The worst thing about Antigua occurs as soon as you arrive. "Immigration" involves standing for an inordinately long time in a small, crowded hall where there is no air circulating and nothing to prevent the temperature and humidity going sky-high. When your turn actually comes, the immigration process takes no more than a few seconds but the waiting is a most unpleasant way of being introduced to the beautiful island of Antigua. However, this is probably the only unpleasant experience you will have to go through for the entire holiday.
A 20 minute taxi ride takes you to Blue Waters and any reservations you might have had while at the airport are immediately dispelled. The hotel is quite compact but always gives the impression of being spacious and not at all crowded. We were met by the assistant manager and were immediately sat down in the enormous reception area, given a cold towel and glasses of rum punch and invited to relax while we were checked in. This sets the tone for the rest of your stay. Everything possible is done to enable you to sit back, relax and enjoy yourself. The staff are very friendly and helpful and nothing would appear to be too much trouble for them in making your stay as pleasurable as possible.
When we were ready we were taken to our beachfront room, with a quick tour of the site on the way. After speaking to other guests, we were glad we obtained this upgrade as apparently many of the hillside rooms lack either a view or a balcony or patio. It was not quite as large as the pictures on the website suggested, but well decorated and maintained and provided us with everything we could want. The bathroom was large and spacious, our one criticism being that it was almost impossible to get cooler air circulating in the bathroom, which made it very hot and humid all the time. According to my wife, the complimentary Gilchrist & Soames toiletries (large size) are ‘fabulous’. Best of all, however, was the view from the room, looking out over the Caribbean sea and across to the other side of the hotel and the causeway and gazebo where the weddings take place. The mini-bar facility was kept well stocked with everything that we required by simply hanging the order form on the outside of the door the night before, and sheets and towels were changed daily. The chambermaids are without exception friendly and helpful, and our usual maid even left a gift of fresh flowers on our bed on the morning of our wedding.
The facilities provided by the hotel are second to none. There are 3 pools to choose from plus the beach. At the two bigger pools which have bars, the staff are very attentive and supplies of iced water, cold towels and freshly cut chilled fruit are regularly brought round to everyone. Wherever you are it is never noisy or crowded, it is the perfect place to chill out and relax with plenty of sunbeds available. Changing our beach towels was never a problem, but I should imagine it would be quite inconvenient if you were in a hillside room and planning to use the adults only pool high up in the gardens or the smaller beach on the other side of the causeway, as the watersports staff who issue the clean towels are situated at the opposite end of the resort.
The 2 restaurants are of a very high quality. The dress code seemed to be largely ignored at the Palm, and mentioned but not enforced at Vyviens. We ate all our meals at the Palm except on our wedding night when we went to Vyviens. I highly recommend the steaks served at the Palm which are truly melt-in-the mouth. The Monday BBQ evening is also well worth attending. The island cats do walk around quite unobtrusively in the Palm dining room, but seem so much part of the scenery that you almost cease to notice them after a couple of days. My wife was more bothered by the birds who take every opportunity to partake of your breakfast milk if it has been left uncovered! If you are on all inclusive, as we were, you seem to be able to eat almost continuously if that is what you want. In general, the meals are excellent and the service is relaxed and very friendly. I disagree with a comment made in a previous review that the buffet-style breakfasts are not vegetarian friendly; in addition to the meat dishes, there are plentiful choices of cereals, yoghurts, fresh and tinned fruits, croissants and pastries, toast, eggs cooked to your liking, and a wonderful concoction known as ‘chop up’ served on a Sunday which is totally meat & fish free. I would say that choice is far more limited at other mealtimes when there is usually only one vegetarian dish on the menu.
Mention must also be made of the gymnasium in the hotel, which contained modern equipment, was well maintained and was available for use throughout the day. It was also the second coolest place in the hotel (quite how they managed to get the temperature in the restrooms at reception so low I will never know!!)
