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The Verandah Resort and Spa (Antigua and Barbuda)

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Address: Indian Town Road, Saint John's 00000, Antigua and Barbuda / Tel: +1 954-481-8787

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      24.01.2011 20:38
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      A great place for a romantic getaway, and to savour the atmosphere of the Caribbean

      We stayed for a week in the Verandah Resort in Antigua as part of our honeymoon. The resort itself is situated about 20 miles to the East of the capital St.Johns, and the airport, near the picturesque Dien Bay. Flight time from the UK is approximately 8 hours and a taxi ride of 30 minutes will get you to the resort for about $25US.

      The resort itself is right on the coast, with 2 private beaches for use. The main Long Bay Beach is a mere 5-minute stroll from the reception of the hotel, and on the other side it is bordered by the Devils Bridge National Park.

      We arrived at the hotel mid afternoon, and were greeted with a complimentary cocktail - Rum based of course, before easily completing the checking in procedure, which took no more than 10 minutes. Outside the reception is a large guest car park, and a hire car facility, which the hotel will happily arrange for you. Reception itself is open air, and very comfortable, cooled by ceiling fans and always staffed with at least 2 people. Next to the reception is a gift shop offering soft drinks and snacks as well as souvenir items, but this is quite expensive. You can pay in US dollars or the local currency the Eastern Caribbean Dollar here and in most places on the island. We chose to have the local ones, as it seemed more exciting at the time. The exchange rate is fixed to the US$ so you are no worse off using either.

      After check in we were shuttled to our suite in a large golf cart, of which there are several, always helpful and willing to give you a lift. The resort itself is set over a large area and is quite hilly in places, so disabled access isn't the best, although with the help of the shuttles, a good holiday would still be possible. The thing that hits you as you are shuttled about are the views out over the sea, as well as the exotic looking flora and fauna, with many banana and plantain dotting the roadway, and if you are lucky a hummingbird or two hovering next to a flower. There are also many different species of lizard which we really liked.

      There are 3 choices of room, an ocean view, ocean side or garden view. There is no difference in facilities in any of these, just the view that you get from your balcony. We had an ocean view room, which had great views out over the bay. As I said to my wife, you know you are far from home when there are several large pelicans swooping down overhead from the balcony to catch fish in the sea!

      The rooms themselves are very spacious and ideal for a honeymoon or other romantic getaway. They can fit up to 4 people in, with a large king size bed, and if necessary a queen size sofa bed. The rooms are basically Caribbean style cabins split up into 2, and are well sound proofed - we hardly heard the next-door people throughout our stay. The rooms are all well air conditioned, and also have ceiling fans. They are decorated in traditional Caribbean style. They also had a sofa, satellite TV with all the major US channels on it. A direct dial telephone (although the rates are very expensive), a microwave and refrigerator, as well as tea and coffee making facilities. The bathroom was also spacious with his and her sinks, as well as a very large and deep bath, ideal to freshen up after a hot day sunbathing. A shower is also present above the bath. All in all we were very impressed at the level of cleanliness and quality of facilities.

      The main section of the resort is based around the main hotel pool. This is a large area, with a big fountain in the middle of the pool. The water although not freezing, is cold enough to be refreshing in the heat of the day. The pool is served by waiter by a well stocked bar, and service was always quick and friendly. We took the all-inclusive option, which I really recommend, as prices are quite expensive otherwise. The all-inclusive package covered the vast majority of drinks, be they soft or alcoholic, with only more expensive wines and champagnes not covered.

      The main bar is situated just to the side of the pool, again well stocked and efficient friendly service. The evening entertainment all takes place here. The entertainment itself is not fantastic, nothing compared to the European package holiday scene, but we liked this, as it was generally traditional steel band, calypso, limbo dancing and singing variety, with a few audience participation quizzes. All very pleasant with a rum cocktail under a starry sky.

      Dining at the hotel is possible in 3 different restaurants. The sea breeze restaurant is the main one. It serves buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has a good selection of local cuisine as well as British and American and European dishes. It is an open-air restaurant so is always cool. A casual dress code is asked for, with long trousers, and no bathing costumes. Buccaneer's restaurant is a sit down affair, serving good 3 course meals with waiter service. The menu is posted early in the day and then reservations can be made throughout the day. The quality and presentation of the food here was very good quality and it was a very pleasant dining experience. Nicole's restaurant is the other option. This incurs a surcharge of $25US per person and is a fine dining restaurant. We didn't visit here during our stay, but the menu's looked very posh, and other guests at the time spoke very highly of the food and the experience here.

      Also situated in the main area are the guest services building. We found the staff here to be very helpful indeed. Here you can book restaurant reservations for the day, as well as browse through the many tours that are available on the island. We booked a taxi to the capital St. John's through here, as they run a taxi every day if numbers allow. This made the trip a lot cheaper, and was very convenient costing $22US each. They will also arrange taxis to and from anywhere for you, as well as arranging late check out or shower rooms on your departure day if you require.

      Away from the main area is another small adults only pool. Ideal for a bit of sunbathing and a refreshing dip, the pool has a little cave and plenty of sun beds available. Sport is also an option here, with a pool table, table tennis facilities and shuffleboard court which is very popular in the Caribbean, which we played several times and found it good fun. Near the main reception there is also a tennis court with gear available from the hotel. It is lit at night, which is the only time I would have ever considered playing, as it was far too hot in the daytime for that!

      The hotel also has two beaches available for use. The first near the main reception is quite small but very tidy, with a good number of umbrellas for shade. The water is clear, but there are not many fish around here so snorkelling opportunities are limited. There is also a small refreshment stand serving soft drinks to keep cool.
      The main beach is over the other end of the resort and is much bigger, with water sport options available such as pedalos, motor boats, canoes and snorkelling. Again the water is of good quality, and there are literally hundreds of sun beds available, with a snack bar just up the steps, serving hot dogs, jerk chicken etc, as well as beers, cocktails and soft drinks.

      The resort also boasts a spa, which is not included in the all-inclusive package. The treatments available are extensive, but priced from US$50 to US$250, which is very expensive, so we didn't use this during our stay due to the cost of the honeymoon itself.

      In the vicinity of the resort is the Devil's Bridge National Park, which is well worth a visit and is only a 15-minute walk away. It is a narrow piece of headland jutting out into the Caribbean Sea, with huge waves crashing up against it. A truly stunning photo opportunity.

      In the other direction is Long Beach Bay. Here there are a few shops, more water sports options and the snorkelling is amazing!!! There is a reef just a few metres off shore, and the vast array of tropical fish on show puts your local aquarium to shame!!! The currents are a not too strong, but a good swimmer is required to keep momentum through the troughs of the reef itself, but you will be highly rewarded, and my wife and I both agreed that snorkelling here was one of the highlights of the holiday. We didn't do organised snorkelling, just bought a mask and snorkel and went for it.

      All in all I would thoroughly recommend this resort to any couples wanting a romantic getaway for 2, or for a honeymoon. It's probably not somewhere to bring children or teenagers, as they wouldn't find enough things to keep them occupied.

      Thanks for reading and this review also appears on Ciao under my same username.

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