Grand Pineapple Beach by Occidental Reviews – Antigua and Barbuda Hotels – Grand Pineapple Beach by Occidental

With respect to Antigua, safety is not an issue anywhere you go. Antiguans are very friendly and helpful. You will definitely experience ‘island time’ when waiting for service, but the slow pace is exactly what we needed . It forces you to relax and gives you the opportunity to stop and take in the beauty of the island and its people. The Pineapple Beach Resort is a wonderful. We enjoyed the laid back atmosphere, the good food, the snorkelling and the beach. My wife describes it as “A little paradise on earth, – surrounded by beauty – great place to recoup from life’s stresses” Would we go back to this resort – definitely! The resort is well run and management is attentive to the operations and to the needs of the guests. Resort staff is welcoming. While we were there the guests were about 1/3 British, 1/3 American, and 1/3 English Canadian, plus a sprinkling of Italians and Swedes. A very friendly bunch. Most were in their 40’s and 50’s with some 30’s and 60’s. The resort is very well laid out and everything is within close walking distance. The view from the Topaz restaurant is just amazing. Nothing like having breakfast beside the ocean! As mentioned in other reviews and comments, there were birds in the Topaz restaurant during the day, but they were never a bother. Management puts bowls of bread croutons outside the restaurant and it seems to satisfy most of the birds.

Following are ratings on the various aspects of the resort.

4.5/5 Mostly friendly and very helpful when in need of something. For example, when we went to close our suitcase on the last day, the zipper broke. The facilities manager (Paul, I believe) had the maintenance manager come up to our room in a matter of minutes. He repaired the zipper immediately – no charge. Reservations and excursions staff were also most helpful and friendly. Housekeeper – very nice.

4/5 I would recommend the 700, 800, and 900 blocks for location, newness and views from those rooms. I would avoid the 400 block of rooms as the two blocks of rooms face each other, no privacy on the walkway and balconies connecting the rooms and some of the rooms towards the back (i.e. 419, 421) have little light coming in and no view. If money is no object, “Terry’s” 500 block of rooms has unsurpassed views and the rooms didn’t seem that dated (from peering into them).

Food: 4/5 We went to the resort with another couple so we were able to try pretty well everything between the four of us. Most of the food was excellent. Food and water safety are not a concern. We ate everything, drank the tap water and were fine. I have a delicate stomach, but never had any problems at this resort. Another guest in the buffet line told us “you can at least recognize the food here and get to try Caribbean food if you’re adventurous”. Salads were always fresh and crisp with excellent dressings. Desserts were wonderful. For coffee lovers, you will find that because the milk flavour is different from what we are used to in North American, that it changes the flavour of the coffee. Nothing that you don’t get used to after a couple of days. We found the coffee in our room to be very good. The shrimp in the cocktails were the best that we have ever had, and we often eat shrimp back home. Pietro’s 3/5 (Italian a la carte, veal – tough, lasagna – small portion but delicious). Reservations required. Pineapple Grill 4.5/5 Excellent fajitas, good steak – bit tough, excellent ‘Combo grill’ platter. A la carte – reservations required. Topaz 4/5 Breakfast: Excellent waffles, eggs, omelettes to order, bacon, etc. Excellent at lunch (although we often skipped lunch). Dinner: Good on buffet nights and very good on a la carte nights Outhouse 5/5 If you like bbq chicken and ribs, salad and cold beer, head up the hill for lunch and a great view! Mary is a sweetheart. Pool snack bar 5/5 Excellent snacks by the pool. Close to beach as well. Excellent jumbo dogs, chicken fingers and tuna sandwiches; fries were good. There were other items on menu such as seafood sandwiches and ice cream which we did not try. Food Service 3.5/5 The service was fine most times but inconsistent. Some workers were cheerful, others were not. This might be due to the fact that some were there from early morning until closing at around 11:00 PM and then they were back early the next morning.

Wine service was hit and miss depending on who was assigned that night. For example they would top up the red wine, but if the white wine bottle in their hand was empty, they would most likely forget to come back to top up the white. One night they forgot about our food order. It took well over two hours before we were served our entrée and only after we had asked if they had forgotten about us. Not too bad though as we had fine conversation and decent wine to occupy us. Apart from this one episode, the ladies who served the food were efficient. The open air concept at the Topaz and Pietro’s tended to cool down the food quickly. (Topaz and Pietro’s are in the same large area, with some dividers used to cordon off Pietro’s – same kitchen used for both).

3.5/5 Getting a drink did not normally involve much of a wait. There was enough choice in premium brands – for my tastes anyway. At times had to tell them to go easy on the liquor portion of the drink – very generous with the rum! Bartenders were efficient but not very cheerful. It is one of the busiest jobs on the resort so this may account for the ‘lack of smiles’. Felt as if one was imposing on them when getting a drink. Towards the end of our stay, I started asking the fellows who picked up the glasses (bartenders in waiting) to get my drinks and I would tip them each time.

5/5 “Peaceful and total relaxation”. A nice crescent shaped beach with fine, off white sand. The water is calm enough for swimming, even if one is not a strong swimmer – and it gets deeper gradually. The far right side of the beach has a coral reef . The water is calm and ideal for snorkelling. Some snorkellers said that the water was not as clear as at some other islands, but we thought it was amazing. This was my wife’s first time snorkelling and she enjoyed it so much that she went out several times. Lots of nice fish – some days better than others.

4.5/5 Very pleasant surroundings – always maintained. One negative – some of the interlocking stones in the main walkway have disintegrated for some reason, making it tricky to walk from the restaurant and bar areas to the rooms in the evening. One lady stumbled on the uneven interlocking, fell and cut her knee.

Staff came by trying to drum up support for various activities. We did not participate so can’t comment. We were glued to the beach and water.

Different entertainment every night for the first week and then repeated during the second week. We enjoyed it. It is geared to the 40’s and 50’s crowd, but can be enjoyed by all, especially karaoke night.

Excursions: St. John’s Shopping at St. John’s (the capital) is a must if you need to bring back presents. Even if you are not into shopping, it is interesting to see the activity in town and meet the inhabitants. For me, the ride there and back is worth the price of admission ($10 US return). Fairly scenic, lots of wandering goats, cows, donkeys, and the taxi driver’s ability to navigate the potholes, oncoming traffic on narrow roads and ability to avoid the animals creates excitement and laughs for the passengers. Shirley’s Heights Overrated – Excellent steel band(s), beautiful sunset, very crowded – standing room only and line-ups for drinks and toilets. Not much to do up there except stand in one spot, listen to the music and watch the sunset. Again, the scenic drive there was the highlight for me. Devil’s Bridge: It is about two miles from PBR. We walked there and back one morning. We are in our 50s (my wife turned 50 while there) and it was a comfortable walk. Wear sunscreen. The location is breathtaking. The Atlantic waves come thundering in along the rocky shore. The bridge itself is interesting and can make for some great wave action and spraying if you get too close. We sat there for a long time taking in the view – beautiful. Saw the Wadadli and Kokomo catamaran excursions go by while we were there. They seemed crowded.

Golf: I would highly recommend the Jolly Harbour golf course. Great vistas, interesting holes and well maintained fairways and greens. While the course is not long (just under 6000 yards), it is still challenging in that it puts a premium on accuracy.

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