They Rushed the Opening
We recently stayed at the brand new Verandah Resort on Antigua. The location was remote, but in a very nice bay. They were only about 40% complete. They were visibly scrambling to complete. They need some serious fine tuning. Examples are these: the main pool was magnificent, but there was no fresh water shower? How can you complete the pool without the shower(s) at the same time? The rooms were nice, but had several flaws: they are all two unit buildings, and you can hear everything from the unit next door, so they were poorly insulated. The flat screens were nice, but faced to the middle of the room, and not too viewable from the bed. The toilet was not attached to the floor, and when you sat down, it would "clunk". There is a small kitchenette with fridge, sink, microwave etc, but no waste containers anywhere in the place, except for a very small one in the bathroom. The shower leaked, because there is only a fraction of a shower guard, which wasn't sealed well. There was absolutely no shop, or place to purchase minor necessities for the rooms like water, paper towels etc..except for a couple of items located in guest services. The rooms wireless was not up and running yet.
For the rest, the restaurant was poorly lit, and needed table candles...we couldn't hardly see our plate. The tennis courts were not complete. The main bar has a poor ambiance, and looked factory-ish. The food was just so so. The front desk staff needs serious training. They didn't have any clue on directions on such a small island, and they did not return phone calls to our room as promised. There's more, but right now, they're stretching to make it work. The location, beach, main pool, restaurant management, Guest Service Staff, and beach bar were the 6 positives. My guess is they may be finished with construction by April '08, and hopefully they will address these issues and more. I would also highly recommend a rental car, although the driving is challenging, and there are several skinny roads filled with numerous wandering goats. Plus, the roads are very poorly marked. But, you will need a car to explore, shop, and buy some things for the kitchenette.
Having been dreaming about our last carribean vacation to the excellent Palm Island since we visited last year, my wife and I were with extremely high expectations when we booked for a pre-Christmas getaway to the newly built Verandah resort on the nearby Antigua.
Once again, i am pleased to report that these expectations were far surpassed!
Having just been built, the rooms were brand-new and featured all the amenities we could possible need....spacious bathroom, comfortable bed, seperate lounge sitting area with flat-screen tv, and best of all, a big balcony with the most stunning and romantic view imaginable.
The restaurant in the hotel was lovely, and having the option of either going to the beach or staying by the huge resort pool, meant that we were never bored in our sunbathing options!
Aside from this, the resort gave us a wonderful opportunity to explore Antigua. The island has undergone alot of renovations since the cricket world cup was hosted there, and we were pleasantly surprised by how much there was to do. From the shopping in St.John's to the excellent restaurants and night-life in English Harbour, as well as famous Devil's Bridge (very close to the resort), we found ourselves always having tons of options of what to get up to, when we wanted to venture off the property.
As some reviews have said, the resort is not yet finished...with some rooms still left to be built. But this is in a section which is seperate from the rooms which are up-and-running, and so we never once suffered any inconvenience caused by the on-going efforts. The one downer was that we missed out on some of the new ammenities that were being completed, such as the casino, spa and cinema....but that just means that when we return next summer to celebrate our anniversary it should be be even better!
In short, I heavily recommend The Verandah in Antigua to anyone looking to get away to a dream carribean vacation.
Nice hotel, but read this first
In all honesty, the collective wisdom of the accounts will give you a fairly accurate feel for the Verandah. The place is brand new and still under construction - though (despite your first impressions) this is kept discreet from the areas you'll stay in. It's located in the east of the island, near devil's bridge - so bear in mind that this means you'll be slightly out of the way (on an admittedly small island). So, pluses and minuses...
Accommodation is much as pictured - and kept fantastically clean. I'd definitely recommend the place on these 2 points alone.
The beach is small but, again, as beautiful as pictured.
The staff are genuinely great and a real asset to the place.
They offer late check-outs on the day of departure.
The food... Unfortunately, it really is quite poor. The buffets are c.1970s - hotplates, lukewarm, uninspired and on occasion genuinely horrible food. The other 2 restaurants are marginally better as they're menu-based - but clearly bear the print of the same cook responsible for the buffet.
