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“A second review - our 4th visit..and we still enjoy it”

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St. James's Club & Villas
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Mamora Bay
Certificate of Excellence
Thames Ditton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
333 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 131 helpful votes
“A second review - our 4th visit..and we still enjoy it”
Reviewed June 12, 2014

An update on my last review in 2012. Having read some of the recent reviews, I wondered what some expect.
This was the 4th time ( 2006/2008 at the Beach Club part) in the last 8 years but the first without our sons( now well into their 20's). It was like visiting an old friend because there are still a number of staff we know and of course we know our way round and what is on offer. The staff are friendly and generally helpful and one has a sense of comfort.
We know it is relatively quiet and "entertainment " is limited but regular ( not everyone wants Ibiza 18-30 party-time till dawn. Young families and older people are entitled to enjoy their holidays too.) and it's why we go back - not something we do usually with holiday destinations.
There are daytime activities on-site, mostly free and off-site trips and tours plus car hire/taxis. There are two varied beaches (what is the point about being man-made ? - one wants a nice beach; Mamora Bay is not stagnant - it is open to the sea - the boats at the dock show that. You have the choice of an ocean beach - (Cocos) for a breeze; or the Mamora for hotter but calmer conditions & water sports. The ocean beach does get weed blown in to a greater or lesser extent - that's why they clear it daily. It's not a significant problem to bathe in the clearer parts and it is shallow extending out toward the reef.
The all-inclusive package provides meals with variety of restaurant and food choice, ( it is not 5-star international or Michelin but you aren't paying that kind of price). If you wish, you can freely eat as often as you like and you can certainly drink similarly. Alfred and his drinks buggy on the beaches is one of the friendly memories one can really enjoy - top man ! You don't have to make decisions too much when you surface - sometimes that is quite nice - if you want to do something - or nothing - you can. If you engage with the staff - they respond. Some even remember me from previous visits - positively, I should say ! I think we are still welcome.
The food was repetitive in the second week but there is a new chef and I understand he is trying to reschedule to get a longer spread. The Rainbow Garden dinner had some very nice choices - red snapper, mahi-mahi, strip loin steak; Thai. The Docksiders had a range of themed buffet food for varied tastes (they did fail once with the carved beef joint having no rare cut - which disappointed me). The best was at Piccolo Mondo - spicy shrimp followed by lobster - ok a $35US surcharge over the AI but what do you pay for lobster ? - it was superb. Coco's is now all-day informal - a change from our early visits - maybe reflecting the increasing influence and numbers of North American visitors. ( there are more than our earlier visits which were substantially UK customers )
The rooms are clean - perhaps some element of updating needed and some very minor maintenance items e.g. a sticking closet door - the maid service is efficient; towels will be changed daily if you wish - leave the old ones in the bath - but surely that isn't necessary and fresh beach towels are available as required.
Yes there were a few points with which I was not entirely satisfied - and the hotel knows them; one has the opportunity to tell them whenever it is needed and a questionnaire is provided before checkout.
We like Antigua and we like it here and while I can't say we will definitely be back for a 5th or 6th visit, I can't rule it out. We worry that repeats don't live up to our experiences but it hasn't stopped us so far with SJC.
We spoke with Antoine Browne the general manager who is a visible operations man and know his ongoing visions. Keep it going and keep it up.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank stanmansurrey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Saint Simons Island, Georgia
Level Contributor
23 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed June 12, 2014

We just returned from SJC Antigua Monday and we could not have been more pleased. We arrived 6 hours later than scheduled due to Liat Airlines delays. NEVER fly this Airline but that will be my next review. We arrived to find our room upgraded to Royal Suite which was fabulous. The room was next to Docksider and convenient to watersports, Terrace Dining room and 2 private pools. The Front Desk was very professional and when I asked if there was anywhere to get a sandwich since we missed the whole day there, she immediately called Room Service and they made wonderful sandwiches and delivered to our Suite.

The Watersports Gentlemen (Capt Korn) and others were just the BEST! We sailed every day and they taught us to Stand up and paddle as well. They were very gracious every day. No waits for any equipment during our stay.

