank you so much for all your input. I was just viewing the video for Gingerbread Hill that is on their website. The Heavenly Suite is WAY too big for just the two of us, but the views look amazing. The Villa is just below the suite with pretty much the same view and according to the price on their website it's absolutely something we would be willing to spend. Two bedrooms would be a "nice to have" but it's certainly not necessary. We'd be just as comfortable in one room with twin beds too. We've traveled a lot together so sharing a room is not an issue at all.

I did note that Gingerbread Hill doesn't have a pool. I would like to think when on a Caribbean Island that I would spend more time laying on a beach than at a pool and it sounds like Gingerbread Hill is ideally located for something like that. Is that right?

We're very easy going travelers and Montserrat's "off the beaten path - Caribbean of 50 years ago" atmosphere is EXACTLY what we're looking for. Some place to relax and get away. So we're open to suggestions, on just about everything - places to stay, places to eat. I'm having fun just doing the research and it makes me sad that until last week, I never even knew Montserrat existed! I'm excited to come check it out for myself! It looks absolutely amazing!

Edited: 8:46 pm, February 14, 2013
Dayton, Ohio
posts: 138
reviews: 3
10. Re: Just Starting to Research - Any tips?

We wanted to stay in the Heavenly Suite, mainly for the top deck, but it was already booked for the time we will be there. We will be spending the first two days in the Backpackers Special then moving up to the villa when it becomes available.

Mfcav01, thank you for the Antigua tip! I actually do have a question regarding the connection. On the way back, we were stuck with the early flight which will put us in Antigua around 8:00am. Our flight out doesn't leave until 3:00pm, so we would like to use that time to see a little bit of Antigua. Would we still be able to use the shorter line or are we stuck with the long one since we'll be exiting the airport?