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“500 USD a night for backpacker experience!” 2 of 5 stars
Review of North Beach

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North Beach
Barbuda   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #3 of 3 hotels in Barbuda
Southampton, United Kingdom
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
“500 USD a night for backpacker experience!”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2013

My companion and I stayed at North Beach for 4 nights Feb 1 2013 -Feb 5 2013. We were there at the same time as the Guardian journalist writing a promotion for the property and the Antiguan photographers doing the photo shoot for this resort. We were the only paying guests at the property. We chose to stay there having read the glowing tripadvisor reviews and ignoring the one bad review which has subsequently turned out to be exactly as we found the resort.
North Beach is indeed a stunning 'away from it all' location. The sea and the sand and the natural environment are idyllic. It is indeed peaceful. Relaxing? I guess that depends whether you are paying or not.
We have stayed in many Caribbean resorts and on a significant number of small islands worldwide - including lesser known, remote South Pacific islands. We understand the challenges of supply and demand for remote areas. We know that it is all down to organisation, planning, knowing your client needs and the motivation and care to get it as right as possible given these challenges.
North Beach failed miserably in all these respects and in particular the motivation to deliver a product that matched its advertising and its price.

We do not complain readily. We were, however, strongly encouraged to do so on this occasion by both the photographer doing the promotional shoot and the British Journalist writing the article. Clearly, it was difficult for them to express any form of reservation given they were there by invitation.

As a result of our disappointment I wrote to the Antiguan Tourist Board who are now looking into the health and safety issues, the accommodation issues and the value for money issues.
Below is a copy of my letter of complaint. If you intend to stay at the resort then please read on so that you can make an informed choice about whether the 'ups' are worth the 'downs'.

Letter to Antiguan Tourist Board

Dear Sir, I am writing to express my disappointment and concerns about North Beach Barbuda. I spent four nights at the resort, arriving Friday 1 February and departing Tuesday, 5 February, 2013. I am currently staying at Hawksbill Resort in Antigua until 22 February.

My concerns and those of my travelling companion, relate to three main areas:-
- heath and safety
- quality of service and accommodation
- value for money.
I raised all the concerns below with the owner and at his request left a 4 page list of problems which he needed to address. He told me that he would rectify the issues and invite me back to see the improvements!

Health and Safety
We arrived in Barbuda at approximately 5.45pm, following a delayed SVG flight. We were met by Reuben the owner of the hotel. We were taken to the dock in a minibus which was quite dirty inside and wedged in between the seats behind where we were sitting was a 5 gallon drum of diesel.
We boarded the boat and by the time we arrived at the hotel it was dark. We were not given a key to our cottage. On entering the accommodation we stepped onto a slippery and squishy surface. Upon investigation we found this to be plastic sheeting with a mock floorboard patterning that had been laid on top of old coir matting. It had been nailed to the matting and had split by the entrance to the cottage, by the bathroom door and a various other points in the large room. It proved to be a slip and trip hazard throughout our stay.
There was no handle on the outside of the plywood bathroom door. The shower control was loose. There was no toilet brush or cleaning equipment.
The room was not cleaned for 3 days.
The table cloths in the Pavilion where meals were served were not changed during our 5 day stay.
The room's mini fridge was placed on a small, plastic poolside stool.
The generator was turned off during the day so there was no fresh water available. We were not advised of this in advance and consequently had no hot shower water before dinner.

Quality of Accommodation and Service
The accommodation was spacious but did not have the basic amenities. For example, there was a short rail for hanging clothes (no wardrobe) but no clothes hangers were provided. There were 2 sets of drawers - dirty inside with remains of sand. One drawer contained a reel of boat rope, a bag of screws, the assembly details for the windows and other DIY items. Another drawer contained discarded European plastic travel cards.
The bathroom had a toilet roll and used shower cap and 3 tiny bars of soap and a mirror.
The bed linen was polyester not cotton and I had to request a change of linen on day 4.

We were not advised of the meal times. We had been led to believe this was an all inclusive hotel. Dinner consisted of a main course only. We had to request ice cream and fruit which we did receive on the second night. There was no choice for lunch - again one course only which consisted of a fish roll, or burger, or salad.