Shaded areas on the beach and around the pool are sparse and will definitely become an issue when the resort is completed.
The golf buggies that transport you around the place (lazy I know, but if you've been out to another the beach all day, the 10 minute walk to the rooms doesn't appeal) aren't as frequent as they should and you can end up waiting ages
Once completed, the resort will be quite large - too much for my taste.
So... to summarise. I had a great time and really enjoyed the place. We hired a car through the hotel at a great rate for the duration, which I'd recommend as the resort got to claustrophobic and I needed to get some decent food! We got a 50% opening discount which helped. Given the food and the other issues I'm not sure it's actually worth more than the discount rate. So make sure you look for a good deal or you might find the minus issues leave you feeling like you over-paid.
I just got back from spending a week at the new Verandah and I must say in one word WOW! The staff was excellent and very friendly, the food was plentiful and mostly good to very good, service was excellent, we were not bothered by the construction that is still going on in the one cove, and the vegetation was more than I expected for a newly built hotel as they planted mature palm trees and plants throughout the complex which I must commend the owner. This resort has been designed for all age groups and especially families as they have a children’s playground, pool, and recreation building along with available kid sitters at a very modest cost. By this time next year this facility will be fully matured in vegetation which will be an asset to Antigua. A newly rebuilt catamaran will be available shortly for the hotel guests and will be docked at the hotel so no need to be transported by taxi to the town pier. It was great to hear that Captain Yeh, who is very knowledgeable of the Antiguan waters, will be in charge of the hotel boat and you will not be disappointed in taking a trip out with him. Both coves are just great for water sports and the hotel supplies Hobbie Cats, kayaks, foot paddle boats, and some large floats for the hotel guests at no additional charge. The rooms are large each with a king bed and pull out couch bed, refrigerator, microwave oven, and flat panel satellite TV. You get a good bang for your buck at this all inclusive resort.
We stayed at this beautiful hotel in Dec. of 07 and had a great time. We arrived at the hotel and they had people who helped us with our bags and offered us Rum Punch! The rooms are very pretty and spacious. They have a flat screen TV, nice couch, kitchen, beautiful bathroom, and nice bed. I did not care for the pillows though. The vegetation and landscaping is so gorgeous. Everything is so lush and green. The pool was very pretty even though I was at the ocean everyday. The food was excellent and the bars drinks were great. The only criticism I have about the bars are they make their drinks really really strong and all you can taste is the hard liquor. For some people great for others not so much. Their beaches on the resort are so pretty. I have read people complain about the stairs down to the beach and having to climb them. Honestly those people must be lazy because it was nothing. It lead to a beautiful view of the bay and the gorgeous turqoise ocean water! The snorkeling was horrible, but the other water activities were great such as sailing, kayaking, and paddling. There were only two problem's we had and the first was the front desk staff. They were rude about a problem we had and argued with us when we were right with an issue. The second problem was the first beach by the front desk. There is no alcohol or music. Kinda dull! Other than that it was a fantastic vacation. I for sure recommend it to anyone! Enjoy and cheers!
We had booked with an agency with bump protection. When we had to change the dates, unknown to us , they also changed the plan from AI to EP.
When we arrived there and went to eat , we were asked our room # and asked to sign the check. That is how we realized the mix-up.We notified the agency and late ,on our second day, we moved to another AI resort.Thank God for that !The one time we ate there the food was horrible, only one restaurant, drabby. Tea time offered two tea sandwiches, one with a cheese spread, just barely, the other with fish, I think , I could only smell it.
The room we were given was Ok inside. Outside our view was debri from on-going construction.To get to the beach, (very small)it was down hill,Then a struggle to climb up. The pool was big but nothing beautiful, just a big round thing in the center.
We paid $90.00 for the food we ate that one time. We would have been better off with a slice of Pizza !
When we spend money to go on vacation we expect to enjoy ourselves. All I can say is don't go there if that is what you expect-stay home !
For those of you looking for a truly romantic, authentic Caribbean experience, The Verandah will be hard to beat.
