Antigua: Starfish Jolly Beach Resort
Starfish Jolly Beach is an all inclusive resort approximately 30 minutes away from the airport in Antigua. I booked Jolly Beach through Sunwing vacations, so as soon as I stepped out of the airport I was taken care of. Check in was actually done at a kiosk at the airport. I was given my all inclusive wristband, room key, and welcome package even before getting on the shuttle bus to the hotel.
Starfish hotel is a 3 Star hotel with heart. Rooms are very basic, and could use a little updating. However what they lack in luxury, they make up for with cleanliness, friendliness and pride. From the accommodating front desk staff, the onsite Sunwing Representatives (Sunwing Reps have a permanent kiosk set up at this hotel to make booking tours very accessible and straight forward), or the welcoming staff at the restaurants; every day I was greeted with a smile, and genuinely felt as though they cared how my day was going.
Rooms: Most people would be inclined to go for the super saver (the cheapest) room that's offered on this property, however if you are not travelling by yourself, this room will be a tight squeeze. Literally, you'll struggle to find space to put your luggage down. If you can afford to, take the standard room. It is a lot more spacious. The rooms offer no frills, but are kept clean. When I couldn't figure out how to turn on the shower (Yes, I could not figure out the shower), after calling the front desk, someone was at my room to help in less than 5 minutes. A major downfall however is you pay for wifi in your room. It's free on the grounds of the hotel. This resulted in crowds of people seated in the lobby trying to take advantage of the free wifi. On a positive note: I'm not sure if it's every room, but I was gifted with a free bottle of Antiguan rum in my room. Now what could I possibly have to worry about, when I had rum in my room!
Food: The food is delicious. If you are a picky eater like I am, you'll always find something to eat in their restaurants. If you are too relaxed at the beach to walk to the restaurants, you can sample the beach grill. There was fry chicken, jerk chicken, fries, burgers. And it was delicious. Seriously, eating their jerk chicken while sitting on a lounge chair staring at the beach will change your life.
Beach: The beach is beautiful. Clear blue sea and the landscape was stunning. While you may want to just relax on the beach, be prepared to be stopped by some of the beach vendors who are selling items or services. If you politely decline they'll leave you alone. If you are a single female, you may have to politely decline a few times for them to get the picture! If you get a chance, visit The Doctor on the beach for an aloe massage. Your body will feel like jelly afterwards.
Entertainment: Every night there was something different. Most nights there was some sort of steel, or reggae live band. The entertainment staff led by Shane Marsh the Entertainment Coordinator did a great job keeping guests entertained. He went out of his way to ensure I was having a great time. Just know that over the course of your vacation, you will most likely participate in one of the after dinner activities. So pick your poison...limbo or karaoke?
Overall this hotel is not pretentious. The people who go to Starfish Jolly Beach Resort are looking to have a low key, fun vacation spoiled by a beautiful beach and mouth watering food. It is totally safe to leave the property and walk around on your own, as well as a grocery store just a 5 minute walk away from the hotel. Most people are repeat guests who continue to come back every year, because you feel like family.