Drinks were difficult to come by. We asked for gin and tonic. This was provided on the first night but tonic was not available for the 2nd day. We had to ask if there was any wine to accompany the meal. When we did it was provided.

Cutlery was wrapped in paper napkins on the first 2 days. However, when opened we noted that the napkins had been cut in half. By the 3rd day the napkins had run our and were replaced by kitchen roll. We were served lobster twice - on both occasions it was overcooked and dry. In general all the food was luke warm.

A journalist from a well known British newspaper was staying with her partner and 2 year old son to do a feature on the hotel and they received similar service. Their cottage was also not cleaned for 3 days and I understand they did not have hot water for the duration of their stay.

Value for money

The first thing to note is that the setting of this hotel is stunning. The natural environment is amazing and we saw turtles hatch and the mating frigate birds and we enjoyed the snorkelling.

However, the hotel website is misleading. We were not offered any trips. We were only taken to the bird sanctuary because the journalist and the photographer were going and they insisted Reuben ask us if we would like to join the group.
Of the three accommodations occupied during our stay we were led to believe we were the only paying guests.

There were many other issues I could mention in this email, but I have restricted myself to the main ones and those that had the most impact on the overall quality of the experience.

Perhaps the most shocking issue of all is the cost of this holiday. We paid 500 USD per night plus government tax. This did not include the SVG flights.
We realise that there are supply issues to Barbuda and understand that water needs to be conserved. We are regular visitors to Antigua - at least once a year and sometimes twice. Had we been paying 200-300 USD per night our expectations of the standard of food and service would have been less ambitious. Although the health and safety issues would still have been a concern.

The owner did not seem to grasp this point. He blamed his 2 staff for not doing their jobs. He said the rooms were not cleaned in order to respect the privacy of guests. I pointed out to him that I had stayed on another Caribbean island that respected privacy. That hotel provided bathroom cleaning equipment and a set of clean bed linen and towels should guests wish to remain undisturbed. Such facilities were not provided at North Beach so it was a totally reasonable assumption on my part that the room would be cleaned daily.
500 USD a night for a hotel with no cleaning service, poor and restricted amounts of food and drink, health and safety issues and an owner who only provides a service if it is constantly requested, does not in my view represent value for money in any shape or form.

In conclusion, North Beach is just not up to the standard of Antiguan service and hospitality that we have come to rely on and that your literature states you aspire to. I felt it only fair to bring this to your attention in the hope that other potential guest will not be as disappointed and let down as we have been.

In the meantime we continue to enjoy our stay at Hawksbill, which provides an excellent service a convivial atmosphere and most definitely gives first rate Antiguan value for money. We have stayed here every year for the last 8 years and hopefully will return for many more years in the future.
I look forward to hearing your view on the issues I have reluctantly drawn to your attention.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (3)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Bristol, United Kingdom
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 6, 2012

Went for a week and stayed for two... says it all. The trip to North Beach via Antigua V C Bird Int, Norman Islander plane followed by a 20min boat ride across a lagoon and through mangrove swamps to this Paradise in the Caribbean was a great intro to an amazing holiday. Emerging out into open sea, North Beach shoreline was like something out of a Bond film and jumping ashore onto soft, clean sand didn't disappoint. The holiday bungalows, some on stilts, some at beach level make a perfect setting on this get-away-from-it-all northern corner of the beautiful island of Barbuda.
We had time to unpack and get settled in a lovely, well appointed, ensuite double room before an amazing sunset followed by an excellent dinner of local lobster; this was to prove the first of many.
Reuben, with very capable support from Sophie, was a perfect host... friendly, hospitable and an amazing cook. He seemed able to adapt to every culinary whim. We were very lucky, being early in the season, to be the only guests. As a result we had over a mile of stunning beach to ourselves. Whilst attentive to our every need, Reuben and Sophie and the occasional visiting fishermen, had the knack of knowing when to be on hand and when to leave us in glorious seclusion.
We had intended to return to Coddrington for the second week, but took little persuasion to stay on North Beach for the remainder of our stay. One of a kind!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bradford West Gwillimbury, Canada
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
44 helpful votes 44 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2012

