We really wanted to enjoy our stay in this resort, and while there are definitely some really good things to say, I am afraid that we did not have a great holiday.
Let me start on a positive note: The location of the hotel is great. There are two beaches, one in a bay, one on the Atlantic. We always found beach loungers whatever time of day, and the resort in general never felt too crowded. The beachfront room we were in was spacious and nicely done, if a little tired and in need of some refurbishment. There was also a good variety of things to do. Our favourite part of the stay was the brilliant steel band - Sticks & Fingers. They were great fun, and clearly love what they do. (Buy their CD, even if you never go to this resort!)
The food and drinks in the all inclusive package are very good indeed. We have stayed in other resorts in different countries, and this hotel certainly has one of the best overall range of food and drinks that we have experienced.
Some of the staff were fantastic - Jianna, who was our housekeeper, Donald at Guests Services, Alina (who's job title I don't know, sorry), and Jermaine, who served in the restaurants.
Overall, however, the service we received in this resort was really quite awful, in particular at reception and at breakfast. On one of our first days there, I asked someone at reception where we could get beach towels. She replied: "Here'" and then just looked at me for a while, until I then realised that she was waiting for me to ask for them. I would have thought the clue was in my question! Another day, we called reception at 08:00 in the morning to ask for some laundry to be picked up for same day service (same day service requires you to let them know before 09:00, which is reasonable). When we called again at 09:30 as no-one had picked up our items, we were told we should have called before 09:00! They also could not tell us whether there was an additional charge for the same day service, and there was no attempt made to find this out for us. Mostly, they were surly and unhelpful at reception (Wendy and Marah were the exceptions to this), unless the resort manager was around - when he was, they almost jumped to attention.
At breakfast, we repeatedly asked for toast on a few days, and sometimes we got (often cold) toast, but often, we'd have finished our hot food before the toast was brought to us. And some of the time, we just didn't get any toast at all. And a piece of advice, if you want a pancake for breakfast, be prepared to stand in a long - and confusing, because they make omelettes and pancakes at the same station but do not really manage who's waiting for what - queue for a good while! The service at dinner seemed to be better, generally, but you could still wait a long time before being served, and then find that you had to remind the waiting staff for your order. And the people who serve at the beach bar really must dislike their jobs. It can't be pleasant serving in that heat, I am sure, but to be so 'off' with customers is just not okay. One day, they even started serving the next person before my partner had finished giving his order.
To boot, the air conditioning in our room didn't seem to cool the room down very well, even when we were in there for an extended period of time. After a few days, we called reception to ask for someone to come and have a look. A handyman eventually come and did some work on it. It made the room marginally cooler but there wasn't a significant difference. A few days later, the unit started leaking water, so the man came back. At this point, we mentioned to him that the room still wasn't cooling very well, so he explained all the things we already knew: the ac is motion censored, and if any of the outside doors are open, this deactivates the air-conditioning. That's not really an excuse for units that just don't function well in the first place. We had some friends staying in a suite and their air-conditioning worked really well, so clearly it is possible, despite the motion sensors.
I spoke to one of the managers on duty halfway through our stay as I think it is unfair not to give people a chance to recover a situation. He was very understanding and apologetic, and got a few niggling things resolved quickly. For a couple of days after my conversation, the service seemed to pick up, but then went straight back to being unfriendly and inefficient. This left us feeling as though we were just not valued as customers. There are many other encounters that I could mention, but I would just be labouring the point.
We were lucky in that we had made some really good friends who were staying in the same hotel, and they were kind, hospitable and made sure we enjoyed our last few days. Otherwise, I think we would have just left early. I have been to a variety of islands in the Caribbean, and I know that service levels can vary, but we have also stayed in a 2.5 star hotel and in a 3 star hotel on a previous visit to Antigua, and we had fantastic service in both places. There is just no reason for a 4 star resort not to provide good service, particularly in a country which relies on tourism as one of its main sources of income. I'd like to point out here that neither my partner nor I are rude, demanding customers - we are always polite, and we know that different countries have different serving styles, so we're pretty relaxed about it, especially on holiday. But the service at this hotel just ground us down in the end.
I know a lot of people have had a great time at this resort, but it looks as though we are part of an increasing number of people who did not. There now seems to be a defensive response to by management to the honest, yet negative comments posted here on tripadvisor by various contributors. Frankly, management time would be better spent on looking at how to improve the issues, rather than defending the staff/facilities/resort once a bad experience has been created.
Based on our experience, I am sorry to say that I would not recommend this resort.
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- Also Known As:
- St. James`s Club Hotel Mamora Bay
- St James Club Antigua
- St Jamess Hotel
- St Jamess Resort
- St James Antigua
- St Jamess Club Antigua
- St. James's Club Antigua/Mamora Bay