As far as beaches go, Jolly Beach is one of the best, if not the best in the Eastern Caribbean. The hotel is adequate, staff is great, food is very good. The rooms are very old, small, and have lots of little problems- needs better maintenance. If your priority is a bit of luxury, don't stay here. If you are the outdoors, swimming, snorkeling, sailing - water fun type, this is the place for you. The all inclusive is a very good deal, and the drinks are excellent - not waterred down. There are a number of beach vendors, but they are not rude and will not pester you.
I felt like writing a review because the reviews are mixed and I hope I can provide a little more balance. I want to try to give you facts about what the place is like without sounding complainy, and overall I want to be clear that despite any "negatives" about the place, my wife and I had a wonderful time and would go back without hesitation. We had seen many negative reviews but decided to book JBR because EVERY review talks about how wonderful the beach is. And those reviews are correct--the beach is gorgeous, white sand, clear blue water, calm with no waves. The sand is not soft fluffy sand like you may find on Aruba, it's a little harder but that was no problem. The beach faces west and the sunsets over the water are beautiful. We stayed on the beach every day/evening for sunsets. By the end of our stay, we were sick of the vendors. They are aggressive, but in a bizarre way. They come up to you and act like they're your friend and try to guilt you into buying their excursions or products. They can be overbearing to the point where it is uncomfortable--for instance, one guy just kept insisting that he would help us set up a beach umbrella, and then he sat there waiting for us to go get money from our room to buy an excursion from him. I found that the key is to just tell them up front, firmly, that you're not interested and don't have money with you. One "vendor" who we really like was a guy named Alex, he wears all white and gives massages at your beach chair for a great price. He is a real, and good, masseuse and he is the only one on that beach who is completely truthful and not manipulative. There is a guy who goes around and puts aloe on people and then demands $15 after. He was really annoying and when you tell him no he'll come back in 10 minutes and ask again. JBR does have security guards, and if a vendor bothers you, you can ask the guards for help. I never felt unsafe dealing with any of the vendors, just annoyed a bit. As for the hotel itself, it certainly is old but we didn't care at all. The buildings are old, the sidewalks are beaten up, the pool is lovely but very old (but still has a great swim-up bar), the dining building is old and some of the tables are in locations where you feel like you're in a cave. But....so what? There were so many positives about this place that it didn't matter. The staff were wonderful and very accommodating and that more than made up for it. And the main point is, you're going to the beach, not sitting in a dining area all day. We met many, many wonderful people at this resort and the age of the facilities was never a topic of discussion. As for the food, we were surprised to find that it was quite decent. There is not a ton of selection like at some resorts, but there is still something for just about any dietary preference. And the food was not junky, it was pretty good home-cooked tasting kinda food. And I say this as a New Yorker who is used to pretty good food. To me, "healthy" food means home cooked and not heavily processed, and that was the general nature of all the food here. Some dishes were a bit salty. We were there for 8 days and did not get sick of the food. Breakfast is pretty much the same every day, but lunch and dinner do have variation. And we went to two of the three on-resort restaurants and found them to be good as well. If you do want to eat out, there are several restaurants in the area that people said were really good (Italian, Greek). We didn't go so can't tell you. The resort also has a few good bars. The bartenders are not shy about making strong drinks, and that's nice compared to some all-inclusives I've been to where the drinks are watered down. We met a lot of great people just hanging at the bar. There is a "busy" pool with swim up bar, water aerobics, music on the speakers and some other activities. There is also a quiet pool and that was really nice, I love quiet on vacations and it's hard to find at some resorts. Not here though, between the pool and the beach, which was very quiet. To qualify this a bit, we were there during the off season and they said it gets much busier in season. One major and easily fixable problem was that they have very, very few beach and pool umbrellas. Not sure why a tropical resort would make it so difficult to protect oneself from the