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All inclusive or not?

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All inclusive or not?

Trying to plan a trip to Antigua for May 2018 with my wife and maybe another couple. We are late 30'2/early 40's. Leaving the kids at home so we definitely want a place that is relaxing with nice beach and pool! We are not a big fan of AI as we like to explore a little bit and try multiple restaurants (would not mind checking out English Harbor Rum/Distillery if they have tours). Seems like most of the places in Antigua are AI. I have been looking at either Cocobay or Curtain Bluff. Is it 'easy' to get around and see some of Antigua from either of these resorts (i.e. we will not rent a car, would the taxi rides be fairly short/reasonable, is public transportation easy, what is close by the resorts if anything). Have read bus is easy to take from Cocobay and it is close to Jolly Harbor which has some shop, bars and restaurants. Is there similar opportunity if we were to stay at Curtain Bluffs.....Is it close to any bars/restaurants, easy to get public transportation or short taxi ride from resort? Worried if we stayed at Curtain Bluff we would not leave the resort and would be going all the way to Antigua without seeing Antigua! However, the reviews for CB are so good I almost hate to to not stay there! In addition, seems like the beaches at Coocbay are so nice I hate not to stay there as well! What are your thoughts on maybe staying 2 nights at one place and 3 nights at the other? Maybe there is another option I am overlooking? Would consider renting a house/villa but would prefer not have to rent a car.

Thanks in advance for any and all advice!

Thanks for any and all advice

3 replies to this topic
St. John's, Antigua
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971 posts
25 reviews
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1. Re: All inclusive or not?

Dealing with your enquiries in a random order.

Unless you rent a property inside or only just outside Jolly Harbour then renting a house without a car will almost certainly leave you cut off from restaurants etc. You would have to hire taxis a lot . Not sure about your objection to driving yourselves but taking that as fixed then you would need to budget a lot for taxis . Car hire is almost always cheaper.

CocoBay is closer to several eating options but it still sits three quarters of a mile from the main road where the buses run. Be aware that buses rarely run at night so they are not a reliable way to get out to eat ( and back!) in the evening so some taxi fares may be required. If really only staying two nights non AI then you could walk the beach to Dennis’s one night and splash out on an expensive but spectacular dinner at Sheer Rocks the second night ( physically right onsite but financially completely separate from CocoBay Resort) . .

Curtain Bluff is delightful hotel but there is nowhere at all to eat away from the hotel itself until you get round to the West Coast so close to CocoBay .

If you chose a property in Jolly Harbour itself ( lots of two bedroom with small ensuite bathrooms available) you would have access to about 8 places to eat and a couple extra to drink. Many renters choose to hire a golf cart to get around the Jolly Harbour area ( but not allowed out onto the roads) , which makes going to the various restaurants easier and is a godsend when shopping at the supermarket in Jolly Harbour ( carrying bottled water + alcohol + groceries is no joke) .

In my opinion moving mid week might waste of more than half a day of your precious six or seven days. You are barely settled in one place ( with just one full day there ) before you are packing, checking out, traveling to other hotel, checking in, waiting for room to be available, unpacking and orientating yourselves for just another two full days. Add to that you have only moved 5 or 6 miles to the second hotel , so have the same choices where to eat outside the hotel whichever hotel you were at if really determined to eat out.

Final thought - one or both resorts may have a minimum three night rule - so check before getting too fixed on the split stay idea.

Edited: 9:04 pm, December 09, 2017
Dorset, United...
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1,636 posts
16 reviews
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2. Re: All inclusive or not?

I'd say that Curtain Bluff is a cut above, and their all-inc certainly used to be a terrific deal that included not just fine foods and fine wines but a lot of activities and watersports too. I'm not sure if this is still the case but if so, and it's in your price bracket, you won't be short of things to do there in a week.

The 22 bus stops just outside the hotel en route to Jolly Harbour and St John's so it's a cheap, quick and easy way of getting around that section of the coast. The buses run more by day, so you'd probably need a taxi back if you decided to visit anywhere for dinner, but there are a selection of restaurants around Jolly Harbour.

As Nick says, there are few eating opportunities close to Curtain Bluff; the closest independent restaurant, The Boxer Shack, sadly closed recently, but I noticed that a new restaurant seemed to have opened in its place this fall - I didn't eat there so can't tell what sort of food. There are a lot of small local food stalls and stores around Old Road selling jerk and curry dishes on Saturdays.

I love the location of Curtain Bluff, and it's a proper luxury hotel. It's close enough to Jolly H, St John's, Cades Reef and English Harbour/Nelson's Dockyard/Shirley Heights to visit interesting parts of the island without too much fuss. I've not stayed at Cocobay so cannot make a direct comparison but for me, there'd be no choice: it'd be the Bluff.

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82 reviews
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3. Re: All inclusive or not?

Can anyone give us some guidance for our first trip to Antigua . We plan to stay 3 weeks and are looking at a small complex on the sea , Dickerson Bay . We like to make our own breakfasts and most lunches but out for dinner most night. Are there restaurants and a good grocery store within walking distance ? We like to explore local culture and food . Is it a safe island? Our vacation spot for over 20 consecutive years has been Barbados.they are now plagued with sewage running in the streets on the south coast and there are now Health Warnings being made., hence the reason for change .

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