This beach beauty has accommodation for all budgets, reports David Whitley
As islands in the Caribbean go, Antigua is about as straightforward as it gets. Plenty of direct flights (with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Thomas Cook) make it easy to reach, and once there you’d be hard pushed to find two points on the island that are more than an hour’s drive from each other.
Antigua is arguably one of the most English of the Caribbean islands, but there’s enough local flavour to keep it interesting. The much-mentioned 365 beaches mix with the odd historical sight such as colonial naval repair station Nelson’s Dockyard.
Meanwhile, fun options such as snorkelling boat trips and the Sunday night party at Shirley Heights lure visitors away from their sunloungers. And when it comes to accommodation, you can dial up or down the luxury to suit clients’ budgets. Simple.
Siboney Beach Club
Dickenson Bay has an excellent beach, with a few relatively budget options. Of these, the Siboney Beach Club, from £120 room-only, has suite-style rooms, each with slightly different decor.
The kitchenettes, six-seat dining tables and living area with super-comfortable sofa are big pluses, while the pool is merely adequate and there’s a small section of beach frontage. There’s free Wi-Fi, it’s air-conditioned and the hollowed out red phone box on the beach is cutely photogenic. siboneybeachantigua.com
Buccaneer Beach Club
The neighbouring and very similar Buccaneer Beach Club, from £116 room-only, effectively shares the well-regarded Coconut Grove bar and restaurant with Siboney.
Furnishings are slightly more dated than at the next door property, the pool’s a similar size, but there’s more colour about the place and there’s plenty of space.
The section of beach is arguably more appealing too, while the labelling of all the plants in the billowing gardens is a nice touch.
The clientele tends to lean towards business, which is odd given that the fold-out sofa-beds in the living area make it a good choice for families that don’t feel a need for a kids’ club. buccaneerbeach.com
Antigua Yacht Club Marina
In Falmouth, the Antigua Yacht Club Marina, from £84 room-only, is positioned next to the marina, making it a popular choice with yacht crew. It would suit those looking to explore the island and its beaches in a hire car rather than sit by a pool (the property does not have one).
Four-poster beds, pyramid-shaped wooden roofs and cracking sea views in most rooms make up for a slight shabbiness in the decor, but proximity to lots of bars and restaurants is a major plus point. There’s a free shuttle to Pigeon Point beach too. aycmarina.com
Copper & Lumber Store Hotel
In Nelson’s Dockyard, the Copper & Lumber Store Hotel, from £110 room-only, is an 18th century Georgian building that has an oddly Andalucian feel, built as it is around a courtyard.
The rooms are surprisingly huge, and lavished with period furniture and fittings. With original beams, exposed brick walls and plenty of buffed hardwood, it feels more like a city boutique hotel than a resort. There’s no pool, but a free shuttle boat takes you to the beach. copperandlumberhotel.com
The Admiral’s Inn, from £127, oozes heritage charm. Inside Nelson’s Dockyard, the pillars that once supported the main boathouse stand in the middle of the property.
It’s worth trading off the sea views for the rooms with more wow factor – the loft rooms in particular are a stunning vision in gleaming varnished dark wood, with rocking chairs by the window.
A recent addition is the Boom infinity pool and restaurant over the water – a complimentary boat ferries guests across. This makes for a slightly odd set-up, but tags resort facilities on to what’s otherwise a gorgeous historic hotel. admiralsantigua.com
Jolly Beach Resort
The Jolly Beach Resort is dated rather than historic, a rather hulking concrete monster painted in bright colours. The small rooms feel rather tired, but – bear with us – from another perspective, it’s the best bet on the island.
It’s on a tremendous beach, has a packed activity programme, a secondary pool that’s bigger than the main one in most of the higher-end options and a huge primary pool with swim-up bar.
Thomas Cook offers seven nights’ all-inclusive, including flights, from £1,140. jollybeachresort.com
Touring international cricket teams tend to stay at Sugar Ridge, which offers richly furnished, smartly modern rooms that climb the hillside. Those on the higher levels have tremendous sea views, while the lower levels get plunge pools instead.
It’s not on the beach, but regular free shuttles head out to the nearest ones. Meanwhile, Carmichael’s, Sugar Ridge’s fine dining restaurant, is arguably the best on the island.
Hayes & Jarvis sells seven nights with breakfast and return flights from £1,140. sugarridgeantigua.com
St James’s Club
This is a good, rather than dazzling, all-rounder. It’s family-friendly, but with an adult-only section.
Four tennis courts, four restaurants, complimentary non-motorised watersports and a small cinema are among the plus points, while the relative isolation from anywhere else on the island and hefty in-room Wi Fi charges are the key minuses.
Rooms are sizeable and neutrally decorated. Kuoni has seven nights’ all inclusive, including return flights, from £1,280. stjamesclubantigua.com
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
This Sandals property is the island’s big boy, covering 27 acres by the prime sands of Dickenson Bay. There are six pools and 11 restaurants, which include Caribbean, English gastropub, Japanese and US southwestern.
There are also 25 room categories to navigate, split into those on the more chilled ‘Caribbean’ side of the property and the glossier, high-rise ‘Mediterranean’ section.
The list of inclusions is impressive, and the grounds are meticulously maintained. This is the one for clients who want a long list of facilities rather than reserved minimalism.
Virgin Holidays sells seven nights’ all-inclusive, with flights, from £1,874. sandals.co.uk
The Inn at English Harbour
This property does a splendid line in relaxed, timeless elegance. Two fake-grass tennis courts, kayaks, a small spa and a free boat service to Nelson’s Dockyard are among the facilities, but it’s more about atmosphere than ticking boxes.
The 28 mahogany-floored suites come with massive balconies or patios, plus mosquito-netted, four-poster beds. The beach is effectively private, while the service is excellent.
It’s a quiet option, ideal for couples. Caribtours offers seven nights’ half-board in a Beach Cabana from £1,795, including flights, private transfers and a UK airport lounge. theinnantigua.com
Galley Bay Resort & Spa
Adult-only Galley Bay Resort & Spa has an engaging personality, illustrated by endearingly quirky little touches.
It has its own lagoon, turtles nest on the beach, the Gauguin restaurant has tables under thatched huts, and an old sugar mill stands by the entrance.
Some guests will prefer the cheaper rooms – standalone, faux-African hut cottages with private plunge pools – to the higher-category rooms that boast sea views.
Western & Oriental offers seven nights’ all-inclusive in a Gauguin Cottage from £1,795 including flights. galleybayresort.com
As the name suggests, Curtain Bluff is built on a bluff, giving it two beaches.
There’s no scrimping on the all-inclusive additions, with high-end spirits, snorkelling trips and motorised watersports thrown in.
Also worth noting are the superb wine cellar, the spa with astonishing views and the three resident tennis professionals. Destinology has rooms from £494 per night all-inclusive. curtainbluff.com
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