sun. This can easily be fixed and I hope that happens. As for activities, there are many things happening. Beach volleyball every day, pool volleyball, water aerobics (I'm a 40-year old guy and I did aerobics and had fun!), karaoke, shows with truly talented dancers and musicians at night.....They also have a couple Hobie Cats and they give sailing lessons, there are kayaks and peddle boats, and all of this is no extra cost. That's amazing. We learned how to sail and took the Hobie Cats out every day! The resort has a wonderful group of people who lead the activities, and they're good at what they do and they make it fun. As for the rooms, we had read that some of the rooms are very small so we upgraded to a bigger room which cost about $50 for the week. Our room was a fine size and we never felt it was too small. We saw some of the smaller rooms and they were indeed tight but still fine unless you want to sit around in your room all day. The buildings were pretty old and had some odd features, and the bathroom in our room was kind of like an old Super 8 Motel bathroom. But it was very clean, the maid was excellent, and we didn't care b/c we weren't on vacation for a bathroom. The mattress was old and not the most comfortable, but good enough to get lots of sleep every night. If you're scared of Zika, and I hope you're not--the mosquitoes do come out at night but if you use a little bug spray you're fine. Overall, we had a great time and would highly recommend. If you are looking for a super-upscale vacation, is probably not the place for you--it's a very down-to-earth experience. As for the issues that many others have mentioned about this place, they're really not a problem at all and my wife and I found the place charming exactly because of those "issues." Very nice staff, close to the airport, beautiful beach, you can't go wrong.
We got an amazing deal through cheapcarribean so we were happy with all that we got for the low low price. This is a midrange simple and easy resort- luxury it is not! But it has what you need for a relaxing break. Rooms: we got the supersaver, it was tiny! Our room had a very large balcony which definitely helped us manage the tight space- we kept all our beach stuff out there which helped. Also, we were on the 4th floor- no elevator, so if that's an issue ask for a lower floor. Hot water- had to wait for the water to warm up which sometimes took a while, but it was there! All rooms face the ocean and the views are great. Simple but adequate rooms. Food: The buffet was OK- not bad, not great. Breakfast was always good though- I got an omelette every morning. Bad coffee but that is to be expected I guess. Lunch and dinner at the buffet- OK, lots of repetition but OK food. Booked restaurants- Lydia seafood- great!!!! Ustav indian- very meh. There is an Italian restaurant but we were never offered to book there- I think it is saved for the adjoining sister hotel but i didn't ask because we didn't bring clothes to meet the dress code :) Also there is a cafe next to the beach with OK hamburgers and snacks- good for a late lunch. Beach- very beautiful! Sand at jolly beach could be better- very hard. There are wooden cabana/umbrellas at the edge of the beach- there was usually one available but the hotel was not very busy when we were there, I imagine they can run out. If you want shade on the beach, you have to rent an umbrella! We often went farther down the beach to tranquility bay- they have much nicer sand- and rented an umbrella for $10/day (they say it's $20 but took $10, no bargaining). Or you can go even further down the beach to where it is private houses and find a place all to yourself!!!! If you go to the very end of the beach and cross a field, there is a road up the hill and you can get a great view of the entire area, highly recommended. Pools- 2 pools, nice, fun, one is full of kids and also has a swim up bar. We are beach people so we didn't use these much but they were ok. Activities- there were activities all day like water aerobics and stuff for the kids. In the evening there were bands, dancers, karaoke, and even a bonfire with dancers. I am not into this kind of stuff but actually enjoyed it all! They really try to take care of their guests, it's quite nice. Area: the resort is in a very nice area with a marina and a big expat population. We went for walks in holly harbor in the evenings- there is a marina nice for strolling and also a shopping center with restaurants and a pharmacy. Across the road is a super market which is a good place to pick up snacks, fruit and you can get things like sun spray much cheaper than at the hotel. So we had a good time! One minus for us was mosquitoes- I imagine they are everywhere but we got out legs bitten up both while outside in the evening and in our room while sleeping. We got bug spray and it helped a lot so that is a must!