The Catamaran Trip (snorkel trip) was a real treat. Those guys are wonderful and they make sure everyone has a great experience. Well worth the $92pp fee.

The food at Coco's was good. Docksider Grill Fish Burger was delicious! Terrace not so good for dinner but Breakfast was excellent. Requested Fried Conch and Conch Salad and we received a green salad with chopped up conch. Fried conch had not been pounded prior to frying and the coating was corn meal rather than seasoned flour. They missed it by a mile. Pico Mondola $35pp was really delicious for the most part though my lobster was old (squishy) but service and location were excellent. Docksider had good entertainment but the buffets were not tasty though Troy, the Manager was very nice.

Every Staff person from Bellmen to Housekeepers and Landscape were so friendly. We very pleased with our experience which was a blessing after reading so many "mixed" reviews on TripAdvisor in months prior to arrival. The resort grounds are so beautiful and well maintained.
Alfred, Shirley and Natasha (Dockside Grill) were all a pleasure. Kinesha in Guest Services was so helpful every day. We loved her. Thanks to all of you!

Overall, I would say it was a wonderful trip! Never book Liat Airlines. They delayed us on the incoming and outgoing causing us to miss connection to Jax, Fl and offered no assistance with hotel or next day flight. We had to pay additional Hotel and $200 for next day flight. Choose a different airline and enjoy St. James Club as we did. I have been in the hotel business 37 yrs as has my husband and we were very happy with the resort.

Room Tip: Royal Suite made the experience much better. Some said Beach front rooms were a bit worn.
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank chefnickbell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Austin
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed June 10, 2014

Just got back a couple of days ago with three of us staying in a Villa at the wonderful resort this past week. I wont tell too much about the grounds as most people already wrote about and no need to repeat, except that because of the large spread out property, it just made the overall grounds that much nicer and peaceful. We were on the highest section of the Village, closest to the road, and once we knew the easiest route to the beach, the steps were not a problem at all and a very short walk down. Of course it helps walking right past the Mamora Beach Bar, so that made it even more convenient. As stated, there were always plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas, and mostly quiet during the day, so what else could you ask for?
We only did the AI the last three days of the week, so the first few days we ate out at different restaurants. As mentioned, the food at the restaurants were definitely fine and was nice being able to order al a carte, along with the Thursday buffet at Docksiders was fantastic. Overall, again, the food was just right, nothing super special, but definitely not lacking as some reviews stated.
But the main point of me writing my first ever review, is that I wanted to comment on the people who worked there. There have been many reports of them just going through the motions and not being very friendly or responsive. It is how you make it. A simple smile and hello, they respond great, but most of them even beat me on that. But if you then just ask how their day is or how theyre doing, they light up. Everyone there were the friendliest and most helpful employees that took pride of their work, and did everything they could to help. Of course if you have an attitude and complain (youre on vacation, why would you anyway?), then its human instinct to not show the passion of your job and not go out of your way to help. Its also amazing on what a dollar or two goes for tipping. Yes its not required, but I would never go without sending them a small appreciation, and they appreciated it back.

Overall, a wonder week, wonderful people, and I strongly recommend St James Club!

Room Tip: Stayed in a very large villa, with a wonderful large deck, and easy straight walk down to the beach...
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank AustinAngler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leeds
Level Contributor
9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed June 7, 2014

This is the place for a relaxing holiday!! The room overlooked the ocean and the view was lovely. Large clean room with a large comfortable bed. The maid did forget the towels on occasions though. There was no rush for sun beds as there were always plenty. With 6 pools and 2 beaches, sun beds were always available. I don't think it was the busiest time though so that may not always be the case but it certainly was during the last 2 weeks in May. It's not a particularly lively hotel but perfect for a relaxing time. The drinks cart on the beach could have come round a bit more often but there are 2 bars on the Mamora Bay beach anyway. All the water sports were free. One beach is relaxing and calm, the other is a bit windier. Only went on the calm beach but there was still a welcome breeze there. There is food on Mamora beach at one of the bars but we soon got fed up of burgers and hot dogs. There could have been a wider choice of foods. Plus no chips, crisps only!! The restaurant was open for lunch but didn't always feel like coming off the beach for lunch. Ended up taking croissants and pastries from breakfast and had them for lunch on the beach.