This was the end to a trip that began in Dominica - in many ways it was the opposite to my experience in the other island. Barbuda is low and scrubby - you do not come here for shopping or landscapes. But the seascape is idyllic, as is the beach. Reuben was flexible and discussed each meal with me, adjusting to my request for conch on the final night rather than the fish I mentioned that morning. The Banks beer was a personal favourite and Tanya's good natured meal service was a great complement to Reuben's cooking. I loved the seclusion and beauty of North Beach, though being the only guest for my two-day stay was disappointing only inasmuch as I think this is such a gem that it deserves guests. You must, however, read the North Beach ad and realise what you opt for by choosing this resort - a real escape from technology and the 21st Century. Thanks, Reuben!

Room Tip: Don't leave your door open or you will spend time tracking down the odd fly; likewise, Muskol or...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 6, 2012 via mobile

My friend and I stayed at north beach in may for a week and it's literally the best place I've ever been to in my life. The cottages are charming, really clean and tastefully done. The beaches are to die for, the food delicious (I had lobster 4 times) and reuben the owner and Joanne the chef were more than helpful, lovely and hilarious. It is a really special place, and really secluded, but with everything you could need. I cannot recommend it highly enough!! Phoebe.

  • Stayed May 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leicester, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2012

We recently got married in Antigua and decided to take ourselves away for a private lttle mini-moon. We genuinely couldn't have picked a better location than North beach for this.
Someone was ready to collect us at the airport and then we were taken on a boat by Norman to our cottage. The journey there is stunning, travelling through the mangroves via the Frigate Bird Sanctuary.
We were greeted with a very friendly welcome by a smiling Reuben and Joanne.
For our entire 3 night stay we were so well looked after, 3 meals a day and as much of Reubens famous rum punch as we could manage. The food was fantastic, we took advantage of the fresh lobster and requested lobster for lunch and dinner on 2 of our 3 nights. The steak we got on the other night was delicious as well.
It really is a paradise Island and I have to say that i haven't felt as relaxed in years as I did during my stay there. Miles of beach with just the two of us there, perfect for a honeymoon getaway.
We met Douglas the Donkey and paddled with a stingray that ventured to within only a a few feet of the beach.
With no TV, Phone or internet reception it really is a chance for you to relax, enjoy each others company and be at one with nature. Although Reuben and Joanne really are great company and fun to be around.
I can't think of anything else to say other than it really is a little piece of Heaven on Earth, and we really hope to return one day.
Thanks Reuben and Joanne. x

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bury St. Edmunds, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 22, 2012

We went to North Beach as part of our honeymoon and it was a unique experience. We knew it was isolated and unspoilt which is why we chose it, to truly get away. We were met at the airport and driven through Codrington, the locals are just lovely and very friendly. Norm picked us up on the boat and we got a 20 min ride through the lagoon, with the frigate bird sanctuary. Once upon Goat Island Rueben met us and helped us with our luggage to our cabin. It was like a postcard, pink white sand azure blue waters, conch shells and coral reefs. Our cabin was comfortable, clean and idyllic. Everyday our meals were cooked and prepared for us, we felt part of the family and spent our days swimming, sleeping, eating and waking along the amazing beaches. Never have we relaxed so much. Furthermore you get a sense of the realism of living in the Caribbean, on an isolated island you are so much more aware of your surroundings and nature, I am quite fond of the little crabs that pop up everywhere and Douglas the wild donkey. Thank you Rueben and Joanne for sharing with us the experience of Barbuda we hope to be back with you soon x

Room Tip: There are only 4 cottages all wonderful
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 6, 2012

I just want to start by saying that I could not disagree more with the previous review. I think that the claims that were made were so far from my experience that I am very suspect of the motives of the reviewer.