This was my boyfriend and I’s first time to the Caribbean and we are SO happy that we chose the Jolly Beach Resort. Our favorite part was the breathtaking sunsets over the beach every night! One recommendation is to walk all the way to the end of Jolly Beach up the small mountain there (the road is paved so you don’t need hiking shoes) because there are 360 degree views of Jolly Harbour from up there! Some things that we learned throughout our trip that we wish we had learned before we got there: 1) The resort offers an orientation session each day that might be helpful to attend to get a better understanding of all the ins and outs of the resort. 2) The restaurant reservation system seems complicated at first, but all you need to do is go to the reservation desk (located in Utsav’s) first thing each morning and schedule your restaurant reservations for the restaurants that require reservations. You can only schedule 2 reservations at a time, so if you are a couple and you schedule your reservations separately, you can schedule 4 reservations in one day! However, if all the restaurants are full, don’t get stressed out. We really wanted to eat at Bocciolo’s during our trip but it was always full and we couldn’t get a reservation, so we went to Bocciolo’s at the very beginning of the evening and asked if they could squeeze us in at all. They were very accommodating and were able to fit us in! The food is great at all the restaurants, but it’s gourmet-type food, so the portions are on the small side. If you’re really hungry and feel like you need to eat a ton, opt for Hemispheres because it’s a buffet! 3) There are daily watersport lessons that are offered only at 10:30 AM each day that are helpful if you want to learn how to sail, wind surf, or kayak. You don’t need to sign up in advance… you can just go over to the water sport area before 10:30 and get registered. Keep your eyes peeled when you’re out on the water because when we went paddle boating we were able to get really close to a group of 3 dolphins swimming around!! Plus, if you want to have some extra fun, there are people renting jet skis right on the beach for a really affordable price. 4) Don’t fret if the weather forecast doesn’t look promising!! I checked weather.com every day before we left for our trip and I was sad to see that rain was predicted every day in the forecast. As it turned out, the only rain we had our whole trip was for about 5 minutes in the middle of the night. Other than that, it was beautiful sunshine the whole trip, so don’t be too worried if your weather forecast looks ominous because it’s probably wrong like ours was!! 5) You don’t need to pack your own beach towels because there is a place on the resort where you can rent large beach towels (they’re free as long as you return them at the end of your stay). 6) Make sure you get to try the brunch at Lydia’s on Sundays because they have a steel drum band playing right on the beach!! 6) The pools close at 6pm each evening which was a little disappointing to us at first because we wanted to stay in them longer, but it’s a good time of day to switch over from the pool to the ocean to watch the beautiful sunset. 7) The toilet in our room was a little funky. It would sometimes take 3 or 4 flushes of the handle for it to work, but it always worked. It wasn’t a problem at all, you just have to have some patience. 8) The staff at Jolly Beach Resort is WONDERFUL! We got to know the activities directors very well (Kofi & Anne Marie especially) who always had fun activities planned throughout the day for both kids & adults! The ideal couples competition and the tie dying on the beach were our favorites! Shoutout to Charlie the bartender for all the delicious drinks he made us throughout our stay and Evelyn the waitress who was so helpful all the time! 9) If you venture outside of the resort to Jolly Harbour (it is directly outside the gates of the resort in a very safe, upscale area) there are tons of restaurants and some shops on a boardwalk to walk through. There’s also tons of boats & yachts in the harbor that are pretty to look at in the evening. 10) When you eat breakfast or lunch at Hemispheres, be prepared for the birds! There are birds that have learned to steal food from your plate as soon as you leave the table. If you need to leave the table, just use the buddy system and have someone stay behind to shoo them away. If you find them to be a nuisance, you can always opt to eat inside where there are screens to keep the birds out. We thought the birds were pretty entertaining though! 11) Bring a reusable water bottle with you from home so that you can fill it up with water to bring with you to the beach so that you don’t have to take so many trips back and forth from the beach to refill the small juice cups that they give you. 12) The beach and the resort are extremely clean. We even saw workers raking the beach by hand with rakes instead of the big rake machine trucks that I’ve seen at other beaches. 13) There’s a great gift shop right on the resort with just about anything that you might have forgotten at home (even bathing suits!!).