While staying at Blue Waters we got married. Having read previous reviews we knew it would be a wonderful and very special day. Thanks in large part to Cindy Joseph, the wedding coordinator, our hopes and expectation for the day were exceeded. Everything was done in a very relaxed way, but everything possible was done to make the day exactly how we wanted, and more. Even the trip into St. Johns to organise the legalities prior to the wedding went far better than expected, only taking around an hour instead of the entire morning we had be warned to expect. My wife visited the beauty salon to have her nails, hair and make-up done and reported that the staff were efficient , although lacking in some of the pampering skills one would expect in a salon of this quality in the UK. However she was very pleased with the results and with the flowers provided for her bouquet and my buttonhole.
Having spoken to several other couples, we realised after booking the ceremony that our planned time of 2pm was going to be the hottest part of the day, so asked Cindy to change it if possible, which as usual she managed with utmost efficiency. I would urge anyone marrying in Antigua to opt for the latest possible ceremony (4.30pm) to take advantage of the slightly cooler temperature and really think twice about what they plan to wear. We saw brides wilting in the heat and grooms struggling in suits which quickly turned into their own personal steam baths; although the gazebo itself benefits from some delightful sea breezes, the heat is oppressive once you return to the main complex. We were very glad we had opted for the casual look – myself in a short sleeved shirt and linen trousers and my wife in a knee-length silk blend dress.
We opted for the steel band who really added a Caribbean feel to the occasion and the photographer who was friendly and capable although the finished prints are not quite as high quality as some people may require. We felt that they were exceptional value for money especially as you also receive all the negatives. The ceremony itself was conducted by Cleo Percival whose words were truly emotional and, unlike a civil ceremony in the UK, included references to God. As we had travelled to Antigua by ourselves, our two witnesses were Cindy and Karen, one of the managers at the hotel. We couldn't have asked for a better start to our married lives than to have the ceremony take place in the gazebo at Blue Waters.
The clientele during our stay was predominantly middle-aged British couples, with a few younger couples (many of whom were there to get married with accompanying family members) and a very few Americans. There were hardly any children, and I feel that Blue Waters is very adult orientated, which was just what we wanted. The evening entertainment is variable, ranging from very good to just bearable but mainly consists of local bands that have very similar repertoires. Although our room was near to the bandstand, once inside the music becomes pleasant background noise and we had no trouble dropping off to sleep when we wished to retire early.
We didn’t feel the need to go on any trips during our stay (despite the best efforts of Elvis on the beach – a great character who is happy to take no for an answer) but those of our fellow guests who did seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. Jewellery shopping in St.Johns was mentioned more than once (but luckily out of my wife’s earshot). Wadadli Cats will pick you up from the beach and take you for a day’s swimming and sightseeing, but be warned you have to board a small dinghy to reach the Cat which people with mobility problems or babies in pushchairs may find difficult.
Two things could have been improved on during our stay: on one day the entire hotel was without water due to the lack of rain over the previous months and the inability to obtain any from anywhere else until late in the evening. We felt that this situation should have been foreseen and avoided, and when no mention of this was made in the evening bulletin delivered to all guests when the beds are turned down, it seemed decidedly lacking in customer relations. Surely an apology and a ‘thanks for your patience’ would not have gone amiss?
The other episode we were less than happy with occurred on our last evening at Blue Waters. Having ordered certified copies of our marriage certificate and paid $ 30 for these, we were shocked to discover that these legal documents had been left outside our room on the patio by whoever delivered them. On reporting this to reception, it was obvious that the receptionist we were speaking to had been the person responsible, but no apology of any kind was forthcoming, (a completely different attitude to Cindy’s when we told her about it the next morning).
On the day we left, staff were coming up to us and hugging us, saying their farewells and hoping we would come back to Antigua soon. It doesn't get any friendlier than that! We have been back from holiday 2 weeks now and the wonderful memories are still fresh in our minds, not only of the wonderful place that Blue Waters is in itself, but also how extra special it is made by the wonderful staff that we met and got to know. One thing is for certain, it will not be long before we return to Blue Waters.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.