Antigua All-Inclusive Resorts: Eat, Drink, Adventure, Escape…. All Included
by Lorraine Headley-Raeburn, on Jun 20, 2022 3:34:53 AM
Imagine planning for a much-needed relaxing getaway. You’ve saved for many months giving up many necessities like that daily mocha soy latte, brown bagging for lunch and cancelled your subscriptions to Netflix, Audible and Spotify. You’ve spent hundreds of hours on the internet searching for the perfect hotel and booked the best room that you can afford.
The time has finally come, you’ve arrived at your destination. The bell boy takes your bag...that’s a $5 tip. It’s time for dinner…. that’s $150…. a nice bottle of wine…. that’s another $50. You’re dreading breakfast because that’s another $50 from your set travel budget. But there is lunch, dinner, tomorrow’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner…. sleep, eat, repeat…for another five days! And that does not include taxis, excursions, spa treatments and souvenirs. This was supposed to be relaxing, but it’s feeling pretty stressful!
There must be another way. There is, and this is the lure of the growing popularity of the all-inclusive resort. The concept first emerged in the 1950s in Europe with the Club Med resorts which have garnered a reputation over the years as cheap, basic, affordable family getaways. The concept was revitalised in the Caribbean with the establishment of the first Sandals resort in Jamaica in 1981 which provided a unique approach of a luxury, couples only, all-inclusive experience. The success of that first Jamaican property has blossomed into sixteen Sandals resorts across seven Caribbean countries and evolved into a worldwide recognised and revered brand.
Essentially, an all-inclusive resort offers guests a specific, upfront rate that usually includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, soft drinks, and most alcoholic beverages. Some resorts include a range of mostly non-motorised water sports and other activities on property; taxes, fees, and gratuities; and many include transfers, WIFI and daily entertainment. So, whether designed for families, adults, or only couples, guests don’t have to worry about how much they are spending, making for a complete getaway with full relaxation and no surprise costs.
There are many Antigua Resorts that have embraced the all-inclusive way - from luxury to budget, from family to couples, your particular needs are well catered for.
St. James Club is one of the most well-known family all-inclusive properties in Antigua. One of the renowned Elite Island Resort properties in the Caribbean, St. James Club, with its over 200 rooms, is set on a 100-acre peninsula on the south-eastern coast of Antigua, describes itself as offering a host of fun-filled activities. Its all-inclusive package includes kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, tennis, beach volleyball, a fitness club, and a Kids Club. Its dining ranges from fully included casual, to fine dining - with a supplementary charge, across five restaurants. It’s a good value vacation, likely to please a wide range of tastes and well located near the historical Antigua Naval Dockyard and the lively English Harbour, ensuring lots of nearby off-resort escapades.
Included Water-sports at St. Jame's Club, Antigua
The Verandah Resort and Spa, another of the Elite Island Resort properties, encompasses over 185 villa style rooms on the other side of the island set in its own secluded cove on 30 acres. All food and drink including alcohol can be enjoyed across five restaurants including a fine dining restaurant for an extra fee, as well as water sports galore...sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and activities from weight training to wellness classes, Caribbean dancing to yoga. With special facilities, pools, and activities just for the kids, the resort is a haven for the entire family.
A more recent addition to the Antigua all-inclusive resorts offering, especially for families, is the 294 rooms at Royalton Antigua. Boasting the only overwater bungalows in Antigua, the resort is fresh and fully equipped with cafes, gift shops, a coffee shop, a gelato, a pub, and a steakhouse. One of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, the resort offers unlimited a la carte dining across eight restaurants including an exclusive private chef experience of seven courses for an extra fee. A Kids Club and Teen Hangout Lounge for the younger folks, and for all, a range of activities including beach volleyball, ping pong, cooking classes, dance classes, trivia competitions, aerobics, fitness training and a stunning, luxurious spa. You may just need a vacation after the vacation!
Overwater Bungalow at Royalton Antigua
One of the oldest and more luxurious all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean is Curtain Bluff. This award-winning resort offers over 70 suites evolving from its beginning as a private residence for friends and family in the 1960s. Still retaining a strong family feeling, many of the staff have been with the hotel for decades and are well known for providing impeccable service, as the many repeat guests can attest. With two restaurants offering exquisite dining, from beach casual to more formal, the resort also provides an extensive range of included activities including tennis, squash, pool, croquet, motorised and non-motorised water sports, yoga, and spa treatments. For those wine afficionados, Curtain Bluff has one of the finest wine cellars in the Caribbean, boasting over 4,000 wines. A tour by the exceptional sommelier is a must!
All Inclusive Curtain Bluff
If money is no object, the 28 luxury villas at Jumby Bay situated on the private 300-acre Long Island, two miles from the North coast of Antigua, is the ultimate in all inclusive. With their motto… nothing but the swimsuit…just about everything upon everything is included. A la carte dining choices are offered in a casual and a formal restaurant, a pool grille, four bars and occasional pop-ups. Having an island to yourself allows for complete freedom with bicycles available for full exploration on land, and guided snorkel tours and round the island boat trips for exploration on the waters. For the active, sea kayaks, wind surfs, paddle boards, water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, tennis, and reef fishing are available along with sailing instruction at the resident Jumby Bay Sailing Academy. When it is time to wine down, a nightly happy hour with guests and homeowners often transitions to the breath-taking ‘Cinema on the Beach.’ A stunningly unique experience!
Cinema on the beach at Jumby Bay
Within the extensive collection of exquisite Antigua All Inclusive Resorts, this award-winning romantic destination has carved out a special niche for All Inclusive Resorts catering solely for adults. Elite Island Resorts has three more resorts among its Antigua All Inclusive Resorts dedicated just for adults.
