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My trip to amazing Antigua

FUN IN THE SUN: Our Chantelle Kimberley (right) and friend relaxing and catching some rays, just before getting involved with some of Antigua's water sports

HAVING VISITED a fair few Caribbean islands, I thought I knew what to expect. Good weather, amazing food and long swims in the ocean. I can tell you that’s exactly what I got from Antigua, and so much more.

I was lucky enough to spend time at two amazing hotels, St. James’ Club and Pineapple Beach Club, both all-inclusive and part of Elite Island Resorts.

Depending on what type of holiday you’re looking for, both have a lot to offer. If you’re planning on a fun-packed family holiday or simply looking to relax, St James’ is the perfect place. If you’re looking for something a bit different, Pineapple Beach Club is an over-18s resort, with good times, party vibes, and the option to chill if it all gets too much. Before you decide, here’s what we got up to at both...

ST. JAMES’ CLUB

My trip started off at St. James’ Club, in Mamora Bay, St. Paul’s. On arrival, we were treated to a pink lemonade and rum cocktail to take the edge off of our long haul flight – and it certainly did the trick.

The friendly staff equipped us with everything we needed to know to get us started, before we were shown to our very spacious beach front room. Stepping out on to the veranda and walking down a few steps on to the golden sand was a truly beautiful experience.

Once settled, we took a tour of the grounds. The hotel offers a number of activities including, tennis, golf, water sports and an incredible four swimming pools to choose from, including a kids’ pool, so you won’t be short of things to do.

WATER SPORTS

I’ve always been a fan of water sports, so was excited to try out what was on offer. Without thinking it through, we decided to try our hand at paddle boarding.

We quickly got the hang of it as we floated afar into the ocean. Getting back was another story – the struggle was real, but the satisfaction of getting back to shore was well worth it. I’d definitely say give it a try. Water sports are available at both resorts.

FOOD

For me, the breakfast was the best part of the food offering at St. James’ Club. There was a wide variety and a few traditional island dishes to choose from, unlike the restaurants, which mainly served continental dishes, which is disappointing if you’re looking for local, traditional food.

Piccolo Mondo, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, serves Italian cuisine, a beautiful restaurant and the chance to dress up as they have a strict dress code. The lobster was off the menu as it was out of season, but there were a good few options to choose from.

ENTERTAINMENT

There was always something to do during the evenings. The Jacaranda Lounge features nightly entertainment and The Docksider restaurant and bar is where you can listen to the steel-pan performers turn up the heat for the Caribbean Calypso evenings.

TRANQUILLITY BODY & SOUL SPA

One of the highlights of the trip for me was the Tranquillity Body & Soul Spa. It was set outside on a hilltop overlooking the sea. Two massage beds side by side meant that you could share the experience with a partner or loved one. One of the most relaxing experiences ever.

PINEAPPLE BEACH CLUB

On arrival at Pineapple Beach Club, Long Bay, St. Philips we were greeted with a brain-numbing rum punch, which is not for the faint-hearted. Fruit punch was also on offer for those not ready for the burn.

The over-18s resort had a completely different vibe from St James Club. The staff made us feel at home right from the get-go, and it was clear our stay was going to be a fun experience. We were shown to our waterfront room where a bottle of wine awaited us. We wasted no time and headed straight down to the Pelican snack bar, which offered a variety of light snacks such as, hot dogs, wraps, burgers and ice cream.

PINK PANTHER TOUR

We were picked up from the resort in a bright pink Land Rover, before an all-female crew took us on a tour of the island. We were shown some historical and nature sights including, Devil’s Bridge, the stunning Shirley Heights, Nelson’s Dockyard, historical Betty’s Hope and were driven through Fig Tree Drive rainforest.

In between those incredible sights, we stopped off for lunch at a beautiful little lunch spot called Papa’s By The Sea. We were supplied with a constant flow of rum punch throughout the trip.

The tour ended at the beautiful Turners beach, where we had the chance to relax and take a swim after a long day.

CALYPSO CAT

Boat trips are one of my favourite things, and the Calypso Cat lived up to the hype. The friendly crew, including our own personal photographer, took us on a cruise across the picturesque Caribbean Sea.

We stopped off at the historical Great Bird Island, where we hiked to the top for a photo opportunity of the stunning view. Next on our list was trying our hand at snorkelling in the middle of the ocean. Light snacks and rum punch were also available.


A SLICE OF PARADISE: Antigua’s Pineapple Beach Club is surrounded by palm trees and bright blue waters

To end the trip, we swam in the sea and were even lucky enough to spot a few turtles on our travels back to shore.

ENTERTAINMENT

Pineapple Beach Club is hot on the entertainment, and every night is a night to party. Our favourite evening had to be the Caribbean Night. We were treated to an array of traditional dishes, including oxtail, curried mutton and jerk pork to name a few.

After dinner a fire show was put on, where I was persuaded to join in and have fire run up and down my leg – not as scary or painful as it sounds!

Fire blower-turned-entertainer later got the party started with a dancing competition which saw the men take on the women. A very fun evening had by all.

FOOD

The food at Pineapple Beach Club didn’t disappoint. There was a whole host of restaurants and snack bars to choose from. Our favourite of them all had to be The Outhouse.

It is set on top of a hill overlooking the island with the most incredible sea view. They served a BBQ-style menu where you could serve yourself with unlimited amounts of chicken, ribs, fish, sweetcorn and salad.

One of the best things about this place, other than it being so chilled, was the planks of wood with messages written on them from everyone who had visited and we were no different – and we made sure we left our mark.

In the evenings, it’s a bit more formal, so no flip flops, especially at the Pineapple Grill where they served grilled shrimp, salt fish fritters and amazing desserts, which were so good we had seconds.

Overall, both hotels offer an amazing experience, and tours are available at both resorts. The staff are incredible and are on hand if ever you need anything.

For me, Pineapple beach club tips it slightly as there is so much to discover. We were made to feel at home and part of the family. I honestly didn’t want to say goodbye to Pineapple Beach Club or its amazing staff after our time there.

But, if you’re looking for a family holiday, then St. James’ is perfect.

TRIP DETAILS AND PRICES:

Seven nights from £1,005pp in Antigua with Virgin Holidays including scheduled Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick to Antigua, all-inclusive accommodation at St. James’s Club with transfers included. Price is per person based on two adults and two children travelling and sharing a Beach Front Ocean View room, including all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Price is based on a departure on September 5, 2017.

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