In these times of austerity it’s important to know you’re getting good value when heading abroad. One of the ways it’s easy to budget is to choose an all-inclusive resort where food and drink is included.
We decided on The Verandah Resort and Spa in Antigua, a beautiful, scenic resort of cabins overlooking one of the two private beaches, with several swimming pools, restaurants and bars.
The Verandah offers some excellent non-motorized water sports, including windsurfing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, pedal boats or hobie cat sailing. Guests can also have a go at tennis,mini-golf and table tennis, or enjoy the spacious, well-equipped fitness center.
Verandah offers three restaurants – two are included in the all-inclusive and the third is offered at a $30 surcharge. The surcharge is definitely worth every penny. We visited Nicole’s on our second night and were immediately impressed by the pre-starter of stuffed bread filled with cheese and tomato. Moving on, we were treated to calamari in a spicy, tangy sauce before being offered a small palate cleanser of a zesty lime sorbet.
The steak was superbly cooked and well presented. My lobster thermador consisted of large juicy pieces in a creamy thermidor sauce, topped with cheese. We were so impressed by Nicole’s we went back a second time in our stay. Be sure to book in advance though as word spreads fast and before you know it the restaurant is fully booked.
Buccaneers, the other ala carte restaurant, was available to all guests without a surcharge and we found it great fun. We’d made good friends with some other guests and really enjoyed the large round tables available so we could chat and discuss what lovely things we’d done that day.
The starter of samosas was delicious with the accompanying chutney. My salt fish fritters were juicy and well seasoned in a light batter. The lamb shank main course was so big we joked it was like a brontosaurus leg. It was so tender it practically fell off the bone and worked well with the rich gravy. We ended on the cherry and coconut ice cream that contained large chunks of juicy cherries and help cool us down at the end of a hot day.
The buffet restaurant was also pretty good. At breakfast, a vast array of fried items were on offer, as well as a superb selection of fruit and cereal. The omelette chef was always available and happy to make up an omelette for you with up to eight toppings including ham, cheese, onion and chilli. There was also a waffle chef! I felt like I was six years old, loving freshly cooked waffles every morning with a selection of cream, blueberry pie filling, nuts, honey and maple syrup! Alternatively, pancakes and french toast were available with the same topping choices.
We also heard some excellent reports of the resort’s Tranqulity Body and Soul Spa. Some Canadian friends we met told us they were very impressed with the massage therapy session, and came away feeling very refreshed.
The most energetic thing about the stay was the organised short walk to the historic Devil’s Bridge. This fifteen minute walk provided some excellent photo opportunities, exploring the uninhabited island sanctuaries of Green Island and Bird Island that also are accessible by a short boat ride.
The three bars were also impressive, offering a vast selection of cocktails, beer, wines and spirits. We really enjoyed not having to walk far for our next rum punch, and we’d often take it in turns to get drinks for other guests we’d been chatting with.
The main beach bar overlooks the tranquil waters of the cove and is an ideal shady spot to get out the sun and enjoy some of the bar snacks available. There is complimentary towel hire which we loved. Although unfortunately once we found the towels had run out for the day, but we coped just fine using the towels from our room.
We found the beach bar also offered a good range of food. The chicken wings in blue cheese sauce were very good after a few hours in the sea, and there’s also a selection of salads for those looking for the lighter option.
The staff couldn’t have been more helpful. In the evenings there was a very friendly and efficient table service by the pool bar while a band that plays, providing an excellent end to a lovely day.
Verandah Resort & Spa
We paid for the trip ourselves through Sovereign Luxury Travel who provided us a small discount.
0843 770 4526, www.sovereign.com), has seven nights all inclusive at the four star Verandah Resort & Spa from £1,499 per person. The price includes return flights from London Gatwick with British Airways, airport lounge access, private transfers and seven nights in a Hillside Suite. Based on departures 29 April 2014.