This resort reminds me of the romantic, classic days of Caribbean travel, with beautiful villa style units overlooking a brilliant blue bay.
The atmosphere is friendly and casual, with the upscale charm you expect from a brand new resort in Antigua. Lush landscaping is present throughout, with palm trees swaying against the sea and tropical foliage.
The facilities are terrific, offering everything you need with traditionally friendly Antiguan service. The restaurants are lovely, constructed of natural materials and offering spectacular views. The pool is huge, with plenty of deck chairs and sun.
Also, there is an excellent Kids Club, with wall murals that excite the children with undersea views, tropical fish, and sunken treasure...also one of the biggest outdoor play areas I have ever seen at a Caribbean resort.
The food was lovely, with bright tropical drinks, fresh fruit, seafood, and variety of entrees.
There is nothing to complain about here, just a fantastic vacation with time on the beach, in the water, and enjoying the breeze on our private balcony.
A wonderful place to vacation
My wife and I stayed in room 152 at the Verandah for 8 nights from Friday Dec. 14 to Saturday Dec. 22, 2007 and had a wonderful time.
We are hardworking professionals (lawyer and therapist) ages 60 and 55 whose children are grown (so we don’t care about children’s activities) who like all inclusive resorts with good food, a well equipped gym, a scenic beach with water sports, entertainment at night, and a friendly staff with a positive and helpful attitude. We found all of that at this resort. I gave it only 4 stars instead of 5 because it opened only a couple of months ago and is still rough around the edges.
Location: The resort is 30 minutes from the airport. Our travel agent arranged transportation, though cabs are available. If you rent a car you better have a GPS system because the road signs are minimal, and there is not a single sign for the resort.
Check In: Check in was painless. The main reception building is not at all impressive; it looks like a simple country inn. The lobby is quite small, like those in inexpensive motel chains, and is definitely not a place to socialize at the moment. The gift shop was still under construction. I mention this because my first impression was that I had arrived in some dump. I was wrong.
Rooms: All rooms are spacious condos (the resort calls them villas), and there are only two condos side by side per building. That means no hallways, nobody walking on top of or below your room, and just one “neighbor” to the side. It was great. The room was air conditioned, had a king size bed, large bathroom with two sinks and two bathrobes, plenty of electrical outlets for gadgets, a desk, a living room area with a sofa and flat screen TV, and a small kitchen area complete with cabinets, sink, utensils, etc. I wondered why there was a kitchen, and was told that the resort plans to sell time-shares and also build a convenience grocery store.
The closet space was small, but adequate. The closet had a nice size digital keyless safe that I used for our passports and cash. I kept all my electronic gadgets (worth thousands of dollars) on the desk, which I used as my charging location--laptop, camera, two Apple ipods, a Palm TX, and a Bluetooth headset. I made some inquiries and concluded that the people who claimed there were security issues were wrong. However, the safe was large enough so that I could have put in everything if I had wanted to.
When we arrived there was no lamp and no wastebasket in the living room area, just lamps by the bed and a tiny wastebasket in the bathroom. I spoke to guest services and these items were delivered. If you are friendly and polite you will find everyone to be very accommodating. Ignore the reviews to the contrary.
There was a spacious terrace with a table and four chairs. Our room was “ocean view” and looked directly onto the bay, with unobstructed views of the ocean to the right. It was lovely. Before you sign up for a more expensive “ocean front” room, you should know that label is a bit misleading here. To me “ocean front” means that the ocean is relatively close by. Here, however, the “ocean front” rooms face the same scenic bay as the “ocean view” rooms (albeit a different section of the bay) and the ocean is off in the distance too far to hear its waves.
The room had a large terrace with a table and four chairs. There was always a pleasant light breeze, and sunsets were beautiful.
Internet: There is no Internet café or business center with computers. If you don’t bring your own laptop, then you will have to wait until after 8pm to use the computers that the staff in guest services use, and will be able to use them only briefly.
The goal one day is to have wi-fi in all of the rooms, but so far it is available only in the main reception area and around the pool. There are plenty of tables to sit at around the pool (but away from the water) as well as at the poolside bar. I found it pleasant to use my laptop there and the wireless signal was very good.
