This review would be of interest to families with little ones. My husband and I have traveled to some very nice islands, and I will try to be non-judgmental when reviewing this resort, but it will be difficult. As a mom of a 4 year old, who happens to be a great traveller, we were disappointed with this resort, for it catered very little to small children.
Lobby & Rooms:
We flew with Skyservice from Toronto and booked with Signature Vacations. When we arrived to Antigua, there was a shuttle bus/taxi awaiting us and promptly dropped us off at the hotel. The lobby is modest, but very clean. We were checked in immediately and offered a beverage. We had arranged for a superior room, and were taken to room 252, which apparently is known as the Gardens. Our room consisted of a king bed, a small cot/bed for our 4 year old, a full bathroom with tub, and a balcony overlooking the gardens (BE CAREFUL IF YOU HAVE A TODDLER – it’s quite a drop down). The resort mostly consists of 2 to 3 storey buildings, and everything is just steps away, which is convenient when travelling with small children. We could hear the waves from our room, and our building was behind the beach-front rooms. If your children take naps, I would highly recommend the poolside rooms, because many parents would be tanning outside while the kids napped inside.
The buffet restaurant is located directly in front of the lobby in another building. My daughter’s best meal was probably breakfast. She enjoyed her morning cereal, and enjoyed her eggs and bacon. The meal consisted mostly of the traditional fare – eggs, bacon, sausage, french toast or pancakes, fruit and some traditional dishes from the island. For coffee drinkers, I would recommend the coffee machine – I would enjoy my cafe latte every morning in comparison to the coffee that the waitresses provide. Lunch was also available here, but somehow we seemed content with the food the Carib bar by the beach, that provided fries, hamburgers, hotdogs, salads, bbq chicken. At dinner, every night was represented by a different island. A warning to parents – try the food before placing it in your kids plates – some food tends to be very hot/spicy, even though it doesn’t look it. We were told at the end of the week, that there was a kids menu – but no one ever mentioned this to us, a common trait we found at this resort- information was never volunteered. Ask the waitress after your child’s meal for ice cream – they will bring it you, but again, they will not suggest. Overlooking the beach is Warri Pier – it looks runned down, with some shutters missing – the food consists mostly of seafood, and personally we didn’t eat there, but from those who did, said there was nothing to boast about. Many people who chose not to go all inclusive, raved about a little place up on a very STEEP hill, about a 5 minute walk from the resort, Paty’s Pizza and another little restaurant near Coconut Grove, the Beach, just after Sandals resort.
The bartenders were nice, happy and jovial. Our favourite was Denton, who was by the beach bar. After a while, he knew what we were drinking and referred to my daughter as the "fruit punch" lady.
Beach, Pool, Chairs & Tikki Huts:
The week that we traveled (from Jan. 31 to Feb. 7) the ocean was very rough. The water is a nice turquoise colour, but unfortunately, we only went to our knees. We were in Dickenson Bay, whereby the water is supposed to be calm, but not during our stay. After speaking to some locals, when the west side is rough, head east of the island. The pool is very small and not shallow at all for little ones (shallow end starts at 4 ft). I would highly recommend bringing arm floats or even a lifejacket as we did, independent but still safe. As in other islands, we learned that the chairs and tikki huts disappear rather quickly. Get up early, and reserve your chairs (and tikki huts) with your towels. The weather is quite comfortable – it was sunny around 9 am with a gentle breeze blowing. Around 3 pm, we would see some cloud cover and would cool down somewhat.
Children’s Club & Playground:
This was such a DISAPPOINTMENT!! On our arrival, we were told that the kids club was closed on Tuesday – fine, no problem, my daughter waited patiently to the next day. On Wednesday, I approached the front desk to find out the hours of operation: opens at 10:15 am and closes during lunch and opens again in the afternoon. On several occasions, I personally walked over to the kids club which is by our building, the room was locked and dark. I went to ask the front desk, and they acted all surprised. After the 3rd day, I realized this resort did not cater to kids. As for the playground, there’s a frame for the swings, but no swings and the games room also non-existent. In comparison to other resorts, like Mexico, Turks and even Cuba, it really is disappointing. FYI…I spoke to people who stayed at the Pineapple Beach and St.James, everyone said the same thing – "it must be an island thing" was our conclusion. So, keeping this in mind, DON’T ADVERTISE THIS TO YOUR KIDS, BECAUSE IT IS NON-EXISTENT.
There is no team like ANAMICON in Cuba – instead, one evening you have guests entertaining themselves with karaoke, there’s a steel drum band another evening and the most "entertaining" evening was the fire-eater man. Other than that, entertainment lacked and because the proximity of the buildings were very close to one another, the music was very loud. As for the island of Antigua, we didn’t do Shirley Heights, but everyone did rave about it (but I think its an adult-only thing). If you think its Mexico or Grand Cayman, there’s no clubs. Just little bars and some nice restaurants.
We did the Wadali tour to Bird Island. The catamaran was nice, but the little island could be slightly more accommodating. There’s one building, not much to see, just snorkel. I would recommend that kids and adults too, wear sandals or water socks because it has a lot of coral and you can cut your feet easily. It can be quite busy as well, since you get many passengers from the cruise ships – we went on a Thursday.
So, to wrap this review: I would not return to Antigua, especially to the Halcyon Cove with children. After traveling to nice islands like Turks & Caicos, Barbados, Aruba, Grand Cayman, Mexico and even Cuba, I was really disappointed with Antigua. The fact that the resort could have done a lot more to cater to children was a real downer. However, they are not to blame entirely, but Signature vacations should do some major updating to their brochures.