Booked this beautiful villa and 3 others, a few weeks ago for Jul 16, for our wedding in Antigua. Danielle was very helpful and accomodating when we asked many questions about the villas. Her emails responses were very prompt. Unfortunately we have had to cancel the villas and again Danielle has been very accomodating.
When we first booked this villa it had only just been opened so there were very few reviews and other information available. We thus took a risk on booking it but it turned out to be an excellent choice and we determined we would provide much more information here for other prospective visitors.
Firstly, it is not for you if you like to herded together with other tourists in a resort hotel, or if you are a light sleeper and would be disturbed by the crashing of the waves at night. Otherwise, this is for you.
The villa is built of wood on a beachside slope. At the immediate rear is another single storey building where the property managers live and back left is the Boxer Shack restaurant that the managers also run. That restaurant is typically open from Wednesday to Sunday, lunchtime through to dinner during the main season. The fact it is there means you are not alone and isolated, and it also means you only have to stagger 10 yards to eat if you wish to have a meal off from your self-catering. See separate review of the Boxer Shack and check it will be its open season before booking the Villa.
There is no glass in the windows, just anti fly meshes and louvres that you can open or close. Facing the sea, the full height “patio doors” open up to expose the whole kitchen/lounge to the wooden decking and sea view. There are very comfortable loungers on the decking and now a couple of patio umbrellas for shade BUT the bases aren’t really up to the task as the umbrellas really should be held upright by a table. We managed to get one up and usable by standing the bottom in one of the bases and lashing the pole to the back of a wooden chair to provide stability. It is quite windy in the whole bay and on the terrace, so make sure the umbrella is secured. Alternatively, the overhanging kitchen roof provides some shade if you pull the loungers half back into the kitchen to get shade.
The beach is just 20 or so concrete steps below you. It is between Morris Bay on the west and Carlisle Bay on the east. It hardly has anyone else on it, but the sea is English-like with white water and waves. A 10 minute walk left out of the property takes you down the hill to the other side of the Curtain Bluff Resort where there is a lovely sandy public beach with much gentler water. There is a drying rack on the villa decking but bring your own pegs.
Flies are an issue as other reviewers have mentioned BUT they can be managed by being sensible, ie closing up the villa doors before the sun goes down, always keeping the bedroom door shut like an airlock to keep that room free, and if you sit out at night cover up with long sleeves and trousers. We were there at a time of low insect activity because of regular overnight rain, but with these precautions we had many a happy evening meal out on our terrace.
There is a super king-size very comfortable bed and great walk-in shower. The kitchen is well equipped (use provided matches to light the gas hob) with fridge/freezer and efficient electric oven. There is an iron & board and a hair dryer. The infamous white leather settee in the lounge is a poor choice as not only is it not a serviceable colour and material, but it gets very hot if you sit on it for any time. Reading about it in advance, we took our own old sheet as a seat cover and that helped a bit. Power is 220v US-style sockets with several adaptors provided.
Out and about, there is no real need to hire a car. A taxi ride to most places (airport, Jolly Harbour, Nelson’s Dockyard etc) is around 33USD and the taxi drivers prefer this currency. The local buses however are more than adequate for many journeys and cost less than £1 per head for the same distance. You will need a taxi to and from the airport and one back from the Jolly Harbour supermarket to carry your heavy shopping, but otherwise use the 22 bus from outside the front door to go anywhere on the clockwise route around via several restaurants and Jolly Harbour to the capital St Johns.
The Epicurean Supermarket at Jolly Harbour (just inside the site on the right) is a full supermarket that can provide all your food and drink shopping. There is plenty of fresh meat and a comprehensive alcohol selection. Many items are from the Waitrose Essentials range. Buy 5 litre bottles of water there to use during your stay and bring several bottles back in a taxi. The welcome pack of many essentials provider by the managers was very useful.
The reception on the large TV is poor, even though it is “cable”, but the TV has an HDMI port so we watched our own UK TV programmes that we had brought on our netbook. There is a safe which is OK for passports and small items. Our netbook also just fitted in.
On our last day we were faced with a 9 hour gap between villa check-out time and airport check-in. The rental organisers were very helpful and found us somewhere to spend that time, which made the last day enjoyable rather than a chore.
In summary this is a very spacious, well appointed and affordable villa in an idyllic out-of-the way location. We had an excellent holiday there.
First the real plus points........
- the place really does look like the pictures, which is stunning
- it really is just over the beach
- Boxer Shack is next door and the couple who run this (and oversee the villa) are lovely and friendly
- The place does need some attention, when we arrived, the fan in the living room wasn't working and a number of the window screens weren't secured properly and just fell out when there was any wind. As there was a real outbreak of Chick V virus at the time and we were really trying to prevent any bugs getting into the bedroom, having the screen continually fall out of the bathroom window didn't help!
- The information on getting there and what was going to be provided wasn't great. Being told that the place is in Old Road is OK if you know the place, but if you're flying into a country you've never been to before, a map, with the place marked on, might have been nice!
Why I wouldn't go there again?
Nothing to do with the place or the management, but we like to have a range of different options for the evening eating and drinking on our doorstep. Boxer Shack is great, but Curtain Bluff and Carlisle Bay really aren't the sort of place you can just 'pop in' and everywhere else is really a drive away, so I think we would opt for English or Jolly Harbour next time.
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The good first:
The villa is in a spectacular location above a perfect, almost private beach, with the push and pull of the waves lulling us to sleep every night accompanied by chirruping tree frogs. Half way almost between the good supermarket at Jolly Harbour and good restaurants at Falmouth and English Harbour and right next door to one of the best restaurants on the island, this place could be perfect. The wifi works well too.
The not so good.
The villa suffers like many rental properties from proprietor neglect. It is poorly equipped...lots of worn out pots and pans but little else to cook with. There are only two wine glasses, too few plates of the same size and camping quality assorted old cutlery. Lighting is inadequate, hopeless for cooking and the bathroom is sepulchral. Some of the furniture is in poor shape and the white leather sofas are unsuited to a hot climate. There is inadequate shade in the middle of the day on the terrace, it is simply too hot and an awning or a large umbrella is all that it needs. Would we go back...it's quite good value if you aren't fussy, the managing couple do a great job, but all in all, probably it's not for us again.
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This is an average vacation villa in an average Caribbean location - except for the outstanding restaurant, the Boxer Shack, next door, and it's owners who help oversee the villa. The good parts are, of course, the restaurant where we had 3 excellent experiences and the weather (brief rain daily didn't slow us up from the ziplining or boating adventures.) The villa is nice though showing some depreciation (screens, notably) and missing some normal convenience items (mugs, cooler, beach chairs.) The island has many excellent eating choices.
Bad parts would include the very high cost of the eating out choices, the loud ocean waves and tree frogs at night, the villa's open patio (too sunny during the day, brightly lit from an adjacent property spotlight at night, lots of bug bites (no-see-ums!) We went to Antigua to snorkle; turns out that's not a great adventure here due to limited sites and cloudy water in Winter.
In all, we had a good time and the villa provided an adequate headquarters. Lots of sightseeing, friendly people. One last thought: if you rent a car to reach the villa. You apparently are on your own. We arrived at night after delays by LIAT Air (common!) The airport is on the opposite island side; there are poor signing and no signing options on Antigua and no street numbers to help. If it wasn't for the Avis car rental woman who actually drove us across the island to the villa at night, we would have been screwed.