So… you’re all excited about planning the perfect vacation escape to the Caribbean Island of Antigua, but you dread the task of researching a long list of hotels, trying to find the perfect one that will meet all your needs and expectations.
In this post we’ll share with you some useful information and insights into the hotel and resort scene on the Island that will hopefully reduce your investigative workload and help you make a faster and more informed decision.
Firstly, some quick tips about Antigua. It’s a small English-speaking Island located to the southeast of Puerto Rico with flying time from Miami of about 3 hours. The population is just under 100,000. The Island is a mere 108 square miles, and you can easily drive around the entire coastline in half a day, probably with time to spare. This means that no matter where you choose to stay, you will never be too far from St. John’s (the Capital), tourist attractions or the plethora of beaches that adorn the Island’s shores.
The weather is almost always dry and sunny with low humidity. The Island has a laid-back, easy-going vibe and is better suited to travelers seeking quieter, more relaxed vacations as opposed to the all-day and all-night party type of destination. The Island does not have a wide array of natural attractions such as lakes, waterfalls, or a wealth of museums and historical or cultural sites or rollicking nightlife. But what it may lack in these areas it makes up with the sheer number and stunning beauty of its numerous coral beaches. There are 365 of these to be exact, one for each day of the year. That is more beaches per capita than anywhere else in the world.
Watch a sampling of Antigua beaches in the video below:
Because of its very picturesque nature the Island is hugely popular as a wedding destination. In an upcoming article we will highlight a number of Antigua wedding hotels which can help you plan and host your nuptials here.
ANTIGUA HOTELS AND RESORTS
Based on TripAdvisor listings Antigua has more than 40 traditional hotel or resort properties and over 300 vacation rentals to choose from. For the purposes of this post, we will assume that you are interested in a traditional hotel establishment and not a smaller B&B, Inn, Villa, or similar special purpose accommodation.
Which property is best for you will depend on many personal considerations but the below can be considered universal concerns that almost everyone will want addressed prior to choosing:
- Resort Size
- Rate Inclusions and Meal Plan
- Beach or No Beach
- Resort Location
- Accommodation Style
- Guest Demographics
- Price Range
- Guest Ratings
Below, we discuss each of these considerations in the context of the various hotels and resorts on the Island. At the end of the article, or now if you wish, you can download a useful Antigua Resorts Information Table listing all the properties and showing how each one stacks up in terms of each of the above considerations. Also included is a link to each Property’s website. Hopefully, this resource helps answer many of the questions you may have and saves you a ton of research.
Resorts on the Island range from quaint, little family run establishments like The Villas at Sunset Lane (only 10 rooms) to large mega resort chains like Jolly Beach (464 rooms) Sandals (373 rooms) and The Royalton (296 rooms). Most properties however sit somewhere in the middle. In the downloadable Resort Information Table, we categorize each property by size as follows:
- Mega Resort: more than 150 rooms
- Mid-Sized Resort: 51 to 149 rooms
- Boutique Resort: 50 Rooms or Less
Resort size doesn’t necessarily indicate whether you will enjoy your vacation or not and is mostly a matter of personal preference. In general, however, you will find the following to be true:
- The mega resorts will have more restaurants, bars, other guest options and amenities than the mid-sized or boutique properties.
- Most Mega resorts occupy massive beaches with a hive of activity and lots of commercial and guest traffic depending on the time of year
- You will likely have more personalized attention and a quieter time at the smaller properties
- There are some smaller properties that have the unbelievable luck of being located on or near massive beaches that are mostly deserted. Check out Keyonna Beach Resort for a stunning example.
Sandals Grande, a premier Mega-Resort on the Island:
Hermitage Bay, One of several boutique resorts on the Island:
Stay tuned for our upcoming post where we explore the full range of Antigua boutique resorts.
RATE INCLUSIONS/MEAL PLAN
Most of the mid-size and mega-resorts on the Island offer all-inclusive rates. This usually means that your meals, drinks, taxes, gratuities and use of resort facilities and amenities are included in the rate you pay. However, the specifics of what exactly is included can vary from resort to resort. Some properties have all-inclusive restaurants alongside restaurants where you pay an extra charge. Services like spa treatments may not be included in the rate. Watch this space for our upcoming article where we delve deeper into what exactly is included in or excluded from the pricing of the various Antigua All-Inclusive Resorts.