The opening times of the restaurants wasn't publicised and some nights the Docksider, where the buffet is, was closed. Found this a bit confusing. By the time we found out there wasn't a buffet it was too late to book the A La Carte restaurant so we had to go to Cocos Bar. This was OK but a bit more like a diner than a restaurant. It was a few minutes walk from reception but you can ask for a buggy to take you there. A weekly rota of when the buffet was available would have been helpful. The buffet food was excellent though with a wide variety to choose from. Loved the tea and cakes in the courtyard in the afternoon.

Recommend the jeep tour of the island with a driver. He knows the places to visit and explains about them and the history. We saw the whole island in one day. Would also recommend the helicopter trip to Montserrat, it was awesome seeing the lava flows.

There is entertainment each night, but nothing too raucous. Usually a steel band, a group or a singer. It did finish at 10pm though and most people seemed to go to bed. The main bar did stay open til late but was never really busy.

All in all it was a good place to stay. Clean and well maintained and in a perfect location but it is a remote complex and there isn't anywhere to walk to outside of the complex. Having said that you do have everything you need within the complex.

Highly recommended if you want a peaceful and relaxing time!!

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank Love_Friday
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boca Raton, Florida
Level Contributor
11 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed June 7, 2014

This was our 3rd visit and best yet. Now that Coco's is open from 11am-11pm, it is great to grab a bite if you missed a meal or if leaving/returning from an excursion trip. Speaking of great off property trips, we did the catamaran tour on the Verandah and it was the most amazing sail trip we have been on. Capt Joseph and crew are fantastic and loads of fun (not to mention their rum punch)
Our rooms were updated since the last visit and look great. The staff can't be better and Antoine throws one great Manager's cocktail party. We can't wait to come back next June.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank SANTA_BARBARA_76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
16 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed June 7, 2014

Having been to Caribbean destinations before, I was disappointed overall by my stay at St. James Club. First and foremost, the main reason people go to the Caribbean is for the beaches. The best beaches on Antigua are on the west (leeward) side of the island. St. James is on the east (windward) side of the island. Also, and perhaps most importantly, the two beaches at St. James are MAN MADE. This area of the island naturally featured mangroves that grew right up to the water. This resort removed these mangroves, laid down concrete, and dumped sand on top to create the beaches. Not my idea of an idyllic Caribbean locale. That being said, the beach facing east is nice enough with a great view. The only problem is there is a lot of sea grass growing under the water of this beach (in fact there's a worker who is raking the grass that washes up on shore several times a day). The other beach is sheltered on an inlet, which sounds nice, but in fact the water is stagnant and the view not remarkable in any fashion. Yes, I should have done my homework. Hopefully, some of you reading this will do a better job than I did.

Now my comments on the resort itself. At best, I can say it's average. My main critique is the bar is set too low at this resort. This is a management problem, not a criticism of individual employees - most of whom are quite pleasant. I think if management aimed for a higher standard across the board, it would be reflected in the quality of individual services, such as food quality and concierge services.

Now some specifics:

The food across the board was HORRIBLE. The fact that the best meal I had after 6 days was a club sandwich at the Antigua airport and not anything I ate at the resort is pretty telling. Basically, the food was bland and unremarkable. Since this is an all-inclusive resort, I ate 3 meals a day for 6 days, so I had many opportunities to hope for variation. I was disappointed.

The rooms were good and a high point. They were clean and adequately maintained. I had a second floor room facing east with a great view.

The staff was mostly pleasant. I used the concierge service to arrange some tours (such as snorkeling). Unlike some other resorts I stayed in around the Caribbean, I did not find the concierge staff to be energetic or willing to communicate in detail about all the options I had to choose from. All I got was the basics and, as a result, did not always like the tours I ended up on.

