“Just what the Dr. Ordered!”
Our first trip to Antigua - we chose the St. James Club based upon our travel agent recommendation and many, many reviews read here on TripAdvisor. So I feel the need to leave my own review.
Upon our arrival we were met with ice cold pink lemonade (with or without rum!) - I chose WITH rum and it was so yummy! We arrived early (2:00 p.m.) and knowing that check in is not until 4 p.m. we weren't expecting our room to be ready - but we were pleasantly surprised - the room was ready! A porter drove us and our bags to our first floor Beachfront room in the Pineapple building - we opened the door and saw straight through the unit to the beautiful palm trees and blue ocean! Needless to say, bathing suits went on immediately and 2-steps down off our patio and our toes were in the sand! Yes, they do call this the "windy beach" for a reason - non-stop breezes - but honestly, it feels very nice. We never broke a sweat while sun-bathing, and no, the wind never blew the sand so it was not a problem. A couple of earlier reviews state that these rooms were very noisy? The only noise we heard were the palm trees blowing in the breeze and the ocean waves - a very relaxing sound and not "noise" to us. Yes, we did hear the people on the second floor walking around their room - but that is to be expected especially with ceramic tile floors. Our only complaint about Coco's Beach is the enormous amount of sea-grass. In some spots it was so thick that you couldn't even walk into the water. We would have preferred crystal clear blue water where you can see your toes when you are in water up to your neck, but realize that this is the ocean and the sea-grass occurs naturally.
Room: Nice big room, huge bathroom with double sinks and a great ledge to put out all of your toiletries. As there were 3 of us we had the 2-double bed room as opposed to the King bed. One recommendation we would make is to upgrade to Queen size beds. We actually requested a roll-away bed so that we each had our own bed as double beds are just too small for two people! Also, the furniture is very dated and could use to be replaced and updated in a more Caribbean style. But the room was kept clean and we had no problems with that. We also received a stocked fridge with sodas, champagne, rum and a nice fruit platter upon our arrival!
Mamora Bay: This was the spot that has all the water activities - kayaks, paddle boards, Hobie Cats - we used them all and had a great time. All of the guys in the water sports building were super nice and very helpful. Beach volleyball is also played on the Bay beach at 4 p.m. every day. Super Dave and his activity crew were fantastic!
We really didn't spend much time at the pool but for a couple hours one afternoon and we played Bingo - the activities staff made it really fun.
Food/restaurants: I will start with the food quality - for the most part, everything we had was very good. The only thing that we encountered that was totally not edible were the scrambled eggs. We did the buffet at the Rainbow Garden a number of times for dinner, International Buffet at Docksiders and another dinner at Docksiders off of the menu, lunches were mostly had at the grill at Mamora Bay and a couple of snacks/lunches at Coco's. Now, on to "suggestions", rather than "complaints": Docksiders was closed 3 of the 5 nights we were there (why???), leaving us with no other option other than the buffet at Rainbow Garden (Coco's has a very limited menu which is more suitable for lunch). The other restaurant, Piccolo Mondo, was not an option to us due to the strict dress code. Our teenage son did not bring long pants, he did have numerous dressy shorts, but they would not allow him into Piccolo Mondo (where you have to pay an additional $35 per person) in dressy shorts. Also, every restaurant, even just the buffet, required men to wear collared shirts. We believe they need to ease up on this dress code - I mean, we are vacationing on a Caribbean Island - we want to dress the part ... I'm not talking cheesy t-shirts and ripped jeans, but rather classic, comfortable, relaxed Islandy styles. For the amount of money we paid to stay at this resort, we should be able to dress the way we like to dress. We should also have the option of having every restaurant open every evening. Lack of choice for breakfast is also a problem - the only restaurant serving breakfast is Rainbow Garden - where you have the option of ordering off of the menu, or the buffet. Yes, service was a bit slow in this restaurant, coffee was served cold one morning, and it took a while to get a new pot of fresh, hot coffee, but we did realize that we were on "island time".
Before I forget, I have to give props to Alfred on the beach "Rum Buggy" as I called it. What a hard worker he is! And always, always smiling!!
Evening entertainment: ??? We must have missed it . . . . . seriously, they are lacking tremendously in this area. One evening there was a band with a male and female singer at the pool area - the female singer had an excellent voice and we really enjoyed listening to her. Other than that - the only "entertainment" we saw were not so good bands playing in the background of the Docksider restaurant. Hardly "entertainment". This really needs to be improved upon.
Excursions: Shirley Heights party on Sunday night is not to be missed. We booked the shuttle through the hotel - it left the hotel at 5:30 and we were able to stay at Shirley Heights until 9 p.m. They had a wonderful steel drum band that were amazing, then another group took over and sang lots of American songs with a raggae twist! Amazing and lots of fun seeing the locals sing and dance and enjoy themselves right alongside all the tourists. We had the bbq food which was very good. The sunset wasn't very good the night we were there as it was very cloudy, but all in all it was a great time.
We also took the Island Safari trip - where we got to see a lot of the Island culture, visited Nelson's Dockyard, Shirley Heights during the day, and ended with an hour on Long Bay Beach which was fabulous! This was the beach where we were able to see our toes while we were in the crystal clear water up to our necks!
It rained every day - but as in the tropics, just for short periods of time, then the sun was back out.
As stated earlier, this was our first trip to Antigua. We had a great time, and decided we would definitely go back to this island. We would also go back to St. James Club as we really enjoyed having the option of the beach or the bay and the people were just so friendly, warm and welcoming. We only would hold out until the rooms are updated before returning.
All in all it was exactly what we needed right when we needed it - some time away, to just veg out and relax, spend some quality family time together and create some fabulous memories that will last a lifetime!
Definitely recommend Beachfront rooms - request a first floor - cannot be beat.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.