It is a good job that we were only staying here for 4 nights and that we used air miles to pay for it as I would have been very disappointed if this had been my only experience of Antigua that I had physically paid for. We ended up here, very last minute, due to our daughter's wedding being re-located to Antigua. Fortunately she got married in Blue Waters. Clearly the two are not comparable as Jolly Beach is a different kind of hotel but it did highlight, for us, just how terrible Jolly Beach Hotel is. Some staff were rude and unhelpful and although I took a previous reviewers advice to not rant and rave about minor things, if I wanted to be treated well, we still found some of the staff to be dismissive and disinterested. I would say that Blue Waters staff are career people that take their jobs seriously (akin to the hotel rating) and Jolly Beach staff just go to work to get paid. If you don't mind that then you probably won't have a problem with this place.
I read reviews after securing this hotel, as we were in a hurry, and the most helpful review was to 'go with low expectations'. That really was the best piece of advice. As many reviewers have already mentioned this is a very tired hotel that is in much need of some care, it's very tatty. Our room was very basic but it was clean and comfortable. However we did have trouble turning the shower off since the taps spun in the wall and our sink leaked. We also had noisy air con and a fan that click clacked all night (thank god for ear plugs but I'd rather not have to use them). Ear plugs further needed as there is also some strange electronic recording of birds tweeting that plays 24 hours a day. Not sure why this is needed as there are birds everywhere in the hotel.
In fact birds were a major problem. Much like a recent reviewer I had a seagull land in my jerk chicken from the beach cafe and it was very difficult to get away from them without being further attacked. And the birds being in the main restaurant was just down right unhygienic. We watched the birds - they are very clever at working out just the moment to zip through the swing doors - sometimes it felt like there were more in the restaurant than outside and they clung to mesh dividers (designed to keep them out???) and watched us with their beady eyes whilst we ate (when they weren't picking at any food else where) and zooming by at close proximity (you can feel the breeze they generate through your hair they come so close). We also saw a staff member cleaning bird droppings away from a chair and then just putting the cloth back - presumably to use on place mats later on - yuck!
The food was a little hit and miss. I love chicken and I was easily able to get good chicken and salad. My Husband is pescartarian and he didn't fair so well. There was always fish on the menu but every day it was the same thing in various guises - king fish. Sort of a less nice version of swordfish with big bones in it. We did bring this up with the manager but he waffled on about being 'a big hotel' - not really any answer to the lack of variety! Also you can only get fish at the beach cafe at lunch time - after that all veggies/pesces have available to them is grilled plastic cheese sandwich and chips.
We did eat at Lydias on 2 nights - one for the beach BBQ and also on a normal night. The BBQ was good and I had excellent blackened snapper on the normal night but that was the only thing that was good. I understand that the quality of some stuff is not so good in large all inclusive hotels (although Blue Waters was rammed and Jolly Beach was pretty empty for a half term holiday - speaks volumes) but the wine was terrible. I really only drink red wine so we were really pleased to see a wine list in Lydias where we could buy something a lot better. It turns out that they have hardly any of the wines on the list though. Clearly there is something wrong with wanting to buy your own wine as the 2 waitresses that we were served by on both occasions seemed to think it was amusing that we wanted to buy wine. As we had found out that trying to find something that they did have in stock, at the BBQ, we were rather surprised to be lied to on the 2nd occasion and be told by the cocktail waitress that they had 'everything' on the wine list. No, in fact that had only two of them so very little choice. Knowing this, after the waitress returned the first time to tell us that they didn't have the Merlot we asked for I suggested (from experience) that we could all just save a lot of time if she told us what they do have which was met with raised eyebrows and a 'Wow!'. I wasn't being rude I was just trying to save the poor woman from having to walk back and forth until she found something we wanted. Eventually she was replaced with someone who seemed to know more but who wasn't generally any more polite and we sat there feeling that we had somehow inconvenienced the staff - especially the cocktail waitress who seemed to snigger any time we made eye contact with her. Things didn't get any better when I ordered the smoked salmon, one of the few items that you have to pay for. It was awful - seemed to have been cooked or something.... we didn't want to pay for it but as we'd already had a run in with the staff over the wine we didn't feel too comfortable complaining at that moment so we put the excess on the room and decided to add it to out list of moans to bring up with reception before leaving the next morning.
My final piece of advice is to complain straight away. The duty manager came to see us on departure but flatly refused to alter out bill because we didn't complain at the time and despite explaining why we felt we couldn't (I know we sound moany types but actually we wanted to be discreet) his 'hotel policy' wouldn't (more like couldn't) allow him to alter our bill, so we reached an impasse on the matter but it was clear that customer service is so low in importance to them that we would end up paying. He should be a politician - I had to ask if he was actually listening to what I was saying at one point because his answers were completely irrelevant to my questions/complaints and he just went on and on about hotel policy - despite us explaining that we had been made to feel too awkward to make our complaints at the time - he just droned on about the policy (so be sure to ask for those when you arrive for your holiday reading so you won't be made to feel stupid and angry on departure!).
Beach was nice though and we had a lovely view from the balcony, I think all rooms face the beach - one of the few positives.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Antigua's best all-inclusive value, the 464-room Jolly Beach Resort & Spa is an exciting Caribbean experience. The resort offers great year-round value for destination weddings, honeymooners and families. Rates include accommodations, government taxes and service charges, all meals, snacks and afternoon tea, house brand beverages, non-motorized water-sports, activities, Jolly Kidz and Teenz Clubs, use of the gym and entertainment. All rooms are air-conditioned and face the ocean; each has a patio or balcony, direct-dial phone, TV and hair-dryer. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with LoveHolidays, Travelbag, Booking.com, Holiday Gems, Hotels.com, TravelUp and Southall Travel so you can book your Jolly Beach Resort & Spa reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Jolly Beach Hotel Bolans
- Jolly Beach Resort And Spa
- Jolly Beach Resort Antigua
- Jolly Beach Resort All Inclusive
- Jolly Beach Antigua
- Jolly Beach Resort & Spa Antigua, Antigua And Barbuda