great beach! pools are nice, food is average. been to many all inclusives and the service here is as good or better than any of them! ask the staff a question, you get a answer. unlike others ive been to, where the staff is little to no help! very friendly people. the rooms need some love! didn't matter to us, we where there for the beach and ocean! don't mind the negative reviews....theres always someone that wont be happy! for the money we spent, it was agood value!
The resort was nice but it had a few draw backs. Our room was one of the "bigger" rooms but it was at the farthest end of the property and when I asked if there were any rooms closer they said no although it seemed that the resort appeared empty most of the time we were there. The entire section near the main buffet, bar, and entertainment area appeared to be vacant and dark every night. The 2 "upscale" restaurants were only open on select nights and there was an additional charge to eat there. Our room was decent although it was at the farthest end of the property and we did pay for the larger "king superior" room. The beach and view were beautiful and the resort had some wonderful entertainment in the evenings. We felt very safe and secure with the security from the hotel wondering the beach. Some of the staff seemed liked they didn't care at all but most of the staff was very friendly and some staff members went above and beyond all the time. Those staff seemed like they loved their jobs and really enjoyed being there. The grocery store is right outside the gate if you need anything. Also see Claudia on the beach she has some nice bracelets and things but she can get you in contact with Matthew who is an awesome taxi driver. He'll take you anywhere you want to go and he'll tell you all about the island as you go also he has really good rates!!
As long as you book here & know what to expect you will be fine. This is by no means a fancy resort, but it has everything you need. The beach is amazing--crystal blue water, sand, lots of shells. It doesn't even look real it's that beautiful. The rooms have just what you need-- no frills. Beds weren't very comfortable, but they're passable. Some of the rooms are being updated. Lydias had good food & service; as well as the Italian place. Steer clear of Margarita's -- food was inedible & drinks tasted like furniture cleaner. Staff was rude-- very surprised at this as most of the staff was awesome. Bar staff very helpful & always smiling, singing & dancing. Security very helpful, but not so much when it came to beach vendors. In addition to trying to sell their services & wares, they will try to get you to get them food & drinks from the bar; a practice that can get you in trouble with the hotel. Be careful as they are very persistent. Overall, a great vacation. Beautiful beach.
Best of all the service was second to known. I would go back just because of how well I was treated by the staff. The food and drinks to include free alcohol was worth the All inclusive price tag. The Beaches and pools were clean, and the bus was safe. For $1.50 US you can take the bus into ST John where there's shopping for souvenirs and carribean food available for purchase. For first time travelers, I would say it's not worth converting your money into there money because everywhere takes US over there and the citizens actually prefer US and can be used as a bargaining tool. The Dollar is worth 2.5 times more over there. So if your willing to understand the conversion you will save more than exchanging money at the airport or other places. On a slight downside there's a few things I would advise and wish were enhanced at Jolly Beach. Bring plenty of sunscreen and bug repellant. There are sand flys and annoying nats. The rooms were very clean and had nice views but are in need of upgrading. The beds and bathrooms are small but the showers had hot water so I can't really complain. The beds weren't all that comfortable but the pillows for some reason we're. (I still give the overall resort 4 stars). There's cable tv in the room with about 20 channels and (Important) wifi is only free in the lobby sitting area downstairs. You will be asked to pay $10 per day if you want it in your room. The cab ride is $24 US if you catch a cab from the airport one way. If your traveling with someone that has trouble walking, get wheelchair assitance once your in Antigua(Miami airport horrible) but in Antigua going to customs and baggage claim is so streamlined that you will be in and out in 10 to 15 mins and whoever is in your party can go with you. There several ways to book actives thru cheap Caribbean, Jolly Beach Resort, and some excursions you can get just going on to the beach. We went snorkeling for the first time and we were able to get all of these conch shells and starfish to take home that you see in the attached picture. There's a tour guide on the beach to the far left who provides sailing, snorkeling, lobster diving, and fishing for $60US dollars pp. His beach name is Twist, you will know if you ask someone on the beach who he is, he cleaned and cooked whatever you caught right there on the beach. I know this comment is long but it's all true, we just traveled Aug 2016.