A minority of properties on the Island offer room only or breakfast only meal plans. These tend to be the smaller properties for the most part. If staying with one of these properties, you may want to check that restaurants and eateries are nearby.
See the downloadable Resort Information Table for full details on what type of rate is offered by each property.
BEACH OR NO BEACH
The Island is blessed with many beaches but there are some cases where a hotel property does not have an onsite beach. However, even though your chosen hotel might not be on a beach you can bet that one will be a short walk or drive away. Many resorts which do not have a beachfront location will usually provide shuttles to a nearby beach for their guests. If staying in such a property and the beach is a must for you, you will want to check beforehand that such a service is indeed provided.
Properties on the Island are ranked (Yes or No) in the downloadable Resort Information Table according to whether there is an onsite beach or not. Some properties will have a rating of “sort of”. This refers to cases where the property has a beautiful seafront location but no beach due to the coastline in that area being more rocky than sandy. In some of these cases proprietors will have created a beach of sorts by moving sand into the area. These “man-made” beaches will usually be smaller than the natural ones.
Properties are further categorized by whether the beach location is directly in front of the hotel or adjacent to it. Properties with adjacent beaches are usually located on an ocean bluff with panoramic sea views and the beach or beaches to the side of the headland.
Keyonna Beach Resort - directly on the beach:
COCOS Hotel Antigua - boasting two adjacent beaches:
Sugar Ridge Hotel - no onsite beach but plenty nearby:
Most resorts are located on the West Coast of the Island. The others are sprinkled around the North, South and East Coast. Coastal locations might matter to you for the following reasons:
- Beaches on the West Coast are on the “Caribbean Sea” side of the Island and therefore universally enjoy calmer, clearer waters.
- Some beaches that are not on the West coast are choppy and better suited to Kite Surfing and similar activities. However, the Island in general has an extremely jagged coastline with many deep bays and coves that work to nullify the impact of the Atlantic waves on non-west coast beaches located within these inlets. If your resort is not located on the West Coast you might want to check a google map to see that it’s located in a protected bay, unless of course high impact water-sports is what you are after.
- At certain times during the year, sections of the North and East coast are affected by inflows of large amounts of sargassum seaweed. You will want to ensure that your chosen resort, if located in those areas, invests in the daily beach cleanup that is required during those times.
Typical sea conditions on a west coast beach:
Likely sea conditions on non west coast beaches not protected by a bay:
The dreaded seaweed scourge that affects areas in the east and north at certain times during the year:
Stay tuned for our infographic Antigua Resorts Map which will provide you with a detailed pictorial representation of where each resort on the Island is located with an indication of what you can expect in terms of beach and other conditions in the area.
Hotels on the Island can also be segmented by which one of the following geographical areas (concocted by us) they fall into:
- The Mega Resort Strip - This is the northwestern coast of the Island with the densest cluster of hotels and resorts, restaurants, nightlife, and residential properties. This area is relatively close to the capital city and has the longest stretch of beach real estate on the Island. A mix of mega, mid-size and boutique resorts populate this area. Hotels in this area include Sandals, Starfish Halcyon, Siboney Beach Club and several others.
- Quiet and Rural – This comprises the entire eastern, southwestern, and south coast of the Island. Resorts in these areas are mostly located in small, quiet villages. The one exception is the English Harbor/Nelsons Dockyard area on the southeast coast which becomes a hive of yachting and boating activities and a nightlife hotspot during the Winter months.
- Residential Zone - A few resorts can be found in quiet, upscale residential areas in the North of the Island. These include Blue Waters Hotel and Hodges Bay Club.
A section of the "Mega Resort Strip" on the north western coast:
Low Density Turners Beach on the southwestern coast - this environment is typical of most other parts of the Island:
The hotel properties on Antigua can be broken down into three distinct types based on accommodation style:
- Traditional multi-level or single-level room blocks. Examples are Jolly Beach, Starfish Halcyon and the Escape at Nonsuch Bay.