We are not pool people, and never used it. The pool is large, and there are lots of lounge chairs around it. However, there is virtually no shade around the pool.
The gym is large for a resort and had all of the basic equipment. There are plans to add additional equipment. My wife worked out there every day.
The Beach and Water sports
We loved the beach and thought it was incredibly scenic and relaxing, and spent a lot of time there. (Note: there is a second beach under construction near the main reception area, which nobody was using).
If you want a large wide-open white sand beach that stretches for miles, go somewhere else. We live in New Jersey close to such beaches, and look forward to something different when we travel. Here we found a small secluded beach not open to the public that faced a Y shaped bay with incredible turquoise water and gently lapping waves with the ocean in the distance. There were no annoying peddlers or time-share people, and all you heard was the sound of a gentle breeze because there are no motorized water sports (e.g. jet skis).
The resort had paddleboats, kayaks (both one and two person seats), and Hobie cats, and plans to add Sunfish sailboats and windsurfers.
Most of the time the sailing was relatively calm (no whitecaps), which was fine for me. However, one day when the wind really picked up I went out with one of the staff and we “flew the hull” on the Hobie.
The water sports staff was very friendly and helpful. If you don’t know how to sail, they will take you out sailing, and will also teach you if you want to learn.
The water in the bay is calm and also shallow for a good distance from shore. My wife and I enjoyed using the paddleboats and kayaks. Sitting on the beach, the bay is shaped like an upside down Y. The beach faces the right side of the Y, and our room faced the left side of the Y. We kayaked on the entire bay.
There are only five beach umbrellas and a few trees, so shade is somewhat limited. The resort was not that crowded when we stayed there, so I never had a problem getting a spot in the shade.
I brought insect repellent based on other reviews, but never used it at the beach or anywhere else because during our entire stay I saw literally only one mosquito in our room one night.
Food and Drink
We have access at home to lots of great restaurants, and don’t expect such dining at an all inclusive. The food here was good and way above average for an all inclusive.
Breakfast was in the buffet dining room known as the Seabreezes. It is enclosed with ceiling fans (no air conditioning) and lots of windows to let in the breeze. There was all the usual breakfast food—omelets station, fresh fruits, cheeses, hot dishes, juices, yogurt, etc. There are waitresses who will bring you beverages other than juices.
Lunch was available at either the Beach Bar and Grill or in Seabreezes. The Beach grill had great fries and burgers. Seabreezes had an amazing buffet selection of hot dishes for lunch, sometimes even better than what they had for dinner. Duck, veal, lamb, barbecued chicken, lots of fresh salads, great pastries for desert, etc. We had lunch everyday at Seabreezes, though I usually had some fries first at the Beach grill.
The choice for dinner was (1) Seabreezes, which was usually buffet, but occasionally off a menu, (2) Buccaneers, which is a small room right next to Seabreezes room and has a somewhat limited menu, and (3) Nicoles, which bills itself as fine dining with a $25 surcharge per person. We ate all of our dinners in Seabreezes because we liked the variety. We met a family from New Jersey who tried Nicoles and said that it definitely was not fine dining by New Jersey/New York City standards, which came as no surprise to me.
For late night snacks the Beach grill is open 10pm-midnight, though we never went to see what they had.
Besides the restaurants, drinks are available at the Beach grill as well as the poolside bar, which had plenty of tables and chairs, TVs with news, weather and sports, and very good drinks. The poolside bar was also a popular place for people to use their laptops.
I would have liked an outdoor barbecue, but that may come in time.
There were two green towels in our room for use at the beach. We got fresh beach towels each day by the pool or the Beach grill. Although we got a brochure at check in that mentioned a beach card for towels, that has not been implemented yet. There was no towel deposit, no sign out sheet, and no requirement to return towels to a particular spot. At the end of the day most people just left their towels on their beach chairs, though I kept ours to reserve chairs in the shade the next day, and then got fresh towels to use for the day.