From the moment we pulled down the exotic floral lined driveway we knew we had made the right choice by booking the Jolly Beach Resort & Spa for our wedding and honeymoon. Our Concierge, Ian, was there to introduce himself, welcome us, as well as give us our Wedding Package for our meeting with their on-site Wedding Coordinator. Then, he attended to our every need. He gave us many local recommendations for things to do and sites to see. He even went over some safety travel measures. Our Resort Wedding Coordinator, Beverly, made all of our dreams come true in a very professional manner. The Wedding Chapel Gazebo was decorated beyond our expectations. The Champagne Toast was absolutely delightful. The contracted Photographer, Abina, was very easy to work with. Her photos were amazing! Better than anything we could find back home. The Wedding Album she put together was fantastic! Even the Wedding Cake was beyond our expectations. Cleo, the Antigua Wedding Officer, put together the most amazing ceremony. She truly touched our hearts as if she were a life long friend. On our wedding Night we enjoyed an exquisite dinner at the Bocciolo Restaurant. As we entered the restaurant we were handed glasses of French Champagne. The table was decorated with flowers, scattered rose petals and rhinestones. After a fabulous dinner, our wedding cake was delivered for us to enjoy for dessert. Hemispheres Restaurant served a great buffet for breakfast and dinner. The Afternoon Tea had a sweet selection of pastries and cheeses, coffee and tea. The Coconut Grill makes great Jerk Chicken! Staff: If there is one thing I must say, after reading a few negative reviews about Jolly Beach Resort . . . please treat the staff as you would want to be treated. Though your trip may be All Inclusive, it benefits everyone to tip the staff. We were treated like family from the moment we arrived. Everyone on staff, even the gardeners, knew who we were and congratulated us on our wedding. We took the time to say thank you, ask them about their native countries and even shared family stories. If you wanted to be treated with respect, it helps to treat them with the respect they deserve. Dinning: We, as Americans, are used to large portions in a restaurant. The Antigua community eats light and healthy. You can always ask for more or for something else. The staff is always willing satisfy. The Resort uses as much fresh local cuisine as possible. The lobster was fresh from Barbuda. Fruit, right off the bush. Coconut water from their our own tress. Fresh and light meals were just the ticket!. Resort: Though the Resort is older it has wonderful charm. Both in the buildings and the grounds. Everywhere you look there is beautiful history mixed with flora and fauna. Taxi Tour (resort taxi): 5 stars! Ivor was a great guide. He knew all the local ins and outs of the island. He showed us all the hidden gems and then some. By the time our departure rolled around we had made many friends with the staff. We hated to leave. It felt as if we were leaving life long friends. We will be back again. PS: Our Alexander Parish Taxi did not have AC and was the driver was dangerous. Use your Hotel Taxi service!
My husband and i enjoyed our vacation and met a lot of wonderful people. The Jolly Beach Resort and Spa of Antigua is in need of repair and improvements on food and having top shelf liquor available to the guests. The beach was gorgeous, but again resort needs someone that will take the time to do repairs and be able to open all 475 rooms to guests!! 120 rooms were unavailable to use due to extensive, needed repairs. As i understand the Bank owns it and is doing nothing to improve it and pay the staff that is working there, very sad!! It has lot's of potential to be a really beautiful resort if only someone would take the time to do so before it is too late and they close the doors forever!!!