My wife and I returned to the Hawksbill in September to celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary. We actually got married at the Hawksbill in September 1987, and a memorable wedding it was too.
The hotel hasn't changed all that much; the only noticeable change was the addition of the beachfront Club Suites that are located on both the Royal and Honeymoon beaches. From what we could see the only difference between them and the normal Beachfront Rooms was the addition of air-conditioning. We certainly needed that, but I think the additional cost of about £350 per week is a mite excessive.
It was also nice that September is a quiet month, so there were only about a dozen guests for our first week, with approximately double that in our second. We aren't normally "mixers" on holiday, but it was really good to meet the other guests and share drinks and meals with them.
There are two main reasons why the Hawksbill is such a popular hotel; one is the actual location and the second are the staff members who are really terrific. The complex has four beaches (including the rudi-nudi one), and although the hurricane of '95 caused major changes to the depth of entry, the beaches are all clean and well looked after. Water sports are available with the usual windsurfing, sailing, canoeing and the jetskis. This is all run by the resorts version of Delboy, ie Sean, who is always smiling and happy to help in any way he can.
Food at the resort is good and varied. I don't believe we had the same evening menu for the whole of the two weeks we were there. Breakfasts are good, with omelettes made to order and served with the usual bacon, sausages, beans, tomatoes etc. You can't beat a full English to start another strenuous day on the sunbeds?? Bar staff were prompt and the drinks were "wholesome".
The resort does have a pool, but it's not very big and more of a splashpool really. It is located close to the beachbar and beach restaurant so its ideally placed for those that want to chill out with a sunbed, a good book and a constant supply of drinks.
By the way, there is a good library of books at the resort so you shouldn't have to weigh yourselves down lugging books all the way from the UK to Antigua. There should be something for everybody in the library, and other languages are catered for as well.
One tip, from my research before booking, I noticed the ridiculously high charges added for transfers. My recommendation; get a cab. Taxis in Antigua work to a Government issued price list, so in the case of the Hawksbill its a USD 20 or an ECD 53 charge from the airport to the hotel, and that covers upto 4 people. Just go to the Taxi Despatcher at the airport and they fill in a form for you to give to your cabbie. Very organised and much cheaper than the normal transfers where you could be stopping at a number of hotels en-route to yours.
Entertainment at the Hawksbill is minimal, and bear in mind that the only television at the resort is down near the beach bar . It was though nice to be cut off from the world for 2 weeks. On Monday, they have a group of 4 guys who play a variety of instruments, some made by themselves. Wednesday is the Halcyon Steel Band, who actually played at our wedding 25yrs ago. The band does have 110 members and have been one of the top steel bands in the Caribbean for the past 10 years. They only send 6 of their group along and they are excellent. Then on Saturday its the Axis Band. They play all sorts of well known stuff, and have an excellent lead singer. With his voice, he could walk onto the X-Factor and wipe the floor with most of the competition in our humble opinion.
For those of you that are into cigarettes and alcohol, we would recommend booking the shuttle bus that runs 3 times a week, and takes you down to Heritage Quay, where the cruise boats dock. There are a couple of good shops, but we liked Ferrara's the best. The owner knows his stuff, and is open to a deal. Superking cigarettes were approximately half the price of the Duty Free shop at Gatwick Airport, ie 2x200 cartons came to about £25 as opposed to £53 in Gatwick. My search was for Pusser's Rum; this was the stuff given to the British Navy on a daily basis until interfering politicians decided to cut back. A 54% proof 70cl bottle in Ferrara's was about £9, a 15-yr old bottle was about £25. Absolute nectar and worth every penny. Try a shot in the winter when you come home cold and wet from work. You can't beat it.
Would we go back to the Hawksbill - you bet we will. We like the idea of a quiet, lazy holiday where the only activity to perfect is the turning of pages on a good book. I can honestly say that we have never been to a holiday complex where the staff have been better, and the beaches so abundant. During our two weeks, some guests were transferred to Hawksbill from other resorts (in particular Jolly Beach), and were overjoyed at the improvement.
Rex Resorts have just signed a new 50-year lease for the entire property, so they may now be encouraged to invest some money in renovations. The property is a bit tired in places but it was still one of the best holidays we have had for many years. We're sure you won't be dissappointed.
Tony & Mandy
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- Also Known As:
- Hawksbill By Rex Hotel St. John`s
- Hawksbill Antigua
- Hawksbill By Rex Antigua
- Hawksbill Hotel Antigua
- Hawksbill Beach Resort
- Hawksbill Resort Antigua
- Hawksbill By Rex Resorts Antigua/Saint John Parish