STARFISH JOLLY BEACH RESORT, ANTIGUA
I can honestly say, it feels more like a family than a hotel…I was welcomed by one of the staff with “baby, you’ve come home”
A 3* resort with 5* service. The Starfish Jolly Beach Resort is such a great hotel in my opinion offering good value for money. It is located on arguably one of the best beaches in Antigua, Jolly Beach, with its calm turquoise water and soft, white sand. The rooms and buildings are tired and in need of a lick of paint, reminding you it is a 3* hotel, but the staff are exceptionally friendly, the food is great and the entertainment is amongst the best I have seen in an all inclusive resort in Antigua. This is the second time I have stayed here on a solo holiday and I will return again.
As well as the self-service buffet in the evening, there are other choices available including a Mexican Restaurant, Margarita’s Diner and a Seafood Restaurant, Lydia’s. The Italian was closed for refurbishment during my stay in December 2018 and I do not know when it will re-open. Meals at all restaurants other than the buffet must be pre-booked the day before and are on a first come, first served basis.
Self-Serve Buffet Restaurant
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with indoor and outdoor seating areas, offering a variety of tempting, delicious dishes. The Chef, Nigel, is new to the resort and has introduced some great menus.
There are several breakfast options including an egg bar where the server makes you an omelette of your choice, fried breakfast, cereals, toast, pastries and a selection of fruit. Members of staff walk around singing good morning to the guests. This is such a lovely touch, uplifting and a really nice start to the day.
Lunch – Grill/Snack Bar by the Pool
Between 12-5pm, the grill is open for delicious jerk chicken, burgers, jacket potatoes, salad and chips. You can keep it casual by eating on your sun loungers or at poolside tables while you listen to the music played by the entertainments team.
Lunch/Evening Meal at the Self-Serve Buffet
A soup and a variety of salad dishes are on offer for starters. Main courses consist of a couple of meat dishes, fish, vegetables, potatoes and rice. A dessert bar is always a temptation with favourites such as lemon meringue pie, cherry crumble or fruit salad.
Margarita’s Diner, Mexican Restaurant
I have to say I wasn’t too impressed with this restaurant. The food was not to the standard I was used to throughout the rest of the hotel, so I was a little disappointed. My drink also failed to arrive by the time I left.
The meal started well with corn chips and dips. The guacamole was creamy and tasty. Starters included jalapeño peppers stuffed with cream cheese, cheese quesadillas or black bean and tomato soup. Mains consisted of a choice of burritos, enchiladas, pan fried snapper with bacon and capers or chipotle pork tenderloin. I chose the crispy taco shells with chicken which were quite dry with too much tomato sauce on the vegetables. Other dishes were available at a supplement.
Lydia’s Seafood Restaurant
Wow! I really enjoyed this. Located on the beach beside the Caribbean Sea. The staff are so friendly and attentive, I was welcomed with a hug by one member. I was offered a table by the edge of the restaurant and was served promptly. Soups and appetisers included seafood gumbo soup, spiced roasted butternut soup with ginger and spiced conch balls with a creole tartare dipping sauce. I chose the butternut soup which had lots of flavour and the ginger added a bit of a kick to it.
Mains included chicken parmesan on spaghetti in parmesan sauce, stewed lingfish Creole style with green papaya slaw and fruit salsa. I chose the mahi mahi with okra, peppers and onion served with ground provision in coconut milk. It was delicious. The fish was cooked to perfection. Other entrees were available for a supplement.
Dessert choices included cappuccino pie, chocolate rum pudding with vanilla sauce or the recommended coconut cheesecake that I had. It was served with pistachio ice cream and I was touched that they had piped ‘happy guest’ around the plate as a treat. I would definitely come back to dine here on my next solo holiday to Starfish Jolly Beach Resort.
Super Saver rooms
135 sq ft, double bed, air-conditioning, hairdryer, tv, phone and a patio or terrace with view
200 sq ft, king or 2 twin beds, air-conditioning, hairdryer, tv, phone, patio or terrace with view
300 sq ft, 2 queen beds, bath, fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, iron, ironing board, patio or terrace with view
300 sq ft, king size bed, fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, iron, ironing board, patio or terrace with view
This is the room type I stayed in on both occasions and I was very happy with it. It is also located just behind the evening entertainment area and buffet restaurant so you don’t have far to walk back to your room at the end of the evening. There were not any lifts and I was on the 3rd floor so I had quite a lot of steps back to my room in the evening but that didn’t matter to me.
The room had a king size bed which was very comfortable, a wardrobe, safe, small shower, living room with tea and coffee making facilities, sofa, coffee table, fridge and 2 balconies, one with table and chairs, the other with a sun lounger.
I was able to watch the beautiful sunsets from my balconies. On clear days you could also see Montserrat, Nevis and St Kitts.
952 sq ft – A choice of 1 or 2 bedroom cottages
A long stretch of white sand with warm, clear, calm water. Perfect conditions for the non-motorised watersports such as kayaks, Hobie cats and paddle boards that are available as part of the all inclusive package. Life jackets are provided. Shops are dotted along the beach as well as bars and eateries. Beach Vendors try to sell you tours but it is recommended to book through the hotel and on-site tour desk.
The entertainment team keep guests busy with various activities throughout the day, should you want to get involved. Qasim and Dave were fantastic members of staff, always keen to talk to you and see how your holiday is going. Activities included water volleyball, beach cricket and soccer, dance classes, local dialect classes, bingo and more! Activities take place near the main pool, bar and grill and are good fun to take part in, even though I was reluctant to begin with.
Evening entertainment is varied and of a high standard. During my time here, there was a steel band, karaoke night and an African show with a beach bonfire…
A DJ got all the guests dancing and a carnival took place poolside
There are 2 swimming pools; a small, quiet one and a larger one close to the entertainment. Both have sun loungers and parasols around them and are located close to bars for when you need a drink to cool down.
There are 3 bar areas that offer prompt service. The one that is open in the evening near the entertainment area, has 3 regular staff, Alwyn, Neil and Zauda. They are entertainment on their own! They are funny, friendly, happy, dancing and singing while working. Zauda made me some ginger beer one night as it is my favourite mixer rather than the ginger ale that was served from the bar. This was another special moment on my solo holiday in Antigua.
Spa and Gym
The spa and gym are located to the rear of the 40 acre resort. I didn’t go along to either but will look into it more on my next visit.
There is an exchange library located in the lobby area. Once you finish with a book, leave it there and exchange it for another.
Would I Return?
I absolutely would. Just writing this review is reminding me of the wonderful time I had. This resort is a great place to come to as a solo traveller on business or for leisure because…
- The staff make you feel very welcome
- It is a friendly, sociable hotel
- I have seen other solo travellers both times I have been there
- The entertainment staff ensure you can get involved with activities and meet others if you want to
- The tables in the dining areas of the self-serve buffet are spread out so you don’t feel awkward dining alone
- The food is good
- Entertainment is great, always giving you something to watch in the evening when you are on your own
Suggested Further Reading..