The 180 room Pineapple Beach Club is set on 30 acres of beachfront across a quarter mile of white sand beach at Long Bay, one of the calmest beaches in Antigua and extremely popular with the locals. With all food and drinks included in its five restaurants, the resort is best known for its quaint Outhouse BBQ Grill and Bar, perched high on a hill overlooking the beach vista. In addition to the customary sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, fitness facilities, tennis, billiards, and nature walks, guests can enjoy lively nightly entertainment including live music, island themed shows, DJs, karaoke, fire dancers, stilt walkers and beach parties. Undeniably, one of the liveliest adult resorts on the island!
Outhouse at Pineapple Beach Club
A more mature and sophisticated property within the Elite Island Resorts family is Galley Bay Resort and Spa. With 98 rooms across 42 acres, incorporating a lagoon with wetland wildlife, the property is set among tropical gardens with beachfront accommodation. Three open air restaurants provide an all-inclusive culinary experience ranging from classic hamburgers to more formal fine dining - with an extra charge - described as farm to table. Movies under the stars, cooking demos, garden tours, tennis, croquet, pool, beach volleyball, yoga and a fully equipped fitness centre coupled with water activities of sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkeling are all included. The highlight without a doubt, at an added fee, is the Indulge Spa overlooking the lagoon amongst tranquil gardens, using natural Caribbean elements from coconut to lemongrass, papaya to pineapple. Rejuvenation guaranteed!
The latest in the Elite Island Resort’s Antigua All Inclusive Resorts is Hammock Cove, set in the same bay as its sister property, The Verandah. All 41 villas feature plunge pools and one of the largest showers imaginable, and include all food and drink including premium wines, liquor, and champagne. A 24-hour room service is a delightfully extravagant experience if you prefer complete privacy, although the two stunning restaurants are a great choice. A particular treat is being within walking distance of the astounding Devil’s Bridge, a natural arch carved by the sea from soft and hard limestone ledges, the result of millions of years of ancient reef formation. You’ll be in selfie heaven against the natural blowholes shooting up magnificent Atlantic Ocean spray.
Hammock Cove Antigua
One of only a few major resorts in Antigua inland from its 365 beaches, Escape at Nonsuch Bay, is set within the larger Nonsuch Bay Resort complex. With 40 ocean front plunge pool rooms, all meals are served in the Drift Restaurant with interesting add-ons including a unique private “Escape Beach Picnic” on the nearby Green Island. Heaven!
The Escape at Nonsuch Bay, Antigua
For an even more romantic ambience, there are a select few properties that cater exclusively for adult couples…. romantic partners, siblings, parent and child, best friends. These intimate all-inclusive couples’ resorts are designed to encourage interaction, conversation, and reconnection, with rooms catering for only two adults, dining socially distanced – even before the pandemic - and set for two to allow for that well overdue tête-à-tête.
The five-star, award winning Hermitage Bay, a special blend of sophistication and relaxed living, offers 30 suites, some with private plunge pools on the hillside or garden views or beachfront closer to the sea. A more laid-back approach to a getaway, the all-inclusive includes meals, afternoon snacks and evening canapes, premium brand drinks, and fully stocked minibars. For those able to get away from that seductive day bed, there is non-motorised water sports, speedboat rides, garden tours, cookery demonstrations, a fitness centre, yoga, Pilates, and meditation classes. Very zen!
All Inclusive Hermitage Bay, Antigua
For a slightly livelier vibe for couples, Cocobay is set on a ten-acre hillside with stunning views. With 61 pastel-coloured cottages, kayaking, nature walks, sailing, snorkeling and non-motorised water sports are all included. Not included, though worthy of a visit, is the onsite Sheer Rocks which is also open to non-hotel guests. On top of a cliff peninsula, this award-winning restaurant is the best backdrop for Mediterranean inspired tapas lunches, sundowners, and romantic dinners.
A former sister property to Cocobay is COCOS, which has perfected the all-inclusive romantic getaway in Antigua. With 39 individual dark wood cottages – some with private plunge pools, the property is set on a bluff with two adjoining fine white sand beaches. Included are all meals, an all-day snack menu, premium liquor, and fully stocked mini bar as well as yoga classes and Caribbean cooking classes.
COCOS Hotel Antigua
The all-inclusive, while popular among some, is not favoured by all. Some visitors would prefer to have less of an obligation to take all meals at their resort preferring to taste the local fare of the island. Local communities have also feared the ever-expanding proportion of all-inclusive resorts in Antigua with the preferred goal to ensure greater integration of tourists with locals to encourage the flow of tourist dollars to the local restaurants, vendors, local craftsmen, and farmers.
Keyonna Beach Resort elegantly balances the convenience and ease of an all-inclusive, with community involvement reflecting the authentic sights, sounds, tastes, aroma and feel of the Caribbean. The hotel was conceptualised and designed to reflect its indigenous origins being locally owned, home grown and incorporating everything local from the cottage design, furniture making, food and beverage choices, team members and landowners.
Local Hot Sauce on Offer at Keyonna Beach
The resort stretches across land owned over generations by local families. Keyonna is the granddaughter of one of the first owners of the land, from whom the land is leased, and in her honour Keyonna Beach was named. The reverence to the history of the owners; the villages of Urlings and Crab Hill surrounding her; the neighbouring farmers and fishermen who earn their living from her and everyday supply the delectable fresh local fare; the craftsmen who make her look pretty with their handcrafted traditional furniture and fittings; and the village staff who live steps from her, Keyonna Beach fully reflects the unique and authentic experience of the real soul of the Caribbean, an all-inclusive vintage Caribbean!
All Inclusive Keyonna Beach Resort