After a smooth and easy flight to Antigua with British Airways the Elite Island Hopathon started with a fanfare! Well more like a man at a keyboard who welcomed us to Antigua as we walked in to the Airport Terminal from our plane. I’ve never been serenaded at an airport before so that was a pleasant experience.
Our driver, Pat, met us at arrivals with a giant of a car, whisking us off on a short but very scenic drive to the Verandah Resort and Spa, some 25 minutes away. We passed fields filled with cows and goats, the cricket stadium which our driver was very keen to point out, then on to our hotel down a quiet road to the coast. The days of sugar plantations are long gone from Antigua and the landscape is now rolling green fields and small collections of farm animals.
Verandah Resort & Spa
The Verandah Resort and Spa is more of a village than a hotel. After checking in and being given a map of the resort (as you’ll definitely need one) We were greeted with an electric golf cart that could easily seat 10 people. Each room is really a small bungalow and the trails that link these buildings are easily navigated by the carts, there’s even bus stops along the way if you’re no in the mood to walk.
Dropped off right outside our room, 174, our bags were unloaded for us and we headed straight to the huge balcony where we had a fantastic view of the beach, actually one of two beaches in the resort, with people kayaking, sunbathing and enjoying the surroundings. This is my 3rd time in the Caribbean and there’s always a special atmosphere in this part of the world. Relaxing, sun soaked and a chance to indulge for a few days. This feeling is all around, not just in the staff who greet you everywhere but also the architecture and decor too.
Our room was more than ample, with its own mini kitchen, a fridge with complimentary water and an impressive plate of fresh fruit to snack on, which came in very hand after our first night as we woke up an hour or so before breakfast began being served at 7am. The bed was very big and very comfortable and the white noise from the wind outside and air conditioning in our room help us drift off to sleep very easily. We even had heavy rain overnight which, while dramatic, wasn’t too loud.
The resort is in a word, huge! Hundreds of rooms available in pairs all with their own unique names and all with great views too. There’s two beaches here, one close by the lobby area with a bar and beach volleyball court, the other next to our room with lots of water sports and well shaded sun-beds. There’s also two pools here, a large pool for anyone to use, right next to a large bar area and the three restaurants. This is where most of the action happens and at night there’s always entertainment. A very good reggae band were playing the night we spent at the bar here and they definitely created a great atmosphere.
The food options are plentiful and varied enough to keep guests happy. The main sunshine restaurant is where all three meals are available, buffet style and you can just turn up any time for this. Thanks to the staff at the Verandah Resort we had a table booked at the Buccaneer restaurant, with some fairly unique decor. Large portraits of famous (and possibly fictitious) pirates, along with a definite nautical theme and a man at his keyboard playing classic songs you always recognise but can never quite remember the name of. The food here was excellent, with a lamb dish that just melted in the mouth and a tasty local beer that quenched the thirst nicely.
Romance and fun
On our last night we were treated to a “Romantic private gazebo dinner” which basically consists of a table for 2 in one of the wedding gazebos dotted around the complex. Ours overlooked the beach near our room and was a little on the windy side but the fairy lights all around us helped set the romantic mood. Our personal butler was friendly and funny, disappearing off in his golf cart and returning with each course. The meal was definitely tasty and good fun but I’m not entirely sure it was all that romantic. The wind whipping up from the sea was a bit of an issue and just as the main course was served the rain came lashing down and we made a run for it to the nearby bar where they did their best to set up a private table for us to finish our meal. I think maybe if the food hadn’t been quite so plentiful and maybe if the dishes weren’t served wrapped in cling film to keep them warm from the kitchen then it may have been a little more romantic. One thing it did do was make us both smile and enjoy ourselves, even with the heavy rain. So if trying to be romantic brings you a little closer to your loved one and a smile to your face then you’re half way there.
The most romantic experience during our short stay was undoubtably the couples massage. I really love these and sharing the experience of a soothing hour of massage and relaxation is something I really enjoy. Deborah and I made our way to the spa building close to the pool and bar. We were greeted with glasses of lemon water and escorted to the dimly lit serenity of the couples massage room. Two massage beds all set up with music play that could send even the most energetic of people in to a coma like trance. The massages were gentle enough to enjoy but firm enough to make a difference and we both left feeling relaxed and with limbs like jelly. A great feeling to have when you’re on holiday in the Caribbean!
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Next stop Saint Lucia
An early start the next day, onwards to Saint Lucia to continuing our Elite Island Hopathon. We really enjoyed the beautiful surroundings of the Verandah Resort & Spa. It’s size and facilities give you more than enough to keep you busy. There was so much more to explore than we had time for but the Elite Island Hopathon waits for no man! Our next stop is Saint Lucia!