The crowd was mostly from the UK, with the US coming in second. The age range was mostly older couples. There were also quite a few newlyweds. Given that the east side of the island is pretty dead (English Harbor is a village) and getting to the capital St. Johns takes 30 minutes by car, you may want to consider other options if you are hoping for easy access to better beaches and a smattering of nightlife now and then.

The hotel contacted me twice by phone in my room during my stay to ask about how things were going. I said things were fine. Like I wrote above, my criticisms are with the beaches (man made) and where the overall bar is set for the resort (too low). These were not things that anyone could change during my stay, nor is it the resort's fault I did not do my homework about where the best beaches are on Antigua. I also don't expect St. James to advertise that their beaches are man made. I learned from my mistake and will not stay at St. James again, nor will I stay on the east side of the island.

Room Tip: The suites on the east facing beach have a great view.
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank P F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
StJamesClubAntigua, General Manager at St. James's Club & Villas, responded to this review, June 10, 2014
Dear Reviewer,

Thank you for visiting with us at St. James's Club Antigua. We value very much the opinion of our guests, as this is one of the many ways in which we improve on our offerings.

St. James's Club is located on a Peninsula near the Southern end of the island on the Atlantic Ocean. Beach replenishment does take place as we are subject to natural erosion and seaweed intrusion. There are persons who clear away the seaweed as nature deposits it on our shores, as well as raking the sand for even distribution.

Food and beverage is a very subjective topic and I am sorry that our cuisine did not meet your requirements. Our culinary team works tirelessly to ensure that all meals are done to specifications however, should there be anytime that one of our guests are not satisfied we would like to know.

I am happy that there were aspects of your holiday that you enjoyed and thank you for the comments regarding your interaction with members of our staff.

We would welcome the opportunity to host you again in hopes of having an opportunity to correct some of the things you found not to your liking.

Regards,
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed June 7, 2014

stayed here in may for 12 nights and by night 5 we was bored as there wasnt anything to do at the hotel they did have a couple of bands play some nights but they only went on till 10! Only good thing about the place was the lovely beaches and pools, the staff were mostly moody around the resort and the cleaners didnt do a good job of making the room! This is the first holiday i havent tipped any staff. hope this review helps others in making their decision to choose somehwere better to stay.

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank ben j j
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
StJamesClubAntigua, General Manager at St. James's Club & Villas, responded to this review, June 10, 2014
Dear Reviewer,

Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback regarding your recent stay at St. James's Club Antigua.

St. James's Club caters to a variety of guests from all around the world and generally the feedback is quite positive. I am sorry that we did not meet your expectations.

We have a full array of activities geared toward a wide range of clients and interests. During the daytime, there is an activities team who offer morning walks, stretches, aqua aerobics, Caribbean dance classes, yoga and Pilates plus many more events. At water sports there are Hobie cats, paddle boards, snorkeling, reef fishing to say the least. During the evening hours, we offer live bands, movie theater, fire and limbo show along with other local acts. I am sorry none of this was to your liking.

Thanks again for taking the time to give us your feedback and we hope to have the opportunity to make a favorable impression sometime in the future.

Regards,
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about St. James's Club & Villas

Property: St. James's Club & Villas
Address: | Mamora Bay, Mamora Bay, Antigua
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Antigua and Barbuda > Antigua > Saint Paul Parish > Mamora Bay
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Mamora Bay
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — St. James's Club & Villas 4*
Number of rooms: 250
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to the All-Inclusive St. James's Club & Villas, Antigua's most famous address. This beautiful resort is ideally located on a private, 100-acre peninsula. You will love our two white sand beaches, water sports, tennis, four restaurants, indoor and outdoor bars, beach bar & grill, luxurious spa & salon, freshwater swimming pools, supervised Kids Club, wide array of water sports, Scuba diving, and so much more. One of the Caribbean's most popular all-inclusive resorts. Excellent for couples, honeymooners, families, and friends. Located just minutes from major attractions like English Harbour, Nelson's Dockyard, and the lively Shirley Heights. Our warm and welcoming staff and management team will make your stay wonderful and memorable. We look forward to seeing you soon! ... more   less 
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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 & Villas Antigua/Mamora Bay

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