My girlfriend and I stayed for were planning on a 7 day trip to Barbuda in April and had found that it was very difficult to deal with Kelcina at the Barbuda Cottages. She took weeks to return each message that I left and when she finally did, she had no idea what dates were available to be booked. Reuben, however, takes his business very seriously. He answered all of the questions that I had about the island on our first phone call and I booked a bungalow right away. When something came up for work and I had to move the trip a week back I was worried that our trip would be compromised, but Reuben laughed it off and told me it was no problem at all. I was very impressed with his level of understanding.

When we got to the island, we were escorted by George to the docks, where Norman was waiting to take us by boat to the resort. When we arrived at North Beach, Reuben was waiting on the beach to welcome us in person. The beaches were clean and the bungalows all looked nice from the boat. When Reuben led us to an extra large bungalow I was concerned because I had reserved a large, but he said that it was open and he didn't mind giving me an upgrade, which I appreciated.

The bungalow was clean and well decorated. There were seashells all around the room and a crab skeleton on one of the dressers, which my girlfriend did not like until I put my sunglasses on him. The bathroom did not have a door on it which I thought was kind of funny, but the shower was nicer than I expected a shower in a remote island bungalow to be. All of the windows had screens on them so we could let the breeze in and there was a fan above the bed as well.

There are 7 houses from what I could tell. 4 guest houses, Reuben's house, a dining house, and a generator house that I never actually saw but I remember someone mentioning. When we got settled, we went by the dining house to get the lay of the land. There we found Reuben and Joanne. Joanne apparently works with Reuben at the resort. While we were there Reuben explained the food situation - if you are hungry you an wander down to the dining house whenever you want and they will feed you whatever you feel like. Obviously if I asked for and ostrich burger they wouldn't have been able to make it, but every time we ate they offered several options for the next meal, and when we came back it was ready.

What surprised me the most about the food was that everything that Reuben cooked was surprisingly good. I expected the seafood to be good, but Reuben seemed to have a recipe for everything. My girlfriend really liked the chicken that he made, which he cooked with mango and tequila. The seafood was naturally very good - my favorite was the spiny lobster. Apparently they are native to Barbuda. We even saw fisherman diving for them several times off of the coast.

When Reuben told me I could just ask whenever I wanted a drink, I honestly thought that he did not understand how much of a vacation I needed. I fully expected to drink all of the liquor that was lying around the dining house and be stuck without a drink. As it turns out, they really did have enough for me (my favorite was the Cavalier rum, which is from Antigua). Whenever I wanted a drink Joanne would make it for me and there was nothing I could complain about.

Joanne and Reuben really did make a nice combination. Reuben really wants to make sure that everything about the stay is perfect. He took care of every issue that we had right away. He was a bit distant because he wanted to make sure that all of our concerns were taken care of professionally, but he was still very friendly. Joanne is a real sweetheart and very personable. I would walk over to get a drink and find myself talking to her for an hour. I wanted to take her back to the stated with me.

Its time to wrap up this review, so I'll make a few last comments. There is a friendly wild donkey named Douglas that wanders around the resort once in a while and he's adorable. There are pink sand beaches all around the island, including North Beach. The sand isn't Day-Glo pink so don't expect it to be. On one side of the island the pink sand is cause by corral fragments and the other has a red kind of algae. If you want to find the cave carvings on the main island, you will need someone to show you. They're really cool and the caves are awesome, but I wouldn't have found them if I hadn't run into a tour guide that happened to be giving another couple a tour in the area. Check out Palmetto Point it's super creepy. This hotel is something right out of Scooby Doo. It's totally abandoned, but all the stuff is still there. There's a pool table in the foyer, books on the book shelves, and all of the beds are still made. There are even coffee makers and glasses still sitting on the desks in each room. Spooky stuff.

I'll be going back. I have already recommended this resort to several people and I wish the best for everyone that I met on Barbuda.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about North Beach

Address: Barbuda
Location: Caribbean > Antigua and Barbuda > Barbuda
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 3 hotels in Barbuda
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
If you dream of having your own secluded Caribbean hideaway, sharing it with family, or another couple, North Beach is for you! Set on a spectacular slice of land located at the northern tip of Barbuda, accessible only by small boat, all-inclusive North Beach allows you to enjoy your own private enclave. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
North Beach Hotel Barbuda
North Beach Barbuda, Caribbean

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