At the main reception area there is a cinema room that shows movies at 8:30pm that have been out for a while; we had seen them all so we never went. At the poolside bar on different nights there were keyboard players, singers, a great steel drum band, a magician, and a fire eating limbo dancer. For an all inclusive the entertainment was above average. The entertainment usually started 8-8:30 pm and ended around 11 pm.
There is also a “casino” that is simply a room of about 20 slot machines, and also has a nice pool table.
The resort is built on hilly terrain, which means that there are scenic views, but also some up and down walking. The only way to get to the beach is down 40 steps, and once you go back up them, there is uphill walking to the rooms and restaurants. For my wife and me this was no big deal, but if you want a resort where everything is level, don't come here. There are shuttle buses to take you around if you want to skip some of the walking, though there is no way to avoid the 40 steps down to the beach.
Bathrooms, Water, and Ice
If you are eating dinner at Seabreezes or Buccaneers, the closest public bathroom is in the gym. If you are at the pool, there is a bathroom near the poolside bar. If you are at the beach, there is a bathroom in the Beach grill.
Ice water is available in the gym, the bars, and the restaurants.
There are two ice machines on the way to the beach near rooms 165 and 178.
There are lots of paid tours, though we did not take them. We did however go to Devil’s Bridge, which is a very scenic area about a half mile from the resort. There is an uphill dirt path on the right side of the beach. Go up that path to the road, make a left, and just head for the ocean. You can go alone or with the resort staff. It is definitely worth doing.
If you go to the front of the resort, make a right and in a few minutes you will come to Long Bay beach, which is a public beach that the local people use, and also the beach for the Grand Pineapple resort. There are some tacky souvenir shops where you can buy t-shirts. Also, this is a “standard” beach that is directly on the ocean with the waves coming into shore, and is about a ¼ mile long. I much preferred the secluded bay at the Verandah.
The weather was beautiful most of the time. However, we did have a few brief (less than 15 minutes) sunshowers a couple of afternoons, and a brief shower one night before dinner. I suggest bringing a small umbrella. If you want to check the local weather forecast on the internet, the resort is located in Willikies, Antigua.
I like to run 5 miles in the morning, but hate using a treadmill in a gym. I use the Garmin 305 GPS watch, so I can measure a course accurately. If you want to run outdoors, here is a nice course that you can modify as you wish. Keep in mind that lots of the running is hilly, so take it easy your first day out. Also, since it gets very hot, I started my runs by 7:15 am.
At the beach, go up the dirt path to the right, then make a left onto the road, and run to Devil’s Bridge. Turn around and run on the same road until you come to the main road; you may see wild donkeys and wild goats, but they will not bother you. Make a left and run on the left side of the road(there is lots of oncoming traffic on the other side and no real shoulder to run on) until you come to the Sweet Dream café (where I stopped to buy a bottle of water). At this point you have run 3 miles. Turn around, run on the right side of the road until it ends at Long Bay beach, then run up and down the beach and go back to the main road. Run a short distance until you see the Verandah on your left, go through the main reception area, and run to the gym, which is located underneath Seabreezes. You have just run a total of 5.25 miles.
I always bring several books to read on a beach vacation, but I read only a few pages during my entire stay at the Verandah. I was always busy. A typical day was to go running in the morning or use the gym, have breakfast, go to the beach and do different water sports, have lunch, go back to the beach to do more water sports and take a nap, leave the beach around 4:30 pm to check email and download photos, have dinner, and then go to the entertainment. My wife and I were never bored.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the resort still has some rough edges. Beverage service in Seabreezes was sometimes slow even though it was not crowded. Every morning around 6:35 am the power went off in our room(and other rooms) for a few minutes , which woke us up because the air conditioner stopped working (though the day we left it did not happen—they finally fixed the problem). There was no activities board listing the daily activities. A couple of days they delayed turning on the air conditioning in the gym and providing a water cooler, There were numerous other items that hopefully will be of a temporary nature.
We got 50% off the regular rate and through our travel agent also got a free room upgrade to ocean view. If I had had to pay the full rate, I would not have come to this resort so soon after it opened because at regular rates it won't be a good value until they finish all construction and fully get their act together.
Please contact me if you have any questions and I will be happy to answer them.