We chose Jolly Beach through Virgin Holidays, as a value, all-inclusive 3* resort. Based on TripAdvisor reviews, our expectations were of staying in a basic, slightly down-at-heal resort, with a magnificent beach and calm warm waters, and 80-85 degree temperatures.
In short, the resort more than met our expectations at every level, and as regular travellers comfortable with backpacker through to 5* accommodation, we find it hard to understand the extreme negative reviews. Now clearly rennovated (still ongoing in some room blocks) we felt it was a 4* resort, at 3* prices.
In summary, the best of Jolly Beach includes:
25 mins airport transfer. Long white clean sandy beach, calm warm waters and amazing sunsets, a combination which can't be beaten on the entire island (e.g. the east side seas are much rougher). Less than 5 mins to Jolly Harbour, containing shops, banks, restaurants, excursions etc. A decent value dive centre on the beach (which we used for a 2 tank dive).
Food was very good, and way above 3* quality. Plenty of Antiguan food options, including delicious Marlin steaks, grilled Kingfish, plaintain fritters, pineapple crumble, banana curry, fresh fruit and vegetables. Lots of international options too, if you prefer home-from-home tastes. The buffet-style main restaurant was our favourite, a really wide choice, with daily variance for the evening menu. The 'a la carte' restaurants offered a different, and valued experience - with less variety, but traditional table service. Poolside grill also offered delicious mid-afternoon BBQ style offerings, including the hugely popular jerk chicken.
3) Communal areas
Given the reviews on this site, it's important to stress how impressed we were with the overall standard of the communal areas. Everywhere was freshly painted in cheerful pastel colours. The gardens are immaculated attended, with round the clock attention - a huge variety of palms (coconuts, almond, etc.), bushes, and flowers. Plenty of available sun loungers. No litter. Very clean hygenic pools. Empty glasses and plates cleared away almost as soon as they're placed aside! Excellent wi-fi service, free, strong signal available across the entire (large) site.
Throughout the resort, all staff were very friendly and helpful, always looking to smile and say 'hello' at minimum, and many looking to go the extra mile - imparting knowledge about the resort, island, people, and produce - with a joke, or flashing smile never far away. Unfortunately many guests were seen to treat the staff with utter distain. We admired the staff for 'turning the other cheek', rising above it all, and continuing to deliver regardless.
Very limited evidence of queueing required. On these few occasions, e.g. check-in, waiting to enter the buffet restaurant mid-evening, poolside grill at mid-afternoon, staff dealt quickly and efficiently resulting in very small waiting times (never queued more than 3-4 mins).
Entertainment appeared to go down very well with the holiday-makers, even though we generally had early nights and didn't partake. The live music was good.
The only compromise we experienced, and the main cause of negative reviews, are the rooms.
We had a standard room, i.e. not the smaller 'super-saver' frequently mentioned in negative reviews. We were pleased with the quality of the room, and size - a huge comfortable 'proper' double (i.e. not 2 singles thrown together) and lots of space for luggage and clothing to be stored away. View from the balcony onto the beach was lovely.
We were initially located in the Guadeloupe block - right above the main restaurant and very close to the entertainment area. The room was too noisy for us. We tended to bed down at 9pm, so the entertainment going on to 11pm-ish wasn't welcome. We could also hear the kitchen start up at around 6am.
We politely asked to be moved, and were re-located without fuss to a same-standard room much further away from the main communal resort areas - in the St Martins block. **Although clearly the same-standard, some of the furnishings were higher quality, and the bathroom had been build to a higher specification - so I think it's fair to say you take your chances on room quality while they're busy rennovating block-by-block. This may explain some of the review differences on here.**
Book the brunch at Lydia's on a Sunday to enjoy the steel band.
It's a vast resort, and far from full during the current economic climate - if you're not ha...
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.