- Stand-alone units or cottages – Examples include Hermitage Bay, COCOS Hotel, Cocobay Resort and Keyonna Beach Resort.
- Mixed – Some properties have a mixture of accommodation types 1 and 2. The Royalton for example has a large multi-level block but also standalone over water bungalows.
See the downloadable Resort Information Table for a full breakdown of properties by accommodation style.
While most hotels on the Island are traditional bricks and mortar constructions, a new rustic style featuring wooden stand-alone cottages has emerged and is represented by the likes of COCOS, Cocobay, Hermitage Bay and Keyonna Beach Resort.
A growing fad on the Island also is hotel rooms with private plunge pools, boasting an infinity ocean view in many cases. If this type of accommodation excites you then check out the likes of Hermitage Bay, Hammock Cove, Cocobay, COCOS, Keyonna Beach, The Escape, Galley Bay and Sandals.
Not every hotel on the Island accepts anyone and everyone as a guest. There are:
- Strictly adult couples only resorts like COCOS Hotel and Sandals. Guests at these properties must be 18 or over and must travel as a couple (the gender or exact type of relationship between the couple doesn’t matter).
- Strictly adults only hotels where you can stay as a couple or as a single person providing you are 18 and over. Examples of this type of property are Cocobay and Hermitage Bay. Stay tuned for our post on Antigua All Inclusive Resorts for Adults Only coming soon.
- Hotels that accept anyone. Most properties on Island fall within this category. If you are seeking a family vacation, however, not all properties are family friendly or equipped with the accommodation types and amenities for the ideal family vacation. Keep an eye out for our upcoming article on what to expect from the various Antigua family Resorts.
While the list of adults only resorts on the Island is growing, this should not be interpreted as meaning that there are any hedonistic or nudist type of resorts here. Rather, these resorts simply do not accept children and are more focused on honeymooners or couples seeking a romantic getaway or a stress free and kids-free escape.
Stay tuned for our upcoming post on the top Antigua Honeymoon Resorts.
We have categorized the various hotels by price range as follows, based on the average nightly cost of the entry level room type:
- Budget - $300 or Less
- Mid-Range - $301 - $799
- Luxury - $800 - $1999
- Super Luxury - $2000 +
Prices will change over time and may also fluctuate based on the time of the year you choose to stay. Usually, the highest prices are charged between December to March and the lowest prices between July to September.
Also consider that some resorts are all-inclusive while others are not, and this will be reflected in the price differentials.
Budget resorts will usually be the ones offering room only rates even though there are some super affordable All-Inclusive resorts like Hawksbill Resort and Ocean Point Resort and Spa.
Most resorts on the Island fall into the mid-range category while the luxury spots are reserved for the likes of Hermitage Bay, Hammock Cove, Curtain Bluff and Carlisle Bay.
The Jumby Bay Island Hotel occupies the premier super luxury spot, boasting a location that is its own private Island with multiple beaches and superlative facilities and amenities fit for royalty.
Stay tuned for our upcoming post which educates you about what to expect when you stay at the best Antigua Luxury Resorts.
A wise old hotelier once said that pricing is a measure of promised luxury, but customer feedback is a measure of actual luxury received.
If you are the type who pays attention to customer reviews before choosing a hotel then you will want to know how the various properties on Antigua are ranking on TripAdvisor. We have classified each resort listed in the downloadable Resort Information Table as follows based on their TripAdvisor ranking as at the time of writing:
- Top 10 - Resorts occupying the top 10 spots based on accumulated guest reviews
- Middle 10 – Resorts ranking from number 11 to 20
- Bottom 10 – Resorts ranking from number 21 to 30
- Below 30 – Resorts at the bottom of the list
We appreciate that planning any vacation can be tedious. Let us know in the comments below if this article helped you in deciding on where to stay in Antigua.
Feel free also to share this post using the social media links below if you think it can benefit friends, family or associates who might be interested in booking an escape to Antigua.
Here’s hoping that your vacation search is not too stressful and that you ultimately end up in right part of paradise and have a really great time!
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