Today was a down day as we were changing hotels, from The Verandah Resort on the northeast side of the island to St. James Club (review to follow tomorrow) on the northwest but we had the pleasure of spending several hours at the Starfish Jolly Beach Resort on the southeast side (needless to say we got quite an island tour!). Jolly Beach Resort is a new acquisition to the Elite Resort group, giving them an affordable option for travelers that may otherwise think Antigua is financially out of reach.
Jolly Beach Resort (formerly Club Antigua) is a 3 star property that was one of the first all inclusives on the island and is the largest with 464 rooms in 6 categories from the 135 square foot supersaver room to the 1400 square foot waterfront cottages. This 40 acre rustic hotel may not have the amenities of the other Elite resorts on the island but it does have this:
Manager Alex Browne dubs it “the best beach by a mile”…and he’s right! This has been by far the best beach we’ve seen and it will be hard to beat. One mile long with soft white sand and azure waters, one can’t take their eyes off of it. The water is warmer on this, the Caribbean side and although it had a ‘yellow’ flag (suggesting caution when swimming), it was virtually glass-like…I wonder what a green flag beach looks like!
There were many children on property (enjoying the big and beautiful pools) meaning it appears to be a great family choice but Jolly Beach Resort also specializes in weddings with its own wedding coordinator and large wedding gazebo with a stunning view of the sea. Wedding packages are even complimentary with some bookings.
The acquisition by Elite means some needed changes for this jewel in the rough. Alex said 60 rooms have already been renovated since the January takeover and all rooms will eventually receive some kind of upgrades as well as a complete overhaul of the onsite cricket pitch (!), new loungers and palapas and more making this a more appealing stay. Bartender Rowan said he had been working there for 12 years and really liked the direction Elite was taking with the property. This leads to the other thing noticed by many of the other agents: the level of service. The staff truly seemed to be enjoying themselves and were incredibly friendly (I actually got a little tired of saying ‘good afternoon’ to every maid and groundsperson…but it was refreshing to see).
Finally I will emphasize again, if you are a beach lover looking for an affordable place to relax in the sand and calm waters, Jolly Beach Resort may just be what you need!
Tomorrow we are doing a complete circumnavigation of the island via catamaran so look forward to those breathtaking pictures as well as a first review of the stunning St. James Club (wait until you get a load of THESE rooms!).