We just returned from our week-long "babymoon" at Sugar Ridge. Here's my take on things..
GROUNDS AND ROOMS
Absolutely stunning! The entire resort, including pool areas, public spaces, restaurants and rooms have lovely designs and finishes. They are also very well maintained. And for those sporty types out there, the gym is the best you'll find at a hotel anywhere.
Unfortunately, the mini-fridge in our room malfunctioned right after we had stocked it with our own supply of food and drinks (bought from the local store...we weren't all inclusive) resulting in a lot of waste (food, time and money).
Though there were some occasions where we got somewhat annoyed (the aforementioned fridge fiasco - no apology offered. Apparently the fridge isn't meant to really keep things cool? Huh?), I generally found the staff to be very courteous and helpful. As with anywhere, some folks are nicer than others and everyone has their moods.
LOCATION AND TRANSPORTATION
The hotel is very well situated. Many local bars and restaurants are a short walk away, and there are three major beaches (Valley Church (aka "the Nest), Darkwood and Turner's) can be reached within minutes in the hotel shuttle. The shuttle experience itself is a bit hit and miss. While there is a schedule, it's really not followed and the ride can be quite rough. Also, without naming names, you may be made to feel like you're inconveniencing the driver who, depending on his own personal schedule, will try to drop you off or pick you up when it's convenient for him vs. the other way around. All in all though, the shuttle is a nice service to have available.
The hotel is also on a main road which leads you to other parts of the island (the capital St. John's or English Harbour). Should you wish to rent a car as we did, it is easy to navigate. However, the combination of narrow and windy roads, massive potholes, cars and animals, and somewhat crazy drivers (plus right-hand drive vehicles and left-hand traffic - a further complication for us North Americans) makes driving rather challenging.
FOOD AND RESTAURANTS
While the buffet breakfast was good, I was not impressed with the restaurants (to be fair, we only ate at Sugar Ridge a few nights, not Carmichael's). Slow service, bland food, small portions, and pricey to boot. Thankfully there are some great options around the hotel - Shell's Fish and Chips and Al Porto down in Jolly Harbour were fantastic.
ATMOSPHERE AND OVERALL RATING
Sugar Ridge is definitely the most quiet and relaxing vacation experience I've had, which is exactly what we were looking for. Hotel clientele are definitely more mature and reserved. Younger folks (or those young-at-heart) may be disappointed with the lack of nightlife at the hotel - Sugar Club was practically empty every night and almost deserted by 10pm, despite having some amazing live acts - however, there are other options to "lime" close by. Both Perry's and Miracle's had jams on Saturday night (the latter until 4am! was not impressed by the bass booming through our room, but alas, I can't fault Sugar Ridge for this) and there is apparently a fantastic party on Sundays at Shirley Heights.
Overall, it was a very good vacation. Due to the reasons noted above, I can't give Sugar Ridge 5 stars, but we have returned home more relaxed than ever and I would definitely recommend the hotel to anyone looking to visit Antigua. Any questions, feel free to PM me.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Antigua’s newest boutique hotel nestles in a sugar cane-bordered natural hillside with stunning views of the surrounding landscape and the turquoise Caribbean Sea. Designed in contemporary colonial style, rooms have private large verandas, plunge pool and full amenities. An Aveda™ spa provides the latest in holistic therapies; a gym, 3 swimming pools, trendy Sugar Club bar/restaurant and the more formal Carmichael’s, make Sugar Ridge the place to be. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sugar Ridge Hotel Jolly Harbour
- Sugar Ridge Resort Antigua/Jolly Harbour