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

Just loved the Pineapple from start to finish. My husband and I are avid travelers having been to several islands – Aruba, Bahama’s, Jamaica, Cuba, Dominican just to name a few (and several times each), and this was, by far, the most beautiful, friendly, awe-inspiring island we have been to yet – booked and ready to head back this winter!

Arrival:
Not going to get into the flight and airport jazz as that is part and parcel with traveling and everyone has a different experience. I will say though that ours was fine. We were pleasantly greeted with rum punch in the gracious "Tommy Bahama" plantation style lobby and were checked in within 20 minutes after a swift airport transfer. The wait was a nice pause to get into island life. The staff and surroundings were marvelous. Palm trees and flora abounded and breezes of salt air and heat were a welcome treat. We were at the beach within a 1/2 hour of arrival.

Rooms:
We had booked the lowest-class room possible (just wanted to be in Antigua :)) and it was just fine. It was situated between the lobby and the Mexican restaurant and not a stone’s throw away from anything. We did get a chance to see inside one of the oceanfront suites that have been renovated and they were very nice. The gardenview rooms were lovely as well and the oceanview rooms were up a few flights of stairs on the hillside but very easy to get to. I will mention that I have a very slight walking impediment so this resort was a clear choice due to it’s smaller size – definitely NOT a mega resort which I was quite happy with.

Restaurants and Bars:
Now, having said that, there is a restaurant on the cliffside – Mary’s Outhouse that serves the most scrumptious ribs, chicken, salad, rolls, cold beer and pop, and I had heard people complaining about the "walk up there". Trust me, it is a 2 minute trek up a walkway with views of the ocean that are unrivaled anywhere. In a nutshell, you will want to walk up there every day just to use your eyes. The open air buffet is a lovely compliment to the hotel’s true plantation style, complete with shutters and terra cotta tile floor. Yes, small (beautiful) birds will want to join you for breakfast but you are outside, what else would be expected? I am not a "foodie" when on vacation but I understand that food can make or break a trip so you should know that the selection of food and quality were just perfect. Eggs – every way possible, bacon, pancakes, waffles (with whipped cream and fruit), sausage, toast, french toast, rice pudding, cereal, milk, juice, fresh fruit, yogurt, etc. Can’t complain. Lunches were equally bountiful and dinners were on par with other 4* resorts. There was a Mexican restaurant that was nice as well s an Italian (I think – but we didn’t go). Most importantly, the food was fresh and I had not heard of anyone, ever, getting sick. Oh yeah, did I mention, the tap water is drinkable – right from the tap. I have a very sensitive stomach and if there was anything wrong I would have known it. Coffee was great as well, Latte’s and Cappuccino’s readily available. No food issues at all.

Beach/Pools/Grounds: Ahhhhhhhhhh, the beach. What to say about the beach. Pure beauty. A cove-like beach, not huge, just perfect. Quiet and peaceful, white powder sand and crystal clear blue water, and palm trees. Very few distractions on the beach and vendors are respectful, not pushy. The pool is smaller, but cozy. The entertainment area is there as well so music is played around that area but it is not intrusive and it is generally appropriate music.

The grounds are lush, meandering, and peaceful. No huge corridors or pathways and no tram’s. You will find yourself just walking around the resort because it is so pretty.

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
The watersports (catamaran, sunfish sailing)are all included and you can borrow snorkeling gear and head to the right to a great snorkeling area. Take some bread with you and just watch. You don’t even have to snorkel. I went straight out from the "communal" beach area and I was about up to my waist and crumbled some bread and tons of white angel fish and spearheaded fish were flurry-ing about, even jumping out of the water for it. I could feel them whisking between my legs. Totally harmless and amazing. Off of the resort nearby is the Verandah, a very nice resort to walk through and to the right was another boutique-style hotel that shared our beach. It seemed VERY quiet. A little farther down the road is Devil’s Bridge. Don’t miss it. It was awesome. Lots of legends about that. Then of course there is Shirley Heights – Just amazing, Half Moon Bay, Jolly Harbor, St. John’s for shopping, the Rainforest, Barbuda, Catamaran tours that go around the island, helicopter rides over Montserrat, etc. Do yourself the favor of renting a car for the day and tour the island on your own. It is safe, and you will be amazed by what you can see on a regular afternoon on the island.

Other Comments:
If you are looking for a true island experience and are not expecting "butler service and turned down sheets" you will not regret going to the Pineapple. It is very comfortable and welcoming place. We are trying the Jolly Beach this year but only because we don’t go to the same hotel twice – yet! Happy travels!

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