Antigua’s Best-Kept Secret

All-inclusive means Caribbean culture added

Put on your whites and head for the greens. Tee time? Hardly. Cricket, equivalent to baseball in form and passion, is the rave in the Caribbean. If you’re serious, you’ll need batting gloves, leg guards, and a sturdy cap. If you’re lucky, you’ll get playing pointers from the members of one of the many international cricket teams who stay at Jolly Beach Resort to practice when they’re in Antigua for a match. Their cricket pitch (think baseball diamond) is first rate. The cricket clinic is for aspiring amateurs.

It’s only one of the special features at Antigua’s all-inclusive Jolly Beach Resort. The historic island property is owned and operated through a 50-50 joint venture between the island and the Commonwealth Development Corp. of London. Designed so that guests can enjoy Caribbean culture, it is truly an Antiguan experience.

Located in St. Mary, Jolly Beach is a lavish, 40-acre, 462-room beach resort–the island’s largest hotel. It’s serious island business, but it feels like an island home. Service is friendly and efficient, and pride in ownership is apparent. Antiguans are warm and friendly people who are quite hospitable upon your arrival.

All rooms face west with openings onto terraces or patios toward the bright, blue sky, and blue-green seawater. Read, meditate, or daydream by the sea. You never have to worry about finding a quiet spot on the beach, or fending off aggressive craftsmen. It’s the largest stretch of white-sand Caribbean tranquility on the island.

Looking for social exchange? Saunter down to the Vendor’s Village, a vibrant hub of Antiguan merchants selling, jewelry, crafts, and other wares. Browse, shop, or engage a local in banter. Antiguans love to chat about local and international issues, among other topics.
Worked up an appetite? There are five restaurants from which to choose, including one for fine dining. But your taste buds will dance for the breezy, open-air beach bistro, Lydia’s at Crab Hole Village. Serving fresh seafood daily, her blackened red snapper and mango chutney dishes are among those that make it hard to choose just one.

Jolly Beach Resort also offers great rates. Now until the holiday season, a superior room, based on double occupancy, is approximately $135 a night. A junior suite averages $165. The rate for a single superior room is currently $203 per night. For the holiday, season rates are slightly higher (by about 25%), and will drop again after January 1.

Off property, Antigua, the sister island to Barbuda, is a popular boating destination. The Antigua Sailing Week, which takes place in April, attracts boaters from all over the world. It is the largest regatta in the Caribbean and ranks among the top five in the world.

For details on Jolly Beach Resort, call 268-462-0061 or visit www.jolly beachresort.com. For more information on Antigua, call 212-541-4117 or visit www.antigua-barbuda.org.

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